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Class Notes - Fall 2022

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The late OCU voice professor Florence Birdwell (BA ’45, MA Teaching ’69, HD Musical Arts ’16) was honored as the recipient of the Painted Sky Opera’s Le Stelle Award during a gala in October.

Silver City, New Mexico, helped James William “Bill” Harrison (JD ’49) celebrate his 100th birthday by proclaiming June 22 as Bill Harrison Day. Harrison served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and as Silver City’s town manager, a Grant County commissioner and Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments director.


The Oklahoman ran a feature story recalling the late Thurman Magbee’s (BS Business Administration ’50, MBA Industrial Management ’66, a former business professor and trustee) work to restore Oklahoma City’s Union Station building.

Orthopedics This Week did a feature tribute story on the late Charles A. Rockwood (BA Biology ’51, HD Science ’97), founder of the American Shoulder and Elbow Society.


The Rev. Ernest William Cockrell (BA English ’60) released a novel titled “Samson’s Shadow.”

Barbara McAlister (BM ’64) was chosen as the Soroptimist International of Muskogee 2022 Woman of Distinction.

Susie Maxwell Berning (BSB Business ’64) was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Gary Rhodes (JD ’69) has announced his retirement after practicing law for 43 years.

Justice Yvonne Kauger (JD ’69, HD Laws ’92) was the Global Vision Humanitarian Award honoree in this year’s Global Vision Awards presented by Sister Cities International Oklahoma City.


The Johnson & Biscone firm, which includes Joseph Biscone II (JD ’74) and James Biscone (BA Political Science/Philosophy ’13, JD ’15), was named best boutique law firm in Oklahoma by Global Law Experts.

Tim Colbert (JD ’76) was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2020 and was honored during this year’s in-person ceremony.

The Astounding Analog Companion science fiction blog posted a Q&A story with writer Bud Sparhawk (MBA ’77).


Keith Grant (BS Business ’80), assistant general manager for the Dallas Mavericks, retired from the team after 42 seasons. Grant was the last remaining employee from the team’s inaugural season.

Norman D. Thygesen (JD ’80), associate district judge in Muskogee, retired after a 42-year law career.

Beadwork artist Yonavea Hawkins (BA ’81) was featured in the Dallas Museum of Art’s Late Night event celebrating the new exhibit, “Spirit Lodge: Mississippian Art from Spiro.”

E.J. Burke (MBA ’82), a senior executive and director at KeyBank Real Estate Capital and Corporate Banking Services, was nominated to become vice chair of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Steven J. Goetzinger (JD ’83) was elected to serve a fourth one-year term as mayor of Nichols Hills.

Aimee Majoue (JD ’18), an attorney for Crowe & Dunlevy, and Carolyn Thompson (JD ’84), a consultant, were profiled in the Journal Record’s Leadership in Law 2022 series.

Trustee Lou Kerr (BS ’86, HD Humanities and Letters ’91) received the Mark Ruffin Lifetime Achievement Award during the Santa Fe Family Life Center’s service awards gala in September.

Helen C. Zajic (JD ’86) was promoted to partner at the Egan Law firm in Santa Barbara County, California.

Cary Pirrong (BS History ’87, JD ’90) joined the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education.

Former OCU softball player Lisa Navas (Health/Phys Ed ’87) was promoted to assistant coach of the University of South Florida softball team.

Julie McCreight (BA Speech Theatre ’88), a teacher for Flinthills USD 492 in Rosalia, Kansas, was named to the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.

Social ethics professor the Rev. Dr. Mark Davies (BA Philosophy/Religion ’88) gave a guest presentation via Zoom as part of the Methodist International Student Exchange Network, hosted by the Methodist University in São Paulo, Brazil. The presentation was on the urgency of sustainability for the planet.

Gary D. McKiddy (MBA ’88) was promoted to CFO of Mid America Mortgage, Inc.

Doug Strock (MBA ’89), vice president of Global Language Translations and Consulting, Inc., was part of NYU’s MS in Translation & Interpreting guest speaker series.


Jill Campbell (MBA ’90), president and COO of Cox Enterprises, announced her retirement after 40 years with the company.

Angela Morrison (JD ’90), an environmental and natural resources attorney who represents clients in the energy, manufacturing, developer, trade association and government sectors, joined Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP as a senior attorney in Miami, Florida.

