2017 Speaker Bios [A-F]

2017 Speaker Bios [A-F]

Alphabetical by last name. 

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Kitti Asberry 

Panelist: Oklahoma Campaigns and Elections

Kitti Asberry is a long-time community leader, activist and volunteer in Oklahoma City. She has been advocating for local and state issues since the mid 80’s. On May 19, 2007, she was the first African-American elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the Oklahoma State Democratic Party. Ms. Asberry works tirelessly for women, minorities, and children, through her volunteer work with several non-profit agencies in the Oklahoma City area. In 1976 she was employed by Western Electric, working in the Denver Gardner machine shop area. She was elected to serve as a Union Stewardess for IBEW Local 2021. In 1979 she was employed at the OKC General Motors Assembly Plant. In 2009 she retired from the plant after serving 27 years as an International Union Representative for UAW Local 1999. She has served in numerous leadership positions for civic, non-profit and community organizations. She is a graduate of Leadership OKC, Class XXX, and a member of the Leadership OKC Alumni Board representing her class. She is a board member of Women Lead OK, and 20/20 Women on Boards. Ms. Asberry is a member of the Volunteer Council Board for the American Cancer Society (ACS), where she has been a volunteer for over 25 years. In 1991 she started the ACS Survivors Dinner in OKC. After noticing a lack of minority participation at Relay events, in 2013 she started the Annual ACS Juneteenth Relay for Life: A Celebration of Faith at Douglas High School in Oklahoma City. In 2014-16 she was elected Secretary of the National Association of Commissioned Women (NACW). After her term, she was elected as a Director for the organization where she currently serves on the Policies and Procedures committee. She is a graduate of the University of Phoenix where she holds a Bachelor of Science in Business /Management, and a Master of Business Administration / Human Resources Management. In addition, she is a 1986 graduate of the George Meany School of Political Science and Labor Studies, in Washington, D.C. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, cooking, canning and reading.

Bill John Baker 

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities

Bill John Baker is the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, the largest sovereign tribal government in the United States. Born and raised in Cherokee County, 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 and was elected Principal Chief in October 2011 and re-elected in July 2015. As a member of the Tribal Council, Chief Baker worked tirelessly to improve education, health care and job creation throughout the Cherokee Nation.

Chief Baker believes in integrity, accountability and honesty. Those are the things he brings to the office of Principal Chief. During his tenure as Chief, he has made a commitment to homes, health and hope for Cherokee people. Under his leadership, new home construction resumed for the first time in a decade, and now more than 500 new homes have been built for Cherokee Nation citizens. He also advocated for a $100 million allocation from Cherokee Nation Businesses’ casino profits, which was directly invested to expand the tribe’s health care system.

In 2017, Cherokee Nation broke ground on a new, 470,000-square-foot health care facility in the tribe’s capital city of Tahlequah. The Cherokee Nation has also expanded and built new health centers across the 14-county tribal jurisdiction, which means no Cherokee has to drive more than 30 miles for quality health care.

Over the past six years, more academic scholarships have been awarded than ever before in the history of the tribe, and every eligible applicant who applied was awarded a Cherokee Nation academic scholarship last year. As Principal Chief, he authored an executive order to raise the tribe’s minimum wage and he established the tribe’s maternity leave program for expectant mothers.

Chief Baker secured a historic hunting and fishing compact with the state of Oklahoma, and he negotiated an expanded car tag compact for Cherokee Nation citizens statewide. The sale of Cherokee Nation car tags provides more than $5 million annually for public education in northeast Oklahoma.  

With about 350,000 tribal citizens and more than 11,000 employees, Cherokee Nation and CNB remain among the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma and have an annual economic impact in Oklahoma of more than $2 billion. Today, more Cherokees work for the tribe and its businesses than at any time in history. 

Chief Baker is a graduate of Tahlequah High School and Northeastern State University. He earned degrees in political science and history. He has also been a small business owner for more than 40 years. Chief Baker resides in Tahlequah with his wife, Sherry (Robertson) Baker. They have been blessed with six children and are the proud grandparents of 13 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Rep. Forrest Bennett 

Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Forrest Bennett is the State Representative for House District 92, covering midtown, downtown, and southside OKC. He was born and raised in Bartlesville, OK, and has a bachelors in political science and a Masters degree in Public Administration, both from the University of Oklahoma. Rep. Bennett is also an alumni of the 2013 Summer Policy Institute. 

