FISTA appoints new executive director

Dr. Krista Ratliff pictured above.
Dr. Krista Ratliff pictured above.(KSWO)
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 6:43 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 1:37 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Following FISTA’s nation-wide search, its board of trustees came to a decision to announce Dr. Krista Ratliff, the current president of the Lawton Chamber of Commerce, as the organization’s Executive Director.

“One of the things that’s always been of interest in my personal career is having an opportunity to serve our community,” said Ratliff. “That’s one of the things I’ve absolutely loved about working at the chamber of commerce and leading the team at the chamber is that we give so much to our community and we help through so many different ways.”

She will start her contract with FISTA on June 1, 2023.

“I am fully committed to FISTA and the success of the organization. The potential that FISTA offers is huge for our community. I am also excited to continue to support the Chamber in every way possible that I can. The Chamber has so many partnerships in the community and so many people support that I’m excited to continue that support as well,” said Ratliff.

According to Ratliff, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President, Taron Epps, is ready to step up, as is the rest of the team to ensure all operations continue as planned.

She says she has full confidence in her staff to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, adding, “We’ve spent the last several years building what I would like to argue is one of the most successful teams of the chamber. Everyone of our staff members is extremely accomplished and ready to take on more roles and responsibility during this transition.”

7News also had a chance to speak with FISTA Chair Clarence Fortney on why a local candidate was the better choice, especially with Ratliff’s background in project management and government.

“I think somebody knowing our community is a benefit, not necessarily that they’ve come from the chamber, but having connections within our community, understanding the operations particularly of FISTA,” said Fortney. “The things that she has had the opportunity to work with have been very successful and I think that’ll continue on.”

Fortney expanded on his belief that with this new team, the organization will be able to quickly and efficiently solve any problems that may come up.

“See if we can’t find ways that can support not only FISTA development trust authority and FISTA and its operation in the old Sears building, but also as we look at how to support the Chamber as well,” Fortney said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Dr. Ratliff would remain president of the Chamber of Commerce. 7News confirmed on April 25 that the chamber’s board voted to accept Ratliff’s resignation during a meeting the day before. Executive Vice President Taron Epps is expected to step into an interim role.

During the original interview, 7News directly asked Ratliff multiple times if she would be maintaining both roles. Ratliff gave answers saying she was excited to continue working with the chamber. When asked about if her responsibilities as chamber president would be passed to someone else, Ratliff said they had built a dynamic team, she was confident nothing would fall through the cracks, and Executive Vice President Taron Epps was ready to step up during the transition.

Ratliff’s resignation was not made official until presented to the Chamber of Commerce’s board at 4 p.m. on April 24, after the original interview was conducted.