Kristin Chenoweth (BM Musical Theatre ’91, MM ’93, HDHL ’13) held a virtual event to celebrate the release of her first children’s book, “What Will I Do with My Love Today?” Chenoweth was also appointed to the advisory board for the Institute of Financial Wellness and was a guest on the KTLA morning news show in Los Angeles, where she discussed her involvement with OCU’s MFA in Screen Acting program.

Laura L. McCullough (MBA ’91) was selected as president/CEO of Maysville Community and Technical College in Kentucky.

Brandon Hobson (BA English ’92) received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction writing. The award honors artists and scholars across multiple disciplines “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.”

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette ran an in-depth profile story on Jim Evans (MPA ’92), regional director of donor relations for Lifewater International in Bentonville.

Kosit Suksingha (MBA ’93) was appointed to the board of directors for Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, an investment holding company based in Malaysia specializing in beverages.

Compassion International, a Christian charity that helps children in poverty, named Joe Wilkins (MBA ’93) as CFO.

Steven McConnell (JD ’93) was named senior vice president, general counsel for Tinker Federal Credit Union.

Andrew Junkin (BSB Finance ’94) was named CIO of the Virginia Retirement System.

Trustee the Rev. Dr. Robert E. Long (HD Divinity ’94) received a Good Samaritan Award from the Neighborhood Services Organization.

Baylor University Press published Froswa’ Booker-Drew’s (MLA ’94) book, “Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy.” In addition, Booker-Drew was elected to the ACLU of Texas board of directors.

Tony Sommer Jr. (MBA ’94) was appointed as general manager, Americas, for CooperVision Specialty EyeCare.

Nona Lee (JD ’95), executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, was a guest on the Bouncing Back podcast.

Dontee Kiehn (BPA Dance ’96) was the associate director of the Broadway musical “MJ,” based on the life and creative legacy of Michael Jackson. The show received 10 Tony Award nominations.

Nicole Nelson (BS Psychology/BA Spanish ’97) was named head women's soccer coach for Southern Methodist University.

Dr. David Fray (MBA Health Care Administration ’97), professor at UTHealth School of Dentistry, led a webinar titled “Collaborative Healthcare for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.”

Jason A. Robertson (JD ’97) was appointed as a United States magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Bryan Dahlvang’s (BFA Studio Art ’97) art was on exhibit at the Graceful Arts Gallery in Alva.

Attorney and sports agent Jeff Berry (JD ’98) was named a member of the board of directors of the V Foundation, a cancer research charity.

ExpressJet Airlines LLC hired Bobby Looney (BS prior learning & university studies ’98) as its new director of safety.

All About Jazz posted a feature story on Idit Shner (BM Instrumental Performance ’98).

Jennifer Grigsby (MBA Finance ’99) was appointed to the board of directors for Certarus Ltd., a natural gas distribution company.

David R. Fox (MBA ’99) was named chief executive officer of the Medical Center of South Arkansas.

ChoralNet posted an article by Robyn Hilger (BM Instrumental Education ’99), executive director of the American Choral Directors Association, about how she developed her love of music.

Andrea Vaughan (BA Public Relations ’99) led the Rogers State softball team to its first NCAA Division II national championship as head coach.


Joshua Whitehead (BFA Graphic Design ’00) joined the Communication Design Pathways Department at FIT, a part of the State University of New York specializing in design, fashion, art, communications and business.

Kevin Sellers (MBA ’00, JD ’05) founded Selerity Medical Staffing, a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business and Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise that specializes in providing clinical staffing to nationwide healthcare facilities.

Painter Tara Jennings (MLA ’00) opened the Tara Jennings Fine Art shop in Woodinville, Washington.

Tray Payne (JD ’00) was elected mayor of Lubbock, Texas.

Travel Oklahoma has a featured web page for Sarah Coburn (MM Vocal Performance ’01).

Twana W. Allen (JD ’01) is leading the family law section for West & Associates as a partner in the firm’s Dallas office.

Timothy Winkeler (MBA Finance ’01) was promoted to president and chief operating officer of VIP Tires & Service.

