Oklahoma's Most-Admired CEOs Profile: Robyn Sunday-Allen, Chief Executive Officer of Oklahoma City Indian Clinic

Article excerpt

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Robyn Sunday-Allen knew she wanted to work for the Indian Health system since she was a young child.

She earned her bachelor's degrees in psychology and nursing as well as a master of public health degree from the University of Oklahoma. She joined the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic in 1995 as a registered nurse. She was subsequently promoted to nurse manager in 1996, then to director of health services in 1997, to chief operating officer in 2001 and to chief executive officer in early 2009.

"My key challenge as CEO has been to successfully combine the best of non-Indian management programs while providing culturally sensitive leadership for my employees, most of whom are members of at least one tribe," Sunday-Allen said.

"I meet that challenge by focusing on a leadership style that I believe works best with any group, which is leading by example. Instead of dictating from the top, I first demonstrate the quality of work and dedication I expect from employees. Then I ask them to join me in that work. I find that employees are motivated to work harder and collaborate more effectively to reach common goals when they watch leadership doing the same every day."

David Toahty, chief development officer for the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, has worked with Sunday-Allen for more than 13 years.

"I have watched as Robyn grew from a patient-centered nurse manager and developed into the chief operating officer and now the chief executive officer. From Robyn's time of direct patient care she has always led by example," Toahty said. "Robyn's strong work ethic, dedication and compassion to helping people continue to be admired by staff and patients alike. …