Tulsa Debate League

Our Board of Directors

Drew France, Chair

Kuma Roberts

Director of Fund Development & Strategic Planning, Community Action Project

Drew France is the Director of Fund Development & Strategic Planning at Tulsa’s Community Action Project - a national leader at coupling preschool services with educational programs for parents to combat intergenerational poverty. In this capacity, Mr. France is responsible for the agency’s $50M annual operating budget. Apart from his work at Community Action Project, Drew is also a consultant assisting school districts across four states with the receipt of federal funds to expand internet access. Other non-profit organizations for which Drew is a board member include the Foundation for Tulsa Schools, Growing Together, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Leadership Tulsa. Drew debated in high school in rural Iowa, and in college at the University of Kansas - ending his accomplished career in 1997 as the seventh-ranked speaker at the National Debate Tournament.

Kate Richey

Program Manager for Education, Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce

Kuma Roberts currently serves as the Program Manager for Education at the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is a native Tulsan who graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and went on to study English and Theatre at the University of Tulsa. Prior to joining the Chamber Kuma worked at Volunteers of America as the executive assistant to the CFO, where she developed a desire to continue her work in the realm of  social justice and business development. In her role as Program Manager, she oversees the involvement of the Tulsa business community in the engagement of the local schools districts.  She has served on several local boards including the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, Dress for Success and has served as secretary for the Rotary Club of North Tulsa. She is a participant in Leadership Tulsa as well as have been featured as a “Success Spotlight” in the Tulsa Business & Legal News. Kuma is passionate about educational equity, social justice and her community.

Assistant Lecturer & Policy Debate Coach, University of Texas at Austin

Kate Richey has a B.B.A. in International Business from the University of Texas at San Antonio and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Oklahoma. She currently lives in Austin, Texas and coaches the award-winning University of Texas debate team. Kate has extensive experience teaching government and public policy at the college level, and she has written about immigration, poverty, race and the economy in Oklahoma. She has previously worked as a policy analyst for the non-profit, non-partisan think tank, Oklahoma Policy Institute, and coordinated the Oklahoma Assets Network (OAN), a diverse group of individuals and organizations who work to advance a range of policy initiatives to protect assets and advance opportunity for low income Oklahomans and in communities of color.

 

Daniel Blaho

Founder and Director, DSB Creative/ Founder,  chair at the Bridge Coworking

Daniel Blaho is a native Tulsan entrepreneur who, five years ago, founded DSB Creative, a marketing and design company. He has worked the the Tulsa Debate League to produce marketing material and branded components of Tulsa Debate. Daniel continues to help build  Tulsa Debate League's Brand; as well as, he manages all on-line activity for the League.  With a degree in Visual Communication, Daniel’s skills include graphic design, web development, brand development and online marketing. He has helped developed apps and websites for numerous universities and schools and is excited to bring those skills to help further the brand and reach of this great community program.

Steven Benson

Thomas Boxley

English Teacher and Debate Coach, Tulsa Public Schools

A native of metropolitan Detroit, Steven attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies. He moved to Tulsa in 2011 as a corps member with Teach For America. He taught 9th-10th grade English at Central High School for three years. During his time at Central, he worked closely with the Tulsa Debate League to implement and sustain a speech and debate program at the school. Within a year of implementation, four of his students qualified for the state tournament. After a year working as a teacher mentor with Teach for America, Steven is returning to Central High School to teach English and coach debate. Steven is looking forward to continuing his involvement with the Tulsa Debate League because he fully believes in its mission and the opportunities that it can provide for students in the city.

Zena Bhagia Shah, CPA, Treasurer

Managing Consultant, Opportune

Zena Shah currently serves as a Managing Consultant in the Complex Financial Reporting practice of Opportune, an energy focused consulting firm.  Zena provides clients with technical research, financial analysis and SEC reporting assistance, specializing in initial public offerings.  Prior to joining Opportune, Zena worked in the Advisory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers providing financial due diligence assistance to private equity clients pursuing transactions and the Auditing and Assurance Services practice at KPMG.  Zena graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Master's in Professional Accounting.  Zena is excited to bring her accounting and finance background to further the impact of the Tulsa Debate League.

