These are the people, and their work, of which Tulsa is made
Everybody has a dream. Where were you four years ago? Struggling for recognition, finding a job, figuring out what you wanted to do with your life.
For more than 20 years, Urban Tulsa Weekly has helped you and your city get a grip on life--helping find places to go, things to do and reasons for being in America's Most Beautiful City.
Pardon us for the boosterism, but isn't this what our annual "Hot 100" edition is all about? Isn't that why our UTW Geniuses man the bar each week to help you find the events, products, service and people who help you make the city a better place?
These are the steamin' up-and-comers, the hot-as-Gahanna game changers and the boiling-point leaders of Tulsa Metro.
While the city landscape has made some big adjustments this last year, 2012 promises to be even more mind-blowing. These individuals and you, our dear readers, are the ones who will make it happen.
So start at the top, bottom or somewhere in the middle -- there is no rhyme or reason to the order -- just meet 2012's Hot 100.
Count 'em. We always give you more than you can handle.
Jim Bridenstine, Lieutenant Commander (Sel.) and District 1 Congressional Candidate
This fly boy is a veteran Navy pilot who was soaring over Iraq as the statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was torn down in 2003. Jim earned an MBA from Cornell University, then settled back in his hometown of Jenks as the Tulsa Air & Space Museum's executive director.
And next year, he may become U.S. Rep John Sullivan's worst nightmare. Jim and Sullivan will run against one another -- Republican versus Republican -- for the congressional seat to represent Oklahoma's 1st District.
John Silva, CEO of Morton Health Center
A bit of a Tulsa newbie, Silva is CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Care Services. The dude has transformed a legacy healthcare institution -- long in play -- from a place with dysfunction into a cool, collaborative player/leader in the quest to deliver affordable health care and mitigate Tulsa's epic health-care inequities.
If 2011 was any indication, it is likely that 2012 will see a rise of the retailer. Local shops like Ascent, Resurrect Boutique and Blue Jean Baby are livin' the highlife on Cherry St. while Tag and Edit are keepin' Brookside alive. Even the South gets in on the action with Woodland Hills' Cloth Rock addition. This is going to be a good year for shoppin'.
Ma Cong, Choreographer and Tulsa Ballet Principal Dancer
Classically trained in the Beijing Dance Academy, Cong joined the National Ballet of China in 1995, then came to the U.S. to the Tulsa Ballet in 1999. He has worked with choreographers and directors from American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet.
Bob Eggleston and Hank Pellegrini, Co-Developers of OnePlace Tower
Bob, Hank and a small, but oh-so-powerful team of movers and shakers (David Atkinson, Garrett Mahaney and Brittany Sawyer) have broken ground on what is likely the largest private downtown development in years. The project encompasses the entire square block bounded by Second and Third st. and Denver and Cheyenne Aves. We look forward to the completion of the development and a new welcoming party for additional shops and restaurants.
Laura Scott, Owner of Rope
Calling all fashionistas! If you haven't been to Rope, a luxury clothing boutique on Cherry St., you should check it out ASAP. Scott keeps Rope open from Tuesday-Saturday and carries everything from jeans to cocktail dresses. The best part is the store features up and coming designers from all around the world, meaning the pieces you pick up are truly special.
Ken and Janet Levitt, Executive Director of George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Dean of TU Law, respectively
Ken and Janet Levitt are Tulsa's most exotic power couple. Ken is a former spook -- that is a CIA employee, he is a former OU/Tulsa president and is currently George Kaisers' non-profit chief. Janet has been a big firm lawyer/practitioner and is currently dean of the TU law school.
Wayne Leimbach, Oklahoma Heart Institute
Chief of Cardiology and at Oklahoma Heart Institute, Wayne Leimbach is also Director of the Cardiac and Interventional Laboratories, Co-Founder of the Lipid and Wellness Clinic, Director of the James D. Harvey Center for Cardiovascular Research at Hillcrest Medical Center and Director of the Oklahoma Heart Research and Education Foundation. Oklahoma Heart Institute is full of dedicated and skilled professionals like Leimbach, making it an incredible asset to our community.
It's always admirable when someone takes a stand. It's even more inspiring to see a group come together for the same cause -- even if you don't join them. Occupy Tulsa reminds us of the importance of unity and the power of standing up for what you believe in, which in this case is liberty and justice for all.
Tara Hughes, Owner of Resurrect Boutique
Another Cherry Street gem, Resurrect Boutique, offers "upscale resale" -- gently used designer clothes and accessories. This is the kind of stuff you can't otherwise get without selling an arm and a leg...and possibly your soul. For the busy (or lazy) consigners, Hughes will even pick up your items from your home. Now that's a deal!
Kevin Sartorius, Catholic Charities
A guy in charge of assisting people in need. His group offers services from adoptions and to immigration info; women's health services and education. Doing the best with what he has to work with, he is the leader of the Roman Catholics' effort, along with more than 1,600 volunteers, helping improve the lives of tens of thousands of needy individuals.
A.D. Ellis, Principal Chief for Muscogee (Creek) Nation
A.D. Ellis has served as the Principal Chief and, before that, Second Chief for Muscogee (Creek) Nation for more than a decade. Before 2000 he was a National Council Representative for 8 years. His service goes back even farther, but you get the point: He's been around for a long time; he must really love what he does; he should keep doing it. Job well done.
Dr. Steadman Upham.
