Oklahoma Contemporary

Founders Day 2024

An overlay of rainbow colors on a dark image of metal awards with the name FOUNDERS DAY 2024 engraved in black

New Light

March 01, 2024

For the Community: Founders Day 2024

A celebration of Oklahoma Contemporary's mission and the people that make it possible

Serving a community is an act of love and collaboration. To make art accessible to Oklahomans, to provide a home for contemporary art and ideas, to be a leader in arts education and a contemporary art beacon for the region takes a village, filled with supporters who believe in our mission and live our values. They help Oklahoma Contemporary flourish in and for the Oklahoma City community — and the entire state.

Sunset Bayley Hanes

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

"Founders Day is that special occasion in our social calendar where we honor those who have done so much to assure our bright future,” Oklahoma Contemporary Founder and Chairman Christian Keesee says. “Because of those we are honoring, Oklahoma Contemporary continues to respond more clearly and effectively to the art community in Oklahoma City."

As we approach this year’s Founders Day, March 22, we honor and celebrate those special friends who go above and beyond. Inspired by the vision of our founder and chairman, we recognize some of the individuals who have helped to make the arts center an indispensable resource.

This March, our honorees are Robert and Sody Clements, Rand and Jeanette Elliott, Laura Warriner and Jabee Williams.

To honor the work of these outstanding individuals and further support accessible art, a collection of our most dedicated supporters has agreed to match donations up to $100,000 through March 22!

Each honoree brings their own expertise, experience and background as artists and educators, volunteers and philanthropists. Supporting exhibitions, education, public programs and our move downtown, these community members help the arts center form connections between the community and contemporary art.

Robert and Sody Clements

Two older white people stand in a room with walls of mirrors. They are smiling at the camera. The man on the left is wearing a blue suit, black glasses and white tie. The woman on the right is wearing a white shirt, colorful scarf and red glasses.
Robert and Sody Clements

Sody McCampbell Clements was born in New York City, "But I got here as fast as I could." She attended Nichols Hills and Casady School, Vanderbilt University and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma. Her employment history includes working for a variety of prominent political campaigns and institutions. Her parents set an example of volunteering, and she began her political volunteering in second grade, working on a classmate’s campaign. Sody has been an active volunteer ever since for numerous campaigns and non-profits, serving in leadership and board positions for Westminster Church, Festival of the Arts, Rainbow Fleet, Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra, Allied Arts, Young Oklahomans for Better Government, Literary Voices, All Souls' Episcopal Church, YWCA, Winter Ball, Leadership OKC and Casady School. She was elected to the Nichols Hills City Council in 2009 and is currently serving her fifth term as mayor.

A life-long resident of Oklahoma City, Robert Clements received a degree in economics from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and a graduate degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois. Following graduation, he joined Clements Food Company, founded in 1953 by his father and grandfather. He is currently Executive Vice-President of Clements Foods, a manufacturer of a wide assortment of condiments.

A graduate of Leadership OKC Class XV, Robert is the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate award from Casady School in 2018 and the Ray Ackerman Award from the United Way of Central Oklahoma in 2016. In addition to his many years of leadership on the Board of Trustees at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, he is a long-time board member with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Philharmonic and the Kirkpatrick Foundation.

Sody and Robert met at a party when her brother, Robert McCampbell, married his cousin, Donna Kidd. Robert’s family also has a long history of volunteering and philanthropy, and both Sody and Robert are passionate about supporting the arts. Married for 34 years, they have two sons, Robert and William, and they welcomed son-in-law, Thomas Kennedy, to the family in 2023.

They are members of All Souls’ Episcopal Church.

Rand and Jeanette Elliott

Two older white people stand in a room with mirrors. The woman on the left has red hair, wears red lipstick and is dressed in all black. The man on the right has his hair pulled back and a gray goatee, in a black jacket and wearing black framed glasses.
Rand and Jeanette Elliott

Jeanette Elliott is a fourth-generation Oklahoman, born in Tulsa, and a University of Oklahoma advertising graduate. Her early career took her to Dallas, Texas, but a blind date to the OKC Addy Awards brought her back to Oklahoma City, where she became a creative force at Ackerman McQueen for decades as EVP/Creative Director.

