Phillips Murrah partners with KOSU and area Food Banks to help feed hungry children

KOSU logo, Regional Food Bank logo, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma logoOklahoma’s children are back in school, but not every school kid has reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

In Oklahoma, one in four children struggle with the detrimental effects of food insecurity. Phillips Murrah set out to be a part of the solution by helping feed hungry school children in our state.

With this aim in mind, Phillips Murrah is proud to announce our Challenge Grant partnership with KOSU Radio, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

With each pledge during KOSU’s Fall 2017 Member Drive on-air fundraiser, Phillips Murrah will donate the cost of a weekend food backpack for a hungry child to the Food Banks serving Oklahoma City and Tulsa, to be distributed by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

“Our Firm is very active in the community, especially with regards to helping children,” said Dave Rhea, Marketing Director at Phillips Murrah. “I’m also well aware of how hard Station Director Kelly Burley works to position KOSU as a leader in supporting education. We are excited for this opportunity to get involved with the Food Banks’ mission to fight the devastating effects of childhood hunger while also supporting the important work of public radio.”

If you would like to support this Phillips Murrah Challenge Grant, starting Wednesday, Sept. 13, call 855-808-5678 or pledge at KOSU.org.

PM Attorney graduates Leadership OKC LOYAL Program

Monica Y. Ybarra

Every year, approximately two hundred of Oklahoma City’s rising stars vie for a chance to be a member of Leadership Oklahoma City’s Linking OKC’s Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) Program.

Phillips Murrah Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra was selected to participate in this prestigious program as a member of LOYAL Class XII. The Firm is pleased to announce Ybarra graduated from the program last week and is officially part of the Leadership Oklahoma City family.

The LOYAL Program focuses on enhancing personal leadership skills and cultivating community leadership skills. During the seven-month program, participants have unique opportunities to learn leadership skills from Oklahoma’s most influential and accomplished business people, public servants, and non-profit managers.

“Participating in LOYAL has been one of my most rewarding Oklahoma experiences,” Ybarra said. “The program offered me a chance to increase my leadership intelligence and connect to the community in so many ways.

“This program is about so much more than networking—it’s about helping motivated individuals become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Participants gain insight into topics such as board skills, human resources, public speaking, non-profit finances, ethics, and much more. Additionally, Leadership Action Projects afford participants an opportunity to apply their skills and talents to tackle substantive issues in our community.

“At Phillips Murrah P.C. we take pride in being a strategic partner for our clients and for our community,” she said. “I am very fortunate to work for an organization that not only supports my efforts to become a better attorney but also a better Oklahoman.”

Ybarra is a litigation attorney who practices family law. She represents clients in all areas of domestic and family law matters including, divorce actions, custody matters, guardianships, prenuptial agreements, and paternity actions.

Other Phillips Murrah graduates of Leadership Oklahoma City programs include Jim Roth, Signature Program Class XXII, and G. Calvin Sharpe, Signature Program Class XXIII.

Director commemorates 20 years of service for Positive Tomorrows

Nikki Edwards and Julie McDaniel

Twenty years ago, when Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Jones Edwards first set foot on the Positive Tomorrows campus, she was hooked. Two decades later, she’s still going strong and is now one of the organization’s biggest advocates.

“In law school, I thought I would graduate and work for the ACLU, or some other grassroots community organization, using my law degree to help the less fortunate or underserved in some way,” said Nikki, Chair of the Firm’s Family Law Practice Group. “Although I entered private practice, I still wanted to find ways to serve or advocate for the marginalized people in our community.” A friend introduced Nikki to Positive Tomorrows, and she was off and running.

Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only elementary school that serves homeless children. The school provides a unique blend of educational and social services to homeless children and families in hopes of providing quality education despite the unstable circumstances that homelessness can create.

In 1997, Nikki began volunteering at the school. At first, she tried to pace herself, coming into the school every month to read to the kindergarten classes. But it wasn’t long before she became a very familiar face around campus, eventually making weekly trips to the school to read. “It was the best part of my week,” she said.

NIkki Edwards, Nedra Funk, and Chris Batson Deason

Her drive and passion for the Positive Tomorrows mission did not go unnoticed. Nikki was invited to sit on the Board of Directors and she jumped at the opportunity. “I served on the Board for several years until my son, Sam, was born. I resigned from the Board to focus on Sam, but continued to support the organization through financial and in-kind donations and attending Positive Tomorrows-sponsored events.”

“During the next few years, while she wasn’t on the board, she was definitely a friend of Positive Tomorrows,” said Susan Agel, Principal and President of the Board. “We heard from her regularly and she was always available to give advice and assist in other areas. I was saddened when she resigned from the board, but I knew she had made the right decision. I resolved to wait until she was ready and invited her back again.”

When Nikki rejoined the board two years ago, she also brought the Phillips Murrah family along with her.

“Phillips Murrah not only supports my efforts at Positive Tomorrows, but the Firm and our employees have become partners to the organization as well. Some of our attorneys volunteer at the school, and the Firm contributes to various projects throughout the year,” Nikki said.

Her dedication to this at-risk population is changing lives. “We work with a very difficult population with every strike against them,” said Agel. “Our lasting legacy is to introduce a different life to children who are growing up in very difficult circumstances.”

