N.E.W. Leadership

Women in Oklahoma Politics

Oklahoma has a rich history of courageous women who have made their mark on the world of politics.  This history spans the past, present, and future. 

PAST

PRESENT

FUTURE

Hannah Atkins

She was the first black woman to serve as Oklahoma State Representative from 1968-1980.  In 1980 Jimmy Carter named Ms. Atkins to the General Assembly of the 35th Session of the United Nations.  In January 1983, Governor Henry Bellmon selected her as an Assistant Director for the Department of Human Services.  She worked there until September 1987.  In January 1987 she was selected as the Cabinet Secretary for Social Services.  Later that year she also became the Secretary of State.

 

Kate Barnard

Ms. Barnard devoted her life to social reform.  In 1907, although she could not vote, she was the first woman to win a statewide elective office in the United States.  She was elected commissioner of corrections, held the post for two terms, and fought vigorously for prison reform.

 

 

 

 

Alice Brown Davis

In 1922, Ms. Davis was appointed by President Harding as principal Chief of Seminole Indians of Oklahoma.  She was the first woman to hold this particular post and held it till she died in 1935.

 

 

Helen Cole

Ms. Cole served nine years in the Oklahoma State Senate and  six years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She was also a member of the State Ethics Committee where she not only forced our officials to have better conduct but was an example herself.  She also fought hard against drug and alcohol abuse.  She is a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher

She was one of the first African Americans to challenge segregation in the United States.  In 1946 she sought admission to the University of Oklahoma's Law School and was denied based on race.  She took her case to the Supreme Court and, in 1948, the Court ruled she should be admitted.  She began her studies in the OU Law program the following year.

 

 

 

Te Ata Fisher

She was a Chickasaw actress and performer who won much praise for her storytelling ability.  She graduated from Oklahoma College for Women in  1919.  She was later proclaimed Oklahoma’s Official State Treasurer by Governor Henry Bellmon in 1987.

 

 

 

 

Patience Latting

Ms. Latting was elected Oklahoma City mayor on April 13, 1971.  During her tenure, Oklahoma City was the largest city in the United States with an elected female for a mayor.  She finally resigned as mayor on April 12, 1983.

 

 

 

 

 

Clara Luper

Ms. Luper was an educator who was born in Oklahoma.  She received degrees from Langston University and the University of Oklahoma.  She organized the first ever nationally publicized sit-in at an Oklahoma City lunch counter.  She was a forerunner for integration.

 

 

Perle Mesta

She was an active member in the National Women’s Party and an effective lobbyist for the Equal Rights Amendment.  She was chair of the public relations committee.  She began hosting many political gatherings and was very involved in politics.  In 1949 she was appointed minister to Luxembourg by President Truman.  She was also named Oklahoma’s Ambassador to the World in 1965.

 

 

 

Jessie Randolph Moore

In 1926, she was the second woman elected to state office in Oklahoma.  She was responsible for organizing the state’s Women’s Emergency Relief, a plan later adopted on a Federal level.

 

 

 

 

Alice Mary Robertson

She was the first woman from Oklahoma to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives (1921-1922) and only the second woman in the country to hold such an office.  She attended Elmira College in Elmira, New York. 

 

 

Sally Lewis Stephens Sturgeon

Ms. Sturgeon was appointed as the health inspector for the Oklahoma State Department of Health in 1920 – the first woman to hold the position in the United States.

 

 

 

 

Juanita Kidd Stout

Born in Wewoka, Oklahoma, she was the first black woman elected to the bench when she served as Judge of the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia.  In 1963, she was designated a special ambassador to the Kenya Independence Celebration by President Kennedy.

 

 

 

Clara Waters

In 1927, she was named warden of the Oklahoma State Reformatory, making her the first woman in the country to head an all-male prison.  She was considered one of the most convincing women speakers in the country.  On October 1933, she was elected as the vice-president of the National Prison Association.  On January 17, 1935 Ms. Waters was appointed to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. 

 

 

 

 

Alma Bell Wilson

She was the first woman named to the Oklahoma Supreme Court and became the court’s first female chief justice.  She graduated from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. She continued her education at Oklahoma City University and graduated with a J.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1941.