Jeanette’s clients included food and wines from France for the U.S. and Canada; Six Flags Worldwide; Sheraton Hotels and Pizza Hut. Longtime Oklahoma clients include BancFirst, INTEGRIS Health, OGE, Chesapeake Energy and the Chickasaw Nation. Her 1991 Oklahoma Native America campaign for Oklahoma Tourism won 100+ national and regional awards, including the marketing world's “Oscar,” the Effie, in New York. It was featured on two state car tags and in a leading U.S. college textbook. Jeanette wrote and co-produced The Oklahoma Film, airing on the History Channel and OETA, a perennial favorite.

She received the Governor's Award from the Oklahoma Arts Council, the By-liner Award from Women in Communications and the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Addy Lifetime Achievement award. Jeanette was named to Adweek’s Creative All-Stars and served on awards juries including in New York City. She was named a Creativity Ambassador by Creative Oklahoma in 2016 and in 2018 and served with husband/architect Rand Elliott as Allied Arts Honorary Chairs. Currently, Jeanette serves on the Oklahoma City Ballet Advisory Board.

Rand Elliott, FAIA, President of Rand Elliott Architects (REA), has served as principal of his own architectural/interior/graphics design firm since age 27. Since its inception, REA has distinguished itself as a forerunner of innovative architectural design.

Rand’s projects, processes and inspiration have grown from his Oklahoma roots and been applied to work in London, as well as over 50 cities in the United States. Since the firm’s opening in 1976, it has received 373 international, national, regional and local awards, including 10 National AIA Honor Awards. His work has been featured in more than 80 books and 350 periodicals published, including in the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, Turkey, Portugal and Russia.

Rand graduated at the top of his class from Oklahoma State University in 1973. He is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Architects Committee on Design and Historic Preservation. Other associations include the Architectural League of New York, Dallas Architecture Forum and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.

In Oklahoma, Rand has acted as president of the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (1990-91) and served as the Chapter’s Program Chairman from 1995 to 2002. He became the first Oklahoman invited to participate in the Bruce Goff Fellowship lecture series at the University of Oklahoma, has been awarded and honored with a variety of local achievements.

On the national level, Rand was inducted into the 22nd Hall of Fame for Interior Design Magazine in November 2006.

The Elliotts’ philanthropic focus is local and largely arts-focused, but also includes United Way, Oklahoma State University and Hope for the Future.

Rand and Jeanette supported Oklahoma Contemporary through three decades of City Arts events, including underwriting and co-curating the 2010 exhibition, Mother’s Hats.

Laura Warriner

An older white woman with short white hair, white circular glasses, dressed in dark gray smiles softly, standing in a room with mirrors.
Laura Warriner

Laura Warriner, born and raised in Tulsa, embarked on a creative journey that led her from the world of Realism painting to three-dimensional explorations. After completing her education at Oklahoma Baptist University and Oklahoma City University, she delved into Realism through workshops with national artists.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, while attending exhibits in New York and participating as an award-winning artist, Warriner drew inspiration to pivot her focus towards tactile and three-dimensional art. Additionally, accompanying her husband on global lectures during this time contributed to this transformative journey. Her residence in Bruce Goff's Pollock House served as a catalyst, further igniting her passion for sculpture and immersive environments.

In 1994, Warriner's commitment to art and community led her to purchase an abandoned and dilapidated warehouse in the Deep Deuce district of OKC. In 1995 the deal closed, giving birth to Untitled, the home of ARTSPACE, a 501(c)(3) Community Art Center.

Beyond her artistic pursuits, Warriner has actively contributed to the cultural landscape in Oklahoma. She has served on the State of Oklahoma’s Licensing Board of Architects and Landscape Architects, University of Oklahoma College of Architecture Board of Visitors, Allied Arts, Kirkpatrick Foundation, City Arts Center, and she co-founded the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. Her involvement extended to Oklahoma State University's Art Advisory Council and selection committees for the Oklahoma Arts Institute and Living Arts in Tulsa.

