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2019 Governor's Arts Awards Honorees Announced


OKLAHOMA CITY (March 5, 2019) - The Oklahoma Arts Council has announced the names of 17 individuals and one organization that will be honored for their contributions to the arts in Oklahoma during the 43rd Governor’s Arts Awards on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

The awards will be presented by Governor Kevin Stitt during a special ceremony beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol. A reception will follow in the first floor rotunda outside the Betty Price Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said Governor’s Arts Awards honorees reflect the qualities that define Oklahomans.

“Hard working, selfless, and devoted to causes greater than themselves, honorees deserve our thanks for their efforts in making the arts one of Oklahoma’s most robust assets,” Sharples said. “Those selected for awards have shown exemplary commitment to impacting lives through the arts in communities and schools across our state. We look forward to meaningfully acknowledging their contributions with Governor Stitt.”

“I am pleased to congratulate the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award honorees who come from all across our great state,” said Governor Stitt. “I look forward to celebrating our honorees’ contributions to the arts in Oklahoma and recognizing their role in fostering a robust and impactful arts industry in our state.”
Recipients are selected from submitted nominations by the Governor’s Arts Awards Selection Committee, comprised of members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board.

The Governor's Award recognizes longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts. Honorees are:

Barbara McAlister (Muskogee)
Jo Rowan (Norman)

The Business in the Arts Award recognizes individuals, businesses and corporations that exhibit outstanding support of the arts in Oklahoma. The honoree is:

Wonder City Coffee (Locust Grove)

The Arts in Education Award recognizes an individual, organization, school, educator, or group for their outstanding leadership and service in the arts benefiting youth and/or arts in education. Honorees are:

Jay Ferguson (Edmond)
Scott Booker (Oklahoma City)
Chris Ramsay (Stillwater)
Pamela Catt (Fairland)
Roselle Tyner (Tulsa)

The Community Service Award recognizes significant contributions to the arts in specific Oklahoma communities in the areas of leadership and volunteerism. Honorees are:

Daniel Worcester (Lone Grove)
Deborah McAuliffe Senner (Edmond)
James Loftis (Oklahoma City)
Juanita Pahdopony (Lawton)
Mary Ann Hawkins (Woodward)
Bob Sober (Tulsa)
Wilmari and Robert Ruiz (Norman)

The George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award recognizes Oklahoma government officials for their outstanding support of the arts. Honorees are:
Ann and Burns Hargis (Stillwater)

For more information, contact Joel Gavin, Oklahoma Arts Council director of marketing and communications, at (405) 521-2037 or


About the Oklahoma Arts Council
The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 400 grants to nearly 225 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state's arts and cultural industry, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma state Capitol. Additional information is available at


Barbara McAlister (Muskogee)—After retiring from a long and distinguished international opera career, McAlister returned home to Oklahoma where for years she has invested her time in teaching vocal performance to youth and adults in northeast Oklahoma. An adjunct professor at Northeastern State University, McAlister has raised funds for student recitals and master classes. She has helped students audition successfully for professional operas and obtain full scholarships to highly regarded university programs at Oklahoma City University and the University of Central Oklahoma, among others. In much of her work, McAlister volunteers her time and expertise.

Jo Rowan (Norman)—Chairman of the school of dance at Oklahoma City University (OCU), Rowan originated a university program nearly 40 years ago that would be the first of its kind to offer a degree emphasizing music theater dance. She has since helped launch and shape the careers of thousands of students. With Rowan at the helm, OCU has become widely acclaimed as having one of the premier dance programs in the country. Her students have gone on to become established professionals on Broadway, Los Angeles, and in prominent performing arts settings nationwide.

Wonder City Coffee (Locust Grove)—With the motto, “Community by the Cup,” Wonder City Coffee uses the arts to bring people together. Owners Kelly and Mark Palmer’s goal has been to use their venue to impact their rural downtown, hosting free art workshops, Cherokee storytelling presentations, and more. They have opened their space for meetings of the Locust Grove Arts Alliance, sponsored performances by the Tulsa Youth Ballet at a local middle school, and served as a driving force behind a National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read community reading program grant.

