ASTEC Charter Schools to benefit from September 24 gala

OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2015 DoorOpener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction will take place on Thursday, September 24 at 5:45 p.m. The Gala is sponsored by The ASTEC Fund, a foundation benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools founded by Lou C. Kerr, William G. Paul and Dr. Freda Deskin, ASTEC Superintendent.

ASTEC is a successful inner city public school in the heart of Oklahoma City serving a diverse population of students in grades six through twelve. The school is frequently recognized, and its diverse students honored, for a wide range of academic achievements.

The annual fundraising event recognize outstanding individuals for their lifetime contributions of opening doors and helping others in society maximize their potential and achieve their dreams.

Those selected to receive a DoorOpener Award during this year’s gala at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include:

Jalal and Mohammad Farzaneh – These two brothers emigrated from Iran in 1978 to attend
college at the University of Oklahoma, and decided to stay. They started their own home
building company which is now the largest in Oklahoma. In addition to overseeing their
company, Creative Homes, The brothers’ philanthropic efforts extend to cancer, heart disease,
international relations, and education.

Pat Potts – Mrs. Potts is the quintessential glass-ceiling breaker, being the first woman to serve
as president of several boards, including the Oklahoma City School Board. Pat founded the
organization known today as the Center for Nonprofits, Oklahoma’s leading organization
providing expert training and resources to Oklahoma’s nonprofit community. She serves as
President of the Potts Family Foundation, which she also co-founded as a way to give back to
the community primarily through funding and advocating for early childhood education.

Bob Ross – In his work as president of the Inasmuch Foundation, he focuses his efforts on preK education. The Foundation under his leadership has provided millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations in central Oklahoma who provide preK programs. Research has proven that a preK education better prepares children for success and reduces the incarceration rate. Mr. Ross serves on boards of other organizations doing great work in Oklahoma, such as Sunbeam Family Services and the Board of the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Dick Sias with his late wife Jeanette – Mr. Sias has built a legacy in Oklahoma providing for
the arts and various other philanthropic causes. He is credited with saving the Oklahoma City
orchestra from ruin, and continues to support music as well as other art forms to this day. His
generous gifts from his vineyard, Joullian Wines, have enhanced many nonprofit events in
Oklahoma City.

Mr. Sias founded the Ad Astra Foundation to support the arts he and Jeanette loved. Sias was recently feted as “King” for the annual Senior Follies performances sponsored by the Burbridge Foundation.

Event cochairs are Natalie Shirley, President of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) and Oklahoma Secretary of Education and Workforce Development, and Randy Tate, CEO of NorthCare.

The Inasmuch Foundation is the event’s Dream Builder sponsor.

Top event silent auction items donors include Governor Mary Fallin, Joy Richardson, Bart
Conner Gymnastics Academy, and Disney World.

The DoorOpener Award takes its name from the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation: “Be an
opener of doors for such as come after thee.” The idea came from The Fund cofounder
and longtime Oklahoma philanthropist, Lou Kerr.

DoorOpener Award Gala sponsorships are available and include an eight person table and
private reception with DoorOpener honorees, in addition to marketing and recognition benefits.

Tables for eight can be purchased for $2,500.

For event details contact Jennifer Seal:

ASTEC Charter Middle School and ASTEC Charter High School, currently housed at the
Shepherd Mall Business Park have a combined enrollment of 950 students. The middle
school, founded in 2000, has the distinction of being Oklahoma’s first startup charter school.

Having outgrown their current location, the schools will be building a new campus near the
Oklahoma State Fairgrounds that will greatly expand student learning, health and wellness
opportunities, as well as accommodate the addition of an elementary charter school in the

The annual gala gathers a wide range of state leaders supportive of ASTEC and other public charter schools.

According to the website of the Oklahoma Association of Charter Schools, “Charter schools are public schools given the freedom of more innovation while still being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public, they are open to all students. However, they neither charge tuition nor have special entrance requirements.” 

ASTEC Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization responsible for raising funds for
ASTEC Charter Schools. 

ASTEC Fund, Inc. is led by a group of Oklahoma City area civic
leaders. Doug Fuller, President and CEO of Quail Creek Bank, is the board’s current chair.

NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.