A transplant to Oklahoma from Illinois via the University of Kansas, Darren has a quarter century of “boots-on-the-ground” experience as a business analyst, renegade corporate manager, and small and medium-sized business consultant across a wide variety of industries including the pharmaceutical, telecommunications, transportation, energy, and manufacturing sectors.
An early career intrapreneur, or inside entrepreneur, Darren focused on innovation and creativity within corporations helping to start, grow, and manage five long-shot dreams into five long-lasting and profitable ventures. Eventually, he struck out on his own and graduated from intrapreneur to entrepreneur, starting three companies of his own and helping launch three others.
He now gives back to the entrepreneurial community, as a coach for entrepreneurial programs and as a judge in business model competitions.
James George is the founder of Fogue and Bates, Café Cubana and Habanos Acquistions. Over the past 20 years, James has launched and profitably built these businesses. Prior to these endeavors, he was the director of the international division of Bridge Products, an automotive parts manufacturer, and conducted business in more than 40 countries. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University and holds an MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird).
Jana Shoulders is one of the founders of Adams Hall and currently serves as president and CEO. She has more than 25 years of experience in the investment advisory industry and has been recognized by Medical Economics as a top financial advisor. Jana focuses on individuals, trusts and foundations, family, office and retirement plan consulting. She holds a BSBA in accounting from The University of Tulsa. She is a Certified Public Accountant, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary and Accredited Estate Planner. Jana also serves on the Tulsa County Library Trust, the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Tulsa Community College Board of Regents.
Kinnee Tilly is Vice-President of Business Retention, Expansion and Small Business of the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Her responsibilities also include overseeing multiple volunteer groups within the Chamber including Mosaic and EVOC, the Entrepreneurship Venture Oversight Committee.
Prior to joining the Chamber in 2008, she served as the Executive Director for the Jenks Public Schools Foundation for 10 years where she expanded the Foundation’s programs from two to nine, focusing on differentiated education and at-risk students. Her career has also included advertising, marketing and business development.
Kinnee is a member of the Governor’s Economic Development and Marketing Team, the National Business Incubator Association, Oklahoma Business Incubation Association, Business Retention and Expansion International, as well as the International Economic Development Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lindenwood University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma.
William E. Lobeck, Jr.
William E. Lobeck’s entrepreneurial vision, financial management and leadership skills have fueled the success of the daily car rental industry and significantly impacted the landscape of the automotive industry.
Lobeck began his career in the 1960s with Pontiac and Chevrolet dealerships in Norfolk, Virginia, where he cultivated daily car rental companies as his largest customers. A visionary leader, he created the very first dealer repurchase program and special purpose leasing company, a service which later became a staple in the automotive and daily car rental industries.
Lobeck joined American International as President and CEO in 1979 and grew the company from 18 offices in seven states to nearly 300 offices across the country in just 11 years. He repeated those successful leadership practices over the next two decades with companies that included Thrifty Car Rental, Pentastar Transportation Group, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Snappy Car Rental, General Rent A Car, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, National Car Rental, AutoNation and Vanguard Car Rental USA.
Aside from transforming companies into profitable ventures, Lobeck has been involved in a broad range of philanthropic activities. He has been awarded an honorary doctoral degree from his alma mater, Old Dominion University, and has been inducted into the University of Tulsa College of Business Hall of Fame.
Lobeck is married to the Honorable Kathy Taylor, former Mayor of the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Dr. Raj Basu is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs for Oklahoma State University, Tulsa. As the Chief Academic Officer of the university, he has overall responsibility for operations, development, and promotion of all academic programs. Dr. Basu researches and teaches in the areas of leadership, employee performance, team building, negotiations, dispute resolution, conflict-management, and change management. He also consults with organizations in the aerospace, energy, financial services, technology, government, and non-profit sectors.
Dr. Basu is a three time recipient of the Chandler-Frates & Reitz Award for Outstanding Teaching in the MBA Program (2000, 2001, and 2007), the Greiner Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching (1996) at OSU and has had his work published in numerous scholarly journals. He holds an MBA from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.
Dr. Basu serves (or has served) on the boards of Leadership Oklahoma, Tulsa CARES, the Metro Tulsa Urban League, Greenwood Cultural Center, DREAM Institute, Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance, and the community advisory board of the Junior League of Tulsa. He is also a member of Leadership Oklahoma, class XVIII.
Ted Cundiff is President of SpiritBank where he oversees all the branches in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro markets, manages the Business Resource Center and is also a Senior Commercial Lender. With over 12 years in the banking industry, Ted’s diverse experience includes bank management, commercial lending, business development, mortgage origination, and collections.
Ted holds an M.B.A. from Oklahoma City University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Oklahoma State University. In 2007, Cundiff was awarded the Financial Service Champion of the Year from the Tulsa Metro Chamber, and went on to win the award for the state in 2008. Learn more about Ted and SpiritBank at http://www.spiritbankbrc.com
“Private Eye Mom” Adrienne Kallweit founded SeekingSitters in 2004 after struggling with her own child care needs. She was running her Private Investigation Firm and wanted to hire her son’s preschool teacher. She ran the teacher’s background investigation and was shocked at what she found: a variety of charges that raised questions about the teacher’s character. Yet, the teacher was still working at a public school. That’s when Adrienne started “seeking out her own sitters” that passed her stringent background checks and could work around her unpredictable schedule.
