In 1986, a group of Oklahoma leaders began a series of meetings and discussions based on the belief that we all have a stake in developing the prosperity and confronting the problems of our state. They shared the conviction that our leadership must understand the complex differences and relationships that drive Oklahoma in order to find effective solutions. From those meetings came Leadership Oklahoma, an organization designed to create a dynamic network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to shape the state's future.
Each year, Leadership Oklahoma brings together 50-52 of the state's most outstanding leaders for an issues-oriented class program. Monthly sessions, held in various communities, address critical challenges facing our state. Participants are chosen through a rigorous application process and selected from across the state to represent Oklahoma's professional, geographical, and cultural diversity. The goal is to tap the energies of those leaders to initiate positive change for the benefit of all Oklahomans.
Leadership Oklahoma maintains its active network of 1,480 graduates from 168 communities by offering continuing opportunities for professional development, networking and involvement. On-going activities for members to increase awareness of critical issues and to foster the connectedness of the statewide network are provided.
Leadership Oklahoma also recognizes the importance of investing in our youth. We know they are our future leaders and we are weary of seeing young talent leave our state. We want to entice our youth to want to stay in, or return to, Oklahoma. With this in mind, in the summer of 2001 Leadership Oklahoma expanded its mission by building a program that would help accomplish this goal. Youth Leadership Oklahoma was established to develop in our young leaders a hope, pride and responsibility for Oklahoma’s future.
Leadership Oklahoma honors the outstanding contributions of Oklahoma corporate and individual leaders at an Excellence in Leadership Awards Dinner and Gala. Presentations are made in the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Distinguished Graduate, Business Leadership and Statewide Community Leadership. In addition, LOK recognizes one of its own members with a Distinguished Leadership Award for Service to LOK. Through our Helping Oklahoma Contest, LOK recognizes annually an exceptional Oklahoma volunteer for their service to an Oklahoma nonprofit and awards $2500 to that nonprofit.
Leadership Oklahoma is making a difference. Our graduates are actively developing real solutions to make Oklahoma a better state through involvement in state issues and leadership in the private, public and non-profit sectors. They have dedicated themselves through active participation in hundreds of boards, committees and public office, including one governor, four tribal chiefs, two lieutenant governors, several U.S. Congressmen and numerous state representatives, senators and other elected officials. Most importantly, Leadership Oklahoma provides hope for the future as we work together to make Oklahoma a better place in which to live and work for all its citizens. In its 30-year history LOK has graduated 1,480 Oklahoma leaders from its program and over 71% of those graduates are still active in the organization. In a recent survey, 98% of graduates say that LOK had a positive impact on their professional life and 88% say that they have become more involved with civic organizations since their LOK experience. We are about collaborating, connecting with others and working for the betterment of Oklahoma.
Over the past 30 years, Leadership Oklahoma has grown to become an army of 1479 of the state’s premier leaders; recruited, educated and connected to help make a positive impact for the future of the state. Approximately 50 Oklahomans are selected each year for our flagship adult program and travel to nine communities in ten months to learn about major state issues and possible solutions. Also, our impact now includes and extends to our youth. Youth Leadership Oklahoma identifies the top 50 incoming high school seniors to travel the state for one week each summer to experience Oklahoma and hopefully inspire them to stay and make a difference here. Leadership Oklahoma provides the resources, motivation and network to foster connections and to inspire action. Together, we lead Oklahoma forward into the future.
Who We Are
In 1986, a group of Oklahoma leaders began a series of meetings and discussions based on the belief that we all have a stake in developing the prosperity and confronting the problems of our state. They shared the conviction that our leadership must understand the complex differences and relationships that drive Oklahoma in order to find effective solutions. From those meetings came Leadership Oklahoma, an organization designed to create a dynamic network of leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to shape the state's future. In 1987, Leadership Oklahoma was incorporated and it is designated a non-profit 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service. We are funded primarily by membership fees, adult program tuition and private donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and governed by a volunteer board of directors that represent all regions of the state.
What We Do
LOK Adult Program: Each year, Leadership Oklahoma brings together 50 of the state's most outstanding leaders for an issues-oriented, class program. Monthly sessions, held in various communities, address critical challenges facing our state. During each Leadership Oklahoma class, participants learn about the issues facing their communities and other communities around our state. The real payoff is when participants are inspired by what they have learned and find ways to get more involved in improving our state. Based on the interaction and shared experience developed during the class, participants also have respect for the differences among us which must be overcome to achieve success.
Youth LOK: Leadership Oklahoma also recognizes the importance of investing in our youth. We know they are our future leaders and we are weary of seeing young talent leave our state. We want to entice our youth to want to stay in, or return to, Oklahoma. With this in mind, in the summer of 2001, Leadership Oklahoma expanded its mission by building a program that would help accomplish this goal. Youth Leadership Oklahoma was established to develop in our young leaders a hope, pride and responsibility for Oklahoma’s future.
Leadership Recognition: Leadership Oklahoma honors the outstanding contributions of Oklahoma corporate and individual leaders at an Excellence in Leadership Awards Dinner and Gala. Presentations are made in the following categories: Lifetime Achievement, Distinguished Graduate, Business Leadership and Statewide Community Leadership. In addition, LOK recognizes one of its own members with a Distinguished Leadership Award for Service to LOK. Through our "Helping Oklahoma Contest,” LOK recognizes annually an exceptional Oklahoma volunteer for their service to an Oklahoma non-profit and awards $2,500 to that non-profit.
