Five New Members Join OKCNP Board of Directors

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits announced its Board of Directors for 2016-2017 with five new members. New members include Samuel Combs, III of Tulsa, Senator John Ford of Bartlesville, Ashley Perkins of Cox Communications, Afshean Talasaz of Chesapeake Energy, and Brooke Townsend of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, all from Oklahoma City.

“We are excited to have these five incredible individuals join our board,” Marnie Taylor, President and CEO, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits said. “Over the past several years, the Center has experienced unprecedented growth. These state leaders will help the Center continue that growth into the future, so that we may help more nonprofit professionals, board members, volunteers and stakeholders receive the best services we can offer.”

The board also has new leadership under Alana Hughes of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation of Tulsa, as the new board chair. Mark Williams, AT&T, is chair-elect. Kathy L. Williams of Oklahoma City assumes the role of secretary, and Steven Kerr, the Kerr Foundation, remains as treasurer.

Other board members include: Jeff Moen (immediate past board chair), Jodi R. Cline, Tim Colwell, Seth Fairchild, Deena Fisher, John Harper, Danielle Hoeltzel, Lacey Horn, Carlos Johnson, Craig Knutson, Kelly Krahl, Mandy Leemhuis, Tony LoPresto, Tanya Monnig, Christina Rehkop, Shelley Sanders, Deborah Schramm, Mary Stallings, and Johnna R. Walker. Honorary board members include: Pat Potts (founder of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits), Howard G. Barnett, Jr., W. Kenneth Bonds, Lou Kerr, Polly Nichols, and Jon Trudgeon, Sr.

For more information on the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, visit


The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is a nonprofit organization equipping and strengthening the Oklahoma nonprofit sector through training, consulting, advocacy, membership, networking and awards. Our mission is “building better communities through effective nonprofits.”

Samuel Combs, III

Samuel Combs III is president and chief executive officer of COMSTAR Advisors, LLC (COMSTAR); a management advisory and private investment firm. COMSTAR specializes in leadership strategies and advisory services in operations, consumer services and regulatory affairs. Its diverse investment activities includes the banking, energy, healthcare, manufacturing and real-estate sectors.

Prior to COMSTAR, Combs was president of ONEOK Distribution Companies, the natural gas distribution segment of Fortune 500 diversified energy company ONEOK, Inc. ONEOK Distribution Companies was the predecessor business of publicly traded spin-off, ONE Gas, Inc. Prior to ONEOK Distribution, he served as president of the company’s Oklahoma Natural Gas division. Prior to COMSTAR and ONEOK, Sam held management positions of increasing responsibility at AT&T and Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.

Combs is active in community and state affairs. Currently, he serves on the board of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, and the Board of Regents of Tulsa Community College. He is a director of First Fidelity Bank, and chairs its Governance Committee. Sam is an owner of the WNBA Dallas Wings; a formermember of the WNBA Board of Governors, and member of the Global Sports Summit Governing Body.

Professionally, he is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, a national organization of Fortune 500 executives, and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Also, he is a member of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, and former board member of the Southern Gas Association.

Combs received a Bachelor of Science Industrial Engineering degree from Oklahoma State University, and is an OSU Distinguished Alumni. He is a graduate of the Ross School of Business Executive Program at the University of Michigan, and completed the Director’s Consortium at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Additionally, he has completed studies at Harvard and Columbia Universities. Sam and wife Rita have three adult children.

Senator John Ford

Oklahoma State Senator John Ford was elected to the State Senate November, 2004, and re-elected northern Rogers and Washington Counties. Due to term limits, Ford will end his tenure in the State Senate on November 23. 2016.  Prior to his election to the State Senate, John had a 34-year career with Phillips Petroleum Company.

Senator Ford was born and raised in Coffeyville, KS and has a business degree from the University of Tulsa. John recognizes the importance of community service as exemplified by his participation and involvement in various community organizations and city and chamber committees. He is a founding member and past president of both the Bartlesville Area Friends of the Parks and the Daybreak Rotary Club. In addition, he is past president and on the Board of the Bartlesville Area United Way.

Senator Ford was the recipient of the Oklahoma Regents of Higher Education 2014 & 2016 Distinguished Service Award. The Oklahoma State Chamber awarded John their Guardian of Free Enterprise award for 2015 and he was also selected to receive the 2015 Legislative Award by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

In the past, Ford has served as Majority Caucus Chair and Assistant Majority Floor Leader. He is currently serving as Chairman of the Education Committee, a position he has held since 2009. He also serves on the Appropriations, Finance, Public Safety and Appropriations Sub-committee for Education.

His wife, Mary, is a past public school teacher. The Fords are the parents of two adult children and have four grandchildren. John and his wife reside in Bartlesville and attend the First United Methodist Church.

Ashley Perkins

Ashley Perkins has been with Cox Business for six years as the Director of Sales.  She is responsible for a business to business sales force of 45 employees.  She has a vast background in telecommunications, marketing and public relations.  Ashley’s hometown is Edmond where she has lived since a fourth grade move from Texas.  Ashley is graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism.

Her community focus is around leadership development and the art.  She currently co-facilitates the Executive Women’s Forum and sits on the board of the Fine Arts Institute in Edmond.  A Rotarian and Leadership Oklahoma City and Leadership Oklahoma graduate, Ashley has also served on the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma board, Downtown Development Authority, several city chamber boards and the Automobile Alley board.  Ashley has been named to the Woman of the Year “50 Making a Difference” twice, received the “40 Under 40” award and been named to the Cox Winner’s Circle and Torch award. She co-chaired the inaugural “Downtown in December” event.

Ashley and her husband Jeff live in Edmond with their son, Karsten.  Their oldest son, Joshua and his wife made Ashley a grandmother last year and are expecting their second child.  Ashley enjoys reading, hip hop dance classes and college football.

Afshean Talasaz

Afshean Talasaz currently leads Strategic Planning – Exploration, Technology, Land at Chesapeake Energy where he focuses on developing and implementing new strategies, advising executive management on domestic and international investments, portfolio management, and economic and financial matters. He has worked in strategic, economic and financial roles in technology, private equity, finance and start-ups.

Mr. Talasaz has a passion for creating and advancing ideas and organizational cultures that help better people, communities, and organizations. He lectures on Entrepreneurial Economics at ACM/ UCO in downtown Oklahoma City, works with start-ups, has taught music to all ages, and actively performs music in the Oklahoma City area.

Brooke Townsend

Brooke Townsend was recently named director of Community Affairs at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. Townsend previously held the positions of manager of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, Inc., supervisor and program coordinator of Oklahoma City Caring Van operations. She joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma in 2000.

Until June 2016, Mrs. Townsend oversaw program operations, communications and fundraising as manager of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, and had administrative responsibilities for outreach programs statewide. Additionally, she serves as a liaison for BCBSOK community relations in the Oklahoma City area.

Mrs. Townsend currently serves as chair of the Central Oklahoma Immunization Coalition as well as a co-chair of a United Way of Central Oklahoma Community Investment subcommittee. She is a member of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice Oklahoma City Advisory Board, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits VISIONS committee, Infant Crisis Services’ Boots and Ballgowns committee and the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System advisory board. She was honored as “40 Under 40” by Oklahoma Magazine in 2011.

Townsend graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Human and Environmental Sciences and a minor in Sociology.

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