Alumni News

Jana Harkins Named  Director of Shared Services

Alumna Jana R. Harkins (BSB-Accounting, ’96) has accepted the position of Director of Shared Services for the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. The mission of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is to build better communities through effective nonprofits. The organization accomplishes this through training, consulting, advocacy, membership, networking and recognition for Oklahoma nonprofits. Ms. Harkins retired from AT&T in 2001 and also obtained an MBA from the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management in 2001. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a volunteer with the Oklahoma Society of CPAs Accounting Careers Committee and Financial Literacy Committee. Ms. Harkins has also served the Oklahoma City community as a volunteer member of several nonprofit governing boards and finance committees.

Brigette Zorn Named Regional Major Gift Officer

Mercy Health Foundation has promoted Brigette Zorn ('06) to the position of Regional Major Gift Officer from Annual Giving Manager. Brigette has spent close to a decade as a fundraiser, beginning her career as a political fundraiser in Washington, D.C., before returning to Oklahoma City to work as an Account Executive for the United Way of Central Oklahoma from 2010 to 2013. Working for Mercy Foundation since 2013, Brigette holds a BA from Oklahoma City University, and is currently working on her MHA degree from Ohio University. Additionally, she serves on the Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee for the American Cancer Society and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Tom Bates Named Special Adviser on Child Welfare


Governor Mary Fallin has named Tom Bates her special adviser on child welfare and Pinnacle Plan implementation.

Bates served 15 years in the attorney general’s office, his responsibilities included overseeing the more than 90 civil and criminal attorneys and 40 agents employed by the attorney general's office.

A native Oklahoman, Bates graduated from U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, and earned a bachelor’s degree and his juris doctorate from Oklahoma City University.

Bates is an active member of Putnam City United Methodist Church and has served the congregation in a variety of leadership roles.  He is a graduate of Leadership Bethany and has served on the board of directors for the Bethany Chamber of Commerce.  He is also a graduate of the Oklahoma Bar Association's leadership academy and Leadership Oklahoma Class 28.

He and his wife, Kellye, have been married for 26 years.  They have two sons, Andy and Billy.


Kelsey Dolphin Joins Staff at USA Triathlon


Alumna Kelsey Dolphin ('13) has accepted the position of National Event Coordinator for USA Triathlon in Colorado Springs.  Kelsey has previously worked as the National Events Coordinator for the OKC Boathouse Foundation.

Guerin Austin Listed Among Boston's 50 Most Fashionable


Fashion and e-commerce website UsTrendy has released its annual list of the 50 most fashionable people in Boston and our very own Guerin Austin ('05) is on the list! Guerin is the Rinkside Reporter for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League.

Mary Overall Joins AARP Oklahoma Executive Council


Alumna Mary Overall, BS '74, will help guide the work of AARP Oklahoma according to President Joe Ann Vermillion.

Overall is president and CEO of Overall & Associates, an independent consulting service. Her career history is one of experience across the health care continuum, in clinical nursing/education and hospital administration. She is a past health care consultant for Ernst & Young and held other key positions including assistant chief medical and critical care nursing, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Oklahoma City; administrative director for an integrated health care delivery system in Houston; and associate administrator and interim chief executive officer for a rehabilitation and long-term care hospital.

She is past CEO for Central Oklahoma Carelink, coordinator for the Central Oklahoma Project Access Program community-based outreach and co-founder of the Faithful, Fit, & Strong Community-based Faith Health Collaborative. She is a member of the board of directors and treasurer for Persimmon Hill Neighborhood Association; the state Department of Health’s Health Equity Campaign; Peoples Church CARE Ministry; American Red Cross Long-Term Advisory Committee; Health and Wellness Coalition — Oklahoma City-County Health Department; and the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University Alumni Associations.

Steve Turk Named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of SandRidge Energy


SandRidge Energy announced the appointment of Steve Turk (MBA '97) to the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, effective March 2, 2015.

Mr. Turk comes to SandRidge with more than 30 years of experience in the exploration and production industry, at both private and publicly held companies, including having most recently served as Chief Operating Officer at HighMount Exploration & Production LLC.

"I am pleased to announce that Steve Turk is joining our senior management team," said James D. Bennett, Chief Executive Officer and President. "Steve will lead our very talented operations group as they continue to focus on our core themes of efficiency and innovation. His background across the industry will be an invaluable asset as we further our basin-leading approach to developing the Midcontinent."

"I am excited to be joining an organization that has such a determined focus on innovation and operational efficiency," said Turk. "SandRidge has a strong asset base and is well-positioned for ongoing value creation. I look forward to working with the operations team and senior management as we continue to expand the company's leadership position in the Midcontinent."

Previously in his career, Mr. Turk was Vice President Operations, Southern Division at Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy. He also held various operations and management positions for Equitable Production Company, Ziff Energy Group and Cabot Oil and Gas.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Edinboro University and a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from Pennsylvania State University as well as an MBA from Oklahoma City University.  

Grace Trahan Joins Boomer TV


Grace Trahan, BA '87 is now a reporter for Boomer TV. Boomer TV, an independent news magazine show based in Indianapolis, is geared for the Boomer generation. The stories focus on health, technology, travel, fitness, and anything else that would interest those 50 and older. Grace is a former news anchor at the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband are the proud parents of three beautiful children.

Kristin Chenoweth Returning to Broken Arrow for Performance & Master Class


Alumna Kristin Chenoweth (BM '91) is returning to Broken Arrow this August to conduct the second annual Kristin Chenoweth Master Class for young singers.

The master class, which will be open to the public, will likely include Chenoweth performing a brief concert, as she did at the inaugural event last year. 

