Nine People to Watch in 2009
Greater Tulsans are looking with caution to the world economic situation, hoping tough times will miss the region. One thing is for sure: people in the greater Tulsa region are resilient, always working hard to make the area a better place to live.
This year the Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers staff has targeted nine people who are predicted to make a positive impact on the region in 2009, people who should be newsmakers during the year and who are also fairly new on the news scene.
We have chosen David Page, the newly inaugurated 2009 chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber Board of Directors, a position that makes him the symbolic leader of the Tulsa business community. Page is also the Tulsa Market President for JPMorgan Chase, a company that under his leadership has been a benevolent corporate citizen.
Adrienne Kallweit is a young entrepreneur with a growing company that is expanding nationally. It will be interesting to see if her company, Seeking Sitters, can continue its growth throughout the year.
Dr. Keith Ballard has already made a positive impact as the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, and everybody is pulling for him to make the school system one of the best in the nation.
Cari Marshall, who loves her adopted city of Tulsa, has shown that hard work as an entrepreneur can be compatible with charity work as she gives herself to various organizations that work for the betterment of disadvantaged women.
Robert Sanders has performed outstanding service with Morton Comprehensive Health Services, working hard to bring healthcare to the uninsured.
Fred Perry continues to perform outstanding public service as a Tulsa County Commissioner, and he has greater challenges this year as the Chairman of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Board, known also as the “Fair Board.” He hopes to improve the financial picture at Expo Square.
Dr. Kara Gae Neal, in her first full year as superintendent of Tulsa Tech, is a popular leader and will oversee continued growth and excellence at the nationally known school.
Dr. Mark Rutland is expected to become the next president of Oral Roberts University, and it is hoped John Catsimatidis can save SemGroup. It is our privilege to report on these current and budding leaders of greater Tulsa.
University of Tulsa graduate David Page, the Tulsa Market President for JPMorgan Chase and Co., has taken on the added volunteer duty as the 2009 chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber Board of Directors.
Page was inaugurated on Jan. 20, ironically the same day as the national presidential inauguration. Both Chairman Page and President Obama have difficult challenges as the city, state and nation face amazingly difficult economic times.
More than 1,200 business leaders, local officials and citizens were present at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel as outgoing chairman Stanley Lybarger of Bank of Oklahoma turned the duties over to Page.
In his remarks, Page was positive, mentioning that now is not the time to conduct business as usual, saying that we must acknowledge these are challenging times, yet still moving the local agenda forward.
Page’s inauguration speech identified several incentives to take charge of Tulsa’s future. He said the chamber will continue its long-term strategic plan to expand job creation, transform education and develop the community.
The number one state priority is tort reform, he said.
Under Page’s leadership, Chase has been a benevolent member of the community, donating over $600,000 to local charities in 2007.
Chase supports Tulsa Global Alliance’s Culture Box program, promoting diversity and serves as sponsor of Kid’s World, the Children’s International Festival.
Page has led the American Red Cross Tulsa Area Chapter and Foundation for Tulsa Public Schools, and he serves on the boards of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited, Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition, TCC Foundation, Tulsa Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.
Mayor Kathy Taylor and SpiritBank President and CEO Kell Kelly announced SeekingSitters as the winning company in the Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award competition Nov. 7, 2007. Since that time, Tulsa-based Seeking Sitters has continued to grow, expanding nationally under the leadership of owners Adrienne and David Kallweit.
SeekingSitters is a network of local, in-home babysitters who provide child-care for families, corporations and individuals. The Kallweits recognized early, when their children were very young, the important issue of finding reliable, trustworthy and ethical babysitters for parents’ needs.
Founded in 2004, SeekingSitters provides reliable, trustworthy and convenient babysitting services to families, with the best screening process in the industry. SeekingSitters has an in-house investigative agency that provides a hands-on screening approach for all sitters and member families of the service. This ensures a safe, enjoyable experience for both the families and the Certified Professional Sitters
The Kallweits have expanded their company through franchising, and their concept has proved successful throughout the United States. The company has received national attention in publications such as Working Mother magazine, and Adrienne appeared last year on the CNBC “The Big Idea” show, hosted by Donny Deutsch. Working Mother Magazine honored SeekingSitters Franchise as one of the “Best Women-Owned Companies” in the U.S. for 2008. This nationally recognized babysitting referral service provides safe, reliable babysitting solutions to families throughout the Tulsa region.
Concerning the economy and the growth of the business, Adrienne points out that parents will always need dependable and bonded baby sitters, in good times or bad.
