Tuesday October 31, 2023
OKCPS Foundation inducts honorees into 2023 Wall of Fame
OKCPS Foundation inducts honorees into 2023 Wall of Fame
Distinguished OKCPS alumni honored, recognized at annual awards ceremony
Left to Right: 2023 Wall of Fame honorees Cuong Do, Florence Jones-Kemp, Ray (bottom-middle) and Pat Potts and J. Don Harris, D.D.S., celebrate with OKCPS Foundation President and CEO Mary Mélon-Tully (top-middle) at the annual awards ceremony.
DOWNLOAD PHOTOS HERE
OKLAHOMA CITY (October 31, 2023) – On Monday, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation hosted its 39th annual Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards, an event that celebrates the rich history of Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) by recognizing alumni and leaders who have contributed greatly to our community and beyond.
The OKCPS Foundation has inducted 105 OKCPS alumni into its Wall of Fame since its creation in 1985, including this year’s honorees.
“Our 2023 Wall of Fame honorees represent the very best of our district and our city,” said Mary Mélon-Tully, President and CEO of the OKCPS Foundation. “While each of these leaders work in different industries and have chosen unique paths to follow in their lives, the two things our honorees have in common are the incredible impact they’ve had in their professions and communities and the deep pride they feel as graduates of Oklahoma City Public Schools. When current students are able to see the success and accomplishments of those who walked the same halls and often faced similar circumstances and opportunities, it’s truly life-changing. Each year, we are grateful for this opportunity to shine a light on our district’s inspirational alumni.”
The 2023 Wall of Fame event honored four individuals (one posthumously), as well as one couple who was designated as this year’s Unsung Hero. These leaders, all of whom embody public education at its finest, include:
Cuong Do (Northwest Classen High School) is President and CEO of BioVie Inc., a clinical-stage company developing innovative therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease and refractory Ascites. Do is an active entrepreneur, volunteer, philanthropist and supporter of several causes, most notably autism and education. He founded Identifor, Inc. and Identifor Foundation to help teenagers with autism gain confidence and independence as they transition to adulthood. Additionally, Do founded the Profectum Foundation to train clinicians and parents on how to work with children with autism and helped build Celebrate the Children, a school for children with special needs in New Jersey. With a mission to improve the health and well-being of all people, Do serves on numerous boards that benefit the nonprofit, education, healthcare and technology industries.
J. Don Harris, D.D.S. (Capitol Hill High School) has dedicated over 45 years to the field of dentistry with a focus on providing services to those who are less fortunate. Specializing in serving those with developmental or congenital disabilities and elderly Oklahomans who are in dire need of free comprehensive dental care due to lack of financial resources, Dr. Harris’ passion for helping those less fortunate led to his establishment of D-DENT, Dentists for the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment, which has provided over $22.6 million in free dental care to the elderly and mentally challenged in Oklahoma. His belief that no one should be denied the right to health care due to social or economic status has led him to donate critical dental services to hundreds of patients across the United States and as far as Honduras, Peru, the Amazon, and Africa. Dr. Harris continues to give back to Oklahoma City Public Schools by serving as the passionate leader of the Capitol Hill High School Alumni Association.
Pam Henry (John Marshall High School), honored posthumously, was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1950. Just 14 months after her birth, she contracted polio; this would eventually leave her unable to walk without crutches and ultimately force her to rely on the use of a wheelchair. In 1959, she was selected to be the national polio poster child for The March of Dimes and became the last child to represent polio victims in the annual campaign. While representing the campaign on a nationwide tour, she met several influential journalists who inspired her to pursue a career in the industry. In 1973, Henry became the first female news reporter for WKY television in Oklahoma City. She fearlessly broke through the glass ceiling and led a successful 30-year career working with multiple television and radio stations. After retiring in 2002, Henry turned her focus to advocating for people with disabilities and even served as chair of the Oklahoma City Mayor’s Committee on Disability Concerns. She continued her advocacy for increased accessibility for people with disabilities until her death on September 25, 2018.
Florence Jones-Kemp (Douglass High School) was born in 1931 in Boley, Oklahoma, to sharecroppers Robert and Elizabeth Jones. Florence learned how to cook from her mother in their farmhouse kitchen and in her home economics class at Douglass High School. In 1952, just two short years after graduating from high school, she opened the doors of Florence’s Restaurant with only a second-hand stove and one table. The restaurant was immediately popular and quickly outgrew its original space in downtown OKC. In 1969, she moved to her current location on 23rd Street. Florence’s Restaurant has been a staple in Northeast Oklahoma City ever since. Her fresh, homemade Southern cuisine has received national media attention and several accolades, including the ultimate recognition when Florence’s Restaurant was named a 2022 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award winner. Florence’s was the first restaurant in Oklahoma to receive this prestigious award. At 92 years old, Florence can still be found working in the restaurant alongside her beloved daughter, Victoria.
Ray and Pat Potts (Unsung Hero Honorees) moved to OKC in 1959, and since then, the couple have made a significant impact on the community, especially in the nonprofit sector. Pat founded the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and served as its President and CEO for over 20 years while Ray co-founded an independent energy company called PSEC and served as its President and CEO for over 30 years. In 1980, the Potts created the Community Resource Development Foundation (CRDF) to provide nonprofits with financial support for the provision of management training to turn their good intentions into tangible results. Improving and supporting education in OKC has long been a priority in their philanthropic efforts, with Pat being elected twice to serve as Chair of the Oklahoma City School Board and Ray serving for eight years as a member of the State Board of Education. The Potts were a critical part of the establishment of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation in 1984, with Ray serving as the Foundation’s first chairman of the board. In 2000, the CRDF became the Potts Family Foundation, and the organization continues to provide vital support to nonprofits that focus on education and early childhood development in Oklahoma.
The 2023 Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards were co-hosted by Gerald McCoy, a former OU and NFL football player and 2022 Wall of Fame inductee, along with Ashley Perkins, Vice President of Cox Business Oklahoma.
“As a proud member of the Board for Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation, I was honored to be a co-host of the event with the amazing Gerald McCoy,” said Perkins. “This event has long been a celebration of the rich history and excellent work done by our state’s largest school system. It honors the outcomes of our amazing faculty and recognizes the potential in all our students. It was a night to remember!”
To learn more about the OKCPS Foundation’s Wall of Fame, visit okckids.com/wall-of-fame.
ABOUT THE OKLAHOMA CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUNDATION
Created in 1984, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance excellence, advocate for equity and build strong community support for lasting success in Oklahoma City Public Schools. The Foundation works closely with the District and business community to align strategies and priorities for sustained performance improvement. Please visit us online at www.okckids.com for more information on our focus areas and volunteer and giving opportunities.
Media Contact Beth Harrison | Gooden Group | 405-625-5258 | firstname.lastname@example.org