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Leadership Oklahoma Gala to honor four state leaders

Leadership Oklahoma will present awards to Oklahoma community leaders Pat Potts and Bruce Benbrook at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala on Saturday, April 13.  Photos provided.
Leadership Oklahoma will present awards to Oklahoma community leaders Pat Potts and Bruce Benbrook at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala on Saturday, April 13. Photos provided.

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Leadership Oklahoma will present awards to four Oklahoma community leaders at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala on Saturday, April 13.  The event will take place at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

“Each year, Leadership Oklahoma recognizes the outstanding contributions of Oklahoma corporate and individual leaders for their commitment and service to elevating the quality of life and empowering our state for greater prosperity,” said Marion Paden, President and CEO of Leadership Oklahoma.

“This year’s Excellence in Leadership award recipients are truly deserving based upon the remarkable and meaningful differences they have made in Oklahoma. It is our privilege to honor them.”

Gala co-chairs are Susan and G.T. Bynum of Tulsa and Jodi and David Lewis of Edmond.

This year’s Leadership Oklahoma Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Pat Potts, of Oklahoma City. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have used their leadership abilities to improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s citizens and its future generations.

A trail blazer for woman, Pat’s list of “firsts” includes: first women elected president of the Oklahoma City School Board, Oklahoma City Beautiful, and Oklahoma City Zoo Trust; co-founder and president emeritus of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits; founder of Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities; and co-founder of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and the Potts Family Foundation where she served as the president and CEO for over 20 years.

Her other honors include The Journal Record’s “Woman of the Year,” the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition’s Pioneer Woman award, ASTEC Charter Schools’ “Door-Opener” award, and HeartLine’s Festival of Hope Honoree. In 2017, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame and the OCU Business School Hall of Honor along with her husband Ray. Past board service includes Educare Center in Oklahoma City, Sunbeam Foundation, Metro Tech Foundation, Urban League, and Union Bank & Trust Company. Pat is a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class IX.

The Distinguished Graduate Award recipient is Bruce Benbrook of Woodward. This award honors a Leadership Oklahoma graduate whose recent leadership activities have exemplified the highest standards of Leadership Oklahoma.

A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XIII, Bruce has served as president and chairman of the board of the Stock Exchange Bank since 1981. His tenure includes serving as president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, along with numerous leadership roles at the federal level with the American Bankers Association. He served as a member of the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents, with two terms on the OSU Foundation Board of Governors. Bruce was the District 6 Commissioner for the Oklahoma Transportation Commission, a board member for the State Chamber of Commerce and served as secretary of the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma.

A member of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Board of Directors, Bruce is board chair-elect of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

His numerous accolades include Woodward’s “Citizen of the Year”, OSU ’s “Distinguished Alumnus”, OSU’s “Spears School of Business 100 Outstanding Graduates”, Leadership Oklahoma’s “Distinguished Leadership Award”, LOK Class XIII’s “Golden Bull Award”, the Red Cross “Community Partner Award” and The Journal Record’s “Most Admired CEO’s”.

This year, the Business Leadership Award honors Oklahoma City’s Paycom for its impact in promoting leadership principles and practices, implementing programs worthy of example, and fostering the growth of quality leadership. Paycom’s yearlong leadership program, LEAD, teaches employees leadership skills by “LEADing themselves, their clients and teams through the values of learning, service and leadership.” Under this model, Paycom employees continue growing, both personally and professionally, and are able to more effectively teach and empower their clients.

Through Paycom’s coaching and development training programs, participants learn how to engage and develop team members using an “attitude of servitude.” The company offers leadership programs which demonstrate how to lead up, create team visions and conduct one-on-one sessions. Paycom earned a top-10 placement in the 2018 Leadership Excellence and Development Awards presented by for Innovation in Deployment of Leadership Programs.

The 2019 Statewide Community Award honors Home Creations. This award has been created to promote an appreciation for the possibilities available when Oklahomans work together as a single statewide community.

After leaving Iran to attend the University of Oklahoma, Jalal Farzaneh and his brother Mohammad, started building their first home in 1981. Founded in 1994, Home Creations, one of Oklahoma’s largest homebuilding companies, has made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of Oklahomans.

Since 2006, Home Creations works with contractors and vendors to build homes for deserving families through the Central Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz program.

The Farzaneh brothers, through the Farzaneh Family Foundation, have endowed two centers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for better understanding of the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. They also give back to the communities through nonprofit organizations such as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma American Heart Association, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rebuilding Together of Cleveland County, American Cancer Society, Fraternal Order of Police, Tinker Air Force Base and numerous schools, community projects, sports teams and religious groups.

With 1,578 graduates from 181 Oklahoma communities, Leadership Oklahoma’s mission is to create, inspire and support a dynamic network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to shape the state’s future.

For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, visit or call 405.848.0001.

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