David Blatt 

Welcome; Budget and Tax Overview; Panel Discussion: Oklahoma’s Fiscal Challenges

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

Food Security Breakout Session

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.

John Brasher 

Panelist: Criminal Justice Reform

John started with the DA’s office in 2007. He is currently the Director of General Felony, which encompasses about 5500 felony cases per year.  Most of these cases are Drug and Property crime cases.  He is also in charge of the office’s Alternative Court Program, which includes Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Women in Recovery, Women’s Diversion, Community Sentencing and Veteran’s Court. The office’s goal is to provide alternatives to incarceration to the majority of substance abuse offenders, while at the same, aggressively prosecuting violent criminals and those who distribute drugs in our community.  He participates on numerous boards and committees whose goal is to reduce the mentally ill jail population by diverting those suffering from mental illness to treatment facilities. 

G.T. Bynum

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities 

G.T. Bynum was sworn in as the 40th Mayor of Tulsa on December 5, 2016.

Prior to his election as Mayor, Bynum served for eight years on the Tulsa City Council.  During that time, he was elected as the youngest City Council Chairman in Tulsa history.

Throughout his time in Tulsa city government, Mayor 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.

Mayor Bynum and his wife, Susan, are the proud parents of Robert and Annabel – the sixth generation of Bynums to call Tulsa home. He previously worked as the managing partner of Capitol Ventures, and before that 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.

Mayor Bynum has served on the boards of directors for Leadership Oklahoma, Leadership Tulsa, and the Tulsa Historical Society. He also served on the Board of Regents for the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, and is currently a member of the Augustinian Advancement Advisory Council.

In 2011, Mayor Bynum was selected as an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow, a program which seeks to bring together 24 of the nation’s most promising young elected leaders on a bipartisan basis, explore the responsibilities of public leadership, and assist them in achieving their fullest potential in public service. In 2014, he was selected as the only city councilor in the nation to participate in the Moneyball For Government Fellowship Program, which aims to assist local governments in achieving better results with limited budgets through increasing the use of data, evidence and evaluation when spending taxpayer money.

Mayor Bynum attended Eliot Elementary in the Tulsa Public Schools system. He is a proud graduate of two institutions operated by the Augustinian Order of the Catholic Church: Cascia Hall Preparatory School and Villanova University, where he served as Student Body President. Mayor Bynum is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Tulsa. He is a member of Christ the King Parish and earned his Eagle Scout designation in high school as a member of Troop 73.

Shelley Cadamy 

Panelist: Economic Security

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.

Mike Carter 

Panelist: Criminal Justice Reform

Mike Carter was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and attended Will Rogers High School.  He later graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.  He joined the Sand Springs Police Department in 1993 and advanced through the ranks to his present position as Chief of Police.  Mike is a graduate of the 221st session of the FBI National Academy as well as an Instructor with Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.  In 2016, he became a certified instructor for Fair and Impartial Policing which is a curriculum that centers on the concept of implicit bias.  Mike served for many years as the team leader for Crisis Negotiators on the SWAT Team.  In 1995, he served at the scene of the Murrah Federal Building bomb attack in Oklahoma City. He has made several suggestions for state statutes which have been adopted by the legislature.  Under his administration, the Sand Springs Police Department has made community policing the central focus of their policing philosophy.

Rep. Bobby Cleveland 

Panelist: Criminal Justice Reform

A native Oklahoman, State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, ran for state office after retiring from the business he owned for 40 years. He is currently serving his third term representing House District 20, which includes parts of Cleveland, Garvin, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. Cleveland chairs the House Public Safety Committee and sits on the Elections & Ethics and Government Modernization committees as well as the Appropriations & Budget Public Safety Subcommittee. He is a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform and has toured every prison in the state multiple times as an elected official. Cleveland received the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association’s Minuteman Legislator of the Year award in 2017, the Oklahoma Sunshine Award in 2015, the Jim Thorpe Appreciation Award in 2014 and the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals’ Legislator of the Year award in 2014.

Tamya Cox 

Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Tamya Cox grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Tulsa when she was 15.  She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.A. in journalism and minor in French. In 2006, Cox graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law. After being admitted to the bar, Cox worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma as the first legislative counsel. She is currently the Regional Director of Public Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

Committed to civil rights and civil liberties, Cox has traveled across the state and country speaking to communities regarding issues that directly impact their lives. She has served on numerous panels and presented on a variety of topics. 

