By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools will honor three community and civic leaders adding their names to the Wall of Fame on November 10. Recognition will take place at the organization’s’ 31st annual Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards dinner.
This year’s honorees are Dr. Benton C. Clark III, Willa Johnson and Kathy Taylor. They will join 71 other alumni who have been inducted since the Wall was created in 1975.
The Awards event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. at the Skirving Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City.
The Wall of Fame has celebrated the history of Oklahoma City Public Schools over the past 30 years and includes some of the nation’s most influential alumni and community leaders.
“Our 2015 honorees embody everything that is possible within the Oklahoma City Pubic School District, both in the past and for the future,” said Mary Melon, President/CEO of the Foundation for OKCPS. “The value that passion, service and hard work brings to our community, state and world, are evident in all three of our honorees, and the OKCPS helped shape what they are today.”
Clark, son of B.C. Cark Jr. and the late Ruth Clark attended Cleveland Elementary, Taft Middle and Classen High within the OKCPS system.
Clark’s career with Lockheed Martin has been spent working with NASA to study Mars, the sun, comets asteroids and the vacuum of space. He holds five patents and has authored or co-authored over 140 publications and reports. In 2011, Clark received the prestigious Harold Masursky Award of Meritorious Service to Planetary Science. An asteroid is named in his honor.
Johnson served for 14 years on the Oklahoma City Council, representing Ward 7. She was then elected Oklahoma County Commissioner for District 1, then re-elected in November 2010 and 2014. The first African American woman elected to Ward 7, Johnson focused on economic development and improving the quality of life. She was instrumental in renaming Oklahoma City five streets, providing historical plaques in the Deep Deuce area and placing Edwards Addition on the National Register of Historical Places.
A proven leader, business executive and corporate attorney, in 2003 Taylor was appointed Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce, Tourism and Workforce Development and Executive Director of the Department of Commerce. Under her leadership thousands of Oklahoma jobs were created when Oklahoma acquired the largest Dell facility in the U.S. other than their corporate headquarters.
In 2006, Taylor was Tulsa’s Mayor for one term. Her administration led the way to create after school and mentoring programs. The city launched the first entrepreneur business competition; created the Mayor’s Police and Community Solutions; and revitalized downtown with the completion of the BOK event Center and construction of ONEOK field.
Taylor served as the Governor’s Chief of Education Strategy and Innovation and went on to be a resident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics teaching “Pathways to Pubic Service.”
Currently Taylor is the CEO of Impact Tulsa and the regional board chair of Reading Partners. She has been inducted into the Tulsa Historical Society Hal of Fame and honored by a number of civic and social service agencies.
Created in 1984, The Foundation for Oklahoma City Pubic Schools is a nonprofit organization with a goal to advance excellence, create champions and build strong community support for lasting change in Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The Foundation works closely with the District and business community to align strategies and priorities for sustained performance and improvement.
Tickets may be ordered online at www.okckids.com or by calling the Foundation at 405-879-2007.