2016 SPI Speaker Bios [A-G]

2016 SPI Speaker Bios [A-G]

Alphabetical by last name. 

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Sarah Adams Cornell

Presenter: Indigenous Sovereignty in Oklahoma

Sarah Adams-Cornell is an advocate for Native American culture, education and rights. She is a member of the Choctaw Nation, serves as a board member of Live Indigenous OK, is a core member of Idle No More Central Oklahoma, is Vice-Chair of the OKCPS Native American Student Services Parent Committee and serves on the board of Not Your Mascot. She recently served as Activist in Residence at the University of Oklahoma, served on the Board for the OK Choctaw Tribal Alliance, and co-hosts a radio program that addresses topics concerning Indian Country and current news. Sarah organized a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in OKC and has co-created a new program to empower Native women called, Matriarch. She received the 2015 Oklahoma Humanitarian Award and was named 2014 Cottey College Young Alumna of the Year. Sarah has taught thousands of children about Native American culture through presentations she and her family offer to schools in the Oklahoma City metro area. In 2014 Sarah was a part of the group which successfully worked to eliminate Land Run reenactments and the offensive Redsk** mascot from Oklahoma City Public Schools. Sarah, in conjunction with OKCPS Native American Student Services, recently launched a new program, ‘‘Oklahoma History Day,’’ a diverse and inclusive account of Oklahoma history, to present as an alternative to Land Run reenactments in OKC public schools. Sarah believes that all children benefit from an accurate education about Oklahoma and US history.

Through Idle No More Central Oklahoma and Live Indigenous OK, Sarah has helped host rallies and meetings throughout Oklahoma to educate and bring light to human and environmental injustices. Both groups champion issues like the Violence Against Women Act, preservation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, opposition to Tar Sands pipelines, protection of sacred sites, healing generational trauma, teaching, encouraging and supporting Native youth and preserving Native traditions.

Sarah values the traditional ways of her people. She and her daughters have learned Choctaw language, singing, dance, beading, basket making, dress making and history classes to help preserve, pass on and celebrate their Choctaw heritage. Sarah enjoys hosting a new radio program, ‘‘Matriarch” on the Success Native Style Radio Network. This show is a follow up to the Matriarch classes that allows others outside the OKC area to hear and discuss issues that impact Native communities, specifically women and children, as well as current news, policy and events.

The LGBTQ community is near to Sarah’s heart. She is a proud member of Central Oklahoma Two Spirit society and strong supporter of equal rights. Sarah attended Cottey College and the University of Oklahoma. She is married to Dustin Cornell. They have two daughters, Isabella and Gabrielle and live in Oklahoma City. She is a P.E.O. of Chapter DD and a Phi Mu of Chapter Epsilon Beta. Sarah is the Office & Marketing Manager for her family’s business, RedLand Sheet Metal.

Jari Askins

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities 

Jari Askins has served the people of Oklahoma for more than 30 years in a variety of roles ranging from a judge to legislator to Lieutenant Governor. She currently serves as Administrative Director of the Courts where, under the supervision of the Chief Justice and the Oklahoma Supreme Court, she coordinates judicial operations and personnel throughout the state. The Administrative Office of the Courts also provides leadership and staff support for the Judicial Nominating Commission, the Oklahoma Children’s Court Improvement Project, the Board of Certified Interpreters and the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission. Prior to assuming this latest position, Jari served as special adviser to the governor on child welfare and Pinnacle Plan implementation. In that role, Jari worked with the Department of Human Services lending her expertise to the state’s reform of the foster care system.

When Jari was sworn in as Oklahoma’s 15th Lieutenant Governor in 2007, she achieved the rare distinction of being involved in public service in all three branches of state government. Born and reared in Duncan, Askins received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and earned a Juris Doctorate from the OU College of Law. She served as Special Judge for the District Court of Stephens County from 1982-1990. In 1991, the governor appointed her to the Pardon and Parole Board, which elected her as its first woman chairman. She later served as Executive Director of the Pardon and Parole Board and as Deputy General Counsel in the Office of the Governor. In 2014, Governor Mary Fallin called upon Jari to once again lead the Pardon and Parole Board by serving as the agency’s interim executive director.

