University of Tulsa College of Law alumna Cassia Carr (JD ’16) recently took on a brilliant new role: deputy mayor of the City of Tulsa. In this position, she will be closer than ever before to projects that directly impact members of her hometown in meaningful ways. Along with her work at City Hall, Carr also serves as president of the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation, an organization that helps business owners start or expand their enterprises.
Recently, Carr shared insights into her goals as deputy mayor and her life outside of serving the Tulsa community.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Tulsa native! I love all things Tulsa, and I love to get people excited about our city. I have lived all over our city. I was born in Gilcrease Hills, lived in the Heights, Berryhill out West, off Cherry Street, by the fairgrounds off 21st and Harvard and now I’m in midtown at 31st and Lewis.
Did you set out to be in local government/politics? If not, what was the transition from attorney to deputy mayorship like? What made you choose that path?
If you ask my close friends from undergrad, they will all tell you that I was destined to end up in city politics. So, it has always been a possibility in my mind.
I went to Oral Roberts University, where students came from around the world. I would take them on what I called a “Tour de Tulsa” and show them all the sights that make us unique. After that, throughout my time in the private sector I made time to volunteer in various civic capacities. It seems like a natural progression for me to transition to this full time.
I want to do it because I am Tulsa’s biggest fan. We are a big city with a community feel, and we have a unique and attractive lifestyle to offer to citizens. I want to continue to improve on that and make it even better.
How did your studies at TU Law prepare you for this kind of work?
TU Law was a fabulous experience. The study of law makes an individual think critically. I am always asking questions because law teaches you that there is always more information and one fact can make all the difference. We need the information because that is the key to the best strategy, especially if you know where you want to end up. Law helps you to prepare for every possibility.
Finally, it also makes an individual less judgmental. Someone has always done something worse! It helps one put aside biases and make the “accused” or the “defendant” comfortable so we can get all the facts. This may be hard to understand – but the lawyers will get it. Lol.
You will be working alongside the deputy chief of staff for the ongoing 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre grave excavation. Can you tell us what kind of work that might entail? What are you hoping to get out of the investigation?
In this process, Deputy Rojas and I will be working alongside independent scientists, archeologists and the Oversight Committee (a group of dedicated, concerned citizens) to search for the graves. It takes patience and grit. I am proud of what has been accomplished thus far, and I hope at the end of this endeavor mistrust has been reconciled and old wounds have been healed.
As a Tulsa native who learned about the Massacre my entire life and heard stories passed down through my family, I am honored to be a part of this process.
What changes do you hope to see in Tulsa in the years to come? Are there any areas in particular that you are passionate about or would like to see grow?
I am passionate about economic development in Tulsa. That consists of seeing current businesses expand here; attracting new businesses to the city, especially headquarters; developing a talent pool that can meet the needs of those businesses; and providing pathways to the training for those jobs to all our citizens. Economic development is my passion because that is what will incentivize families to stay and build their lives here.
Are there any community involvement projects that students at TU might be interested in taking part in?
There sure are! Here are two ideas for people who want to get involved:
- Join TYPROS! This is more than just a social gathering. TYPROS partners with many for-profit and nonprofit organizations in Tulsa to meet community needs. It is well respected and well connected. Do something great for the community and build your professional network?! A win-win.
- Join whatever community social group that represent your area of study. For instance, law students can join the Inns of Court or the Tulsa County Bar Association. These groups will interest you, help you meet key people in your industry and provide you with community outreach projects where you can volunteer — sometimes even using your (almost) professional skills.
What are you hoping to accomplish as deputy mayor? What are the immediate projects that you hope to address?
I am excited to support Mayor G.T. Bynum and his team’s efforts. I have 200% faith in the mayor and his discretion. If he thinks something is important, I am behind him all the way.
I also want to inform Tulsans of the many amazing projects already available in the city. For instance, the Office of the Mayor has an initiative to Band the Box, which refers to eliminating the question of criminal history on job applications. This is HUGE for justice-involved individuals who have already paid their debt to society but who are constantly rejected for jobs because of their past. The City of Tulsa has set an example and eliminated that question from a large portion of their job applications, and we are rallying private businesses to follow suit. I have always been very involved with the city, yet I was unaware of this program. I think many Tulsans are in the same boat, so I want to help bridge that gap between the mayor’s office and the city so all can enjoy and champion these initiatives.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Joel E. Carr, who is in commercial construction, and we have two precious children, Georgia and Charlotte. I enjoy attending their school events at Victory Christian School, from which my husband and I graduated in 2005. We also have our baby dog, Peaches.
I spend a lot of time with my husband and kids, as well as with other family and friends. Joel and I LOVE hosting parties. I also am an avid (yet novice) gardener, an opera singer, a choir member at Southminster Presbyterian (if I make the practices) and a triathlete. I also enjoy reading and speaking Spanish.
Does a high-quality legal education that prepares you to make a difference in your community sound appealing? Then check out TU Law and see how we can help you reach your goals.