The Tulsa World Community Advisory Board is a 24-person panel reflecting the diversity of the Tulsa World's readership.

Members include: Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools; Mark Barcus, Tulsa County District Court; Teresa Meinders Burkett, Conner & Winters; Kari Caldwell, Tulsa Symphony; Yolanda Charney, retired from Jewish Federation of Tulsa; Gerard Clancy, OU-Tulsa; Becky Frank, Schnake Turnbo Frank; Toby Jenkins, Oklahomans for Equality; Judy Zarrow Kishner, Zarrow Foundation; Glenda Love, retired from Ronald McDonald House; Ed Martinez, State Farm Insurance; Judy Eason-McIntyre, retired from Oklahoma Senate; Sanjay Meshri, Advance Research Chemicals; Don Millican, Kaiser-Francis Oil; Susan Neal, University of Tulsa; Craig Rainey, Williams; Anthony Scott, First Baptist Church of North Tulsa; Terry Simonson, Tulsa County; Deron Spoo, First Baptist Church of Tulsa; Margaret Swimmer, Hall Estill; Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip; John Tidwell, Americans for Prosperity Foundation; Marilyn Inhofe Tucker, Tulsa Community College; and Don Walker, Arvest Bank.

Members:

1. Act as informal advisors to the Tulsa World editorial department,

2. Agree to write two op/ed columns a year about any topic of their choice, and

3. Meet once a year to help the newspaper chose key priorities for special emphasis.

The four priority topics for 2014 are:

1. Mental health and homelessness: What's working and what's not?

2. It takes money to save money: Potential money-saving reforms crying out for funding

3. Vocational education: How can we do a better job of improving the workforce and training the next generation?

4. Livable Tulsa: How do we make our community a place our children want to live? This page includes information about the board, op/ed columns by board members and stories written about priority topics.

This page is home to all the stories and op-eds written by board members and stories that focus on the priority topics written by the Tulsa World.

Nearly a decade ago I was a 30-year-old downtown business owner. We had enjoyed some success at Joe Momma’s Pizza, even appearing on national television. Our second and third businesses, The Max Retropub and Boomtown Tees, were also doing well. Downtown was coming to life more every month.

If our phones are listening to us, whether it’s via social media or the government, then people of every political persuasion in a free society should be concerned. The cybertools for oppression are powerful and readily available. Nothing in history suggests those tools couldn’t be turned against us by despots on the left or the right. If we can’t have a private conversation in the intimacy of our own living rooms, then we may already be on the road to tyranny.

Currently, summer interns throughout our city are settling into new offices, meeting new people, discovering new restaurants and finding new activities. Some are meeting our city for the first time. Others are reintroducing themselves after spending time away. All of them are taking our city for a test drive.

We have two short months to help them fall in love, to show why they should make the same choice I did.

TYPROS is here to help.

At the state level, there is much on which to focus. Policies and budget decisions must support reducing class sizes, providing competitive teacher pay, reinstating cut positions and programs and providing the emotional and health support students need to be ready to learn. While most of us are not directly making these state-level decisions, we have a critical role. Our advocacy is the key to ensuring the budget and policy focus remain on these efforts. Our advocacy ensures the sustained commitment to reach this “Top 10” goal.

I recently submitted a recommendation to the Board of Education that includes certain position eliminations and creations at our district office so that we have a district office better designed to serve the current needs of our schools. If approved by the Board, this recommendation would delete 55 district office positions and 124 school support positions; and create 51 district office, 136 school support, and 20 school-embedded positions. The potential changes, if approved by our Board, would impact our Information Technology, Innovation and Design, Finance, Bond, Campus Police, Talent Management and Teaching and Learning teams, and, most particularly, our Exceptional Student Support Services team (the district team focused predominantly on special education services).

Tulsa's Family Safety Center and our partner agencies are leading the country in the development of cutting edge best practices for trauma informed identification and ultimately treatment options for victims of violence and neglect. Together we can and will break the cycle of violence that has insinuated itself in Oklahoma culture for too long. Together we can generate hope and provide a pathway to assure no child experiences violence or neglect in the future.

Not all labor is equal, and employers can improve the quality of human capital by investing in employees. The education, experience and abilities of employees all have economic value for employers and for the economy as a whole. The more a company invests in its employees, the more productive and profitable it could be.

This same view can be applied to cities, states and our nation.

Ten years ago, a program was created for Tulsa County women whose drug addictions and trauma all but guaranteed long prison sentences. Women in Recovery provided a unique and powerful path for prison avoidance and has helped salvage hundreds of lives. Since then, prison “diversion” has gone from being an experiment in smart criminal justice to an accepted and proven alternative.

Now there is a similar program, in its infancy, for men. It is called the 1st Step Male Diversion Program.

The key to any community’s success is a thriving economy, and a thriving economy is driven and supported by an educated citizenry. For nearly 50 years, the core mission of Tulsa Community College has been to provide access to higher education for the economy to thrive and for graduates to earn a family-sustaining wage.

While access to higher education is critical, equity in outcomes is of equal importance. Equity in outcomes means that all Tulsans, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, are afforded not only the access, but the supports necessary to achieve similar outcomes as those Tulsans from more advantaged backgrounds.

We all want Oklahoma to be continuously improving and considered one of the best places to live in the world. It will only be so if we become in love with Oklahoma and change our behavior for our state’s benefit. It won’t happen overnight. There is no quick fix. It is up to each of us to begin the process. We need to do this.

Today, we need true leaders more than ever. We yearn for real leaders who can, and will guide us through the pitfalls of life. As employees, congregants, customers or constituents, we should only follow those who have high moral fiber and who are committed to selfless service. Those who desire to lead, but will do so primarily for their own self-promotion, should step aside, and let real leaders carry the mantle.

We’ve built our homes so that our prominent garages occupy the majority of street frontage, space once occupied by front porches. We’ve built narrow sidewalks if we’ve built them at all. We’ve built wide roads, accommodating faster automobile speeds and discouraging pedestrian activity. We’ve abandoned the once social exercise of shopping for the convenience of the internet.

I am honored to serve on the 15-member 400 Years of African American History Commission. This national body will develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of 20 enslaved Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619. Thus began American chattel slavery.