Oklahoma's Most-Admired CEOs Profile: Julie J. Knutson, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals

Article excerpt

Leading the leaders isn't a task for the faint of heart. Fortunately Julie Knutson, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, is anything but fainthearted.

Originally designed as more of a think tank, the academy has evolved into a proactive nonpartisan entity that involves leaders in diverse fields across the state in the development and implementation of better policy for the state of Oklahoma. Its influence has been felt in all arenas - from education and judicial reform, to corrections and water resource management.

Knutson's background as an assistant principal and high school counselor gave her diplomatic and team-building skills that have been invaluable in her academy role.

"As CEO, Julie guides the great leaders of our state to success in changing Oklahoma's future for the better," said Steve Kreidler, executive vice president of the University of Central Oklahoma. "As can be imagined, there are strong opinions and persuasive and powerful members who often share divergent opinions. Julie is the consummate stateswoman and diplomat who is able to bring about better recommendations by controlling conflict in a way to spark higher-level thinking."

Under Knutson's guidance, the academy transitioned to an expanded town hall format (three days instead of one-and-a-half), which allows for more in-depth discussion and a broader representation of community leaders. By allowing time for the extra discussion, participants develop more concrete recommendations and leave with the tools to begin pushing for their implementation.

"The Oklahoma Academy has become one of the most respected public policy organizations in the U. …