Askins was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1994 from District 50 and served her full term limit of 12 years. During her last term, Askins became the first woman to lead a caucus in the Oklahoma Legislature when she was elected Democratic House Leader. She won statewide election as Lieutenant Governor in 2006 and served in that role until 2011. After leaving office, Jari served as Associate Provost for External Relations at the OU Health Sciences Center with her primary focus on the new Stephenson Cancer Center.

She is a member of the First Christian Church in Duncan, where she still sings in the church choir.

Chief Bill John Baker

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities 

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker currently serves as the 17th elected chief of the Cherokee Nation, the largest Indian tribe in the United States. Born and raised in Cherokee County, he is married to Sherry (Robertson) Baker. Principal Chief Baker has devoted much of his life in service to the Cherokee people. He spent 12 years as a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council before being elected to the post of Principal Chief in 2011. He was re-elected to a second term in June 2015.

During his time on the council, and as Principal Chief, Baker has worked tirelessly to improve education, health care and the entire economy of the Cherokee Nation through job creation.

The first piece of legislation he signed as Principal Chief was an act he co-authored during his time on the council. That act increased funding from tribal casinos to health care by an additional 5 percent, a change that will strengthen Cherokees for generations to come.

Under his leadership, tribal businesses employ more Cherokees than ever before, and new home construction resumed for the first time in a decade. Principal Chief Baker is currently overseeing a $100 million capital project that will overhaul the Cherokee Nation health care system, the largest tribally operated health system in the United States.

With more than 300,000 citizens and 9,000 employees, the Cherokee Nation is one of the largest employers in northeast Oklahoma. A recent economic impact report showed Cherokee Nation has a $1.2 billion impact on the area.

Principal Chief Baker is a graduate of Tahlequah High School and Northeastern State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and history, with minors in psychology and sociology. He has been a small business owner in Tahlequah for more than 40 years.

Principal Chief Baker still resides in Tahlequah, Okla., with his wife, Sherry. They have been blessed with six children and are the proud grandparents of nine.

Sec. of State Chris Benge  

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities 

Secretary of State Chris Benge was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1998 and left office in November 2010 due to legislative term limits. He served six years in leadership positions, including three years as chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, which was responsible for negotiating and writing the state budget. He spent his last three years in office as speaker of the House.

After his legislative service, Benge worked in Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s administration as director of intergovernmental and enterprise development. He then served as senior vice president of government affairs with the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

In 2013, Governor Mary Fallin appointed him to serve as secretary of state. In addition to overseeing the secretary of state’s office, he serves also as one of the governor’s top advisers on her Cabinet. 

On February 9, 2015, Governor Fallin appointed Secretary Benge to fill the position of Native American Liaison.  In addition to his duties as Secretary of State, he will work directly with the Tribal Nations of the State of Oklahoma.  He will work to further the relationship between the State of Oklahoma and tribal leadership and build on the momentum the State and Tribal Nations have developed over the last few years.

In these various roles, Secretary Benge has placed much of his focus on policies that promote economic growth and job creation for citizens of our state.

David Blatt

Presenter: Budget and Tax Overview

David helped found OK Policy in 2008 and became the organization’s Executive Director in 2010. David’s work involves conducting research, writing papers, and giving public presentations on state budget and tax policy, poverty, health care, and various other subjects. He writes a weekly column, Prosperity Policy, that appears in the Journal Record and is a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the state’s leading newspapers.   David is a member and regional co-chair of the Scholars Strategy Network and chairs the steering committee of the State Priorities Partnership, a national network of state policy organizations.  His honors include being selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. David previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. He lives in Tulsa with his wife, Patty Hipsher, a special education teacher in Broken Arrow, and their son, Noah. 

Eileen Bradshaw

Presenter: Food Security

Eileen Ryan Bradshaw assumed the role of Executive Director at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma four years ago. During this time, the Food Bank has increased distribution by over 40%, and currently provides the equivalent of 346,000 meals each week throughout Eastern Oklahoma.  Previously, she served as the Executive Director of Emergency Infant Services, Her experience there working with families who struggled to feed their children heightened her interest in food insecurity, and the issues involving the morality and fairness in food distribution and policy.

Eileen is a native Tulsan, and a graduate of Bishop Kelley High school. She received a Bachelor’s of Art in Philosophy from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She is married to Steve Bradshaw, and has 3 children Lucie, Brendan and Clare. She is active in the community, and serves on the advisory boards of Junior League of Tulsa, and Kitchen 66.