Warriner's dedication earned her numerous accolades, including the Lifetime Achievement Award by Paseo Arts Association in 2010, the Community Service Award at the 33rd Annual Governor's Arts Award Ceremony in 2008, and the By-liners Award for the Arts from the Association for Women in Communications in 2007. She received the Neal Horton Award for the renaissance of Downtown OKC in 2006 and the Preservation and Landmark Commission Award in 1998 for the restoration of 1 NE 3rd St., Oklahoma City. The Keystone Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1994 recognized her efforts in preserving and restoring Bruce Goff's Pollock House. Warriner continues to reside in this historic masterpiece when not immersed in the vibrant artistic community of Untitled.

Jabee Williams

A Black man dressed in a black sweater and wearing an orange beanie stands in a room with mirrors.
Jabee Williams

Jonathan B. Williams (Jabee) is an Oklahoma City-based community organizer, educator, entrepreneur and artist who is dedicated to the well-being and liberation of Black people. One of six children, Jabee grew up in a single-parent family on the East side of Oklahoma City. Experiencing homelessness and the hardships of poverty as a child, Jabee turned to music to cope with difficult experiences, including the shooting death of his little brother, Junie. Music grew from an outlet of expression into a passion and then career for Jabee.

He released his first full-length album, Blood is the New Black, in 2008. In 2013, his second full-length album Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, was recorded under the guidance of hip-hop legend Murs. Jabee released his next full-length album Black Future in August 2016, followed by his 2022 album, This World Is So Fragile and Cruel I’m glad I got you, receiving numerous top-chart spots on iTunes and Apple Music, including being featured on Sway in the Morning , MTV, XXL, Complex, The Source and Vibe. In 2020, Jabee gathered 18 other Black community members to establish and host Juneteenth on the East, a Black art and music festival that attracted over 15,000 attendees in 2023.

After the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, Jabee began to employ his art and community standing toward Black liberation in Oklahoma. In subsequent years, Jabee would engage numerous private and public entities to partner on a range of subjects with the objective of bringing resources to his community. Jabee partnered with the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education and Citizens Bank to create Money Moves, a financial literacy program for high school students; with OK County Boys & Girls Club to implement a music education program for area high school students; and the Oklahoma Mural Syndicate to establish With Love, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to producing public art in Black communities by public artists. Jabee has joined several boards with the mission of empowering Black people in Oklahoma City, including the NE OKC Renaissance Board, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Board, The Clara Luper Legacy Committee, the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council – Facilities Subcommittee, and the OKC Arts Commission. In 2016, Jabee also began teaching a hip-hop studies course at the University of Central Oklahoma in the Academy of Contemporary Music.

In 2020, Jabee joined with Reverend Cece Jones-Davis, the founder and director of the Justice for Julius campaign, to co-lead efforts to save Julius Jones from execution in Oklahoma, alongside Julius Jones, Antoinette Jones and Jess Eddy. Together, the leaders built an international, inter-faith and bi-partisan coalition that resulted in the commutation of Julius’s sentence. In late 2021, Jabee was introduced to Pastor Michael McBride with LiveFree USA and the community violence intervention model. The two partnered to co-found LiveFree OKC in the Spring of 2022, and successfully launched Oklahoma’s first violence intervention program, serving Oklahoma City’s Black community. Jabee continues today as the Executive Director of LiveFree OKC, pursuing a mission of peace and reduced violence in Oklahoma City.

In 2022 and 2023, Jabee and partners opened Eastside Pizza House and Scrambl’d, respectively. Both restaurants are located in the heart of OKC’s Black community, a food apartheid. The restaurants are Black-owned and staffed by people from the Black community, providing critical community gathering spaces and frequently hosting community conversations and celebrations.

Join us March 22 for Founders Day 2024, beginning at 4:30 p.m., as we celebrate this group of individuals championing accessible artistic engagement. Grab your free tickets, and donate in one of our honorees’ names (you can choose who to recognize!).


Founders Day 2024 awards. Photo: AJ Stegall.

Detail view of Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. Photo: Bayley Hanes.

Robert and Sody Clements.

Rand and Jeanette Elliott.

Laura Warriner.

Jabee Williams.

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Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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