Ten People We Watched in 2013 (Greater Tulsa Reporter)

Steadman Upham

For The University of Tulsa, 2013 has been another incredibly successful year thanks to the leadership of TU President Steadman Upham, who cemented the city’s confidence in TU when he returned to the helm in late 2012.

Upham announced record enrollment at the top 100 national university as well as plans for continued expansion of academic programs and a new dormitory. TU’s True Blue Neighbors initiative reported an all-time high for volunteer hours by students, faculty and staff at local schools and food banks. In sports, Upham confirmed that Golden Hurricane teams would move to the new American Athletic Conference. He appointed administrators to several key positions including Derrick Gragg, Vice President and Director of Athletics; Earl Johnson, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services; and Kalpana Misra, Dean of the Henry Kendall College of Arts & Sciences. Lastly, Upham introduced Goldie, TU’s popular – and adorable – canine ambassador.

Jim Bridenstine

Congressman Bridenstine has had a busy year representing Oklahoma District 1, which includes most of the readership ofGTR Newspapers. Opposition to Obamacare, in additional to other conservative issues, has been the focus of his term. His website has the following quote: “America has the world’s finest doctors, hospitals, and medical innovations, but all that is in jeopardy because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. I truly believe that Obamacare is the most significant domestic policy issue of our time, and stopping it is one of my top priorities in Congress.” He adds, “While Obamacare was supposed to bring down the cost of health insurance, the average premium for a family has risen by more than $3,000 since it was signed into law. Putting a stop to Obamacare is one of my top priorities in Congress. That is why I co-sponsored and voted for H.R. 45, which passed in the House on May 16, 2013, and if enacted into law, would repeal Obamacare in its entirety.”

Diane Rafferty

Since becoming CEO of Oklahoma State University Medical Center (OSUMC) in October 2012, Diane Rafferty began maximizing OSUMC’s resources by improving operational efficiencies such as supply utilization and productivity improvements. She has also been instrumental in creating an even stronger relationship with the OSU Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS). Together OSUMC and OSU-CHS continue to create a superior training ground for Osteopathic physicians to serve rural and urban Oklahoma.

Rafferty has worked with OSU-CHS leadership, OSUMC’s Board of Trustees, Osteopathic physicians and Oklahoma Legislators to secure $18.25 million after receipt of matching funds for the year. OSUMC is being transferred to a state trust governed by the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority, an agency of the State of Oklahoma. The transfer will position OSUMC to move forward with securing a private partner for continued success in training the physicians of tomorrow.

Danny Manning

Danny Manning is in his second season as head basketball coach at The University of Tulsa.

In his first year, the Golden Hurricane posted a 17-16 overall record and an 8-8 mark in Conference USA play, finishing fifth in the league regular season. With the fifth-least-experienced team in the nation in 2012-13 and battling injuries all season, TU advanced to the semifinals of the Conference USA Championship and played in the CBI postseason tournament. Two Hurricane players, James Woodard and D’Andre Wright, were selected to the C-USA All-Freshman Team.

This season the team, at this writing, has lost three straight games, the first time for an 0-3 start at TU in 36 years.

One of college basketball’s most outstanding players in the history of the sport, Manning became TU’s 29th Head Basketball Coach on March 29, 2012, just days before he would be coaching in the NCAA Final Four as a member of the University of Kansas staff.

Kirt Hartzler

Kirt Hartzler has been serving as Union Public Schools’ Superintendent for six months, and he already has some school accomplishments to discuss.

Starting with the current school year, a new strategic plan has been instituted with four main emphases on early childhood education, community schools, its collegiate academy and increased focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The plan also improves on the district’s mission statement, with the focus of graduating 100 percent of its students college and career ready.

Hartzler is also proud of the school district’s increase in student involvement in fine arts and athletics. “When students are engaged, they are more successful,” he says. As Hartzler reflects on his first six months in his new position and the remaining portion of the 2013-14 school year, “I have to give props to my staff and school administrators,” he says.