Robert Medley (MLA ’01) was named editor of the Times Record newspaper in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Kyle Dillingham (BM Instrumental Performance ’02) and Peter Markes (BM Instrumental Education ’01) were profiled in a 405 magazine story.

Keili Hicks McEwen (BA Advertising/Mass Comm ’02, MA Nonprofit Leadership ’12) joined the Hunger Free Oklahoma organization as director of strategic advancement.

Stephania Grober (MBA ’03) was selected as president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

Trial lawyer and landman Jonathan Grammer (JD ’03) was included in D Magazine’s Dallas 500, a special edition that profiles the Dallas region’s most influential business leaders.

Kesha Watson (BS Professional Law Enforcement ’04) was honored during Millwood High School’s “Famous Falcons” 50th anniversary celebration.

The Oklahoman did a feature story on the latest album by the Damn Quails band, featuring former OCU classmates Bryon White (BS Entertainment Business ’06) and Michael Trepagnier (BA Liberal Studies ’04).

Law.com ran a feature story headlined “Anthony Barbuto (JD ’04) is Humanizing the Legal Profession One TikTok Dance at a Time.”

Scott Ellis (BS Biology ’04) was named chief nursing officer for Northwest Health’s La Porte and Starke hospitals in Indiana.

Tana Fitzpatrick (BA Political Science/Spanish ’04, JD ’08) was named as the University of Oklahoma’s first associate vice president of tribal relations.

Mental health care provider Cerebral Inc. hired Jacqueline Kniska (JD ’05) as head of compliance.

The Cherokee County Women with Purpose Committee spotlighted Julie Boren-Huesser (JD ’05), a lawyer based in Texas, in its Women Who Made History series.

Kelly Forbes (BA Spanish ’06), Heritage Academy director, is starting a dual-language immersion school for Epic Charter Schools and was featured in a story in The Oklahoman.

Adam Falco (JD ’06) was promoted to city attorney for College Station, Texas.

Lance McDaniel (MLA ’07) was selected for the Heritage Hall Alumni Association’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Choctaw Nation did a profile story on Rachel Hope Risner (BS Nursing ’07, DNP ’13, DP Nursing ’16), associate dean of academic affairs for Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky.

State Rep. Anthony Moore (JD ’07) received the 2021 Distinguished Service Award from the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education.

Collin Walke (JD ’08), a state representative and co-founder of Awake OKC, was a guest on the Mental Health Download podcast. Awake OKC is a nonprofit centered on bringing mindfulness and meditation to the community.

Heather Anderson (BA History ’08) wrote a selection titled “Benjamin Franklin’s Mastery of Media” as part of the PBS collection, “Ken Burns in the Classroom.”

Jeremiah Downes (MM Musical Theater ’09) is a new faculty member in the Chadron State College (Nebraska) theater department.

Anthony Michael (BSB Business Administration ’09) got his first win on the Sunshine Tour in the Vodacom Origins of Golf in South Africa.


Armand McCoy (BA Broadcasting ’10) became a strategic communications instructor and the executive director/faculty advisor for Lindsey + Asp, the OU Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s student-managed advertising and public relations agency.

Chaz Wolcott (BPA Dance ’10) was the choreographer for the 3-D Theatricals production of “Newsies” in Anaheim, California.

Kourtni Beebe (BFA Acting ’10) was part of the Mother’s Day Improv Comedy show troupe performing in Times Square.

Justin Briggs (MBA Finance ’10) joined the Prime Movers Lab as a venture partner to identify new startups and support its portfolio of life sciences technology companies.

Former OCU graduate assistant Bailey Coleman (ME Behavioral Studies ’10) is in her first year of coaching the Santa Fe Saints volleyball team in Gainesville, Florida.

Lawrence Pecan (JD ’11) was appointed deputy general counsel for Two Roads Development, a South Florida-based development firm.

Bianca J. Bryant (BS Economics ’11), director of career development for the School of Law and former OCU softball player, was named to the Journal Record’s 19th class of Achievers Under 40.

Oklahoma Magazine ran a sidebar story about women’s wrestling coach Nicole Tyson (BA Photography ’11) and her experience getting into the sport.

The Putnam City High School Orchestra under the direction of Colin Waddell (BM Instrumental Education ’11) was selected as the overall Outstanding Orchestra at the World Strides OnStage competition in San Antonio, Texas.