Nikki attributes her motivation to serve to her upbringing, giving credit to her mother, Rita.

“My mom, who was one of my biggest role models, was a psychotherapist and she dedicated countless hours to volunteering and training volunteers in the area of domestic violence abuse prevention,” she said.

Nikki uses her mother’s example as a template to tackle a different community problem—homelessness. Applying the same tenacity and commitment as her mother, Nikki has been an advocate, supporter and friend to Positive Tomorrows for two decades. “Homelessness can be never-ending. It has the potential to be a vicious cycle, repeated by these kids because they emulate their parents’ actions,” she said, adding that Positive Tomorrows is part of the solution.

Kindergarten students working dress up for Dr. Seuss Day in a classroom at Positive Tomorrows.

“A professor once told me that education is the lone equalizer, and I could not agree more,” she said. “These children know that Positive Tomorrows is a safe, nurturing and calming place where they can actually learn. Public schools simply cannot provide the same holistic environment of family services and education. Public schools aren’t equipped to handle a child who is falling asleep in class because she was awake all night at the homeless shelter or was displaced in the middle of the night because her family was kicked out of a relative’s home.”

Research has shown that working with homeless children in this kind of environment can have a long-term impact on the success of a child and his or her family, Agel said. “We want children to feel a sense of control over their destiny and that’s one thing that is often lacking for people in poverty,” she said.

In addition to assisting homeless families and educating homeless children, Agel said, “Our role is to help teach the general public about poverty, in general, and homelessness in particular.”

Recently, Positive Tomorrows launched a fundraising campaign to expand the reach of their message and allow the school to provide services to more children.

“We are in the beginning stages of implementing a capital campaign to raise $10.2 million, which would allow us to double our capacity from 74 to 140 students,” Agel said. “So far this school year, we have turned away 88 students due to a lack of space and resources.”

“The new school will have space for a special education classroom and designated space for music and art, as well as a gym for PE classes. The new building will also include a severe weather safe room, which we currently do not have,” she said.

The organization plans to build the school on the NorthCare campus in Oklahoma City.

“The campus is shaping up to be a center for family and child social-emotional health, and we expect some strong programs to develop out of that partnership,” Agel said. “We’re also hearing that other nonprofits are exploring the location and we’re excited about these possibilities for future partnerships.”

Although Nikki’s commitment to Positive Tomorrows spans two decades, she’s already looking forward to the next twenty years. “I’m excited to see what’s in store for our next phase. Our capital campaign is underway, and I have no doubt that our community will rally to support Positive Tomorrows as it has done for many years.”



To learn ways to get involved with Positive Tomorrows, please visit their website here.

Phillips Murrah supports Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2017 campaigns

The beginning of Spring marks the beginning of Phillips Murrah’s sponsorship campaign for Big Brother Big Sister of Oklahoma’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake event.

The Firm kicked off its annual campaign with a Thunder ticket raffle, garnering $1,600 in donations, as the organization’s Taste of OKC event concluded Feb. 4.

Phillips Murrah served as a table sponsor for Taste of OKC, one of the marquee fundraising events for BBBSOK, at the Chevy Bricktown Events Center. The night was filled with great food from top restaurants in Oklahoma, a silent and a live auction, and then capped off with dancing to the music of My So Called Band.

Over 550 guests attended the event, which exceeded the goals and expectations the organization set, said Byrona J. Maule, Phillips Murrah Director and Member of the Board of Directors for BBBSOK.

“Every year the Taste of OKC gets better and better – in fact, the last two years the event has sold out,” she said. “Between being a table sponsor and auctioning items that guests of Phillips Murrah purchased, Phillips Murrah contributed over $9,000 to the success of the event – enough to make and support six matches for a year!”

BBBS is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network striving to make meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country.

“I’ve been involved with BBBS for over 25 years, and I’ve had four matches that spanned that time,” Maule said. “The time I have spent with my Littles has been the most rewarding and challenging times in my life.

“I’ve helped these Littles learn their multiplication tables, write essays, develop artistic and musical talents, and experience things for the first time like an OU football game, a Thunder basketball game, flying, and so many other firsts.  There is no way to put a value on this time, because the time you spend with your Little is invaluable.”

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters, click here.

Phillips Murrah donates neckties for Tie Day

Journal Record journalist Molly Fleming holds ties donated by Phillips Murrah. She tweeted: "Just picked up 52 ties from our neighbors @PhillipsMurrah. Thanks, everyone! #tieday"

Journal Record journalist Molly Fleming holds ties donated by Phillips Murrah.

Attorneys at our Oklahoma law firm Phillips Murrah rallied overnight to help Journal Record reporter Molly Fleming collect neckties for Tie Day.

Our attorneys donated just over 52 ties, which Molly will bring to a couple of local elementary schools, where they will be given away along with lessons on how to properly tie them.

Molly tweeted:

 JR_MollzFlem – “Just picked up 52 ties from our neighbors @PhillipsMurrah. Thanks, everyone! #tieday”

You’re welcome!

You can find out more about Tie Day here.

Director Juston Givens joins Board of American Banjo Museum

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Dustin Pyeatt, Development and Outreach Manager for American Banjo Museum, and Phillips Murrah Director Juston R. Givens

Phillips Murrah Director Juston R. Givens was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the American Banjo Museum.