Jari Askins

Ms. Askins has been a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 1994.  In 2000, she was named to Speaker-elect Adair’s leadership team and was appointed to the new position of Deputy Floor Leader.  In 2001, she was selected Chair of the National Conference of State Legislators Criminal Justice Committee.  On March 6, 2003, the House Democratic caucus made history by selecting her as the first woman caucus designee for speaker of the House.  For the 2005-2006 session, Ms. Askins was elected by her caucus as Democratic Leader. 

 

Lisa J.  Billy

Ms. Billy serves in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 42.  She sits as Vice-Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Human Services.  Other committees she is involved with are:  Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, and Transportation Committee.  

 

 

 

Debbie Blackburn

District 88 Representative for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, she was elected in 1995.  Some of her positions include:  Advisory Board of Directors, Paseo Redevelopment Corp.; Neighborhood Alliance of Oklahoma City; Leadership Oklahoma City Alumni Association; League of Women Voters; Oklahoma Academy for State Goals; Downtown Rotary Club; Citizens League of Central Oklahoma.

 

Denise A. Bode

Currently, Chair of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, she is only the second woman to serve as a commissioner.  Appointed by Governor Frank Keating, Mrs. Bode took office on August 20, 1997 and was elected on November 3, 1998 with over 60% of the vote, a record for a Republican running statewide for the first time.

 

 

Ann Coody

Ms. Coody currently represents District 64 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She serves as Vice-Chair for the Common Education Committee and is also a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, and Public Safety and Homeland Security.

 

 

 

Marian Cooksey

Ms. Cooksey is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives representing District 39.  She is involved in the Commerce, Industry and Labor Committee, the County and Municipal Government Committee and the Tourism and Recreation Committee.   She is currently the Vice-Chair for the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health and Social Services. 

 

 

 

Odelia Dank

She is currently serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 85.  She Chairs the Committee for Common Education.  She was first elected in 1994.

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Denney

Ms. Denney is currently serving for District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She is the Vice-Chair for Banking and Finance Committee.  She also serves on the Career and Technology Education Committee, Higher Education Committee, Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education.

 

 

 

 

Norma Eagleton

She is a Tulsa attorney, former corporation commissioner, and very active in women’s rights.

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Easley

Senator Easley represents District 18.  She is Chair of the Sunset Review Committee and Vice-Chair for the Energy and Environment Committee.

 

 

 

Mary Fallin

Ms. Fallin is the current Lieutenant Governor for the State of Oklahoma and is the first woman and Republican to hold the position.  She was elected in 1994, served two terms with Republican governor Frank Keiting, and is currently serving her third term with Democratic Governor Brad Henry.  She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University.

 

 

Sandy Garrett

She is the only woman in Oklahoma history to hold the constitutional post of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In November 2002, she became the only Oklahoma woman to be elected to a statewide office for a fourth consecutive term. In July 2004, she was elected treasurer of the National Education Commission of the States.

 

 

 

Rebecca Hamilton

Ms. Hamilton currently represents District 89 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She serves on the Commerce, Industry and Labor Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, and the Higher Education Committee.

 

 

 

Kim Holland

Ms.  Holland is only the second woman to serve as Oklahoma’s Insurance Commissioner.  She was appointed by Governor Brad Henry in January 2005.  She has served on the Oklahoma State Employees Benefits Council and the Emergency Medical Services Authority.  Holland is also a past chairman of the non-partisan organization, Oklahoma Academy.

 

 

 

Sally Kern

She won election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives from District 84 in 2004.  Currently she serves as Vice Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education, and is on the Business and Economic Development Committee, Common Education Committee, and Health and Human Services Committee. 

 

 

 

Jeane Kirkpatrick

She served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1981-1985.    She now teaches political theory at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

 

 

Yvonne Kauger

She was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court on March 11, 1984 by Govenor George Nigh.  She has won numerous awards for her judiacariy efforts including Herbert Harley Award by the American Judicature Society in recognition of her outstanding efforts to improve the administration of justice.  She is one of only four Oklahomans ever receive this award, and the first in over 20 years.  She attended Oklahoma City Univeristy College of Law and also has an honorary doctorate from OCU.