Dr. Steadman Upham, President of the University of Tulsa
For decades, "Stead" has racked up an embarrassing number of achievements, which most recently includes being the third-highest paid college president in the nation. As the head honcho of the University of Tulsa since 2004, he's pushed the college forward on sustainability, academics, athletics and just about everything else. He retires in June, and we only hope TU can keep up with the momentum this professor, archaeologist, writer and academic has put into motion.
Brian Fontaine, Bar/Venue Manager
As manager of Fassler Hall and The Colony, Fontaine is the key to the cool music that saturates both venues and has helped return The Colony to its former glory as a haven for original music. His involvement in last year's New Tulsa Sound compilation has also helped bring the movement to the forefront and proven he's one of original music's biggest proponents.
Jon Schroeder, Recording Engineer at The Church
You may not know his name, but chances are you'll recognize him if you cross paths. Schroeder is the man behind the scenes in Tulsa as sound and recording engineer at The Church Studios; the man who designed the sound system for The Treehouse; and one of the primary forces behind Under the Belfry, the digital label releasing live audio and video footage from Free Tulsa. He's also the man who picked up all of the nasty details behind the scenes at Free Tulsa and made things happen when others were dropping the ball. If it's cool and happening in Tulsa, Schroeder can likely be found nearby.
Mitch Dees, Owner of Smoke on Cherry St.
Especially in recent years, fine dining in Tulsa keeps getting better and better. If you want a great local food experience, one place to find it is Smoke on Cherry Street. Once you've tried their locally sourced American treats, you'll be thanking Mr. Dees. Also featuring a bar and cigar lounge, as well as local art, Smoke is truly one of a kind.
Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of Greater Tulsa Health Access Network and the Kaiser Chair of Community Medicine at OU
Dr. David Kendrick of OU is a public health maven, infotech master and medical doctor. Kendrick is the lead professional for Tulsa's Beacon/My Health project, a multimillion federally financed state-of-the-art electronic medical records initiative -- one of 10 U.S. pilot efforts.
Laurie Keeley, Designer
Yard artist Laurie wowed Tulsans this year with her fun and funky invention -- the faux grass couch. Part of her Faux Gras collection, Keeley handmade the plush Astroturf couches and bouncy stools for chic downtown clients like Dust Bowl Lanes and This Land Press. Laurie, a landscape designer and avid gardener, has plowed ahead with unexpected touches and a focus on "green" alternatives.
Russ Florence, Public Relations and Communications
The current President and Chief Operating Officer at Schnake, Turnbo, Frank PR has been with the company for 10 years. Russ Florence is the kind of guy who likes to get things done. He's involved in Tulsa Press Club and International Association of Business Communications, and is Chairman-Elect for Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice. He's a board member at the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association and Global Gardens.
Matt Moffett, Director of Tulsa Girls Art School
Moffett and the Tulsa GAS present underserved elementary-aged girls with this: cultivate your artistic ability, create real art in a real studio, then sell it for real money at a real art gallery opening. Reaching out past poverty lines, absentee parents, and other real problems, Tulsa GAS gives young artists plenty of individual instruction, changing the world one kid at a time.
Two to Tango. Ken Busby and Kathy McRuiz, Director/CEO of Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa and Director of Hardesty Arts Center, respectively
The Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council broke ground on the new Hardesty Arts Center last May and it is slated to open this year. "Access for All, Cultural Diversity, and Partnership Cultivation" are the main objectives of this champion of the arts in the Brady District. Check out the live webcam of the construction at ahct.org.
Eilis O'Neal, Managing Editor, Nimrod International Journal of Poetry & Prose
Eilis -- her name is Gaelic, pronounced A-lish -- is an A-list literary sprite who's been writing before she could hold a pen (her mother transcribed Eilis' fictional stories). The Tulsa-born lady is a fantasy writer, avid reader and the managing editor of the University of Tulsa's elite Nimrod International Journal. Her young adult fantasy novel, The False Princess, was published by Egmont USA in 2009.
Jan Slater, CEO of OSU Medical Center/Tulsa
Female medical CEOs are still very rare: this is really ironic since women constitute over 80 percent of the health care workforce in America. Slater holds a law degree and an advanced degree in business administration using both to help make Tulsa a healthier place.
Tom Dittus, Blue Rose Café
Thanks to Tom Dittus, one of the most well-known Tulsa restaurants has returned, welcomed by open, loving arms and sometimes a line out the door. As if mouthwatering burgers weren't enough, now they can be enjoyed with a view of the water, in a new building right in the middle of the action on Riverside. If you have not yet made an appearance at the latest and greatest Blue Rose Café, you're really missing out.
Dustin Pittsley, Musician
Long known as the hot, young gun guitarist in town, Pittsley has stepped up his game in 2011 to become a force to be reckoned with. His latest CD, Palm Trees & Trailer Parks, is his best yet and his star is shining nationally after scoring a pair of runs opening for Dierks Bentley over the summer. Add in the second annual Stone River Music Festival, held on family land in Chandler and Pittsley figures to be one of Tulsa's biggest sounds and a modern day Renaissance man on the scene.
Bruce Ramsay, Tulsa Oilers Head Coach
The Oilers head coach recruits like a mad man, coaches like an animal, and motivates like a combination of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday and Gene Hackman in Hoosiers. To top it off, he sports sweet hockey-like facial hair. Winning!
P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Authors
Bringing our city into the fictional world and, correspondingly, to the rest of the real world, P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, a mother-daughter duo, created a series of vampire books set in Tulsa. In the wake of the Twilight series, House of Night has been quite popular, with the tenth book, Hidden, to come out next October. It was also recently announced that the film rights have been sold, so get ready to see T-town on the big screen soon!