“Stepping into this position only affirms to me how special this district is.”

Hillary Parkhurst

Hillary Parkhurst served as the 2013 chair of Tulsa’s Young Professionals (TYPros).

Looking back on the year, Parkhurst is proud of the organization’s partnership with the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, largely thanks to it Arts & Entertainment Crew. The crew grew from an arts initiative that began in 2012 due to the organization’s recognition of the impact of the importance of the arts in the community.

She notes some accomplishments of the Government Relations Crew (GRC), such as its hosting of quarterly Leadership Through Legislation events and its support of the Bring It To Tulsa: Trader Joe’s campaign and the OKPOP Museum.

Street CReD: North Star, organized by the Urbanists Crew, was held in May. “The visionaries and volunteers who transformed 36th Street North and North Peoria for the weekend helped us highlight the need for more fresh food options and improved public transit,” says Parkhurst.

Thomas Moton

Since becoming Broken Arrow’s city manager in Nov. 2012, Thomas Moton has overseen many changes and improvements within the city, with more to come in the near future.

One highly visible project has been the streetscaping project of three blocks on Main Street.

Main Street also recently welcomed the Military History Museum.

Construction on the new water treatment facility will continue into 2014. Moton expects the facility to begin treating water by the spring.

Moton feels hopeful about the city’s growth and future. “There are things on the horizon that make me excited to come to work,” he says.

One such project is the planned events park, located on 101st Street, east of Northeastern State University. Long-term plans for the 200-acre park include an amphitheater, RV park, multi-purpose pavilion, splash pad, adult softball field, community health and fitness center, playground, an expanded water area, and walking trails.

David Blatt

David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, focuses on many subjects of statewide concern, including state budget, tax policy and poverty levels.

One budget finding is that the amount of funding appropriated to common education continues to decline although total appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2014 are $7.1587 billion, an increase of $285 million from the FY 2013 budget.

In FY 2014, common education will receive the lowest share of the budget since at least FY 2000. Common education is slated to receive 33.8 percent of appropriations, down from 34.4 percent in fiscal year 2013 and 35.3 percent in 2012. The state formula funding for public schools remains $213 million below FY 2008 levels, even as enrollment has increased by more than 30,000 students.

However, a few priorities received significant funding increases, such as the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services and Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Arianna Moore

Arianna Moore’s first year as the youngest Tulsa city councilor in history has been what she would call, a successful one both in terms of the city’s accomplishments and her learning experiences.

In November, Tulsa residents approved the largest capital improvement package, which will continue the street repairs that began in 2008 with the Fix Our Streets initiative. More than 70 percent of this package will go toward street repairs and bridges. Portions will also go toward public safety, repairs and improvements to more than 30 neighborhood parks, the city’s animal shelter, the Tulsa Zoo, and River Parks.

Moore has also spent time working with City Councilor Jeannie Cue to improve social services and quality of life in the area of 61st Street and Peoria Avenue.

“I feel very lucky to have been a part of this council,” she says. “We work so well together. Where one person’s weakness begins, an other’s strength begins.”

Jake Henry

As the 2013 chair of the board for directors of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Jake Henry Jr. has seen many positive developments occur in greater Tulsa.

The communities surrounding Tulsa continue to grow. Ongoing construction and southward expansion continue in Bixby. The city of Owasso is focused on expanding and improving its downtown and most recently welcomed Sam’s Club to the community. Broken Arrow is reporting southward growth with the coming of Warren Theatres and plans for an events park, in addition to the steady resurgence of its Main Street.

Plans were unveiled earlier in the year for A Gathering Place for Tulsa, a community waterfront park designed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, to be located along Riverside Drive. The park will improve property values and add increased focus on river development and creating constant water in the Arkansas River. The ground breaking for the project is planned for spring or summer of 2014.



Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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