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Louisa McCune

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Metro Women of Influence

Spotlighting Seven of Our Community's Outstanding Female Leaders

This month, we honor seven of our community’s outstanding women leaders as Metro Women of Influence. Here, they share their personal philosophies on the importance of giving back to the community.

KATHERINE MAZAHERI

Founder and Managing Attorney, Mazaheri Law Firm

“The best part of what I do is building relationships with the people I meet and offer legal service with a compassionate spirit that makes a difference in a real way. It is such an honor to advocate for someone who has been wronged and be able to find a creative way to assist them moving forward.”

KRISTIE DOWDY

The Play Pit Co-owner

“Giving back to the community doesn’t have to be a financial donation to a nonprofit. Giving back could be paying the bill for the person behind you at a drive-thru, shopping and supporting a local small business or cleaning an area park. Giving back is also a great way to meet a diverse group of people and make new connections with those in the community—and doing something for someone else will always make a difference in their life as well as yours. 

JULIA FEHR

The Play Pit Co-owner

“Being part of and giving back to the community can be done in so many different ways. I am a strong believer that great things happen when you’re able to bring people together for a common cause. Giving can be done with your time and through acts of service, not just monetarily. Additionally, be open-minded. There are needs in the community that you might not have ever thought of, and help can be given in ways you never imagined.”

JULIA FEHR AND KRISTIE DOWDY ARE BEING RECOGNIZED TOGETHER

PATTY GASSO

Sooners Softball Head Coach

“I think a lot of people in our community and state get joy from watching us play. I can go back to that 2013 May tornado and what that did. Although it didn’t affect my house or my family, it changed my life. I learned about ‘Oklahoma Strong’. It was a real thing. I knew I was living in the right community around the right people. It really opened my eyes to doing whatever I could do to help any family. … And in that one moment, as devastating as it was, I have always felt this responsibility to have a giving heart, and I think God kind of made my heart, my family’s heart, that way –where we just want to help and give. This is our community, there is no other community I would rather be a part of.”

 LOUISA MCCUNE

Executive Director, The Kirkpatrick Foundation

Louisa’s advice is short and to the point: “High standards, no fear.”

SHANNON LEE HANCHETT

Proprietor, Okie Baking Co.

“My personal philosophy about being a part of and giving back to the community is based on a quote by Pablo Picasso: ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’ Now, as a small-business owner, I have to make SOME money, but if it wasn't for pesky bills and expenses, I would happily give everything back to the community because it has given so much to me. Even when things were looking very scary when COVID first started and so many businesses were shutting down, it was because of the support and love of people in and around Norman that I was able to keep my little cookie company afloat.  I make it a point to donate as much as I can to various nonprofits, schools, groups/events and other causes around the community because I truly believe that small businesses are the lifeblood of strong communities, and the people of Norman are amazing at supporting small businesses.”

KIM GARRETT

CEO and Founder

Palomar: Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center

 “Serving others is a core value of mine. Just like one needs food and shelter, serving others is a basic need of mine.

Our 2022 Metro Women of Influence Share Accomplishments, Advice

We asked our seven 2022 Metro Women of Influence three questions: their proudest professional achievement, their proudest personal achievement, and their advice for other women in the community who wish to make a difference. Unfortunately, space limitations made it impossible to run all their responses, so we selected one response per influencer (the one we think speaks best to their character).

Kristie Dowdy and Julia Fehr (shared recognition)

For 20 years, Kristie Dowdy engaged the community in numerous ways as a member of the staff of the Cleveland County Family Y, where she got her start as an executive assistant and retired as director of member engagement. Two days after her retirement, she and Julia Fehr began work on establishing their own business—The Play Pit, opening this summer as Norman’s only indoor playground. Julia Fehr started her professional career with Norman Public Schools in the Special Services office, transitioning into the nonprofit world at the Cleveland County Family Y, where she held several positions, including her last one as director of member and community services.

Proudest professional accomplishment:

Kristie: “In 2001, while at the Y, the very popular Tie-Dye Tri(athlon) fundraiser was born.  After two years, I became the race director for its remaining 13-year run.  This event involved several community partners from the Police Department to those who just love to volunteer.  We had several obstacles along the way, but with the help of our community partners it was always a huge success.”

