Ready to work

As Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum prepares to take office, he readies his staff and aligns his priorities for Tulsa.



Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum says he gave himself one night to celebrate his June 28 election victory over incumbent Mayor Dewey Bartlett. 

The celebration went into the early hours, but when he awoke at 5 a.m., Bynum was ready to go to work to be fully prepared when he’s sworn into office Dec. 5. 

In reality, his work began immediately after accepting Bartlett’s phone call conceding the race. In the three weeks after the election, Bynum and his business partner went through the legal process for Bynum to leave Capitol Ventures, the consulting company he founded. 

“I had said during the campaign that I’d be a full-time mayor and that starts with the transition,” Bynum explains. “This is a business I started on my own ... just two weeks after my daughter was born, so I’ve always thought in terms of watching her and it grow. It was a little bittersweet to leave it behind, but I’m just so excited to get into the mayor’s job. I’m leaving one good thing for another one.”

Bynum’s Tulsa roots run through the mayor’s office. His great-great grandfather, R.N. Bynum, was Tulsa’s second mayor. His grandfather, Robert J. LaFortune, served as mayor from 1970-1978, and his cousin, Bill LaFortune, served as mayor from 2002-2006.

Even Bynum’s current Philtower office has ties to the mayor’s office. Bynum says it was for many years occupied by Tulsa’s 30th mayor, James M. Hewgley Jr., who rented the space following his departure from the mayor’s office. 

“This was his office for decades,” Bynum says. “It happened to be available, so we thought, ‘That’s good karma,’ because he was such a great man. We knew we could work out of his office for a few months and put us on a good path to City Hall.”

Bynum has spent a lot of time reading biographies of various presidents to learn how they handled their transitions into office. He jokes that there aren’t many books that provide insight into the transition from citizen to mayor. Because of the city charter’s change to non-partisan elections four years ago, there is a five-month gap between election and installation.

“I came across this great quote about (Abraham) Lincoln, where he referred to creating his staff after being elected as a constantly shifting crossword puzzle because one decision impacts all these others,” Bynum says. “As soon as you change that decision, it makes other things move around, which is definitely the case. The great thing about having so much time is it has allowed us to be very deliberate and very mindful with each ask and each hire.” (At press time, Bynum had hired 10 staff members. More on that on that later.)

When it comes to running the mayor’s office, Bynum is comfortable and ready to work on policies. He credits his time working in Sen. Don Nickles’ and Sen. Tom Coburn’s offices and his eight years on the city council in preparing him for that aspect of his job.

It’s the management of thousands of employees that is a big challenge for Bynum entering the mayor’s office. That’s why he reached out to a lot of CEOs from major companies in Tulsa for advice.

“Thankfully, all of them have been incredibly generous with their time and offering to provide me their advice on how you run an enterprise, how you make it a great place for the employees and how you stay focused on your mission.

“I’ve met with Chet Cadieux at QuikTrip, Steven Bradshaw at Bank of Oklahoma and Randy Foutch with Laredo and have a number of others to meet with. It has been incredibly helpful.” 

As soon as Bynum and his team step into the mayor’s office, they will have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. Bynum has met with all the former mayors since winning his election. He says the biggest piece of advice has been the same across the board.

“What I learned from all of them is your first 100 days are so important to set the tone for the whole administration, so we’ve spent a lot of time looking at things, “ Bynum says. 

“We’re fortunate that I ran on a pretty specific agenda from a policy standpoint. I ran on making us nationally competitive, changing our relationship with the county, changing the way we work with the schools and doing more to make sure kids in north Tulsa have the same opportunities as kids in the rest of the city.”

It’s the last point that helped ignite Bynum’s urgency in running for mayor. A father of two, he says reading a report on the life expectancy of north Tulsa children was the catalyst in his decision to seek the mayor’s office. 

G.T. Bynum will be sworn in as Tulsa’s 40th mayor on Dec. 5.

“It was when I heard the life expectancy disparity between a kid that’s born in north Tulsa and a kid born in south Tulsa is 12 years,” Bynum says.  “If you heard someone’s being robbed of 12 years of their life, that’s terrible.” 

