Our Approach

Ideas to Action

Our methods for creating engagement start with education–you can find research on almost every issue in Oklahoma public policy in our online library–and they move into motion with our Town Hall events, where citizens can discuss policy and discover solutions, together.

Change Through Collaboration

Oklahomans are stronger together, and after reaching consensus through the discourse at a Town Hall event, we empower citizens to lobby leaders to enact the necessary change, bringing the civic engagement plan of action full circle.

Our History

Oklahoma’s first Republican governor, Henry Bellmon, was surrounded by top officials who were Democrats when he was first elected. This challenge, coupled with the fact that Bellmon truly saw himself as a representative of the people of Oklahoma and sought their engagement in the development of public policy, led to the founding of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals by Bellmon in 1967.

Bellmon knew that a well-informed populace with the confidence to approach and engage their representatives was necessary for a strong, successful state, and he saw the need for an independent, nonpartisan, inclusive public policy organization to bring that level of enlightenment to fruition…and then continue to grow it throughout the years.

The Oklahoma Academy has remained focused on strengthening public policy through citizen engagement and has continued to uphold Henry Bellmon’s vision, which often stands in stark opposition to divisive and lobby-centered modern politics.


Our Story

The Oklahoma Academy underwent a revitalization in 1985 and used a traditional conference format to form recommendations addressing critical public policy issues facing the state until 2000. The adoption of our current Town Hall model occurred in 2001, and has only strengthened our mission of fostering collaboration, even as most modern politics get more divisive and specialized.

Our Mission

Raise Awareness of the Issues, Provide Non-Partisan, Evidenced-Based Research and Hold Space for Civil Discourse and Consensus Building.

Our Staff

Julie Knutson

Julie Knutson

President and CEO

April Maddry

April Maddry

Membership & Program Manager

Lynn Thompson

Lynn Thompson

Communications & Development Director

Board of Directors

Officers of the Board

Board Chairman; Town Hall Chair – Clayton Taylor

Immediate Past Chair – Rachel Hutchings

Chair-Elect – Howard G. Barnett, Jr.

Vice Chair – Lee Denney

Treasurer/Secretary – Larry Briggs

Development Co-Chairs – John Harper, Dan Boren and Darryl Schmidt

Membership Vice President & Regional Community Team Leader – Michael Gordon

Board Governance Chair – Susan Winchester

Board Governance Vice-Chair – Valerie Thompson, Ph.D.

Committee Chairs

Investment/Finance Committee Chair – Doug Branch

Legislators’ Welcome Reception Committee Co-Chairs – Barry Koonce and AJ Griffin

27th Annual Salute Sales Committee Co-Chairs – Bobby Stewart and Larry Rice

2020 Town Hall Planning Committee Co-Chairs – Richard Wansley and Anne Roberts

Executive Committee

Howard Barnett, President, OSU-Tulsa, Tulsa, Chair Elect

Roger Blais, Volunteer, Tulsa

Dan Boren, President – Oklahoma, First United Bank, Oklahoma City, Fund Development Co-Chair

Doug Branch, Of Counsel, Phillips Murrah, PC, Oklahoma City, Finance/Investment Committee Chair

John Budd, Secretary of Agency Accountability, Office of the Governor, Oklahoma City

Lee Denney, Rural Development State Director, US Dept of Agriculture, Cushing, Vice Chair

John Feaver, President, University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha

Michael Gordon, Community Affairs Manager NE OK, PSO, Tulsa, Membership Vice President

Stephen Greetham, Senior Counsel, Chickasaw Nation, Norman

John Harper, Retired PSO, Volunteer, Tulsa, Fund Development Co-Chair

Rachel Hutchings, Executive Director, Workforce Tulsa, Immediate Past Chair

Karen Langdon, Attorney, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Tulsa

Adam McCreary, Manager of Govt. Relations, Cherokee Nation Businesses, Catoosa

Lana Reynolds, President, Seminole State College, Seminole

Anne Roberts, VP for Resource Development, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Okla. City, TH Planning Co-Chair

Darryl Schmidt, CEO, BancFirst, Oklahoma City, Fund Development Co-Chair

Joe Siano, Associate Executive Director, OK State School Board Association, Norman

David Stewart, Administrator & Trustee, Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority, Pryor

Bobby Stem, CEO, Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, Salute Sales Co-Chair

Clayton Taylor, Principal, The Taylor Group, OKC, 2020 Chairman of the Board; Town Hall Chair

Valerie Thompson, CEO, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, Board Governance Committee Vice Chair

Richard Wansley, Advocate Oklahoma LLC, Tulsa, TH Planning Co-Chair

Alba Weaver, Manager of Economic Development, OG&E, Oklahoma City

Susan Winchester, Chickasha, President, The Winchester Group, Board Governance Chair

Board Members

Daniel Billingsley, VP External Affairs, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Tulsa

Larry Briggs, Shawnee, Treasurer/Secretary

Teresa Burkett, Attorney, Conner & Winters, Tulsa

Stephanie Cameron, Community Affairs Director, AAON, Inc., Tulsa

Michael Carolina, Oklahoma City, Executive Director, OCAST

Joe Dorman, Executive Director, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Oklahoma City

Amy Ford, Red Ant, LLC, Durant/Edmond

Brian Gaddy, Autry Technology Center, Enid

Anil Gollahalli, Norman, Executive VP and General Counsel, University of Oklahoma

Jeff Greenlee, Altus, President, NBC Oklahoma

AJ Griffin, Government Affairs, PayCom, Inc., Oklahoma City, LWR Planning Com Co-Chair

Michele Hockersmith, Durant, Assistant State Director, Oklahoma Small Business

Phil Kennedy, Lawton, President, Comanche Home Center

Craig Knutson, President & CEO, Potts Family Foundation, Oklahoma City, Research Chair

Lou Kohlman, Judicial Assistant, Court of Criminal Appeals, Oklahoma City

Barry Koonce, Govt. Affairs, American Fidelity, Oklahoma City, LWR Planning Com Co-Chair

Jodi Lewis, Director of Government Affairs, Oklahoma Municipal League, Oklahoma City

Thomas Lewis II, Field Rep for Congressman Cole, Norman

Josh McClintock, Partner, RedAnt, LLC., Edmond

Darrell Mercer, Counselor, Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa

Chris Meyers, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, Oklahoma City

Michael Neal, CCE, CCD, President & CEO, Tulsa Regional Chamber, Tulsa

David Nimmo, Norman, President and CEO, Chickasaw Nation Industries

Martie Oyler, Regional Manager, ONE Gas, Inc., Enid

Daniel Regan, Executive VP & Director of Leasing, Price Family Properties, Tulsa

Larry Rice, Rogers State University, Claremore, Salute Sales Co-Chair

Mark Schell, Branch President, Security State Bank of Oklahoma

Sara Jane Smallwood-Cocke, Senior Govt. Affairs Strategist, Choctaw Nation, Norman/Durant

Craig Stephenson, City Manager, Ponca City

Matt Wansley, Tulsa, Executive Director, Mechanical Contractors Association/SMACNA of Oklahoma

Sandy Washmon, retired educator, Woodward

Matthew Weaver, CED Coordinator, ACOG, Oklahoma City

John Wiscaver, Tulsa, Executive Vice President, Grand River Dam Authority