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Board of Directors

Board of Directors

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Eugene Earsom wearing a black blazer over a green and gold shirt, smiling to the camera.

Eugene Earsom (President) | Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, 1970

Eugene Earsom graduated from OCLA in 1970 with a degree in political science. Eugene retired in 2015 after 42 years in public education, most recently as program director for Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education, and previously as the social studies director at the Oklahoma State Department of Education and as a classroom teacher for 20 years. He was named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year in 1989-90. He was inducted into the USAOAA Hall of Fame in 2010.

In addition to his degree from OCLA, Earsom holds a master’s in social sciences from OU. He currently serves on the boards of directors of Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Council for Social Studies, and New Hope Christian Church, Oklahoma City. Eugene has served as a member of the USAO Alumni Association Board of Directors multiple times since the 1970's, but his most recent term has been from 2021-2023.

 
Benjamin Blackstar in a patterned collared shirt, smiling to the camera.

Benjamin Blackstar | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2018

Benjamin Blackstar is a proud Native American from the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and a Comanche descendant. He is from Anadarko, OK and works as a High School Art Teacher for the Riverside Indian School. Benjamin has stated it is his goal to serve the future generations of his people; as a graduate from Riverside himself, he believes he is doing so. After working one year at USAO as the Creative Services Coordinator in the Marketing and Communications Department, he was given the opportunity to be a part of Riverside's amazing faculty. Benjamin has 4 children, Daniel, Benjamin Jr., Brooke, and Aja, and a wife of eleven years, Amanda Blackstar, who is also an alumnus from USAO's Psychology program.

When he is not at work serving the youth, celebrating dance with the Kiowa Gourd Clan, or spending time with his family, he is painting or drawing, which can be seen in the Pauper's Gallery in Davis Hall and in businesses both locally and nationwide. During his years at USAO, Benjamin was given the award of Artist of the Year at the 84th Annual American Indian Exposition for a portrait painting of his daughter Brooke.

 
James Greenlee smiling in front of a green hedge, wearing a navy blue collared shirt.

James Greenlee | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2009

James Greenlee is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer living in the Tulsa Metro area. A classically trained fine artist, Greenlee’s art incorporates elements of his day-to-day life and pop culture influences.

His work ranges from acrylics, watercolors, inks, oils, digital illustration and has been showcased by OVAC in 2008, Tulsa United Way in 2020, and most recently TYPROS in 2021, where he shares an art installation at the Tulsa International airport.

 
Charlie Largent looking head-on to the camera, wearing a suit and tie.

Charlie Largent | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2000 

Charlie Largent graduated in 2000 from the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in History and is a lifelong resident of the Chickasha area. Mr. Largent began his career in fire protection and emergency management as volunteer fire fighter for the Grady County Fire Service. After obtaining his degree, he worked for OSDMHS and Love County EMS. In 2011 he accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Blanchard. He continues to serve the residents of McClain and Grady counties in this position and also serves as the City’s Emergency Management Director. Charlie has a long history of public service through a previous appointment to the Grady County Fire Board. He has also volunteered as a member of the McClain County Board of Health since 2019.

Charlie has spent the last 26 year serving the citizens of Grady and McClain counties with willingness to assist any community, group, or individual. Charlie resides in Blanchard with his wife Shannon and daughter Sydney.

 
April Lawrence smiling in front of green foliage

April Lawrence | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2013 

April Lawrence graduated from USAO in 2013, double majoring in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Bachelor of Art in Economics. After completing her degrees, April was hired to work as an Admissions Counselor in the Admissions & Recruitment Office. Today, she is the Director of Admissions & Enrollment. While helping the University increase in student population, April has created processes that help not only students, but also the staff. In April's spare time, she is either reading or playing with her dog 'Birdie'. She is also a volunteer with Friends Fur Change which is a dog rescue in Chickasha. While April makes a difference in her community, and at the University, she impacts those around her for the better.

 

LaRonda McCarther in front of a red brick wall, smiling and wearing a black blouse.

