Strong Women 7

Building a Better Community

“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” This statement by philanthropist Melinda Gates aptly describes the following six individuals who are making a difference in the fabric of Tulsa. These strong women hold positions ranging from business owner to educator, community organizer to book author –  and the impact of their work is staggering.

Meg Myers Morgan “3M”

Meg Myers Morgan, better known by her students as Dr. Meg, is an assistant professor and director of the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. “My graduate students are up and coming leaders in the community working for nonprofits or public agencies. They are the greatest group of people you’ll ever hope to meet.” Just last year, Meg earned an Outstanding Community Faculty Award by OU and was appointed as a Faculty Fellow for Community Engagement and Impact in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Meg is also known for her book, Harebrained, a collection of humorous essays about being a mother and wife. Published in 2015, her book ranked in the Top 10 Humorous Books category on Amazon.com, received first place from the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was named “Book of the Year” by Forward Reviews. Her favorite book is Bossypants by Tina Fey. “There’s just something so comforting and empowering about her journey and her perspective. As a writer myself, I hope to comfort and empower anyone who reads my book.”

Meg grew up in Vinita, Oklahoma, attended Drury University for her undergraduate degree and OU for her Master’s and PhD in Public Administration. Looking back, her very first job in Tulsa was as the marketing coordinator and agency ‘mascot’ for the Tulsa Area United Way. “I LOVED it! That experience is absolutely why I am where I am today. It is there that I got a feel for our philanthropic community.”

Meg also gives back to the community by serving as the fund development chair on the board of YWCA-Tulsa. For the same organization, she emceed the recent Pinnacle Awards – Women of the Year event. Meg also serves on the grants committee for the TYPROS Foundation. “We determine which projects to fund which is exhilarating,” said Meg.

As a loyal wearer of colorful Converse sneakers, Meg’s five-year-old daughter surprised her this year when she dressed herself in a combination of prints with layers of skirts over leggings along with crazy socks and shoes. Meg told her daughter that her friends will “love that outfit” and the daughter replied, “I don’t wear these clothes so my friends will like it. I wear these clothes because I like it.”

Deana McCloud “Nana”

Deana McCloud is the executive director and chief curator at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa where she manages operations, programs and educational initiatives. “As the executive director, I am the face of the organization. As the chief curator, I ensure that all exhibits have an educational basis and that there are opportunities for teachers to align those exhibits to curriculum standards,” said Deana. Deana’s primary career focus is to use music to engage students to think creatively. “Woody’s message was expressed through music. It was a way for him to speak for the disenfranchised in society and my goal is to continue inspiring a new generation to use their voices to make the world a better place.”

Deana grew up in Pryor attending Northeastern State University in Tahlequah for her undergraduate degree and NSU-Broken Arrow for her graduate work in Library Media and Informational Technology. She taught at Pryor Public Schools and loved teaching using experiential learning techniques. Prior to joining the Woody Guthrie Center, Deana booked and produced the concerts for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival for its first 17 years. After moving to Tulsa, Deana found that the arts scene is as big as in a larger city but that Tulsa offers a small-town vibe. “I love the music scene,” said Deana. “The support that new musicians are getting within the community means that they’re staying in town instead of moving to Nashville or Austin. That’s marvelous!”

In addition to her work at the Woody Guthrie Center, Deana also serves as a board member and secretary for Folk Alliance International which exists to nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community through education, advocacy and performance. She also serves on the advisory board for Visit Tulsa – Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival and the Woody Guthrie Journal.

And, who calls Deana “Nana?” Her adorable five-year-old grandson, William.

Kuma Roberts “Kuma Bear”

Kuma Roberts is well-known for her work in education as the program manager for the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce where she managed education initiatives for the city with a special focus on the Partners-in-Education program. “The development of champions for our public schools provides an array of resources for those schools and students including volunteers, donations and funding. The ultimate goal is to strengthen our workforce pipeline in Tulsa,” said Kuma. Recently, Kuma took the helm as executive director of workforce and the Mosaic diversity business council for the Chamber. She also serves on several boards within the community including Leadership Tulsa, Tulsa Urban Debate League and the Work Force Tulsa Youth Council. Kuma is the co-chair of education for the Tulsa Area United Way Women’s Leadership Council and serves on the LEAD North committee.

Kuma grew up in Tulsa with a distinct accent learned from her Liberian father. After focusing on speech and debate at Booker T. Washington High School, she went on to study Theatre and English at Tulsa University. She is now working towards earning a degree in organizational management from Drury University. “I see the value of a high-quality education and want more students and certainly, more students of color, to take advantage of educational opportunities while they are young,” said Kuma.

Kuma’s style is bright and colorful, something learned from her mother’s bright yellow and lime green choices for her as a child. “My skin tone is dark and one of my greatest assets. So, like to select clothing and accessories that compliment it.” Looking toward the future, Kuma believes that even more Tulsans will join to advocate for education, mental health, healthcare and human rights. Kuma said, “We’ve been on a journey toward collective impact and it will culminate in our community aligning to ensure those things remain available to each one of us.”

Why the nickname “Kuma Bear?” Well, Kuma means bear in Japanese and as a child it just stuck through to adulthood!

