Leadership Owasso Organizes for the Future

Contributing Editor

LOOKING FOR LEADERS: The Owasso Chamber of Commerce is looking for a few good men and women. After it has been dormant for several years the Chamber is restarting its Leadership Owasso program and is seeking go-getters who want to be a major part of a vibrant community. Among the talent scouts are (left to right) Larry Langford, Larry Spriggs, Gary Akin, Brenda Snow, Angela Ritchie, David Horton and Trish Hauser. The leader of the future, wearing number 26, is Ritchie’s son, Matthew.

Owasso is looking for leaders not just for now but also well into the future. The Owasso Chamber of Commerce is willing to train them. With this in mind six community-minded volunteers have joined together with the Chamber to form Leadership Owasso with the aim of being a conduit for Owasso residents who are willing to put their money where their mouths, minds and hearts are – in Owasso.

The idea, based on Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Tulsa programs that have been in progress for years, was actually in place once in Owasso but was allowed to lapse. Chamber of Commerce president Gary Akin thought it was time to resurrect a good idea and he recruited a panel to form the original class.

“We wanted a number of people from a wide variety of businesses,” says Akin. “Everyone has a different area of expertise.”

The board members are: Chairperson Trish Hauser of Shelter Insurance, Larry Langford of the YMCA, Larry Spriggs of RCB Bank, Brenda Snow of F&M Bank, Angela Ritchie of Creative Insurance Solutions and David Horton, homebuilder and president of Horton Homes.

Akin gives Snow the credit for putting the team together. Her contribution to Owasso doesn’t stop with the committee. She is the incoming chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
The team represents a wide range of Owasso experience. Langford, for example, was living in Dallas six months ago and was working for the YMCA there. He was transferred to the YMCA in Owasso and quickly became involved in his new community.

Spriggs, on the other hand, has spent all his 24 years in Owasso, but admits he was surprisingly ignorant of his native community. “I’ve learned more about Owasso in the four months I’ve been on this committee than I had learned in all the time up to then,” he says.

Ritchie admits that although she has spent considerable time in Owasso, learning about it has come slowly. “Eleven years ago when I came here I knew nobody. For the first seven years I worked in Tulsa and met very few people here. When I relocated I had to start over again.”

Ritchie says that previous attempts at a Leadership Owasso program leaned too heavily toward classroom-type lectures. “Every session will touch on the past, present and future of a section of life in Owasso. This will include subjects like local government, the quality of life here, education and economics. We will have local speakers, but we will also have assignments for every session.”

Problem solving will become part of the curriculum. An example might be a visit to the school board. Suppose, for example, the music programs of the schools had to be cut because of budgetary constraints. How could they be continued? Questions like that will challenge the ingenuity of the Leadership Owasso participants.

“Regardless of the topic,” says Akin, “the people need to know our history, where we are and where we’re going.”

As Owasso has blossomed, he says, its needs have grown exponentially. “In the past we used to have school bond issues in the $5 million range. Now we’re looking at the $50 million range. We now have the sixth largest high school in the state. The school district has 8,700 students. We have 29,000 people living within the city limits but over 40,000 living in our school district. The answers to the problems when we were a lot smaller are no longer adequate.”

The committee wants to hold the size of the first Leadership Owasso class to about 20 people so facilities don’t get overtaxed. The cost of the program will demand commitment. Just to register to join the group will cost $15, and if accepted the classes, to run one a month for nine months concurrant with the school year, will cost $480. The price, the committee feels, will be well worth it to residents looking to serve the community.

“We want people to come out if they are willing and eager to take leadership roles,” says Hauser. “We want them to know how to get on the city council, the board of education, other areas where they can make a contribution. We want them to know the opportunities to serve.”

Updated 06-25-2007

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