LaRonda McCarther | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2000

LaRonda McCarther is a Chickasha native and a graduate from the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma. LaRonda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in Economics in 2000. She has been a passionate real estate agent since 2007 and has recently acquired her broker’s license. With her husband, Shawn McCarther they own and manage their personal investment properties. LaRonda enjoys being part of the boards of the Grady County Health Department and Arvest Bank for Southwest Oklahoma.

She loves to spend time with her family which includes her two adult sons Shawn II and Jalen. LaRonda truly loves and is a supporter of the Chickasha community.

 
April Lawrence smiling in front of green foliage

Nicole McMonagle | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2012 

Nicole McMonagle graduated from USAO in 2012, receiving her degree in Business Administration. Nicole began as a part-time student worker for Nash Library in 2007 and received a full-time position by 2013. In 2017, Nicole enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to obtain her master's degree in library and information studies, to become a librarian. By 2019, Nicole became the Interim Director of Nash Library while finishing her master's program, eventually becoming the official Director of Nash Library in the spring of 2020. One of Nicole's greatest accomplishments has been that she has helped co-write several grants that have been awarded to the library for renovations. Nicole is also the supervisor for the campus food pantry. Nicole hopes to bring awareness to the current student population and help them see the importance of what being an alumnus means.

Tia Murry standing with her arms crossed to the camera and wearing a black dress and matching white and gold jewelry.April Lawrence smiling in front of green foliage

Tia Murry | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 1998

Tia (Euwins) Murry received her English degree from USAO (1998) and went on to earn a Master’s in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma (2009). She is a Chickasha native and 2nd generation University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma graduate. Tia currently the Director -Dual County for the Department of Human Services. She oversees all programs for Moffat & Rio Blanco Counties in Colorado. Tia also is a published author, public speaker, and executive coach through her business FLI. She also serves on the advisory board for Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Tia is a mother of three children, Derrick, Tamia, Jazmyn and Honey (grandmother) to Amaiah. Tia loves to travel, listen audiobooks, and dance.

 
Whitney Palesano standing on a metal and wood staircase, surrounded by a green circle

Whitney Palesano | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2010

Whitney Palesano graduated from USAO in 2010, receiving her degree in Psychology. Whitney is a proud lifetime Chickasha resident and USAO alumni. As the Membership Director of the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce, Whitney can assist in making positive connections and providing insight between the Chickasha community and the Alumni board. Whitney strives to continuously grow and learn how to better serve her community. When asked about her goals for the board, Whitney replied "I would like to engage with prior classmates and alumni and keep them updated on the successes and changes happening at USAO. I would also like to encourage them to be a vocal and financial advocate for their alma mater." - Whitney Palesano

 
Jennifer Shepard wearing a black blouse and framed glasses.

Jennifer Shepard | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2006

Jennifer Shepard, Norman native and NHS Tiger, graduated with a BA in Physical Education from the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma. While there she was on the first school-sponsored women’s soccer team. From this experience she earned recognition as an All-Regional player her freshmen year. After teaching for 7 years, she earned her Master’s in Education from East Central University, and she most recently received a Certificate in Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Jennifer has enjoyed working with children as a physical education teacher, a school counselor and coach. In addition to working as a health adjunct at UCO, Mid-America and SWCU, she opened a private practice, “Specialized Coaching & Consulting“ during the pandemic encouraging a focus on health & wellness transformation. Jennifer is one of the only certified POINTE instructors in the Midwest who practices Acceptance & Commitment Therapy.

When not working towards growing her own practice, she volunteers her time with the local soccer club. Jennifer currently lives in her hometown with her wonderful daughter, two dogs, two cats and a fish.

 
Michelle Skinner smiling, wearing glasses and a blue floral-patterned shirt.

Michelle Skinner | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2006

Michelle Skinner graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in music with a minor in art and completed a master's degree in library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma. She currently works at the Chickasha Public Library, where her favorite things are reference, genealogy, document preservation and digitization, and writing a book about the library's history.

She also maintains a piano studio, plays piano and organ at First Presbyterian Church in Chickasha, works as a freelance artist, and performs as a flutist and as an aspiring cellist. She tends to be curious and fascinated by everything, and she loves all things creative and intellectual.

 
A smiling Ron Sullivan, wearing framed glasses, a grey suit jacket over a grey and white checkered shirt and red tie.

