By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Leadership Oklahoma, a statewide leadership program in its twenty-eighth year, is now accepting applications for its 2015-2016 adult class.
The organization accepts a class of 52 members each year. The criterion for selection includes demonstrated leadership on the part of applicants in their communities and state.
The program is a series of issue-oriented forums and experiences based on the belief that knowledge is a key element and prime motivator of leadership. It consists of an orientation session, a mandatory two-day retreat and eight two-day sessions.
“Leadership Oklahoma and its graduates are working to create and implement the positive changes necessary to make Oklahoma a better state,” said G.T. Bynum, Managing Partner, Capitol Ventures Government Relations, in Tulsa.
“By learning about the issues that impact our state socially, economically and environmentally, class members are motivated to fulfill our mission of creating a dynamic network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to shape their state’s future,” Bynum said.
Classes are held in a variety of locations that best relate to the issues of importance to the state.
During each class participants are exposed to the many social and environmental complexities of the state in order to “stimulate inquiry, analysis and independent development of solutions for the public good,” according to the website.
Approximately 1,381 people have graduated from the program and remain active in contributing to Oklahoma’s strength and productivity.
“Leadership Oklahoma has been one of the most enjoyable and beneficial experiences I’ve ever had, both professionally and personally,” said Bruce Benbrook, current Chair of Leadership Oklahoma Board of Directors and Chairman and President, The Stock Exchange Bank, in Woodward.
“The opportunity to spend time in every quadrant of our state, learning of its incredible strengths and unique challenges was one of a lifetime. As an individual, the professional network and true friendships I developed while learning and traveling with fellow classmates are absolutely priceless,” added Benbrook.
“As a representative of my community, working with leaders and experts from all over our state proved to be a valuable resource. LOK is truly an experience I will never forget,” he added.
LOK is open to all interested Oklahoma residents, 21 years old or older. The application process is designed to ensure a class that consists of members from diverse backgrounds, experiences and geographical locations.
“As we transition to the second half of our Leadership Oklahoma schedule, I am reflecting on our experiences to date,” said Brian Byrnes, Class XXVIII, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, OKC Thunder.
“The issues that we have been exposed to are diverse and complex, it is encouraging to see our class united through the prism of strong leadership – keen listening, respectful debate and encouragement of new ideas,” Byrnes said.
Completed applications must be received in the LOK office no later than April 1, at 5 p.m.
“Leadership Oklahoma has proven to be an amazing leadership experience for me and has helped me understand Oklahoma’s needs,” said current Class XXVIII member, Anita Vanderveer, a Senior Vice President at Sonic.
“As a relative newcomer to Oklahoma, it has helped me learn about the great state and all it has to offer its citizens. The experience introduces you to a network of fabulous leaders that you can leverage for years. It’s a very strong, well developed program.”
Byrnes added, “We all bring a different perspective and resource allocation to the discussion. Regardless of your political or economic influence, we have an opportunity to be a part of a solution oriented culture. The challenge to “do what you can” provides the direction we need to engage, learn and act when appropriate.”
To download an application or to learn more, visit www.leadershipoklahoma.com.