2017 Speaker Bios [G-M]

2017 Speaker Bios [G-M]

Alphabetical by last name. 

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Ryan Gentzler 

Overview: Criminal Justice; Panel Discussion: Criminal Justice Reform

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.

Melissa Gower 

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Melissa currently works as the Senior Advisor, Policy Analyst to the Secretary of Health for the Chickasaw Nation since January, 2015.  Her focus is on all health related policy issues at the national, state, and local levels for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health.

Melissa has been working as a Senior Health Consultant with various tribes, tribal organizations and non-profit organizations over the last four years.  During that time she also served as the Executive Director of the Cherokee County Health Services Council which operated one of the three certified Health Information Organizations in the State of Oklahoma.  She also served as a Health Policy Analyst with the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board serving tribes in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas.  Her main focus was on the Special Protections and Provisions for American Indians in the Affordable Care Act.

Before that she spent the last two decades working for the Cherokee Nation, the second largest Indian tribe in the United States with more than 300,000 citizens. More than half of that time, she served the tribe at an executive level and was part of the team responsible for Cherokee Nation’s unparalleled economic growth and prosperity.

Gower is the recipient of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Native American Health and Welfare Policy Fellowship. She spent a year working for Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, (Chairman, of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs), where she performed legislative duties on several issues including health, self-governance, family, and elder issues.

Over the years, Gower received numerous awards including: “Oklahoma City Area Indian Health Service Area Director’s Service Award,” “Excellence in Management Award,” “Superior Management Award,” and “Employee of the Year Award.”

Gower has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Northeastern State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Jessica Hawkins

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Jessica Hawkins is the Senior Director of Prevention Services for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  In this role, she oversees the state’s federal substance abuse block grant for primary prevention as well as other initiatives for the prevention of suicide, mental health promotion, and screening and brief intervention programs.  Ms. Hawkins has been in the prevention field for 18 years.  Prior to joining the Department, she served as Mission Integration Manager with the California Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS).  She currently serves as the First Vice President of the National Prevention Network (NPN), an affiliate group of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Directors.  Ms. Hawkins received her Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma and BA in Sociology from California State University.

Buffy Heater 

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Mrs. Heater, originally from northeastern Oklahoma, received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern State University before receiving her Master’s degree in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  Mrs. Heater joined the OHCA in August 2002, after leading numerous community-based projects for the Community Action Resource & Development Agency in Bartlesville. 

As Chief Strategy Officer for the OHCA, Mrs. Heater was responsible the planning and development of projects, measuring program performance, and recommending innovative policies that complemented the agency’s vision and strategic plan. In July of 2016, Mrs. Heater was assigned to a one year detail as Strategy Officer to the Oklahoma HHS Cabinet. She coordinates the development of waivers across four HHS cabinet and other health-partner agencies. She is the project lead for Oklahoma’s 1332 Waiver development, aimed at stabilizing the individual health insurance market.

She and her husband Tobey, an Environmental Consultant with Oklahoma Environmental Services (OES), have been married for 18 years and currently live in Oklahoma City where they are raising their four young daughters.


Reggie Ivey 

Panelist: Health Care in Oklahoma

Raganald Ivey has served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Tulsa City-County Health Department (TCCHD) for six years.  Ivey has been employed with the TCCHD for twenty-one years; previously serving as the Interim Director, Associate Director for Community Health Services, Manager of Healthy Start (the infant mortality reduction program) and the Health Education Program. He also served as Executive Director of the Margaret Hudson Program; a non-profit school for pregnant and parenting teens.  Ivey began his career in public health 25 years ago as a Disease Intervention Specialist, while employed with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

Ivey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern State University, where he had a double major in Communication and Psychology. He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma and obtained a Masters of Human Relations degree, with an emphasis in Organizational Development. Ivey has completed 40 hours of post-graduate work in Organizational Leadership.  In 2009, he completed special training through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a National Public Health Leadership Institute Fellow. He is an Oklahoma Public Health Leadership Institute Fellow as well as a Leadership Tulsa Fellow.  Ivey has also served as the President of the Oklahoma Public Health Association and in 2003, he was appointed to the Interagency Coordinating Council for Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases by Governor Brad Henry.   

Ivey has been recognized for his outstanding commitment to the Tulsa City-County Health Department. He has received the Outstanding Public Service Award, and in 2006, he was awarded Supervisor of the Year.  In April 2014, Ivey received the Circle of Friends in Community Service Award from The Links, Incorporated.  That same year, Ivey was recognized during the Juneteenth Celebration for his work to reduce health disparities in Tulsa by the State of Oklahoma.   Ivey is heavily involved in the Tulsa community, as well as several state organizations.  He currently serves on the Tulsa Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Booker T. Washington Foundation Board, the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma Board and the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation Board (Board Governance Chair).

