40 Under 40 2018

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40UNDER40
 

Young leaders in Oklahoma set the pace for progress moving forward. In a state on the cusp of massive transformation, business leaders under 40 are our brave pioneers. Oklahoma Magazine’s 2018 class of 40 Under 40 represents the best the state has to offer in virtually all fields of business; they work as doctors and lawyers, chefs and sommeliers, educators and artists. Their occupations differ, yes, but their passions remain the same: to put Oklahoma on the map as a state of the future.

40 Under 40 honorees are unranked and presented in no particular order.

 

41William Lyle, 36

Photo by Josh New

Tulsa
Executive Chef, The Summit Club
Chef William Lyle takes great pride in overseeing a meal’s long journey to a Summit Club member – from meeting with farmers and developing the menu to preparing the dish. But Lyle is more than just a planner – he’s a leader. “I manage a staff of 25, including three sous chefs,” says Lyle, adding that “watching young men and women grow in my kitchens, emotionally and professionally” is what makes him the proudest. When he’s not at the club, Lyle enjoys volunteering, most recently with the March of Dimes, Feed Communities, Chase Family Foundation and Lifesource. He also loves staying active: kayaking, mountain biking, disc golf and snowboarding. “Give me two consecutive days off and I will be on my way to Colorado,” he says. Another of his loves? Food, of course. “I share citizenship with the UK and spent a lot of my childhood in Northern England,” he says. “This might be why I am so infatuated with Indian food.”

40Jodi Finer, 32

Photo by Josh New

Tulsa
Creative Director, S. Harris, a division of Fabricut Inc.
Jodi Finer is on a mission: to make Tulsa a city of the future. Since moving back from Los Angeles in July 2017, Finer has taken on the title of creative director at S. Harris, a wholesaler of luxury home furnishings and a division of Fabricut, a fabric distributor. “My day to day involves marketing and brand strategy, building community, and designing and merchandising textiles, wall covering and accessories,” Finer says. Alongside her day job, Finer is also heavily invested in Tulsa Tomorrow. “A group of Tulsans had this idea about three years ago … which aims to bring young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to Tulsa,” she says. “When I learned about all the exciting things happening in Tulsa, my fiancé and I decided to move back, too, so I consider myself a Tulsa Tomorrow person.” In November, the group hosted 58 young entrepreneurs from around the world to show them the ample opportunities Tulsa has to offer. Finer says of that group, five to eight are moving here, with several others seriously considering it. “Every week we host people coming in to do a more focused trip around Tulsa, tailored to their specific career,” she says. When asked about the secret to her success, Finer showcases her continued tenacity. “What success?” she asks. “I’m still in building mode and won’t stop until I’ve made my dreams a reality.”

39Susan Crenshaw, 35

Photo courtesy S. Crenshaw

Tulsa
Energy Management Leader, ONEOK
Susan Crenshaw has been a loyal employee of ONEOK for eight years – and along the way, she’s garnered massive authority within the company. “I lead a small team responsible for purchasing and efficiently consuming the energy ONEOK uses to run its operations in 17 states,” she says. “Our group does both finance and engineering work and works with about 200 energy providers. We also explore some new energy technologies, as well, as our business needs require. We have a lot of fun doing this – it’s fun to optimize and be efficient.” Crenshaw wastes no time being idle outside the office; she gives her time to the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, Tulsa Area United Way, Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma and several other nonprofits. “I have a lot of very rich relationships across this community and this state as a result of volunteering and meeting like-minded people,” Crenshaw says.

38Josh D. Lee, 38

Photo by Alex Cowan

Vinita
Lawyer, Ward Lee & Coats
Josh D. Lee is a lawyer, yes – but maybe not one you’ve heard of often. “I am an attorney who focuses my practice on fighting the government,” he says. “I am a unique breed of lawyer known as a lawyer-scientist who handles criminal defense cases that involve forensic science applications.” His proudest work-related moment to date? “Walking out of the Tulsa County Jail with Malcolm Scott when he was exonerated after spending 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit,” he says. “It doesn’t get any better than the feeling all of us had who were involved in Malcolm and Demarchoe Carpenter’s exonerations.” Lee, in his off time, spends time with his wife, Jacki, and volunteers at the Vinita Fire Department as a certified firefighter and registered Emergency Medical Technician.

