Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 Oklahoma Women's Coalition Annual Meeting & Issue Forum

Yesterday was the Oklahoma Women's Coalition Annual Meeting and Issues Forum. We met at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City (Building 7) which was beautiful; I highly recommend this facility for events. Ned's catered and the food was perfect. We had a great turnout of extraordinary Oklahoma women leaders from across Oklahoma.  We began with a quick business meeting - elected new officers and board for 2010-2011. (I've stepping down as Chair but will stay on the board and chair the Leadership Development Committee,) We did special recognitions for Faye Henson's service as Treasurer, Quin Tran Dykstra's wonderful leadership as chair of the Communications Committee. And had a lovely award for Representative Kris Steele for his leadership sponsoring House Bill 2998 which creates a program that diverts non violence, low risk women offenders away from prison into an alternative facility where they can receive drug  treatment, job raining, etc.

And then we had three excellent panels during which you could hear a pin drop (so I think people were interested)! The first panel was "Legislative Update: What Happened This Session (That Impacts Oklahoma Women and Girls)?" Oklahoma State Senator Susan Paddack (pictured here with CEO of YWCA OKC Jan Peery (left) and Executive Director of Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma Karen Morgan (right) talked about the 2010 Oklahoma legislative session and offered tips on advocating, etc. while Jan Gilmore Loftis (left in second image), the Oklahoma Women's Coalition Administrator, talked about bills impacting women in the session just ended. Our Advocacy Committee (chaired by Jan Peery) and board of directors elected to be conservative this year and only officially support two bills and one budget initiative - all of which passed.

The second panel was entitled "Connecting the Dots Between Education, Poverty and Incarceration." I moderated and opened with statistics on women and poverty in Oklahoma. Erin Taylor, Academic Project Coordinator at the Oklahoma State Regents for higher Education described Project SMART (Single Mothers Academic Resource Team) which she directs. Debbie Boyer with the Division of Female Offender Operations, Oklahoma Department of Corrections gave a great talk on characteristics of incarcerated women in Oklahoma.

Our final panel was on "The State of Domestic Violence in Oklahoma." Jan Peery moderated and made opening remarks that set the tone. Jackie Steyn, LPC, Chief Programs and Compliance Officer at the YWCA of OKC and Andrea Hamor Edmondson, Administrative Program Officer with the Injury Prevention Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health (and the Coordinator of Rape Prevention Education Program) spoke. All three presentations were riveting.

Donna Lawrence (right in final image), incoming Coalition Chair, closed the program by sharing ways Oklahomans can get involved in the Coalition. I received the Coalition's first Pioneer Woman Award (see picture) - pretty sweet, huh?!?

Why are you not a member of this organization yet?!? $25; $10 for students. We'd love to have you as a member -- men,too! You can join the Oklahoma Women's Coalition online by clicking HERE.

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