Lisa Byers

Moderator: “Mekko” panel discussion

Dr. Byers is an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work. She is also an Affiliate Faculty with Native American Studies. Her undergraduate degree was in psychology with her graduate education in social work. She was the first American Indian to attain a doctorate through the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. As a NIMH pre-doctoral fellow and a Council for Social Work Education minority research fellow, her training supported her goal of the study of American Indian well-being with a focus on American Indian elders grandparents raising grandchildren She was the co-developer of a social work course for Oklahoma Native elders funded by the Council of Social Work Education and the creator of a Social Work with American Indian certificate that focuses on child welfare, historical trauma, mental health disparities, and policy. She has partnered with the urban Indian Health Care Resource Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma to study American Indian grandparents raising grandchildren or grand families that will provide the urban center with resources for service providers and clients. Her next study under IRB review will entail a survey of service providers to American Indians and will include questions related to child sexual commercial exploitation. As the creator of the first graduate certificate in Social Work with American Indians and the Council of Social Work Educations graduate curriculum regarding American Indian and Alaska Native elder she is an educator that has extensive experience in the creation of courses and materials to increase the knowledge base of students in social work and other OU departments regarding the 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma and the 566 tribal nations in the United States. Her research of AI/AN grand families has been submitted to the next Society for Social Work Education Research in 2015. Her publication regarding this study is in preparation. A needs assessment of elders in the local community of Turley, OK is under analysis. She has just submitted a grant related to child sexual trafficking in Oklahoma with Drs. Havig and McLeod also in Social Work.

G.T. Bynum

Keynote: A new generation for public service

G.T. Bynum was elected the 40th Mayor of Tulsa on June 28, 2016.  He will be sworn in to that office on December 5, 2016.  

G.T. was elected to the Tulsa City Council in 2008.  In 2011, he was selected by his colleagues to serve as the youngest City Council Chairman in Tulsa history.  

During his time on the Tulsa City Council, Councilor Bynum has focused on fiscal restraint, public safety, and infrastructure.  He led the successful effort to enact the largest streets improvement package in the City’s history, authored the first City sales tax cut in Tulsa history, crafted budget amendments putting Tulsa Police Department helicopters back into service and doubling the number of Police academies, authored legislation creating the first municipal rainy day fund in Oklahoma, and coordinated efforts to establish the first municipal veterans treatment court in the United States.

Councilor Bynum previously worked in the United States Senate for Senators Don Nickles and Tom Coburn.  He has also worked on the senior management team of a national real estate firm and for the American Red Cross

Councilor Bynum and his wife, Susan, are the proud parents of Robert and Annabel – the sixth generation of Bynums to call Tulsa home.  Councilor Bynum is the managing partner of Capitol Ventures, a firm with offices in Tulsa and Washington, D.C., which assists Oklahoma companies with federal contracting and business development.

Shelley Cadamy

Panelist: What do we do to move people out of poverty?

Shelley Cadamy is currently the Executive Director of Workforce Tulsa.  She has more than twenty years of economic development experience. She is a graduate of many leadership programs, is a community volunteer, and an advocate for foster/adoption, especially of older children.

Rep. Dennis Casey

Panelist: Education

Rep. Dennis Casey has represented District 35 in the Oklahoma Legislature since 2010. In the 2016 Legislature he served as vice-chair of the House Appropriations & Budget Committee. Before joining the Legislature, he spent 29 years as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in Oklahoma. He and his wife, Kelly, live on a ranch in Pawnee County.


Rick Cobb

Panelist: Education

Dr. Rick Cobb is superintendent at Mid-Del Public Schools, a district serving more than 14,000 students in suburban Oklahoma City. He is a third generation Oklahoman and second generation teacher. His more than 20-year career in Oklahoma education includes work as an English teacher, high school principal, coordinator of a college readiness program, and assistant superintendent. His popular blog on Oklahoma education issues can be found here.

