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OCU Alumnae Leave Their Mark in State Government

From supervising state agencies and first responders to overseeing billions of dollars in state and federal funding, three Oklahoma City University alumnae have recently served in state government with pride and diligence.

In her role as secretary of economic administration for the state, Jennifer Grigsby (MBA ’99) serves as liaison between the agencies she oversees and their respective commissions, boards or elected officials. Grigsby sees herself as someone who champions, encourages, and facilitates cooperation and coordination among state agencies to be more efficient for the benefit of Oklahomans.

Jennifer Grigsby

Although she didn’t intentionally set out to work in state government, Grigsby said she feels “truly honored” to have the opportunity to use her experience and skills in service to the state of Oklahoma.

“I believe it is so powerful when smart, competent Oklahomans stop complaining about state government and become part of the solution by shifting their careers to the state,” Grigsby said.

Grigsby grew up in Oklahoma City. She earned a degree in accounting from Oklahoma State University in 1991 and returned to Oklahoma City to start her career. A few years later, Grigsby set out to obtain her MBA while working full time, which is how she landed at OCU, completing the MBA program in 1999.

“I love the role and the responsibility that OCU proudly owns in being ‘Oklahoma City’s university,’” Grigsby said. “Sitting in the very heart of our city, OCU represents the pulse of Oklahoma City, and its students, faculty and staff really reflect who we are, as citizens, and continually challenge us to be better.”

Though she’s typically busy overseeing large and important state agencies such as the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Office of the State Treasurer, Grigsby loves to find time to support Oklahoma State tennis, baseball or basketball teams. She and her husband also love to travel and cheer for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Grigsby encourages young women starting their careers to be open to opportunities in state government as well as the private sector.

“There are many women in leadership positions throughout the state that, I believe, are excellent role models for younger women who are considering a career in state government,” Grigsby said. “As I talk to women and men currently working for the state ofOklahoma today, I am so impressed by their intense desire to improve our state at the same time that they are progressing their careers.”

Tricia Everest (former OCU trustee, HDH ’18) is no stranger to public service. Before she was named secretary of public safety, Everest worked as assistant attorney general and chairperson of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, among other roles in hospitality, philanthropy and law. In her current position, she holds primary oversight over all law enforcement, corrections officers, and first responders. Her responsibilities include 55 agencies, around 9,000 employees, and budgets totaling more than $1.2 billion.

Tricia Everest

A fourth-generation Oklahoman and native of Oklahoma City, Everest earned her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University before returning to Oklahoma to earn her law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

While serving the state as an assistant attorney general in 2007, Everest was asked by former OCU President Tom McDaniel if she would join the OCU Board of Trustees. Even with the time constraints of her job in the Attorney General’s office, Everest served on around 20 boards and commissions during her time as a trustee — many of which were leadership positions.

“In total, I served as a trustee for around 11 years and attest that each trustee is truly invested in furthering the mission of OCU and creating the best private-school option for Oklahomans and beyond,” Everest said.

Everest was inducted into the Meinders School of Business Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor in 2019 and holds an honorary doctorate in Humanities from OCU. Her philanthropic efforts continue steadfastly as ever as she serves the state as secretary of public safety, but Everest also enjoys hiking and adventuring in the outdoors in her free time.

“One of the best skills experience teaches me is to assess situations from a 5,000-foot perspective and look at the big picture,” Everest said on advice for students. “On a lower level, this same practice encourages me to approach people with kindness and an open mind.
There is always more to a person or situation.”

As the chief financial officer (CFO) for the state of Oklahoma, Amanda Rodriguez (MBA ’18) provided advice directly to the governor and cabinet secretaries on all state financial matters. In the recently created role, she was guided by the expertise gained from 13 years in finance at Chesapeake Energy before she was recruited to be the state’s first CFO. Rodriguez left the CFO position in February.

“Being in public service is a complete honor,” Rodriguez said. “I feel fortunate to have served in this capacity and utilize the competencies I developed in my career and translate those into true, added value for the state.”

Amanda Rodriguez

Now living in Edmond with her husband and their three children, Rodriguez grew up in a military family that emphasized service to others as a core value. After moving around the United States and Europe, she settled in Oklahoma, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma in 2003.

Rodriguez went on to get her MBA at OCU in 2018 and looks back fondly on the professors and friends she made along the way. One of her favorite memories is finishing the MBA program while pregnant with her third child and ultimately walking across the graduation stage with all three of her children in the crowd cheering her on.

“I received such great support from my professors navigating the end of the program, allowing me to do it all,” Rodriguez said. “I will always be incredibly appreciative.”

When she’s not busy overseeing multi-billion-dollar budgets, Rodriguez likes to bake, host gatherings, read, and spend time at the beach. She encourages young women who are looking to follow a similar path to strive for excellence, not perfection.

“Come in each day ready to give it your all, and when you see an opportunity — go after it!” Rodriguez said. "Shine bright, demand respect and have courage. Always remember to never underestimate your influence and your voice.”

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