Ivey’s most notable career accomplishment is his work to engage a part of the Tulsa community that was experiencing the worst health outcomes in Tulsa County.  He worked closely with the Board of Health to engage the residents that live in the northern tier of Tulsa County to garner their feedback about how to improve health outcomes.  The concept of the North Regional Health and Wellness Center was birthed as a result of feedback from the community.  Ivey worked tirelessly to secure funding, identify partners and provide oversight of the project from start to finish, while ensuring the community was kept abreast of the progress of the Center.  The facility opened in September 2012 in a zip code that was identified as having the worst health outcomes in Tulsa County.  Ivey utilized a quote that he heard from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Julie Gerberding to guide him.  She said “The most powerful way to achieve improvements in health is to target programs to those people who experience the greatest health disparities in their own community.”  Ivey’s most notable personal accomplishment is his 22 year marriage to his wife Ida and their two children, Jeremiah and Kaiden.

Jeff Jaynes

Panelist: Economic Security

Rev. Jeff Jaynes is the Executive Director of Restore Hope Ministries. Jeff was born and raised in the Tulsa area. He and his wife graduated from high schools in Tulsa and grew up in the United Methodist Church. Jeff received his Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Theology from Georgetown University and his Master’s of Divinity from Duke University. After graduating from Duke, Jeff was appointed to Southern Hills UMC in Tulsa where he served until June 2011. Jeff has a passion for the Tulsa area and its people, especially those who are in need. Before answering the call to ministry, Jeff worked in a variety of public service positions at the local and national levels. Jeff and his wife have two incredible sons. They love to travel, and are big fans of sports and the arts.

Shiloh Kantz 


Shiloh joined OK Policy as the Office Manager in February of 2010.  She is a wife and mother of three children, Grantham, Ethan and Delilah and a member of the Cherokee Nation.  Prior to joining OK Policy, she worked as a controller and office manager for an Oklahoma small business group.  Shiloh was promoted to Director of Operations and Development in June of 2015. She oversees all internal operations, event planning, and fundraising activities. Her work at OK Policy has tuned her in to what is happening in our state and fostered a drive to play a more active part in it.  Before joining the staff, she felt she was a suburban wife and mother who had no interest in state government because it did not affect her.  She now realizes state government affects all residents, big and small, old and young. 

Ryan Kiesel 

Panelist: Oklahoma Campaigns and Elections

Ryan Kiesel served three terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010. During his time in the legislature, Kiesel held various leadership roles and often led the fight against efforts to curb reproductive rights and trample civil liberties. In addition to his service in the legislature, Ryan has filled key roles on local, state and national campaigns. Ryan continues to write and speak on a wide range of political and legal issues, and has been cited by local and national media outlets. Prior to joining the staff of the ACLU of Oklahoma, Kiesel was in private practice with a law firm in Oklahoma City. Ryan also taught a seminar, Politics and the Law, as an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Ryan received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Anna King 

Panelist: Education

Anna King is the Vice President of Membership of the National Parent Teacher Association and a past President of the Oklahoma PTA. She also serves as treasurer and legislative chair of the Frederick Douglas Mid/High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association in Oklahoma City. In addition to being active with the local PTA, King is a member of the Northeast Task Force for Oklahoma City Public Schools, volunteers with the Salvation Army, and serves with the Certified Healthy Schools Committee. Her previous involvement includes being a member of the Oklahoma Teacher, Leader and Effectiveness Commission, Board member for John Rex Charter School in Oklahoma City, a member of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Strategic Planning and School Dress Code Task Force committees. She has received lifetime achievement awards from National, Oklahoma any many state PTAs.

Ed Long 

Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussion

Ed Long, founder and principal of Cross Sector Innovations, holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma with specializations in public policy and public management, and completed all coursework for a Ph.D. in political science, with a focus on public administration, public policy and American politics and government. He has co-authored articles related to strategic planning and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. His experience includes strategic planning, evaluation, public policy, public/nonprofit management, grant writing, program development, communications and government relations. His current focus is social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Mike Mazzei 

Panelist: Oklahoma’s Fiscal Challenges

Senator Mike Mazzei proudly represented the citizens of District 25 in the Oklahoma State Senate for 12 years, serving south Tulsa County. He served as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for 10 of those years.

Mike’s worked passionately on job creation, lower taxes, and better roads & bridges. He’s particularly pleased with fixing the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System, and establishing the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday.

Since leaving the State Senate, Mike has remained focused on the critical areas our state is facing. He is frequently sought out to share from his years of experience and institutional knowledge in the State Senate what he believes the path to success for Oklahoma should look like.

In his personal profession, Mike Mazzei is the President of Tulsa Wealth Advisors and holds the industry leading designation of Master Planner Advanced Studies. In 2013, Mike authored the book, “Solving Your Financial Planning Puzzle”.

Kara Joy McKee 

Speed Friending; Tour of Tipton Community Garden; Careers in Public Policy: Round Table Discussions; Grass Roots Advocacy

KJ joined OK Policy in December of 2013. She is a native Oklahoman and an OU graduate. As OK Policy’s Outreach & Advocacy Specialist, she coordinates the Together coalition and works to make it easier for all Oklahomans to advocate for sensible public policies. She has been active for years with the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, Oklahoma Sustainability Network, and other community projects, and in 2011 she was honored with the City of Norman’s Human Rights Award. Prior to joining OK Policy, KJ was Executive Director of Kendall Whittier, Inc. (KWI), a Tulsa neighborhood nonprofit, and she currently serves on the KWI board of directors.