Jaclyn Cosgrove

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Jaclyn Cosgrove is the health reporter at The Oklahoman. She is currently working on a yearlong mental health and addiction project, as part of the 2015-16 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship. She welcomes your story ideas. Jaclyn is originally from southeast Oklahoma. She lives in Oklahoma City with her wife Tiffany and their dog Maggie

Connie Cronley

Panelist: “Mekko” panel discussion

Connie Cronley is the author of three books of essays Sometimes a Wheel Falls Off, Light and Variable and Poke a Stick at It, which will be out this fall. One essay in the new book is about Sterlin Harjo. She was the collaborating writer of Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace, a memoir by Ambassador Edward J. Perkins, the first black U. S. Ambassador to apartheid South Africa. She has written more than 200 nonfiction magazine articles and has worked in newspaper, television, advertising, public relations and as a publicity/public relations consultant. She is an award-winning journalist, a regular commentator on KWGS-Public Radio 89.5, book reviewer on KOTV Noon News and a columnist for Tulsa People magazine. She has been writing about Tulsa’s urban Indians for 40 years. She has won numerous awards for print and television writing. Most recently she won the 2015 Life Achievement Award from the Tulsa chapter of Women in Communications. She says her favorite award was having an Oklahoma City restaurant name a hamburger for her. She is executive director of Iron Gate, a downtown soup kitchen that feeds the hungry and homeless of Tulsa. Some of the scenes in Meeko were filmed at Iron Gate and a dozen or so Native Americans who eat at Iron Gate are extras in the film.

Mary Culley

Panelist: “Mekko” panel discussion

As Tribal Relations Specialist for the Continental, Midwest, Southeast and North Atlantic Districts, she is responsible to:  North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  Mary joined the VA in February 2005 and served multiple roles: as Administrative Officer, Nursing Service and as Staff Assistant to the Associate Director, Patient Care Services, at the Oklahoma City VAMC.  She also served as American Indian Advisor to the Medical Center Director.

As the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Tribal Government Relations, Mary manages a portfolio of relationships with tribal governments within her regions.  She develops positive working relationships between tribal leaders, federal and state VA personnel and partnership agencies.  She also serves as a resource to tribal governments seeking to engage in productive relationships with VA, but most important to Mary, serves her peers, the individual veterans themselves.  She assists tribes in putting on training programs related to technical assistance related to various grants, homeless stand downs, VA enrollment fairs, and others.  Mary also serves on the U.S. Interagency Council on Native American Homelessness and serves as Chair, to the VA Office of Rural Health, Access to Care national workgroup.

A 20 year Air Force veteran, she served ¾ of her career in the overseas environment. She was handpicked for a NATO assignment serving the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), SHAPE, Belgium, serving in his flight operations unit.   She was also handpicked for a US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) position assigned to the Wing’ Base Personnel Readiness Unit as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of all worldwide deployments in and out of the European Theater.

She has a Masters in Business Administration/Health Care Management, from the University of Phoenix, and she has one daughter, Alicia, and two grandbabies, Deanna and Devon.  She is Seminole and Creek, enrolled with the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and belongs to the Tom Palmer Band on her father’s side and is Wind Clan on her mother’s side.

DeVon Douglass

Presenter: Barriers to exiting poverty

DeVon Douglass joined OK Policy in October of 2015. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, she graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Sociology. Subsequently she earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa. She previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. At OK Policy, she coordinates the Oklahoma and works to ensure economic opportunity and financial security for all Oklahomans. DeVon is an active member of the local chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, an organization dedicated to Greater Service, Greater Progress in the community.

Sherry Durkee

Panelist: Education

Sherry Durkee recently took the position of superintendent of Sand Springs Public Schools. Her previous career in Oklahoma education includes working as Assistant Superintendent in Sand Springs, School Psychologist, and Special Education and Federal Programs Director. She is a graduate of Okemah High School and she attended Oklahoma State University, where she got her Bachelor’s of Science-elementary education, and a Master’s of Applied Behavioral Studies.

Moises Echeverria

Panelist: Careers in Public Policy

Echeverria is interim president/CEO of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice.  He serves in the Tulsa Young Professionals Board and is the Crew Leader for the Diversity Crew. Echeverria graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

Drew Edmondson

Presenter: State Question 777

As a former state attorney general and district attorney, Drew Edmondson has been involved in some of Oklahoma’s highest-profile and most-complex criminal and civil litigation.

Prior to his four terms as attorney general, Edmondson was also elected, unopposed, to three consecutive terms as Muskogee County District Attorney. Edmondson is a graduate of the University of Tulsa College of Law and Northeastern State University. He is a Navy veteran with a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Edmondson now serves as chair of the Oklahoma Stewardship Council, a coalition of family farmers, community leaders and concerned citizens opposing State Question 777. Edmondson has been a steward of Oklahoma’s natural resources for decades and has always fought to protect our state’s land, water and air. 

