The Ada Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that 24 participants will be graduating from Leadership YOUniversity on May 22.

For those who may not know, Leadership YOUniversity is a five-month Chamber program that promotes and enhances professional development. This year the class participants heard and interacted with several professional speakers who discussed topics including personality traits, networking, public speaking, conflict resolution and feedback, time management, generational differences and team building. 

Jody Teeter, director of special events for the Chickasaw Nation who serves on the Leadership Committee, stated: “Leadership YOUniversity is a wonderful program that truly lives up to its name. The individual development you receive is invaluable.”

Several businesses have sent employees to this professional training over the past 11 years, and it continues to be a beneficial program that the Chamber offers to the community. 

Graduation will be held from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at East Central University in the ballroom. The cost is $20 per person.

The Leadership Committee selected Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon as the guest speaker. Aragon is a retired United States Air National Guard two-star general who is currently serving as the fourth Oklahoma secretary of veterans affairs. Her final active military post was as the Air National Guard assistant to the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. She retired in 2006. 

Aragon is the first woman to hold the position of VA secretary. As secretary, Aragon served as Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief advisor on matters related to the policies and operations of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Members of this year’s 2019 Leadership YOUniversity class are:

• Elizabeth Burris is an accounts payable lead for the Chickasaw Nation, where she oversees the processing and payment of all travel-related expenses for the Chickasaw Nation. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, she hopes to improve her leadership and communication skills.

• Jennifer Contreras is an executive assistant for the Chickasaw Foundation, where she provides support services to the CEO as well as other duties. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, she would like to learn more about networking, employee relationship building and business ethics.

• Melissa Cornell is the senior director of human resources at LegalShield, where she plans, directs and manages human resources initiatives as well as recruitment, compensation, benefits and employee relations. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Melissa wants to learn more in order to lead and have more self-development.

• Ethan Cox is a youth leadership manager for the Chickasaw Nation Youth Services Division, where Ethan oversees the planning and execution of events for the Chickasaw Pehlichi Ikbi youth leadership program as well as managerial responsibilities. Ethan hopes by attending Leadership YOUniversity, he will learn better ways to cultivate leadership skills in his staff and program members.

• Lacy Grammer is an accounts payable lead for the Chickasaw Nation, where she provides leadership and guidance to the purchase order work group within the headquarters’ finance accounts payable office. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Lacy would like to enhance leadership skills and gain leadership experience. Lacy also looks forward to networking with leaders in the Ada community.

• Holly Grider is a loan officer at Citizens Bank, where she works with customers to determine their needs, recommends products and works customers through the loan process. Holly hopes to build leadership skills, network, meet new people and enhance problem solving and communication skills by attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Sara Harr is an employee experience manager with the Chickasaw Nation, where she is responsible for driving creative engagement programs while measuring and reporting on the success of these programs. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Sara hopes to gain greater knowledge of how to be a great leader in all aspects of her life. She would also like to learn greater skills in business communication and how networking can benefit not only her, but her employer as well.

• Adam Huckeby is the communications and marketing coordinator for Pontotoc Technology Center, where he oversees creative development, brand building, social media communication, asset management and multi-media production, as well as many other tasks. He wants to adapt his large-team leadership skills for a new role that enjoys many engaged and hard-working team members but no directly reporting employees while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Debi Manuel is a payroll specialist for the Chickasaw Nation, where she maintains the payroll system for WinStar Casino. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Debi hopes to learn more leadership skills that she can use in her workplace. She also wants to obtain knowledge to further her career into a leadership role.

• Flor Martinez Mendoza is a bilingual training manager for the Chickasaw Nation, where she manages the bilingual training team at WinStar. Flor believes by attending Leadership YOUniversity, she will have the opportunity to create meaningful relationships with members of the community and learn from others.

• Mitchel Moore is a credit analyst for First United Bank, where he analyzes the risk of potential loans for the bank. While attending Leadership YOUniversity, Mitchel would like to meet more people in the community and learn how to better serve as a leader to others.