37Shannon Lynne Hillier, 36

Photo by John O’Connor, Miller Photography

Owasso
Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Medical Director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Outpatient Clinic; Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, OSU Center for Health Sciences
Shannon Lynne Hillier has lived a lot of life in her 36 years – she served in the U.S. Navy for eight years on active duty, had four children 4 or younger during her medical residency, and now wears many hats at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences. When she’s not with patients, she’s teaching residents and researching new concepts. Although her job is complex, her favorite aspect of it is simple: She likes helping patients. “I love sinking my teeth into an evaluation of a complex patient who has never had a chance to tell their story,” she says. “I love sorting out the biology, psychology, interpersonal and spiritual strings – then painting a picture of their lives into an assessment using my medical knowledge to make a treatment plan. Most of all, I love, love, love seeing patients get better, living their lives happily, and knowing that I was able to contribute to this. There is nothing else like it in medicine.”

36Tyler McManaman, 34

Photo by Charis Kobza

Norman
Project Manager, Manhattan Construction Company
Tyler McManaman works closely with clients of Manhattan Construction to ensure their architectural dreams become reality, in turn enriching the community with quality public structures. “Turning the keys over to a new building that meets [the client’s] expectations make the challenges throughout the project all worth it,” he says. Outside the office, McManaman serves on the Resource Board for Big Brothers Big Sisters Oklahoma in Norman, and is a member of the Community Activism Team through Norman Next. The University of Oklahoma graduate is also an avid outdoors man alongside his wife and two children. “Being active and outdoors is so much a part of my life that I proposed to my wife on a camping trip in Arkansas and moved to Colorado after college, specifically for the Rocky Mountains,” he says. He and the family moved back to Oklahoma in May 2016, but McManaman has no qualms about leaving Colorado. “As much as we miss Colorado, we are very happy being back home, where our children can grow up with our families in such a great community.”

35Paige Buxton Graham, 35

Photo courtesy P. Graham

Jones
Senior Tax Accountant, HoganTaylor LLP
When Paige Buxton Graham isn’t preparing and reviewing tax returns at HoganTaylor, her warm personality and financial savvy allow her to play the mentor role to new staff members and interns. Graham says, for her, the job never gets old. “I love that there are always opportunities to learn more and grow more,” she says. “I am a lifetime learner and working in public accounting, especially at HoganTaylor, meets that need for me.” Off the clock, she enjoys cooking, reading, spending time with her husband and pets and volunteering at Family Builders and Positive Tomorrows. “Honestly, I am a better person because of volunteerism,” she says. “I appreciate more, I offer more, and I love more because of volunteerism.” Graham says her sunny disposition and determination are the reasons for her continued success. “I never give up on myself or my goals,” she says. Another component of her routine includes maintaining a strict schedule when it comes to her sleep. “I go to bed super early,” she says. “I was born an old lady and am very serious about my bedtime.” In fact, if her life were a movie, she’s say it would be titled Ride or Die … Until 8 p.m.

34Cassandra Lawrence Carter, 36

Photo by Western Doughty

Tulsa
Managing Funeral Director and Licensed Embalmer, Stanley’s Funeral & Cremation Service
A funeral director does much more than you’d imagine – just ask Cassandra Lawrence Carter. Along with planning the services for Stanley’s Funeral & Cremation Service, she deals with transportation of the deceased, helps grieving families and takes on managerial duties to boot. “Death doesn’t follow a schedule,” Carter says, “so I am on call 24 hours a day, most every day.” Carter doesn’t stop caring for people when the work day is over: She also finds time to volunteer for many fundraisers and organizations. Although her job revolves around sadness, she finds joy in making a family’s transition easier. “It’s such an amazing win when you’ve made things better for people,” she says. Carter also notes that her age and gender make her stand out in her field. “Holding such a position, especially as a young woman in a male-dominated field, makes me quite proud.”

33Collin Henry, 30

Photo courtesy C. Henry

Tulsa
Vice President, Warren Clinic Operations and Physician Recruitment, Saint Francis Health System
At 30 years old, Collin Henry already oversees the operations of Warren Clinic – Saint Francis Health Systems’ multi-specialty physician group. He spends the other chunk of his working hours recruiting physicians for the health system, which includes the clinic and Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital. “I love that my job exposes me to a variety of highly skilled individuals with whom I can learn and collaborate with to improve healthcare delivery in Oklahoma,” Henry says. Outside the office, Henry volunteers with Night Light Tulsa, the Tulsa Area United Way and other local nonprofits. “Volunteering and giving back has helped place my own personal goals in perspective,” Henry says. “After specifically working with those who are marginalized in society, it really made me take inventory of … the non-material things in life that are important to me.” He and his wife also have an interesting hobby. “I have found that I enjoy the reality dating show The Bachelor. My wife and I are in a group where we watch the show on Monday nights,” he says. “I will keep the names of the other males in the group confidential in order to protect their manhood.”

