Phil Lakin

B.B.A. ’89, M.B.A. ’99, Tulsa, Oklahoma

April 1, 2021
Phil Lakin

Career Experience

Phil Lakin joined Tulsa Community Foundation as its founding CEO in 1999. Since then, TCF has granted $2.5 billion to worthy charitable causes and its assets have grown from $117,000 to $4.7 billion, ranking it as the second-largest community foundation in America. Previously, Lakin managed Baylor University’s Development Office in Dallas and consulted at Accenture.

Board Experience

Lakin has been elected six times to Tulsa’s City Council and has twice presided as its chair. He has served on dozens of not-for-profit boards, including as chairperson or president of Folds of Honor Foundation, Rotary Club of Tulsa, Arts Alliance Tulsa and Tulsa’s Zoo.

Awards and Honors

Phil received Baylor’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2007 and was named Tulsan of the Year in 2013. While at Baylor, Lakin was student body president, Welcome Week co-director, a Baylor Chamber of Commerce member, and permanent class president for the Class of 1989. He is among the approximately 50 individuals who have climbed the 70-plus peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in the continental U.S.

Baylor Philanthropy

Lakin led Baylor’s Alumni Board of Advocates as its chairperson and co-directs Baylor’s Student Body Officer Advisory Committee. He and his wife Adriane volunteer on Baylor’s Give Light campaign National Steering Committee. In 2011, they established an endowed scholarship for Baylor students and donate annually to other Baylor causes. 

Church/Christian Mission Affiliations

Phil and his family are members of Tulsa’s Southern Hills Baptist Church, where he was ordained as a deacon in 2002. He has taught Sunday school, was co-chair of the church’s debt-retirement campaign and was a founding member of the church’s charitable foundation.

Questions and Answers

Note: Baylor University is pleased to provide additional information via online exclusive Q&As with each Alumni-elected Regent candidate.

1. Baylor University’s mission is “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” How is that mission meaningful to you?

Who I am today is inextricably linked to who I became at Baylor. The soul of Baylor comes through the four, equal threads of its mission: leadership and service, academic excellence, caring community and Christian commitment. While each can stand on its own and make for a fine university, perfectly weaving these threads together into a single cord is what makes Baylor resoundingly strong and unique.

Though most of us don’t know Baylor’s mission by heart, we know it in our heart. We experienced its character in our faculty, who taught us in a Christ-like manner, often inviting us into their homes and becoming Christian mentors and friends. We witnessed it in our administrators and deans, who motivated us to serve others, humbly, as Christ did, giving us countless opportunities to lead others and be accountable for managing activities. And we practiced it as students and friends by caring for and sharpening each other, in both word and deed. 

From our alma mater we all came, imbued with exceptional experiences academically and in service to others, all within an unambiguous and purposeful Christian environment. To quote Baylor’s Heisman winner, “Baylor we are, and Baylor we’ll always be.” 

2. How have you attempted to make a difference in your professional and personal communities?

Of the few gifts that I’ve been given, the one I like utilizing most is representing others’ best interests. 

In Tulsa, I have been blessed to serve on dozens of charitable boards whose work varies from providing early childhood education in underserved communities to constructing the largest privately funded park in U.S. history. Leading efforts to privatize our zoo and raising millions to permanently house those experiencing mental illnesses stand out as highlight moments. Serving as a Tulsa city councilor for 10 years has allowed me to provide others with the most basic governmental services, while also strategically shaping Tulsa’s future.

Nationally, I’ve chaired the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships to children and spouses of military members who have been killed or wounded in action. I’ve also returned some of what the mountains have given to me by serving as the American Alpine Club treasurer, which represents the interests of 24,000 climbers. 

For Baylor, I have been honored to chair two Alumni Advisory Boards and co-lead efforts of former student body officers. Both groups advocate for alumni to the President and her administration and build programs that strengthen bonds between alumni and Baylor. 

3. As a board member, what perspectives, skills, interests and relationships would you bring to the board?

A unique perspective I have is that of a former Baylor employee. For eight years, I served in Baylor’s Development office, helping raise millions of dollars for Baylor’s operating, scholarship and capital needs. Countless alumni and friends kindly invited me into their homes to tell me of their love for our school, and they gave me the opportunity to share Baylor’s vision and needs as they chose to invest in Baylor’s future. 

I will continue to assist Baylor by using skills and relationships that I’ve developed over the last 21 years as CEO of Tulsa Community Foundation. In this role, I oversee a team that manages assets and charitable programs valued at over $4.7 billion. Ultimately, I am responsible for every aspect of the corporation, from donor cultivation and gift stewardship to financial management, investments and tax compliance. Leading an organization of this size and working with an ever-changing board to develop strategic objectives have given me practical experience that is transferrable to Baylor and its future.

Intentionally representing alumni interests to Baylor’s Board must be a primary role of an alumni-elected regent. As a city councilor, I’ve been elected to represent 43,000 citizens, all with diverse needs and goals, which is exceptionally rewarding most of the time but isn’t always easy, especially when ideas and opinions conflict. I’ve purposefully worked very hard to build consensus, seeking input from all parties, so each interest and perspective is integrated into a broader plan that can be supported, in the end, by all — which is an attitude and goal I’ll always have, in any situation. 

4. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and who gave it to you?

I regularly use two, related pieces of advice. “It’s far easier to do it right the first time” were words my Dad spoke to me as a kid, especially after I completed a yard project that I wasn’t too eager to start or to finish. After about a dozen struggles of untangling a relentlessly knotted up electrical cord, because I didn’t “do it right the first time,” I finally embraced what he was saying and started to do the job “right.” The cord was neatly wound and the jobs were much easier from that point forward.

A similar phrase was uttered daily during my Baylor University Chamber of Commerce pledge period: “Do the job perfectly, the first time.” The consequences of mistakes and sloppiness were more impactful this time though, as our University, and its students and alumni, were the beneficiaries of either my perfect job or something less. And Baylor deserved no less. To this day, regardless of the job, these are the words that my conscience recalls, causing me to always aim to do the job right, and perfectly, the first time.