Marion Paden, Ed.D.
Thirty years ago, the original founders of Leadership Oklahoma started a fledgling organization dedicated to educating and unifying leaders statewide. I often wonder if they could have predicted that LOK would remain a vibrant voice continuing to attract the best of the best statewide. Now over 1479 strong, Leadership Oklahoma is in a unique position to maintain what has made the organization especially well respected, but can look to the next 30 years and decide how those years will be shaped for history.
As an organization, we have a legacy to protect and a responsibility to best utilize this amazing, growing network.
Over the past year, and with input and direction from the greater membership and board of directors, a platform was crafted for our organization titled LOK 3.0. This platform is intended to strengthen our network of community leaders and enrich our post-class member experience by setting a new standard of membership. Moving forward, LOK is focused on becoming a catalyst for engagement in addition to being a vital educational entity on current state issues. More information on this new paradigm shift will be outlined throughout the year, but briefly, the platform is a commitment to:
Ultimately our hope is that Leadership Oklahoma will only grow in its reputation and as an organization that is a catalyst for positive change for our state.
History will be the judge, but for now understand that you are entering into what will be one of the most amazing years of your life. Your classmates, your visits across the state and the deep dive on key issues facing our state will stay with you for a lifetime.
To our current members, I look forward to seeing you throughout the year as we have an inspiriting and exciting slate of activities for the coming year. Leadership Oklahoma continues to make an impact through its members, so I encourage you to be intentional and stay active in the organization.
All the best,
Laurie Tilley Chair, 2016-2017 Class XXIII
1. Annually select 50-52 diverse Oklahoma leaders from at least 20 communities to participate in the LOK Adult Program.
2. Visit a minimum of 9 Oklahoma communities representing urban and rural areas during the class program.
3. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with at least 160 local and statewide leaders during class sessions.
4. Class sessions will explore and create awareness of at least 10 critical issues that affect Oklahoma’s future.
5. At least quarterly activities will be provided for LOK graduates and class members to share information, discuss issues and connect to the LOK statewide network of leaders.
Youth LOK was created in 2001 to develop young leaders who feel hope, pride and a responsibility for Oklahoma’s future. Selected, through a competitive process based on proven leadership, and geographic, ethnic and cultural diversity, to participate in this one-of-a-kind leadership opportunity are 52 of the state’s top high school students.
In June, the rising high school seniors hear from state leaders, witness first-hand Oklahoma’s tremendous resources, learn about and participate in the issues that affect the state, and discover Oklahoma’s many treasures. During the week-long journey across the state, they learn lessons about leadership, trust, problem solving, communication, cooperation, but most importantly, “Why Oklahoma is such a great place to live and work.” After students complete the YLOK experience and go back to their local communities, they are better equipped to help other students, their schools and community leaders in a positive manner.
Over 85% of YLOK participants currently live in Oklahoma. YLOK was chosen from over 100 nominees to be recognized with a 2008 Innovator Award from the Southern Growth Policies Board.
Excerpt from Student’s Evaluation: "I would describe my experience in one word-incredible. Before this experience, I would never have thought that 50 teens could become so close in a week. This was accomplished through team building exercises, pushing ourselves past our comfort zones, and the guidance of our chaperons. I have learned to respect Oklahoma's history, people, industries, and the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for us. I am truly now proud of my state and determined to help Oklahoma stand out in the future."
Excerpt from Parent’s Survey: "YLOK has had an amazing impact on my son. He set up a twitter account immediately to follow the various speakers, is in the process of starting YAG at his high school and wants to work in Oklahoma after graduation from college. I haven't seen him this excited about his learning experience since he learned to ride a bicycle!"
Marion Paden, Ed.D., is President & CEO of Leadership Oklahoma, a position that she has held since July 2015. Leadership Oklahoma is a non-profit organization committed to creating, inspiring and supporting a dynamic network of statewide leaders whose increased awareness and commitment to service will energize Oklahomans to move Oklahoma forward. Her responsibilities include administration and implementation of statewide educational programs for adults and youth.
Dr. Marion Paden was Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at Oklahoma Community College since 1992, where she worked as the chief student affairs officer of the college. She also served as dean of students and the director of student relations at OCCC. Previously, she worked in residential life and campus activities at Navarro College in Texas, and at the University of Arts and Sciences in Chickasha.
Dr. Paden grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri where she earned a bachelor’s in psychology. She received a master’s in student personnel and guidance from Oklahoma State University. She was licensed as a professional counselor in 1984 and completed her doctorate in higher education administration in 2000.
Community involvement has been a hallmark of her career, serving on boards of directors for organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Christmas Connection, and the Salvation Army. A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XXI, Dr. Paden served as president of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, the state’s oldest and largest civic club. Under her leadership at Rotary, it became the largest chapter in the world.
Recognition of her accomplishments and commitment to the community include induction in to the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City University’s Dulaney-Browne Library Society, the Women in Communications By-liner Award for Education, and into the Journal Record’s Circle of Excellence.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
LOK has a quasi-endowment or board designated funds which are set aside by the Board of Directors for emergency situations. The Board has policies and procedures that allow for 4.5% of the average 36-month market value to be used for operations. The Board maintains the authority to allow the withdrawal of principal if an emergency occurs. For purposes of reporting on this form, this fund has been marked a “reserve fund” instead of an “endowment”.
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