32Houda Elyazgi, 32

Photo by Logan Walcher, Saxum

Oklahoma City
Social Good and Issues Practice Lead, Saxum
In every aspect of her job, Houda Elyazgi fights to enact social justice in any way possible – whether that’s by participating in her company’s Step Up Program or joining the board of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on important issues like addressing our state’s high rates of incarceration, working to break the cycle of poverty, and supporting social impact, philanthropic and diversity and inclusion efforts,” she says. Elyazgi’s unique name also set the pace for her later career. “My first name, Houda, means ‘guidance’ in Arabic. My last name, Elyazgi, has a Turkish origin and means ‘the writer,’” she says. “I work in PR, which is all about guiding others through persuasive communications, so I get a kick out of the connection between my name, its meaning and the work I do.”

31Stanna Brazeel, 39

Photo by Miller Photography

Bixby
HR Senior Director, Total Rewards T.D. Williamson, Inc.
Stanna Brazeel’s main goal is to make absolutely sure the employees of T.D. Williamson are happy right where they are. “I lead a team of top-notch HR professionals, and together we are bringing employee-centric solutions – integrating career and talent development, working environment, compensation and benefits – into a complete package of what TD Williamson has to offer desired employees.” Although she takes her job seriously, she’s a fan of the occasional prank. “I am a practical joker,” she says. “I have heard, a time or two, that I have this persona of being intense and ‘all business.’ This is true,” she says. “But my HR team and others who know me well, know that I have a fun side as well.” On top of demanding work, Brazeel is also a wife and mother of three kids – all boys.

30Anna Rangel Clough, 35

Photo by Josh Clough

Norman
Attorney, OJJDP Tribal Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center
Anna Rangel Clough wants to protect and encourage at-risk youth – and does so through the Tribal Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, a branch of the Indian Country Child Trauma Center. “TYTTA Center offers training and support for Tribal juvenile justice and intervention programs across the country,” she says. “I respect all areas of the law, but my hope is that I can use my education to support increased access to justice services for low-income or other high-need populations.” Clough also boasts vocal talent and was even nominated for a Native American Music Award alongside her friend, Marcus Briggs-Cloud. “We were nominated for a compilation of hymns and songs on the album Pum Vculvke Vrrakuecetv, To Honor Our Elders.”

29Lindsay Beth Farr, 37

Photo by Lindsay McDaniel Photography

Tulsa
Interior Designer, KKT Architects
Take a look around Tulsa and it’s likely you’ll find a building Lindsay Beth Farr helped to design. As an interior designer at KKT Architects, Farr has the opportunity to strengthen Tulsa’s skyline – but she has a soft spot for certain areas of her work. “At KKT, I’ve worked on several types of projects, including commercial, healthcare and education,” she says. “But my favorite projects have been for nonprofit clients, such as when I worked on a project for Safe Net Services, a women’s shelter in Claremore. I felt exceedingly committed to creating a safe place for women and their families to heal.” In her spare time, Farr is a member of the International Interior Design Association and the International Facilities Management Association. She also volunteers at Redeemer Covent Church and Jenks Public Schools, and is a proud mother. Her favorite stress reliever? “Watching my girls dance,” she says. “My oldest daughter does competitive dance, and my youngest daughter participates in recreational dance classes.”

28Jared Jordan, 39

Photo by Josh New

Tulsa
General Manager, The Summit Club
Overseeing every aspect of Tulsa’s most exclusive club is, for general manager and sommelier Jared Jordan, all about the bottom line: pleasing the customer. “Working in hospitality and fine dining is, at its core, about making people happy,” he says. “So I guess the thing I love the most is the satisfaction of providing our members with a truly unique and exceptional experience every time they come to the club.” When Jordan isn’t coordinating at The Summit Club, he enjoys giving back to Tulsa by helping out at both Philbrook Museum and Family and Children’s Services. “I think that it’s very important to give back to your community in any way that you can,” the transplant from Muskogee says. “I fell in love with Tulsa when I moved here almost 20 years ago, and being able to give back in any way I can, given that this city has been so good to me personally and professionally, means a lot to me.” Jordan often turns to a colleague’s tried and true advice when it comes to his job. “A friend of mine in the business once told me to ‘stop taking what we do so seriously; we are just serving food and drinks and trying to make people happy. It’s not any more complicated than that.’ For some reason, this stuck with me, and believing it allowed me to fall in love with what I do on a level I didn’t know was possible.”

