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Three from OSU-OKC named NextGen Under 30 award recipients

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three leaders with ties to Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City were recently named NextGen Under 30 award recipients.


Mary Bixler, Lauren Craig-O’Brien and Ariel Moore were among those selected for the recognition by a panel of business and civic leaders who judged the top candidates in 21 categories.


NextGen Under 30 recognizes and encourages the next generation of innovative, creative and inspiring individuals. They will be honored at an awards banquet Nov. 12 and will be profiled in ionOklahoma Online.


Mary Bixler is recognized in the Tourism category for her work as the Farmers Market manager at Scissortail Park.

“Mary was a key element in OSU-OKC's Scissortail partnership that launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dar Yasseri, OSU-OKC vice president of student experience. “Under Mary’s leadership, the existing farmers market at the OSU-OKC campus with a 25-year legacy was transferred to the center of Oklahoma City to improve exposure and to better serve the community, through education and Made in Oklahoma products.”

In partnership with the vendors, Bixler brought the OSU-OKC Farmers Market from last place in the farmers market USDA grant ranking to No. 1, despite the pandemic.

“Mary's selfless and innovative leadership to her team and vendors has been a key element of this accomplishment,” Yasseri said. “The vendors have experienced the highest revenues in decades and the satisfaction ratings are the highest in the history of the OSU-OKC Farmers Market.”


Lauren Craig-O’Brien is a winner in the Law category for her work as director of Early Settlement Mediation, an alternative dispute resolution program funded by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and sponsored by OSU-OKC.

The volunteer-based program provides mediation services to people in the community facing conflict by settling issues outside of a formal court proceeding. Neutral third-party mediators help people define issues, explore options and come to agreeable terms.

“In the past three years, Lauren attracted and trained volunteers, developed staff and integrated early settlement within the Oklahoma County District Court,” said Michael Widell, OSU-OKC vice president of operations. “Engaging in nearly 800 cases annually with a 72% settlement rate, Lauren is a national service leader.”

At the American Bar Association 2021 National Conference, Lauren provided more than 60,000 ABA members information on how to implement similar programs.

She has provided graduates of the OSU-OKC Public Service program career pathway certification and helped develop the online Court Reporter program to address a critical workforce need.


Ariel Moore is recognized in the Nonprofit category for her work as senior director of OSU-OKC’s Center for Social Innovation, which launched Aug. 28, 2020, thanks to generous gifts from the Gaylord Family Foundation and Inasmuch Foundation.

“Ariel brought with her to the job grit, innovation and a passion for serving her fellow man,” Yasseri said. “We could not say no our community partners who had clients that needed and wanted this change for a positive life.”

Those partners include ReMerge, PIVOT, OKC Restore, Homeless Alliance and Oklahoma County drug court. CFSI offers education and personalized wrap-around serves to each student so they can reclaim their lives and families and learn how to navigate society for success.

“With Ariel's past life experiences and resiliency, she is the example of hope for these individuals and many others in positive life change,” Yasseri said. “She is paying it back to the many individuals and groups in the metro area that assisted her to reclaim her life and get her son back from DHS to reestablish their family.”

Through creative programming, community partnerships and education, she shepherded 10 of 17 students in the first CFSI cohort to graduation and assisted eight to find gainful employment. Two are pursuing degrees in higher education.