Bill Leighty, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission Chairman
A strong advocate for historic preservation and urban development, Leighty is giving it his all in hopes of rebuilding Tulsa and establishing a new era of glory days.
Ed Safri, Owner of the Paul Mitchell School Tulsa
The opening of Paul Mitchell the School is equally exciting for wannabe stylists and future clients in Tulsa. Up to 300 students at a time will hone their creative skills and learn how to turn their passion into a career. On top of that, Paul Mitchell schools are dedicated to helping several charities. Win/win!
Gary Shaffer, Executive Director of Tulsa County Public Library
This guy is bringing the 21st century to our local libraries, ensuring they get up to date with new technology as quickly as possible. Thanks to Shaffer, you can "like" Tulsa City-County Library on Facebook, download a library app on your smart phone and subscribe to receive weekly emails with library-related information, such as what new books to check out. He's doing his best to make sure everyone knows reading is totally cool.
Dr. James Koehler, Tulsa Surgical Arts
Not only is Dr. Koehler adored by his clients for his excellent work and above-and-beyond mentality, he's also just a really good guy. He's dedicated to giving back and urges his clients to do the same. During Christmastime he offered a discount on Botox for everyone who brought a toy to put in the sleigh in his office -- all donated to Children's and Family Services.
John Bolton, General Manager of BOK Center
The winner of the Venue Executive of the Year, awarded by the International Entertainment Buyers Association, Bolton took the BOK Center to its fourth consecutive Pollstar Award nomination. When the BOK Center was being built, you may have been excitedly wondering who and what such an impressive venue would bring to Tulsa. Now you know, and you probably have not been disappointed. From Reba to Gaga, WWE to NCAA, Cirque du Soleil and beyond, the events brought to Tulsa by the BOK Center have certainly kept us entertained.
Katie Plohocky, President of Healthy Corner Store Initiative
Do you want to eat healthy, but think it's too much trouble? It's not necessarily an easy endeavor, but the Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI) wants to change that. Their goal is to eliminate "food deserts" in rural and urban areas alike, increasing access to healthy, locally produced foods that are affordable. Thanks to Katie Plohocky for leading such a great organization!
Dale "Apollo" Cook, MMA Promoter
Forget about his thriving Mixed Martial Arts schools. Forget about his legendary professional kickboxing career where he captured five world championships. Today Cook is synonymous with the fight promotion game. He unleashed his Xtreme fight brand in full force this year. Fight fans ate it up.
Charlie Hill, Musician
One of Tulsa's hidden treasures and biggest secrets, Hill is one of the most underrated guitarists in town. Debut CD, The Landing, only scratches the surface of Hill's playing, which spans acoustic and harp guitar as well as electric bass. An understated artist with huge guitar chops, we can guarantee you'll hear more from Hill in 2012.
Ray Pearcey, Urban Tulsa Weekly Contributor
Our CityScape writer knows a lot about a lot of topics, from technology to city planning to business strategies and beyond. He has been a political consultant, radio host, graphic designer and more, and his interests in environmental projects, downtown development and economic improvement help feed his weekly column at UTW. Simply put, if it's going on in Tulsa, Ray Pearcey knows about it -- and if he has something to say, you definitely want to read his column.
Bill John Baker, Principal Chief for Cherokee Nation
This past October Bill John Baker was sworn in as Principal Chief for Cherokee Tribe. After a few bumps in the road, he defeated the reigning leader, Chad Smith by more than 1,500 votes. He is excited about his new role, noting after the swearing in that it was one of the best days of his life. With such a positive attitude, he is sure to make an equally positive impact. That's something we can all get behind.
Geoffrey Hicks, Artist
Perhaps the premier Oklahoma-based visual artist -- from installations of light bulbs hung above dancers that pulsed to their beat, to repurposing an 800-pound industrial robotic arm by replacing its gripper with a professional digital camera and writing the software to allow the arm to photograph individuals, his masterpieces are truly incomparable.
Vanessa Somerville, Owner of Lot No. 6
Vanessa is an artistic mix: Part badass, part cultured University of Tulsa grad (she studied ceramics) and part gritty bartender. She personifies the spirit of Tulsa's reviving, changing midtown Pearl District along hip East 6th Street. Vanessa worked her way through college bartending all over T-Town while also running another art gallery.
Ashley James, Caree Gamble and Mitch Smith, Brookside Business Owners
Brookside just keeps getting better and better, and we have these Tulsans to thank. With the addition of their new, exciting businesses on Peoria, more local artists and entrepreneurs gain support. James owns MustStash, a unique clothing store that supports local designers; Gamble opened Blackout Clothing Boutique, a cutting edge spot to find new treasures; and Smith leads the stylish team at the vibrant Industre Salon.
Wink Burcham, Musician
After finally releasing his debut CD, Live at the Colony, in 2011, Burcham has become the omnipresent representation of the New Tulsa Sound movement with gigs nearly every night of the week, including Mondays at The Colony, Tuesdays at Mercury Lounge and Wednesdays at Another Round. With a studio album finally scheduled to arrive in early 2012, Burcham is finally hitting his creative stride and getting ready to break into new markets.
Jarred Brejcha, Mayor's Chief of Staff
At only 28, Jarred is already a Republican campaign veteran, having worked on some of the major campaigns in the past eight years. He managed Mayor Bartlett's campaign in 2009, and now he's back as the mayor's new chief of staff, replacing the controversial Terry Simonson.