Tina Parkhill

Tina is the owner of Parkhill’s Liquors & Wine South in Tulsa. As an impassioned community advocate, Tina is also heavily involved in a number of non-profits with a focus on the arts, family and children, abuse and recovery, and mental health. Most recently, Tina earned a 2016 Woman of Distinction award given by the Tulsa Business Journal.

Tina serves as board vice president of resource development for Family & Children’s Services, president-elect of Leadership Tulsa, and serves as a board member for both the OSU National Alumni Association and the bArt Center for Music. She was recently selected as chair-elect for Youth Services 2018 Blank Canvas, served on the executive leadership team for the 2017 American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, and the Honorary Event Chair for New Hope Oklahoma’s Mardi Gras fundraising event.

Born and raised in Clayton, New Mexico, Tina moved to Tulsa after graduating from OSU in Stillwater. “My first job out of college was as a field sales representative with Ernest & Julio Gallo,” said Tina. “I really enjoyed the experience because of the formal training and development program which provided accelerated management opportunities.” When asked what she likes about Tulsa, Tina said she loves the philanthropic nature of the community. “We have some of the most generous people, supporting so many deserving causes.” Because she attends so many charitable events, Tina’s style is that of classic timelessness. As an owner of a family-owned business, she chooses to shop mostly at locally owned boutiques and stores.

In regard to exciting prospects for Tulsa’s future, Tina is looking forward to the completion of A Gathering Place for Tulsa, later this year. “The new park will provide a common venue to  bring together and entertain families, kids, and outdoor enthusiasts from across the city and surrounding areas,” said Tina. “It will be a bright spot to showcase our city’s commitment to protect our river properties and encourage economic and social growth for Tulsa.”

Tiffany Egdorf “Redhead”

Tiffany is the president and chief executive officer of the Lindsey House, an organization which helps women with children move from homelessness to self-sufficiency. “We provide long-term housing with a unique and intense curriculum that focuses on life skills and financial literacy,” said Tiffany. “I have a passion for women and children, especially as it relates to teaching them skills needed to be successful and self-sustained.”  Tiffany was recently honored by being selected to serve as a governor for the National Association of Non-Profit Organizations and Executives.

Tiffany grew up in Tulsa and attended Edison High School before earning her management degree from Oklahoma City University. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in ministry and culture from Phillips Theological Seminary. Tiffany has an interesting work history that includes being a classical ballet dancer and a police officer with the Tulsa Police Department. Her most memorable work experience was her job with the local minor league baseball team. “I worked with the Tulsa Drillers for 13 seasons and absolutely loved it! I learned so many job and life skills and am still friends with the many folks that met there.” In addition to her work life, Tiffany is a member of the Rotary Club of Tulsa where she serves on several committees including The Above & Beyond Awards honoring police officers and firemen, Leadership Tulsa where she is on the programs committee, and Boston Avenue United Methodist Church where she serves as the Children’s Council Chair.

Tiffany’s personal style is simple and classic. She follows Coco Channel’s famous quote which says, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Her beautiful red hair earned her the nickname “Redhead” as a child and family still refers to her that way. For entertainment, Tiffany enjoys Summer’s Fifth Night at Utica Square and any musical or symphony performance. “I also enjoy watching NFL games with friends.” When asked about her opinion about the future of Tulsa, she said “The ongoing growth in our city will continue to make Tulsa a destination that people of all ages and situations continue to come to for fun, business and relocation. Our public, private and philanthropic leaders and citizens are creating a community different than anything I have ever experienced in my time living in Tulsa. That is very exciting!”

Jania Wester

Jania is the managing director for Communities in Schools of Mid-America. There she manages the operations of the Tulsa affiliate for this national federation that works to address the dropout epidemic. “We make sure the students are ready to have an excellent experience in the classroom by providing tiered support specific to the school and the student. Prior to joining Communities in Schools, Jania was the principal, or better known as “La Directora” of Henry Zarrow International School in the Tulsa Public School district. Zarrow is one of TPS’ language immersion schools with a singular focus on Spanish. During her time at Zarrow, Jania was honored with the Oklahoma Administrator of the Year Award by the Oklahoma School Librarians Association for promoting the library as the hub of the school.

Jania also serves as a commissioner for the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission which serves to encourage cooperation between Hispanic people of Tulsa and local, state, and federal government; and to aid in the preservation of Hispanic culture. In her spare time, Jania volunteers as a Reading Partner at Kendall-Whittier Elementary, as a homework tutor with Growing Together’s neighborhood school support group, and with Diplomas Now during Report Card Conferences where she counsels mid-high and high school students regarding educational choices and areas for improvement.

Jania, pronounced “Ha-nee-ah,” grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to the US at the age of 16. Her first job was as an elementary teacher at Tulsa Public Schools. “I loved being able to develop deep relationships with my students and their families, and to see students grow in their acquisition of language.” After living on a small island with a large population, Jania loves that it doesn’t take long to drive from one side of Tulsa to the other. “The traffic is not as crazy as in Puerto Rico,” said Jania. “And, if I drive for four hours here, I end up in a different state instead of having to fly to get someplace different!” Looking to the future, Jania believes that the most significant thing to happen in Tulsa in the next year is a strong movement towards a racial reconciliation mindset and a common understanding of the education system.