START, GROW, SUSTAIN YOUR BIZ
FEBRUARY 28, 2018
ROBERT A. FUNK
Robert A. Funk is Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company has more than 770 franchises in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than 6.5 million people to work worldwide. Express provides expertise in Evaluation Hire, Temporary Staffing, Professional Search, and Human Resources, and works across a wide variety of industries. Express generated $3.05 billion in sales and employed a record 510,000 people in 2016.
Funk also owns 37 Express franchises in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas, and stays active with Express affiliated companies – Express Ranches and The Express Clydesdales of Express Employment Professionals.
Before founding Express, Funk gained extensive business and staffing experience with Acme Personnel Services, starting as a personnel consultant and rising to vice president.GEORGE NIGH
Governor George Nigh served four different terms as governor; more than anyone in state history.
At age 23, Nigh became the youngest member of the state legislature when elected to the House of Representatives from Pittsburg County. He introduced the bill that made Oklahoma the official state song in 1953. Nigh served as lieutenant governor of Oklahoma from 1959 to 1963. He alternated between service in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as a teacher in the McAlester public schools.
During his career in public service, he chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, co-chaired the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, served on the Executive Committee of the Southern States Energy Board, chaired the southern Growth Policies Board, and presided over the Council of State Governments. He was also a recipient of the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award. After leaving office, he became President of the University of Central Oklahoma, a position from which he retired in 1997. In 2000, he wrote his autobiography, Good Guys Wear White Hats: The Life of George Nigh.CORNELL WESLEY
Serving as an Economic Development Representative at the Economic Development Administration is the culmination of over a decade of ambition and experience for Cornell Wesley. A Morehouse College graduate, he holds an MBA from Mercer University and a Master of Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Cornell's education is as varied as his work experience. Serving in various positions at Bank of America, Suntrust Bank of Atlanta, Fidelity Bank, and CBC National Bank, Cornell oversaw multi-million dollar portfolios, loans, and credit lines, as well as government guaranteed lending. As an SBA lender, he managed an expansive 49 state lending territory.
In January 2015, Cornell moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas to become the Financial Services and Economic Development Manager for East Arkansas Planning and Development District. In this role, he developed and implemented lending policies, underwriting guidelines, and approval processes for the District's EDA Revolving Loan Fund. Cornell was responsible for lending and economic development projects in 117 cities from a 12 county region
Cornell moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2015 to accept his current assignment as Economic Development Representative for the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). He is the primary point-of-contact for EDA programs in the state of Oklahoma and North Texas. Notably, he is the first African American EDA representative in the state of Oklahoma in over 22 years to be based and living in the state.
Recently, Cornell has been selected as one of the fifty-one participants of this year's class 31 of Leadership Oklahoma; the state's most prestigious leadership program where selectees travel the state to learn about the critical issues facing Oklahoma.
Cornell has been recognized as "Top 40 Under 40" by Oklahoma Magazine, a past fellow of the Delta Entrepreneur Network, and proudly volunteers on various boards, including the Black Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma City. Through his passion for economic development, he is building a strong foundation not only for his family's future but for the future of his vast community.
He has been married to Shaaron Wesley for seven years and they have two children Kennedy Wesley (Girl 6) and Carter Wesley (Boy 2)ADAM EDWARDS
Throughout his career, Adam has worked his way up the corporate ladder of Fortune 100 companies and embarked on exciting entrepreneurial opportunities. In 2008, his investment firm The Nspire Group procured the master franchise rights for Golden Heart Senior Care of Oklahoma, then built and sold the 18-unit master in less than 2 years. In 2014, Adam joined the Executive Team at Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits as their Director of Franchise Development and grew the unit structure by double- digits for the southeast region in the United States. Adam also owns and operates iMatch Franchise, an independent franchise brokerage and low to mid-market, mergers and acquisitions’ firm with over 12 years of award-winning experience. Most recently in 2017, Adam accepted a Senior Adviser position with a Private Equity Family, over-seeing their small-to-mid cap investment strategies.
Looking to diversify his portfolio, Adam inked a deal to create a national market for Waters Edge Winery throughout the eastern portion of the United States, as a distribution partner. On many occasions, Adam has been recognized with performance and philanthropy awards, making him a true “Trail-Blazer” as a successful African-American Winemaker and Business Owner.
Toby Brown is the President of THE BROWN GROUP, a full service real estate firm located in Oklahoma City, OK. Mr. Brown brings a wealth of real estate knowledge to the company. His experience in real estate spans a period of more than fifteen years in various capacities as managing broker, realtor, developer and investor. He has also more than 10 years of experience in corporate management, in various roles, such as program management, account management, customer relationships, and business management. Toby Brown has an MBA degree from the Oklahoma Christian University. Previous to that he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Development from the Southern Nazarene University. He also has an Associate Degree in Management and he is also a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Toby is a graduate of the Real Estate Institute and member of the National and local association of Realtors; these credentials demonstrate a clear commitment towards achievement and success.
From a young age, Rachael Gruntmeir, an Oklahoma native, was always extremely creative. After high school Rachael attended college at Oklahoma State University where she obtained a degree in Marketing Management.
While attending the University of Central Oklahoma, she was selected to participate in the elite Charles Evans Studio where she was able to refine her design skills and complete her portfolio. She was also the winner of the NEWH 2008 Scholarship from the Dallas, TX chapter. Rachael graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and a Minor in Art History.
Rachael pursued a successful career as an interior designer in Oklahoma completing design jobs such as the Café 7 downtown location in the First National Center. In 2012 Rachael moved out of state where she started and ran a clothing boutique. In January of 2015 she moved back to Oklahoma City to open the boutique of her dreams.