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Executive Bios

Deby Snodgrass

Cabinet Secretary and Executive Director

Deby Snodgrass has more than 30 years experience in marketing and public policy in the private sector. Prior to accepting the Executive Director’s post at the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Snodgrass served as Senior Director of Public Affairs for Chesapeake Energy. In that role, she developed and executed strategic political and public policy initiatives, managed both state and federal political action committees and monitored federal, state and local issues. Previous to her tenure at Chesapeake, Snodgrass was a founding partner of the public policy and research firm, Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates. She has been a frequent guest speaker and has taught policy and strategy at various national and international venues.

Snodgrass was also a founding member of the Board of Directors for Friends of the Mansion, Inc. and is a former co-chair of "Opening Night," Oklahoma City's annual New Year's Eve celebration. She served eight years on Oklahoma's Capitol Preservation Commission and is a former board member for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. She was named one of Oklahoma City’s Most Powerful Women by Friday in 2012 and was awarded the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs’ Sheer Vision award in 2012. Snodgrass currently serves as a member of the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, and as an ex-officio board member of Allied Arts, and the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.

Snodgrass was recently appointed to the Governor’s Cabinet. As Secretary of Tourism, she is responsible for 19 state agencies, boards and commissions in addition to her duties as tourism’s Executive Director.

Photo by KO Rineason

Claudia Conner

Deputy Director and General Counsel

Since 2011, Claudia Conner has served as Deputy Director and General Counsel for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD). Previously, Conner worked as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department as her sole client. Her prior experience was with the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.

In her current position, Conner carries out the administrative duties of the department as its Deputy Director. She also continues to act as Chief Legal Counsel for the agency which employs approximately 600 Oklahomans across the state, including 120 stationed in OTRD’s Oklahoma City office.

Conner received her B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and her J.D. degree from Oklahoma City University.

Kris Marek

Director of State Parks for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department

Kris Marek is currently the Director of State Parks for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. She also serves as the Oklahoma State Liaison Officer for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and is the Vice President of the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers. Prior to being the Director of State Parks, she served as the Director of Planning and Development and the Assistant Director of State Parks. Kris is a graduate of Purdue University with a major in park and recreation administration. She has a Master's degree from the University of Oklahoma in Regional and City Planning and a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University.

Jill Simpson

Director of the Oklahoma Film & Music Office

Jill Simpson serves as Director of the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, overseeing a state industry that has had an economic impact approaching $70 million since her appointment in late 2004. In that role, she markets Oklahoma as a viable location for producing motion picture, television and music projects, providing resources for every aspect of production including personnel, locations, equipment and permitting, as well as serving as liaison to Oklahoma businesses, lawmakers and community leaders. Simpson and her staff of four are a hands-on, motivated and innovative organization widely credited with enhancing Oklahoma's reputation in the industry both within the state and outside our borders. On a daily basis, they work toward increasing awareness of the importance of the film and music industries in diversifying Oklahoma's economy. Since 2005, Simpson and her staff have successfully shepherded the passage of nine new bills into law. Each was designed to enhance the film and music industries, the first of which funded a then-empty Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program up to $5 million per year. In 2008, Simpson was instrumental in the creation and passage of legislation to establish an Oklahoma Creative Industries Task Force, a second bill to incentivize the use of Oklahoma music and musicians in Oklahoma film and television productions and a third providing for the naming of an official Oklahoma rock song. 2009 saw the passage of legislation that more than doubles the state's film rebate program, restoring Oklahoma's competitive edge in the marketplace. Under Simpson's direction, the Film & Music Office's key focus is to develop and grow a self-sustaining production environment within the state, whereby creating avenues for workforce training, development, and the nurturing of local talent. Recent collaborative successes include Oklahoma films being accepted into the 2007 and 2009 Sundance Film Festivals, MoMA's 2009

Kim Montgomery

Director of Public Policy and Research

Kim Montgomery joined the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department as the Director of Public Policy and Research in January of 2013. She has 17 years of experience with the Oklahoma Legislature with her final 12 years there serving as a Legislative Analyst for the Senate Committee Staff where she was the lead staffer for the Senate Education Committee. Her immediate past experience was with Chesapeake Energy in the Corporate Development and Government Relations department where she managed the in-kind asset donation program, facilitated legislative outreach efforts, coordinated economic impact data needs for the department, and researched various issues impacting the oil and natural gas industry.

Montgomery received her B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Southern Nazarene University and her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Joan Henderson

Publisher of Oklahoma Today Magazine

Joan Henderson is the publisher of Oklahoma Today. She is responsible for all aspects of the magazine's operation and has been with the magazine since November 1994. Ms. Henderson is on the board and serves on the president's council of the International Regional Magazine Association, is vice-president of the Oklahoma Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and serves on the board of directors of the Magazine Publishers of America Independent Magazine Advisory Group (MPA-IMAG). Henderson moved to Oklahoma City from Austin, where she worked as account executive for Tocquigny Design. Previously, In the 1980s, Henderson led an award-winning multi-image photography team in Boston, Massachusetts. Born in New York and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Henderson graduated from OSU in 1979 with a BA in Humanities. An accomplished photographer, her hand-tinted black and white images have been featured in numerous periodicals and in photographic exhibitions in Oklahoma, Texas, and Massachusetts.