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“He has such a strong moral compass and a sense of conviction. His strongest attribute is his ability to bring different people


together to forge solutions.” - John Woods, Chief Executive Offi cer at the Norman Chamber of Commerce


I


t’s a busy morning at T.W.’s offi ce. The sounds in the waiting area indicate everyone is hard at work. Rapidly tapped computer keyboard keys, rings of phone calls and faxes add to the continuous movement of individuals coming in and out of the offi ce asking for T.W. “He’s not in right now, but he is on his way back from meetings,” one of his cordial assistants greets a gentleman who enters the offi ce, anticipating a visit.


He’s a friend of many, and it shows. His days are packed with meetings, speaking engagements, and phone calls; however, he would not have it any other way. Tahrohon Wayne Shannon—or as he is better known, T.W.,—found his calling in serving his fellow Oklahomans. A sixth-generation Oklahoman, T.W.’s roots in the Sooner State are deep; perhaps just as deep as his zeal and dedication to serving his neighbors.


Strong Roots


On Jan. 8, 2013, T.W. took his post as the fi rst African American Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, with the start of Oklahoma’s 54th Legislature. Referred to as a “rising star” in the Republican Party, T.W., now 34, has certainly risen from an upbringing rooted in strong work ethics, un- wavering commitment, and dedication to public service. His parents, Wayne and Joyce Shannon—both graduates of Langston University in Langston, Okla.,—are now enjoying retirement after careers in teaching and social work.


The values of hard work and service were instilled in T.W. from a young age, whether he realized it or not. A member of the Chickasaw Nation, T.W.’s paternal ancestors came to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears and were based in the town of Milo.


T.W. was born in 1978 in Oklahoma City. He attended Oklahoma City Public Schools from elementary school to sixth grade. Because his dad was originally from Lawton, the family eventually moved back to southwest Oklahoma. It was at Lawton High School, T.W.’s alma mater, that he began shaping his interest in government, at that time, student government. “I fi rst began thinking about public offi ce in high school,” T.W. says. “From that time I understood what a state representative was and I thought it would be a very interesting career. However, I always assumed it would take a long time before that happened.”


Setting the Stage


T.W. was accepted to Cameron University in Lawton with a full ride, Presidential Leaders University Scholar—“PLUS” scholarship. He graduated from Cameron with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications with hopes he could eventually become a speechwriter in Washington, D.C. His years at Cameron were crucial in setting the pace for his career and personal life. It was at Cameron that T.W. met the love of his life, Devon—a military transplant originally from Louisiana who was born in Germany.


Tahrohon Wayne Shannon


 Sixth-generation Oklahoman  Member of the Chickasaw Nation  3rd generation Lawtonian  Graduate of Cameron University  Graduate of OCU Law School


Speaker T.W. Shannon takes oath on Jan. 8, 2013 during the 54th Oklahoma Legislature Organizational Day. Photo Courtesy of Speaker Shannon’s Offi ce


FEBRUARY 2013 17


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