Ten People to Watch in 2010

Mayor Dewey Bartlett
Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr. was elected as Tulsa’s 39th mayor on Nov. 10, 2009 after a controversial campaign.

After assuming office Dec. 7, 2009, he was immediately met with a $10 million financial shortfall in city government. The financial difficulty has resulted in Bartlett holding many controversial meetings with various impacted groups, such as the Tulsa Firefighters Union.

Bartlett says he will sit down and work on a deal to help save jobs and salaries in the department.

Bartlett has excellent experience for his position, having served on the Tulsa City Council from 1990 to 1994. He has strong business experience, serving as president of the Keener Oil and Gas Company (a family business previously run by his father, former Oklahoma Gov. and Sen. Dewey F. Bartlett), the chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and the National Stripper Well Association.

It will be interesting to see how Mayor Bartlett leads the city during his tenure, which has begun in very difficult economic times.

Steve Swetoha
Tulsa’s new franchise has named Steve Swetoha as president.

Swetoha, who is new to Tulsa, began his position Jan. 18. He has spent his entire career with sports franchises, including the Charlotte Sting of the (2003-05).

He also spent time with the Charlotte Bobcats (2005-07) and Orlando Magic of the (1998-2000), the Jacksonville Jaguars of the (2000-02) and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the (1985-94). Most recently, Swetoha was executive director of the Charlotte (N.C.) Regional Sports Commission and executive director of the local organizing committee for the Football Championship (2008-present).

Swetoha has held leadership roles in ticket sales, sponsorships, marketing, budget and business operations. While with Bobcats Basketball, , Swetoha constructed the Charlotte Sting’s front office in less than five months. In his last three years with the Bobcats, Swetoha nearly doubled the team’s revenue and increased new season ticket sales by 37 percent.

Nolan Richardson
Nolan Richardson, who turned University of Tulsa basketball fortunes around in the 1980-81 season, has returned to town to be general manager and head coach of the franchise, which transferred from Detroit.

Richardson, former head coach of the men’s program at the University of Arkansas as well as TU, guided both schools to championships. At Arkansas, he led the Razorbacks to the title in 1994 and a national runner-up finish the following season. Prior to that, Richardson took the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to the National Invitation Tournament title in 1981. He won more than 500 games at Tulsa and Arkansas.

Polka dot shirts and genuine cowboy boots were his trademark during his five seasons at Tulsa. He was hired by Tulsa after leading his Western Texas Junior College team to a 37-0 record and the NJCAA National Championship in 1980. Basketball fans are looking forward to his magic bringing excitement to the Center this summer.

Jim Bridenstine
Jim Bridenstine is the executive director at Tulsa Air and Space Museum.

Bridenstine attended Jenks High School and Rice University, later becoming a Navy fighter pilot with combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently a Navy Reserve pilot.

In addition to being a fighter pilot, he owns Bridenstine Rocket Racing and is a member of the Rocket Racing League.

As director of , Bridenstine works to engage children in math and science with the goal of encouraging an interest in flying and space. He is working to increase the number of hands-on exhibits at as part of this mission.

Bridenstine has spearheaded an effort to acquire a retiring space shuttle for . A decision is expected soon.

Bridenstine says, “The Rocket Racing League will give the public a look under the hood of the future of racing.”

Bridenstine is actively enriching Tulsa’s famed presence in the aerospace industry while pouring his heart into educating our youth.

Kathy Taylor
Kathy Taylor resigned her post as Tulsa’s mayor in 2009 after taking office in 2006. Though she has left office in Tulsa, she should stay in the news as Gov. Brad Henry’s chief of education strategy and innovation.

Henry says that in the new role, she will take the lead on all of his education initiatives with special emphasis on innovation and boosting achievement. Henry says that education is his top priority.

Taylor says that she had not planned to return to public service so quickly.

Henry said the new post will be cabinet-level but not technically a member of his cabinet. Taylor reportedly will not receive a salary. She took no salary as mayor.

Taylor was elected the 38th Mayor of Tulsa on April 4, 2006, in the city’s largest voter turnout for a mayoral election. She is Tulsa’s second female mayor.