27Victor Acosta Serna, 30

Photo courtesy V. Acosta

Oklahoma City
Graphic Designer and Co-Owner, The Paper Box Crafts and Designs
Victor Acosta Serna wants to make every client’s dream a reality through his designs. As the co-owner of The Paper Box Crafts and Designs, he gets that freedom. “My work helps to define and illustrate my client’s purpose,” he says. “My style of design keeps me busy, as it takes time to craft product for each client, and for each I try and make an original idea.” Serna’s success stems from ability to grow from rejections. “All of those times that I was told ‘no’ also motivate me to prove to myself that I can and will be someone,” he says. His parents, to whom he dedicates the honor of being named to 40 Under 40, taught him the most important lesson of all. “My parents always told me to be humble with anyone, no matter where they come from,” he says. Serna has a long list of causes he supports and organizations he volunteers for, as well. “I like to help others and to give back some of what I have been given in my life,” he says.

26Lauren Brown, 31

Photo by Ryan Lassiter, Defining Image

Oklahoma City
Attorney, Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, LLP
Lauren Brown spends her days resolving legal issues as they regard to real estate, probate, business, start-ups, construction, insurance and trademarks. “My firm is over 100 years old and the attorneys here are truly outstanding,” Brown says. “I get the opportunity every day to work under excellent mentors and I get to work on very challenging cases.” Brown also uses her legal skills to mentor students through the Federal Bar Association and volunteers with Suited for Success. Although she has a number of reasons to be proud, she believes staying humble and being kind are the keys to success. “I practice the Golden Rule, and I treat others how I would like to be treated. I admit when I am wrong and I take responsibility for it,” she says. “Yes, I also have to-do lists and goals for this month and five years from now, but my true secret to my success is that I am kind to others, I care about others, and I try to always do the right thing.”

25Caron Davis, 38

Photo courtesy CTCA

Tulsa
Director of Regional Development, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Whether she’s juggling advertising and operations or budgets and planning, Caron Davis has her plate full at Tulsa’s branch of CTCA. “I love the mission and purpose behind treating cancer patients with the Mother Standard of care,” Davis says. “I have many personal experiences with cancer in my own life, so it truly feels good to work for a company that is very focused on offering options to patients they may not have been aware of.” Davis, who once taught English abroad in Spain, takes the philanthropic nature of her work to several nonprofits, including the The Colon Cancer Coalition and The Tulsa Regional Chamber. Davis operates on the advice that one should “always wear your accountability glasses, not your victim glasses” when dealing with others in any situation.

24Chrissi Ross Nimmo, 37

Photo by Josh New

Tahlequah
Deputy Attorney General, Cherokee Nation
Chrissi Ross Nimmo has weighty responsibility: She’s the supervising attorney for the largest Native American tribe in the country. This means she wears a lot of hats. “I have done everything from representing the Nation before the United States Supreme Court to reviewing internal policies, all while having three babies in as many years and still representing my tribe and my community of Cherokees and Oklahomans,” she says. Off the clock, Nimmo uses her skills as an attorney for pro bono work. “People generally only need lawyers at the best and worst moments of their lives – helping with both is special.” As for the secret to Nimmo’s great success? “No secret – I work hard, have lots fun and my husband of 15 years helps make it relatively easy,” she says. “I love to learn, am the first college graduate on either side of my family and take education seriously as it has changed my life.” Something people might be surprised to learn: “I had my own public access cooking show – Now You’re Cooking, with Chrissi Nimmo.”

23Roy Boney Jr., 39

Photo by Josh New

Tahlequah
Language Program Manager, Cherokee Nation Education Services
Roy Boney is passionate about preserving the Cherokee language and does so by overseeing the Cherokee Nation’s office of translation, community language class program, language technology program and language scholarship program. His job brings him to dozens of unique people passionate about the same things he is. “I have the honor of working with a wide variety of people, from revered Cherokee elders to students, who are enthusiastic about revitalizing the Cherokee language and culture,” he says. “Working for tribal government means my job is more than just management and administrative paperwork. I get to collaborate with creative and passionate people whose goal is the sharing and perpetuation of our culture and values.” Boney’s not all business; he also harbors an artistic streak. “While my day job is in service to my tribe, my other passion is art. I do lots of drawing and painting, and I do illustrations for books, magazines, and comic books. I would be a full-time illustrator if I was not working in language revitalization for Cherokee Nation. I often do talks and workshops about Cherokee storytelling through art for various community events,” he says.

