2021 Women for OSU Symposium celebrates community of philanthropists

Women for OSU

Audiences in-person and online gathered for the 2021 Women for OSU Symposium at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts. The event featured keynote speaker Leigh Anne Tuohy, a philanthropist and author who inspired Sandra Bullock’s role in the blockbuster hit “The Blind Side.”

The symposium celebrated the impact and philanthropy of the Women for OSU community and honored 2021 Philanthropist of the Year Cathey Humphreys and 13 outstanding student scholars. Women for OSU also announced inaugural grant recipients for its new Partnering to Impact initiative, which provides funding for on-campus projects in the areas of health and wellness, campus beautification, education, and arts and culture.

Student scholarship recipients

This year’s scholars were selected in honor of their contributions to not only their communities but to Oklahoma State University as well. These students have shown an incredible commitment to helping others through compassion, work ethic and dedication to philanthropic efforts:

  • Jerret Carpenter — Poteau, Oklahoma; Natural Resource Ecology and Management, 2023
  • Lara Hays — Claremore, Oklahoma; Agribusiness and Animal Science, 2023
  • Bree Kisling — Enid, Oklahoma; Agricultural Communications, 2023
  • Kaitlyn Lane — Beulah, Colorado; Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering: Pre-Med, 2022
  • Savannah Nicks — Tulsa, Oklahoma; Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, 2022
  • Mallie Reuter — Stillwater, Oklahoma; Nonprofit Management, 2022
  • Wesley Sims — Stillwater, Oklahoma; Management Information Systems, 2022
  • Jessica Van Nimwegen — Allen, Texas; Animal Science: Pre-Vet, 2022
  • Garrin Williams — Manhattan, Kansas; Human Development and Family Science, 2023
  • Carly Dunn — McAlester, Oklahoma; Human Development and Family Science Ph.D. Student, 2024; Sandra K. Trennepohl Women for OSU Endowed Scholarship
  • Lucia Kezele — Gallup, New Mexico; Applied Sociology and Psychology, 2022; Ike and Marybeth Glass Women for OSU Scholarship
  • Rachel Kim — South Korea; Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, 2022; Sheryl Benbrook Women for OSU Scholarship
  • Ashlyn Morris — Poteau, Oklahoma; Animal Science: Pre-Vet Medicine, 2022; Wirt June Newman Memorial Scholarship

Philanthropist of the Year — Cathey Humphreys

For more than a decade, Cathey Humphreys and her husband, Don, have given Oklahoma State University students the world.

The Dallas-area couple has been instrumental in Cathey Humphreys advancing global programming at OSU, providing countless study abroad experiences for students and creating a legacy of selfless giving along the way. Inspired to give based upon their own travels, they have also created endowed faculty chairs and student scholarships in the OSU School of International Studies as part of the Branding Success campaign.

“Global programming at OSU would not be where it is today without Cathey,” said Randy Kluver, dean of the School of Global Studies and Partnerships. “Her vision and generosity have made a profound impact on hundreds of OSU students, providing them with the means to encounter and begin to understand the people and cultures all over the world.”

Keynote Speaker — Leigh Anne Tuohy

Those who watched the virtual event also heard from Leigh Anne Tuohy, philanthropist and inspiration for “The Blind Side” book and movie.

Tuohy is recognized as a strong-willed and caring woman, although her story truly began when she married college sweetheart Sean Tuohy in 1982. Together, they were raising two children, Collins and Sean Jr., when they added a new member to their family in 2004 by legally adopting a teenage foster child they had already taken in and considered family. They raised him, gave him the opportunity to get the education they knew he deserved and encouraged his passion for football. With Tuohy’s limitless love, support, and protection, that once homeless 17-year-old boy grew to be none other than NFL Super Bowl Champion Michael Oher.

Tuohy and her family’s inspirational journey are proof that when we give a bit of ourselves to other people, we can make the world a better place and perhaps, even save a life. Tuohy is a philanthropist, mentor, interior designer and a New York Times best-selling author. Her newest release, Turn Around: Reach Out, Give Back, and Get Moving, challenges readers to rethink what it really means to be a generous person. She dives deep into what it means to give sacrificially, abundantly and immediately within your own community.

"If you're listening to me, you have the ability to make a difference in someone's life," Tuohy said. "There are small things everyone can do."

After her inspiring keynote address, Tuohy also sat down with several Women for OSU leaders for an in-depth panel discussion. The panelists included Julia Benbrook, emcee; Jami Longacre, chair of Women for OSU; Denise Webber, CEO of Stillwater Medical Center; and Blaire Atkinson, president of the OSU Foundation and honorary member of the Women for OSU council. The panelists shared details of their own experiences as women. From strengths to weaknesses, each of them told honest, open and inspiring stories from their own lives.

Partnering to Impact

In 2020, Women for OSU announced Partnering to Impact, a donor-funded grant program to support the university in a way that strengthens engagement with Women for OSU Partners. Since the start of the program, OSU faculty and staff submitted numerous proposals to fund unbudgeted projects that align with the program’s main initiatives. The Women for OSU Partners have chosen the following grant recipients as the inaugural year winners:

  • Basic Needs Security at OSU | John Mark Day, Ed.D., director of Leadership & Campus Life

  • “Belonging”, A Film to Inspire Teaching Social Acceptance in the Classroom | Amanda W. Harrist, Ph.D., College of Education and Human Sciences professor

  • Partnering to Impact Nature Trail | Dr. Lou Anella, director of The Botanic Garden at OSU and Ferguson College of Agriculture professor and Dr. Adrine Shufran, OSU insect adventure coordinator and Ferguson College of Agriculture associate Extension specialist

  • Sarah Coburn Residency at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts | Clint Williams, McKnight Center director of development

When you join the Women for OSU Partners, you help fund important projects like this year’s grant recipients. Visit OSUgiving.com/women/partners to learn more about how you can make a difference.

Visit OSUgiving.com/women to learn more about Women for OSU. To find out how you can get involved, please contact Michal Shaw, director of Women for OSU and assistant vice president of donor relations at the Oklahoma State University Foundation.