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The Kate Barnard Award


Picture of Kate Barnard
In 1907, Kate Barnard, a native of Oklahoma, became the first woman to win a statewide elected office in the United States.  She held the office of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for two terms.  She was a key figure in the enactment of a compulsory education law providing for state payments to widows dependent on their children’s earnings, of legislation implementing the constitutional ban on child labor, and of laws aimed at unsafe working conditions.

History of the Award

The Kate Barnard Award was created in 1998 to honor the ranks of women that have made a difference in Oklahoma by becoming public servants. Nominees are from the ranks of elected or appointed salaried public officials in Oklahoma.

Recipients of the Kate Barnard Award


2015 - Lee Denney, House of Representatives

  2015 Lee Denney.jpeg

 Representative Lee Denney is the second woman in Oklahoma to hold the position of Speaker Pro Tempore In the Oklahoma House of  Representatives. She was appointed to that position during the 55th Oklahoma Legislature. Lee Denney is a native of Payne County having been raised in Cushing Oklahoma. Denney graduated from Cushing High School, received her degree in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University, and then went on to receive her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Oklahoma State University. She Co-owned Veterinary Medical Associates, Inc. in Oklahoma from 1979 – 2012.  

2015 - Janet Cunningham, President, Northwestern Oklahoma State College 

  2015 Janet Cunningham.jpeg

 Dr. Janet Cunningham began serving as the 19th president of Northwestern Oklahoma State University on July 1, 2006, following her appointment by the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma. Cunningham becomes just the second alumni and first woman to become president of the institution. Cunningham was named executive vice president in 2002 after serving 12 years as vice president for fiscal affairs.

2013 - Pam Peterson, House of Representatives

  2013 Pam Peterson.png

Representative Pam Peterson is the first woman in Oklahoma to hold the position of Majority Floor Leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. She was appointed to that position during the 54th Oklahoma Legislature. Elected in 2005, Peterson has authored legislative policy related to women’s issues, children’s protection, family violence prevention, and controlling human trafficking. She earned the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women’s 2012 Guardian Award for this legislation. From 2008-2012, she chaired the House Human Services Committee.


2014 - Terri White, Commissioner, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 

  2014 Kate Barnard Honoree Terri

Terri White was appointed as Commissioner in 2007. She is a passionate advocate for individuals experiencing mental illness and addiction. Under her leadership the agency  has become nationally known for its children’s behavioral health  services; community‐based treatment programs; technological innovations such as “telepsychiatry;” and the integration of behavioral health care into primary healthcare settings. In addition to her career endeavors, White has been recognized by numerous civic organizations for her outstanding leadership abilities and tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for Oklahomans living with a mental or addictive disorder.

2012 - Lisa Billy, House of Representatives

2012 KB Lisa Billy.png

 In 2005, Lisa Billy was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in District 42. She is the first Native American and woman elected from this district. She is a strong advocate for women and is especially interested in the issues of incarceration and its impact on families, as well as improving education among girls and young women. She is an Assistant Majority Whip, is the chair of the Appropriations and Budget for Higher Education Committee, and serves on several other committees, including appropriations and budget committees, energy and aerospace, and public safety committees. She previously served on the International, Federal and Tribal Relations Committee and General Government/Transportation, Human Services and  Children & Families committees.

2012 - Natalie Shirley, President, OSU-Oklahoma City 

Natalie Shirley

Natalie Shirley, a lawyer and businesswoman, is the first female president in the OSU System, which includes OSU-OKC, OSU-Stillwater, OSU-Tulsa, OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, and OSU-Institute of Technology in Okmulgee. As President of OSU-OKC, she advocates for and works to build an educated workforce. From 2007-2011, Shirley served in Gov. Brad Henry’s Cabinet as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce and Tourism. In this position, she was the liaison between the governor, five major state agencies and more than 30 smaller agencies, authorities and institutions. During this time, Shirley also served as the Executive Director of the Department of Commerce, the state’s leading economic development agency 

2011 - Patrice Douglas, Mayor of Edmond
Picture of Patrice Douglas 2011 Kate Barnard Recip

Patrice Douglas was elected mayor of Edmond, Oklahoma’s fifth largest city, in 2009. Prior to her election as mayor, Douglas served as an elected representative to the Oklahoma Municipal League Board of Directors, elected Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Edmond Economic Development Authority, and on the Board of Directors of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce.

