Our mission is to equip youth, through prevention education, with the knowledge and skills to make positive life choices.
A History of Proven Success
Since 1979, Operation Aware of Oklahoma has equipped more than 300,000 young people in northeastern Oklahoma with resistance skills and prevention education so they can make positive choices and become healthy, strong adults.
The original Operation Aware program began in Duluth, Minnesota in 1976. The curriculum was developed using trend and statistical data, causal factors, and sound medical facts. Teaching methods considered students ability to comprehend, discuss, internalize information, and accept responsibility for their choices and actions. Operation Aware's innovative approach presented health facts, consequences of high-risk behaviors, and strategies for positive decision making - - instead of the then-popular "scare tactics" that were ineffective.
Operation Aware of Oklahoma began as a one-man prevention effort when Gregg Conway, a young man transplanted from New York, recognized the need for drug prevention outreach in Tulsa. Conway traveled to Duluth in 1979 to receive the Operation Aware training. In collaboration with the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Operation Aware began in three classrooms serving 1,200 students in the fall of 1979. Under the leadership of Jack H. Santee, Operation Aware's first Board Chairman, Operation Aware was incorporated and received designation as a 501(c)(3) organization in September 1980. The first public school program was conducted the next year at Walter Leeper Middle School in Claremore, and the first Tulsa public school program was offered at Grimes Elementary.
In its earliest days, the organization received Venture Grant funding for two years from the Tulsa Area United Way, and Operation Aware continues today as a proud member of the Tulsa Area United Way. In 1985, First Lady Nancy Reagan visited Operation Aware students to spread the prevention message and helped establish the Endowment Fund to provide for long term sustainability of the program.
Field trips to local hospitals, detention centers and treatment facilities were incorporated into the 6th grade curriculum. During these tours, students learned firsthand about the consequences of using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. For many alumni, these remain some of the most memorable lessons of the Operation Aware curriculum. A partnership with EMSA continues today as a strong component of the program.
In the 1990's, Operation Aware began to serve the second generation of students in Tulsa Public Schools and surrounding districts. Operation Aware now serves young people in grades pre-kindergarten through high school. Operation Aware's highly trained Prevention Educators, present age-adapted 8-week programs in public, private and faith-based schools, in urban, rural and suburban settings. Operation Aware curriculums are also available for after-school programs and other forums. Although the venue is different, the strong and clear message of prevention and healthy decision-making remains the same.
While the original Operation Aware organization in Duluth is no longer active, Operation Aware of Oklahoma is a one-of-a-kind prevention and positive life skills program that has more than 35 years of proven effectiveness in reaching children and teens. It continues to serve as the comprehensive prevention education resource for the development of healthy strong young people in Tulsa and surrounding communities in northeastern Oklahoma.
Meet The Team:
Jeni Dolan, Executive Director, has a BS with an emphasis in Deaf Education from the University of Tulsa. She grew up in California but moved to Tulsa for college and never left. Jeni joined Operation Aware in 2002 as a Prevention Educator, after having worked for Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centers. She became the Executive Director in 2013 and loves watching the transformation in a young person, when they realize that they “choose” where their “road of life” leads. The road of life is a key concept in every Operation Aware Class. She enjoys volunteering as a cheerleading coach and at her church. In her spare time you can find Jeni on a football field or basketball court, and most likely with her camera in hand.
Mackenzie Staples, Director of Programs, joined the Operation Aware team in spring 2009. Mackenzie received a Bachelors’ of Arts Degree in both Communication and Sociology from the University of Oklahoma.
Her background includes working as an income developer for a national health-related nonprofit and being Director of several Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions offices and their staff and instructors. These positions allowed her to work with youth and discover her passion for empowering them to realize and utilize their own inner strengths. Mackenzie’s favorite thing about Operation Aware’s mission is helping guide our students to want more for themselves and make positive life choices to further their potential.
When she is not spending quality time with her husband and two children, friends or family, Mackenzie enjoys cooking, painting, and interior design.
Rhonda McDaniel, Development Director, graduated with a BSW from Oral Roberts University and MSW from the University of Oklahoma. She grew up in Oklahoma and joined the Operation Aware team in 2014, after working as a Grants Manager and Volunteer Coordinator. She is an Operation Aware alumna and became passionate about working for youth (drug/alcohol) prevention after a family member died of drug overdose and another was diagnosed with COPD. She volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, before having two children of her own. In her spare time, Rhonda enjoys reading, crocheting, church and having fun with her husband and kids.
Jenny graduated with a BS in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University. She is a Tulsa native and has a growing blended family of four with two wonderful boys. Jenny was accepted into the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, but she decided she'd rather teach youth about making positive decisions. She came to Operation Aware in 2013 and is excited about making a difference in the lives of so many kids! In her spare time, she enjoys going to her son’s games, volunteering at his school and doing fun family activities.
Cynthia graduated with a BA in Sociology from Oklahoma State University. She is a Tulsa native and was among the first students in Tulsa to have Operation Aware Class in the 80's. She came to Operation Aware in 2015, after many years of substitute teaching, raising her children and having worked as a Child Welfare Investigator. She's passionate about giving children the tools they need to make good choices. She has volunteered with the PTA, Booster Club and as a cheer sponsor. In her spare time, she likes to read, play piano and go to her kids'baseball games and cheer competitions.
Cori graduated with a BA in Psychology from Colorado Christian University. She came to Operation Aware in 2015, after having taught child abuse prevention education to families with a local non profit. She believes that prevention education is the only way to stop a cycle and empower people to choose their path before a choice is even made. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running and only cooking when forced.