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New Executive Director to Lead Oklahoma Historical Society

After a year-long search, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) Board of Directors has selected Trait Thompson to succeed Dr. Bob Blackburn as executive director. He will report for duty on January 4, 2021.

Dr. Deena Fisher, president of the OHS Board of Directors, thanked all the candidates who applied, but said Thompson has a unique combination of skill sets that will help the OHS complete major projects now and tackle new challenges in the future.

“Trait has a master’s degree in public administration, experience as an educator and a proven record of managing a complex historical project with a budget exceeding $200 million,” said Fisher. “Plus, he clearly demonstrated to us that he has a passion for Oklahoma history.”

"I am humbled and excited by the confidence the board has placed in me,” said Thompson. “Over the past 10 years of my public service, I have had numerous opportunities to collaborate with the staff of the OHS and I have always been exceedingly impressed by the incredible professionals who work here. Dr. Blackburn has been a friend and mentor to me, and I am ready to embrace the challenge of following in his rather large footsteps.”

Thompson began his career with the state as policy director for former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. During that four-year service, Thompson read every bill submitted to the senate, met with citizens from across the state and learned how to work with others to achieve shared goals. For the past six years, he has been the project manager for the Oklahoma Capitol Restoration Project, shepherding the preservation and restoration of one of Oklahoma's most important historical artifacts—the State Capitol.

Blackburn, who joined the staff of the OHS in 1980, has been its executive director since 1999. In retirement, he plans to continue his passion for writing books, serving the community and satisfying his curiosity by exploring the world around him.

“I have watched the OHS evolve over the past 41 years,” said Blackburn, “and I have full confidence that Trait Thompson is the right person at the right time to work with a unified board, an exceptional staff and dedicated donors and legislators to keep the OHS moving forward in its mission to collect, preserve and share Oklahoma history.”