Suzanne Mettler

Keynote Speaker

Suzanne Mettler is the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include public policy, American political development, political behavior and civic engagement, and inequality.

Mettler is the author of four books, including Degrees of Inequality: How The Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream; The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Programs Undermine American Democracy; Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism In New Deal Public Policy, which was awarded the Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association (APSA) for the best book on US national policy and the Derthick Award for a book that has made an enduring contribution to the study of federalism; and Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation, which was also awarded the Kammerer Award as well as the Greenstone prize of the Politics and History section of APSA.  She has also served as the co-editor of two additional books, published many book chapters and articles in scholarly journals, and written shorter pieces for a broad audience for publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Monthly, Foreign Affairs, Slate, and Salon.

Mettler serves on the steering committee of the Scholars Strategy Network. Previously, she served as secretary of the American Political Science Association and president of the organization’s Politics and History and Public Policy sections. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Rob Miller

Panelist: Education

Rob Miller is assistant superintendent of human resources and administration at Sand Springs Public Schools. He has been in public education for 24 years, following ten years as an artillery officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a teacher, he was twice selected as a site teacher of the year and was the Jenks Public School Teacher of the Year in 1999. While a principal at Jenks Middle School, Rob was recognized as the 2015 Oklahoma Middle School Principal of the Year and was one of six finalists for the National Association of Secondary School Principal’s (NASSP) National Principal of the Year. In 2014, Rob was also honored as the 2014 Recipient of the Advocate for Academic Freedom Award from the Oklahoma Education Association. He writes a popular blog on Oklahoma education issues at www.viewfromtheedge.net.

Don Millican 

Moderator: Oklahoma’s Fiscal Challenges

Don P. Millican is the Chief Financial Officer for the various interests of George B. Kaiser, including Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. Prior to joining Mr. Kaiser, Mr. Millican was a partner in the international accounting firm of Ernst and Young, where he served as managing partner of the Oklahoma practice and served on the national Partner Advisory Board until his retirement in 2003.

Angela Monson 

Panelist: Public Leadership: Myths and Realities

Angela Monson has been engaged in activities related to health care policy for more than 30 years.  She is currently employed by the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center as Associate Provost for Community Partnerships and Health Policy and is responsible to the Provost and Senior Vice President of the Health Sciences Center. She also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Monson is a member of the OU Medical Center (Hospital) Board of Trustees and previously served as a member of the Oklahoma City/County Board of Health. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Families USA, a national consumer health advocacy organization, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Health Policy Development, the parent entity of the National Academy for State Health Policy. 

Monson was a member of the Oklahoma State Senate from 1993 until November, 2005 and the Oklahoma House of Representatives from November 1990 until her election to the State Senate. 

As a member of the State Senate, Monson served as First Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Chair of the Finance Committee, Chair of the Appropriations Sub-committee on Group Health and Employee Benefits and Appropriations Vice-Chair of the Sub-Committee on Health and Social Services.  During her tenure in the Legislature, she was the primary sponsor of many critical bills now law, including mobile phone 911 access, ad valorem tax reform, early voting, mental health parity, and was also one of the chief architects of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state’s Medicaid agency. 

Sen. Monson is a past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and also served as chair of the NCSL Health Committee and as a member of the NSCL Executive Committee.  During her tenure as Health Committee Chair, Monson was instrumental in developing the Conference’s position and actions on the Tobacco Settlement between the states’ attorneys general and the tobacco companies. Monson has also testified before Congressional Committees on various topics including Medicaid and the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.  She was also a member of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Executive Committee.  

In February, 2009, Monson was elected Chairperson of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education and served one four year term in that district-wide elected position. 

A graduate of Oklahoma City University, Monson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Corrections from that institution and also received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma at Norman. She is also a graduate of Douglass High School in the Oklahoma City Public Schools District.

Angela is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at both Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma. She remains very active in her community and her church, the Voice of Praise Baptist Church.

Rep. Cyndi Munson 

Panelist: Oklahoma Campaigns and Elections

A first generation college student, Cyndi graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she earned a Master of Science in Leadership Education. She used a semester of her undergraduate career to study non-profit and voluntary services at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. While at the University of Central Oklahoma, Cyndi was awarded the Presidential Gold Medal for Leadership and Public Service. Cyndi spent a decade working and volunteering in Oklahoma City’s non-profit community. In the community, she serves as chair of the Infant Crisis Services Young Professionals Group, member of the Oklahoma Messages Project Board of Directors, and member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma City Resource Board. Cyndi is a 2006 graduate of the National Education for Women’s (N.E.W.) Leadership program through the University of Oklahoma, a program for undergraduate women interested in public service. Elected in September of 2015, Cyndi became the first Asian-American woman elected to the Oklahoma Legislature.

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