Date: January 15, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Stephanie Coderre Porras

405.232.5570 x2

[email protected]com

CREATIVE OKLAHOMA’S FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER AND CEO SUSAN McCALMONT RETIRING; REP. MELOYDE BLANCETT TO BECOME INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Mrs. Susan McCalmont

Ms. Meloyde Blancett

As a founding board member of Creative Oklahoma in 2006, and President/CEO of the nonprofit since 2011, Susan McCalmont, noted nonprofit leader and creativity advocate, is retiring from the organization. She will hand the reigns to state legislator, Meloyde Blancett, who will serve as interim Executive Director.

“Under Susan’s steady leadership, Creative Oklahoma has changed the national and international perception of Oklahoma to become a “State of Creativity”,” said Burns Hargis, President of Oklahoma State University and the founding chairman of Creative Oklahoma. “Susan  helped us all focus our attention on the importance of creativity and innovation, and imagine an Oklahoma that shines brightly, attracting and retaining our creatively talented young people.”

Creative Oklahoma was born out of discussions Hargis and McCalmont had in 2006, The organization created outstanding programs and study tours of innovation in Oklahoma. It also organized and hosted the international Creativity World Forum twice in Oklahoma, in 2010 and 2015, attracting more than 3,000 people from 38 states and 18 countries to the state.

Creative Oklahoma has spearheaded numerous initiatives over its 12-year history, advancing the state’s level of innovation in education, business and culture. During Susan’s tenure, Oklahoma became the only North American region included in the international Districts of Creativity Network, becoming one of 13 districts, and connecting Oklahoma with industry leaders around the world. (www.districtsofcreativity.org)

Moreover, McCalmont has been instrumental in the development of the organization’s newest endeavor, Oklahoma Entrepreneur Mentoring Program (OKEMP), as part of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s (MIT) Venture Mentoring Service. This program will launch formally in late February in Oklahoma City. Plans are to expand the program statewide. (https://innovation.mit.edu/news-article/a-model-for-mentoring/)

Our state’s ability to compete in a 21st century economy rests on our ability to foster innovation and creativity in the key areas of education, business and life quality — we simply can’t get there without creative thinking which is the lifeblood of innovation,” said Blancett. “Fostering an ecosystem where innovative endeavors are mentored and encouraged is what Creative Oklahoma has done for the past 12 years and I’m thrilled to help build on that legacy,” she said.

McCalmont has provided innovative leadership at national, state, and local levels, serving a variety of nonprofit organizations and public institutions over the last 30 years in Washington, D.C., and in the states of Virginia and Oklahoma. Aside from Creative Oklahoma, she most notably served as the leader of the Kirkpatrick Foundation for 19 years as well as other educational, cultural and innovative organizations, such as the DaVinci Institute.

“I am so excited for someone with Meloyde’s depth of experience in business, entrepreneurship and design, as well as a passion for creativity and innovation in Oklahoma’s schools, businesses, and communities, to take Creative Oklahoma to the next level of growth and influence. We could not have found a better equipped leader for the organization,” said McCalmont.

Blancett is an award-winning marketing, public relations and economic development executive who was first elected to the Oklahoma Legislature in 2016 and re-elected in 2018 to represent House District 78 in Tulsa. She worked for organizations such as the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group and Williams prior to starting her own consulting firm. Blancett will work in Creative Oklahoma’s Oklahoma City offices and in Tulsa when she is not fulfilling her legislative duties.

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About Creative Oklahoma:  Formed in 2006, Creative Oklahoma (COK) is a statewide 501(c)3 non-profit organization advancing Oklahoma’s economy through creativity and innovation-based initiatives in education, commerce, and culture.  Its mission is to transform the state through projects and collaborative ventures that help develop a more entrepreneurial and vibrant economy as well as improved educational opportunities and life quality for its citizens. More information about COK can be obtained at www.stateofcreativity.com.

About the MIT Venture Mentoring Service: https://innovation.mit.edu/news-article/a-model-for-mentoring/