ASTEC Fund honors Oklahoma ‘door-openers’ and ‘pathfinders’

OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2016 Door-Opener Awards Gala sponsored by the foundation for ASTEC Charter Schools, the ASTEC Fund took place on Tuesday, November 15, at the downtown Skirvin Hilton Hotel The event featured a silent auction and a dinner awards program.
Event co-chairs Becky and Barry Switzer, presented “Door-Opener” Awards to the following: Sandy Garrett, former Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jack and Lila Kimbler, retired Ameriprise financial advisor and philanthropists, Frank Merrick, President of Foundation Management, Inc., and Ann Simank, former Oklahoma City Councilwoman and retired Executive Director of Oklahoma City Metro Alliance.
This year, the ASTEC Fund Board honored the next generation of civic leaders who are blazing paths for others to follow called the Pathfinder Award. The Pathfinder honorees were: Jonathan Fowler, Vice President of Operations of the Fowler Holding Company, introduced by his father, Mike Fowler, CEO of Fowler Holding Company and Ken Parker, entrepreneur and CEO of NextThought, introduced by Gene Rainbolt, president of BancFirst.
Major sponsors include Chickasaw Nation, BancFirst, IBC Bank, Dr. Jack and Lila Kimbler, Mustang Fuel Corp., OGE Energy Corp., Quail Creek Bank, Russ Harrison & Natalie Shirley and Richard Sias. There were multiple table sponsors as well.
Former Oklahoma Governor David Walters introduced Garrett at the gala. Dr. Freda Deskin, superintendent of ASTEC Charter Schools, introduced the Kimblers. Debby Hampton, President of the United Way of Central Oklahoma introduced Mr. Merrick, while former state Attorney General Mike Turpen introduced Simank.  
ASTEC Charter Schools, founded in 2000 by long-time educator, Dr. Freda Deskin, serves 950 middle and high school inner city students.  ASTEC was the first “start-up” charter school in Oklahoma, a leader among the group of pioneer schools that brought the charter school model to the Sooner State.
Superintendent Garrett was lauded for her key role, working in a bipartisan way, to gain legislative support for charter schools. 
The ASTEC schools have plans, to include an elementary school. Having outgrown their current location at the Shepherd Mall Business park, ASTEC is working toward building a new campus near the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in the future.
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. 
For more information about ASTEC Charter Schools and ASTEC Fund, Inc. visit
NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan, who has worked as a substitute teacher at ASTEC, attended the event and contributed to this report.