Speaker Bios 4

Speaker and OK Policy Staff Bios

[A-E] [F-H] [I-R] [S-Z]

Dr. John Henning Schumann

Moderator: Health Care in Oklahoma

John Henning Schumann, M.D., joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine in 2011. He served as associate professor of Internal Medicine, Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program and Vice Chair of the department’s Education Program before being named interim president of OU-Tulsa in January, 2015. He holds the Gussman Chair in Internal Medicine at the OU School of Community Medicine. Dr. Schumann earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University. Following graduation, he worked for the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C. After shifting his focus to medicine, he earned his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, his hometown. He completed residency at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, where he served as Chief Resident in Internal Medicine in 2000-2001.

Following a year as a faculty physician with the Cambridge Health Alliance, he moved with his family to the south side of Chicago, where he joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2002. From 2004 to 2005, Dr. Schumann completed a fellowship in clinical medical ethics at the University of Chicago’s MacLean Center, after which he became a faculty affiliate. He also co-chaired the faculty advisory board of the university’s Human Rights Program, for which he developed and taught a multi-disciplinary course entitled “Health Care and Human Rights.”

Dr. Schumann has authored the blog GlassHospital since 2010, writing weekly posts aimed at demystifying medicine and bringing transparency to healthcare and policy. His essays are frequently reposted on leading health and patient advocacy blogs across the country. He has also written for Slate, The Atlantic, the radio program Marketplace, and National Public Radio’s blog, Shots. Since moving to Tulsa, he is a frequent contributor to KWGS 89.5-FM, Public Radio Tulsa, where in addition to providing medical commentary, he guest hosts the station’s flagship weekday program, StudioTulsa. He is also developer, co-producer and host of the radio show Medical Matters on KWGS, which explores health care and the human condition.

Rita Scott

Panelist: Hunger in Oklahoma

Rita Scott serves as Outreach Director of the OK Farm and Food Alliance. She studied nutrition and physical education at the University of Oklahoma, and returned after raising two sons to earn a Horticulture degree from Tulsa Community College. From 2011 to 2014, Rita served as Cherokee Nation Healthy Nation consulting. Additionally, Rita is a co-founder of the OK Farm and Food Alliance, Northeast Regional Coordinator for Buy Fresh Buy Local Oklahoma, a consultant for TSET-Tulsa County Wellness Partners. She is a member of the Tulsa Food Security Council, the Oklahoma Food Security Council, the board of directors of the Tulsa Farmer’s Market (Cherry St. and Brookside), the Food Hub-Wholesale TFM Division Committee, and the Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Advisory Council fundraising for statewide Double Up Food Buck program for farmers. She also serves on the Oklahoma Farm to School Advisory Council.

Sara-Jane Smallwood

Presenter: ‘The Promise Zone’

Sara-Jane Smallwood is the Director of Public Policy and Promise Zone Coordinator for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Her Choctaw heritage and passion for public policy are intertwined. She comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers who make their living from the land, and she grew up near Sardis Lake and the Choctaw Capitol in Tvshka Homma. These experiences taught her the importance of the Choctaw Nation’s culture, natural resources, and leadership.

Sara-Jane received her Master of Public Affairs with emphasis in local governance and environmental policy from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2012. She received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and American Indian Studies at Oklahoma State University in 2008, and was named an Outstanding Senior as one of the university’s top graduates. In 2007, she was chosen as a Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and the Stewart L. Udall Foundation and as a Fellow by the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, where she was part of the Princeton University Summer Fellowship.

Sara-Jane was previously employed by the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division. Sara-Jane can be found volunteering with Rotary and the Boys and Girls Club of Durant, where she serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors. She is also a founding member and officer of Texoma Young Democrats and Durant Young Professionals. In her free time, SJ can also be spotted cruising southeastern Oklahoma in her cobalt blue Mini Cooper and working cattle at her family’s beef operation.

