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Meet Our Commissioners

Since 1982, the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth has helped create quality systems for children, youth, and families by bringing accountability and independent oversight into Oklahoma’s child and youth service system.  OCCY Commissioners meet to approve strategic plans, coordinate efforts between agencies, and make recommendations to the governor, legislature, and child-focused agencies. They serve without compensation for up to four terms of two years each.

For more information, please call 405-606-4900.



  • Representing a Statewide Association of Youth Services
  • Appointed by the Governor

John Schneider is an energetic, motivated, and driven leader.  He has been committed to Youth & Family Services, Inc. (YFS) for 10 years. Throughout his service at YFS, he has served in various roles including Development Director, Assistant Director, and now Executive Director.

He is known for establishing creative partnerships and relationships to collaboratively provide life-changing solutions to some of our community’s most challenging social issues.

He has a business background and specialized knowledge in building effective teams, strategic relationship development, private fund development, and outcome-driven program management. 


  • Representing a statewide court-appointed Special Advocate Association
  • Appointed by the Governor

Jacqueline Aaron is from Weatherford, Oklahoma and is the Executive Director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Western Oklahoma which covers 5 counties. Her degree is in education. She also coordinates the Custer/Washita County Child Protection Team. Jackie was a founding board member/parent for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, which began in 2000.

Deborah Shropshire, M.D.
Secretary of HUMAN SERVICES 

Deborah Shropshire, M.D., M.H.A. serves as the Secretary of Human Services and as the Director of Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS).  She previously served as the Director of Child Welfare Services, and the Deputy Director of Child Welfare Community Partnerships.  She is a pediatrician who initially worked alongside Child Welfare by assisting with the medical needs of children in a foster shelter, and developed the Fostering Hope clinic for long-term-follow-up children in foster care and adoption.  

Dr. Shropshire obtained her medical degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health, and a Bachelor’s in Science degree from Southern Nazarene University.  She is board-certified in pediatrics and serves on the executive committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care.  She has won several local and national awards related to advocacy, including the Ray Helfer Award for Child Abuse Prevention presented by the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, and the Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Child Abuse and Neglect from the U.S. Administration on Children, Youth, and Families.

Shropshire is perhaps best known for her passion, communication skills, and leadership in child welfare system improvement and transformation, both from roles outside and inside Oklahoma Human Services.  She believes that child maltreatment could be eliminated under the right conditions and that strengthening families prior to child welfare involvement is a significant step toward that solution.  

Ellen buettner
CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority

Ellen Buettner was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency, effective August 2, 2023.

Previously, Ellen has served as the Chief of Staff of the OHCA, leading hundreds of employees and directing the agency's core values of transparency, accountability, and operational excellence. Before joining the OHCA, Ellen worked as the Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General since 2018. From 2011-2018, Ellen held various administrative positions in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services: Assistant General Counsel, Director of Human Resources, and Senior Director of Government Relations and Public Accountability.

Ellen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2004 and 2007 respectively. She later earned a Master's Degree in Administrative Leadership in 2015 and a PH.D. in Communication in 2020 from the University of Oklahoma.


As executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Melinda Fruendt leads more than 1,000 state employees who served 76,134 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2021. She previously served as DRS chief of staff for DRS’ seven divisions with 25 statewide programs focused on employment, education, independence, and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. Her past positions include executive-level project coordinator for DRS and program manager of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, a DRS partner.

Melinda grew up the youngest of six children on a family farm in Chouteau and continues to farm and ranch with her husband Paul in Guthrie where they have a cow-calf and stocker operation, as well as diversified crops production.

She was honored with the Workforce Champion award in 2016 from the Oklahoma Association of Workforce Development Boards and the Oklahoma Workforce Association.


Keith Reed has worked for the State of Oklahoma for 24 years, the past 19 with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. While with OSDH, Keith has served in multiple positions within the agency, and currently serves as the Deputy Commissioner for Community Health Services. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to his public health career, Keith is also a Colonel in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, serving multiple tours in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. He is currently assigned as Commander, 137th Special Operations Medical Group, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City.


  • Representing business or industry
  • Appointed by the Governor

Jonathan Hall currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and is a Managing Principal at Warburton Capital where he manages day-to-day operations, leads the firm’s advisory and operations teams as well as directs efforts to attract and retain talent. Hall also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Finance at Oral Roberts University (ORU) teaching Personal Financial Planning and Capital Markets. He serves as the President of the Board of Directors for Emergency Infant Services (EIS) of Tulsa and has served on this board since 2014.

Commissioner Hall earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from ORU, where he served as President of the ORU Graduate Business Association. He further earned a Master of Science degree in Financial Services (M.S.F.S.) with an emphasis in Financial Planning from Saint Joseph’s University.