DR. KEITH BALLARD
Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a contract to hire Dr. Keith Ballard in August 2008 as the district’s new superintendent. Ballard is no stranger to academics, starting his career as a teacher and moving up to executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
Now Tulsa Public School’s new Superintendent has big plans for the largest school district in the state. The organization of the District was top priority and the Board of Education approved his plan for the reassignment of subordinate offices and departments. Ballard says that people in the right places is more important than lines and boxes on an organizational chart.
Another of Ballard’s initial moves as Superintendent was to hire career educator and Tulsan H.J. Green as deputy Superintendent for Operations and High School Reform. Ballard says, “He’s a national expert on high school reform, and he is so well-known in Tulsa and so trusted in Tulsa. It made him a perfect fit for this.”
Ballard seeks to ensure that all school programs are properly evaluated and working as intended.
Tulsa Public Schools is working to turn around troubled schools with suggestions from the Alternative Schools Innovations Task Force.
Recently TPS stepped in to help control behavioral problems plaguing Gilcrease Middle School with training for teachers and mentoring programs for students.
The search for a suitable site for the New Vision Academy, a pilot program for students in grades nine through 12 who have had drug or alcohol problems, is still underway but getting closer to resolution as approval for a new proposed site is underway.
Cari Marshall moved to Tulsa with her husband Gordon Marshall after they purchased L&M Office Furniture in 2002. The Marshalls have been very busy since arriving in their adopted city, and they have been a valuable resource to the region.
The Marshalls have spent a career in the office furniture industry, having previously worked for Hon Industries, stationed in Muscatine, Iowa. Cari says they visited Tulsa on business many times before they moved here, and when they discovered L&M was for sale, they jumped on the chance.
Not only has she worked hard to help keep the business a success, Cari has been heavily involved in non-profit activities, especially those helping disadvantaged women. She is chairing the CertiRestore Oversight Committee for Resonance. She helped to found the CertiRestore program. She is working on a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) fundraiser to be held Feb. 20. At the Tulsa Metro Chamber, she is the chair elect of the Small Business Council. She also chairs the “Let’s Do Business” committee for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
Cari says, “I love Tulsa. It is the best-kept secret in the nation. I traveled all over the world with Hon. I just love living in Tulsa. It is an interesting area with a very diverse population. It is fun to explore places in the region.”
The Marshalls are cautious about today’s economy, but still optimistic. They work hard to provide good bargains for their fellow business people, and also for those planning to start or add on to home offices. L&M is located at 4444 S. 91st E. Ave., and the phone number is (918) 664-1010.
In 2003 Robert Sanders moved to Tulsa from Rochester, N.Y. to become CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services. Although Morton has been serving the Tulsa community for over 80 years, Sanders has overseen comprehensive changes and growth to Northeastern Oklahoma’s largest Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC). The most obvious change was the move to the new facility at 1334 N. Lansing Ave. in 2006. Since that time Sanders has guided Morton in the addition of many healthcare and social programs. In addition, Sanders initiated and oversaw Morton becoming the first FQHC in Northeast Oklahoma to achieve Joint Commission Accreditation thus furthering the institutions call to provide compassionate, quality healthcare for all of Greater Tulsa and most certainly for an underserved segment of the area population.
To be a more vital component in the Greater Tulsa healthcare network, Morton, under Roberts’ guidance, has established partnerships with other healthcare providers in the region such as University of Oklahoma School of Medicine to increase access to healthcare services.
Adverse economic factors will most certainly create additional strain on Greater Tulsa’s healthcare providers and Morton, under the leadership of Sanders, is continually positioning itself to meet this challenge.
“Morton is on the frontlines of healthcare for the uninsured,” notes Sanders. “We see everyday how bad economic conditions effect the most vulnerable among us and our goal is to be there for them with the compassionate, quality health services they need to avoid impoverishment and to better their lives. It’s what Morton has done for more than eight decades.”
Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry has assumed the responsibilities of Chairman of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Board (TCPFA) for the next calendar year. More frequently referred to as the “Fair Board,” this leadership position rotates among the three elected County Commissioners.
Commissioner Perry says, “I look forward to serving Tulsa County as the Board and I work to increase revenues at Expo Square. I’m hopeful the many years I spent in sales, marketing and management in the private sector will be of benefit as the very talented Expo Square staff and the TCPFA Board work to improve the financial picture at Expo Square.”
To further prepare for his leadership role, Commissioner Perry and Interim Expo Square CEO Mark Andrus attended the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) to hear from the experts in the field.
Interim CEO Mark Andrus said, “The IAFE is an excellent convention where people in this industry can, by attending seminars and exchanging ideas, learn how to better improve operations at their respective venues. Our staff chaired several work groups and learned a great deal from the conference that will serve us well in the future.”