Robert Postotnik (BS Entertainment Business ’11) is now vice president-key art design for Paramount’s MTV in New York City. He previously was creative director for the AKA advertising agency in New York.

The American Bar Association Journal published an article by Adam Banner (JD ’11), founder and lead attorney of the Oklahoma Legal Group, titled “‘Suits’ and the difference between federal and state court.”

Tulsa People ran a feature story about Sasha Hutchings (BPA Dance ’11) and her role in “Oklahoma!”

Soprano Bonnie Frauenthal (BM Vocal Performance ’12) returned to Oklahoma to perform in Painted Sky Opera’s production of “Pagliacci.”

Kristie Davis (BS Kinesiology & Exercise Studies ’12) was inducted to the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame.

Belinda Allyn (BM Music Theater ’12) was cast as Sister Mary Robert in the Paper Mill Playhouse (New Jersey) production of “Sister Act.”

Fonda Manwell (MS Energy Legal Studies ’13) was hired as director of business development and energy services for Reagan Smith, a state, federal and tribal project management consulting company.

The Oklahoman ran a feature story about Ashlee Vaughan (BS Nursing ’13) returning to college as a graduate nursing student and wrestler.

Former wrestler Joey Miller (BS Kinesiology & Exercise Studies ’13), a two-time womens’ national champion, was selected for the second class of the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.

Christin Byrdsong (BM Musical Theater ‘13) and Isaiah Bailey (BM Vocal Performance ’14) returned to Oklahoma City to perform in the touring production of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Politico hired Madi Alexander (BA Mass Comm/Public Relations/Political Science ’14) as senior graphics editor.

Eryn LeCroy (BM Vocal Performance ’14) was a guest on Conversations with Changemakers, a Broadway Podcast Network show.

Mary Beth Nelson (BM ’14) is a recipient of a 2022 FENDI Vanguard Award, a partnership between Juilliard and the Roman Maison to celebrate those who display the potential to be future innovators in their chosen discipline and across the performing arts.

Jeff Sherwood (BFA Design and Production ’14) joined the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts faculty as assistant professor of sound.

Darius Wright (BM Music Theater ’14) was cast in “MJ” as a swing and was an understudy for the title role.

Maggie Spicer Brown (MA Nonprofit Leadership ’14) was named education director for Theatre Salina’s Center for Theatre Arts in Kansas.

Emily Laughridge (BA Theatre Performance ’15) made her debut at Disneyland Paris as a singer for the “The Disney Junior Dream Factory” show. Paris is her third Disney park after working at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort.

Oklahoma’s Nursing Times did a “Careers in Nursing” story on Kelly Johnson (BS Nursing ’15), an independent advanced practice registered nurse serving Payne and Logan counties.

Dr. Patrick McGough (DNP Nursing ’15), executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, was interviewed for a story on CBS Sunday Morning about the state of public health work in the U.S.

Angela Cozby (MBA ’15) was named executive director of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.

Jane Clark (ME Early Childhood Education ’15) was hired as enrollment and student development manager for Abilene Christian University.

Jesse Chavez (MS Exercise and Sport Science ’15) was promoted to head athletic trainer of Lindsey Wilson College athletics in Kentucky.

Madeline Bach (DNP Family Nurse Practitioner ’16) joined SSM Health Neurosciences as a nurse practitioner.

Aaron Chaloner (JD ’16) joined the Bradley Arant Boult Cummings firm’s Nashville office as a senior attorney in the Intellectual Property Practice Group.

Former OCU softball player Jeananne Ruck (BS Behavioral Studies ’16) was named coach of the Paso Robles High School (California) softball team.

The Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League in Canada signed right-handed pitcher Skylar Janisse (BA Liberal Studies ’16).

Juliana Elliot (BS Dance Management ’16) joined the cast of CJ Newsom’s Classic Country and Comedy in Branson, Missouri.

Former OCU golfer Matthew Cheung (BBA Finance ’17) earned his first career Korn Ferry Tour start.

Phillip Oliver (BS Entertainment Business ’17), event services manager for the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, was named to the International Association of Venue Managers Foundation’s 30|UNDER|30 Class of 2022.

Jordan Jacobs (BFA Acting ’17) starred as Charlie in Lyric Theatre’s production of “Kinky Boots.”

