The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women will honor Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston with the 2018 Kate Barnard Award. The annual Kate Barnard Award Ceremony and Luncheon, sponsored by F&M Bank, will be held at the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln. Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK, on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m. To RSVP, please contact OCSW at 405-522-6897 or Pakita ! Asberry | omes ! ok ! gov
The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women established the Kate Barnard Award in 1998 to honor outstanding women in public service whose leadership has benefited Oklahoma women and families. Nominees are from the ranks of elected or appointed salaried public officials in Oklahoma.
Commissioner Houston was appointed to the position by Gov. Mary Fallin on November 10, 2015. She is an experienced administrator with extensive knowledge of state government, including agency operational management, public policy, legislative process and budgeting. She has played a key role in criminal justice reform efforts and federal anti-terrorism legislation. As an Oklahoma City Bombing survivor, she is a frequent speaker on the impact of terrorism and the importance of anti-terrorism strategies.
Prior to the Labor Department, Commissioner Houston served as Chief of Staff for the Oklahoma Attorney General where she led efforts to elevate awareness of domestic violence and brought community leaders together to address solutions to better the lives of women and children. Previously, she was chief of staff at the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.
The Commissioner of Labor shares the responsibility of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Labor enforces statutes relating to wage and hour, child labor, asbestos, licensing, alternative fuels, amusement rides, boilers, welders, alarm and locksmith, elevator inspections, and safety and health in the workplace.
Commissioner Houston has served on the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, as deputy director for the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association and as an attorney for the Oklahoma Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission. She attended the University of Oklahoma where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Letters in 1991 and a Juris Doctor in 1994. She is active in the community serving on multiple boards including the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Cleveland County Community Sentencing Council. She has received several honors including The Journal Record’s 50 Women Making a Difference. She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Norman. She and her husband, Ben Houston, who also is an attorney, live in Norman with their two young sons.
F&M Bank Market President David Braly will assist in presenting the awards to the 2018 honoree. F&M Bank provides personal loans, mortgage services and financial services to business, real estate and agriculture sectors with eight locations in Crescent, Guthrie, Kingfisher, Piedmont and Oklahoma City.
In 1907, Kate Barnard, a native of Oklahoma, became the first woman to win a statewide elected office in the United States. She held the office of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for two terms. She was a key figure in the enactment of a compulsory education law providing for state payments to widows dependent on their children’s earnings, of legislation implementing the constitutional ban on child labor and of laws aimed at unsafe working conditions.
If interested in attending the Kate Barnard lunch ceremony, please contact OCSW at 405-522-6897 or Pakita ! Asberry | omes ! ok ! gov
. A complete list of previous recipients can be found at: https://www.ok.gov/ocsw/The_Kate_Barnard_Award/index.html