Commissioner Perry says his goals as TCPFA Chairman are:
(1) Improve revenue and decrease expenses.
(2) Maintain service to the producers and public at a high level.
(3) Improve on the already good image of the fairgrounds both locally and nationally.
(4) Build on the positive economic impact Expo Square provides the Tulsa metro area
(5) Ensure that Expo Square remains a safe, entertaining and educational environment.
(6) Continue to be a good neighbor to midtown Tulsa.
DR. KARA GAE NEAL
Tulsa Tech Superintendent Dr. Kara Gae Neal begins her first full year at the nationally known school. Neal started her tenure at Tulsa Tech July 1 after the retirement of Dr. Gene Callahan.
Neal is an excellent choice to lead Tulsa Tech. She is a career educator, having been superintendent of the Metro Tech Vocational-Technical Centers in Oklahoma City, Glenpool Public Schools and Tulsa County schools.
Tulsa Tech serves high school and adult students in Tulsa County, an area with which Neal is well acquainted. From 1987 to 1993, she was Tulsa County’s elected superintendent of schools.
Her passion is helping students come to love learning, and she thinks Tulsa County public education is ahead of the rest of Oklahoma because the educators talk with each other.
As she mentioned at a press conference in 2008 at the Tulsa Press Club, she says her first goal is to solidify Tulsa Tech’s image in order to clear up any misconceptions the public may have about what the school does.
The technical college prepares its graduates for careers that are often overlooked but are vitally important to many industries. The support positions industries rely on are an important part of the industry as a whole.
Tulsa Tech was founded in 1965 as part of Tulsa Public Schools with the purchase of a single campus, now called the Lemley Campus, from TPS. It became an independent school district in 1973 and is now the oldest and largest technology center in Oklahoma’s Career Tech System. In 1992, the school’s name was changed from Tulsa Vo-Tech to better identify and promote the type of career-focused training provided at the school’s growing number of campuses.
DR. MARK RUTLAND
Oral Roberts University has been without a president since November 2007, but that may change, and very soon. ORU had a meeting of the Presidential Search Committee on Jan. 10, 2009, and the committee has chosen a candidate to recommend to the Board of Trustees. Dr. Mark Rutland is the candidate being considered for the top post at the university. He is currently the president of Southeastern University in Florida, where it is said he has turned a small, run-down college into a polished, expanding university.
Rutland, who has indicated he would accept the position if offered, is scheduled to come to campus to attend the board meetings the last week of January. Prior to the board meetings, Rutland will also be meeting with a number of representatives from various university stakeholder groups. The Board of Trustees will then vote on the candidate.
The position would become effective July 1 pending approval by the school’s board of trustees
Rutland has a 30-minute daily radio program, Herald of Joy, which is heard in multiple markets. A native of Texas, he was educated at the University of Maryland, Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, and holds a Ph.D. from California Graduate School of Theology.
He has founded ministries in Ghana and Thailand. The House of Grace home for tribal girls in Chiang Rai, Thailand, was founded in 1988 and houses over 100 girls. He is the author of 13 books.
Rutland and his wife Alison have one son, two daughters, three grandsons, and two granddaughters.
Say it ain’t so, Joe, was the cry of many greater Tulsans last year when once great SemGroup struck out, leaving the region shocked, even before the global economic meltdown. But to the plate to the astonishment of many was a locally mostly unknown man from New York, an investor by the name of John Catsimatidis, who said he not only wanted to save the company, but also to keep it mostly together in Tulsa.
All greater Tulsa eyes will be on the SemGroup situation in 2009. For the first time since taking over the company’s board of directors last month, billionaire Catsimatidis sat down with creditors to work out a restructuring plan. He is said to be the only bidder to publicly declare he wants all of SemGroup, not just bits and pieces of it.
SemGroup has 2,000 employees nationwide, about 300 in Tulsa.
In December, Catsimatidis gained majority control of SemGroup’s board of directors. But nothing happened for weeks and SemGroup executives say the delay slowed efforts to keep the bidding process moving.
SemGroup’s current CEO Terry Ronan says he likes the outlines, but he needs a firm proposal. Ronan says that greatest and highest value might be to break off pieces of SemGroup, such as SemMaterials or SemCrude. Ronan says that could be best for the company and its employees.
It is said that Catsimatidis is moving forward with $450 million in capital ready to go. And, he says the details of his re-restructuring plan will completed by the end of month.
Should all turn out well, the former mostly unknown man to locals may become one of greater Tulsa’s most famous heroes ever.