- Spring 2012
While Kathy Taylor is known for her experience as an international business executive, state and municipal public servant and private practice attorney, the role for which she's probably best known is that of change agent, navigating through status quo forces to help the private and public sectors to work together for meaningful community improvement.
Taylor began her business career as a corporate attorney in private practice centered in franchising and distribution, corporate and commercial transactions and mergers and acquisitions. She subsequently served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, navigating it through public company regulations, international franchise expansion and acquisitions, as well as its sale to the Chrysler Corporation. Taylor then became a member of an ownership team that successfully negotiated the purchase of National Car Rental from General Motors and served on its board of directors. Upon the sale of National to AutoNation, she and her husband established the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, focusing on education and entrepreneurial support in Oklahoma.
Taylor entered public service in 2003 at the state level when she was appointed Oklahoma's Secretary of Commerce, Tourism & Workforce Development. She was the first State Secretary with responsibility for leading three separate governmental agencies. Simultaneously, Taylor also served as Executive Director of the Department of Commerce, where she led the unprecedented recruitment of Dell to Oklahoma with its second largest U.S. facility and chaired a statewide initiative to build an economic development plan that included a major research endowment to support job development.
In 2006, she was elected Mayor of Oklahoma's second largest city – Tulsa -- in its largest voter turnout for a mayoral election. She combined her experience as attorney, business executive and state agency leader to bring significant improvement to Tulsa. This included negotiating the acquisition of Tulsa's first public hospital, passing the largest investment in streets in the City's history, successfully re-negotiating union contracts with seven municipal labor unions simultaneously during times of financial difficulty, leading an effort to garner state support to complete a new hangar for the City's largest employer (securing 7,000 jobs for the area), completing the first redesign of the City's land use plan in 30 years ("Planitulsa")and launching public private partnerships that leveraged education opportunities.
Just prior to returning to private practice at Oklahoma's largest law firm where she is today, Taylor served on the Oklahoma gubernatorial cabinet as Chief of Education Strategy and Innovation, leading the bipartisan passage of one of the most significant pieces of education reform legislation in the nation, calling for a mandatory statewide framework for teacher and principal evaluation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of publicly traded Sonic Corp. as well as numerous non-profit boards.