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Jess Callahan was awarded an OPEA Lifetime Achievement award at the 2019 OPEA annual convention in August. This is the highest member award given to OPEA members, honoring outstanding individuals who have demonstrated a long term contribution and commitment to OPEA’s mission. Callahan is the 14th Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the association.

This award winner has played an important role with the development of the Association and its membership by supporting OPEA’s mission over an extended period of time.
Callahan became a member of OPEA in 2007 while employed by the Department of Human Services. From the start of his membership, he has been extremely active in OPEA activities on a local and statewide basis. Since joining, he has been a tireless advocate at the capitol, at his agency and office.

In 2010, Callahan was appointed to an empty OPEA board seat and then won an election the following year where he represented members from all agencies in his region. He took this leadership role seriously and began to learn the workings of the association and became further immersed in legislative and political issues affecting state employees and retirees. He faithfully attended all OPEA functions and was not willing to ask tough questions necessary to understand the issues at hand.

In 2013 he was elected to the first of his two terms as OPEA president. During g his tenure, he conducted board functions in a professional and efficient manner, and was more than willing to become involved in discussions with state leaders about active employee and retiree issues. He was ready and willing to ask leaders the tough questions as OPEA advocated for its members.
He also oversaw changes in the association’s financial reporting and communication practices and helped grow OPEA’s online and social media presence. He was always mindful of how OPEA’s resources were used and provided oversight of the association’s administrative practices.

“Jess was always willing to receive input from regional directors, staff and OPEA membership and used that information to lead in a direct but not overbearing fashion, he is a very worth recipient of this prestigious award,” said OPEA executive director Sterling Zearley.

After completing his presidential terms, Callahan served two years as president emeritus and now serves as a trustee on the OPEA Political Action Committee where he uses his experience and knowledge as the PAC considers candidates for support.

The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award receives a commemorative medallion and a lifetime membership in the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. He was joined at the award luncheon by members of his family including his daughter Karlee.