Brandon Tatum, former Oklahoma Christian University employee, has been appointed Chief of Staff for Governor Kevin Stitt. The Talon interviewed Tatum to discuss his new responsibilities and the ways Oklahoma Christian prepared him for this position.
What did you do when you worked for Oklahoma Christian?
“I started out helping the university with online education. We spent time looking at health and implemented online degrees inside of hospitals and inside school systems to help solve the nursing and teacher shortage.”
How did you get the Chief of Staff position?
“Governor Stitt was interested in what we were doing to solve workforce shortages. I was talking to him about workforce areas and through that, we built a relationship. Then he asked me one day if I would consider the Chief of Staff role.”
How did your past role prepare you for this one?
“Being in education has helped me understand the educational landscape. I have a doctorate in education, so it gives me the background to speak about education for Oklahoma. Particularly, all the workforce jobs I’ve done in the past have helped me understand workforce needs across the state and how we can utilize a systemized approach to solving workforce areas. Being in leadership roles in previous jobs has also given me a lot of people skills and allowed me to see the bigger picture.”
What does your average day look like?
“Every day is different. I come to work with 10 priorities, and they change by 9 a.m. I have a lot of moving pieces. I’m in a lot of meetings and conversations. Right now, I’m in a legislator’s office talking to them and trying to understand what’s happening here. But I’m also out in the community at different events. I spend a lot of time meeting and talking to people. Some days, we’re traveling out of state; some days, we’re traveling all over the state. Some days, I’m in the office. It’s one of the things I love about the job.”
What challenges have you faced?
“Anytime we’re dealing with legislation, we’re dealing with people. Different people are trying to navigate different priorities in the Capitol. Everybody wants to do what’s best, but we all have different ways to approach that. Trying to find common ground and understand everyone’s perspectives creates a complex challenge, but that’s part of why I enjoy it.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“Feeling like I’m in a role of service. I’m serving the governor and the state of Oklahoma. I love the idea of being here to be a helper. It has been a neat component of the job. With other jobs I’ve had, I haven’t really got that sense of help and service.”
What is something that surprised you about this job?
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the governor’s passion for helping and serving Oklahoma. He deeply cares about the state and about making Oklahoma the best place to live. It has been encouraging to see the pure motives of a governor. That has been surprising in a good way.”
What changes would you like to make?
“I would love for there to be no workforce shortages. I would love for people to move to Oklahoma knowing they are going to have the employees they need. I hope our hospitals are functioning, because they have all the nurses they need. We want great teachers in all of our classrooms. I would love to see reading sufficiency get better across the state of Oklahoma in our K-12 schools.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“I loved my time at Oklahoma Christian University. It is a great place, a special place. I love how the university is trying to diversify itself and get into different workforces. I really appreciated my time at Oklahoma Christian, and I’m looking forward to these next few years with Governor Stitt.”