She saw a greater need – not just in her hometown – but nationwide. On family trips to Denver, Colorado and Austin, Texas they faced the same dilemma: they couldn’t find a good sitter they could trust. So on a 7 hour drive from Austin back to Tulsa, she and her husband wrote their business plan and launched their website that night and SeekingSitters was born.
Since their first babysitting job in 2004, SeekingSitters has grown to over 8000 babysitting jobs monthly servicing hundreds of cities in 23 states. SeekingSitters continues the safe sitting community by processing all background screenings on members and sitters of SeekingSitters through an in-house background investigation company. Adrienne and David are committed to making sure that childcare is offered in a safe and reliable method in all 50 states. They have built the business without debt, funding their business as they grew.
SeekingSitters was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest growing private companies in 2010 and Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 franchises in America: among the top low-cost franchises, SeekingSitters ranks number 66 out of 500 and top new businesses ranking number 19. The company was also the winner of Tulsa’s First Annual Entrepreneurial Spirit Award in November 2007 and was named one of the “25 Best Women-Owned Businesses” by Working Mother Magazine in 2008. SeekingSitters has been featured on Fox & Friends, CNN and CNN Headline News, CBS Early Show, in Entrepreneur Magazine and on the CNBC Show “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” For more information, please visit www.seekingsitters.com.
Adrienne also makes it a priority to give back and serves as a volunteer on many committees including local fundraisers and the Tulsa Chamber Board. SeekingSitters donates to many local and national organizations such as the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization and franchisees across the nation also support their local community.
Gornie is a veteran of the U.S. Army and holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science and a Masters degree in Computing Technology in Education. He has taught and managed training for the last 22 years in a variety of environments including: Academic, Corporate, and Military. He specializes in providing critical thinking and experiential learning opportunities that help others learn to excel as Communicators, Motivators, Leaders and Team Players.
Gornie serves as the Associate Dean of Business and Information Technology for Tulsa Community College at the West Campus where he manages programs such as Hospitality, International Business, R.O.T.C. and Project Management.
Gornie also operates a management consulting business, helping entrepreneurs and corporations with strategic planning and acquiring seed money from Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists to start and expand their businesses.
Carey Baker and husband Brett launched Part-Time Pros in March 2008 as a service to offer professionals flexibility in the workplace.
Part-Time Pros staffing company unites talented professionals with companies that have full- and part-time needs. The professionals include stay-at-home moms, independent contracts and early retirees. The Tulsa-based company, which took second place in the 2009 Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, works with more than 400 employer contracts and more than 6000 professionals. In 2011, Part-Time Pros was one of 75 businesses in the US to receive the US Chamber Blue Ribbon Award for growth and sustainability, was also voted the “Best of the Best” in the 2011 Oklahoma Magazines Best Staffing Company, was named #6 fastest growing Tulsa Based Company by Tulsa Business Journal. In December 2011, Part-Time Pros assumed Tulsa-Med Pros, a medical staffing company.
Baker’s community involvement includes volunteering with the United Way, The Parent Child Center, Emergency Infant Services, Junior League of Tulsa and Community Food Bank. She has chaired the Tulsa Chamber Task Force for Business Expansion and Development and serves as an executive board member of the Tulsa Chamber’s Small Business Council. In addition, she is involved in TAHRA, AFP, Operation Aware, Retired Senior Volunteer Program and is a graduate of Leadership Tulsa.
Prior to starting Part-Time Pros, Baker worked for Chapman Foundations Management, The Advisory Board Co. and The Williams Companies. She graduated Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University in 1995 with a double major in English and Statistics.
Active in community issues for over a decade, Elizabeth Ellison currently serves as the executive director of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. Elizabeth is a life long Oklahoman who graduated from Holland Hall and the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. and J.D. Elizabeth was the inaugural recipient of the David L. Boren Commitment to Service award and a recipient of the Bass Memorial Scholarship awarded to students demonstrating a promising career in public service. Prior to law school, Ellison worked in Washington, D.C. as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Dan Boren, handling a variety of domestic issues including education, healthcare, and small businesses. Ellison served her law school class as president and was chosen to deliver the commencement address for the OU College of Law’s 2009 graduation. She was named by Tulsa Business Journal as one of the 2012 class of top 40 under 40. Elizabeth’s leadership in the community began in a successful effort to find a new funding idea for decreasing Tulsa’s increasing unwanted pet population. She founded an effort to create a celebrity pet calendar raising more than $10,000 for pet spay and neuter programs. Understanding the needs of education in Tulsa, Elizabeth served on the board of Street School and chaired its successful Street School annual fundraiser providing more than $100,000 in funds to support Tulsa’s alternative high school. Elizabeth has also volunteered her time with Tulsa Cares, Philbrook Museum of Art, Route 66 Marathon, Tulsa Tough, Habitat for Humanity, Read Across America, Kendall Whittier Elementary School, and McClain high school. She currently serves on the board of the Tulsa Area United Way and the University of Tulsa Law School Dean’s advisory board.
As executive director of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, Elizabeth is responsible for oversight and direction of the family’s foundation that focuses on entrepreneurial education, healthy living and dropout prevention. She is this year’s chair of Tulsa’s business model competition TCC StartUp Cup Powered by the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation. Elizabeth is married to attorney, Chris Ellison and is the proud mother of C. Taylor Ellison born in 2011.