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CAP Tulsa Names Karen Kiely New Executive Director

September 19, 2019

CAP Tulsa’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to name Karen Kiely as the agency’s next Executive Director, effective October 1. Steven Dow, the founding Executive Director is stepping down to relocate to Houston, TX to be closer to his aging parents. Dow will remain a Special Advisor for the agency during this transition and beyond.

“It has been an absolute honor to lead CAP Tulsa, and I am beyond proud of what we have accomplished together” Steven Dow said. “As sad as I am to leave my wonderful CAP Tulsa family and the Tulsa community which I dearly love, I have never been more confident in the future of the agency as I turn over the reins to Karen. She is an extraordinary leader who has worked by my side as the Chief Operating Officer for more than a decade, and we have built a deep bench of strong leaders across the entire agency together.”

CAP Tulsa was established in 1998 as a result of the failure of the community’s prior designated anti-poverty agency. City and county leaders appointed a Board that hired Dow. At that time, Dow was serving as Executive Director of Project Get Together, a position which he had held since 1992. Project Get Together and Community Action Program merged to become what is known today as CAP Tulsa. That year, CAP Tulsa was awarded management of the Head Start program, which had been under interim supervision by the City of Tulsa since it had been shut down by the federal oversight agency in 1997.

Under Dow’s leadership, CAP Tulsa grew to its current size of serving 3,000 children and families with a staff of 650 and an annual budget of $60 million. CAP Tulsa has been nationally recognized as a model for high-quality early childhood education and its two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. The agency has also been recognized nationally as a Best Nonprofit to Work For for the last five years.

Through the years, CAP Tulsa has served thousands of families annually through a variety of program offerings, including: early childhood education, tax preparation and filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit, affordable housing, financial management education, healthcare services, and adult education and job training.

“Steven will be greatly missed but he leaves the agency in a strong position with passionate and dedicated leaders and staff” Phil McCoy, CAP Tulsa Board President states, “The agency has a clear vision for the future and Karen Kiely is uniquely qualified to carry out that vision.”

Kiely joined the agency in 2008 and named COO in 2009, assuming responsibility for day-to-day operations for the agency as well as execution of the agency’s strategic plan. “It has been both a joy and a privilege to work at this wonderful agency for the past eleven years under Steven’s visionary leadership and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the agency and to carry out the important work we do in the Tulsa community” Kiely said.

Prior to joining CAP, Kiely spent seventeen years at The Bama Companies, Inc., in a variety of leadership roles in both the U.S. and Beijing, China. Before joining Bama, Kiely spent five years in international banking with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York, Taipei and Hong Kong. Kiely holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University and a B.S. in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


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Communications Specialist