22Aaron ‘AJ’ Johnson, 32

Photo courtesy A. Johnson

Bixby
Executive Director, Tulsa Dream Center
Aaron Johnson believes that his work “offers hope to the broken.” The Tulsa Dream Center, a faith-based organization, exists to meet the needs of people in North Tulsa, whatever those needs may be. “If you can change the way you think, you can change the way you live,” he says. “That is what I feel my job encompasses – that is, to help people experience a new normal in life. Whether it is offering hope, medical care, or help with their educational needs – we help people win.” Philanthropy, an important aspect of Johnson’s life, continues after work at First Responders Fire and Rescue, Tulsa Community Foundation board, Tulsa Housing Board and his church. “Success is not how high you’ve climbed, but how you make a positive and impactful difference in the world,” he says.

21Kristin Richards, 29

Photo by Kennon Bryce

Yukon
Attorney, Hammons, Gowens, Hurst & Associates
Kristin Richards fights for a safe and productive work environment for all employees, and represents victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. “Practicing employment law allows me to provide a voice to victims who feel helpless in their workplace environment,” she says. “My goal is to make sure every client I represent understands that I am advocating for their best interests, and I am in their corner fighting for them 100 percent of the time.” Along with advocating for her clients, Richards trains for half-marathons with her husband and also volunteers with the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women and City Rescue Mission. “Volunteering has allowed me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, and my own. It has made me more aware of the world and is an integral part of who I am,” she says.

20Maria Copp, 28

Photo courtesy M. Copp

Tulsa
Reading Specialist, Tulsa Public Schools
Maria Copp’s job is, in her own words, to “trick middle schoolers into liking to read.” As a reading specialist at Tulsa Public Schools, Copp works closely with struggling readers in low-income areas to help them succeed. “Watching a reluctant reader transform into an eager reader is the absolute best,” she says. “My kiddos typically dislike reading, but I love finding the perfect book for a certain student and convincing them otherwise.” Copp is so dedicated to the job that she bought a home right behind her school. “I made the decision primarily because I want to be a part of the community where my students live,” she says. “The best thing about my job is that I believe in the work I do so strongly. I see teaching – especially in low-income schools – as mission-based work. That said, traditional volunteering is great too. I did a volunteer year at a residential facility for teen boys in Chicago. It was amazing.”

19Elizabeth Frame Ellison, 35

Photo courtesy E. Ellison

Tulsa/San Francisco
President and CEO, Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation
Elizabeth Ellison is determined to make Oklahoma the absolute best it can be – and uses the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation as her vehicle. “I get to wake up every day and work with an incredibly smart and inspired staff who all believe, like me, that we are making our community a better place to live, work and play.” Ellison heads up a wide variety of projects with her seven-employee operation that aims to grow and nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tulsa. Among those is Kitchen 66, an incubator that provides essential mentorship to up-and-coming restaurateurs, and the Mother Road Market, set to open this spring at 11th Street and Lewis Avenue, which will feature 16 small shops, pop-up restaurants and more. Ellison also dedicates a great deal of personal time to community service. “I’ve been lucky enough to support several causes through my volunteer work, from serving on the school board for Tulsa Technology Center to working on projects as the chair of the collaborative committee within the Tulsa Area United Way that spearheaded innovative programs like A Way Home for Tulsa and Impact Tulsa!,” she says. She’s also a mother to two young boys and a fisher. “I maintain street cred as the only female in our family by reeling in the big ones, cutting worms in half without squirming much, perfecting my cast and reeling in catfish, leopard sharks and … even a 180-pound marlin.”

18Vahid Farzaneh, 34

Photo by Josh Bivens

Moore
CEO, Freestyle Creative             Partner, Home Creations 
At heart, Vahid Farzaneh is an entrepreneur. His company, Freestyle Creative, allows him to work with dozens of imaginative people to build growth in Oklahoma and deliver a client’s message through smart strategy and inspired marketing. “What I love most about my job is I learn new things all the time, I’m able to be creative, I meet new people and build new relationships,” he says. Farzaneh also contributes to Oklahoma City real estate by acting as partner at Home Creations, a home-building company. He helps to create and foster innovate start-ups in Oklahoma City and produces local, independent films. In total, he has produced more than 30 Oklahoma-made films that have won numerous awards. His list of volunteerism is exhaustive – from the American Heart Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters to Oklahoma Tomorrow and Rotary Club 29. “It feels good knowing that I’m helping the community that has helped our family for many years,” he says. In his spare time, Farzaneh fosters his love of cars. “I like sleepers; the less flashy the car and the more performance it has, the more I like it.”

