Public Service for Children is neither partisan nor complete: Analysis
Published: July 20th, 2021
Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma has many statesmen who served at all levels and from different political backgrounds.
I have been fortunate to know outstanding men and women who dedicated themselves to Oklahoma regardless of political philosophies and pathways and am pleased in my role to help recognize those who support the children of our state.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) annually presents awards to two former public servants who continue to make a difference after elective office. This is the first year we have named those awards; our board of directors authorized naming rights to honor a pair of distinguished careers dedicated to improving the lives of Oklahoma’s children.
Our Republican public servant award has been named after former state representative, Governor, and U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon. His storied career as a trailblazer in Oklahoma politics is legendary. He led a bipartisan group of senators stopping a federal constitutional amendment that would have prohibited busing to racially desegregate public schools. As governor, he led the charge for historic change to Oklahoma public education with House Bill 1017.
Recipient of the Henry Bellmon Public Servant Award for 2021 is the Honorable J.C. Watts.
Watts, a former college and professional football player, was elected in 1990 to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the first African-American in Oklahoma to win statewide office. He successfully ran for Congress in 1994 becoming the first African-American Republican U.S. representative from south of the Mason–Dixon line since Reconstruction. He was re-elected to four terms with increasing vote margins. In 1998, he became chair of the House Republican Conference.
After a career in public office, Watts dedicated time to nonprofit work, including service on the board of Ground Zero Emergency Training Center. He co-launched the Black News Channel in 2020 as a 24-hour news channel aimed at an African American audience.
Our Democratic public servant award is named after former state Rep. Laura Boyd. Dr. Boyd has a Ph.D. in psychology and served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for six years. In 1998, she became the first woman to receive a major party nomination for Oklahoma governor. Boyd is noted for having authored the Ryan Luke Act, which cracked down on child abuse and sexual predators. Boyd is also recognized for pioneering the Oklahoma College Savings Plan. Today, Boyd is founder of Policy and Performance Consultants, Inc.
The 2021 winner of the Laura Boyd Public Servant Award is former state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre. McIntyre worked for the Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division, and served on the Tulsa Public School Board for 16 years. She was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2002 and was one of 16 Black women selected as Fellow for the NOBEL/Women CAWP Leadership Institute. She was the first freshman appointed to the House Speaker’s leadership team.
In 2004, McIntyre was elected to the Oklahoma Senate, representing District 11 until 2012.
Today, McIntyre is a member of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, a staunch advocate of breast cancer research, and is currently a member of the OICA Board of Directors.
Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you to those allowing us the naming rights for these two awards. Public servants working together and across party lines will help improve the lives of Oklahoma’s youth. These four Oklahomans all made their mark in this mission.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”
Biographical Note: A former state representative, Joe Dorman now guides the work of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. He writes often for The City Sentinel newspaper, and for CapitolBeatOK.com.