Alum Kris Steele Appointed Oklahoma Speaker
January 19, 2011
OBU graduate Kris Steele was inducted as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday, Jan. 5. A Republican re-elected without opposition as state representative for the Shawnee-area District 26, Steele is serving his last two years under the state’s term limits law.
“We are delighted to have an OBU graduate serving in this vital role with our legislature,” said OBU President David W. Whitlock. “Speaker Steele is a proud member of the OBU family, and we are praying that God will grant him wisdom and courage as he fills this leadership role.”
Steele graduated from OBU in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in religion. He earned a master’s degree in education from East Central University in 2006.
Outside of his work in the state legislature, Steele serves as associate pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Shawnee. Engaging in a life of community service, he also has served as an educator at Tecumseh Alternative High School, a life-skills educator at Gateway to Prevention, and a counselor for students in the Job Training Partnership Act at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.
“Oklahoma Baptist University helped shape my life vision in an atmosphere of learning reinforced by faith,” Steele said. “My OBU experience influenced my future career as both a minister and public servant. Faith impacts priorities and relationships and ultimately provides purpose in life. I am thankful for my time at OBU.”
Steele said his experience in education, volunteer work and government has provided him with a solid foundation as a state legislator. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in November 2000.
While in the Legislature, he has led the way on several health care reform initiatives. His “Rx for Oklahoma” plan helps low-income Oklahomans and senior citizens gain access to quality, safe prescription drugs. He also helped turn other health care reform measures into law, including proposals to lower health care insurance costs and ensure the safety of Oklahomans who live in long-term care facilities. He championed legislation to require background checks on Court Appointed Special Advocates and to expand health savings accounts as an option for all state employees.
As co-chair of the Children and Juvenile Law Reform Committee created by the Kelsey Smith-Briggs Child Protection Act of 2006, he conducted a systematic review and study of all laws and procedures in Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes and passed legislation to reclassify, update, reform and recodify the statutes. His work on behalf of at-risk children earned him a place in the Child Advocacy Institute Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Steele was designated the GOP caucus choice for Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the role he formally assumed in January 2011.
Steele is married to Kellie Kursar Steele, who earned a bachelor’s degree in family psychology from OBU in 2001. They have two daughters, Mackenzie, age 7, and Madison, age 6.