Linda Edmondson

Moderator: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities

Linda Edmondson is a social worker, non-profit consultant and community volunteer. She serves on statewide boards including the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Hospice Foundation, State Capitol Preservation Commission, Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, Oklahomans for the Arts and the Center for Poets and Writers at OSU Tulsa. Linda is a member of the Board of Directors of Oklahoma Policy Institute. Previously she has served as co-chair of the Attorney General’s Task Force on End of Life Care and also as co-founder and executive director of the Oklahoma Association for Healthcare Ethics. Before moving to Oklahoma City and becoming director of the Citizens League of Central Oklahoma, her social work career included ten years as director of social work at Muskogee Regional Medical Center. She also worked for Muskogee Public Schools and the Department of Human Services. While living in Muskogee Edmondson was the first president of Muskogee Cooperative Ministries and helped establish the Community Pantry, the Literacy Council, and Friends of the Library. Edmondson has been honored as a distinguished alumnus of the OU College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma’s “Social Worker of the Year” and one of the Journal Record’s “50 Making a Difference.” She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma. She is married to former Attorney General W. A. Drew Edmondson and has participated in political campaigns for more than 40 years.

Anthony Francisco

Panelist: Oklahoma’s Fiscal Challenges

Anthony has served as Finance Director for the City of Norman, Oklahoma since January, 1996. In this capacity, he oversees the City’s budget, accounting, treasury, debt administration, investment, printing services, utility customer service, payroll, and purchasing functions. He also serves as City Treasurer, City Controller, chairs the $46 million Norman Employees Retirement System and has served on the $1.5 billion Oklahoma Firefighters Pension Board of Trustees. Prior to his appointment in Norman, he served for over 13 years in public finance, public works, budgeting, and administrative positions with the cities of Seattle, Washington; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Kansas City, Missouri. Anthony has a Master of Public Administration Degree with Specialization in State and Local Government Financial Management from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University; a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban Studies from the University of Oklahoma-Norman; and has done further study in Public Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is a Certified Public Finance Official (CPFO), Certified Public Funds Investment Manager (CPFIM), Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) and a Certified Public Finance Administrator (CPFA). He chairs the Association of Public Treasurers Association’s Committee on Cash Handling and has served on the GFOA Cash Management Committee. He is the leading instructor of cash handling training for the Association of Public Treasurers and has served on many non-profit boards of directors, including the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Public Schools Trust. In 2013, Anthony was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for City and Town Officials.

Aimee Franklin

Panelist: Oklahoma’s Fiscal Challenges

Aimee Franklin is a Presidential Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma. She teaches in the areas of strategic planning, budgeting and financial management, public policy and qualitative research methods. Her research interests and publications are currently in topics such as citizen participation in budgeting, Indian and commercial gaming expansion, and financial controls. Before returning to the academic world in the early 1990’s, she ran retail and mortgage banking firms and was an analyst for three different Arizona governors.

Ryan Gentzler

Presenter: Criminal Justice

Ryan Gentzler joined OK Policy in January of 2015 as a policy analyst focusing on criminal justice issues. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He previously worked as a Research Associate at the University of Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Education Institute. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

Nico Gomez

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Nico Gomez was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority effective Feb. 1, 2013. Gomez has served as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, a position he has held since July 2008. An employee of the state Medicaid agency since 2000, Gomez began his career at the agency as Public Information Officer.

As Deputy CEO, Gomez was responsible for legislative communication at the state and congressional level as well as managing the Governmental Relations, Public Information, Reporting & Statistics, Tribal Relations and Child Health units.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Journalism and Public Relations, Gomez began his career in public service as a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in 1995. In 2000, he joined OHCA as Public Information Officer. In 2005, Gomez was appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to serve on a state Medicaid reform task force. In 2006, he was named one of OKCBusiness’ “Forty under 40” professionals. He was named as a deputy CEO for the agency in July 2008. In January 2014, Gomez was one of six men and women who were named as Oklahomans of the Year by Oklahoma Magazine.

Gomez also has a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in health care administration from Southern Nazarene University and serves as an adjunct faculty member for the university teaching Leadership in Health Care Administration in the same program.  

Active in several community organizations, Gomez is an elected board of education member and current board president for Bethany Public Schools. He also serves as a trustee for the Bethany Public School Foundation.

