Leadership Oklahoma, a statewide program that helps foster leadership skills in promising young professionals while educating them about issues facing the state, honors longtime business and community leaders Steve Turnbo and Tom McDaniel at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala April 1 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. The organization also celebrates the contributions of business leader Russell Perry and his Perry Publishing & Broadcasting Company and Oklahoma Energy Resources Board agency for its efforts to rehabilitate oil and gas sites across the state.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Leaders might need intelligence and vision. But what sets apart the great leaders from the rest are those who have a strong sense of humility, McDaniel said. McDaniel receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Oklahoma for his years serving community businesses and organizations.
“You need personal humility to engage others in any endeavor,” he said. “You need to make them feel important and that you care about them. It’s about others; it’s not about yourself.”
McDaniel is president of American Fidelity Foundation, the former Oklahoma City University president and chancellor and retired Kerr McGee Corporation vice chairman and director. He also served as Northwestern Oklahoma State University president and State of Oklahoma administrative director of courts.
He said of all the teams he has led in his career, the most important one was at home with his three sons.
“My wife and I worked hard to instill a sense of servant leadership in our boys,” he said. “We wanted them to know they need to give back.”
The business of public relations is all about getting people to listen to your mission and message. But for Turnbo, chairman emeritus of one of the largest public relations firms in the state, leadership requires the opposite.
“A really good leader has to be a good listener,” he said. “You learn by listening. A lot of folks are more interested in sort of communicating before they can listen. It’s really important to be a good listener before assessing and speaking.”
Turbo, who served as CEO of Schanke Turnbo Frank consulting firm before retiring to the emeritus position, receives Leadership Oklahoma’s Distinguished Graduate Award.
Turnbo was a member of the fourth class to graduate from Leadership Oklahoma. As a graduate of the program, he has dedicated his life to serving his community and investing in the people around him, a statement from the leadership organization said.
In addition to leading the company, Turnbo served 28 years on the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees and was inducted to the Collins College of Business Hall of Fame in 2015. His volunteer work is extensive. He has worked with the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice for 31 years and also served on the board for Leadership Oklahoma.
“I’ve always felt like being involved in the organization, you have an obligation to give back to the organization,” he said.
Business Leadership Award
Perry Publishing and Broadcasting Company
When Russell Perry started his business, there wasn’t a black person working as a reporter at any newspaper in Oklahoma. Perry changed that when he launched Oklahoma City’s weekly The Black Chronicle in 1979.
“I hired people of color, for the most part, who didn’t have the training to be a journalist,” he said. “I trained them.”
Part of that training, Perry said, was to give his newspapers what he described as a “strong personality.”
“A newspaper needs to be a reflection of the community, and there was part of the community back then that was not being reflected,” he said.
That tie to the community is also what he believes can make a business a leader.
“For a business to be a leader, it needs to have quality, integrity and honesty, but I think most of all, it should have a commitment to the community,” he said.
He did that for the black community by not only hiring and training black journalists, but by making sure he paid competitive salaries to keep them there.
In 1994, the company expanded to include broadcast radio stations, giving jazz, R&B and rap a venue that he said it hadn’t had previously.
The company has since acquired additional stations in other markets. It currently owns and operates 16 radio stations that broadcast everything from the R&B, rap and jazz that he started his radio markets with to country, rock and gospel.
Statewide Community Award
Oklahoma Energy Resources Board
Twenty-four years ago, a group of Oklahoma oil producers and royalty owners formed Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) with the goal of restoring abandoned oil drill sites. It receives the Statewide Community Award for continuing that mission.
“Today’s industry is not only taking responsibility for environmental problems caused decades ago but is continually developing more environmentally responsible ways to produce oil and gas and protect our land, air and water,” executive director Mindy Stitt said in a media statement.
The program has spent more than $100 million restoring 15,385 orphaned and abandoned well sites across the state and currently restores two to three sites a day, making it the most successful program of its kind in the country.
Excellence in Leadership Gala
6-8 p.m. April 1
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St., Tulsa
print headline: Influential initiative, Leadership Oklahoma honors longtime community luminaries at its annual Excellence in Leadership Gala