• Maurisa Nelson is the advertising manager at The Ada News, where she manages the business budget and promotion and helps drive revenue. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Maurisa wants to learn how to motivate a beaten-up staff, communication skills and networking.

• Ronald Osborn is an accounting and support manager for the Chickasaw Nation Tribal Health Department. Ronald is responsible for all aspects of accounting for the tribal health department. Ronald would like to improve his leadership and communication skills while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Brandi Phillips is employed as a manager for LegalShield, where she manages the inside sales team. Brandi encourages and motivates each person to meet the goals set by LegalShield. Brandi wants to be a better leader to help individuals to achieve better success while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Quinton Scott is a director of network tactics and communications for LegalShield. He supervises a team that provides written, video and social communications to their network marketing field on a regular basis. Quinton would like to learn how to become a better leader for himself, his company and team, as well as how to network and coordinate efforts among peers to accomplish tasks while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Mercy Sellers is a gaming compliance auditor for the Chickasaw Nation, where she performs assessments to ensure that the processes being performed at their operations are adhering to their regulations. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Mercy hopes to learn how to enhance her current leadership skills and gain new skills that will allow her to be a better employee in her current position.

• Steven Skokos is the director of member services for People’s Electric Cooperative, where he supervises the member services department and cashiers, as well as managing large power accounts and billing. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Steven hopes to learn how to communicate better with his employees and how to get them to invest in what his mission for their department is. Steven also feels it is a great opportunity to network with other leaders and learn new ways to develop his team through coaching and training.

• Jennifer Spiegel is a senior human resources recruiter for the Chickasaw Nation. Jennifer supervises their human resources specialist staff and handles priority recruitment cases. She would love the opportunity to discover ways she can be a better supervisor, employee and overall part of the Chickasaw Nation while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Jared Stewart is a help desk manager at East Central University ,where he assists students, faculty and staff with technical issues. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Jared would like to learn time management and managing students properly.

• Scott Sullivan is an internal communications manager for the Chickasaw Nation, where he manages the internal communications team. They produce, edit and share employee relation information and are responsible for employee communications through their intranet site. Scott hopes to learn more about conflict management and staff development while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Trevor Sutton is a credit administrator for Citizens Bank, where he manages credit risk for the bank’s loan portfolio. He reviews loans, analyzes financials and prepares reports for management. Trevor would like to learn how to network better and to be a better salesperson and representative for the bank while attending Leadership YOUniversity.

• Priscilla Texter is a member accounts manager at People’s Electric Cooperative, where she assists their members in any way possible providing exceptional customer service. Pricilla hopes by attending Leadership YOUniversity how to be more confident in being a leader.

• Trenton Walkup is an automation engineer for LegalShield, where he builds automation software to replace manual processes, specifically in software development. Trenton hopes by attending Leadership YOUniversity, he will learn how to become a more effective leader.

• Jeremy Webb is a FTLT program manager for the Chickasaw Nation, where he oversees a leadership training program for Chickasaw citizens. He coordinates their training curriculum for the 18 months they are management trainees. By attending Leadership YOUniversity, Jeremy would like to gain insight and knowledge that will improve his ability to manage people.

The Ada Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to be the sponsor of the Leadership YOUniversity program and proud about the leadership opportunities for the participants in this program. The Ada Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting local businesses, the community and providing networking opportunities for Chamber members. Since the beginning of Leadership YOUniversity in 2010, over 250 business leaders will have completed the program.

The Ada Area Chamber of Commerce was established in 1924 and is the area’s oldest and largest business development and advocacy organization with nearly 400 members. The Chamber is dedicated to promoting local business, promoting the community, providing networking opportunities and business contacts for members, and representing business interests to local and state government. For more information about Leadership YOUniversity or the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, please call 580-332-2506 or visit the Chamber’s website at