The American Banjo Museum is a $5 million, world-class 21,000 square foot facility honoring the rich history of the banjo. The museum’s collection contains more than 400 instruments, recordings, film, video, printed music, instructional materials, ephemera and memorabilia associated with the banjo and contains the largest collection in the world of banjos on public display.

“Being a person who has a strong interest for music, specifically different styles of music that range from roots rock country to west coast rock (i.e. the Eagles) and traditional country and bluegrass, the American Banjo Museum’s all-encompassing style of banjo music was particularly appealing to me,” Givens said. “In addition, I saw an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the American Banjo Museum.

“That is very important to me as I believe the American Banjo Museum to be a significant international element in the music industry and tremendous asset for Oklahoma and Oklahoma City metro community.”

Originally located in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the museum was founded as a non-profit organization in 1998 by Midwest City attorney, Brady Hunt and Indiana industrialist, Jack Canine under its previous name, The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum. The museum is now located in downtown Oklahoma City at 9 E. Sheridan Ave.

“While I am ‘brand new’ to the Board of Directors, I see the American Banjo Museum growing into a very well-known significant international museum that not only provides extensive education in the Oklahoma City and Oklahoma communities, but also on a national basis,” Givens said.

For more information on upcoming events, or to become a member of the American Banjo Museum, visit americanbanjomuseum.com or call at (405) 604-2793.

Team of Phillips Murrah employees participate in Race for the Cure

Phillips Murrah's Rae White, Michelle Campney, and Nanette Morris stand with two friends at Race for the Cure.

Phillips Murrah’s Rae White, Michelle Campney, Nanette Morris and her family stand at Race for the Cure.

A group of Phillips Murrah employees joined together in late October to participate in a 5K for Race for the Cure at Bicentennial Park at the Civic Center Music Hall.

“My family and I have participated in the Race for the Cure for a number of years,” Paralegal Nanette Morris said. “We have had friends, luckily not any family members, that have been affected by breast cancer and have seen how devastating the disease can be.

“Other employees of Phillips Murrah have been touched by breast cancer in a number of ways and so asking the Firm to participate was an easy decision.”

Morris, along with A. Michelle Campney, Lisa McAlister, Rae White, and their families showed their support for the cause.

“Cancer, of all kinds, has affected my friends and family and I wanted to show my support by participating,” said White.

To learn more about Race for the Cure and to find ways to donate to the cause, visit the Susan G. Komen website here.

Director Jim Roth presents for Sierra Club

Director Jim Roth presenting at the Solar Summit for Sierra Club.

Director Jim Roth presenting at the Solar Summit for Sierra Club.

Jim Roth, Director and Chair of Phillips Murrah’s Clean Energy Practice Group, presented at the Solar Summit for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club on Saturday at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City’s Student Center.

“Jim Roth’s former role as a Corporation Commissioner and his current work on cases involving the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, along with his intelligence and his consummate people-skills, make him a perfect fit for helping to educate Oklahomans about the truth regarding solar energy,” said Johnson Bridgwater, Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of Sierra Club.

The summit is a non-partisan, public event aimed at developing discussion to help move Oklahoma from its current position at the bottom of solar-producing states to fulfill its projected capacity of becoming 6th in the nation in solar energy production, Bridgwater said.

“The summit was a great opportunity for Oklahomans to learn about our state’s native solar potential, the ability for citizens to take advantage of this free fuel source and what the energy future looks like,” Roth said.

Learn more about the Oklahoma Chapter of Sierra Club here.

Law & Oarder Rowing Team win at Regatta Festival

Phillips Murrah sponsors Oklahoma Lawyers for Children Tennis Tournament

OLFC-Logo-Main-680x363Phillips Murrah is sponsoring this weekend’s Oklahoma Lawyers for Children David A. Kline Tennis Tournament, continuing a tradition of supporting the organization and honoring the father of one of the Firm’s Directors.

“Tsinena Bruno-Thompson is one of my very favorite people, and she has done a tremendous job as President/CEO of the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children generally and, specifically, with regard to their annual tennis tournaments,” Director Timothy D. Kline said. “My father, David A. Kline, was also exceedingly fond of Tsinena, and our family is very appreciative that his name has been associated with the OLFC’s tennis tournaments.  Additionally, we appreciate Phillips Murrah’s sponsorship of the children’s tournament for the benefit of young people in our community.”

The Firm’s attorneys have a history of representing children in the organization.

“My representation of many children over the years has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” Director Fred A. Leibrock said. “I believe that I have made a significant difference in many children’s lives, especially those who at the end of their case were adopted by loving families.

“The juvenile justice system is replete of many good and hardworking people.  However, they are overworked and as a result the system can be stacked against the kids.  Lawyers for Children provides volunteer lawyers with a great opportunity to level the playing field by providing an advocate’s voice to a child who really needs that voice.  So much of what we do in the practice of law is mundane, but nothing I have ever done in a Lawyers for Children case has been ordinary or routine.”

The reward for attorneys helping Oklahoma Lawyers for Children can come with its own personal reward.