  • Oklahoma Children's Agencies and Residential Enterprises
  • Appointed by the Governor

Ginarie Harrington is the Vice President of Programs for Circle of Care. She has 15+ years of experience serving children and families across Oklahoma.  Her experience includes working in the following fields; mental health, medical social work, residential treatment, and the child welfare field.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a TBRI practitioner, and a foster parent of 8+ years. As a foster parent, she is passionate about helping biological parents find success when they have lost custody of their children to DHS. In her role as Vice President of Programs at Circle of Care she leads programs that serve children and families along the continuum of care including foster care, transitional living, and counseling services. Many of the positions she has held during her career have been in leadership where she focuses on coaching her team, growing their potential, and helping them do the best work of their lives.

As a lifelong Oklahoman, Ginarie earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree at Northeastern State University and her Master of Social Work at The University of Oklahoma.

ryan walters

Ryan Walters currently serves the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Elected in 2022, Walters championed parental empowerment, transparency within the government, accountability in government, and teacher pay raises. Walters has continued to fight for parents, students, and teachers in Oklahoma.

Prior to running for State Superintendent, Walters was tapped by Governor Kevin Stitt to serve as the Secretary of Education in 2020, while in the middle of a pandemic. Walters fought to get students back into the classroom and opposed long-term virtual-only learning. Before entering the political arena, Ryan Walters served as the Executive Director for Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (EKCO), an education-focused organization that empowers teachers, parents, and community leaders to improve our education system for all Oklahoma students.

Hailing from McAlester, Walters returned to his hometown after college and taught a variety of courses for nine years as a high school history teacher, including AP U.S. History, World History, and U.S. Government. Additionally, he taught special education classes and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) classes. In 2016, he was honored to be selected as an Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist.

In addition to being a cabinet member, he served on Governor Stitt's Education Committee and as the Executive Director of Oklahoma Achieves, an education initiative of the State Chamber of Oklahoma that sought to engage the business community more actively in education. Walters worked as an education consultant on numerous topics including teacher evaluations, professional development, virtual learning, and a social studies curriculum.

He and his wife, Katie, have four young children and reside in Oklahoma City.


Before assuming his role as Counselor to the Secretary of State in 2021, Cartmell served as Deputy General Counsel under Governor Stitt for two years. Between 2017 and 2019, Cartmell worked in the private sector as an associate attorney at Lytle Soule & Curlee after serving two years as a division director within the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Cartmell was a Deputy General Counsel to former Governor Mary Fallin from 2012 and 2014.

Cartmell earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Cartmell became an adjunct professor of law at his alma mater in 2021, teaching a seminar course on government law.


  • Representing the Post Adjudication Review Boards
  • Appointed by the Governor

Dr. Kalie Kerth is a practicing clinical pharmacist at Southwestern Oklahoma State University College of Pharmacy in Weatherford, Oklahoma. She is the Founder and CEO of Harley’s House Crisis Nursery, a local nonprofit serving children and families in Western Oklahoma. Dr. Kerth is an avid child advocate and serves on the Custer Washita child protective team and as a board member for the Family Drug Treatment Court in those counties. Dr. Kerth serves on the Commission as a member of the Post-Adjudication Review Board representing a foster parent with an agency. Dr. Kerth and her family have welcomed over 37 children into their home during their 5-year foster journey.


  • Representing the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council
  • Appointed by the Governor

Jason M. Hicks serves as District Attorney for the Sixth Prosecutorial District, which includes Caddo, Grady, Jefferson, and Stephens Counties. He was elected in 2010 and ran unopposed for the position in 2014 and 2018.

Hicks was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Chickasha, graduating high school in 1987. In December 1997, Hicks graduated from Cameron University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. His studies in the criminal justice area sparked an interest in Hicks to become a prosecutor. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Hicks attended the University of Oklahoma, College of Law earning his J.D. in 2001.

Prior to graduating from the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, Hicks was hired as an intern for District 6 where he also served as an Assistant District Attorney. During his time as an ADA for Stephens County, Hicks successfully prosecuted countless cases. His caseload included responsibility for one-third of all felonies filed in Stephens County, misdemeanors, juvenile delinquents, juvenile and deprived, along with other tasks assigned to him through the course of daily business.

Hicks left the District Attorney’s Office in 2004 to become a partner in the law firm Ellis, Buckholts & Hicks where he specialized in adoption law and all other areas of family and criminal law. During his time in private practice, Hicks was aware that his calling was to be a public servant. This calling became a reality when he made the decision to run for the position he now holds in 2009.

Hicks and his wife, Marla, were married in 1993 and reside in Stephens County. They have three children, Jackson, Chandler, and Reagan.

