50 Making a Difference Profile: Debbie S. Harrison, Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority, Director of Community Relations

Article excerpt

Debbie Harrison sums up her personal philosophy in one word - empowerment. The director of community relations for the Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority is determined to empower her family, co-workers, friends, acquaintances and even total strangers.

"It is important to acknowledge that everyone has something worthwhile to contribute. If you believe that one thing, you are in a position to empower and encourage. What greater gift can you give than helping someone develop confidence in his or her own abilities? Empowerment increases the spiritual, social and economic strength of individuals and communities," Harrison said.

Harrison took over her role at the Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority in 2007 after working five years as director of community service for Russell-Murray Hospice. She is a member of the Oklahoma Municipal League and the Solid Waste Association of North America.

Before joining Russell-Murray Hospice, she served as the El Reno Main Street director for more than a decade. She also served as director of the El Reno Convention & Visitors Bureau. In 2002, she was named Oklahoma Main Street Director of the Year for her work with the downtown revitalization program that promotes community development. Prior to joining the El Reno Main Street Program, she worked a decade in the banking industry serving in various capacities, including mortgage loan officer and site supervisor for Investors Federal Bank and then as assistant vice president and trust officer with Citizens National Bank.

A lifelong resident of El Reno, Harrison continues to work to improve the community. She is a former vice mayor and council member of the El Reno City Council. Harrison currently serves on the board of the El Reno Economic Development Partnership and chairs the Main Street Board and the Canadian County Local Emergency Planning Committee. She also volunteers and serves on the boards of United Way of Canadian County and is vice-chair of the El Reno Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. …