PM attorney Rodney L. Cook to speak at Juvenile Justice Center

“I enjoyed the experience of helping children who needed representation in a difficult situation,” Attorney Rodney L. Cook said. “It was a privilege to use my legal skills to assist these children.  My representation of these juvenile clients allowed me to get to know them and their situations.  I was glad to be able to make their lives better by simply giving my time to help them get to a better family environment.”

Cook was given the opportunity to present at a seminar Oklahoma Lawyers for Children will hold on Aug. 16 at the Juvenile Justice Center

“I have been asked to discuss how to most favorably present clients at trial who have deficiencies,” Cook said. “Usually children are in the DHS/Court/Foster Children program because their parents have abused them or neglected them.  If the parents refuse to relinquish their parental rights, a trial occurs where the state seeks to terminate their rights.

“Public Defenders and contract lawyers are appointed or retained to defend the parents and represent them at trial.  These lawyers have a difficult time presenting their clients in the most favorable light as possible considering the parents’ many deficiencies.  I have been asked to talk to these lawyers about how I prepare and present my civil defense clients for trial testimony who have problems with their testimony, company documents or other deficiencies.  Perhaps some of the procedures and tactics that I employ in my preparation of such witnesses can help these attorneys in the preparation of their parent clients. ”

Cook will present on Tuesday at 9:30 AM at Judge Lisa T. Davis’ courtroom at the Juvenile Justice Center in Oklahoma City.


Video via www.olfc.org

Firm employees welcome Westbrook after contract negotiations

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Stephanie Oseland, Accounting Controller, is pictured smiling in the crowd just behind Russell Westbrook at his conference. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

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Rae White, Lisa McAlister, and Michelle Munda get a good spot to better see Russell Westbrook as he arrives.

Russell Westbrook made an appearance at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Aug. 4 to celebrate the extension of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder and to celebrate what Mayor Mick Cornett proclaimed Russell Westbrook Day.

Representatives from the Thunder put out a call to the public letting them know he would be at the arena to greet fans.

Although hot out, a group of Phillips Murrah employees made their way to join the crowd outside of the arena and waited to welcome him before he participated in a press conference.

Read more about the event and Westbrook’s contract renegotiation and see more pictures at NewsOK.com

Upon arriving, Westbrook took a moment to thank everyone who showed up for showing their support.

Watch a brief video of Westbrook addressing his fans below:

Phillips Murrah Director named as Secretary of Positive Tomorrows

Nicholle Jones Edwards’ practice focuses on family law, labor law and general civil litigation. Her family law practice includes litigation, complex custody issues and valuation issues.

Phillips Murrah Director Nicholle Jones Edwards was appointed Secretary of Positive Tomorrows, an organization aimed at helping homeless children in Oklahoma, on July 1.

“Positive Tomorrows is my favorite charity and non-profit organization,” Edwards said. “As the only elementary school designated for homeless children in Oklahoma, it serves as a safe harbor for kids who struggle to have any normalcy or consistency.”

Edwards also currently serves at the Board Governance Chair hoping to further the organization’s mission.

“These are kids who may not see a meal until the one they receive the next day at school, may not have any clothing except that on their bodies the day they enroll at Positive Tomorrows, and who don’t know the quiet respite of the same bed each night,” she said. “Simply stated, this place is their sanctuary.

“All of this is part of the overall mission, of which the primary focus is for the Positive Tomorrows kiddos to receive a top-notch education.”

Learn more about Positive Tomorrows and how you can get involved here.

Phillips Murrah attorneys volunteer for Cavett Kids Foundation

Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec

Attorney Monica Y. Ybarra, OCBA Community Service Committee Vice Chair, with attorney Ashley Schovanec.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Nicholle Jones Edwards, Kayce L. Gisinger, Monica Y. Ybarra, and Ashley M. Schovanec were on site at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center on July 6 to lend a helping hand to the children heading to Camp Cavett.

“Monica, who is on the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, let the Phillips Murrah attorneys know that volunteers were needed to help with the Camp Cavett camp check-in,” Schovanec said. “On Wednesday morning, Nikki, Monica, Kayce and I helped do things like pass out camp T-shirts, help with luggage, and pass out luggage tags to help the camp check-in process go smoothly.”

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

Chance Pearson, OCBA Community Service Committee Chair, with Director Nicholle Jones Edwards, Jenna and Claudette Greenway, Cavett Kids Board Member.

The Cavett Kids Foundation serves hundreds of children with various life-threatening and chronic illnesses every year.

“Among other things, the Cavett Foundation provides a unique summer camp experience that meets the medical needs of its campers without distracting from the fun of summer camp,” Ybarra said.

Phillips Murrah attorneys, along with other volunteers from the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Community Service Committee, assisted campers and their families through the check-in process and saw the kids off to camp.

“Just because a child suffers from a life-threatening or chronic illness doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the opportunity to go to summer camp,” Schovanec said. “What a heartwarming sight it was to see the look on each of the kids’ faces as they walked (or ran) to the summer camp check-in stations.”

To learn how to get involved and volunteer with Cavett Kids, click here.

Attorney re-elected mayor of Nichols Hills

Steven Goetzinger is a business attorney whose practice focuses on real estate issues unique to the oil and gas industry.

Steven Goetzinger is a business attorney whose practice focuses on real estate issues unique to the oil and gas industry.