The new top staffer is also the nephew of former District 3 City Councilor Roscoe Turner. The young politico loves hog hunting, and said he'd use his skills to "get rid of the pork" in city politics.
JD McPherson, Musician
With his debut CD, Signs & Signifiers, McPherson channels the honky-tonk and rockabilly of early rock'n'roll with a genuineness that doesn't make it seem retro or dated. Steady touring behind the disc makes it easy to forget that McPherson lives in Broken Arrow and calls Tulsa home -- until he shows up for a killer show at Mercury Lounge and tears the house down for the hometown crowd.
Brian Horton, Owner of Horton Records
Starting out as one of Tulsa music's biggest fans, Horton started out by attending an uncountable number of shows and posting footage on Facebook. After organizing the New Tulsa Sound sampler and helping get CD's by Paul Benjaman Band, Wink Burcham and Pilgrim released, he has recently stepped up even more, launching Horton Records and releasing no less than eight local albums in the final quarter of 2011 with more to come.
Muriel Hakim, Marketing and Communications Manager for McNellie's Group
It's hard to imagine Tulsa without Elliot Nelson and his magnificent McNellie's group, which includes several local favorite restaurants and bars, like James E. McNellie's, Yokozuna and Fassler Hall. Muriel Hakim handles their public relations and communications, and helps lead Blue Dome district events like the Mardi Gras Parade. McNellie's group rolls up their sleeves for our city all the time, participating in restaurant week and other local fundraisers.
Isaac Rocha, Bama Companies
Some people can really do it all. As someone heavily involved in Tulsa's Young Professionals and as a board member at Tulsa Cares, Tulsa Ballet, YWCA Tulsa and more, Rocha appears to be one of those people. On top of all those extracurricular activities, he also happens to be the associate to the CEO at Bama Companies.
Chase Stites, Musician
The young man who got started with scream act Valmont and pop-punk band Restless Ribbon has set out on his own to exercise his songwriting chops and his gift for huge pop melodies. Positive response to his first few singles has garnered him ABoT music awards for "Best Male Vocalist" twice and "Best Pop/Rock" artist in 2011. A full-length debut CD produced by Geoff Rockwell (Forever the Sickest Kids, Disco Curtis) is due in 2012, but recent efforts like organizing the "Rock for the Homeless" benefit concert prove he's more than just another pretty voice with slick packaging.
Michelle Allen, Senior Communications Officer for Mayor Bartlett
Michelle is another young employee in Mayor Bartlett's offices. As an outspoken spokesperson and senior communications officer for Mayor Bartlett, her name is all over Tulsa media stories about the city of Tulsa. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2006 with a bachelor's in marketing, and the bubbly, whip-smart blonde's career has risen meteorically. In the past five years, she's risen to one of the most important roles in media and public relations in the city.
Kara Fleege, Mrs. Broken Arrow
Let's shape up! This year's Mrs. Broken Arrow has a passion for fitness and health, and wants to inspire you to do the same. Sponsored by Family Security Mortgage and Becky Mullings Photography, Kara Fleege will be working with the National Childhood Obesity Foundation in 2012 to help promote healthy diet and exercise for Oklahoma's children. Now, drop down and give her twenty...or at least a round of applause.
Mary Beth Babcock, Owner of Dwelling Spaces
Livening up Route 66, colorful eye candy in the form of the large-scale mural will be displayed in 11 locations along the famous road. It all started with Rick Sinnett's "Indian Warrior," in the Blue Dome District -- an idea Dwelling Spaces' Mary Beth Babcock dreamed up. She is playing a major role in the growth of public art -- not to mention her recent honor of being named Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Today Magazine. We can't wait to see what else you dream up for Tulsa.
It was truly a year of success stories for restaurants cropping up like delicious wildflowers throughout Metro Tulsa. When the cool kids are catching the hot shows around town, they are bringing their appetites with them. This list of rowdy youngsters that have become mainstays include Mod's Coffee & Crepes, Hey Mambo!, Brady Tavern, Fassler Hall and Treehouse. The newest contenders have also become fast friends with downtowners, and are a diverse group. Back Alley BBQ, Dog House, Juniper, Sushi Place, and the newest guy, Edward Delk's, have an eager fan base and show no signs of slowing down. If you don't frequent downtown, we still have you covered. Check out Waterfront Grill in Jenks, The Ridge Bar and Grill in Broken Arrow or Duke's Southern Kitchen in South Tulsa.
Jonathan Belzley, KMO Development Group, Inc.
Jonathan Belzley, broker and developer at KMO Development Group, is chiefly responsible for bringing street cred to TYPros. He started the Urbanists crew, a section of TYPros which promotes development and recruits young professionals to get involved. Jonathan is an active advocate for revitalizing downtown and making Tulsa more transportation friendly. He also started CharityOkie -- karaoke for a cause -- which raises money for Make a Wish.
Dr. Gerard Clancy, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa President and Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman
He looks a lot like New York Times/ABC pundit David Brooks. He is currently -- this is an amazing set of hats -- president of the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa, a faculty member there, a working psychiatrist, a former Air Force flight surgeon and a wide field innovator who is ramrodding the breakout School of Community Medicine in Tulsa -- a revolutionary effort.
Keith Skrzypczak, Publisher, Urban Tulsa Weekly
Quirky, inquisitive, opinionated, off-the-beaten path, brilliant, and a little on the wild side. You know the paper he founded 20 years ago as Tulsa's alternative newsweekly, but his Bohemian/Polish/Native American and untamed style grows like weeds from his organic understanding of Tulsa. Besides, he knows where all the skeletons are. Thanks for keeping us all on our toes.