Awards: AC Hamlin Award by the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus and John Green Community Service Award by the Association of Black Lawyers, and Faith and Freedom Award for the Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Courtney Cullison 

Presenter: Economic Security; Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Courtney Cullison joined OK Policy in March 2017 as a policy analyst focusing on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

Courtney also has experience as a congressional staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives, working as the legislative correspondent for Tom Coburn (R- Oklahoma) and as a fellow in domestic social policy for Rep. Henry Brown (R- South Carolina).

Amy Curran

Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Amy is the site manager of Generation Citizen Oklahoma, a nonprofit working to ensure students receive an effective action civics education by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to actively participate in our democracy. She has spent over 20 years addressing community issues specifically around empowering youth and providing opportunities through education. She began her career with Project Transformation, a community oriented summer day camp focused on improving literacy among elementary-aged children from Oklahoma’s low-income urban neighborhoods. A community volunteer in a variety of capacities over her career, she currently chairs an organization which operates a food pantry and provides eye care (and other services) to Oklahoma City’s working poor at no cost.

Amy holds a B.A. in Letters from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters in Religious Education from Oklahoma City University. She enjoys adventures with her husband and two boys, knitting, cooking dinner with friends, and cheering on the OKC Thunder.

Cordon DeKock

Panelist: Oklahoma Campaigns and Elections

Cordon DeKock was hired to manage political affairs for the State Chamber of Oklahoma in 2011, and in 2012 he was the campaign manager for the Yes on State Question 766 campaign that exempted intangible personal property from ad valorem taxes. As the Vice President of Political Affairs, he recruits candidates for State House and State Senate, produces independent expenditure and legislative advocacy campaigns, manages We Mean Business PAC, and operates a political intelligence service for members of the State Chamber of Oklahoma. Cordon attended Rice University and Oklahoma State University while working on various local issue and candidate campaigns in Texas and Oklahoma.

Lee Denny

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities

Lee R. Denney was born and raised in Cushing, Oklahoma. She attended Oklahoma State University and received a Bachelor of Science in agricultural economics and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced in a mixed animal practice for 35 years, mainly working on companion animals. Denney ran and was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2004 and served for 12 years. She served as the speaker pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Committee for Education. She served for nine years on the Cushing City Commission, serving as vice-mayor and mayor. Denney currently is teaching in the veterinary technology program at OSU-OKC and was honored by the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association as 2017 Veterinarian of the Year.

Sheri Dickerson 

Panelist: Criminal Justice Reform

Sheri Dickerson is a founding member and Executive Director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City. She serves on several civic and community advocacy boards, including the Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Coalition, OKC PRIDE, and the Diversity Center of Oklahoma. She was recently appointed to the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and is a founding member and executive board mem­ber of the National Organization of Women, Oklahoma City chapter. She is a certified doula and midwife and serves as secretary of the National Association of Black Social Workers.

DeVon Douglass

Discussion: “13th”; Moderator: Economic Security Panel

DeVon Douglass is the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Tulsa. Prior to her appointment with the City, Douglass served as the Economic Opportunity and Poverty Policy Analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Douglass was also the lead organizer for a series of community forums named Tulsa Talks, which addressed racial disparities and safety in Tulsa. She has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Political Science from Missouri State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa.

Moises Echeverria 

Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Echeverria is president & CEO of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice which strives to achieve respect and understanding for all people through education, advocacy and dialogue. He serves as Chair-Elect of Tulsa Young Professionals, one of the largest organized YP organizations in the nation. Echeverria graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and will graduate from The University of Oklahoma this year with a Master’s of Human Relations.

Amber England

Panelist: Education

Amber England is executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, an advocacy organization that champions policies to close the achievement gap and make certain every child receives an excellent education. She is a fifth generation Oklahoman, born and raised in southern Oklahoma. Amber helped launch Stand for Children Oklahoma in 2013, first as the government affairs director, then ascending to executive director in June 2014. Prior to joining Stand, she spent six years leading policy, political, and communication strategy on the leadership staff of the Oklahoma State Senate and two years as policy and communications director for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) and program director for OICA’s statewide childhood obesity initiative, Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition.

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.

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