2022 PINNACLE AWARD WINNERS
Read the full Press Release here.
Learn more about the passions and accomplishments of this year’s class of honorees by clicking the “Meet the Honorees” photo below.
Anna C. Roth Legacy Award
Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is the second poet to be appointed a third term as U.S. Poet Laureate. Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, two award-winning children’s books, several screenplays; and three plays. Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including Winding Through the Milky Way, for which she was awarded a NAMMY for Best Female Artist of the year. Harjo is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship, directs For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for young Mvskoke women, and is a founding board member and Chair of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She has recently been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Native American Hall of Fame, and the National Woman’s Hall of Fame.
AAON is a publicly traded company headquartered in Tulsa, OK, and the representation of female leaders starts at the top. AAON has been recognized by 2020 Women on Boards as an Oklahoma “W” Company for having 20% or more company board seats held by women. AAON’s 8-member board of directors includes 2 women, or 25%. Manufacturing companies often fall short in female representation, women make up 24% of the manufacturing workforce nationally. AAON trends higher than the national average, with women making up 29% of our workforce. AAON has been recognized as a Mosaic Top Inclusive Workplace by the Tulsa Regional Chamber and has also signed on to the Tulsa Pay Equity Pledge.
Arts and Humanities
Connie Cronley, Cherokee Author, grew up in Nowata, lives in Tulsa and has been writing for most of her life. “A Life on Fire,” a biography of Kate Barnard is Cronley’s fifth book. Connie’s career includes working as a writer for Tulsa Tribune, Tulsa People, and Oklahoma Monthly, serving as Executive Director of Iron Gate, and Managing Director of Tulsa Ballet Theatre, and a commentator on Public Radio 89.5.
Brenda Alford is a descendant of Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and Black Wall Street entrepreneurs, a proud third generation graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, she served as Chair of the Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee at the bequest of Mayor G.T. Bynum. Brenda also serves as a board member at Greenwood Rising, and as a 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission member.
Kuma Roberts is a leader in the Tulsa community, mobilizing companies and individuals to courageously create space for dialogue about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Kuma is the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Arrowhead Consulting and worked for Tulsa Regional Chamber for 10-years as Executive Director of Talent Attraction, Retention & Mosaic, and most recently as Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Dr. Deborah Gist is Superintendent for the largest school district in our state — Tulsa Public Schools – and leads our city’s public-school teachers in the education of approximately 35,000 students in grades pre-kindergarten to 12th grade in 78 district and public charter schools. She is the first female superintendent in the district’s history. During her tenure at TPS she has steadily increased the percentage of students meeting their math and reading growth projections, collaborated on the development and delivery of Tulsa Race Massacre curriculum, and increased the graduation rate by more than 11 percentage points.
Wendy Williams is the Owner of Health and Safety Education Consultants Training Center, an approved State of Oklahoma Health Department Nurse Aide Registry program. Ms. Williams recognized there was a need to increase the number of training centers to help students become Certified Nursing Assistants and enter other health service entry level careers. She is also the founder and president of Eastern Oklahoma Black Nurses Association, a local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association, Inc.
Health & Wellness
Zaida Kepford-Castro, moved to Tulsa 17 years ago from Tijuana, Mexico. She is servant leader who has promoted understanding and collaboration among minority groups: training Morton Clinic Departments on how to work with the Hispanic Community, and providing pro-bono translation and interpretation services to: Oklahomans Against Human Trafficking, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Tulsa Police Department, Xavier Clinic, Little Lighthouse, and Sooner Start. She currently leads a health collective promoting access to sex education and promoting healthy relationships with Amplify Tulsa.
Amairani Perez Chamu is the Hispanic Resource Center Coordinator, at Tulsa City-County Library, creating programs for all 24 branches and locations across Tulsa County, and oversees purchasing and ordering Spanish materials for the entire system. She is Board President for the Tulsa Global District and is the Tulsa Director for Dream Action Oklahoma. Amairani has led countless DACA Clinics, Know Your Rights Campaigns, and spoken with state senators to ensure the rights of the immigrant community in Tulsa.