2011 - Norma L. Noble, Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Picture of Norma Noble 2011 Kate Barnard Recipient

Norma L. Noble has served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Workforce Development since her appointment by Governor Brad Henry in 2003. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Secretary, Noble served as Deputy Director for Oklahoma County’s Department of Training & General Assistance and Director of Oklahoma County’s Workforce Investment Board. 


2010 - Sandy Garrett, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Picture of Sandy Garrett and Mary Walker

Sandy Garrett is serving her fifth consecutive term in the elected office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She is the only woman in Oklahoma history to hold this constitutional post, which includes chair of both the State Board of Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education and membership on the State Board of Equalization, the Board of Reagents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, and the School Land Commission, among numerous other statutory roles, both state and national. 


2009 - The Honorable April Sellers White, Associate District Judge of Creek County
Picture of Judge April Sellers White 2009 KB Award

April Sellers White was elected Associate District Judge for Creek County in 1986 and has served in that capacity through seven elections, two of them contested. Her judicial responsibilities as Associate District Judge since 1987 currently includes felony trials, divorces, adoptions, child support enforcement, protective orders, weddings and traffic dockets. .

2008 - Kim Holland, Insurance Commissioner
Picture of Kim Holland-Kate Barnard Recipient 2008

Kim Holland is the first woman elected Insurance Commissioner in Oklahoma State history. She was elected on November 7, 2006 after having been appointed by Governor Brad Henry in January 2005 to fill an unexpired term. In her career as Insurance Commissioner, Commissioner Holland restored the integrity of the Insurance Department by bringing honesty and her vision of creating a completely transparent department for all Oklahomans. A business woman and active civic volunteer before becoming Insurance Commissioner, Commissioner Holland has a proven track record of consumer advocacy over more than two decades as an insurance professional. 

2007 - Congresswoman Mary Fallin
Pic of Lieut.Gov. Mary Fallin 2005 WHOF recip

Mary Fallin has been making history in Oklahoma since 1994 when she was elected the state’s first woman and first Republican lieutenant governor. As lieutenant governor, Fallin pursued an aggressive agenda focusing on economic development, education, health care, and government reform.

As lieutenant governor, Fallin served as the president of the Senate as well as on 10 boards and commissions that impact the quality of life and business in Oklahoma, including the Tourism and Recreation Commission, State Board of Equalization, Oklahoma Land Commission, and the Film Advisory Commission. 

2007 - Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins
Picture of Jari Askins 2007 Kate Barnard Award Rec

Jari Askins was sworn in as Oklahoma’s 15th lieutenant governor in January 2007, giving her the rare distinction of serving in all three branches of government: judicial, legislative, and executive. She is the first Democratic woman to serve as lieutenant governor.

Askins was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1994. As a freshman legislator, she was named vice chair of the Criminal Justice Committee. House Speaker Glen Johnson named her co-chair of the Domestic Relations Recodification Committee, a joint committee of legislators, attorneys, judges, and law professors to review and recommend revisions for Oklahoma’s divorce laws and procedures.

2006 - State Senator Angela Monson
Picture of Angela Monson 2006 Kate Barnard Award R

Senator Angela Monson has been a member of the Oklahoma State Senate since 1993.  She currently serves as First Assistant Majority Floor Leader and previously served as Chairperson of the Finance Committee.  

Senator Monson served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from November 1990 until her election to the State Senate.  Senator Monson serves as immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  She previously served as president and a member of the Executive Committee of the NCSL, and as chair of the NCSL Health Committee.  Senator Monson is an Executive Committee member of the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures. 

2005 - State Senator Penny Williams
Picture of Senator Penny Williams 2005 Kate Barnar

Ms. Williams was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1980 and served through 1988 at which time she was elected to the Oklahoma Senate serving through 2004. She represented House District 70 and held the Senate District 33 seat. She was a member of the Democratic Party. Ms. Williams was in the legislature 24 years, the longest serving woman. 

1999 - Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange
Picture of Vicki Miles-LaGrange 2003 WHOF recipien

Vicki Miles-LaGrange was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1986 and served through 1993. She held the Senate District 48 seat and was a member of the Democratic Party.

U.S. District Judge-First woman U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma and among the first in the nation.

First African-American female elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1986.

Oklahoma African-American Hall of Fame

Oklahoma Bar Association's "Woman Trailblazer" Award


Last Modified on 06/25/2015