Pictured left to right: Program Chairman Lion Kyle Powell, Rose Washington, and President Lion R.C. Morrow. (Photo by Dean Craig with excerpts by Samuel Hardiman, Tulsa World)
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
When is it permissible to begin a story with....and a good time was had by all....rather than at the end of the story? Well, sir, it just happened Tuesday when the Lions and guests began assembling for the program by Rose Washington, executive director of the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. As everyone began arriving, it rapidly became a "meet and greet" session with all the hand-shaking and hugging going on, and the excitement building in quickly becoming a "who's who in Okmulgee". These guests were even inspiring to the Lions, and the meeting outdid all the social interaction of a local bean dinner or even the Lions semi-annual pancake dinner.
Guests in attendance were: Margaret Hess, Julie Roberds, and Larry Killibrew, Green Country Technology Center; Luke, Aaron, and Paul Abbott, Covington Aircraft Engines; Dr. Bob Klabenes, OADC; Terry Bemis, Paige Hayden, and Terry Costanza, First National Bank; Keith Estes, First National Bank, Henryetta; and Lion Jim Vaughn's daughter, Sherri. Luke Abbott won the $2.00 bingo prize, but don't think for a moment that the mean ole' Tail Twister would let him keep it--not a chance, even though we usually don't fine guests. Of course, we can always make exceptions.
Washington began her program by explaining her roots of being born in Pickens, Mississippi, and raised by her grandmother, a former sharecropper, who raised 13 children in a house her grandmother built. Even though her grandmother only had a third grade education, she was full of common sense and sage advice in instilling into Washington that she could do anything she wanted to do. And Washington recounted a number of these wise sayings that her grandmother shared with her, which reminded me of a wise saying that I heard by an elderly black lady--"son, if the mountain was flat, you couldn't climb it". Hmmm!
"She is why I am", Washington said of the woman who died when she was 22. The grandmother was a strong proponent of education, as was Washington, who earned an MBA, and later was an adjunct professor at a University. She met a Tulsan in Los Angeles, when she was teaching at USC (eight years), whom she married, and he later wanted to come back to Tulsa, and that's how she came to be in Tulsa. And she has been a catalyst for economic development in the region for 15 years, helping connect businesses with funding they otherwise wouldn't get through the non-profit she has run since late-2001.
Washington's work and reputation have propelled her to a position that only one other Tulsan has held; chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's board of directors. She was appointed to the position in January. Her role at the Fed gives the central bank's leaders a perspective that augments what economic data show and gives northeastern Oklahoma a voice at the table with key policymakers in Kansas City and in Washington, D.C.
After the meeting, Heather Sumner (Mainstreet) and Margaret Hess (Green Country Technology Center) met with Washington about similar things going on in Okmulgee that Tulsa is doing, which can benefit both communities. And it appears that Okmulgee has developed a good resource in Rose Washington. And the Lions Club continues to reach out to the community for a few more good men and women so that we can continue to be a valuable resource. "WE SERVE".