The obligation he feels to improve that statistic is rooted in more than just civic improvements. 

“My first thought was, ‘What if those are my kids?’” Bynum asks. “The parents of those kids love their kids just as much as I do. Who is trying to help them? Who is doing their part to change that? They ought to have a mayor who’s doing everything possible to change that.”

Bynum says he has four years to do his best possible job. After that, he and his wife will decide whether he will run again and then leave it to the voters. During his campaign, Bynum said he would serve a max of two terms if all goes as planned. 

“I have no idea what I’m going to do eight years from now,” Bynum says. “I didn’t have any idea eight years ago what I’d be doing right now. I didn’t know 18 months ago what I’d be doing right now. 

“I didn’t run for this to climb a ladder. I ran for this because I love this city and I love the job of mayor. It’s a dream come true to have been elected. Now I want to be the best mayor of Tulsa. That’s my only focus, and you’ll see that in the work that we do.”

 

Team Bynum

Brandon Oldham, mayor’s aide; Kimberly Madden, mayor’s executive aide; Michael Junk, deputy mayor; James Wagner, chief of performance strategy; G.T. Bynum; Jack Blair, chief of staff; Amy Brown, deputy chief of staff; Jonathan Townsend, assistant to the mayor for community development and policy; Christina Starzl Mendoza, assistant to the mayor for community development and policy; and Nick Doctor, chief of community development and policy.

 

All in a day’s work

Just because he hasn’t taken office yet doesn’t mean Bynum isn’t pounding the pavement. He describes a typical day in the life of a full-time dad and mayor-elect.

 

6-8 a.m. 
G.T. Bynum awakes and does household chores, reads the Tulsa World, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal before helping kids Annabel and Robert get ready for school.

8-10 a.m.
Breakfast at Atlas Grill, then proactively tackling a mountain of work before the day’s meetings begin. 

10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting, most of the time in 30-minute increments.

3 p.m. 
Picks up kids from school.

3:30-6 p.m. 
Works from home while kids do homework.

6-8 p.m.
Dinner, sports practices or school activities.

8-10 p.m. 
Kids go to bed. More working from home while wife Susan does law school homework.

 



Meet three of the mayor’s top staffers

Tulsa’s city charter allows the mayor to hire up to 17 at-will positions in his office. Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum says in reality the budget makes it possible for him to hire six to eight people to fill his staff. No one from the previous administration will remain on staff. Bynum says everyone did a great job, but there was a clear mandate for change in the election, so they will start with a clean slate.

Two positions, deputy mayor and chief of staff, were filled immediately since they would inform future hires. Bynum says all other positions were filled well before he becomes mayor so his team can immediately go to work.

To prepare for making his staff appointments, Bynum studied books about leaders, including Steve Jobs and a couple of highly successful coaches. 

“When you think of successful leadership, you have to look at successful coaches,” Bynum says. “Both Bill Belichick and Mike Kryzewski, they don’t say, ‘Here’s my system, and I’m going to find people to fit. I need a square peg to fit in a square hole.’ They go and find the best players they can, and then they develop their system around them. 

“I wanted to find the best people I could and figure out what job might work. We have visited with a number of people in that regard.”

 

Michael Junk, deputy mayor

Duties: Responsible for the City’s partnerships with federal, state and tribal governments.

Background: Manager for Bynum’s mayoral campaign; former state policy director for Sen. James Inhofe.


As soon as he received Bartlett’s concession, Bynum pulled Junk aside to ask him to be deputy mayor. 

“It’s a role some mayors have used and others have not,” Bynum says. “In my mind, the use of it is really specific to his skill set, which is having someone that can go work with our federal delegation and our state government in leveraging other resources that are available to improve the City of Tulsa.” 

Junk worked in the U.S. Senate for a decade in the offices of Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe. “He also will be my other set of eyes and ears when commitments require my attendance in more than one place at a time,” Bynum adds.

 

Jack Blair, chief of staff

Duties: Working together, he and Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Brown will assist in the day-to-day administration of the City.

Background: Current policy administrator for the Tulsa City Council; previously worked as an assistant attorney general for the Muscogee Creek Nation.


