40 Under 40 2017

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Taylor Potter, 27 – Bartlesville

Director of Operations, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile
Taylor Potter, a University of Oklahoma alumna, has helped to create over 200 jobs in her role as the director of operations at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. Potter works under Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, and supports the general store, warehouse and online store.  If she weren’t working at the Mercantile, Potter would be “starting a company with my husband in northeast Oklahoma.” On her own time, Potter enjoys volunteering for various causes, which has led her to wonderful things. “My husband and I met volunteering together,” she says. “We both help organize the largest day of community service in Oklahoma, OU’s Big Event.” Her love for giving her time to others was fostered from a young age. “Growing up, my parents encouraged my brother and I to volunteer one afternoon a week. They engrained in us the importance of sharing blessings.”

Kari Easson, 33 – Stillwater

Controller/Accounting Director, Stillwater Medical Center
As the controller and accounting director for the Stillwater Medical Center, Kari Easson stays busy in her professional life and is proud of the work she does. “I am humbled by the work that the nurses, physicians, administration and support staff do at our medical center and clinics on a daily basis,” she says. “It makes me proud to say that I help support them.” That hasn’t stopped her from adding a heavy schedule of volunteer work, however. Easson serves as treasurer for the Oklahoma WONDERtorium, a Stillwater children’s museum that attracts more than 40,000 visitors a year. “It is a small operation, but is so important to the children in Stillwater.” Easson is also a board member and finance committee member for Stillwater CARES, an organization that works to alleviate poverty in the Stillwater area. She also coordinates Stillwater Medical Center’s bowling teams for Bowl for Kids’ Sake by Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Ben Elder 33 – Tulsa

Marketing Operations Manager, Cherokee Nation Businesses
Ben Elder has hefty responsibility on his shoulders; he holds a key corporate marketing position at a business that garners over $1 billion in revenue each year. But it’s about a lot more than simple numbers – it’s about what that money can do. “Our profits are poured back into our local communities to improve the lives of Cherokee Nation citizens and all Oklahomans with things that matter, like jobs and health care,” he says. “Those are game changers for people, and I love that.” Elder believes helping people is in his DNA, and strives to do just that every day with a great attitude. “I try to stay outrageously positive and smile,” he says. “It has worked for me so far.” Whether at work or at home, Elder sets a high standard when it comes to treating other people with respect. “Selflessness, to me, is the ultimate form of volunteerism. How can you give back when no one is looking?”

Carlisha Williams 32 – Tulsa

Executive Director, Tulsa Legacy Charter Schools
A highlight of Carlisha Williams’s day is when she takes time from her office work to connect with the children she serves. “It is a joy to hear about their dreams, celebrate their successes, and affirm them with the promises we see in their future,” she says. That unrelenting drive to serve led her to create a nonprofit called Women Empowering Nations, where “the mission is to provide exposure and mentorship for girls of color in underserved communities, to develop them into socially conscious global leaders.” Williams credits her grandfather with cultivating within her a driving sense of purpose. “He told me, ‘You can’t fight injustice with your fist. You’ve got to fight it with your mind.’” And that she does.

Evan Vincent, 33 – Oklahoma City

Attorney, Crowe & Dunlevy
For Evan Vincent, being an attorney isn’t about winning big or being right – he focuses more on the individuals he’s representing. In fact, what makes him happiest is “the relief you can provide to a client faced with a lawsuit by letting them know that they’ve got someone in their corner.” Vincent’s unique approach to situations is a key factor in his success. “I force myself to view everything as an opportunity to learn something and improve,” he says. When Vincent’s not assisting clients, you can find him studying up on 007. “I am a die hard fan of the James Bond character,” he says. “I’ve read nearly all the books – some more than once – and I’ve seen all the movies multiple times.”