 

 

Daisy Lawler

Senator Lawler was elected in 2002 to represent State District 24.  She is the Vice-Chair of the Aerospace, Communications, and Technology committee as well as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. 

 

 

 

 

Debbe Leftwich

As the state senator for District 44, she was elected in a special election December 9, 2003.  She serves on Appropriations, Transportation, Health & Human Resources, and Rules Committees.  She is also the Chair of Business & Labor, Vice-Chair of Veterans & Military Affairs, and Vice-Chair of Public Safety and Judiciary Committees. 

 

 

 

Wilma Mankiller

In 1987 she was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, the first female to do so in modern times.  She represented the second-largest tribe in the United States.  She was awarded  the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998.

 

 

 

 

Jeannie McDaniel

She is serving her first term as State Representative from District 78.  Currently she serves on the Common Education Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, and Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. 

 

 

 

 

Judy McIntyre

Ms. McIntyre was elected in 2004 to the Oklahoma State Senate by District 11.  She also was elected and served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 73 in the 49th Legislature, 2002-2004. She was the first freshman appointed to the Speaker’s Leadership Team in the House.  She Chairs Retirement and Group Health Committee and is Vice-Chair of Health and Human Resources Committee. 

 

 

Mazola McKerson

She was Ardmore’s first black and first female city commissioner in 1977; she became the city’s mayor two years later.  She served as chair of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women under Governor George Nigh.

 

 

 

Vicki Miles-LaGrange

After working for the U.S. Justice Depatment and the Oklahoma City District Attorney’s Office, she was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1986, defeating a 22-year incumbent.  After serving eight years in the senate, she was appointed by President Clinton to the federal bench in 1994, the first African American federal district judge in the Tenth Circuit.

 

 

 

 

Angela Monson

She has been a member of the Oklahoma State Senate since 1993.  She currently serves as First Assistant Majority Floor Leader and is Chair of the Senate Education Committee. 

 

 

 

Susan Paddack

She was elected in November 2004 to the State Senate for District 13.  She serves as the Majority Whip, Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, and Chair of the Select Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.  In addition, she serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, Health and Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Finance Committee, and Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

 

Claudia Sam Pedro

Ms. Pedro is the Head of Oklahoma State Finance.  She is the first Hispanic Oklahoman to be appointed to this position.  She is originally from Mexico City.  She attended Smith College in Northhampton, Massachutess and received her MBA from the Univeristy of Oklahoma.

 

 

 

 

Pam Peterson

Ms. Peterson represents District 67 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She chairs the Career and Technology committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brenda Reneau

Oklahoma’s first female Labor Commissioner in January 1995,  she began serving an unprecedented third term in January 2003.  Her main mission is to promote better working conditions and higher quality service for Oklahomans. 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Riley

Ms. Riley was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2000 representing District 37.  She now serves as the Republican Minority Whip and on the following committees:  Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services, Education, Energy and Environment, Rules, Sunset Review, Transportation, and Veterans and Military Affairs.

 

 

Barbara Staggs

She is a ten-year Democratic legislator from District 14.  She is a member of the following  House committees: Health and Human Services, Retirement Laws, and Common Education

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Taylor

She was appointed by Governor Brad Henry in February 2003 to serve as Secretary of Commerce & Tourism for the State of Oklahoma.  A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Ms. Taylor has an extensive business background with experience working with “Fortune 500 companies” and international business. 

 

 

 

Sue Tibbs

Ms. Tibbs represents District 23 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  She is chair of the Rules Committee and also serves in the Insurance Committee and the Energy and utility Regulation Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Wilcoxson

She was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1996, was re-elected in 2000, and ran unopposed in the 2004 elections.  She serves on the following committees:  Education, Finance, Rules, and Health and Human Resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Winchester

She became Oklahoma’s first woman Speaker Pro Tempore when the 50th session of the state Legislature opened in 2005.   A Republican lawmaker, she was elected to represent State House District 47 in 1998.

Class of 2005

Class of 2004

Class of 2003

Class of 2002