Brenda myers

  • Representing the Metropolitan Juvenile Bureaus
  • Appointed by the Governor

Brenda Myers was appointed on March 17, 2017, as the Director of the Comanche County Juvenile Bureau and Comanche County Regional Juvenile Detention Center.  Myers' work life has focused on the juvenile justice system since she began her career.  Serving in roles as a career counselor, intake/probation officer, supervisor, and now a director, Myers strives to help Oklahoma’s children, youth, and families navigate juvenile justice service systems.  Myers holds two additional positions, Coordinator for the Comanche County Freestanding Multidisciplinary Team and board member of the Lawton Public Schools Foundation.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Cameron University and is bilingual (speaking both English and Spanish).  Myers' most important and outstanding accomplishment occurred in March of 2006 – the moment she became a mom.


  • A member with a demonstrated interest in improving children services who is not employed by a state agency or a private organization that receives state funds
  • Appointed by the President Tempore of the Senate

Lindsay Laird serves as vice president of philanthropic services for the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.  Her previous experience includes leading community outreach for OG&E as well as serving as the vice president of programs at the Arnall Family Foundation.

She has a master’s degree from West Virginia University and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma. In 2014, Lindsay was listed in the OKCBiz Achievers Under 40 and is a graduate of Linking Oklahoma City’s Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) Class IV. She serves on the board of directors for ReMerge, a comprehensive female diversion program. In 2018, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat appointed Lindsay to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.

Allie Friesen
oklahoma department of mental health and substance abuse services

Allie Friesen has worked as the Director of Clinical Programs in Behavioral Health at INTEGRIS since 2020, developing effective and evidence-based practices across their healthcare system. In her role, she developed and implemented initiatives to improve access to care, improve patient safety, and quality of care. Friesen has been a licensed mental health professional since 2014, specializing in working with individuals with neurological disorders and other chronic medical conditions.

JUDGE W. mike warren
chair of the SJR 13 oversight committee

Mike Warren has been a Judge of the District Court for the State of Oklahoma for more than 31 years.  He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Accounting and received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tulsa in 1981.  He is licensed to practice in both State and Federal courts.

Judge Warren began his career as a partner in a general practice law firm for 10 years, and prior to becoming a State judge, was a Municipal Judge for seven years, and a City Prosecutor for three years.

Judge Warren is the Chair of the Juvenile Justice Oversight Advisory Committee, a committee of nine judges selected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to examine children’s issues, state statutes, as well as provide mandatory training curriculums for all judges with juvenile dockets, meet regularly with all state agency heads regarding children, meet with legislators seeking advice on proposed state childrens’/juvenile statutes, and make recommendations to the Chief Justice and Supreme Court on matters involving children.

Judge Warren represents the Oklahoma Supreme Court as a Board Member of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, created by statute to assist entities throughout the State with children’s issues.

Judge Warren was selected by the Oklahoma Attorney General as a member of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, which reviews deaths in Oklahoma involving acts of domestic violence.  He is an advocate to stop violence against children, as well as domestic violence in general.

In 2007, Judge Warren was selected as one of five judges to rewrite the entire Children’s Code and Juvenile Code (two statute law books) for Oklahoma and became state law, effective November 2009. 

In 2007, he also chaired the sub-committee which created and implemented the very first Deprived Child Uniform Orders, addressing all events for a deprived child, from the time the child is removed from the home until the child receives final permanency, either through reunification or parental rights termination, and adoption.  

Mike was selected in 2012, by the Oklahoma Attorney General, to sit as a member of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.  He is an advocate to stop violence against children, as well as domestic violence in general. 

Mike is married to his sweetheart and has a 35-year-old married daughter, a 13-year-old son, and a four-year-old grandson.  He is an accomplished pianist and singer and is a licensed pilot.  


  • Representing the Oklahoma Bar Association
  • Appointed by the Governor

Commissioner Wilson resides in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he is employed with the firm Mordy, Mordy, Pfrehm & Wilson, P.C., focusing his legal practice on banking, collections, foreclosures, real property and contract law, taxation, oil and gas law, and general civil litigation. 

Commissioner Wilson is an active member in the community and volunteers frequently for non-profit organizations, including serving as both President and Vice President on the board of directors for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Southern Oklahoma, as well as serving as a board member of the First United Methodist Church Preschool, and other various scholarship and community organizations.  In his professional capacity, Wilson has served as the Municipal Judge of the City of Ardmore. He is currently a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Carter County Bar Association (where he served as the president in 2014).

Commissioner Wilson attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2004. In 2009, he obtained his Juris Doctorate from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. During his time at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, he earned academic achievement awards in Oklahoma Land Titles and Estate and Gift Taxation.


  • A member who represents a community partnership board
    Selected pursuant to the guidelines established by the OCCY



  • A parent of a child with special needs
  • Appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives

Last Modified on Feb 28, 2024
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