Andrea Gossard, 32 – Oklahoma City

Project Manager, Manhattan Construction
Andrea Gossard is a renovation master – her job as a project manager at Manhattan Construction has her take existing buildings in metropolitan OKC and mold them into new, dynamic, beautifully crafted spaces. Although it’s a demanding career, Gossard focuses on the positive effect her work has on tenants. “Watching the reactions of visitors and people who eventually work in the facilities we turn over is really rewarding,” she says. Outside work, Gossard volunteers with Rebuilding Together OKC and plays in a recreational kickball league. Regardless of the situation, she plays to win. “I’m incredibly competitive. Being second best at any anything has never been an option for me.”

Chris Weatherl, 38 – Tulsa

Chief Operating Officer, Rebellion Energy
Chris Weatherl is a beacon of positive light in an industry laden with tough times; he works as the chief operating officer at Rebellion Energy, an oil and gas business. Dodging layoffs and a steep economic downturn, Weatherl is supremely happy with the business he and his colleagues have created. “Those of us that remain [in the industry] have fought to stay here and create our destiny,” he says. “Rebellion Energy is a group of just such people, and I am proud to be a part of that.” Weatherl believes that surrounding himself with positive, forward-thinking individuals keeps him focused. “In short, I love the people I work with and I’m constantly inspired by their character and commitment to each other.” In his spare time, Weatherl volunteers with the American Heart Association, Catholic Charities and various mission groups. “Volunteerism has taught and continues to teach me that what we have is not what’s important in life,” he says. “It’s what we do with what we have that really matters.”

Brandon M. Watson 31 – Tulsa

Shareholder, GableGotwals
A shareholder and attorney at GableGotwals in Tulsa, Brandon Watson practices in the firm’s business transaction group, where he primarily focuses on representing clients in mergers and acquisitions, securities, corporate governance and contract-related matters. “It’s a great honor to practice at GableGotwals,” he says. “Every day, I have the opportunity to benefit, undeservedly, from the legacy of excellence in the law that generations of lawyers before me worked hard to establish and preserve at our firm. I’m proud to carry on that legacy.” Watson also volunteers in the community, with most of his work supporting the Catholic Church in the diocese of Tulsa. He serves on the Vocations Board, which assists young men discerning the priesthood and a religious life in the Diocense, and serves on the Board of Porta Caeli House, a new home for the dying in North Tulsa supported by the Catholic Church. He and his wife have four sons, and he says he enjoys hiking with them. “It’s a great stress reliever for me and agreat way for them to burn off energy!”

Dr. Jason Beaman 38 – Tulsa

Forensic Psychiatrist, Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center
Jason Beaman wears many hats – but in every scenario he’s dedicated to helping those marginalized by mental illness. “As a forensic psychiatrist, I spend my time in jails and prisons evaluating defendants for the court system,” he says. “As a general psychiatrist, I see patients at OSU Medical Center.” But that’s not all – he’s also a professor, teaching first- to fourth-year medical students, and on top of that, he’s the chair of psychiatry, advocating for mentally ill people in underserved communities. Beaman’s main goal is to improve the mental health infrastructure in the state, and he often volunteers his time at medical clinics to assist those without insurance so they get the care they deserve. “As a medical volunteer, you get a new appreciation for how relieved and happy individuals are when they have a chance to see a doctor without causing severe financial problems,” he says. “The gratitude of these individuals is incredible and a wonderful reward.”

Jamey Ory, 38 – Tulsa

Senior Vice President, Credit Concurrence Officer, BOK Financial Corporation
There are a number of reasons why Jamey Ory is remarkable, but her loyalty is one character trait that really stands out. “I began working for BOK Financial as my first job out of college. Seventeen years later, I am still convinced I made the right choice and can envision my entire career with one company,” she says. Ory has a wide array of interests outside of work – she volunteers with several nonprofits, competes in local equestrian hunter jumper shows and has a husband, two kids and 17 pets. Yes, 17 – seven of which are horses. She truly believes that having a handle on your priorities is crucial to a life well lived. “Leave work at work. Give it all you’ve got in the office, but be able to walk away. Life happens at home, and this is where your presence really counts. Jobs will come and go, but you only get one family,” she says. “Make sure they know how much they mean to you.”

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