OSU Spears Business to induct graduate into Hall of Fame and honor young alumni
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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Melinda Stinnett, a 1989 Oklahoma State University accounting graduate and successful entrepreneur, has been selected as the 2021 inductee into the Spears School of Business Hall of Fame.
Stinnett will be honored in a ceremony this fall along with 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni Haley Keith and Steven Propester.
Each year, Spears Business recognizes exceptional graduates who are inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in recognition of distinguished professional careers, displays of leadership and for giving back to their communities and OSU. This year, Stinnett will receive the highest honor awarded by Spears Business at the Hall of Fame ceremony and banquet Nov. 12.
“We are delighted to induct Melinda Stinnett into our hall of fame,” said Dr. Ken Eastman, dean of Spears Business. “She has built a tremendous company, which continues to grow. Additionally, Melinda has been an active supporter of Spears Business, OSU and other philanthropic organizations. She is a wonderful person, and we are proud to have her in our hall of fame.”
The 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni honorees will be recognized at the Hall of Fame banquet for significant service and achievement reached early in their professional careers.
“Each year, we are pleased to recognize the accomplishments of our younger alums. Haley Keith and Steven Propester are two great examples of what our graduates can achieve,” Eastman said.
Stinnett is the managing director of Stinnett & Associates, a professional advisory firm she founded in Tulsa in 2001 and who has three decades of experience as a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor. In 2017, Stinnett was named Oklahoma Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and was named to the Journal Record’s 2020 list of “50 Making a Difference.”
After graduating from OSU, Stinnett spent 12 years working in public accounting before launching her firm. For nine years she worked in the Tulsa office of Arthur Andersen, becoming audit senior manager, and also worked as a staff auditor for Price Waterhouse in Phoenix.
Stinnett & Associates’ 100 employees currently serve clients in six Oklahoma offices and locations in Colorado and Texas. The firm’s moto is “Care Greatly!” and that is reflected in the company being chosen in 2019 as an Oklahoma Best Place to Work. Stinnett has become a widely sought-after speaker on building positive, inclusive places to work. She is also a coveted speaker for professional organizations and conferences as an expert in internal auditing and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.
Stinnett’s involvement with her alma mater includes currently serving on the Board of Governors for the OSU Foundation, the Spears Business Dean’s Council, the OSU School of Accounting Advisory Board and Executive Committee, the Eastin Center for Career Readiness Advisory Board and the Women for OSU Board.
A native of Stillwater, Stinnett has deep family ties with the OSU business school. Her father — Dr. Dennis Middlemist — was a professor and head of the Department of Management, while her mother — Dr. Melanie Middlemist — earned a master’s degree and doctorate in accounting from OSU. Her brother — George Middlemist — also earned his bachelor’s in accounting from OSU while daughter — Sarah Stinnett — is currently a student at Spears Business.
Stinnett has been recognized a number of times by Spears Business including with the Women in Business Outstanding Alumni Award in 2019 and being recognized in 2011 as a School of Accounting Distinguished Alumni and recipient of the Spears School of Business Orange Star Award. She was also recognized as one of Spears Business’ 100 for 100 graduates recognized during the 100th anniversary of business education at OSU in 2014.
Actively involved in her community, Stinnett serves on boards for the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Community College Foundation.
Outstanding Young Alumni honoree Haley Keith earned an MBA from Spears Business in 2017. As a student in the OSU Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Scholars Program, Keith was involved in a project that led to the 2018 founding of the technology startup MITO Material Solutions with fellow OSU student, and now husband, Kevin Keith.
Haley, who is MITO Material Solutions CEO, and her husband — a graduate of the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology — competed in collegiate business plan competitions across the country with guidance from School of Entrepreneurship faculty. She was awarded the Courageous Women in Entrepreneurship Award at the Rice University Business Plan Competition in 2017.
MITO, which sells materials developed and licensed from OSU, has won grants from the National Science Foundation and the Oklahoma Center for Advanced Science and Technology (OCAST) and investment from venture capitalists. In December 2020, Haley and Kevin were named to the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 standout industry and manufacturing entrepreneurs list.
Steven Propester graduated in 2008 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting followed by passing the CPA exam. He began his career with the Oklahoma City office of Grant Thornton where he found his passion for performing audits and technical accounting for energy industry clients across the country. A career highlight was work he performed for the Grant Thornton office in Perth, Australia, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A favorite part of his job has been mentoring new staff and recruiting Spears Business students. Propester was made a Grant Thornton partner in 2019.
Community involvement is also important to Propester, a value he said he learned as an OSU student. He currently serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City, previously serving as vice president, secretary and governance chair. He has also raised thousands of dollars for Ronald McDonald House Charities through committee work with Red Shoe Gala and Walk for Kids.
Propester is also a member of the Leadership Oklahoma City Signature Class 37, Junior Achievement Oklahoma City, the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Society of CPAs.
“Haley has taken an entrepreneurial path and built a company around a project she started while an MBA student and Steven is now a partner at the global accounting firm Grant Thornton where he’s built an impressive career for himself,” Eastman said. “Their divergent paths show that success can take on many forms and we encourage our students to find the one that fits them best.”
The Spears School of Business Hall of Fame ceremony and banquet is Nov. 12 at the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center. Visit the event calendar listing for more information.