058: The language of leadership

058: The language of leadership

Given the current political climate in the United States, political discourse, and the way politicians speak and act, has risen to the front of public consciousness. We seem to be at a loss of how to respond to this language of belittlement, alternate facts, and political visciousness. Are we to accept it as a new normal?

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast I offer my take on the language of leadership—a way of speaking that addresses our better angels and invites us to elevate our discourse and reward those who do.

Watch the YouTube presentations of two past Presidents as they inspired and challenged us during their inaugral speeches.

057: Kara Byrd—Bringing Durant’s strategic vision to life

057: Kara Byrd—Bringing Durant’s strategic vision to life

Kara Byrd, executive director of Imagine Durant, will be the first to tell you that the heart and soul of any community is its people, and the animating energy of any group is the vision it has for who they can become together.

Since January 2015, Kara has been the one and only paid staff of Imagine Durant, the community wide strategic vision process that emerged from an intensive community visioning effort.

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast, Kara explains that the Durant’s strategic vision is centered around three themes: a healthy and connected culture, a vibrant and thriving community, and a community where all citizens can learn. These themes speak to both the current community needs and the need to attract a quality workforce.

Kara was selected to the 2016 class of NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma and has been recognized by the Journal Record in its annual “40 Achievers Under 40” list.

Kara and Stephanie Gardner, Street Executive Director, celebrating mural sponsored by Choctaw Nation touting Durant as a Monarch butterfly migration city.

Grand opening day of Durant Farmers’ Market.

Kara presents to the Durant City Council

Kara interviewed for opening of new trail.

Imagine Durant’s strategic vision came as the result of many community discussions involving all elements of the city.

056: A nation of laws—is it enough?

056: A nation of laws—is it enough?

We pride ourselves in the United States as being a nation of laws. We are not an authoritarian state run by a strong man or a dictator. We do not settle our differences at the end of our fists or by shooting it out in the streets between waring factions. We do not subscrtibe to vigilante justice.

Yet, we have movements for social justice, criminal justice, racial equality, economic equality, business accountability to do the right thing.

In this episode of The Spirit of Leading podcast, I explore the notion that being a nation of laws might not be aspirational enough.

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

054: Nehemiah Frank and the Black Wall Street Times

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

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

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

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

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

051: We the People

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.”