(Tahlequah, Okla.)--As director of early settlement at Northeastern State University, Ann Wilkins has spent her career mediating disputes.
But there can be no dispute that Wilkins is a pioneer. Recently the 11-year Tahlequah resident has become the first Oklahoma woman named Governor-Elect of the Texas Oklahoma District of Kiwanis International.
As district Governor-elect, Wilkins will represent 324 clubs with more than 10,000 members. Her one-year term begins Oct. 1, 2012.
“We will work to increase membership in the district’s Kiwanis clubs,” she said. “We want to encourage students to participate by becoming a member of Circle K and Key clubs. Kiwanis will not be able to grow without them, and we are taking steps to show them what we do and the opportunities only Kiwanis can offer. We have redesigned our website, we are posting on Facebook and looking at using Skype to facilitate club meetings for young people.”
After moving to Tahlequah 11 years ago, Wilkins joined the Kiwanis Club to meet people and to serve her new community.
“I also joined because I love little children,” she said. “Our programs help them, but the children also see what it means to be an involved citizen. One day it will be their responsibility to aid their neighbors.”
Delegates voted Wilkins as Governor-Elect during the Texas Oklahoma district convention in August.
“I think I was selected because I have the experience and the background,” she said. “I’ve been a lieutenant governor for the district and served as a trustee on its foundation board. While a foundation trustee I rewrote our investment policy, which was in need of an update.”
Kiwanis membership is open to anyone 18 or older. Ancillary clubs include Circle K for college students, Key clubs in high schools, Builders in middle schools, K-Kids for elementary students and Akion for special needs children. Seniors can join Golden K clubs.
At NSU, Wilkins directs the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Early Settlement Mediation Program which serves eleven counties in northeast Oklahoma. As a state certified mediator, she deals with cases ranging from small claims to permanency mediation.
Wilkins has served as president of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and as its vice president of tourism development. She was voted the outstanding member of Tahlequah Leadership Class VII and serves as president of the Cherokee County Historical Society.
Wilkins has chaired district Kiwanis programs including Achievement/Administration, BUGS (Bring Up Grades)/Terrific Kids and Young Children Priority One. BUGS, for children in grades 3-4, has seen rapid local growth with her assistance. The reward program, which encourages students to make better grades, is used in eight of Cherokee County’s 13 elementary schools. The Kiwanis Club of Tahlequah has also provided playground equipment and scholarship assistance.
“As a district governor it will also be my responsibility to communicate and increase awareness of the Kiwanis Clubs and their activities in Oklahoma and Texas,” she said. “Some of the training will address public communication methods and strategies.”
Wilkins will be travel to the Kiwanis International headquarters in Indianapolis in November for three days of training.
Kiwanis is an international organization. Each year its members dedicate more than 6 million volunteer hours and $100 million to assisting children through community projects. About 600,000 adult and youth members belong to approximately 8,000 clubs worldwide.
Those interested in joining Kiwanis can contact Wilkins at (918) 444-3007.
Published: 9/22/2011 3:34:55 PM