Diversity Committee to Present Awards at Oct. 19 Dinner
Keynote Speaker: Desmond Meade
By Tiece Dempsey
The OBA Diversity Committee is set to host its Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Awards Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Oklahoma City. The event will feature a keynote address from Desmond Meade. Mr. Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the current president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, chair of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Men’s Roundtable and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law.
As president of the FRRC, which is recognized for its work on felon disfranchisement issues, he has orchestrated the reorganization and incorporation of a coalition comprised of over 70 state and national organizations and individuals including, but the NAACP, ACLU, PICO, Florida League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute, PICO Florida and Florida Immigration Coalition.
Mr. Meade has also received many accolades, celebrating his hard work and dedication to leadership and commitment to social justice. He is presently leading efforts to restore civil rights to more than 1.68 million Floridians, empower and civically re-engage local communities and to reshape local, state and national policies. As chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, he is currently guiding a citizen’s initiative to restore the ability to vote to over 1.68 million returning citizens in Florida.
Also during the dinner, six individuals and organizations will be honored with the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award in recognition of their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusions in Oklahoma. The Diversity Committee, with the support of OBA President Linda Thomas, will recognized the following individuals and organizations that have outwardly demonstrated that “Diversity and Inclusion Matters in Oklahoma.”
The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. in the Great Room of the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln Blvd. Tickets are $40 per person. To register, call Renee Montgomery at 405-416-7029.
Humanity level sponsors are Cathy Christensen & Associates; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. and the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Courage level sponsors are the Oklahoma City School of Law and OU Foundation - Tulsa Schusterman.
Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award Recipients
Member of the Judiciary
Judge Cindy Truong
Judge Cindy Truong was elected to the bench by the voters of Oklahoma County on Nov. 2, 2010. She is the district judge of Office #7 of the Oklahoma County District Court. Judge Truong was sworn into office and began presiding on Jan. 15, 2011.
Judge Truong received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Oklahoma State University in only three years while also working in the family business. She earned her juris doctorate from OCU School of Law in 2001.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Truong served the public as a criminal prosecutor in the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office for 10 years. She was responsible for the prosecution of cases that included death penalty murder cases, rape, robbery and drug trafficking. She has tried more than 50 jury trials to a verdict.
Currently, Judge Truong is assigned to a criminal felony crime docket. She has presided over 102 criminal jury trials. She is currently the chair for the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reform Pretrial Release Committee appointed by Clayton Bennett. She is also a board member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Board of Court Interpreters appointed by then-Chief Justice Tom Colbert. She is also a member of Court on the Judiciary -- Trial Division.
Kara I. Smith
Ms. Smith is the chief of Office of Civil Rights Enforcement Unit (OCRE) within Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office (OAG) and leads an outstanding staff in educating the public regarding anti-discrimination rights and responsibilities, partnering with the public to positively and proactively advance the cause of civil rights for the equal benefit and enjoyment of all Oklahomans, enforcing the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act, Okla. Stat. tit. 25, §§ 1101-1706, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation, and enforcing other civil rights-related laws, and accepting, serving and reporting on complaints of racial profiling by state, county and municipal law enforcement.
Ms. Smith is currently the equal employment opportunity officer for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. Previously, she was assigned to the General Counsel Unit within the OAG and served as general counsel to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oklahoma Veterans Commission. Prior to joining the attorney general’s office, she was deputy general counsel from August 2011 to April 2014 with the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which absorbed the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management as result of legislative mandate, wherein she served as general counsel from January 2007 to August 2011.
She is a member of the YWCA Oklahoma City Board of Directors and a member of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation Board of Trustees. Ms. Smith is an active member of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) and American Bar Associations (ABA), wherein she serves on a number of committees. She is the chair of the OBA Teller Committee, vice-chair of the OBA Awards Committee and past chair of the OBA Diversity Committee.
She also serves the community as a member of the YWCA Board of Directors and HR Advisory Committee and the OCU Law Dean’s Council on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.
She received her B.A. in political science and a minor in legal studies (Price College of Business) from the University of Oklahoma. She received her J.D. from the OCU School of Law.
Tamya Cox grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Tulsa when she was 15. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.A. in journalism and minor in French. In 2006, she graduated from the OCU School of Law. After being admitted to the bar, Ms. Cox worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma as the first legislative counsel. She is currently the regional director of Public Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
Committed to civil rights and civil liberties, she has traveled across the state and country speaking to communities regarding issues that directly impact their lives. She has served on numerous panels and presented on a variety of topics.
Ms. Cox has received the AC Hamlin Award from the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, John Green Community Service Award from the Association of Black Lawyers, Faith and Freedom Award from the Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Social Justice Activator Award presented by the YWCA in Oklahoma City.
Fields & Futures
Fields & Futures was created in 2012 to help Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) grow student participation in sports, believing every child deserves the opportunity to join a team and benefit from that experience. Its driving belief: If they play, they stay and if they stay, they graduate.
To some, it may look like Fields & Futures builds and maintains athletic fields, but to others, they know it’s about something much bigger. It’s about giving all children the opportunity to belong to something bigger than themselves … a motivator to go to school and stay in school, and a proven pathway to graduation.
OKCPS is Oklahoma’s largest school district, serving more than 46,000 students from predominantly high poverty neighborhoods. In 2012, a small number of the district’s 42 athletic fields were playable. Student participation in sports was far below the national average and thousands of young students were missing the opportunity to experience what so many others take for granted.
Fields & Futures, along with a growing base of partners, donors and supporters, is working hard to change the story. With 20 fields reconstructed and 22 to go, the finish line is in sight. And the faster Fields & Futures can finish what it started, the faster thousands of young students can have the opportunities and school experience they deserve.
Langston University is a public historically black college enrolling a close-knit community of under 4,000 students. Founded in 1897, the university is located in rural Logan County and has urban campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Langston University was recently recognized as a top institution of higher learning for affordability, ranking number three among all historically black colleges and universities in the U.S., according to AffordableSchools.net. Langston offers over 40 associate, bachelors, masters and doctoral programs across six academic colleges.
OU-Tulsa Diversity Coalition
The OU-Tulsa Diversity Coalition consists of students, faculty and staff of the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion throughout its campus community and beyond. The group meets periodically to coordinate and execute relevant programming, seeking to further cultivate a culture that not only accepts, but celebrates diversity. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Diversity Coalition assisted in reaching 1,229 individuals through diversity-related programming.
Tiece Dempsey works for the Federal Public Defender Office – Western District of Oklahoma with the CJA Panel Administrator.