Robb Gray

Panelist: Careers in Public Policy

Robb Gray is the Director of State Strategies at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities leading the state advocacy and outreach work for CBPP and that of the State Priorities Partnership, a network of 42 state organizations focused on reducing income inequality and advancing prosperity through equitable budget and tax policies.

He joined the Center in May 2007.  He brings over ten years of experience working in state and federal governments in a variety of government relations, organizational development, and analytical capacities.

Before coming to the Center, Gray worked on contract with numerous organizations as a government affairs consultant and coalition organizer.  Prior to that, he was the Executive Director for the Oklahoma State Tourism and Recreation Department, Government Relations Director for the Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Tourism, Fiscal Staff assigned to the Oklahoma State Senate Appropriations Committee, and as Intelligence Analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He holds an M.P.A. in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Studies.

Chuck Grim

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Charles W. Grim, D.D.S. M.H.S.A, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a former Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). He was appointed by President George W. Bush as the Interim Director in August 2002, received unanimous Senate confirmation on July 16, 2003, and was sworn in by Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on August 6, 2003, in Anchorage, Alaska. The IHS, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal health care advocate and provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

As the IHS Director, Dr. Grim administered a $4 billion nationwide health care delivery program composed of 12 administrative Area Offices. As the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native people, the IHS is responsible for providing preventive, curative, and community health care to approximately 2 million of the nation’s 3.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics, and other settings throughout the United States.

Dr. Grim served as the Vice-Chair of the Secretary’s Intradepartmental Council on Native Americans Affairs (ICNAA). The ICNAA was established by the HHS Secretary to develop and promote HHS-wide policy to provide quality services for American Indians and Alaska Natives; promote Departmental consultation with Tribal governments; develop a comprehensive Departmental strategy that promotes Tribal self-sufficiency and self-determination; and promote the Tribal/federal government–to-government relationship on an HHS-wide basis.

Dr. Grim graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry in 1983 and began his career in the IHS with a 2-year clinical assignment in Okmulgee at the Claremore Service Unit. Dr. Grim was then selected to serve as Assistant Area Dental Officer in the Oklahoma City Area Office. As a result of his successful leadership and management of the complex public health dental program, he was appointed as the Area Dental Officer in 1989 on an acting basis.

In 1992, Dr. Grim was assigned as Director of the Division of Oral Health for the Albuquerque Area of the IHS. He later served as Acting Service Unit Director for the Albuquerque Service Unit, where he was responsible for the administration of a 30-bed hospital with extensive ambulatory care programs and seven outpatient health care facilities. Dr. Grim was later appointed as the Director for the Division of Clinical Services and Behavioral Health for the Albuquerque Area. Dr. Grim was then appointed Acting Executive Officer for the Albuquerque Area.

In April 1998, Dr. Grim transferred to the Phoenix Area as the Associate Director for the Office of Health Programs. In that role, he focused on strengthening the Area’s capacity to deal with managed care issues in the areas of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program of Arizona. He also led an initiative to consult with Tribes about their views on the content to be included in the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, P.L. 94-437.

In 1999, Dr. Grim was appointed as the Acting Director of the Oklahoma City Area Office, and in March 2000 he was selected as the Area Director. As Area Director, Dr. Grim managed a comprehensive program that provides health services to the largest IHS user population, more than 280,000 American Indians comprising 37 Tribes. He was also a member of the Indian Health Leadership Council, composed of IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health program representatives.

In addition to his dentistry degree, Dr. Grim also has a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan. Among Dr. Grim’s honors and awards are the U.S. Public Health Service Commendation Medal (awarded twice), Achievement Medal (awarded twice), Citation, Unit Citation (awarded twice), and Outstanding Unit Citation. He has also been awarded Outstanding Management and Superior Service awards by the Directors of three different IHS Areas. He also received the Jack D. Robertson Award, which is given to a senior dental officer in the United States Public Health Service who demonstrates outstanding leadership and commitment to the organization. In a proclamation from the Oklahoma State Governor, June 11, 2003, was declared “Charles W. Grim Day.” He was also honored by the State of Oklahoma by being selected as a Spirit Award Honoree during their American Indian Heritage Celebration on November 17, 2003.

Dr. Grim is a member of the Commissioned Officers Association, the American Board of Dental Public Health, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the Society of American Indian Dentists. Dr. Grim was appointed to the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service in July 1983.

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