People To Watch: DeVon Douglass takes new role to lead Tulsa on path to resiliency (Tulsa World)

By Ginnie Graham

Narrowing divides among Tulsa residents is going to be the focus of DeVon Douglass as the city’s newly named chief resilience officer.

Douglass, 28, drew attention last year with rave reviews as a moderator for the summer’s Tulsa Talks series, which addressed race relations as it intersects with law enforcement practices. She has an innate ability of tackling difficult, hard-to-discuss issues with diplomacy and tact.

She grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Missouri State University before earning her law degree at the University of Tulsa. In October 2015, she joined Oklahoma Policy Institute as an analyst in economic opportunity and poverty policy with focus on examining economic opportunities and financial security for all Oklahomans.

In her role as Tulsa’s chief resilience officer beginning Tuesday, Douglass will oversee efforts to identify and solve priority areas for the community with a particular lens on racial disparities. She is quick to say that her outreach will be to all Tulsans. “I want to get as many diverse and different voices as possible to discuss what resiliency means to Tulsa,” Douglass said.

The role is funded by the 100 Resilient Cities grants established by the Rockefeller Foundation. Tulsa joins other international cities such as Paris and Athens in being selected to add these positions. Her job also includes addressing issues such as health disparities between ZIP codes and transportation problems.

“Tulsa believes it is more resilient than it actually is, but that is good,” she said. “There are weak spots. Like an old bridge, it is sturdy and dependable. But there are spots that, if touched, it could fall apart. If we find those spots, we actually can fix them. It’s going to take a lot of grit, hard work and bending — to the point it might feel like breaking. …It’s good to get to those dirty, nasty parts no one wants to talk about. It’s good Tulsans have the confidence this can be done.”

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