Meet the Board
The Oklahoma State Parks Foundation is operated by an all-volunteer board. We are passionate about Oklahoma's state parks and connecting people to nature.
Ben is a native of Texas and attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he earned a BA in Communications. He fell in love with Oklahoma while serving in the Army at Fort Sill in Lawton, deciding to stay after his enlistment ended. He obtained a Master of Regional and City Planning from the University of Oklahoma.
Ben began his career as a Programs Coordinator for the Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma and then served as a Neighborhood Planner at the City of Oklahoma City. Ben also served as Planning Director for the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Ben served Oklahoma’s state parks in an official capacity as the Deputy Executive Director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Currently, Ben operates his family business, Urbane Home and Lifestyle, which is in its eleventh year.
Ben on Oklahoma's state parks:
"Our state parks are truly special places with amazing natural features and rich cultural history that connects people to their roots and the land. I decided to get involved with the Oklahoma State Parks Foundation because I want to preserve our parks for my grandchildren and their grandchildren."
Kris is a native of Indiana and attended Purdue University, earning a BA in Humanities with a major in Recreation Administration. She earned her Master of Regional and City Planning at the University of Oklahoma.
Kris began her career with Oklahoma State Parks as a planner, where she developed park master plans and managed parkland acquisitions. Her career spanned 47 years as she served as Director of Planning and Development, Assistant Director of Parks and Director of State Parks. During her career, she completed a Doctorate in Law at Oklahoma City University.
Kris also served as the chair of the National Association of Park Directors State Park Leadership School for three years.
Kris on Oklahoma's state parks:
"Everyone interested in serving and protecting state parks gets to that mindset by having developed a strong love for the outdoors. Personally, finding the value of restorative resources, natural and man-made, is essential to the desire to conserve, preserve and share these assets with others. Oklahoma State Parks have an extraordinary complement of resources which deserve support from the State and a Foundation dedicated to conserving and protecting their value for Oklahomans and guests."
A Tulsa native, Tom graduated from Bishop Kelley High School, attended Oklahoma State University, graduating with a B.S. in Forestry in 1971, and with an M.S. in Geography in 1973. Since 1976 Tom has resided in Midwest City where he and his wife Ann raised their family. Tom is proud to call Midwest City his home.
Tom began a 47 year career with Oklahoma State Parks in 1973, serving in a number of capacities including State Trails Coordinator, Director of Planning and Development, Director of State Parks, and as Programs Manager for Interpretive Services. Tom retired from Oklahoma State Parks in January, 2021. Tom served as Oklahoma State Parks' representative on the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Board of Directors for 28 years, and was awarded KOB’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
Tom on Oklahoma state parks:
"I strongly believe in the importance of Oklahoma State Parks’ mission of providing recreational opportunities for our citizenry; protection of important natural and cultural resources; as special places for nature study and environment education; as places to restore one’s spirit; and as a linkage with our Oklahoma heritage by fostering a sense of place."
Keli was a tourism ambassador for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department for 23 years. She started her career as a Marketing Assistant in the Division of Oklahoma State Parks. This position endeared her to all Oklahoma state parks and presented the opportunity to learn
about the rich history of each park and their unique locations.
She served a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Park and Recreation Training Institute, and was a member of the Institute for 17 years.
Her prior career skills were in television news where she was an assignment manager in the newsroom for all Oklahoma City network affiliates.
Keli on Oklahoma's state parks:
"Oklahoma state parks mean opportunities for all. The chance to seek alone time and enjoy personal reflection; or the chance to gather with family members and friends for fellowship. Leisurely strolling along a trail or hiking miles over diverse terrain for a breathtaking view of your surroundings. The ability to offer a teaching moment to a young child about the land and environment. Our goal is to assure that present and future generations of citizens will have the same opportunities we enjoy today by protecting the land, history, natural resources, and wildlife in our state parks."
After twenty years in hospitality across the country, Jeff Erwin joined the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department as Director of Resorts in 2000 and soon after, assumed the position of Director of State Parks to oversee Parks, Resorts and Golf. Jeff returned to hospitality in 2008 and since that point has served as the president of the State Parks Foundation.
A native of North Carolina, Oklahoma has been home almost 30 years. Jeff has served on a variety of Boards and Commissions including the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Preservation Oklahoma, Historic Preservation, Inc., the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association.
Jeff on Oklahoma's state parks:
“The experience of visiting every corner of Oklahoma and seeing the unique beauty and diversity of the state was an amazing experience and honor. We must protect and enhance that opportunity for generations to come.”