Four determined women came together in 2007 with the common vision of a statewide women’s coalition that would unite individuals and organizations as one powerful voice to initiate positive change for Oklahoma’s women and girls. Dr. Jean Warner, Donna Lawrence, Jan Peery, and Pat Potts had long seen the need for an organized voice for women and girls. The synergy created by their shared passion ultimately led to the founding of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition.
The pioneer spirit of our early Oklahoma women fueled the small group as they began blazing a trail to build this new organization. The women approached the Oklahoma Legislative Coalition, a group of women’s organizations that had jointly sponsored an Annual Day at the Capitol for more than 20 years. Member organizations voted in the fall of 2007 to join the effort and direct their focus on policies and issues related to Oklahoma women and girls.
The next several months were spent researching coalitions in other states, drafting bylaws, filing for incorporation and 501(c)(3) status, discussing strategy, and recruiting board members. The bylaws were approved, the name was revised to Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, and a statewide bipartisan board of directors was elected in September 2008.
The inaugural board meeting of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition was October 2, 2008. The new board members eagerly agreed to take on leadership roles as officers and committee chairs. They worked tirelessly throughout the next 12 months building membership, establishing advocacy committees, hosting events, developing communications strategies, creating financial policies, and building credibility at the State Capitol. The first year successes would not have been possible without the exceptional leadership skills of these talented women.
Chair – Dr. Jean Warner, Oklahoma City
Vice Chair – Donna Lawrence, Oklahoma City
Secretary – Andrea Chancellor, Tulsa – Women’s Int’l Network of Utility Professionals
Treasurer – Faye Henson, Weatherford – American Association of University Women-Oklahoma
Founding Organizational Representatives
Jacqueline Achong, Lawton – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc
Felicia Collins-Correia, Tulsa – YWCA Tulsa
Connie Douglas, Broken Arrow – Business and Professional Women
Trish Emig, Stillwater – League of Women Voters of Oklahoma
Karen Morgan, Tulsa – Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma
Jane Nelson, Oklahoma City – Oklahoma Nurses Association
Jan Peery, Oklahoma City – YWCA Oklahoma City
Cathy Stackpole, Oklahoma City – Girl Scouts – Western Oklahoma, Inc
Founding Individual Members
Pat Potts, Oklahoma City
Lucy Smith, McAlester
Rebecca Kennedy, Seminole
Susan Winchester, Chickasha
Zora Brown, Oklahoma City
A $10,000 grant from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma assisted in building the organization’s infrastructure by funding a bill-tracking service, office supplies, and development of a logo and brochure.
The Oklahoma Women’s Coalition was officially launched and introduced to the public at a press conference on February 18, 2008 during the group’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol. With a standing room only crowd, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, along with Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy and Dr. Jean Warner, unveiled the Coalition’s logo and publicly announced the formation of the organization. Congresswoman Mary Fallin closed the day’s activities, which included presentations by House and Senate leadership.
The first year ended with more than 200 individual members and two dozen organizational members that represent more than 100,000 Oklahoma women and girls. Our numbers and our influence are growing daily, which will lead us to unprecedented success as we pursue our mission.
FY 08-09 Coalition Highlights:
- Bylaws drafted, IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status secured
- Statewide bi-partisan board elected
- Committees on Advocacy, Communications, Events, Finance, Fundraising, Leadership Development, and Membership established
- Advocacy Subcommittees on Aging, Education, Girls, Health, Incarceration, Violence, and Work & Family researched issues/bills and began developing advocacy strategies
- Advocacy Day at the Capitol hosted February 18, 2009 with more than 150 participants
- Annual Meeting and Issues Forum hosted June 10, 2009
- Statewide coverage via newspaper, radio, Internet, and TV
- Branding materials developed: logo, brochures, letterhead
- Web site developed with information, registration and donation pages
- Bill tracking service used to monitor bills in the 2009 Legislative session
- Nearly $60,000 raised, plus in-kind donations valued over $25,000