Her future endeavors should continue to be of interest to the people of Greater Tulsa.

Don Walker
Don Walker has been one of Tulsa’s leading citizens since his arrival in the city in 1998, when he assumed his duties as of Arvest Bank.

Walker became the 2010 Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tulsa Metro Chamber Jan. 19. (Please see page 3 of this issue for details.)

During his speech at the Chamber meeting, Walker calls for the expansion of regionalism and shared resources, the next phase of regional economic development, the funding of regional tourism marketing and the seeking and support of candidates for state office who are pro-business.

Walker will work hard for greater Tulsa, as he has always done since his arrival.

He also serves River Parks, the Morningside Foundation of Tulsa, John Brown University’s Board of Directors, the Indian Nations Council-Boy Scouts of America, and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable. Walker was co-chair of the Tulsa Committee for the Oklahoma Centennial, and chaired the Tulsa Area United Way’s 2009 campaign, where he now serves as the United Way’s 2010 chairman of the board.

Howard Barnett
Howard Barnett is entering his second semester as the president of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.

-Tulsa is critically important in the higher education network throughout greater Tulsa. Education is the ultimate key to the quality growth of the region.

Barnett is highly qualified to lead the university due to his extensive business and management background. Barnett has served as director of Capital in Tulsa. He earned a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa.

A life-long Tulsan, Barnett served as chief of staff for Gov. Frank Keating and as the Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce. Earlier this year, Barnett was the chief negotiator for the Medical Center Trust in its acquisition of the Medical Center from Ardent Health Systems. He is also a former chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and president of Leadership Oklahoma.

Karen Keith
Longtime greater Tulsa personality Karen Keith remains in the spotlight with her role as the 2010 Board of County Commissioners () chair and Budget Board chair.

Keith is Tulsa County Commissioner of District 2, one of the most diverse districts in terms of populations, economic diversity, and development. From Sand Springs to Expo Square and downtown Tulsa to Glenpool, District 2 represents over 187,000 Tulsa County residents with over 16,000 residing in the unincorporated areas of Tulsa County.

Since becoming the Commissioner for District 2, Commissioner Karen Keith has made it a priority of hers to keep the same strong relationships with the Mayors and City Managers in District 2, which was so instrumental in the passage of Vision 2025. She says, “We share so many of the same challenges and resources and citizen concerns that these partnerships are vitally important to everyone. Together, there are no challenges we can not overcome and no visions for a better county we can’t achieve.”

Major Dan Rooney
Major Dan Rooney is the founder and chief executive officer of the Folds of Honor Foundation, which was established in 2007. The foundation provides scholarships to children and spouses of military service men and women who lost their lives or were disabled while serving our nation.

Currently, Rooney is a decorated military aviator in the Air National Guard and has served three combat tours in Iraq.

Rooney gathered his experiences in major golf associations to establish The Patriot, one of the most breathtaking golf courses in the nation. The Patriot will not only provide additional opportunities to raise funds for scholarships but will serve as headquarters for the Folds of Honor Foundation.

Located in the Stone Canyon development in Owasso, the golf course is scheduled to open in the spring. Rooney was given the White House’s Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Air National Guard’s Distinguished Service Medal and The of America’s first-ever Patriot Award.

Eliot Nelson
Eliot Nelson is one of the most impressive young entrepreneurs in greater Tulsa. The Notre Dame graduate opened his James E. McNellie’s Public House at 409 E. First St. in 2004, already a Tulsa icon, and he has experienced continued success since.

His McNellie’s has been the flagship of the Blue Dome District, and later he opened El Guapos Cantina down the street at First and Elgin, which has roof-top dining. He recently opened a McNellie’s in Oklahoma City, and he has plans for a location in Norman.

Nelson was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by Mayor Kathy Taylor in 2008 during the inaugural Mayor’s Tulsey Awards, held at Cain’s Ballroom. The Tulsey Awards recognize the pioneers and innovators of the Tulsa community.

He plans to continue his business acumen in Tulsa with the “Dust Bowl,” an eight-lane bowling alley at 211 S. Elgin St. in the Blue Dome District. Keep an eye on this budding entrepreneurial giant.

Updated 02-22-2010

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