Tomlinson, Class of 2005
Last year, Tulsa was ranked multiple times in the top 10 metropolitan areas; such as Hot Spots to Start a Small Business and Metro Areas with Green Jobs proving that Tulsa is Where Business Grows. Responsible for keeping this garden lush is the Executive Director of Downtown Development at the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, Delise Tomlinson. Delise is a liaison between business and city, responsible for making recommendations to the Chamber on the future of Tulsa.
After attending the University of Oklahoma and receiving a degree in marketing, she worked as a city planner in several Oklahoma towns and at The Indian Nations Council of Governments where she was also influenced by legendary land use attorney, Charles Norman. With her growing interest in real estate development and planning, she returned to OU for her graduate studies at the Urban Design Studio. Her studio project was to develop a downtown master plan for Tulsa, before the downtown renaissance catalyzed by Vision 2025 and the construction of the BOK Center. For her, this “realistic urban design project” showed her how “commercial and residential development relates to civic spaces.” She focused on the importance of green space and streetscape and creating gateways to establish the downtown location. This process of "place making," was designed to encourage the creation of a renewed urban core and an inviting urban environment. "The master's program is important," referring to her time at the Urban Design Studio. The subject matter we studied and the studio experience gave me roots and laid a foundation for what I am doing now. Other student's projects affect you as well," she explains, "you learn so much from the experiences of other students, how others encounter problems and solve them.”
Delise's current position as Executive Director of Downtown Development for the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce is, in some ways, a realization of that student project. She is a spokesperson on business related planning issues by trying to bring attention to Tulsa's downtown, using her marketing background. Delise says it is a community effort to improve Tulsa. However modest she might be, Delise has taken the lead, working to encourage the development of housing, save historic buildings with tax credits for historic revitalizations which could help save art deco buildings that set Tulsa apart from other cities. Yet, with all of her education and experience, she says she is still learning every day. In the future, she hopes to establish a museum council, continue to bring people together and get things accomplished, and shine a light on those who have been working hard to improve downtown. With Delise's passion for improving Tulsa and ensuring that Tulsa is "where business grows." The University of Oklahoma's Urban Design Studio is proud that Tulsa is in the hands of this seedsower of business and good design.