For OK Policy, it's been a very good year

As 2010 winds down, I wanted to take a moment to offer a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have helped make this a very good year for Oklahoma Policy Institute.

The year started with OK Policy in the midst of a major organizational transition. Our initial Executive Director, Matt Guillory, departed at the end of January, and I assumed the position of Director, while moving “World Headquarters” to Tulsa. As we explained in a note we sent out in early February, the transition signaled a slight shift in our goals and orientation:

We have concluded that in the state’s current economic and legislative climate, our organization’s best use is to focus on policy analysis and research to help inform the public debate… Whereas in the past we have attempted, in part, to directly promote legislative change through advocacy and coalition-building, we will now concentrate more strictly on generating information and ideas that can be used by diverse constituencies in policy discussion and debates.

I can say, with little hesitation, that we have met our goals. Over the course of 2010 we have continued to produce a steady stream of high-quality issue briefs, fact sheets, blog posts and other materials on a broad range of subjects but with a particular focus on state fiscal policy and economic opportunity. We have become an increasingly trusted source for the news media, policymakers, advocates, and ordinary citizens looking for information and ideas on state policy issues, as measured by growing traffic to our website, steadily increasing numbers of followers on Facebook and Twitter, more frequent requests for comments from reporters, and other metrics. Although our work has not led to the policy outcomes we hoped for as often as we wished, our analysis of State Question 744, the state budget crisis, tax expenditures, and other issues has proven that our voice is taken seriously and can have an impact on policy debates.

For most of the year, I have been the organization’s only full-time employee, but this has never been a one-person organization.  I have enjoyed unwavering support from our committed and generous Board of Directors, and, in particular, our Chair, Vince LoVoi.  We have been fortunate to have maintained financial support from national and local foundations, along with more than 200 individuals, organizations, and businesses who have stepped up to provide financial contributions large and small over the course of the year (How could I not mention that there is still time to make a 2010 tax-deductible online contribution from our website?)  On the staffing side, Shiloh Kantz has been a terrifically efficient part-time office manager. Key materials have been produced or supported by forecasting guru Paul Shinn, Takeaway wizard Camille Landry, and intern Matt Gardner.

As I look around the corner to 2011, the organization’s foundations are solid and we are poised for growth. Early in the new year we expect to have on board a highly-qualified full-time policy analyst, and other hires are possible as the year unfolds.  We look to produce more materials, tackle more issue, and host more events (beginning with the distinguished economist Dean Baker in Tulsa January 9th). At the same time, we are committed to remaining true to our mission of providing timely and credible information, analysis and ideas on policy issues affecting Oklahoma, guided by our  core commitments to the adequate, fair and fiscally responsible funding of public services, and to an economy that provides shared prosperity through increased economic opportunity and financial security for all.

When we decided a year ago to keep OK Policy going, it was based on a conviction that our work as a source of independent, clear-headed information and a voice for those of limited means is important to Oklahoma. Thanks to all of you or confirming that conviction. We look forward to continuing our work with you as we confront the many challenges that lied ahead.


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He 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. David has been 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.

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