Attorney Steven J. Goetzinger is beginning his second term as mayor of Nichols Hills.

He joined the Nichols Hills City Council in May 2011 and was first elected mayor in 2013. He represents Ward 3.

Goetzinger was born and raised in Woodward, Oklahoma and now resides in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma. He is currently a member of the Oklahoma City University School of Law Executive Board.

His law practice centers on oil, gas and real estate law. He currently serves as general counsel to an independent oil and gas company in which he is also a member.

 

Phillips Murrah Director organizes Oklahoma commercial real estate group for women

(See the updated story here)

The Oklahoma commercial real estate industry has a new organization for women practitioners called Commercial Real Estate Women, or CREW. It is a professional network that represents multiple disciplines within the industry, including lawyers, developers, bankers, architects and engineers.

“We have an outstanding group of initial board members,” said Phillips Murrah Director, Sally A. Hasenfratz, who is a veteran real estate attorney in the Firm’s Real Estate Practice Group.

“Julie Kriegel and I, who are members-at-large of the national CREW Network, were the parties who put it together,” Hasenfratz added. “We had a kickoff meeting with more than 70 people in attendance.”

CREW-OKC was founded with the intention to become a local chapter of the national CREW Network. Vicky Dunning, who is on the national board of the CREW Network spoke at the meeting.

Requirements for full membership are that members must work within a qualified field of commercial real estate with five or more years of experience and hold a leadership role within her company or organization.

CREW-OKC Board of Directors:

  • Michelle Anderson, director of asset services, CBRE
  • Betsy Brunsteter, principal, ADG
  • Marva Ellard, developer, Sieber Holdings
  • Sally Hasenfratz, Director, Phillips Murrah
  • Jane Jenkins, president and CEO, Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.
  • Kristin Killgore, associate-project engineer, ZFI Engineering
  • Julie Kriegel, vice president, Wiggin Properties LLC
  • Morgan Morrissey, vice president, MidFirst Bank
  • Cathy O’Connor, president, The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City Inc.
  • Mary Paltani, property manager, Hines
  • Carla Sharpe, attorney, Williams, Box, Forshee & Bullard P.C.
  • Monica Wittrock, senior vice president-central states region, First American Title Insurance Co.

 

Phillips Murrah sponsors OU Women and Gender Studies event

Joanna

OU Women and Gender Studies Professor JoAnna Wall, OU Linebacker Eric Striker, and Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Edwards at Voices from the Heart on April 22.

Phillips Murrah sponsored the University of Oklahoma’s Voices from the Heart event on April 22, benefiting the university’s Women and Gender Studies Program.

“I serve on the Advisory Board as an extension of my undergraduate and law school alma mater,” Phillips Murrah Director Nikki Edwards said. “I believe as a professional woman in law, I owe it to give back by committing my resources, finances and my time to this cause.”

Several Courage Awards were given to Oklahomans who were recognized for their courage. Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, the couple who filed suit to challenge Oklahoma’s gay marriage laws, and OU Football Linebacker Eric Striker were given awards.

Jari Askins, former lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, was the keynote speaker and she was also given a surprise award for her courage.

“I believe human rights causes and tolerance are central to growth in our state and country,” Edwards said.

Phillips Murrah attorney named to Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s Advisory Council

Mary Richard is recognized as one of pioneers in health care law in Oklahoma. She has represented institutional and non-institutional providers of health services, as well as patients and their families.

Mary Richard is recognized as one of pioneers in health care law in Oklahoma. She has represented institutional and non-institutional providers of health services, as well as patients and their families.

A new opportunity for Phillips Murrah Attorney Mary Holloway Richard will help her continue her work of increasing visibility of mental health issues in Oklahoma.

Richard has joined Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s Advisory Council based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Partnered with the Homeless Alliance, Mental Health Association Oklahoma has a variety of programs including youth wellness screenings, support groups and legal services. These programs focus on housing, education, advocacy, support, and recovery to those affected by mental disorders.

To learn more about Mental Health Association Oklahoma and the programs they provide, visit their website here.

Phillips Murrah sponsors Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling event

Assistant Marketing Director Nathan Hatcher, Chelsea Linn, Nick Potter, Administrative Assistant Cristal Bazemore, and Legal Secretary Sherree Williams take a break from bowling at Phillips Murrah’s Bowling Night.

After months of fundraising, five teams of Phillips Murrah employees, families and friends celebrated the Firm’s community efforts at Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake annual event.

Dust Bowl welcomed Phillips Murrah for the Firm’s Bowling Night on April 7, organized by Phillips Murrah and Big Brothers Big Sisters staff.

Phillips Murrah Director Byrona Maule spearheaded the campaign, which raised $5,437.

“Bowl For Kids’ Sake (BFKS) is the single largest fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters – it’s a great way to provide financial support for matches and the bowling party is a lot of fun,” Maule said. “It is an easy decision on my part to facilitate Phillips Murrah’s participation in BFKS! “

The firm hosts a series of events and raffle drawings to garner support for the campaign and raise money to help the organization.

“I’ve seen these results first hand, as one of my Little Sisters had parents who were incarcerated,” Maule said. “These types of results make it easy to commit to supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma.  I’m so glad that Phillips Murrah, through teamwork, was able to contribute.”