Less than 24 hours after Bynum won, he called Blair to request a meeting before the next council meeting.

“Of course, classic Jack, he thought I wanted to meet with him to get research on what other people had budgeted in the mayor’s office, never thinking I wanted to ask him to come on board,” Bynum says. “So, I met with him and he had all this research put together, and I told him, ‘I think you and I have worked so well on the council, I can’t imagine being mayor without you on the team. I’d really like you to come be chief of staff.’ He very correctly wanted some time to talk to his wife about it and think about it. Then he said he was on board.”

 

Amy Brown, deputy chief of staff

Duties: In tandem with Blair, she will assist in day-to-day operations.

Background: Formerly Bynum’s aide on the Tulsa City Council; currently completing her law degree at the University of Tulsa; previously worked in Mayor Kathy Taylor’s administration. 


“Amy brings an in-depth understanding of the City’s operations, its land use policies, its policy development processes and my thinking on virtually every area of City governance,” Bynum says.

 

 

On Nov. 6, Bynum announced the remainder of his team members: former Mayor Kathy Taylor, chief of economic development; James Wagner, chief of performance strategy and innovation; Nick Doctor, chief of community development and policy; Jonathan Townsend, assistant to the mayor for community development and policy; Christina Starzl Mendoza, assistant to the mayor for community development and policy; Kimberly Madden, mayor’s executive aide; and Brandon Oldham, mayor’s aide.

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February 2019

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Friday, February 22, 2019 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Oklahoma State University - Tulsa Conference Meeting Room: North Hall, Room 150 The 2019 Chautauqua will focus on the relationship between family...

Cost: $20-$75

Where:
OSU-Tulsa
700 N. Greenwood Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: OSU Center for Family Resilience and the OSU Center for Wellness and Recovery
Contact Name: Dr. Amanda Harrist
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The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

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Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

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34th Chelsea International Fine Art Competition—Opens on February 5th, 2019   Agora Gallery is pleased to invite artists from across the globe to enter the 34th Annual Chelsea...

Cost: $45 entry fee for up to 5 images ($5 for each additional image)

Where:
Agora Gallery
530 W 25th St.
New York, NY  10001
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Sponsor: Agora Gallery
Telephone: +1 212-226-4151
Contact Name: Carolina Carilo
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Winter's Grace Publishing, of northeast Oklahoma, is holding its inaugural Dead of Winter Flash Fiction Contest. It opened January 1 and it closes February 28. It's open to all creative writers...

Cost: $15 per story

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Winter's Grace Publishing
Telephone: 918-852-6311
Contact Name: C.D. Smart
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Sweets & Cream will be reopening Friday, February 22 at 3PM! Come on by for a $1.99 ice cream cookie sandwich and give a small donation to the Tips for Charity effort to help support our local...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Sweets & Cream
1114 S Yale Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74112
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Sponsor: Sweets & Cream
Telephone: 918-633-3182
Contact Name: Erik Collins
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5:00-6:00 Nature & Madness is the contemplative indie-folk project of Ryan Pickop. Ryan's work is rooted in Americana, rooted in the Earth. Challenging without being confrontational, we are offered...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heirloom Rustic Ales
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: Heirloom Rustic Ales

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Solo performance. Originally from the OKC area, Adrienne Gilley is a vocalist, guitar player, songwriter. Drawing from co-writers and influential mentors and supporters in the Tulsa music scene,...

Cost: Tipping encouraged

Where:
The Colony
2809 S. Harvard
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sample various whiskey, have dinner and hear some fabulous music! 

Cost: 150.00

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Lindsey House
Telephone: 918-933-5222
Contact Name: Diana Denny
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JAKE OWEN Multiple chart-topping singer/songwriter Jake Owen’s new single “Down To The Honkytonk” is rapidly climbing the Billboard Country Airplay charts. With seven #1 songs to...

Cost: $50, $75, $100

Where:
Osage Casino
Tulsa, OK

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Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
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Join us for the 59th Annual Book Fair! Saturday, February 23, 2019 8:00 am–3:00 pm Holland Hall Primary School Gym Open to the public. Tickets $1, 18 and under free. No RSVP required,...