Damario Solomon-Simmons

Panelist: Careers in Public Policy; Presenter: ‘Legislative Introduction’, ‘Direct Lobbying’, ‘Race in Public Policy’; Legislative Liaison, OK Policy

Damario Solomon-Simmons joined OK Policy in December 2013. He is a community-oriented lawyer and diversity professional with almost two decades of verifiable success as an adviser, consultant, and advocate. He is a University of Oklahoma football letterman and OU’s first African-American “Most Outstanding Law Graduate.” Since 2005, Damario has represented clients in federal, state, and tribal courts, business transactions, and legislative and community relations matters. Recognized as a “40 Under 40” resident by Oklahoma Magazine in 2007 and Tulsa Business Journal in 2012, Damario is passionate about creating environments and resources that promote fair and sustained opportunities for the neediest of society. His mission is to build and strengthen the awareness and support for OK Policy’s priorities with policymakers, elected officials, the media, opinion leaders, and issue-based coalitions. Damario is passionately in love with his high school sweetheart and wife, Mia, and they live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kris Steele

Presenter: ‘Criminal Justice’

Kris Steele is the Executive Director of TEEM (The Education and Employment Ministry), a nonprofit specializing in reducing poverty, unemployment and homelessness in the greater Oklahoma City area. TEEM seeks to empower individuals and strengthen communities through education, job training, social services and job placement. Prior to joining TEEM, Kris represented Shawnee as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representative for 12 years, serving as Speaker from 2010 – 2012.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, and a Master Degree in Education from East Central University in Ada. Kris and his wife, Kellie, reside in Shawnee and are blessed with two daughters, 10-year old Mackenzie and 8-year old Madison.

Jean Steiner

Panelist: Who Owns the Water?

Jean L. Steiner is the Director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Grazinglands Research Laboratory in El Reno, Oklahoma where she leads and conducts research on watersheds and climate and leads research in sustainable forage-grazing systems. She has been employed by the Agricultural Research Service since 1983, first in the Texas Panhandle, focusing on water conservation, crop residue management, and energy balance research in dryland agricultural systems, and then leading research in the Georgia Piedmont region focused on sustainability of agriculture at farm and watershed scales, prior to the Grazinglands Research Laboratory in Oklahoma in 2001. Dr. Steiner is the Co-Director of the Grazing CAP project entitled “Resilience and Vulnerability of Beef Cattle Production in the Southern Great Plains Under Changing Climate, Land Use and Markets.” Dr. Steiner has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and is the 2015 President of the American Society of Agronomy.

J.D. Strong

Panelist: Who Owns the Water?

J.D. Strong was named Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in October 2010. He previously served as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Environment, where he coordinated activities of the Environmental Cabinet, including the Department of Environmental Quality, Water Resources Board, and Department of Wildlife Conservation. A fifth-generation Oklahoman, Strong grew up in Weatherford and earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University. While finishing his degree at OSU, Strong began his career at the OWRB, working as an environmental specialist.

Andrew Tevington

Moderator: Education

Andrew Tevington has a long history of serving Oklahoma. In the 1980s, he drafted the state constitutional amendment creating the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, as well as the amendment requiring legislative sessions to end by the last Friday in May each year. He has represented the state on the National Conference of Uniform State Laws Commissioners, and state employees on the Oklahoma Board for State Compensation and Unclassified Positions. His experience includes international work as a natural gas regulatory consultant to the Republic of India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Board, as well as church-building in Russia following the fall of Soviet communism.

He served Henry Bellmon as press secretary in the U.S. Senate and as general counsel and chief of staff in the governor’s office. He also has served as an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County, assistant attorney general in two attorney general administrations, and as general counsel for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

At the same time he served as pastor at United Methodist churches in Oklahoma City.

Currently, he is an attorney for the Regional University System of Oklahoma, which includes six colleges.

He and his wife, Mary, live in Oklahoma City.

