055: Jose Vega-overcoming prejuidice with kindness

055: Jose Vega-overcoming prejuidice with kindness

Jose Vega is the youngest Program Director for Oklahomans for Equality and the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, OK. After coming out as a teenager, Jose was rejected by his parents and survived by the kindness of friends who sheltered him while he completed high school and went on to college. 

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast, Jose tells his story of the difficulties of living as a gay man and the son of undocumented immigrants, although a natural born U.S. citizen himself. Jose was the victim of a hate crime in 2016. 

Jose is a leader in advocating for social justice and equality. He seeks to amplify the voices of marginalized communities by using his own platform as a community leader. Jose was recognized in the 2016 NextGen Under 30 class, and received the Tulsa Young Professionals Boomtown Inclusive Leader award in 2017.

Related links

Oklahomans for Equality

Section of E. 4th Street renamed Pride Street. See Tulsa World article.

Grit and Hard Work Prevail. See Business Equity Netork article about Jose.

Jose recognized in the 2016 class of NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma.

Jose (second from right) celebrates the renaming and dedication of E 4th Street in front of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center as Pride Street. Mayor G.T. Bynum cuts the ribbon while OkEq executive director Toby Jenkins looks on.

Jose joins SOL host Garland McWatters to record at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center.

054: Nehemiah Frank and the Black Wall Street Times [Podcast]

054: Nehemiah Frank and the Black Wall Street Times [Podcast]

Nehemiah Frank left Tulsa as a child, became an elite gymnast, struggled to graduate from high school, blossomed in college, and returned to Tulsa as a young man to become a new voice for equity in education and social justice reform.

Nehemiah established a blog in February 2017 to express his observations about educational inequality and social justice reform. Little did he know that The Black Wall Street Times would get national and international attention and put him center stage in his efforts to educate the public about these important issues.

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading Podcast, I talk to Nehemiah about his journey, how it has helped him to evolve as a public advocate, and the impact he hopes to have in improving education for all citizens, and especially the under privileged.

My thanks to Joel Wade and Blue House Media for hosting the recording of The Spirit of Leading podcast. Blue House Media is a video, audio, and web development media company and recording studio. www.bluehousemedia.tv


053: State Rep. Ajay Pittman–governing for future generations [Podcast]

053: State Rep. Ajay Pittman–governing for future generations [Podcast]

Freshman Oklahoma State Representative Ajay Pittman will be in familiar territory when she answered the gavel for the first session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature. She has been a familiar sight around the capitol building for more than half her 24 years of life. She proudly states that she attended her first legislative conference at age 7. That’s because her mother, former state senator Anastasia Pittman, and recent Democratic Party nominee for Oklahoma Lt. Governor, would bring Ajay to work with her at the capitol.

But Ajay is definitely her own person, as you will hear in this episode of the Spirit of Leading podcast. I caught up with her on the fifth floor of the House of Representatives wing between sessions, and before the new representatives began moving into their offices. As you will hear, she is optimistic that Oklahoma can getting to make strides toward solving the state’s most perplexing issues in a spirit of bipartisanship. Garland McWatters, Ajay Pittman, Spirit of Leading Podcast, INPowered to Lead, Oklahoma Legislature

052: Daniel Pae-22 year old freshmen Oklahoma state representative [Podcast]

052: Daniel Pae-22 year old freshmen Oklahoma state representative [Podcast]

Daniel Pae,  the newly elected State Representative for Dist. 62 in Lawton, says that he and his fellow incoming colleagues, “Aren’t interested in playing politics. We want to get the job done for the voters who sent us to the state capitol.”

In this episode of the Spirit of Leading podcast, Daniel talks about what led him to run for this office and what he hopes to accomplish as the chamber’s youngest legislator. Daniel is a native Lawtonian, elected as a Republican, and willing to work across all divides to unify state government into a functioning body.

He joins 46 other new legislators in the 101 seat House of Representatives tapped to sort out some of Oklahoma’s most challenging issues such as public education and criminal justice.

Daniel greets new freshmen students at OU as the Student Government Association President

Daniel interned for U.S. Rep. Tom Cole in his Washington, D.C. office.

