OPEA Staff
Tony DeSha

Executive Director

Tony DeSha was born and raised in Del City, Oklahoma, where he graduated from Del City High School. Upon completing high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in criminology and intelligence. He now resides in The Village, Oklahoma, with his beautiful wife, Camila, his Pitbull named Buttercup, and his Labrador/Boxer mix named Bear.

Tony began working at the young age of 14, gaining experience in various fields, including fast food, retail, automotive repair, and the University of Oklahoma’s Athletics Department. Throughout college, he interned and volunteered with many political campaigns and offices. His first job after obtaining his bachelor’s degree was as the Central Oklahoma Membership Representative for OPEA. He was subsequently promoted to Communications Director and is now serving as the Executive Director of the Association.

In his free time, you can find Tony competing with the Sports Car Club of America in his 1991 Mazda Miata, playing video games, playing Yu-Gi-Oh, and pursuing countless other nerdy hobbies.

Dixie Jackson

Grievance & Legal Advocacy Specialist

Dixie currently serves as the Employee/Legal Advocate Coordinator at the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA), a role where she fervently champions OPEA members within agencies and the Civil Service Division of Oklahoma Human Capital Management. With a rich background, she has excelled as Director of Risk Management and Security at Griffin Memorial Hospital and holds accolades as State President of OPEA, including service on the Board of Directors. Notably, she’s a recipient of OPEA’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Her academic journey earned her an associate degree in emergency management from Oklahoma Community College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. Dixie is a certified mediator recognized by the State of Oklahoma Supreme Court. Her unyielding pursuit of knowledge is evident through continuous education, particularly in human resources, FMLA, and government employment rules & policy. 

Residing in Noble, Oklahoma, Dixie’s community involvement extends to her church and local civic groups. Treasured moments are those spent with her grandchildren, Shepard and Shenandoah. She loves attending OU football games, relishing movies, and playing board/card games. 

Candice Steele

Membership Director
Southeast Oklahoma
Membership Representative

Candice Scarpitti-Steele has worked for OPEA for 12 years. Previously, she worked for Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services in child welfare.

Candice is an Oklahoma native, who was raised in Krebs. After graduating from McAlester High School, she attended The University of Oklahoma where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She has a Bachelor of Psychology from OU and has also completed the Nonprofit Management Certification Program from the Oklahoma Center for Non-Profits. Candice and her husband, Brandon, live in Antlers with her three beautiful daughters, Amerie, Adalie, and Emmalign, their 2 dogs Daisy & Duke, and their cat Merlin.

Candice is a proud, loud Italian whose heritage runs deep. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys cheering on the Sooners, watching trashy reality tv, shopping at Leopard Gypsy, sipping on a nice glass of red wine, and spending time with her close-knit family.

Candice is also involved in several organizations local to Antlers including the Pushmataha County Coalition, St. Agnes Alter Society, Bearcat PTO, Pushmataha County PARB, and 111Project.

Chancen Flick

Western Oklahoma Membership Representative

Chancen was born and raised in western Oklahoma on a fifth-generation family farm near the town of Hammon. After high school, he moved to Edmond in 2003 to attend the University of Central Oklahoma where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2021, he completed a master’s degree in leadership and management from Western Governors University.

He has previously served as a legislative and political organizer for OEA and as the Oklahoma Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. In those positions he was responsible for organizing member volunteers around policy issues, lobbying state elected officials, and monitoring legislation. Additionally, he has worked with legislative tracking services, monitoring the daily activities at the State Capitol. 

During his time at OPEA, Chancen has served as the Membership Representative for western Oklahoma and has worked to advance the legislative agenda at the State Capitol.  He strongly believes that all state employees deserve advocates and has a passion to improve state employment. 


Northeast Oklahoma Membership Representatives

Eugene “Gene” Blankenship grew up in Spiro, OK, and completed his education at Spiro High School. From there, he attended Carl Albert State College and obtained an Associate’s degree in Journalism and a minor in Mass Communications. He went on to attend Bacone College and earned another Associate’s degree. Continuing his education, Blankenship attended Northeastern State University and earned a Bachelor’s degree with a triple concentration in Psychology, Media Relations, and Criminal Justice. He currently resides in Gore, Oklahoma. Gene and his Wife Stacy have four kids Addyson, Dawson, Colton, and Gideon. They enjoy kayaking, traveling, concerts, and sporting events.

Throughout his career, Blankenship has developed a deep understanding of the importance of advocating for the rights of state workers. His experience as a child abuse investigator in both Arkansas and Oklahoma, as well as his role as a Teamsters Union Steward at UPS, has reinforced this appreciation. After spending two years working for the State of Oklahoma, he joined the Oklahoma Public Employees Association to assist fellow state employees facing diverse issues. Before his time with the state, Blankenship held positions in Muskogee County, including Emergency Management Director, Floodplain Administrator, and County Safety Compliance Officer. He also volunteered as a Reserve CLEET Certified Deputy for the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Department. At Bacone College, he served in roles such as Governmental Liaison & Tribal Liaison and later as Vice President for Institutional Advancement, where he oversaw multiple departments. Since 1992, he has been actively involved in local, state, and federal campaigns, consistently working toward positive change.

In addition to his public service, Blankenship is a dedicated advocate for kidney patients. He is a Member of the Dialysis Patient Citizens Board of Directors, where he serves as Chair of the Governance Committee and a Member of the Policy Committee. DPC appointed Gene to the Kidney Care Partners Association.