 

Zena is also on the board of the Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance and is a member of the Tulsa Junior League.

Mary Huckabee

Attorney, Conner & Winters, LLP.

Mary Huckabee is an attorney at the law firm of Conner & Winters, LLP. She focuses her practice on transactional business law including real estate transactions, banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate counseling for public and private companies. Ms. Huckabee completed a federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable James H. Payne, Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

 

Ms. Huckabee is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, class of 2004. She was a varsity policy debater at Booker T. Washington and competed nationally.

 

Ms. Huckabee graduated from Columbia University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science.

 

She was recognized as the overall outstanding graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law Class of 2012, receiving the Joel Jankowsky Award. She also served as the Editor-in-chief of American Indian Law Review.

Thomas Boxley is a Tulsa native, educated in the Tulsa Public Schools system - a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. He attended Jackson State University, graduating from Langston.  He also holds a Masters of Human Relations degree with a concentration in Organizational Development. Thomas has developed a passion for growing and developing communities and organizations. In his current position with OU-Physicians Tulsa, Thomas has been directly responsible for the development of the Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic. Thomas was responsible for the utilization of local contractors in the construction of the facility, initial staffing development, clinical and facility management, asset management, marketing and outreach. Thomas had been instrumental in the development of the 36th Street North Small Area Plan working closely with the City of Tulsa planning department and the residents of the community. He has worked with a variety of organizations that impact the Tulsa community including The Alliance for Economic Inclusion of Northeast Oklahoma, Teach for America, The American Heart Association, OSU Extension, Tulsa Debate League, The Oklahoma Academy, Leadership Oklahoma. Thomas is a founding member and Executive Director of the Institute for Developing Communities, an Oklahoma based 501c3 with a mission of strengthening, rebuilding and revitalizing communities via strategic planning, education and job creation.

 

A lifelong learner, Thomas enjoys reading and spending time with family in his free time.

Mercedes Millberry

Community Affairs Representative, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma

Mercedes Millberry Fowler is a Community Affairs Representative for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. She previously worked in the public relations department at Blue Cross. Prior to joining Blue Cross, Millberry Fowler worked for non-profit and education organizations in Community Relations and Communications roles. In addition to her professional work, she has served on non-profit boards in the Tulsa community for more than 20 years, including affiliations with the Association for Women in Communication, the Tulsa Press Club, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and many others. In addition to her affiliation with the Tulsa Debate League, she currently serves on the boards for Leadership Tulsa and YWCA of Tulsa and on committees for Mosaic (Tulsa Regional Chamber), Resonance and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Millberry Fowler graduated from The University of Tulsa with a political science degree and certificates in Women’s Studies and African American Studies.

Conor Cleary

Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of the Interior

Conor Cleary is a trial attorney with the Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. Department of the Interior.  A native Tulsan, he attended Bishop Kelley High School, before obtaining his bachelor and law degrees at the University of Oklahoma.  Conor began debating in high school, where he won a state championship, and continued his success as a founding member of the University of Oklahoma's debate team in 2003.  His senior year, he and his debate partner won the Harvard, Wake Forest, and Northwestern University debate tournaments before winning the Cross Examination Debate Association national championship.  He then coached two additional national championship teams while attending law school. Conor is also on the board of Youth Services of Tulsa, Oklahomans for Equality, and Tulsa CARES.

Honorary Board

Roberta Ellis

Chief Human Capital Officer (ret.), Tulsa Public Schools/Consultant, Urban Schools Human Capital Academy

Roberta Ellis is the retired Chief Human Capital Officer for Tulsa Public Schools.  During her thirty-eight year career with Tulsa Public Schools, Roberta worked closely with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and implement and new teacher evaluation system within Tulsa Public Schools as well as redesign human resources into a strategic human capital environment.  Roberta also managed all federal and state grants and a yearly budget in excess of $100 million as well as streamlined accountability measures that increased general operating dollars.  Mrs. Ellis is presently working as a consultant with a Gates funded project called Urban Schools Human Capital Academy to redesign and support urban schools Human Capital departments that focus on best practices to improve teacher and principal quality and support educational reform.

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