By AMBER NEVILLE
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
Editor’s Note: Tulsa-area leadership has been working hard over the past few years to keep young professional talent in the region. One organization that has been very effective with these efforts is Tulsa’s Young Professionals, known by its acronym “TYPros.” This is one of an ongoing Newspapers series spotlighting young Tulsa leadership. Greater Tulsa is fortunate to have young talent contributing to its betterment.
November is officially the month to salute those Americans active in government and military affairs nationally and around the globe. Chelsea Harkins holds her own in the government affairs arena of ros and in her civic life as the City of Owasso’s economic development director.
Harkins was born and raised in Miami, Okla. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in journalism and broadcasting, emphasizing in public relations and minoring in marketing. Shortly after, she met her husband while working in Oklahoma City.
Harkins’ husband is a major in the United States Army. He will be retiring in December.
Upon marriage, the Harkins moved to Ft. Campbell, Ky. where they lived on post. Harkins took a position at the nearby Clarksville/Montgomery Chamber as a membership sales coordinator in Clarksville, Tenn. She soon became the chamber’s membership director.
Harkins later accepted a position in Hopkinsville, Ky. at the Hopkinsville/ Cushing County Chamber of Commerce as military affairs director, where she worked directly with the post as a liaison between Fort Campbell and the community of Hopkinsville to assimilate the military with the community, uniting the two.
“I had the opportunity to meet amazing military officials and community members where volunteering was just a part of their everyday life. I still reflect back to that position with gratitude,” Harkins remembers.
In October 2004, the Harkins were transferred back to Oklahoma where Chelsea started at the Tulsa Metro Chamber as the government affairs manager. Harkins says, “I am fortunate to have run the gamut of all levels of government starting at the federal, then state and now at the local level.”
In February 2008, Harkins became the City of Owasso’s Economic Development Director, her current position.
While at the , Harkins was able to develop and foster relationships with other communities outside the city of Tulsa and had expressed an interest to Owasso’s city manager Rodney Ray that she wanted to be more involved in Owasso since she was residing there. Ray found a position for her, and in January 2008 Harkins became the economic development director.
Harkins was an employee with the when ros was formed in 2005. She was an original member and wanted to form a government relations crew. However, she was not allowed to be in a leadership role since she was a chamber staff member.
With the help of Harkins’ knowledge and expertise of government affairs, the Government Relations Crew was formed with Jeff Beasley and Michael Willis as crew leaders. Harkins is currently crew leader with Thamara Barthelus as her co-crew leader.
The crew has organized many events such as the Mayoral Meet and Greet and ros Day at the Capitol among others. Additionally, the crew is working in concert with other crews to put together a mechanism to track and publish votes by local representatives and senators. Referred to as the Legislative Review, the document will report on issues that are important to ros.
Harkins sees the Government Relations Crew growing in effectiveness and “taking on more controversial issues and reaching out to more young professionals in the suburban areas.”
In her spare time, Harkins can proudly boast she has been on her Body For Life program consistently now for six months and is, time-willing, taking hours to achieve her private pilot’s license at Owasso’s Gundy Airport.
Tulsa’s Young Professionals, or “TYPros,” is a group of diverse young professionals, whose typical ages range from 21-40, working together to showcase Tulsa as an excellent place to live, work and play. The mission of ros is to attract and retain young talent, with a focus on fostering Tulsa’s next generation of leadership. Membership is free. ros provides its members with opportunities to get in front of and build relationships with local community and business leaders. For more information or to become a member, visit www.typros.org.