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma or to make a donation, visit their website here.

Director helps organization transport at-risk pets across country

Director Heather Hintz with Ned, the dog she helped transport.

Director Heather Hintz with Ned, the dog she helped transport.

Free time is sparse for attorneys, but Phillips Murrah Director Heather Hintz uses hers to help animals travel across the country.

“I got involved in transports only recently, via my years-long involvement with animal welfare organizations, rescues, and spay/neuter campaigns,” Hintz said. “One of the animal welfare email lists I have subscribed to for a long time, cross-posted the need to move a deaf and blind dog named ‘Ned’ from Stephens County, Oklahoma to Portland, Oregon.”

Animals that require transport are typically dog and cat rescues that have special needs or can’t be placed where they are, or rescues that are about to be euthanized. Animal welfare networks, animal shelters, and volunteers arrange for the dog or cat to be moved to another place where someone has agreed to place the animal and provide surgery or other animal welfare-related needs, she said.

“In the case of ‘Ned,’ he was totally blind and deaf and couldn’t be placed—he was a special needs dog,” Hintz said. “Deaf Dogs of Oregon agreed to train him to respond to non-visual/non-verbal commands, find a home for him, and train the new owner as to how to deal with a deaf/blind dog.”

Various organizations function as transport organizations. Once a volunteer has been ‘vetted’ or recommended as trustworthy, that person gets on a transport list. When there is a need to move dogs or cats across the country to be re-homed, a very detailed route list is prepared by a transport coordinator, broken down into segments with start and stop times, she said.

Buster, a Jack Russell terrier, at a rest stop during a transport.

Buster, a Jack Russell Terrier, at a rest stop during a transport.

“I thought it would be a rewarding experience, so I signed up,” Hintz said. “I made arrangements with the person who would be dropping Ned with me, and we met at a fast food place. That driver handed me Ned’s papers, his water bowl and some treats, and Ned got into my car and I drove him to Wichita, Kansas.

“I had made arrangements with the person picking up in Wichita to meet at a certain rest stop – when I met her, Ned hopped in her car and they left to meet the next person.”

From conception to completion, the details of transporting animals are particular and sensitive to ensure the animals’ safety.

“If you happen to be on the route, you get the email saying ‘transport assistance needed’ showing all the segments, and you can sign up for a segment,” Hintz said. “It is very structured – you have to make arrangements ahead of time and at each hand-off, and both the person handing off and the person picking up need to notify the coordinator on the spot that the hand-off has been completed.

“The coordinator closely monitors the entire transport.”

Though there are many details and hours involved in making sure the task is completed, the overall mission is personally rewarding.

“It was an incredible experience,” Hintz said. “There were lots of people working together to get this done, giving up time out of their busy schedules, all to save one dog.”

Hintz assisted in another transport last summer involving four white German Shepherd puppies moving from Austin, Texas to Colorado, and an older Jack Russell Terrier moving from Texas to the Wisconsin Dells. The mission was special in that they were all picked up in Wichita by 2 different pilots who flew them to Colorado and Wisconsin, for no cost, as volunteers.

Those interested in contributing can get more info from Deaf Dogs of Oregon’s website here.

Attorney joins Vatterott College Program Advisory Board

Gretchen M. Latham’s practice focuses on representing creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy, collection and replevin cases.

Gretchen M. Latham’s practice focuses on representing creditors in foreclosure, bankruptcy, collection and replevin cases.

Phillips Murrah Attorney Gretchen M. Latham will join the Vatterott College (OKC Campus) Program Advisory Board for Business and Paralegal Studies on Feb. 23.

Latham’s duties will require her input on requirements for the Paralegal Studies Program so future graduates are assured success upon entering the legal field.

Director named to OSU Foundation Board of Governors

Terry L. Hawkins is a Director of the Firm and is Chair of the Public Finance Practice Group where he has more than 35 years experience in municipal finance projects.

Terry L. Hawkins is a Director of the Firm and is Chair of the Public Finance Practice Group where he has more than 35 years experience in municipal finance projects.

Phillips Murrah Director Terry Hawkins was appointed to the Board of Governors of Oklahoma State University Foundation in October for a six-year term.

To be appointed to the Board of Governors of the OSU Foundation, candidates have to be nominated by someone currently serving on the board.  Typically, nominees have been involved in raising funds for the foundation or assisting Oklahoma State University in its academic efforts.  A nominee must be approved by the Board of Trustees, which is the governing board of the Foundation.

“Over the years, I have served as bond counsel on over a dozen bond financings for various projects on the OSU campuses,” Hawkins said. “In addition, my wife Brenda and I established an endowed scholarship in memory of our son Andrew, who graduated from OSU in 2007.”

The foundation’s primary purpose is to raise funds for OSU, invest these funds prudently and maximize the support given to OSU by its alumni and current and prospective donors. These funds are critical for OSU as it fulfills its land grant mission to provide access to education for students, by providing scholarships, he said.

The OSU Foundation started in 1961 with one officer raising a few thousand dollars and growing to now exceeding $1 billion in total donations.

“As OSU’s needs have broadened, so has the fundraising mission of the foundation,” Hawkins said. “Gifts through the Foundation have provided hundreds of millions of dollars for buildings, scholarships, graduate fellowships, laboratory and classroom equipment, endowed faculty positions, lectureships and many other University programs.”

