OPEA President, Rita Heath Introduces OPEA’s New Executive Director

On Saturday, June 10, 2023, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Tony DeSha as the new executive director.  The Board of Directors announced to the staff on Thursday, June 15, 2023, that Tony has been selected. Tony will succeed Sterling Zearley, who held the role for sixteen years. Tony began his time at OPEA as the Central/Southern Oklahoma Membership Representative in 2019. During his first year, he proved his dedication, work ethic, and willingness to learn. He quickly became an invaluable asset to our association and was promoted to Communications Director in 2021. During this time he continued to develop relationships and the trust of OPEA members, OPEA leadership, and state elected officials. Tony left our association in January 2023 to become the Political Director at the Oklahoma AFL-CIO. We are excited to welcome him back to where he started his political career to continue the work Sterling began and build the future of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. During the 2023 legislative session, Tony, while working at Oklahoma AFL-CIO, dedicated his efforts to advocating for Oklahoma’s labor unions. He actively participated in lobbying activities, including providing support to OPEA’s lobbying team whenever necessary. Tony played a significant role in successfully opposing various bills that aimed to negatively impact state employees, teachers, licensed trades, and working Oklahomans. Tony received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with minors in Criminology & Strategic Intelligence from The University of Oklahoma in 2019.

“I am confident that Tony will make a profound impact, infusing our organization with a fresh perspective, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. With his remarkable track record and leadership style, our new Executive Director is poised to steer OPEA to new heights, inspiring us all to embrace change, think big, and strive for greatness.  The future is bright, and under the guidance of Tony, we are poised to succeed.”

-Rita Heath; OPEA President

“We are thrilled to welcome Tony back to the team. His exceptional skills, expertise, and values align seamlessly with our organization’s culture, goals, and vision. From the moment we met him, it was evident that his passion, drive, and unique perspective would elevate our association. His abilities and our team’s dynamics will undoubtedly create an environment where innovation thrives and remarkable achievements become the norm.”

– Connie Stockton; OPEA Vice President

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