Patrick Malloy, Attorney
About two years after Arrow Trucking execs filed for sudden bankruptcy, leaving employees dumbstruck, locked out of the building and completely in the dark, they are paying more than $2 million to more than 600 employees who suffered from a lack of advance warning. Patrick Malloy had to sign each and every check, righting a wrong and finally recognizing the WARN act.
April Madden, Costume Designer
From theater productions to full-scale, nothing short of royal nuptials, April Madden Studio designs the wardrobe, stage construction and every other maddening detail that happens to pop up. Trained at the Art Institute of Dallas but an Okie at heart, April Madden sews and builds the scenes where fairy tales are performed. Some of her recent work was seen in the costuming for "Suessical" the Musical.
The Moai Broadcast, Band
The Moai Broadcast doesn't break the rules associated with rock'n'roll, it simply creates its own. Starting out as a jam inflected electro-rock band, the group has evolved into a more organic sound. When it needed its own outlet, it created the Easter Island Festival (now planning its 3rd incarnation in April). The band even records every show, with plans to release every gig online via Cheese Factory Radio. This is the Tulsa band that is taking its future into its own hands and creating its own opportunities.
"Rainbow Girl" Lauren Lunsford, Artist
Lauren's gone by the name "Rainbow Girl" for years, after a gallery manager suggested it after he saw her sketches and paintings. Once you see Rainbow Girl's psychedelic, colorful, wild and wonderful art, you'll see why she adopted the moniker. She collaborates with artists everywhere from Austin to New York City, and also manages to squeeze in environmental and recycling work to turn Tulsa another color: green.
Michael Sager, Developer of Blue Dome District
The Blue Dome Arts Festival coincides with Mayfest, but features local artists only. Michael Sager donates his Blue Dome district (2nd and 3rd streets and Elgin) to the festival, which includes all types of art, from paintings to textiles and handmade soaps to metal sculptures. At the hands of talented artists and Sager's facilitation, the Blue Dome Arts Festival is picking up speed and each year attracts more and more art-loving locals.
Heather Hall, Choreographer
She's choreographed not one, but two Hanson videos, she's flash mobbed "Thriller" all over town, and she's coming off Tulsa Project Theatre's critical and commercial smash Seussical. She balanced that against her wedding and a mission trip to Spain this year. Next year? More of the same: she'll work with TPT again on Annie, and has a not-ready-for-public-mention gig coming up in an unnamed (but quite musical) city. All in all, nice moves.
Jeremy Geiger, Performer
One of the newer faces to grace Tulsa stages with some frequency of late, Geiger brings a wealth of experience to the Tulsa stage. His onstage presence is huge -- and convincing. His turn in Theatre Pops' 9/11 drama The Guys allowed him to flex his acting muscles in a way lighter fare like A Christmas Carol does not. Look for him to settle into the director's chair this year, and it's a good bet he'll be doing some Shakespeare outdoors at some point.
Blake Smith, Select Cinemas co-owner
Ever since the calamitous burning of the Admiral Twin Drive-In in 2010 owner Blake Smith has done everything he can (with the help of giving community and some private backers) to bring that Tulsa tradition back for a new generation of families and film geeks. Though it's been slow going, Smith didn't take the easy way out and now the summer of 2012 promises to reward his -- and Tulsa's -- perseverance.
Dr. Barry Epperly, Artistic Director of the Performing Arts Institute at TCC
This talented Tulsan founded the Signature Symphony in 1979 and has been the Artistic Director and conductor ever since. As the Director of the Performing Arts Institute at TCC since 1995, Dr. Barry Epperly spreads his passion for music to the young people of our city. He has created music education partnerships between professional orchestras and public schools. Thanks to Dr. Epperly for being a role model for kids seeking artistic fulfillment.
Dan Cameron, Promoter of Cam's Grocery
Cameron is a gangly guy with steely eyes, formal training as a physical anthropologist and a deep "ag" background. His vivid Tulsa plan: open a new 7,000 sq. ft. downtown grocery store, Cam's Grocery, in the Blue Dome District at S. Detroit Ave. Tasty treats. We expect produce in 2012--or else we'll start one.
RL Jones, Band/Musician
No frills, no gimmicks: just straight forward, in-your-face rock'n'roll. Just when we were beginning to worry about the lack of a good, down and dirty hard rock band in Tulsa, RL Jones stepped up with a fistful of killer tunes, a new EP and the pedigree to wake Tulsa back up and stand it on its ear.
Simon Estes Foundation
Cultivators of knowledge and fosterers of opportunities so that young Tulsans with promise (but not the means) are awarded the support they need to attend college, better their circumstances and contribute their gifts to our community. A little-known, but powerful organization.
Chris Wollard, Artist
Robot Metal Artist Extraordinaire. Wollard has more than 10 years of experience making metal sculptures, such as the Robo Rocket Samurai, currently on display at Dwelling Spaces. Is the one named "Dorkbot" autobiographical? You may have met him at this year's Tulsa Art Visual Tour as a participating artist.
Amie Roberg, Owner of CastleCom
Amie Roberg is the TYPro who pushed the hardest and had the most perseverance to make The Forge, which fosters new business development, a reality. The Forge helps ideas and dreams take shape. Roberg, along with her husband, owns CastleCom, a business communications company which services hundreds of small to medium-sized Tulsa businesses with phone and voicemail systems, cabling and video conferencing needs. While the economy is having a hard time rebounding from 2008, people like Roberg help ensure a full recovery.