Julia: “By far, my most proud professional moment was during the height of COVID. At the time I was working at the YMCA. I heard so many stories of members in the Norman community who were unable to put food on the table due to their loss of income. I reached out to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and got connected with their Farmers to Families program. Within one week, we were hosting our first drive-through food distribution event. At that event alone, we served over 450 people. We continued to hold these events for the next several months.”

Kim Garrett

Kim Garrett is CEO and founder of Palomar: Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center, a successful collaborative that brings agencies together to help victims of crime. Kim has passionately worked in victim services for 20 years and is nationally certified as an Advanced Advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance. In 2011, she established Oklahoma City Police Department’s Victim Services Program, which later received Honorable Mention for Excellence in Victim Services from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 2017, she was the first civilian to receive the Medal for Meritorious Honor from Oklahoma City Police Department. 

Proudest professional achievement: “I am most proud of founding Palomar: Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center. In just five years, we’ve helped over 19,000 adults and children who have been struggling with trauma and abuse and I have no doubt our collaborative is making a profound impact on our city. Our programming is literally breaking cycles of violence and keeping kids safe and healthy.”

Patty Gasso

Now in her 28th season at the University of Oklahoma, National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame head coach Patty Gasso has molded the OU softball program into a national power and permanently placed herself among the elite college softball coaches in the country. Under her leadership, Oklahoma has won five national championships: in 2000, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2021. She’s reached the Women’s College World Series 14 times, won more Big 12 games than any coach in the league’s history, and has more than twice as many overall wins as any other coach in OU history.

Advice for other women: “Keep your priorities in order; keep your faith and your family above all else. In your job, connect them with you, have them with you, share those moments with them. Always trust your gut, what your heart says to do … and you will always be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day know that you did right and followed what your conscience and your heart told you to do.” 

Shannon Lee Hanchett

Shannon Lee Hanchett is a proud fourth-generation Oklahoman. She worked for the Children, Youth, and Family Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for nearly 11 years. In 2018, after receiving a diagnosis of Lupus SLE, she changed direction and started a small, home-based bakery. What started as a dream in Shannon's kitchen grew into Okie Baking Co., a cookie company that specializes in homestyle cookies inspired by the people and places that make our state great. 

 Proudest professional accomplishment: “Seeing my dream of my own storefront come to life. I had been telling people for years that I would someday have a Cookie Cottage, and after years of hard work, I was able to move into my dream cookie cottage a little over six months ago. What's more, I was able to do this without any business loans. I've invested everything that I've made from my company right back into it, so I have no business debt.”

Katherine Mazaheri

Katherine Mazaheri is a trial lawyer who regularly represents plaintiff employees in all areas of employment law. A portion of Katherine’s trial practice is devoted to assisting families in times of crisis. In 2021, Katherine founded Maz Modern, her passion project to inspire professional inspiration for modern-day working women whose purpose is to empower local women in the workforce. She also launched a scholarship program with William & Lauren; “Suited for Social Justice” gifts a custom suit and a $5,000 scholarship to a deserving new Oklahoma law school graduate who demonstrates a heart for social justice and pledges to make a difference in their community though their degree.

Proudest professional accomplishment: “I have a heart for social justice and wanted—and still want—to be a part of a change in my community. Impacting the lives of others positively is a passion and a purpose for me in my career, and I hope it reflects in all I do.”
Louisa McCune

Louisa McCune is the executive director of Kirkpatrick Foundation and served as 2020 president of the Animal Grantmakers board of directors. She is an advisory trustee to the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center and an adviser to Green Box. In 2020, she co-founded the Oklahoma Killer Whale Project and served as executive producer of The Odyssey Project (a livestream complete reading of Emily Wilson’s translation) with Oklahoma Contemporary. She is also editor-in-chief and co-founder of ArtDesk.

 Advice for other women: “Trust yourself. I would say this to any man, woman, or child. Listening to your intuition—and heeding your intuition—will always put your present and future into alignment with your core values. Sometimes the answers don’t come right away. That’s OK. Just attune yourself, and they’ll be forthcoming.”


 

  • Katherine Mazaheri (Photo by Shannon Cornman)
  • Katherine Mazaheri (Photo by Shannon Cornman)(Photo by Jen Kubes)
  • Julia Fehr and Kristie Dowdy (Photo by Ryan Lassiter)
  • Louisa McCune
  • Shannon Lee Hanchett (Photo by Cody Giles)
  • Kim Garrett
  • Patty Gasso