Kari Watkins, a third-generation journalist and Cleveland, Oklahoma native, became the Oklahoma City National Memorial’s ﬁrst staff member in 1996. Three years later she was named Executive Director, overseeing the design competition for the for the Memorial, the building of the Museum, and the operations of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum—one of Oklahoma’s and the Nation’s most visited sites—and serving as Race Director for the annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Watkins leads a staff that has been recognized with the highest national recognition—accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. Under her leadership, the Museum has won numerous awards, including The Videographer Award of Excellence, a Gold American Alliance of Museums MUSE, the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, and multiple Addy’s, PRSA Awards, and OklahomaTourism RedBud Awards.
Personally, Watkins’ honors include being the Journal Record Woman of the Year and receiving the Stanley Draper Award for Community Excellence, Women in Communications Byliner Award, University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism Distinguished Alumni Award, Lee Allan Smith Oklahoma Legacy Award, and the John F. Kennedy Community Service Award.
While active in the community, Watkins and her husband Hardy, are the proud parents of Ford and Caroline.