Matt Norris, Fab Lab Tulsa President
Do you have a brilliant idea, but need help bringing it to life? Fab Lab can help you design and develop almost anything you can dream up. Their mission is improving the quality of life by providing the community with the tools to create and engineer new products. Entrepreneurs and artists alike are thankful that Matt Norris brought this great concept from MIT to Tulsa.
Brett Murphy and Darren Lister, Hideaway Pizza Owners
Since 1957 Hideaway Pizza has been making the cut on lists like this, and with good reason. Locals' mouths water at the thought of their unique sauce, perfect dough and creative topping combinations. Hideaway's starters, like their Famous Fried Mushrooms, and even their salads and sandwiches cause cravings. Clearly the first (almost) 50 years were just the beginning for this much-loved family restaurant. All this won the pizza joint a spot in Food Network's selection of best pizzas in America. One Paradise Pie to go, please.
Heidi Ducato, Mrs. Oklahoma 2010
Heidi Ducato's platform at the Mrs. Oklahoma pageant in 2010 was for the American Heart Association -- inspired by her aunt's frightening heart attack during a routine shopping excursion. She had no idea what was happening at the time and realized later that so many other people wouldn't have known either. Since that experience, she has made it her mission to spread the word about heart health and the "Go Red for Women" campaign.
Kasey St. John, INCOG
Kasey St. John is the transportation public outreach planner at INCOG, where she's focused on Tulsa's first Regional Transit System Plan. She is the co-leader elect for the TYPros Urbanist crew, getting other young professionals involved in the community. She is receiving a national planning award for her work on the FAST Forward Regional Transit Plan, which could save Tulsans hundreds of dollars per month in car-related expenses. With Kasey's help, we can see the future, and it looks good.
Brittany Sawyer, Metro Maven LLC Owner
People like Sawyer help make Tulsa look good. She owns Metro Maven, LLC, a public relations and communications firm, with clients like SJS Hospitality and One Developers. Actively involved in groups such as Tulsa's Young Professionals, Sawyer focuses on community and economic development.
Josh Lynch, Owner of Dog House
There are two kinds of dog lovers in this world: Those who enjoy the company of furry friends and those who like to stuff their faces with sausage. Thanks to Lynch, Tulsans in the latter category are racing to the Dog House, where over two dozen imaginative versions of delicious hot dogs are proudly served. With names like Yoda, Hell Hound and The Bandit, you know these aren't your average franks.
Michael Christian, Assistant Vice President of Alternative Investments for Bank of Oklahoma
A former chair member of TYPros, which he joined in 2005 after moving to Tulsa, Michael Christian contributes greatly to many community efforts and is a rising star at Bank of Oklahoma. Christian's impeccable leadership skills came in handy when TYPros endorsed their first ever school bond in 2010. He was also on the board of directors at the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Although he's originally from Seattle, his heart has found a home here.
Donnie Gendron, Owner of Fishbonz Group
Fishbonz has long been a favorite local bar, hosting popular bands and karaoke nights, with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly drink prices. Gradually, owner Donnie Gendron has taken its success and turned it into a family of hot spots, including CJ Moloney's, the Market Pub and Rooster's Cocktails. Each has that same comfortable, laid-back feel, and has served as model for other clubs around town.
Angela Evans, Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum
Zoo-tiful: In an effort to overcome budget issues and improve local services, this year the city appointed a private organization to manage the Tulsa Zoo. Angela Evans, their PR and Marketing Coordinator, has been an integral part of the smooth transition. With about 600,000 visitors per year, the Tulsa Zoo shows no signs of slowing down. She's also remarkably good at causing a mouth-watering reaction with her UTW food reviews.
Kristin Chenoweth, Performer
Who can resist this gal's charms? Born and raised a proud Oklahoman, Chenoweth has captured hearts and die-hard fans from Broadway to Nashville and all the way to Hollywood. When she's not recording a country album or filming her latest TV show, she cheers on the OKC Thunder via Twitter. She obviously hasn't forgotten her roots -- for that, and many other reasons, we simply adore her.
Ben and Noelle Kilgore, Musicians
Most Tulsa music fans already know and love Ben Kilgore's voice from his time in The Hero Factor. Add wife Noelle to the mix, however, and you've got a magical chemistry and the grace to balance the power of his vocals. Working together to lead worship at Venue 68 on Sunday evenings and releasing Sacred Songs (as well as running Shoe Gypsy on Cherry St.) is only the beginning as we watch for a more mainstream pop album from this pair in the future.
Amanda Blair, Executive Manager of Sales and Marketing for the Tulsa State Fair
As Executive Manager of Sales and Marketing at the Tulsa State Fair, Amanda Blair played a huge role in making the event bigger and better than ever in 2011. Over a million attendees were seduced by the fried food, thrilling rides and the nostalgia-inducing sounds of MC Hammer. Smartphone users got a leg up when they downloaded the new iPhone app, allowing them to plan their day at the fair in advance. Along with keeping the fair alive, Blair also volunteers for the United Way and Salvation Army.
G.J. Kinne, TU Quarterback
Kinne would likely defer his lofty spot on the list to his offensive line and rightfully so. Now the only question remaining is simple: Would TU fans choose Kinne or Paul Smith for a fourth quarter, down-by-four with three minutes left on the clock game-winning drive?