To learn more about the OSU Foundation or to contribute, visit osugiving.com.

Jim Roth speaks at Society of Environmental Journalists 25th annual conference

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Congratulations to Director Jim Roth for his efforts at this year’s Society of Environmental Journalists 25th Annual Conference, titled Environmental Journalism 2015 – Weather, Water, Energy: News in Every Neighborhood.

Jim spoke during Saturday’s lunch session on the topic of “Our Energy Future.”

“Oklahoma is a microcosm of energy rights and energy fights across the nation. Utilities are eager to add more renewable energy, but struggle with transmission power. They’re also grappling with the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which might make coal-fired plants uneconomical. The state is home to several independent oil and gas drillers, known for pioneering horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods that have fueled the recent boom. As towns push back on the industry’s right to drill in or near city limits, states are considering preempting the municipal bans. We’ll explore Oklahoma as both a microcosm and a driver of energy use nationally with experts from all sectors.” – Session explanation, SEJ.org

The moderator was Erin Ailworth, a Houston-based energy reporter for The Wall Street Journal

In addition to Jim, the session featured speakers, Denise Bode, Attorney and Principal, Cornerstone Government Affairs and Kyle Isakower, Vice President, Regulatory and Economic Policy, American Petroleum Institute.

Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completes 2015 season

Phillips Murrah rowing team on the course

Phillips Murrah’s corporate rowing team, Law & Oarder, was featured on the cover of the Saturday, Oklahoman on Oct. 3.

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Getting ready for the race, Oct 2 at the Oklahoma Boathouse District. From left: Nathan Hatcher, Debra Tyler, Jennifer Miller, Jason Kreth, Dave Rhea, Melissa Gardner, G. Calvin Sharpe.

The Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completed the 2015 season on Friday with a solid, 500-meter run of 1:52.818.

“It has been amazing to see how wholeheartedly the firm supports our team,” said Phillips Murrah attorney and L&O team leader, Melissa Gardner. “I definitely think rowing is an outlet to build relationships outside of those you’d normally build in the firm.”

Over the two seasons during the summer of 2015, the rowing team has consisted of Firm Shareholders, attorneys, non-attorney directors in marketing and IT, legal secretaries and accountants.

“Rowing gives me a sense of commitment and accountability to our team and it brings our ‘work family’ together in a vastly different environment,” said Marketing Director, Dave Rhea. “It’s a very interesting activity. This is my first year, and I am hooked.”

PM rowing tshirts for 2015

PM rowing t shirts for 2015

“Plus, I think the regattas are a great way for the firm to build morale,” Melissa added. “As someone who started at the firm within the last two years, it was a great way to speed up relationship building within the firm – both with those who are on the team and all those who are just interested!”

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Practice: G. Calvin and Monica Ball preparing to “put foot to strip.”

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Phillips Murrah rowing team has been an awesome experience,” said Deena Baker, a Legal Secretary at Phillips Murrah. “I have accomplished something I never dreamed of even attempting, but was determined to try after watching last October’s race!  Had the time of my life and am ready to jump back in next year!”

You can see more coverage about the regatta in The Oklahoman – Oklahoma Regatta Festival: Premier fall rowing event keeps growing by Ed Godfrey.

 

Softball tournament raises money for director’s charity

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The Police Department Rookies and the Fire Department Recruits started out the Matt Terry Memorial Softball Tournament with the first head-to-head match-up.

Phillips Murrah Director Kathy Terry hosted the third annual Matt Terry Memorial Softball Tournament on Sunday, September 27 in memory of her late husband, a much-loved figure at the Edmond Police Department who passed away unexpectedly on October 2, 2013.

Sixteen co-ed teams, including the police department, the fire department, News 9, Oklahoma Christian, Edmond Memorial High School, and local businesses, took to the diamond.

“Starting off it was the Police Department Rookies vs. the Fire Recruits,” Terry said. “Mid-morning, the Rookies played the reigning champs at Edmond Police Department, the Dingers, while the Recruits went head-to-head with the Fire Department veterans.”

In the end, the Dingers were unseated and a new champion arose – a community team of friends and alums of Edmond Memorial High School.

“We raised over $12,500 for the Matt Terry Memorial Fund, a non-profit that supports law enforcement officers and families in times of unusual need or tragedy,” Terry said. “In 2014, we raised over $15,000 for the Oklahoma chapter of the American Heart Association.”

Four presenting sponsors, including Philips Murrah, OU Medical Center Edmond, Homeland, and the Edmond law firm of Nelson Terry Morton DeWitt Paruolo & Wood have lead the way each year with donations and support, she said.

“Every year, Eagle Rub BBQ serves up pulled pork and MOB Grill throws down onion burgers without so much as even a penny to cover costs,” Terry said. “Dance Party Productions provides the music and the DJ – also totally for free.”

Other local businesses, including BancFirst of Edmond, the Oklahoman, Crest Foods, Sarah Lee, Everything Barbeque, R Meyers of Nichols Hills, Jewels by Simpson, Weathers TV and more made contributions of money, raffle and auction items, and their time and support to contribute to the day.