This summer will also be the first season for Kristin Chenoweth's Broadway Boot Camp, a weeklong event for high school performers June 22-26 at the Broken Arrow PAC.

Auditions for the master class and the Broadway Boot Camp will be held Feb. 20-21, with callbacks Feb. 22, at the Broken Arrow PAC, 701 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow.

Those chosen for the master class will take part in a concert-style master class, with Chenoweth assessing each performer's strengths and providing advice to improve their performing abilities.

Participants in the Broadway Boot Camp will learn such skills as audition techniques and stage movement, and will hear from Broadway industry professionals.

Two participants from the Boot Camp will be chosen to attend the Oklahoma City University High School Musical Theatre Camp in July for three weeks with all tuition waived.

Dr. David Herendeen, director of musical theatre at Oklahoma City University, will lead the camp along with a small staff.

“To me, true talent like we experience with Kristin is something that is not taught in school,” Herendeen said. “It has to do with a giving heart. So I can’t help but be excited about our new partnership in Broken Arrow. I’m going to find heart in the heartland for sure.”

The master class and Broadway Boot Camp are some of the projects funded through the partnership between the Broken Arrow PAC and the Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education Fund.

Applications for the camp and master class are available online and must be turned in by Feb. 16. For more information, visit the website or call 918-259-5723.

David Scott Named Interim Director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party


On Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s Central Committee voted unanimously to promote alumnus David Scott (BSB 2011) as Interim Executive Director.

Following the vote, Scott responded by thanking the Central Committee.

“It is humbling to be selected as the new Interim Executive Director for the Oklahoma Democratic Party," Scott said. "I am grateful for this opportunity and for everything that I have learned from our leadership team. We are going to continue to move the Party forward through collaboration and build on the successes we had in 2014.”

Scott has served as the Director of Information Technology at the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s headquarters since September 2011. For the past 3 years he has been responsible for maintaining of the comprehensive voter file used by most Democratic candidates in the state.

Scott also assisted with directing campaign field work and volunteer activities for the state party and many Democratic candidates in Oklahoma.

Scott, a native of Ada, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from Oklahoma City University. At just 25 years old, he is one of the youngest Executive Directors for a statewide Democratic Party.

Scott, is also a member of the Choctaw Nation and is possibly the only Native American Executive Director of a State Democratic Party in the nation.

“It has been a pleasure working with Trav Robertson for the past 3 years. We have built an outstanding organization through partnerships across the state with candidates, partner organizations, Party leaders, elected officials, donors, and volunteers. We appreciate everything that Trav has done and will continue to do for Oklahoma Democrats but we look forward to where we will go under David’s enthusiastic leadership,” said Party Chairman Wallace Collins.

Grigsby Named Chief Financial Officer at American Energy Partners


American Energy Partners LP on Monday announced the hiring of alumna Jennifer Grigsby (MBA '99) as chief financial officer for two of its affiliates.

Grigsby, who spent 19 years at Chesapeake Energy, will serve as chief financial officer for American Energy-Woodford LLC and American Energy-Mineral Holdings LLC.

Grigsby most recently was Chesapeake’s senior vice president of corporate and strategic planning. She previously worked for Commander Aircraft Co. and Deloitte and Touche LLP in various accounting and supervisory roles.

American Energy-Woodford has amassed more than 200,000 net acres in what it calls the Central Northern Oklahoma Woodford play. It produced 8,700 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the third quarter, while drilling what company officials believe are the cheapest horizontal wells in the U.S. at $2.6 million each last year.

American Energy-Mineral Holdings has built one of the largest mineral and overriding royalty interest positions in four different shale plays. Much of its acreage is under acreage owned by other American Energy Affiliates, which are active in the Marcellus, Utica, Woodford and Wolfcamp shales.

American Energy Partners was founded in April 2013 by former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey K. McClendon.

Sandra Mitchell Receives United Nations Appointment


Sandra Mitchell (JD '88) was recently appointed Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at the level of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Currently Vice-President of International Programs of the International Rescue Committee, Ms. Mitchell brings to the position nearly 20 years of experience in international peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian and electoral field missions, including seven years with the United Nations notably in senior management roles at UNRWA from 2011 to 2013 as Director of Operations, Jordan, and Chief of Staff.  She spent four years as Director of Elections with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and Chief Humanitarian Affairs Officer of the United Nation’s Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in 2006.

Ms. Mitchell started her career in the legal field with a commercial firm and subsequently in senior roles with the American Bar Association and International Human Rights Law Group.  She joined the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and held progressively responsible positions from 1996 to 2000.  She alternated between OSCE and the International Rescue Committee in various roles, culminating as Vice-President for Government Relations and Advocacy of the International Rescue Committee from 2002 and 2004, followed by an appointment as Chief of Party on a human rights and legal reform project in Cambodia with East-West Management Institute.

Ms. Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Washington State University and a Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Lara Russell Appointed Special Judge


 Lara Russell (JD '01) has been appointed Special District Judge for the 12th Judicial District consisting of Rogers, Mayes, and Craig counties.  

“Ms. Russell has served as both a public defender and Assistant District Attorney and that experience should serve her well as she begins her judicial duties,” McBride said.

Judge Steidley added that, “Lara Russell comes highly recommended not only for her experience, but for her ethics, temperament and commitment to the law.”  

Judge Condren said that “Lara Russell is well respected in the Tulsa Juvenile Court System and we are very pleased she will be taking over the Juvenile Deprived docket in Rogers County. Special District Judges serve at the pleasure of the District judges.”  

Russell will assume her duties as Special District judge beginning Feb. 1.

Russell received her B.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 and her Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City School of Law in May 2001. She is a member of the Texas and Oklahoma Bar Associations.

Her husband is Clint Russell, an attorney in Claremore, and they have four children.