Q: What is your current position?
A: I am the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Oklahoma Arts Council, which is a state agency created by the state Legislature in 1965 to lead in developing a thriving arts industry in our state. I am celebrating 10 years with the agency this month (April 2019). My responsibilities vary quite a bit. They include developing and executing an overall agency marketing strategy; creating communications policies; planning events; branding and messaging; editing; managing three social media accounts; writing talking points and scripts; media relations; producing a monthly newsletter; and, more. We are a small government agency with relatively few people on staff, which means we all wear several hats. For me, this has meant that in addition to my responsibilities in marketing and communications, I review grant applications monthly, as we provide grant funding to hundreds of nonprofits, schools, and local governments statewide. These varying responsibilities help keep my job interesting.
Q: What is the year of your graduation and area of graduate study?
A: I graduated in May 2009. Public relations and advertising were my areas of focus and interest. I wrote my thesis on media dependency and the use of the internet in religion. I’m sure a lot has changed in this area in ten years.
Q: How did the Gaylord graduate program prepare you for your current position?
A: It was an interesting contrast and a perfect complement to my undergraduate program, in which I earned a degree in business from another school. I recall early in my experience at Gaylord how several professors would use the phrase “connect the dots.” It was abstract to me at the time, but the metaphor has since crystallized. It helped me learn how to connect the theoretical to the concrete, which has been beneficial in my thought process. It taught the importance of knowing how to defend a position and build a sound rationale. One of the most valuable parts of my experience was the collaborative nature of working with my thesis chair, Dr. Gade, as my research project evolved. I knew he would challenge me and push me to do my best, and he didn’t disappoint. The rigor required through the program and the process strengthened my work ethic and set me up for success.
Q: What professional/research projects are you involved in?
A: Currently, I am organizing the annual Governor’s Arts Awards, which takes place April 16 at the state Capitol. It’s a sizable event that requires a fair amount of work, especially as it involves a lot of moving pieces. It is a rewarding event in that we get to honor people who are doing great work in communities and schools across Oklahoma.
Q: What professional achievements would you like to share?
A: I am probably most satisfied with my growth as a professional and the level of confidence and comfort I now have in my career. This isn’t a typical response to this type of question, but, as it is something that is subtle, in my opinion it is more gratifying than perhaps listing recognitions. In my current job, and in my previous job working for Governor Brad Henry, I’ve had occasion to work with people that are fairly well known. I could never have planned out a career like this. It has been an interesting ride. While this may not generally be classifiable under achievements, per se, it does help me reflect on the path of which I have traveled.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I have two daughters. One is four and the other almost six. My free time is often spent playing with them or working with them on their reading or other learning. They are getting to ages where travel and longer vacations are possible, so that may be in our near future. We took a short trip to Kansas City last summer, which was a terrific place to take a family. Also, I am the cook in my family, which I do in part because I enjoy it. So, I spend plenty of time in the kitchen. My wife and I have parents in Oklahoma City, so we are blessed to be able to have consistent date nights.
Q: What advice would you give graduate students that can help them in school and their careers?
A: As far as advice on school, I say make the program work for you. If you are going to invest your time and resources on getting the degree, don’t shy away from maximizing the experience. For me, I did this by making sure I had a thesis chair whom I knew would challenge me and have high expectations. As far as advice in a career, every person is different, so assess what is most important to you. I am drawn to public service and, specifically, my work at the Oklahoma Arts Council, because it is a chance for me to do something to build our state and make it a better place. It also provides life balance, which I value as much as anything. I like to work, but I also love spending time with my family.