 

 

Attorney Cody Cooper accepted to OBA Leadership Academy

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Cody J. Cooper represents individuals and companies in a wide range of civil litigation matters. His practice concentrates on commercial litigation, intellectual property and labor and employment law.

The Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) selected Attorney Cody Cooper as one of 22 emerging leaders in Oklahoma’s legal community to be members of the Oklahoma Bar Association Leadership Academy Class of 2016.

Participants have been selected from a pool of applicants spanning the state and will receive training in leadership, motivation and communication.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to become more involved in the OBA, in general,” Cooper said. “I also see it as a good opportunity for personal growth, to expand my own knowledge and experience, and gain valuable leadership knowledge and skills.”

Originating from OBA’s Leadership Conference in 2007, the academy is aimed at developing the future leaders of the OBA by giving Oklahoma attorneys training in the core principles of effective leadership and how to communicate, motivate and succeed in their legal careers and as community leaders.

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Fred A. Leibrock is an experienced trial lawyer who has tried dozens of jury trials and has served as lead counsel in a number of significant cases involving complex, multi-jurisdiction issues.

“Almost all lawyers I know generously volunteer, serve and give of themselves,” Phillips Murrah Director Fred Leibrock said. “The OBA Leadership Academy helps train lawyers to sharpen their skills as community leaders. The Academy provides a great service not just to the Bar Association, but also to the communities in which Academy members live and practice. Cody Cooper is a brilliant young lawyer who has a servant’s heart.  He’s a perfect fit with the Academy’s goal of preparing those who want to serve our profession, our bar and our state.”

The OBA Leadership Academy will include five sessions, the first of which is set for September 2015 and the academy will conclude with its fifth and final session in April 2016.

The first session in September will kick off the first half of the academy with Herb Rubenstein, nationally known for his course work and book on Leadership for Lawyers.

“They will get an inside look at what we do here in our administrative offices and about the various ways they can serve,” said Susan Krug, OBA Director of Educational Programs. “They will participate in the OBA Annual Meeting where they will learn more about the workings of the Bar Association, the Board of Governors, Committees, Divisions and Departments.

“They will hear from a panel of lawyers that were in previous leadership academies and learn about special projects sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division, Law Day, Oklahoma Lawyers for America’s Heroes and opportunities within the ABA.”

The second half of the academy focuses more on leadership in action at the state, court and community level, ethics, the importance of selecting an independent judiciary, and servant leadership/diversity and community and life balance, Krug said.

“Being a lawyer is a calling that carries with it obligations that transcend the mere delivery of services,” OBA President David Poarch said in a press release about the 2016 class selection. “The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Leadership Academy prepares those who want to serve our profession, our bar and our state by providing them with tools to help them better communicate, motivate and succeed.”

There will be a graduation ceremony in April where academy graduates will hear from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Reif, the 2016 President of the Board of Governors, Garvin Isaacs and Mike Turpen. The 2015-2016 group will be the sixth class to graduate from the academy.

Phillips Murrah attorneys and summer clerks visit nursing home

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From left: Marchi McCartney, Kendra Norman, Nancy Parrot, William Sobral, Hilary Hudson, Judge Patricia Parrish, Ray Zschiesche, Monica Ybarra, Travis Weedn and Chance Pearson.

Friday afternoon, Aug 7, the Oklahoma County Bar Association Community Service Committee had a Luau-themed party for the residents of the Edwards Redeemer Nursing Home.

Phillips Murrah attorneys Director Ray Zschiesche and Monica Ybarra were on hand to dance and visit with the Edwards Redeemer Nursing Home residents, along with our summer clerks, Hillary Hudson, Kendra Norman, Jace White and Ben McCaslin.

 

 

Congratulations: PM Director Ray Zschiesche elected to OCBA Board of Directors

Ray Zschiesche's practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation and appeals.

Ray Zschiesche’s practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation and appeals.

The Oklahoma County Bar Association Nominations & Election Committee have announced members for its 2015-2016 Board of Directors.

Phillips Murrah Director Ray Zschiesche has been elected to the Board of Directors and will take office Sept. 1, 2015.

“I am honored to have been elected to the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, and look forward to working with the incoming officers and other board members to continue the mission of the OCBA and its tradition of excellence,” Ray said. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the OCBA in this capacity and hope to contribute as much as I anticipate learning.”

OCBA announced nominations for board members in June and took ballots through the end of July.

Ray was awarded OCBA’s Committee of the Year award in June for his work as chairman of the Community Service Committee.

Other PM stories featuring Ray:

Director wins Committee of the Year award from OCBA

Ray Zschiesche's practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation and appeals.

Ray Zschiesche’s practice is focused on complex state and federal litigation and appeals.

Director Ray Zschiesche received an award for Committee of the Year by the Oklahoma County Bar Association for his work as chairman of the Community Service Committee.

“Phillips Murrah is proud to have Ray as a representation of the firm,” President Tom Wolfe said. “He is rightly deserving of praise in accepting the Committee of the Year award given his selflessness in his work as chairman of the Community Service Committee.”

Ray was recently recognized in an Oklahoma Bar Journal article for the Community Service Committee’s continued annual holiday tradition of providing some holiday cheer to the less fortunate.

Ray received the award at OCBA’s Annual Awards Luncheon on June 12.