Education is the premise of progress and three Rogers State University alumni are giving back as they serve alongside each other in support of education, local businesses and the growth potential of Rogers county.
Meggie Froman-Knight (’18), Kara Lenard (’15) and Caitlyn Campbell Ngare (’20) work together at the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority. These three women are a powerhouse team who are invested in the heart and mission of Rogers County businesses and educational institutions.
“The education we received at RSU has been instrumental in our roles at CIEDA. We can serve our county with the tools and preparation we were given by professors with real world experience. Our joy is helping business thrive and teaching the public the value, opportunity and impact an education holds,” Froman-Knight said.
CIEDA exists to create wealth and new investment for Claremore area residents and businesses. CIEDA is dedicated to strengthening and improving the business environment for Claremore by providing comprehensive economic development services.
Froman-Knight joined the CIEDA staff as the workforce development manager in 2016. A native of Claremore, she spent several years exploring the world, but made her way back home to serve her community.
“I wanted to come back and support my community. I want to look back and know I made a difference. My position has evolved as the economy and leadership changes have occurred throughout changing economic situations. That’s what we do at CIEDA. We evolve and adapt so that our workforce can be sustainable,” Froman-Knight said.
One of her key projects is the Partners in Education program, which is a joint effort between CIEDA and Rogers County public schools. The program connects children and teachers with corporate and civic leaders. These partnerships help educators improve the academic and personal growth of all children to realize they can dream big right here in Rogers county.
“We are changing the cultural background of long-term students as early as third grade. We start cuing those thoughts in their mind for career placement to get them thinking about their futures. We want them to know there is an opportunity for them regardless of their educational pathway,” Froman-Knight said.
Lenard joined the CIEDA staff in 2018 as the office manager before transitioning into her current role as program manager. With 10 years of small business experience, CIEDA realized she would be the perfect fit to develop and implement a program to better meet the needs of entrepreneurs and local business owners in Claremore.
“My experience as a small business owner, along with the exposure to diverse background as an adult student at RSU, has prepared me to provide local entrepreneurs with the support that is currently needed in our community,” Lenard said.
A recent RSU graduate, Ngare was hired last month as the project coordinator. She comes to the team with strong ties to the community, RSU and as a young professional. CIEDA recruited her to come work alongside the team to build stronger ties between the institution and the development authority.
“Caitlyn embedded herself into the campus community. She stood out. As manufacturing shifts, we could have a potential for a larger role in partnership with RSU. Caitlyn’s mentorship and workforce experience made her a perfect fit for our team,” Froman-Knight said.
As CIEDA looks forward to the future, they continue to seek out RSU graduates who have a heart for community.
“Our business model is based on fulfilling the community’s needs. What is neat about CIEDA is that the people drive us. When you fill your team with people that live and have an interest in the purpose, lifeblood and prosperity of our community, we thrive,” Froman-Knight said.
The alumni foundation is confident RSU gradates will continue to make an impact on the hill as they look to a stronger partnership with CIEDA.
“We want Claremore to be a college town. For the long-term viability of Claremore, RSU needs to play a role in economic development. RSU has an $93 million impact in Rogers County. We look forward to a stronger Claremore and RSU partnership,” Steve Valencia, the vice president for foundation and development, said.