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OCU Societies Announce Awards of Excellence Honorees

Oklahoma City University Societies will honor four exceptional women during the annual Awards of Excellence dinner Feb. 25 at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club.

Led by President Cathy Leichter, the OCU Societies provides scholarships for students at OCU. The Awards of Excellence is the only event dedicated solely to women who volunteer their time in the community.

This yearís honorees are Tricia Everest, recipient of the Distinguished Philanthropist Award; Jane Thompson, Kirkpatrick-Petree Music and Performing Arts Society Award; Linda Rodgers, Dulaney-Browne Library Society Award; and Connell Sullivan Branan, Norick-Hulsey Gallery Society Award.

A reception for honorees will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner, entertainment from OCUís Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management and the awards program.

The country club is located at 7000 N.W. Grand Blvd. in Nichols Hills.

Everest serves as the advisory board chairwoman of the Inasmuch Foundation.

She attended Casady High School from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1993. She returned to Oklahoma City and worked with Positive Tomorrows and Community Hospice before co-founding the Oklahoma Cancer Care Foundation, an organization that provides transportation to and from cancer treatments.

Everest joined the Crowe and Dunlevy law firm before attending the University of Oklahoma School of Law, where she earned her juris doctorate in 2003 and spent the next six years working as an assistant attorney general representing the State of Oklahoma. She left the position in 2009 to serve as general counsel for the Edmondson for Governor campaign, and then served of-counsel with the GableGotwals firm.

Her community organization memberships include trustee of Oklahoma City University, director for YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, vestry member of All Souls Church, board of visitors for Casady High School, board of visitors for OU International Studies, board of visitors for OU College of Law, director for the Committee of 100, YWCA Capital Campaign, OSBI Citizens Academy graduate, 2011 Beaux Arts Ball chairwoman benefiting the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and honorary member of Oklahoma Outreach Foundation. Everest has also competed in several events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society benefits.

Everest has served for various organizations including Calm Waters, Special Care, Infant Crisis Services, Oklahoma Lawyers for Children and A Chance to Change.

Thompson is a native of Oklahoma and grew up in Oklahoma City. She graduated from Northwest Classen High School and attended college at the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian University.

She married David Thompson, who retired as president of OPUBCO Communications Group and publisher of The Oklahoman. She has three children and two grandchildren.

In addition to being a homemaker, Thompson has been active with many nonprofit boards and committees including Impact Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma Breast Institute, Library Endowment Trust, Civic Center Foundation and Infant Crisis Services.

Her volunteer activities have included co-chairing the Juliette Low Society Luncheon, Impact Oklahomaís Derby Day, Heart Rhythm Institute Luncheon, UCOís Music in the Metro fundraiser, Literary Voices, American Cancer Societyís Ranch Baronís Ball, Allied Arts committee, Downtown OKC Inc.ís Dean A. McGee Awards Banquet, Integris Circle of Friends Gala, the Oklahoma City Arts Festival, the Alzheimerís Gala and Impact Oklahomaís Wine, Women and Shoes event.

Thompson is affiliated with the Junior League, Edmond Womenís Club, Esther Women, Oklahoma Womenís Coalition, Visionary Oklahoma Women, Annie Oakley Society and Integris Circle of Friends.

Rodgers has been advancing education in Oklahoma since she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in special education, especially in Kay County.

She taught special education for physically and developmentally disabled children in the Dallas Independent School District. Rodgers is the founding director of the Presbyterian Pre-School in Blackwell (1970-95) and founding president of the Blackwell Public School Foundation. She has served as president of the Blackwell Hospital Auxiliary, elder for First Presbyterian Churches in Blackwell and Ponca City, a volunteer for Opportunity Center School for the developmentally disabled in Ponca City, board member for Opportunity Homes for the developmental disabled, trustee for the Marland Mansion Commission, board member of the Ponca City Public School Foundation and president of Pi Beta Phi Alumni chapter in Kay County.

Her statewide service has included the board for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence where she has served as president, chairwoman of the Fall Forum, chairwoman of the All-Staters Banquet and as a member of the executive committee.

Other organizations she has been involved with are the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, University of Oklahoma Foundation, University of Oklahoma Alumni Association, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Weitzenhoffer Family College of fine Arts and the Lew Wentz Foundation.

She has received the University of Oklahoma Regents Award and the Meritorious Award from the Jeannie Rainbolt College of Education.

She is married to Bill Rodgers and has three children and 10 grandchildren.

Branan earned her degree at the University of Southern California before working for former Oklahoma governor and then-U.S. Senator David Boren in Washington, D.C., where she served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Branan was named the National Young Mother of the Year in 2006. She co-coached her sonís Odyssey of the Mind team at Westminster Day School, which went on to win the Oklahoma championship and qualified for the world competition. Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving tests for students ranging from kindergarten through college.

Branan is president of American Mothers, Inc., an interfaith, non-political nonprofit organization for women and men who seek to encourage the importance of motherhood through educational programs and community outreach.

She serves on the executive committee for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and nominating committee of the Oklahoma School of Science and Math. She has been a member of the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Library Endowment Trust, Allied Arts board and was the chairwoman of the 2009 Beaux Arts Ball.

Branan is married to state Sen. Cliff Branan.

The 2012 Awards of Excellence co-chairs are Linda Garrett and Karen Browne. Tickets and corporate sponsorships are available by calling (405) 208-5290 or e-mailing pgregory@okcu.edu.