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Oklahoma City University to Honor Distinguished Alumni

The Oklahoma City University Alumni Association will honor seven outstanding alumni during Homecoming weekend festivities in November. The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner will be held Nov. 5 at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive.

This year’s honorees are arts and sciences alumnus Terry Dean Bergdall, law alumna Cathy Christensen, religion alumna Audra Doyle Fogle, nursing alumnus Edward Herrman, business alumnus Ronnie Irani, dance/arts management alumna Lesley Johnson Jennings and honors alumna Courtney Gray Montgomery.

The event will begin with a 6 p.m. reception. The dinner and awards ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased by calling Cary Pirrong at (405) 208-5463 or e-mailing alumni@okcu.edu.

Bergdall, ’72, is the chief executive officer of the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the United States. He oversees the largest nonprofit service center in the Midwest, which is home to multiple programs addressing issues of homelessness and poverty. The center also is the residential setting for ICA’s Urban Service Experiences that allows college students to earn course credit from participating institutions of higher learning. The program focuses on social transformation and systematic change through the themes of creating a just and equitable society, shaping a green, sustainable society and building foundations for peace.

From 1969 to 1984, Bergdall worked for the Ecumenical Institute of Chicago. He was co-director of ICA in Kenya from 1984 to 1989 where he was responsible for a large staff implementing a national program of self-reliant bottom-up village development. He joined the Swedish Cooperative Centre in 1989 and became project coordinator of the Methods for Active Participation Research and Development Project (MAP) in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Between 1992 and June 2009, Bergdall worked as an international consultant. For three years in Ethiopia, he was team leader of the Community Empowerment Program funded by the Swedish government’s agency for international assistance. He has worked with a large number of development organizations including CARE and Habitat for Humanity in 17 African nations. Civil society assignments have taken him to the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He facilitated the creation of a large strategic plan for the Institute of Social Policy in Kosovo shortly after the NATO intervention. Funded by the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), he facilitated strategic planning processes for five large municipal governments in Swaziland and Zambia. He has undertaken major program evaluations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Philippines. In North America, he has conducted educational programs on asset-based development with AmeriCorps host-organizations in several states.

Bergdall earned his PhD in International Development at the University of Wales and is an adjunct faculty member of the ABCD Institute at Northwestern University.

Christensen, ’86, practices family law and general civil litigation at Cathy Christensen & Associates P.C. She is the 2012 president of the Oklahoma Bar Association and has served in a variety of leadership positions within the organization. Her awards include the Oklahoma Bar Foundation Distinguished Service Award, the Award for Community Service from the Oklahoma City University School of Law and the Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association. She has been listed as one of the Top 25 Female Oklahoma Super Lawyers.

Fogle, ’90, attended Oklahoma City University as a Bishop’s Scholar, played tennis, served as president of the United Methodist Student Fellowship and served on the Presidential Advisory Team. She has served in full-time ministry with youth and children in United Methodist churches in the Oklahoma and central Texas conferences for more than 23 years. Fogle currently serves on the Board of Trustees as program chairperson for Oklahoma United Methodist Camps. She is the director of senior high youth ministries at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. She has developed a comprehensive programming that emphasizes growth in student leadership at the local, district and conference levels and strengthened family and congregational relationships.

Herrman, ’98, has been a Registered Nurse for 14 years, serving the last six years as a chief nursing officer. He is the vice president at Integris Southwest Medical Center.

As a nurse he has held a wide variety of positions with a focus primarily in cardiovascular intensive care.  He was a travel nurse along with his wife, also a nurse, for four years, experiencing multiple opportunities including caring for the first self-contained mechanical heart transplant on the west coast at UCLA Medical Center. 

He started his management career at Kaiser Sunset in Los Angeles as one of the clinical coordinators of their 24 bed cardiovascular intensive care unit. He then moved to the Dallas metroplex area to work as a director of the medical intensive care unit for Presbyterian Hospital in Denton.  After completing his master’s degree, he was named chief nursing officer at Baylor Medical Center at Trophy Club. He joined Integris Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid before moving to Integris Southwest Medical Center.

Irani, ’90, is president and CEO of RKI Exploration & Production headquartered in Oklahoma City. He has more than 32 years experience in the oil and natural gas industry. Prior to forming RKI, he was senior vice president and general manager with Dominion Resources. He also served in senior executive positions for Louis Dreyfus Natural Gas Corporation and Woods Petroleum Corporation.

Irani has also completed the IPAA Executive Management Program offered in conjunction with Harvard University. He serves on the Industry Advisory Board of the Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy, is a senior board member and past chair of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering and served as vice chairman of the Board of Visitors for the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma. He is a founding board member and past chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Explorers.

Irani serves on the executive committee of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and is vice chairman for this statewide oil and natural gas association. He is president and founding board member of the India – U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Greater OKC.

Jennings, ’93, has appeared on Broadway in the revivals of The Music Man and Grease. She performed in the singer/dancer ensemble at Radio City Music Hall and was a member of the cast for the national tour of Grease. Jennings has performed in a multitude of professional regional musical productions. She taught theater dance to New York City public school students through Rosie’s Broadway Kids and the National Dance Institute of New York. Jennings is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and serves on the board of the American Guild of Variety Artists.

Jennings visits schools in Oklahoma as part of the Tulsa Area Arts and Humanities Council and Project Creates. She also teaches at several private studios, choreographs throughout the Tulsa area and travels as a guest teacher.

Jennings has served as a faculty member for several summer dance intensives including OCU’s Broadway Bound workshop and the Broadway Theater Dance Workshop in Santa Fe, N.M., where she was the associate artistic director.

Montgomery, ’95, is an assistant member of the Department of Arthritis and Immunology at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. She holds a Ph.D. in genetic and molecular epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University.

Montgomery is a member of the Immunochip Consortia, the Ethics, Legal and Social Implications Committee for the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, American Statistical Association, American Society of Human Genetics and the International Genetic Epidemiology Society.

She is an editorial board member and reviewer for the Public Library of Science (PLos) One and several journals. She has given presentations on a variety of topics including “Complex Disease Genetics: A Case Study in Sarcoidosis” and “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: What Does DNA Have to do With It?”

The Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner is part of OCU’s homecoming week, scheduled for Nov. 2 to 6. For more information, visit www.okcu.edu/alumni/homecoming.