Bacone College appoints Pratt as new CFO
Mary Jo Pratt
MUSKOGEE – Bacone College officials on Oct. 16 announced Mary Jo Pratt as the new vice president of finance and chief financial officer of the 140-year-old institution of higher learning.
Bacone officials said that Pratt’s appointment means the executive team at the college is now 85% Native American as she stems from Cherokee, Osage, Blackfeet, Shawnee, Delaware, Peoria, Chippewa-Cree bloodlines.
According to Bacone press release, Pratt has experience working in highly regulated industries, public and tribal interests, as well as tribally owned small businesses that have collectively created an economic impact of over $2 billion in Oklahoma. It also states that she has served in corporate accounting, finance and development.
“I am honored to join Bacone College during such a pivotal moment in its 140-year history. Bacone is a well-known name across Indian Country,” Pratt said. “I am a first-generation college graduate. My goal was to not only get my education but to contribute to the betterment of my people and my communities.”
Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark said Pratt is believed to be Bacone’s first female CFO and that her experience with business finance will complement and build upon the positive success her predecessor, Jerome Steele, achieved during his two years with Bacone.
“So much of our recent success is due to the leadership and expertise of Mr. Steele, especially the major improvement of our financial bottom line…,” Clark said. “We are also excited that Ms. Pratt has joined our team as we continue on our mission to educate Native American students. She brings a steady and expert skillset to improve Bacone College’s financial status as we transform into a tribal college.”
Pratt said she is not only passionate about business and finance, but also about Native American culture, history and spirituality. She said she feels a calling to assist Bacone through the next chapter in its history.
“Accounting and finance are the heart of an organization, and I feel a special connection to Bacone College,” she said. “And now to find out recently that I am related to one of the men who helped found this institution, I also feel a strong calling to be here. My bloodline in a sense has found its way back here with the same purpose of educating our people, and I feel called to help us realize a bright future for Bacone College.”
Pratt said her personal philosophy includes honoring the past and looking to a brighter future.
“My grandparents at an early age taught me art, language, beliefs, traditional ceremonies, dress and music, and I’m blessed for their efforts. My family and I are privileged to be able to share that knowledge. They are my role models and I aspire to be like them. I believe we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and also paying respect to the past, present, and future, that what we do today will not only affect our children and grandchildren but will leave a lasting impact that will be felt for generations to come.”