The appointment of Gov. Kevin Steet to the state’s top school board once worked for him.
Sarah Lepak of Clermore was elected by Steet to a vacancy on the Oklahoma Board of Education prior to approval by the state Senate. On Monday, her election was announced by the governor.
“I am confident that she will put the needs of students first and will strive to make Oklahoma in the top ten in education,” Steet said in a statement.
The 42-year-old Lepak worked for five years as a lawyer at the Gateway Mortgage Group, according to her public account on LinkedIn.
Steet founded Gateway Mortgage in 2000 and was CEO until he retired in August 2018, shortly before he was elected governor. Lepak’s LinkedIn account shows that she worked as an assistant to the company’s general counsel from 2012 to 2017.
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The Stitt press service did not immediately return a request for comment on Lepak’s work history at Gateway Mortgage.
“It is a great honor for me to be nominated and I look forward to joining the council,” Lepak said in a statement through the governor’s office. “I am excited to devote my time and experience to helping children from Oklahoma be well prepared for the future.”
Lepak has been a senior environmental project manager at QuikTrip since 2017. She heads the corporation’s compliance department and manages due diligence and compliance with environmental regulations in QuikTrip stores, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
She will serve the unlimited four-year term of William E. “Bill” Flanagan, representing the Second District of the Oklahoma Congress, until April 2, 2023. Flanagan, the mayor of Clermore, resigned from the State Board of Education in November for health reasons.
Flanagan recommended Lepak for his vacancy, he confirmed when contacted by phone on Monday.
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Flenagan said he and Lepak first met when she was a client of his accounting practice and had known each other for several years through various committees and functions in Clermore.
“She is an exceptional person with exceptional abilities,” he said.
Flanagan knew Lepak had worked for Stita in the past, but that was not a factor, he said.
Lepak graduated from Clermore Public Schools before earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma and a law degree from the University of Kansas.
She is the daughter of State Representative Mark Lepac, R-Claremore.
She was one of seven contenders for a vacancy in the state Supreme Court in 2019. Lepak, who applied as a Republican, was the only applicant who was not an incumbent judge.
Eventually, Steet elected M. John Kane IV, who is now vice president of the court.
A spokesman for the governor said then that there would be no conflict of interest if Stet recruits Lepak to office if she makes the final version of the Commission for the Nomination of Candidates for the Courts.
Lepak was not included in the final list of the commission after it narrowed the pool of candidates to three.
Reporter Nuria Martinez-Kiel covers K-12 and higher education across Oklahoma. Do you have a story idea for Nuria? She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter at @NuriaMKeel. Support the work of Nuria and other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com.