OK Policy celebrating 10th anniversary with gala dinner

Event on September 13th honors Kris Steele and Sandy Garrett, features New Yorker humorist Ian Frazier.

For ten years, Oklahoma Policy Institute has advanced effective public policies through research-based education and advocacy. The organization will celebrate this 10th anniversary with a gala dinner on September 13 at the Farmers Public Market in Oklahoma City. Tickets for the event can be purchased at https://okpolicy.org/10dinner/.

“In our short history, OK Policy has already changed the course of the state in ways that benefit all Oklahomans thanks to our talented staff, dedicated Board of Directors, and committed donors,” said David Blatt, who helped found the Tulsa-based organization in 2008 and has served as Executive Director since 2010. “Policymakers, community leaders, advocates, and citizens know to turn to OK Policy for the information they need to engage in well-informed debates and to make thoughtful decisions.”

The 10th anniversary dinner will honor Sandy Garrett and Kris Steele with OK Policy’s Good Sense/Good Cents Award that recognizes a lifetime of civic engagement based on respectful political dialogue, sound fiscal stewardship, and concern for the less fortunate. Garrett, a Democrat from Muskogee, served as Secretary of Education for Gov. Henry Bellmon and won election five times as State Superintendent of Instruction, holding office from 1990-2010. Steele, a Republican from Shawnee, served twelve years in the Legislature, including as House Speaker from 2010-2012. He has since remained passionately engaged in public affairs as Executive Director of TEEM, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration, and as chair of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.

“Sandy Garrett and Kris Steele’s long careers of public service are living examples for how Oklahoma can tackle its toughest policy challenges through bipartisan cooperation and civil dialogue,” said Don Millican, CFO of Kaiser Francis Oil Company, who has been on OK Policy’s board since its founding and currently serves as board chair.

The event will feature a keynote talk by Ian Frazier, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1974 and one of the nation’s leading humorists and feature story writers. Frazier is the only writer to have twice been awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor, in 1997 for his collection of humor essays Coyote vs. Acme, and again in 2009 for Lamentations for the Father. An astute and original observer of contemporary America, his non-fiction work includes On the Rez, an examination of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“We are looking forward to a fun, lively evening, where we will celebrate OK Policy’s achievements and look ahead to the future,” said OK Policy board members and event chair Susan Chambers, MD, a founding member of OKC Gyn/Ob Inc., Lakeside Women’s Hospital, and MedEncentive.

The 10th anniversary comes at a time when OK Policy is growing in both size and impact. The organization, which currently has a 13-member staff, has recently added several new projects, including KIDS COUNT, Open Justice Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Mental Health Policy Fellowship. These projects are expanding OK Policy’s efforts to reduce the toughest barriers to economic opportunity and good health for Oklahoma families. The organization also played an essential role in this year’s historic bipartisan supermajority majority of approval of a desperately needed teacher pay raise that is funded with a balanced mix of new taxes. This vote reflects growing support for OK Policy’s longstanding efforts to ensure a fair and adequate state budget that promotes the general welfare through broad-based prosperity.

Tickets and table sponsorships for the 10th anniversary dinner are now available by going to https://okpolicy.org/10dinner or by calling 918-794-3944. Individual tickets are $100 and may be purchased through September 7.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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