Cost: $1

Where:
Holland Hall Primary School
5666 E. 81 St.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Sponsor: Holland Hall
Telephone: 918-481-1111
Contact Name: Heather Brasel
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The Orbit Initiative, produced by The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust, resumes its FREE community satellite adventures at seven local community centers this Saturday, January 12th, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Various
Tulsa, OK  Various
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Sponsor: The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust
Telephone: 918-596-7119
Contact Name: Jeremy Stevens
Website »

More information

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Pain Management Class Non-medical Treatments for Pain Non-medical treatments may be used to treat chronic pain, along with pain medicines. They might also be used alone for mild pain or...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Glenpool Library
730 E. 141st Street
Glenpool, OK  74033
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Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

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34th Chelsea International Fine Art Competition—Opens on February 5th, 2019   Agora Gallery is pleased to invite artists from across the globe to enter the 34th Annual Chelsea...

Cost: $45 entry fee for up to 5 images ($5 for each additional image)

Where:
Agora Gallery
530 W 25th St.
New York, NY  10001
View map »


Sponsor: Agora Gallery
Telephone: +1 212-226-4151
Contact Name: Carolina Carilo
Website »

More information

Winter's Grace Publishing, of northeast Oklahoma, is holding its inaugural Dead of Winter Flash Fiction Contest. It opened January 1 and it closes February 28. It's open to all creative writers...

Cost: $15 per story

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Winter's Grace Publishing
Telephone: 918-852-6311
Contact Name: C.D. Smart
Website »

More information

Youth members of the six area Boys & Girls Clubs compete for college scholarships in the Annual Youth of the Year competition. The winners are announced at this banquet. Volunteers making a...

Cost: $75

Where:
ORU Global Learning Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
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Cocktails, dinner and program with live and silent auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
Website »

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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun!  New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun! New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational incarceration,...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond Event Center
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cocktails, dinner and program;  silent and live auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
Website »

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Support youth leaders emerging from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Each candidate is competing for higher education scholarships. Our goal is for youth leader to be a winner and advance with...

Cost: $50 Individual Tickets and Sponsor Levels

Where:
Global Learning Center at ORU
7777 S Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
Website »

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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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6-10:30 p.m. Southern Hills Country Club, 2636 E. 61st Street. The 2019 Lunar New Year Gala at Southern Hills Country Club will be an elegant evening of candlelight, fine dining, children’s party...

Cost: $150, individual tickets; $1,000-$25,000, sponsorships.

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Dillon International
Telephone: 918-748-5613
Contact Name: Marcia Graham
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COOKING UP COMPASSION FACT SHEET ABOUT THE EVENT:  Long time donors Margo and Kent Dunbar are Honorary Chairs for the event. Now in its fourteenth year, Cooking Up Compassion raises funds for the...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Ballroom at the Cox Business Center
3rd & Houston
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Catholic Charities
Telephone: 918-508-7115
Contact Name: Jennifer Allen
Website »

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Winterset is an annual formal event of the Osteopathic Founders Foundation which brings together the osteopathic profession and their community partners to benefit projects which improve the health...

Cost: $300

Where:
Hyatt Regency Tulsa
100 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Osteopathic Founders Foundation
Telephone: 918-551-7300
Contact Name: Michele Caine
Website »

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Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

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TULtalk


Art film meets dance at Oklahoma Dance Film Festival

This year's program features more than 20 films from around the world, presented on Sunday at the Central Library.

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2.4: #KnopeLife — Anna America

Anna America took the helm at Tulsa’s Parks and Recreation department in the fall of 2018, but she is certainly no stranger to life in the public eye.

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7 strategies to help you make the A-LIST

The competition is tough for small businesses on our annual readers' choice survey, but a few smart strategies can help you get ahead.

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“Sunday in the Park” is no walk in the park

American Theatre Company prepares for the Oklahoma premiere of the very technically challenging “Sunday in the Park with George,” Feb. 15-24

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2.3: Get that “Woo!” — Tom Basler

A conversation with dueling piano phenom Tom Basler about his many reinventions, both personal and professional.

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