I am Tulsa - Mike Villafuerte
A partnership between TulsaPeople Magazine and Tulsa’s Young Professionals
When Mike Villafuerte isn’t booking venues, calling vendors or scheduling entertainment through his event-planning business based in Tulsa, he can be found sitting in a classroom at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
For the past year and a half, Villafuerte has commuted between Tulsa and D.C., where he is working toward his master’s degree in event management. Each month, he heads to the East Coast for a few days at a time to attend class, visit with his professors and participate in classroom projects.
“Rather than scheduling a 90-minute class twice a week for several weeks, it compresses some courses into two or five days of intensive training every month,” he says. “… The faculty are themselves event planners who have created engagements ranging from intimate dinners for visiting dignitaries to the Capital Jazz Festival to parties at the White House.”
He says he spaces out his trips, although his friends sometimes question why he travels so far for school because they say he has natural talent.
“It’s just important to me to learn this business from the best and to have the credentials that will allow my clients to feel more comfortable that I know what I am doing,” he says.
As the owner of Notable Events, Villafuerte is one of the city’s many talented young professionals who chose to center their career in Tulsa.
With a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas in Denton, Villafuerte made the jump from the news industry to event planning after spending a few years in broadcasting, which originally brought him to Tulsa to work the assignments desk at Fox23 News.
Villafuerte says that after leaving television, his decision to open his business in Tulsa was because of “the opportunity Tulsa has and it embraces its young professionals.”
For two years, Notable Events has catered to weddings, corporate functions, executive retreats, martini parties, launch parties and theme parties, to name a few. Last year, one of Villafuerte’s clients was Mayor Kathy Taylor. One of her staff members asked Villafuerte to plan the city’s annual picnic at the zoo for 3,000 City of Tulsa employees.
“It was a tremendous honor to organize an event recognizing the contribution of all the great people who work for our city,” he says.
Villafuerte is a one-man show working from his home furnished in early 1900s décor and art deco, including an original Louis Vuitton trunk, a 1907 Steinway parlor grand piano and several martini shakers and glassware. He describes his personal style as whimsical with “a touch of class, but paying attention to details, details, details.”
Despite Villafuerte’s cross-country schedule and his thriving new business, he stays active in Tulsa’s Young Professionals (TYPros). Currently, he’s active with the Special Events and Diversity crews, although he spent his first two years in TYPros focusing on the latter, partly because he wants to expose people to diversity.
“The Diversity Crew is committed to enhancing relationships across the racial and cultural lines that still can divide our city,” he says. “This goal is so important to me.”
No matter what he plans next with his career and personal life, Villafuerte says he wants to remain in Tulsa.
“Tulsa is headed upwards,” he says. “… Young professionals, partnering with those who have supported Tulsa for many years, can help make this future happen. But it is my special dream that this ‘re-energized Tulsa’ will be one that embraces diversity, that celebrates the growth that multiple perspectives can generate and that is tolerant of all who contribute to the betterment of our community.”