Arts & Sciences alumna named one of Tulsa World’s People to Watch in 2024 - The University of Tulsa
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Arts & Sciences alumna named one of Tulsa World’s People to Watch in 2024

Colleen McCarty

For Arts Management and Women & Gender Studies alumna Colleen McCarty (BA ’08), becoming a parent changed her life in more ways than she expected. Complications from McCarty’s second pregnancy required months of bed rest, giving her a lot of time to re-examine what she wanted to do with her life.

“I just kind of came to the conclusion I wasn’t really doing my purpose in life,” she recently told the Tulsa World. “I wanted to do more, and I’ve always been interested in criminal justice.”

Nine years after completing her bachelor’s and just two weeks after giving birth, McCarty took the LSAT. Now, six years after that life-changing decision, McCarty is the executive director of Oklahoma Appleseed.

Founded in 2022, Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice’s mission is to fight for justice and opportunity for all Oklahomans. The nonprofit is part of a national network of justice centers called the Appleseed Network.

Oklahoma Appleseed uses four tools for social change and improving society as a whole: structural litigation, legal research, community organizing, and legislative change. Notably, the Oklahoma nonprofit has been involved in cases such as its lawsuit against the state regarding the treatment of people deemed incompetent to stand trial who remain in jail for long periods of time awaiting treatment that will allow their cases to move forward. Oklahoma Appleseed is also dedicated to ensuring fair access to education and elections.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by the Tulsa community. McCarty was recently acknowledged as one of the Tulsa World’s People to Watch in 2024 for her contributions to Oklahoma Appleseed.

McCarty thinks her organization fills a niche of law and policy in Oklahoma.

“We’re not going to go around suing everybody, and our first priority is always to solve the problem. … But it doesn’t hurt that we can always say, ‘Well, if this isn’t going to work, there’s another way we can go about it,’” she told the newspaper.

The University of Tulsa’s Kendall College of Arts & Sciences congratulates Colleen McCarty on this honor!