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Ryan Gentzler joins OK Policy as criminal justice policy analyst

Ryan Gentzler

Ryan Gentzler

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to announce that Ryan Gentzler has joined the organization in a new policy analyst position that will focus on criminal justice issues. The position is funded through a grant from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that is intended to support state policy groups in work that can have a significant impact on critical policy issues.

“We are very excited to be adding a dedicated staff person to examine Oklahoma’s criminal justice policies,” said David Blatt, OK Policy’s Executive Director. “Many organizations have laid the groundwork for criminal justice reform, and with an increasing number of political and civic leaders getting on board, the time is ripe for significant and urgently-needed progress.”

With the addition of an analyst focused on criminal justice issues, OK Policy will be able to expand its research on how to reduce incarceration while protecting public safety, expand proven community-based alternatives to jail and prison, and make it easier for Oklahomans with felony records to rebuild their lives after incarceration.

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Five reasons NOT to make a year-end donation to OK Policy

by | December 30th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

scrooge1As the end of the year approaches, you’re no doubt besieged by dozens of organizations that do good and important work pleading for a donation. While we too spend a lot of time telling our supporters why they should donate to OK Policy, it’s become a year-end tradition for us to remind you that there are plenty of great reasons not to contribute to OK Policy as well. Here are five of them:

1. Facts don’t matter

Facts, schmacts – who needs ’em?? If you believe public policy debates and decisions should be guided by party affiliation, ideological beliefs, and ill-informed opinion, please do NOT click here to donate to OK Policy. Because our role is to provide independent, data-driven information, analysis, and ideas on the major policy issues facing Oklahoma. Our legislative primer, county facts, poverty profile, and budget highlights all provide the facts you’ll want to avoid.

2. There’s only one side to every debate

When one party controls the legislature and executive branch, it can be easy to get everyone on board on issues like cutting the income tax or opposing the expansion of health care coverage. Who needs a think-tank complicating matters by presenting the other side of the argument in a way that claims the attention of policymakers, editorial boards, and engaged citizens? OK Policy is that irksome voice ensuring that competing points of view are heard in Oklahoma. But if you believe there’s only one side to every debate, then you should most definitely not donate to OK Policy

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15 for ’15: Our most popular blog posts of the year

by | December 28th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (1)

2015It’s been another busy and productive year for OK Policy. We organized a series of major events, including our 3rd Summer Policy Institute, 2nd State Budget Summit, and 1st Fall Pol workshop; added two new staffers, Tyler Parette and DeVon Douglas; hosted seven interns and mentored two sets of Research Fellows; updated our CountyStats, Legislative Primer and Poverty Profile; wrote some 60 columns and op-eds, gave over 80 public presentations, compiled over 225 issues of In the Know, and traveled through every county in Oklahoma on a unicycle (not really – that was Todd Lamb).

We also posted on our blog almost every weekday throughout the year. Here we look back at some of the highlights with a countdown of our most popular blog posts in 2015. 


Please don’t feed the stereotypes: In July, the Oklahoma Republican Party ignited a firestorm with a Facebook post pointing out a so-called irony of signs in national parks warning that feeding animals can create dependence on handouts at a time when a growing number of Americans are receiving federal food stamp benefits. We took the time to explain who’s served by the food safety net and to argue that we’d be better off creating more opportunities for workers to earn a decent living.

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We’re looking for spring interns

by | December 9th, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

startup-photosWe are now accepting student applicants for paid, part-time internships focusing on research or advocacy during the spring of 2016.

Interns will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours per week, depending on their schedules and availability. Research interns will be based in our Tulsa office, with occasional opportunities to work from home or school. Advocacy interns may be based in Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Please indicate your preference for one or the other track (if you have one) and preferred location if you choose the advocacy track in your cover letter.

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Apply now to be a State Policy Fellow

by | December 3rd, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

SPP Fellowship graphic-02Interested in helping us to shape public policy in Oklahoma or another state? Check out this great opportunity to be a part of the 2016 class of State Policy Fellows.

The State Policy Fellowship places recent public policy graduates in leading state-based policy organizations to conduct research and analysis in areas like health care, taxes, anti-poverty policy, education, and criminal justice. State Policy Fellows spend two years with an influential state policy organization (such as Oklahoma Policy Institute) or with one of two Washington, D.C.-based organizations, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Fellows will be placed in a location based on their preference.

The Fellowship is a project of the State Priorities Partnership, a national network coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one of the nation’s premier policy institutes. The fellowship is designed to:

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Welcoming DeVon Douglass to the OK Policy team

by | October 15th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (2)

DeVon Douglass

DeVon Douglass

Now we are eight!

We’re glad to announce that DeVon Douglass has joined OK Policy as our newest policy analyst.  At OK Policy, Douglass will focus her research on policies to ensure economic opportunity and financial security for all Oklahomans. She will also coordinate the Oklahoma Assets Network, a coalition of professionals from a broad range of fields, including non-profit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, and American Indian Nations, who are working to promote proven tools for all Oklahomans to build stronger financial foundations.

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Damario Solomon-Simmons to be honored with the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award

by | October 14th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

Damario Solomon-Simmons

Damario Solomon-Simmons

We’re happy to announce that OK Policy’s legislative liaison, Damario Solomon-Simmons, is receiving the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association. The award will be presented during the annual Oklahoma Bar Association Diversity Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 15th.

The award is named after a key figure in the civil rights movement in Oklahoma who in 1949 was the first black woman admitted to the University of Oklahoma School of Law. After initially being denied admission, Fisher filed a lawsuit that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where judges ruled that OU law had to allow her to attend.

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Introducing our 2015-16 Research Fellows and Fall Interns

by | September 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)


Top left to bottom right: Alexandra Bohannon, Candace Smith, John Lepine, Matt Hecox

Oklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce that Alexandra Bohannon, Matt Hecox, John Lepine and Candace Smith have been selected as our third class of Research Fellows for 2015-16.

The Fellowship program is intended to recognize and support top-performing graduate students who are conducting promising research on public policy issues. Research Fellows are each expected to contribute at least one post for publication on the OK Policy Blog and conduct a bill analysis of legislation introduced next session. OK Policy provides each fellow a $500 stipend.

OK Policy Research Fellows are current graduate students who are distinguished by strong research interests on policy issues affecting Oklahomans. This year’s Fellows were selected from a strong field of over a dozen applicants.

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Welcoming Tyler Parette to the OK Policy team

by | September 16th, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (1)

tylerparetteedited3Oklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce that we have hired Tyler Parette as our new Outreach and Operations Associate.

In the newly-created position, Parette’s responsibilities include providing organizational and administrative support to the whole OK Policy team. He will also help to strengthen our coalitions through Together Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Assets Network, as well as facilitating our growing Summer Policy Institute and Research Fellow alumni networks. Parette previously attended the Summer Policy Institute and worked as an OK Policy intern.

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Two great opportunities for Oklahoma college students

by | August 5th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

okpolicy_mugsOK Policy is pleased to announce two exciting opportunities for Oklahoma college students. We are now accepting applications for our Fall Internships and for our 2015-16 Research Fellowships. Students working with OK Policy have a wide range of opportunities to conduct research, write blog posts, and contribute to OK Policy projects and events. We invite all interested candidates to apply; the deadline for both programs is Friday, August 28th.

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