Here and There: Pruitt’s new chief, Blatt’s new board member

OKLAHOMA CITY — Here and there, two graduates of the University of Oklahoma move into new positions impacting public policy in the Sooner State. 

Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt on Wednesday (June 20) named Melissa McLawhorn Houston his new Chief of Staff in the Office of Attorney General. Previously, she served as an Assistant Attorney General, and as Public Policy Director. She frequently monitored legislative developments for Pruitt during the 2012 legislative session. 
Crystal Drwenski, Pruitt’s 2010 campaign manager and his first chief of staff, recently left the office for a private sector job.

In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, Pruitt said, “Melissa has been a passionate public servant and advocate for the Attorney General’s Office for more than a year. Through her new position as Chief of Staff, she will continue to provide leadership and greatly enhance the capabilities of this office to benefit and protect Oklahomans.”

Houston worked previously for the state office of Homeland Security, was a deputy director for the state Sheriff’s Association, and has worked on truth-in-sentencing issues.  

Her past political stints included a state House race and an issue campaign. She is a graduate of both Leadership Norman and Leadership Oklahoma, serves on the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, and is a trustee for the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Her legal education was at OU, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in Letters.

Linda Edmondson has joined the board of directors for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a progressive think tank based in Tulsa. Board Chairman Vince LaVoi welcomed her, saying she “continues our tradition of a strong, bipartisan Board of Directors respected across the state. In particular, she brings tremendous experience in non-profit leadership that will allow us to become an even stronger organization in the years ahead.”
Edmondson serves on the boards of the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, the Governor’s Hospice Advisory Board, the Oklahoma Hospice Foundation, the State Capitol Preservation Commission, and OSU-Tulsa’s Center for Poets and Writers.

Edmondson said she support OK Policy’s “vital role in this state providing unbiased facts and analysis to policy-makers and the public.  I hope to contribute to its efforts to provide adequate funding for public services and increased opportunities for Oklahomans.”

David Blatt, in comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, said Edmondson “is a perfect fit with our mission of providing data-driven analysis that focuses on promoting fiscal responsibility and expanding economic opportunity for all Oklahomans.” Blatt, executive director of OK Policy, said the group “will benefit greatly from Linda’s passion, energy, and intelligence.”

Edmondson has a long career working in social work, education, human services and heath care ethics, and was previously honored as the state’s “Social Worker of the Year.” Her college education was at OU, including a master’s in social work. She and her husband, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, have two children.

She replaces Nance Diamond, a founding member of the OK Policy board who served for four years. Besides LoVoi and Edmondson, other board members for the group include Don Millican, Nancy Robertson, Albert “Kell” Kelly, Steve Burrage and Susan Neal.