Country music singer/songwriter Emily Myers (BM Music/business emphasis ’17) released the official music video for her single “Unwrite Every Song.” Myers also released her newest single, "Ain't Gonna Be Mine."

Stephanie Feeback (BM Music Theater ’17) was in the touring production of “Waitress.”

Dr. Ajeminayanate Berepele (BS Nursing ’17, DNP ’21) completed the one-year primary care nurse practitioner residency at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center. The residency provides intensive, veteran-focused experiences to newly graduated nurse practitioners.

Heritage Trust, a subsidiary of Argent Financial Group, hired Brooke Henderson (JD ’17) as vice president, relationship manager.

Taylor Rey (BM Music Theater ’17) made her off-Broadway debut in a lead role in “After Happily Ever After” at the Players Theatre.

The Ada News did a feature story about Stephanie Mowdy (DNP Nursing ’17), wound care specialist at The Clinic.

Jamison Keefover (BA Mass Comm/Broadcasting ’18) joined FOX 25 as a reporter.

Oklahoma State University posted a feature story about Brandon Jackson (BM ’18), musician and public address announcer for athletic events.

Celia Tedde (BM Music Theater ’19) was cast in the world premiere of “Here There Be Dragons - A New Musical Quest,” inspired by the classic tabletop fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, at the Players Theatre in New York.

Tessa McQueen (BM Vocal Performance ’19) earned third place and the Myrle F. Hoffman Memorial Award in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild’s annual competition.

Samantha Bronow (BBA Economics ’19, summa cum laude, cum honore) wrote an essay titled “The Honors Connection: Openness and Empathy” that was published in the spring/summer 2022 issue of JNCHC: The Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council. Bronow is a senior financial analyst with MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City.

Madison Carey (BFA Acting ’19) and Reily Preston (BFA Acting ’19) joined the Oklahoma Children's Theatre as education associates. They perform, teach and operate programs for the theater company.

“The Prices We Pay” by Rayshell Clapper (MFA Creative Writing ’19) was the Finishing Line Press Book of the Day.

Oklahoma’s Nursing Times ran a profile story about Aimee Jones (BS Nursing ’19), a pediatric nurse at the Bethany Children’s Health Center.


Blake Sauceda (BFA Acting ’20) performed in "An Officer and a Showcase" at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City.

The Ada News ran a story about Kyndel Dillard (M Physician Assistant Studies ’20), physician assistant for The Clinic in Konawa, and her path into health care.

Flowrestling listed Iowa native and former OCU wrestler Rachel Watters (BBA Marketing ’20) in its “Key Moments In Iowa Women's Wrestling History” as the first from the state to win a WCWA title.

Keely McGough (DNP ’20) joined Variety Care as a nurse practitioner.

Kelly Vincent (MFA Creative Writing ’20) released her latest young adult novel, “Always the New Girl.”

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke posted an article by Dr. Tonya Locklear (MFA Creative Writing ’21) about her professional writing projects.

Jessica Vanek (BM Music Theater ’21) was an understudy in Southern Plains Productions’ rock musical “Lizzie.”

Shannon Clark (M Physician Assistant Studies ’21) is one of the leaders of a new U.S. Dermatology Partners office in Enid.

Jaden Shores (BS Human Performance ’21) was named head softball coach for Roff High School.

John Esche (MBA ’22) was co-chair of a fundraiser called Flight for Futures in September. Hosted by the Junior Committee, Flight for Futures raises funds and awareness for Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County programs.

Andrew Lazos (M Physician Assistant ’22) was hired as a physician assistant at Olympic Medical Center Physicians in Washington.

Wimberly School of Religion alums Kloe Young (Religious Education ’22) and Allie McMurry (Religion Philosophy ’22) recently co-published articles on the Society of Biblical Literature’s BibleOdyssey.org website with their professor, Dr. Lisa Wolfe. The pieces highlight two lesser-known biblical women: “Rizpah” (2 Sam 21:1-14), by Young and Wolfe, and the “Woman at Endor (Witch of Endor)” (1 Sam 28:3-35), by McMurry and Wolfe. These contributions were invited as part of the website’s Undergraduate-Faculty Writing Initiative, which gives undergraduates the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed, paid work in collaboration with a professor.


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