Jay Ferguson (Edmond)—Returning to Oklahoma more than a decade ago to teach drama after working as a professional actor in Los Angeles, Ferguson’s enthusiasm rekindled broad interest and support for the arts at Heritage Hall, a college preparatory school in Oklahoma City. Now head of the school’s fine arts department, Ferguson’s work led to the hiring of five new full-time and two part-time arts educators, enabling the expansion of programs related to music, visual art, dance, and music theory.

Scott Booker (Oklahoma City)—Longtime manager of Oklahoma City’s Grammy Award-winning band The Flaming Lips, Booker envisioned and steered the establishment of the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM@UCO) in 2009, utilizing his knowledge of the music business to create a novel academic asset in Oklahoma City that has graduated hundreds of young artists and industry professionals.

Chris Ramsay (Stillwater)—An OSU art professor since 1990, Ramsay’s impact in education extends beyond Stillwater and the university. His leadership in statewide high school portfolio review programs, K-12 art teacher workshops, and, among other efforts, a program to provide arts education for local Stillwater elementary students, exemplifies his devotion as a consummate educator.

Pamela Catt (Fairland)—President of the Miami Little Theatre in northeastern Oklahoma, over the past 15 years Catt has volunteered her time and resources in producing and directing community theatre involving hundreds of area youth, some of whom have gone on to have successful performing arts careers. A public school teacher, Catt also leverages her theatre expertise to inspire success among her students in the classroom.

Roselle Tyner (Tulsa)—An enthusiastic ambassador for ensuring children and others have access to the arts, Tyner has personally organized every tour at Tulsa’s Philbrook Art Museum over the past 20 years. In addition to building and leading a volunteer core of docent tour guides who have contributed nearly 150,000 volunteer service hours, she has developed sustained relationships with local social service organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Tulsa.

Daniel Worcester (Lone Grove)—An award-winning Chickasaw artist and bladesmith who employs traditional methods in forging his pieces. Worcester is cited as instrumental in helping preserve and share the Chickasaw Nation’s history and culture with the world. His work has been displayed in prominent museums and galleries across the U.S.

Deborah McAuliffe Senner (Edmond)—Senner is celebrating her 10th anniversary as President and CEO of Oklahoma’s Allied Arts Foundation, where during her tenure she has overseen the launch of innovative fundraising strategies that have generated over $42.7 million in support of more than 40 central Oklahoma arts and cultural organizations.

James Loftis (Oklahoma City)—Former chairman and longtime member of the Oklahoma City Arts Commission, Loftis’ leadership helped result in the city’s adoption of a percent-for-art ordinance. During his tenure, the commission completed a city-wide cultural plan, identified 100 sites for public art, established its Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, and more. Previous service includes board or fundraising efforts for Allied Arts, Arts Council Oklahoma City, Red Earth, and the Overholser Mansion.

Juanita Pahdopony (Lawton)—Through art, literary, and film, Pahdopony has been an ambassador for Comanche culture. As a tech advisor on the AMC television series “The Son,” she ensured authentic Indigenous representation. Board service has included the Southern Plains Indian Museum Association, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and Jacobson Foundation.

Mary Ann Hawkins (Woodward)—Hawkins is the originator and impetus behind the formation of the Woodward Visual Arts Council, through which she has helped make possible 13 public art sculptures across the community. She is a tireless champion for the arts in northwest Oklahoma for more than 20 years.

Bob Sober (Tulsa)— Founding member of the Urban Core Art Project, which brings temporary public art to areas across Tulsa. Sober is a former member of the Tulsa Arts Commission and Tulsa Preservation Commission. He is also a former board member for Living Arts of Tulsa.

Wilmari and Robert Ruiz (Norman)—Actively involved in and often the forces behind a number of projects serving central Oklahoma’s growing Latino community. Projects have included the new Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center, Academia OKC, the Anita Martinez Mariachi Festival, Plaza Mayor Fall Festival, OKC Cinco de Mayo Festival, Enye Music, and the Scissortail Community Development Corporation.

Ann and Burns Hargis (Stillwater)—First Lady and President of Oklahoma State University (OSU), their vision for the arts has transformed the university and Stillwater into a regional cultural hub through assets including the OSU Museum of Art, the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music, and the forthcoming world-class McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.

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