17Matt Lay, 35

Photo by Josh New

Jenks
Fire Equipment Operator, City of Tulsa
Matt Lay ensures firetrucks and all equipment aboard are ready to perform when residents need them most. Through floods, ice storms and tornadoes, Lay presses on. “I always knew I wanted a job helping people … being a firefighter made that such a tangible thing: put the fire out and save the home, stop the bleeding and save a life.” It seems Lay is fearless now, but it took advice from his dad to become this way. “When I was young, I spent a lot of time tying myself in knots – fearful of things that would never happen,” he says. “During one of the moments, my father told me: ‘Run to the sound of the guns.’ In other words, don’t run from trouble – face it. It’s not that you won’t be scared, but you’ll be moving toward the mission.” Lay serves as chairman of the board for the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System and volunteers at his church and the American Lung Association.

16Tonya Ratcliff, 36

Photo courtesy T. Ratcliff

Guthrie
Executive Director, Peppers Ranch Foster Care Community
Tonya Ratcliff is the epitome of the phrase, “Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk.” As the executive director at Peppers Ranch, Ratcliff fights tooth and nail for the thousands of children in Oklahoma foster care – and especially the 100 children who call Peppers Ranch home. “I build the foundation for the future of foster children who will one day be our future leaders and caretakers,” she says. “I love seeing ‘orphans’ find homes as ‘sons and daughters.’” But her love for foster children doesn’t stop there. “I’m a mother to 10 amazing children, all ages 13 and under,” she says. “My husband of 17 years and I have adopted eight children through DHS [Department of Human Services], and have had two children the old-fashioned way.” Her key to success is simple: be kind. “Give all you can – and with an intoxicating spirit – so that a broken heart might come to realize they are loved,” she says.

15Christopher A. Grate, 31

Photo courtesy C. Grate

Oklahoma City
IT Analyst I, OU Center for Public Management
As an IT analyst at the University of Oklahoma, Chris Grate works within a small group, creating test plans and scenarios for product improvements and reporting his findings. “My job can be very challenging, so it helps me work on becoming more efficient,” he says. “I also really enjoy the people on my team.” He finds his success, he says, in his failures. “Never be afraid to admit to a shortcoming or failure and always try to learn from it,” he says. In his off time, Grate enjoys volunteering at Suited for Success, the Young Professionals Board and for political campaigns. “A simple or benign act can have a substantial impact on someone else,” he says of his volunteerism.

14Hilda De Leon Xavier, 38

Photo courtesy H. Xavier

Oklahoma City
Client Access Specialist Bi-Lingual, Oklahoma City County Health Department
Hilda De Leon Xavier, originally from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, is passionate about helping people from all backgrounds, preventing disease and promoting health to Oklahomans. “I feel proud when I translate for clients that have a language barrier. I help and guide them and explain services provided in their native language,” she says. “Overall, I am proud to serve the public sector.” Advocating for disenfranchised people doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. for Xavier – she spends ample time raising funds for immigrants, victims of human trafficking, single moms and tornado victims. When she’s not volunteering, Xavier spends time with her family. “My husband is from India; we have been married for 10 years. We have a daughter, Adalyn, who is 6 years old,” she says.

13Payton Guthrie, 30

Photo by Deidre Elrod

Durant
Video Production Director, Choctaw Nation
Payton Guthrie is a storyteller, and he uses his directing and producing skills to create multimedia content for the Choctaw Nation. “I love being able to shine a light on native stories and their importance to the history of Oklahoma and the United States of America,” he says. “I feel it is extremely important that Native American stories are told through the eyes of the tribes.” To unwind, Guthrie participates in Crossfit, volunteers for Choctaw Nation’s yearly races to support local youth groups and watches college football. If he weren’t using his skills for video production, he would “be working as a professional actor. My college degree is in acting and directing, and I would have given that a real shot if the Choctaw Nation hadn’t called my name.”

12Lysbeth ‘Liz’ George, 34

Photo by Lenae Photography

Blanchard
Attorney, Crowe & Dunlevy
Lysbeth George represents clients in a wide array of issues – from bankruptcy to creditor’s rights. “When my kiddos ask what I do, I tell them that I help people whose problems are complicated enough that they need to pay someone to help them fix it,” she says. George says Crowe & Dunvley encourages her to become a better citizen and volunteer. “I am proudest of Crowe & Dunlevy’s commitment to invest in our community through its support and encouragement of our attorneys to raise funds for various causes, serve on community boards and provide pro bono legal services through incredible organizations,” she says. Taking on law school and all its subsequent responsibility is a huge decision to make – luckily, George had the perfect council: her grandma. “When discussing whether or not to go back to law school she would say, ‘Either way, three years from now you’ll still be 28. Wouldn’t you rather be 28 and a lawyer?’” The answer was yes. George serves her community, as well. “I ran for the District 42 seat for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2016. I didn’t win, but turned around a week after that election and ran for my local school board. I’ve been serving on the Blanchard School Board since February of 2017,” she says.

