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Graduating from Casady High School in 1984, Kristin Davis saw a dark cloud hanging over her home state. Two years prior, Penn Square Bank had fallen. The price of a barrel of crude oil was about to take a nosedive. There was no Bricktown and no MAPS.
“It was pretty bleak. As an 18-year-old, I just didn’t see a future here for myself, which is sad in a way,” Davis says. “At the same time, I felt like I needed a broader world experience.”
So she went off to college and saw the world.
And now, nearly three decades later, she’s back, and so is Oklahoma’s economy.
Earlier this year, Davis was named the first executive director of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition — a position which brought her back to her home state from Phoenix.
“I’ve come to this point in my life [where] I’ve realized what is really important to me is to be able to come back home,” she says. “I appreciate my roots. I appreciate what Oklahoma has to offer, and I’m just astounded at all the changes that have taken place in the last 28 years since I’ve been away – and how vibrant the city is now.”
Davis began her new role Jan. 30 after working as the vice president of communications at the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.
The fourth-generation Oklahoman originally left the state to attend Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She was able to study abroad for a year in Scotland; a summer working in England followed.
From there, she worked in Boston and Dallas before going to graduate school at the University of Texas at Dallas for her master’s in public affairs.
During her career, Davis has found herself drawn to nonprofits and women’s issues.
“I’ve gained some really interesting perspective over the years — not only professionally, but also personally — that impacted my decision to work on women’s issues,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always had this dream of leading a nonprofit organization focused on women. It always seemed like a pipe dream in the back of my mind, and now that it’s happened, it’s pretty cool.
Established in 2008, the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition’s mission is to advance the potential of women and girls through advocacy.
The new position and the timing in her own life brought her back.
“I thought Oklahoma is really in a good spot right now financially,” Davis says. “I thought it would be great to be back here because my parents are here. I thought it would be a great place to have my kids here, so that before they went off to college they could spend some time with their grandparents.”
A few months into her new job, Davis understands the hurdles.
“The biggest challenges have to do with the fact that Oklahoma is ranking so dismally in different areas relating to women’s issues,” she says. “It’s definitely a challenge we face as a coalition and as a state, and it’s something I’m really hoping we can make an impact on.”
–Photo by Shannon Cornman