Daniel volunteered to serve Thanksgiving meals a the H.C. King Center in Lawton.

Thanks to BancFirst of Lawton, OK, and local president Mark Brace for making their board room available to record this episode of the Spirit of Leading.

051: We the People [Podcast]

051: We the People [Podcast]

In this episode of the Spirit of Leading podcast, I comment on what I believe are the three most important words of the U.S. Constitution. They form the premise of why we have the constitution.

Our elected leaders, uniformed military, and naturalized citizens swear to defend the constitution. When we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge allegiance “to the republic for which it stands.” The republic as defined and explained by the U.S. Constitution.

A constitution is the supreme law of the land. Yet according to research (see link below) a majority of Americans know little or nothing about how their government functions or any details about the articles and amendments of the U.S. Constitution. 

We talk about freedom and democracy and how much we “love” them. Then, when it comes to voting (actual participation in the democracy) we fail to show. American voters are more likely to vote in high profile presidential elections than in any other (about 60% in 2016). When it comes to local elections, participation drops to 20% or less (see article below).

America is great when individual citizens are informed and engaged. After all, we aspire to “liberty and justice for all.”


050: I’m a Progressacon [Podcast]

050: I’m a Progressacon [Podcast]

I am among the majority of Americans who are becoming increasingly more unsettled over the negative tone of political discourse. According to a Pew Research Center report (link below), 61% of Americans say respectful discourse is very important, but only 25% say the current discourse is appropriate.

We can do better if we want. In this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast I declare myself, as a political independent, to also be, what I call, a PROGRESSACON. Listen to learn what that is and why I have coined the label and claim it for myself and others who believe as I do–that we must turn the corner on our incivility in political discourse. Garland McWatters, Spirit of Leading podcast, author, Tulsa leadership teacher

Related links

Article: Few Americans see national political debate as ‘respectful.’

049: A House of Possibilities speech to NextGen Under 30 [Podcast]

049: A House of Possibilities speech to NextGen Under 30 [Podcast]

The NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma movement continues to gather momentum across the state.

The eighth class gathered for a Day at the Capitol October 1, 2018. NextGen Under 30 founder, Don Swift, told the class that they were selected as the best of the best nominees from across fifteen business and organization categories. Swift said they even received an international nomination and had to tell the nominator that the honor was limited to residents of Oklahoma.

I have been privileged to be associated with this program since 2015 as a leadership consultant and as the coordinator of retreats and workshops. I have also interviewed several of the previous honorees on the Spirit of Leading Podcast.

This year I was asked to join a distinguished platform of speakers to address the gathering at the State Capitol. Governor Mary Fallin, Chancellor Glen D. Johnson of the State Regents for Higher Education, Dr. Marion Paden, Executive Director of Leadership Oklahoma, and Brenda Jones, CEO of Jones PR also greeted the honorees.

I chose the theme, “A House of Possibilities” to guide my comments. The capitol building is undergoing an extensive facelift, and the noise prevented a clean recording of my presentation, so I recorded the speech as close to the original remarks as I could remember.

I know from getting to know these talented young adults that Oklahoma is in good hands.

NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma class of 2018

What If wall, Ada workshop

What If wall, Statewide retreat

What If wall, Tulsa

048: Dr. John Wood-Does America need a civics lesson? [Podcast]

048: Dr. John Wood-Does America need a civics lesson? [Podcast]

Dr. John R. Wood, associate professor of political science at the University of Central Oklahoma, is passionate about student engagement. He believes the best way to learn about local government is to get involved with it. He gets students involved with business and civic projects a part of their studies, and he leads them on international service projects when possible. Dr. Wood also walks the talk. The took on an incumbent city councilman in Guthrie and won and served two terms. He is active in professional associations, and often takes on leadership roles in them. See his bio at the link below. I speak with Dr. Wood on this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast about voter turnout among young people and getting them more involved in the political process and community service.

Related links Dr. John Wood bio

Helping students with a research project.

Students serve on panel at Oklahoma Political Science Association event

Student service trip to Uganda

Collecting his last dollar for a day’s work from the Guthrie City Council

With students in Guatemala working for Habitat for Humanity