11Joshua Vicena, 37

Photo by Shane Bevel/Shane Bevel Photography

Tulsa
Physician/Urological Surgeon, Warren Clinic
Joshua Vicena splits his time as a urological surgeon for the Saint Francis Health System between office and surgical practice, and his specialty lies in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. “I enjoy the precision and technicality required to perform minimally invasive and advanced surgical techniques,” he says. “I appreciate the patient population in urology, especially the older generation. I am enthralled by continued medical advancements and learning newer and better techniques.” Vicena also volunteers at his local church, hosts Bible studies, serves on several hospital committees and provides food and supplies to at-risk youth at McLain High School. “It is rewarding to extend yourself beyond your career and help people in need in ways that are unique and challenging. Some of my most impactful experiences have happened outside of health care,” he says. Vicena credits his success to a few factors: “hard work, God’s grace, my incredible, supportive wife and more hard work.” He also believes in the power of positive thinking. “Stop selling yourself short,” he says. “If you want it, go get it.”

10Patrick Smith, 34

Photo by Caty Smith

Tulsa
Director of Advanced Technology, TMA Systems
At 34, Patrick Smith has an exhaustive list of TMA Systems clients for whom he’s creating world-class software. Creating technologically advanced solutions for thousands of businesses around the world – including Microsoft, QuikTrip, American Airlines, the U.S. Supreme Court, Yankee Candle and Walgreens – means Smith has carried a lot of responsibility on his shoulders during his 12-year run at TMA, but he doesn’t see it that way. Instead, he believes that he’s simply “developing software that makes work easier for people. I always look for changes we can make that might improve someone’s day.” Although he’s young himself, he enjoys volunteering with his alma mater, the University of Tulsa, at its Tandy School of Computer Science on the advisory board, fostering the growth of young STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) minds. “It’s been exciting to see the kind of work students are doing now,” he says. “It’s rewarding to work with the other board members to improve the CS curriculum and attract new students to STEM programs.” In his spare time, Smith participates in a weekly Dungeon and Dragons session at work, and says he feels “most comfortable sitting in front of a screen.” When asked what profession he would be if he weren’t in his current profession, Smith proves he’s right where he needs to be. “I would probably just be trying to solve problems as another type of engineer,” he says.

9Amy L. Howe, 39

Blanchard
Senior Associate, Echols & Associates
Amy Howe spends her time at Echols & Associates assisting clients in the area of family law by bringing a fresh energy and unmatched intensity to every case. Although every lawyer has a different story about what inspired him or her to attend law school, Howe’s is unique. “My undergraduate degree in art history drove me to go to law school in the hopes of securing a profession working with Holocaust survivors and families to recover stolen artwork,” she says. While Howe understands that emotions run high during trials, she’s learned to remain calm under pressure. “I hope that this characteristic gives our clients confidence, that while they are struggling to work through the emotional aspect, I am staying on task to find a resolution, a light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “The most rewarding aspect of working in family law is understanding that while our clients come to us at the most difficult times in their lives, we are able to be by their side while we all work together to find what is best for them in the long run. Often times I get to watch a transformation from fear and grief to relief and clarity.” After a long day at work, Howe loves “sitting on my back porch with my dog, watching the birds and deer in my yard. The quiet at the end of day is peaceful and relaxing.”

8Audrey Chambers, 35

Photo by Shane Bevel/Shane Bevel Photography

Sand Springs
Advertising Account Supervisor, AcrobatAnt
Audrey Chambers communicates objectives, drives strategies, builds relationships and handles all the marketing needs of her many clients at AcrobatAnt. “I love the people I work with and how no two days are the same,” she says. “Advertising is an ever-changing, challenging field in some ways, but constant in other ways as well.” Chambers lives a well-rounded life outside the office through volunteerism at Talking is Teaching, Metropolitan Baptist and Women in Recovery. “I think volunteering is one of the most important things we can do in life,” she says. “Giving of one’s time, arguably the most precious gift we have, is crucial.” Chambers is also an avid outdoorswoman and checked off a major bucket list item in Texas last year. “I hiked to the top of a mountain carrying a 40-pound pack with two of my girlfriends,” she says. “We camped under the snow and climbed to Guadalupe Peak at sunrise.”

