• Kenton Tsoodle

Leaders recognized for OKC commitment


The annual Dean A. McGee Awards are a time to recognize outstanding leaders in our community – people who have made a significant and lasting impact on Oklahoma City. With the awards named after Oklahoma business leader Dean A. McGee, who championed the downtown development of Oklahoma City, this year’s honorees are Marva Ellard, a real estate developer; Debi Martin, City Council chief of staff; and Rand Elliott, principal of Rand Elliott Architects. I have worked with each of the honorees for decades on multiple projects and have seen firsthand how their efforts benefit Oklahoma City.


The Neal Horton Award recognizes a visionary who sparks a renaissance in the downtown area and Marva Ellard is being recognized as a catalyst for the renaissance in Midtown. She has renovated and restored multiple historic structures in the area, including the original Sunbeam Family Services campus, which she transformed into residential and office space; 1928 Siber apartment building, which is now upscale apartments; and Villa Teresa, which she is currently restoring. She serves on committees and organizations that preserve history, culture and architecture in our city.

The Stanley Draper Award recognizes a person who has made an enduring effect on downtown. Debi Martin has been with the city of Oklahoma City for decades, assigned to support the City Council since 1987, developing and implementing plans for council priorities and special projects. She has helped with many significant projects, including assisting with relocating the Oklahoma City Museum of Arts to downtown and serving as a liaison following the Alfred P. Murrah Building bombing. Her passion for education has made her an invaluable volunteer many youth programs.

Rand Elliott will receive the Dean A. McGee Award for helping transform downtown, both above and below ground. He redesigned downtown’s Concourse into The Underground with contemporary, bright lighting, restored the Vesper Building in Automobile Alley, renovated the 1911 Buick Building into Red Prime Steakhouse, created the Beacon of Hope in Stiles Park, transformed the Mid-Continent Life Insurance Building into the Gaylord Pickens Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and revived downtown’s most famous flatiron-style building, which won Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Award.

The Dean A. McGee awards has honored many visionaries – from mayors, corporate presidents, developers, investors to business and civic leaders and community volunteers. All of the honorees have shared a passion to transform Oklahoma City.

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