Ron Sullivan | Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, 1975

Ron Sullivan, class of '75. Majored in Theater. From: McAlester, OK, now lives in Duncan, OK. Married to Sherry Lynn Lacy-Sullivan, class of '72. Retired from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (28 years). Served on the boards for Pittsburg County March of Dimes, Relay for Life, Ryan's Run Against Child Abuse, McAlester Spaghetti Run, and Pittsburg County Youth Health Symposium. Taught high school English at Indianola, Oklahoma for 8 years as well as coaching baseball for 4 years.

Served 2 years as an Educational Coordinator for Eastern Oklahoma State College's GEAR-UP Grant assisting students in preparing for college. Taught high school English, Creative Writing, and Speech and Drama at Duncan High School four years before retirement.

 

A smiling Heidi Walker in a red sweater over a white and black patterned shirt.

Heidi Walker | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 1988 

Heidi graduated from USAO with a degree in Elementary Education in 1988. Over the course of her 32-year career she has taught 4th grade, self-contained special ed, resource special ed and inclusion. This year she was honored with the “Teacher of the Year” award at her campus, Ridgecrest Elementary, in Amarillo. She has been on the Alumni Board for 9 years and is currently serving as vice-president. Distance is not a concern for her as she has attended board meetings, events on campus such as Listen Local, The Civil War Symposium, Freshmen cookouts, art shows and other events in support of USAO. This year, Heidi is entering a new phase of her life, retired, empty nester.

She is looking forward to continuing to support her Alma Mater through the role of Alumni Association President. Many positive changes have happened under the recent presidents and she looks forward to leading the association into this new space ahead. 

 

Chris Willard, a man with long dark hair and beard in a black suit in front of a grey backdrop

Chris Willard | University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 2007 

Chris Willard graduated from USAO in 2007, receiving his degree in Communication. With more than 15 years in the media/entertainment industry, Chris brings a unique perspective on how the university can help prepare students to enter a world that is changing more quickly than ever. Chris recently led the successful PR launch for the Max streaming service in the U.S. Chris helped turn Game of Thrones into a global phenomenon, leading the PR launches for hundreds of consumer products and fan experiences. Chris also spearheaded the launch of numerous emerging tech initiatives including VR video games, Alexa voice skills, and the storytelling app Mosaic, while playing a leading role in the launch of HBO Max and promoted the HBO NOW streaming service previously. Chris was recently inducted into the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame in 2022.

 
 

 

Nominate a Board Member:
Deadline for submissions is July 1, 2023

Providing value to fellow alumni of the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma doesn't have to end on graduation day. In fact, the opportunity to give back to your alma mater is one click away.

We are seeking names of alumni who are interested in serving on the USAO Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The alumni board serves as the official representative of the entire alumni community and works on initiatives that help fulfill the mission of the USAO Alumni Association.

As you consider potential candidates (or if you would like to self-nominate) please keep in mind that alumni board members are required to attend four board meetings per calendar year on the USAO campus (Zoom meetings until further notice). For alumni who wish to serve but live out of state please don’t let geography deter you! We strive to achieve a balanced and broad representation of the alumni community on our board and are looking for representation from various backgrounds, degree programs, regions and industries.

USAO Alumni Association board meetings traditionally occur on a Saturday in January, May, August, and during Homecoming the first weekend of November. All directors serve a three-year term. No board member may serve more than two (2) consecutive terms without a resting period of one year. This restriction shall further apply to the office of President, excluding board service as immediate Past President.

For more information about board expectations contact Dawn Reitan-Brockman at dreitanbrockman@usao.edu or usaoalumnioffice@usao.edu.

Submissions do not guarantee a position on the USAOAA Board of Directors.

All names will be sent to the Nominating Committee for further consideration.  

However, there is much work to do and a place for all alumni who want to volunteer in service to the USAOAA. We will work with you to find the perfect fit.

SUBMIT YOUR NOMINATION(S)

If you have questions, you can email USAOAA executive director Dawn Reitan-Brockman at dreitanbrockman@usao.edu or contact the Alumni & Community Relations office via email or call (405) 574-1290.