John D. Red Eagle, Principal Chief for Osage Nation
John D. Red Eagle has been in office little more than a year, but his passion for service to the tribe and community is already legendary. He keeps an updated website and blog, where anyone can stay aware of the latest issues that need to be addressed and read his reasoning behind making certain decisions. After one glance at what he writes, it's easy to see he knows his stuff and has the people of Osage Nation's best interests at heart.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Band
JFJO may be touring internationally and garnering praise worldwide, but the ensemble returned home to Tulsa -- both literally and figuratively -- for The Race Riot Suite. Recorded at The Church Studios, it tells the story of Tulsa's 1921 race riot and is one of the most moving releases of 2011, regardless of genre.
Brian Paschal, Tulsa's Young Professionals Executive Director
He runs The Forge and is executive director of Tulsa's TYPros. The Forge is a small business "nursery" in downtown Tulsa: a spot where micro ventures are sparking up, swaddled by the energy of the arts districts, Tulsa's new ballpark and the kinetic BOK Center.
Brandon Clark, Musician
Logging roughly 300 shows each year between solo performances and band gigs, Clark is one of the hardest working men on the Tulsa music scene. Three consecutive ABoT Music Awards to his band for "Best Red Dirt" and two consecutive "Artist of the Year" show that UTW readers agree that he's an artist to watch.
Judi Grove, Turn Tulsa Pink Organizer
For less than $30, Judi transformed herself from a 33-year cervical cancer survivor into "Tallula Tulsa," the fairy godmother of Turn Tulsa Pink, a campaign to raise awareness for all types of cancers. Judi is chairwoman and head cheerleader of the campaign, but she's also the founder of Breast Impressions, a nonprofit that helps support women struggling with body image during and after cancer.
Shane Hood, Modern Tulsa Founder
Shane, with his distinctively long beard and sharp eye for design, is at the helm of Modern Tulsa. The creative nonprofit organization works to preserve mid-century modern buildings in Tulsa, and to educate the public on how to look for (and appreciate) modern design. Shane is a graphic artist who started up design firm ElevenTH with partner Mary Tepera Jones. He also owns a refurbished home in Lortondale with his wife, and is on the board of trustees for the Tulsa Foundation of Architecture.
Chad Oliverson, Actor
Probably best-known for his seven consecutive turns as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Show, Oliverson's not just a pretty face. 2012 will see him continue his work on initiating Tulsa's own Fringe Festival and spearheading a theater hub website. Add that to his day job of marketing and producing SummerStage, and he's a busy man. Look for him to appear onstage again later this year -- to the delight of all.
Tonya Pitzer, Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest had a record-breaking turnout in 2011, due to beautiful weather and efforts to make an already fun event even better. As the spokeswoman for Oktoberfest and the River Parks Authority, Tonya Pitzer spread the word about the exciting changes, prompting thousands more locals to join the party. Along with the beer and brats, new circus-like tents and a race called the Lederhosen Lauf helped draw crowds to the event.
Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church
Lavanhar leads one of the largest Unitarian Universalist congregations in the world -- and the church's popularity just continues to grow. Their recent plans to expand and build a new facility downtown is proof that people who are looking for answers or a spiritual body to belong to, can find a home -- or at least a good starting place -- at All Souls Unitarian Church.
Jeff Howard, Director of Culinary Arts Operations at Platt College
We like to eat, so there is a special place in our hearts for those who like to cook. Turning out some of the region's top chefs, Platt College of Culinary Arts and the Pastry Arts program receive top-notch gratitude from foodies and those weary of the kitchen. Thanks for all the slicin', dicin' and delicious eats servin'.
Melanie Fry, Artist
From playing Joyce Martel for American Theatre Company, to directing plays such as Grace and Glorie, this Tulsa Artist is a multi-talented powerhouse who brought the OH, Tulsa! exhibit to Living Arts in 2011. The exhibit gave selected local artist the chance to make a statement about living in Tulsa and was a huge success.
Valentin Esparza, Fashion Designer
Professionally known for documenting Tulsa with his graphic line drawings of local landmarks such as the Golden Driller, Tulsa Art Deco and Blue Dome, he is moving T-Town fashion up the ladder. Once he taught himself to sew, he decided to design an entire collection of women's apparel.
Nicci Atchley, Girl-About-Town, Blogger and UTW Contributor
Nicci Atchley is the ultimate cool girl. With a blog that features topics like "How to Date a Rockstar" and "The Art of Sexiness," she exudes confidence and intelligence. Atchley's a girls' girl, even appealing to the ones who'd first be prone to hate her for being so popular. She's funny, honest and relatable. What's not to love?
Todd Cunningham, Tulsa Project Theatre Executive Director and Producer
Perhaps the most exciting arts group in years come to town and now having settled into its new, re-discovered, full-time home in the Convention Center's Assembly Hall (get out the GPS). With an ability to appeal to younger and older, hipper and nerdier, whatever-ier audiences (sometimes with the same show), TPT's stock is on the rise. Look for a continuation of its season formula: do something classic, something newer, something for families, something funny, and throw some music in as a part of it all.
Mindy Layon, Tim and Lori Dreiling, Embassy Suites Tulsa Director of Group Sales and Co-Owners of Fleet Feet Sports, respectively
If you felt like a fat turkey after Thanksgiving, chances are you ran off that extra weight at the Turkey Trot downtown. Kicking off Winterfest, the Turkey Trot was held on Black Friday and benefitted the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. Tulsa's streets host thousands of runners each year but this trot nearly tripled in participation and donated $19,000 to the Tulsa Day Center.
