MUSKOGEE – Bacone College has announced the appointment of Mary Jo Pratt to the position of vice president of finance and chief financial officer.
Pratt’s appointment means the executive team at Bacone College is now 85 percent Native American, as she hails from Osage, Blackfeet, Shawnee, Delaware, Peoria, Chippewa-Cree and Cherokee bloodlines.
She has ample experience working in highly regulated industries, public and tribal interests, and tribally owned small businesses who have collectively created an economic impact of over $2 billion in Oklahoma. Pratt has served as a number-slayer in corporate accounting, finance, and development, and said she has dedicated time to creating revenue streams while creating a positive footprint in the community.
“I am honored to join Bacone College during such a pivotal moment in its 140-year history. Bacone is a well-known name across Indian Country,” Pratt said. “I am a first-generation college graduate. My goal was to not only get my education, but to contribute to the betterment of my people and my communities.”
Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark noted Pratt is believed to be Bacone's first female CFO and that her extensive experience with business finance will complement and build upon the positive financial success her predecessor, Jerome Steele, has achieved over his two years with the college.
“So much of our recent success is due to the leadership and expertise of Mr. Steele, especially the major improvement of our financial bottom line. He is a friend, mentor, prayer warrior, and leader to all of us on campus. We will miss him as part of our team, and we wish him all the best as he continues his journey in life,” Clark said. “We are also excited that Ms. Pratt has joined our team as we continue on our mission to educate Native American students. She brings a steady and expert skill set to improve Bacone College’s financial status as we transform into a tribal college.”
Pratt said she is not only passionate about business and finance, but also about Native American culture, history, and spirituality. She feels a calling to assist Bacone College through the next chapter in its long and storied history.
“Accounting and finance are the heart of an organization, and I feel a special connection to Bacone College. And now to find out recently that I am related to one of the men who helped found this institution, I also feel a strong calling to be here,” Pratt said. “My bloodline in a sense has found its way back here with the same purpose of educating our people, and I feel called to help us realize a bright future for Bacone College.”
Pratt's personal philosophy includes honoring the past and looking toward a brighter future.
“My grandparents at an early age taught me art, language, beliefs, traditional ceremonies, dress, and music, and I’m blessed for their efforts. My family and I are privileged to be able to share that knowledge. They are my role models and I aspire to be like them,” she said. “I believe we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and also paying respect to the past, present, and future, that what we do today will not only affect our children and grandchildren but will leave a lasting impact that will be felt for generations to come."
For more information, contact the Department of College Relations at 918-360-3866.