Ryan Gentzler joins OK Policy as criminal justice policy analyst

Ryan Gentzler
Ryan Gentzler

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to announce that Ryan Gentzler has joined the organization in a new policy analyst position that will focus on criminal justice issues. The position is funded through a grant from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that is intended to support state policy groups in work that can have a significant impact on critical policy issues.

“We are very excited to be adding a dedicated staff person to examine Oklahoma’s criminal justice policies,” said David Blatt, OK Policy’s Executive Director. “Many organizations have laid the groundwork for criminal justice reform, and with an increasing number of political and civic leaders getting on board, the time is ripe for significant and urgently-needed progress.”

With the addition of an analyst focused on criminal justice issues, OK Policy will be able to expand its research on how to reduce incarceration while protecting public safety, expand proven community-based alternatives to jail and prison, and make it easier for Oklahomans with felony records to rebuild their lives after incarceration.

Last year, OK Policy was the driving force behind successful legislation that removed barriers to occupational licenses for individuals with prior felony convictions. In the upcoming legislative session, OK Policy will continue pushing for sentencing reforms, civil asset forfeiture reform, and the removal of restrictions that prevent Oklahomans with a felony in their past from getting a job. We’ll also examine the growth of fines and court costs that can create a virtual debtor’s prison for Oklahomans charged with crimes.

Gentzler previously worked as a Research Associate at the University of Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Education Institute. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College.  In 2014-15, he served as an OK Policy Research Fellow, during which time he contributed blog posts on school funding and tax credit reform. He has also written guest blog posts for OK Policy on the debate over regulating wind power and the importance of bilingual education, which he co-authored with Shannon Guss. In 2014, Ryan participated in our Summer Policy Institute.

“With Ryan, we’re able to bring on board someone we know has excellent research skills, a strong work ethic, and a passionate commitment to the values we promote as an organization,” Blatt said. “We’re especially pleased to again reap the fruit of the investments we are making to identify and train promising young talent through our Summer Policy Institute, Research Fellowship, and student internships.”

Gentzler is now the third member  of the nine-member staff, along with Policy Analyst Carly Putnam and Outreach and Operations Associate Tyler Parette, to join OK Policy in a full-time capacity after serving as an intern or Fellow. The other staffpersons are: Executive Director David Blatt, Operations and Development Director Shiloh Kantz, Policy Director Gene Perry, Policy Analyst DeVon Douglass, Outreach and Advocacy Specialist Kara Joy McKee, and Legislative Liaison Damario Solomon-Simmons.

“It’s an honor to join such great people doing great work, especially in such an important policy area and at a time when the momentum for change is building,” said Gentzler. “I’m eager to contribute to OK Policy’s advocacy on criminal justice reform and to see the state take steps toward a system that works for all Oklahomans.”

“Just six years ago, we could barely scrounge together a singles tennis match from our staff,” Blatt noted. “Now we can field a full baseball squad! This speaks to the reputation we’ve built as a trusted source of information and analysis, and to the need that exists in Oklahoma for data-driven research and effective advocacy.”


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.

2 thoughts on “Ryan Gentzler joins OK Policy as criminal justice policy analyst

  1. When you have time, I would like to share what a few of us are doing with respect to advocacy for justice reform.

    Let me know when you are coming to Norman and we can share some time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.