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The Oklahoma Academy Announces Mike Neal as Board Chair

The Oklahoma Academy Announces Mike Neal as Board Chair

The Oklahoma Academy, the state’s foremost  nonprofit / nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving Oklahoma, one public policy at a time, is excited to announce the appointment of Mike Neal as Chair of its Board of Directors for 2023. Neal, who has been a member of the Academy for more than decade, succeeds Dr. Lee Denney, of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.


“It’s a great honor to serve as Chair of The Oklahoma Academy Board of Directors for the 2023 year,” said Neal. “I am incredibly proud of the Academy’s accomplishments since being founded by Governor Henry Bellmon. The Academy has the mission of educating Oklahomans on the major public policy issues, with the goal of equipping them to take a proactive role with our leadership on every civic level. We have an obligation to learn, engage and discuss public policy solutions for a stronger Oklahoma. It is my goal as Board Chair of the Academy to continue this work.”


Neal serves as president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber where he leads a full-time professional staff in the areas of regional economic development, convention and visitor development, government affairs, education, workforce development, small business, sports, young professionals, downtown and river development, political action, and membership services. Under his leadership, the Tulsa Regional Chamber has earned three accreditations: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s highest recognition, Five-Star Accreditation; the International Economic Development Council’s prestigious Accredited Economic Development Organization distinction; and the Oklahoma Quality Award. He led the creation of the Tulsa Regional Chamber Coalition and its OneVoice Regional State and Federal legislative agendas.


Along with Neal, the Academy’s board officers serving for the 2023 year are: Dr. Lee Denney, Immediate Past Chair, Oklahoma CareerTech; Chris Meyers, Vice-Chair/Treasurer, General Manager/CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives; Michael Gordon, Membership Vice-President, Community Affairs Manager, Public Service Company of Oklahoma; Susan Winchester, Board Governance Chair, President of The Winchester Group; Dan Boren, Secretary of Commerce of the Chickasaw Nation; Darryl Schmidt, Development Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of BancFirst; Valerie Thompson, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vice President, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater OKC; and David Nimmo, Investment Vice President, President and CEO of Chickasaw Nation Industries


The Academy has also added four new board members for the 2023 year. Those new board members are: Dwight Hughes, Superintendent/CEO, Autry Technology Center; Craig Perry, Manager of Government Affairs, ONE Gas; Andy Sherrer, President – Oklahoma City Region, First United Bank; and Kris Steele, Executive Director, TEEM (The Education and Employment Ministry).


“This organization is resolute in strengthening public policy through citizen engagement. Now, it is even more apparent there is a need for a well-informed populace with the confidence to properly approach and engage their elected officials with ideas based on facts rather than baseless theories,” said Julie Knutson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Academy. “I am excited for what the future holds under Mike’s leadership. He brings a wealth of knowledge and strategic vision to our organization. In this divisive political-climate, I believe Mike’s vision will help keep The Oklahoma Academy dedicated to providing a safe, supportive forum where the art of listening, debating, and collaborating are not only valued, but also protected.”


The Oklahoma Academy is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization founded by Gov. Henry Bellmon in 1967 to bring public attention to policy issues, provide objective, thorough research, develop consensus public policy recommendations and act as a catalyst for positive change. 

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