Bob Waldrop

Panelist: Hunger in Oklahoma

Bob Waldrop is a native, 4th generation Oklahoman, author of iPermie: How to permaculture your urban lifestyle, founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, which delivers food to people in need who don’t have transportation. Bob is also one of the founders of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative where he served as the organization’s first president and general manager. In 2012, he was re-elected president of the Cooperative. He works as director of music at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church. He has served on the board of directors of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, and previously served on the Migrants and Refugees Advisory Committee of Catholic Charities OKC. He was the editor of Better Times: An Almanac of Useful Information, which was distributed free, mostly to low income individuals. The 5th edition may be viewed at www.bettertimesinfo.org/2004index.htm. He was a member of the Oklahoma Food Policy Council and he has served as an Oklahoma County Master Gardener. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force and a member of the Advisory Board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil – USA.

In 2004, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club honored him with its Earth Care Award for his work in founding the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. That same year, the Oklahoma Sustainability Network gave him its Green Shield Award for his efforts to protect Oklahoma’s environment by organizing the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. In 2014, the Permaculture Institute awarded him a Permaculture Diploma in Education, Community Service, Research, Media, and Finance.

Derek Wietelman

OK Policy Intern

Derek Wietelman is currently a summer intern for the Oklahoma Policy Institute. He is a senior at Oklahoma State University seeking dual undergraduate degrees in Statistics and Political Science, with minors in Economics and Environmental Economics, Politics and Policy. During his time at OK Policy, Derek has assisted staff on research regarding the Community Eligibility Provision for school meals programs at high-poverty schools, and has conducted his own research on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and CNG expansion in the state of Oklahoma. After graduating, Derek hopes to earn a Master of Public Policy degree and work in the field of energy and environmental policy analysis.

Jane P. Wiseman

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities

Jane P. Wiseman is a Judge of the Court of Civil Appeals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, a Master of Arts degree in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law.

She began clerking for Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold in her second term in law school, continuing as a legal intern and then as an associate until her first child was born, when she practiced as a sole practitioner until being appointed a Special Judge for Tulsa County. The Governor appointed her a District Judge in 1981 when she was assigned to the Family Relations Division and then to the Civil Division. As a trial judge, she tried close to 1,000 jury trials. In March 2005, Governor Brad Henry appointed her to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals in Tulsa where she currently serves.

Judge Wiseman has served as President of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference and currently serves on its Executive Board and Legislative Committee. She has taught trial court case management as a member of the National Judicial College faculty in Reno, Nevada. She has also served on the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee, Evidence Committee, and the OBA Special Task Force on Tort Reform. She is active with the Tulsa County Bar Association, serving on its Awards and Nominations and Bench and Bar Committees, and as a frequent continuing legal education presenter.

She is married to Jim Hodges and has two sons, Jamie and John, and two sons-by-marriage, Clayton and Kevin, and two granddaughters, Cecilia and Grace.

Dr. Star Yellowfish

Presenter: Tribal Issues Breakout Session

Star Oosahwe Yellowfish is a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma and is of the Bird Clan. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with her husband, Easton Yellowfish, and their two sons, Reignen Makoa and Pacer Iolani. Her parents are Leon and Linda Oosahwe of Mesa, Arizona and her grandmother is the late Beatrice Oosahwe of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Dr. Star Oosahwe Yellowfish received her Ph.D. in Adult and Higher Education at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Yellowfish received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Arizona State University and her Master of Education in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma. Her research and expertise includes Native American student retention in higher education, Native American student success factors, peer mentoring, and coping mechanisms for Native American students.

Dr. Yellowfish has extensive experience in higher education and K-12 system, particularly with the Native American population. She currently works for the Oklahoma City Public Schools as the Administrator of Native American Student Services. Under Dr. Yellowfish’s leadership, OKCPS has implemented a number of cultural and academic programs specifically designed for their Native American students. All of these programs are targeted at improving the educational experience of Native American children in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

“Dr. Star,” as her students call her, has gone beyond the community level to advocate and support Indian education and students. She previously sat on the National Board of Directors for the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). As a past NIEA board member and current NIEA member, Dr. Yellowfish advocates at a national level for policies that effect Indian students, families and programs. Dr. Yellowfish also serves as the Past President on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education, which is a statewide organization dedicated to serving Indian students and assisting Indian Education programs.