Confidence Omenai, Poet
With an unusual name comes this unusual, inspirational spoken word poet. Since 2005, Confidence has traveled the country as a performance poet, while balancing life as a single mother to four children. She organizes poetry readings all over T-Town, and teaches a workshop called "Live Fearless" to young girls in Tulsa Public Schools. Through her powerful reading style and enlightening poetry, Confidence tells an inspiring ongoing tale of growth, persistence and life after childhood abuse and poverty.
Libby Auld, Entrepreneur
Being the owner of a successful downtown restaurant isn't enough for Libby Auld, of Elote Café and Catering. She wants to see downtown Tulsa grow into the buzzing area she knows it can be. Auld believes retail is the only thing missing, now that we have plenty of restaurants and entertainment in the area. So, what better way to start than with pop up shops? With her help, these temporary stores opened for one month to get Tulsans excited about the prospect of permanent shops downtown.
Cody Clinton and Desirae Roses, Musicians
Cody Clinton had already established himself on the music scene with his solo work and Miniver Cheevy, but when girlfriend Desirae Roses stepped into the picture, sparks flew. Roses draws the best out of Clinton's writing and he, in turn, pushes her to greater heights as well, making this one of the most intriguing and engaging duos in town -- and they've barely begun their musical journey together.
David and Jamie Fitzgerald, Owners of DCF Concerts
DCF Concerts continues to keep a finger on the pulse of what's hot and happening on the music scene. Whether booking shows alone or pairing up with Doc Roc Productions or Z104.5 (for Brady Block Party and The Edge's Ugly Christmas Sweater concert), DCF continued to book some of the year's hottest shows in the Brady District as well as other markets like OKC and Wichita.
Susan Neal, TU Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Economic Development
Medical schools are our most powerful and least understood institutions. And Oklahoma sports some of the worst health metrics in America. An intellectual/funding posse has rallied behind the new OU/TU School of Community Medicine as the project is about to take off in downtown's Hartford Building. The OU/TU School of Community Medicine -- our most important institutional initiative in a generation.
Sara Bowersock, Artist
Sara's rock'n'roll art nearly knocks the socks off unsuspecting Dwelling Spaces customers. The Tulsa-based artist imbues her funky portraits with a whimsical and wild Warholian pop-art quality. Through hand-cut stencils, acrylic and spray paint, Sara channels the spirits, emotions and color of characters that range from a Native American chief to Woody Guthrie, and from David Bowie to Dracula and the Beatles.
John Cruncleton, Art Director of Nightingale Theater
Striding boldly into unknown territory several times a year, Cruncleton's Midwestern Theatre Troupe (housed in The Nightingale Theater) is the very last place you'll find conventional theater -- or conventional anything else, for that matter. Putting up original works, experimental shows, and most recently a piece by Mae West, there's something being said over there on 4th Street. Don't miss out on the message.
Blake Ewing, City Councilor District 4 and Entrepreneur
He's the most anticipated new city counselor in a generation -- serial entrepreneur, business guru and an imaginative policy guy. Many people expect he'll do magic on the Tulsa City Council -- thoughtful work would be plenty.
Costa Stasinopoulos, Music Producer
Defining Stasinopoulos: Dead Sea Choir member known for his haunting vocal harmonies, a song writer and a music producer known for his tight glitchy beats. Whether working at Church Studios or Blackwatch, he stays true to his preference for fueling himself with Gatorade and nicotine, and working into the wee hours. His method is working. His recent production project, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's latest album, The Race Riot Suite, is receiving rave reviews.
Winston Peraza, Co-Owner of Cubic Creative and President of Art Directors Club
Creative catalyst, social entrepreneur, thought-provoking leader, colorful. As the Chief Creative Officer of Cubic Creative, President of Art Directors Club of Tulsa, and Board Member of Fab Lab, he puts the movement in moving and shaking.
Teresa G. Garrison, SJS Hospitality
Teresa G. Garrison is passionate about making Tulsa a better place. She attends monthly Deco District meetings, sits on the board of trustees for the Hispanic American Foundation and is a committee member of MS Society/MS Walk. She's actively involved in our community, from politics to fundraising.
Josh Massad, Percussionist and Project CREATES Educator
Studies have shown that music benefits children and, with a belief in that philosophy, Josh Massad and the people of Project CREATES bring music education to Tulsa's schools. They infuse music into regular classes and students inevitably get more excited about learning and more confident in their creativity. We are thankful for teachers and programs like this which will undoubtedly have a lasting positive impact on Tulsa's kids.
Elliot Nelson, McNellie's Group
Be it an Irish pub, a Mexican cantina or Japanese fish house, this imaginative man marries culture with delicious food and serves it up in style. His latest venture, Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, puts the nostalgia back in the bowling pin and adds a little flavor to the classic concession stand. We can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for 2012.
Danny Ewing, Owasso Advocate
This former Owasso Mayor and businessman is one of the many reasons the Tulsa Metro suburb of Owasso is thriving. He also services his community as an active member of Owasso's Rotary Club, where the mission is to put others before oneself. Ewing puts smiles on many faces--from running a successful jewelry business to helping people in need.
Jamie Jamieson, "New Urbanist" Real Estate Developer
This managing partner at The Village Builders, LLC isn't afraid to dream big. Jamie Jamieson is elbow-deep in Tulsa projects and associations, including the Transportation Advisory Board, Congress for the New Urbanism, Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and Alliance for an Accessible City.
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