Cleveland County Lifestyle’s Women of Influence 4

2018 Women of Influence


The Marketing Maven

Leslie Christopher

In addition to managing client relationships at BOLD Multimedia, Christopher assists nonprofits in spreading their messages and awareness. She has worked with Mary Abbott’s Children House, Bethesda Inc., and Norman Regional Hospital Foundation, among others, and has served on committees and board positions with The Virtue Center, Norman Economic Development Coalition and United Way of Norman. She serves as co-chair for the Norman Chamber’s Business and Education Committee.

“I’m motivated to give my time and energy back to the community because I’ve seen that even the smallest acts of kindness can change another person’s life.”


The Nonprofit CEO

Katie Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald has served as CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma since November 2016. A social worker, she has spent her career working in the nonprofit sector with a focus on improving the lives of vulnerable children, youth and families. She previously served as executive director at the Center for Children and Families Inc..

“I have always been motivated to create opportunities for people who are struggling with a variety of barriers because I fundamentally believe that every individual is worthy of love and has the capacity to contribute to the world.”


The Volunteer

Joan Goth

Goth was employed for 30 years at OU. She currently is serving a second term on the City of Norman Citizens Public Safety Oversight Committee and has served on many nonprofit boards, including the Firehouse Art Center, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and Jazz in June.

“I made a very conscious decision over 40 years ago to make Norman my home. I found early on that in this community a person with passion can truly make a difference, whether the passion is the homeless, veterans, animals, visual arts, music, domestic violence, the teens of our community, sports or seniors.”


The International Scholar

Suzette Grillot

As the chief international officer at the University of Oklahoma, Grillot is responsible for overseeing university study abroad programs and providing service to international students who study at OU. She hosts a weekly radio show titled “World Views,” which airs on KGOU. She also gives talks about international education and global affairs and continues to teach multiple international relations classes.

“Service to the community has been a fundamental part of my life. In my heart of hearts, I am an activist, ally and servant to others–particularly in the areas of international education, global understanding, multiculturalism and social justice.”


The Crisis Advocate

April Heiple

Heiple has worked in service with individuals and families in need since 1999, beginning as a crisis advocate for women leaving abusive relationships. She has served for eight years as executive director of Food and Shelter. She provided leadership in a recent coordinated effort to end homelessness and to expand services in the opening of the new campus for people in need at McKown Village.

“Helping people in crisis find peace in their lives is the single most important gift we can give as without peace in your life; no other thing in life is possible.”


The Mayor

Lynn Miller

Miller was sworn in as Norman’s mayor in July 2016. She spent 30 years in the Norman Public Schools as a teacher, counselor, director of special education and principal. She has a long history of leadership and involvement in numerous community organizations, including multiple nonprofit boards.

“My motivation for donating so much of my time to service is my love for my community, the belief that each of us has a responsibility to contribute to our world, and the gratification one gets when important things are accomplished. The rewards are many.”


The Mental Health Advocate

Bonnie L. Peruttzi

Peruttzi has served since August 1986 as executive director of Transition House Inc. Its mission: to improve the community by providing tools for sustaining mental wellness with skills development, supportive care and advocacy.

“In my early 20s, I wrote, ‘I want to know all, but I do not. / I want all to love me, but they do not. / I want to stop all the suffering others feel, but I cannot. / I want to be perfect, but I am not, for I am one with the dreams of millions.’ This keeps me going.”


The Philanthropist

Mary Blankenship Pointer

Pointer has enjoyed a 40-year career in banking /finance. A philanthropist and volunteer with special passions for education, health care and the arts, she devotes countless hours to nonprofits and educational travel. In 2017 she received a national award from Points of Light; winners are recognized with a certificate signed by President George H.W. Bush.

“My inspiration is President Kennedy’s ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’ speech. When we work together, we can have a healthier, more educated community that will provide for the next generation.”


The Educator

Allison Richey

Richey, a Moore/South Oklahoma City resident for almost 50 years, is co-founder and president of The Sparrow Project, a nonprofit organization formed in 2016 to promote happy and fulfilled lives of adults with intellectual disabilities. She retired as Moore Norman Technology Center South Penn Campus director in 2012 and enjoyed 27 years working in the fields of nursing and education.

“I am motivated to give my time when I see so many others freely and happily giving of themselves. The rewards of working with intellectually disabled adults are numerous.”


The Photographer

Shauna Smith, Proprietor, Ahhshoot! Photography and Smith Production Company

A professional photographer, graphic designer and print consultant for 20 years, Smith additionally serves as an adjunct professor at Moore Norman Technology Center. She has been a member of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and is serving her second term on its board of directors.

“What motivates me to give back to my community has always been a heartfelt desire to help others and to try and make a difference no matter how large or small. Matthew 25:35-40 says it all.”


The Native Change Agent

Dawn R. Stover, Executive Director, Native Alliance Against Violence

As executive director of the Native Alliance Against Violence, Oklahoma’s tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition, Stover—a citizen of the Cherokee Nation—works passionately to ignite positive changes in Indian Country. During her time with NAAV and through service on tribal, local, state and regional working groups, she has increased awareness of and enhance the response to crimes of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and sex trafficking committed against American Indian women.

“Meditating upon the strength and resiliency of my ancestors motivates me do more and work harder to address violence against American Indian women.”


The Arts Advocate

Debby L. Williams, Art and Nonprofit Consultant

A longtime leader in the arts in Oklahoma, Williams worked with the Oklahoma Arts Council to create the Art in Public Places program and currently is board chair for the Firehouse Art Center. In 2016, she joined the NAC as project manager for the ambitious Norman Forward public art project.

“I passionately believe in the power of the arts; regardless of time or geography, they unite, inspire and educate all of us. It has been a privilege to dedicate my life to making a difference in the quality of life for everyone through the arts.”