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About Oklahoma Humanities

The Power of the Humanities


At Oklahoma Humanities, we use the humanities — history, literature, ethics and culture — to inspire fresh thinking, promote civic engagement and strengthen our democracy.

Since our founding as an independent nonprofit in 1971, our programs, grants and partnerships have used humanities scholarship to promote critical thinking and community building. Our affiliation with the National Endowment for the Humanities gives us unique access to resources that benefit people and communities across our state.

Democracy Demands Wisdom and Vision 

As the leading humanities organization in Oklahoma, we partner with communities and institutions to bring people together across lines of age, background and politics. Together, we explore the human experience and connect as fellow Oklahomans — and, in the process, inspire each other to think more deeply about our lives, our communities and our democracy.

Our Mission

The mission of Oklahoma Humanities is to strengthen communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understand new perspectives and participate knowledgeably in civic life.

What are the Humanities?

The humanities help us understand what it means to be human — and to benefit from the experience, research, and ideas of both leading scholars and everyday citizens. The academic disciplines of the humanities include such fields of learning as history, language, literature, film studies, art history and criticism, archaeology, jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy.

At Oklahoma Humanities, we use the humanities in diverse settings across the state to help all Oklahomans think more deeply about the choices they face at home, at work, in their communities and in our democracy.

We put the humanities into action through innovative programming and collaborations, including:

  • BrainBox podcast
  • Humanities Grants
  • Let’s Talk About It reading and discussion program
  • Museum on Main Street, a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution
  • Oklahoma Humanities magazine
Our Impact

Each year, our programming, grants, and partnerships engage people across the state with bold ideas — creating new conversations and inspiring civic engagement that strengthens our state.

On average, each year, Oklahoma Humanities:

  • Grants over $200,000 to nonprofit organizations
  • Leverages $7 in local support for every federal dollar granted
  • Serves over 150,000 people through our grant program
  • Supports 50 reading and discussion programs through Let’s Talk About It
  • Reaches 3,000 Let’s Talk About It participants
  • Distributes 24,000 free copies of Oklahoma Humanities magazine
  • Engages 1,500 listeners through the BrainBox podcast


Our History

In 1971, Oklahoma joined five other states in a program developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to launch the first state humanities councils. The NEH was established as a federal grant-making agency by the U.S. Congress in 1965 to support research, education, and public projects in the humanities. In creating state councils, NEH delegated some of its grant-making activities to the citizens where humanities programs take place.

Originally called the Oklahoma Humanities Task Force, the organization focused on public policy issues through grant-making and projects based on the theme “Citizen Values in Community Decisions.” Symposia, seminars, and radio/television broadcasts brought scholars, public figures, and citizens together to discuss broad humanities themes.

During these years, the organization expanded its reach by soliciting support from private sources to match federal funds and by partnering with other organizations to extend resources to rural communities.

Today, Oklahoma Humanities provides funding and resources that support lifelong learning and a vibrant cultural life for all Oklahomans in all 77 counties.

Painted image of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Board of Trustees

Valorie Walters, Chair

Chickasaw Nation, Ada

Suzette V. Chang, Vice-Chair | Secretary


Cynthia Friedemann, Treasurer

Metro Technology Centers, Oklahoma City

Dr. Benjamin Alpers, Board Development Committee Chair, Executive Committee Member

University of Oklahoma, Norman

Dr. Elizabeth Bass


Jennie Buchanan


Dr. Dewayne Dickens

Tulsa Community College, Tulsa

Dr. Kalenda Eaton

University of Oklahoma, Norman

Erick Harris

Oklahoma City

Don G. Holladay


Dr. Shawn Holliday

Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva

David B. Hooten

Nichols Hills

Marcy Jarrett

Midwest City

Dr. Nyla Khan


Dr. Thomas A. Kirk


Dr. Sunu Kodumthara, Grant Review Committee Chair, Executive Committee Member

Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford

Dr. Scott LaMascus

Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond

Sarah Milligan

Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

Christopher Murphy

Northeastern State University, Tahlequah

Erin Peters


Dr. Lynne Simpson

Langston University, Langston

Dr. Moira Watson

Oklahoma City

Alba N. Weaver, Fundraising Committee Chair, Executive Committee Member

Oklahoma City

Upcoming Board
Meeting Dates

Full Board of Trustees Meetings || 1:00-3:00 PM

September 24, 2021

Board of Trustees Meetings/Nominations

OH is governed by a 24-member Board of Trustees, comprised of private citizens, academic scholars, and Governor’s appointees. Nominations to the Board of Trustees are accepted on a year-round basis and must be submitted via our online application.

Complete the Board of Trustees Nomination Packet

Nominations received by May 31 of each year will be considered for open Board positions as of the following November 1 or for unexpected vacancies. Trustees are appointed for a 3-year term with re-nomination possible for a second 3-year term.

To nominate someone other than yourself, please email Executive Director Caroline Lowery with the person's name and email address. We will contact them directly to complete the nomination process. 


Our Staff

CEL Headshot CAROLINE LOWERY Executive Director
Photo of Carla Walker CARLA WALKER Associate Director | Editor, Oklahoma Humanities Magazine
Photo of Kelly Burns KELLY BURNS Senior Program Officer: Grants and Museum on Main Street
Photo of Khylee Forgety KHYLEE FORGETY Administrative Services Manager
No Image Available SARAH OLZAWSKI Program Officer: Let's Talk About It
Photo of Chelsi Dennis KIMBERLY ROBLIN Associate Editor, Oklahoma Humanities Magazine & Communications Officer
Photo of Jeremy Springer JEREMY SPRINGER Comptroller
No Image Available SHANA KEITH-WARD Administrative Assistant

Recognition and Awards


2020 Great Plains Journalism Awards

Finalist | Magazine Page Design

2020 Society of Professional Journalists Awards, Oklahoma Pro Chapter

First Place | General Writing: “Losing Time—And Finding It” By Kimberly Roblin

Third Place | General Writing: “Poetic Justice” By Julie Ann Ward

Second Place | Best PR Publication Cover: Spring/Summer “Justice” 

Third Place | Best PR Publication Cover: Fall/Winter “Time”

Second Place | Best PR Publication: Fall/Winter “Time”

Third Place | Best PR Publication: Spring/Summer “Justice”


2019 Society of Professional Journalists Awards, Oklahoma Pro Chapter

First Place | General Writing: “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Interview with Carl Bernstein by Dick Pryor

Second Place | General Writing: “Fake News: How Did We Get Here?” By Shad Satterthwaite

Third Place | General Writing: “Tasting the World: In Praise of Culinary Curiosity” By Pamela Chew

First Place | Best PR Publication Cover: Fall/Winter 2018 “Curiosity”

Third Place | Best PR Publication Cover: Spring/Summer 2018 “Truth”

Second Place | Best PR Publication: Spring/Summer 2018 “Truth”

Third Place | Best PR Publication: Fall/Winter 2018 “Curiosity”

View All Awards

Job Announcements

No Current Openings

We currently do not have any job listings. Please check back soon!

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