7Maren Minnaert Lively, 39

Photo by Josh New

Tulsa
Attorney and shareholder, Jones, Gotcher & Bogan, P.C.
As the head of a family law group, Maren Lively represents clients in a wide array of personal affairs – from divorce and custody hearings to domestic violence, deprived children and adoption cases. Lively plays the role of champion for her clients. Although some cases spawn negativity, Lively finds real joy in others. “I am most proud of my representation of individuals seeking to expand their families by adopting a son or daughter,” she says. “Nothing is better than witnessing the pure joy that shines on the faces of both parents and children alike when the adoptions are finalized.” Along with plenty of after-work volunteering, yoga, and spending time with her family, it seems ‘no’ isn’t a word in Lively’s vocabulary. “I understand that we only have one chance at this life and that we must make the most of it,” she says. “Also, my husband and I are equal partners, which makes me being a lawyer and shareholder of my firm, a wife, and a mother to my two sons possible.”

6Amanda Jo Wyatt, 35

Photo by Lezlie Glass

Jenks
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health
As a registered nurse for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Amanda Wyatt establishes powerful partnerships with her many high-risk patients – and she works to better their lives. “I am responsible for creating a model of diabetes care that encompasses cultural humility, innovation and effectiveness in the delivery of sustainable diabetes healthcare,” Wyatt says. “I am also an active duty Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service.” Her care for others doesn’t stop when she leaves the office. Providing clothes, vaccinations and meals to children fleeing the cruelty of their home countries is one instance of volunteerism Wyatt recalls vividly. “I felt it was my duty as a human being to extend compassion and kindness to such a vulnerable population,” she says. “ I have never been more honored to wear and represent the U.S. Public Health Service uniform than I was during that time.”

5Kara Berst, 36

Photo courtesy K. Berst

Ada
Executive Officer, Business Sustainability and Auxiliary Services, Chickasaw Nation
Kara Berst works to keep the nation clean, safe and in compliance while bettering communication to all employees. “I love making a difference, and my job allows that by ensuring we protect our lands, water and people,” she says. “Historically, the environment, particularly water, has been such an integral part of the Chickasaw culture, it makes me proud to help with those efforts today.” Berst is also a mother to three children, a Crossfit fan and a volunteer at the Community Food Bank and the American Heart Association. Her annual ocean-side family vacations are a bright spot in her year, she says. “We travel to a beach at least once a year and love every second of it.” In fact, if she weren’t at the Chickasaw Nation, she would be “living at the beach, saving all the ocean creatures.”

4Maurianna L. Adams, 28

Photo courtesy M. Adams

Bethany
President, Community Alliance of Oklahoma
Maurianna L. Adams is in the business of connecting people – specifically, grassroots organizations with partners that can help them achieve their goals through her company, the Community Alliance of Oklahoma. “I enjoy meeting and creating space for diverse individuals and industries to build rapport, build thought and build strategies that will improve our communities,” she says. Adams is also passionate about volunteering – issues near to her heart include homelessness, domestic violence, police reform and child hunger. “I grew up in a single-parent home, where mental health and drug abuse problems existed,” she says. “I am very aware of social and economic issues within local, state, private and public affairs. It is a reminder that there is much work to be done for and with the majority, to shape a better future for our children – but also how resilient and resourceful communities are.”

3Kanwaljit ‘Vick’ Aulakh, 38

Photo courtesy K. Aulakh

Tulsa
Physician, Pathology Laboratory Associates
During working hours, you can find Kanwaljit Aulakh behind a microscope, examining tissues to find out what, exactly, is medically wrong with any number of patients. He also directs labs in both Oklahoma and Kansas and works as a cancer liaison physician at St. John Medical Center. “Physicians and patients alike understand that an accurate diagnosis is the foundation of excellent medical care,” Aulakh says. “As a pathologist, our role is crucial in establishing the diagnosis that many medical professionals will base their care of the patient on.” When he’s not playing detective in the labs, Aulakh harbors an interesting hobby. “People would probably be surprised to learn that I dye my wife’s hair pink and purple, and that I give my son very hipster haircuts,” he says. “Being bald, this allows me to live vicariously through others.”

2Andrew Ralston, 31

Tulsa
Director of Existing Business and Energy for the Economic Development Department, Tulsa Regional Chamber
Always looking to improve the job prospects and infrastructure of Tulsa, Andrew Ralston spends his time visiting companies around the city, assessing their needs and connecting them to resources. “I love Tulsa. It is a privilege to help our community in a big-picture way and make sure that there are solid job opportunities for everyone in the Tulsa region,” he says. But Ralston’s interests range far beyond his job at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “I am a classically trained cellist and professional jazz bassist. I’ve been playing with a jazz/swing band called The Zuits since I moved to Tulsa nine years ago,” he says. He also volunteers with Signature Symphony, Rotary Club of Tulsa, TYPros and other nonprofits, and is a self-proclaimed Trekkie.

 


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