EP 39 | From Small-Town Doer to Big-City Leader with Kian Kamas

Written by on July 18, 2023


The strongest leaders often come from humble beginnings because these early hardships are instrumental in the development of grit.

In this episode of Shift Out Loud, I talk to community leader Kian Kamas. As the Executive Director of PartnerTulsa, Kian is passionate about creating long-term, institutional change in how Tulsa pursues its economic and community development objectives and is committed to building a sustainable, world-class operating model that builds strong and stable long-term revenues for this important work.

Our discussion explores the many shifts that have led Kian to her current professional success, including her time at the University of Edinburgh, her shift into the world of politics, and her transformation from a doer into a strong leader. We also dive into her post-University struggles, the hardest job she’s ever had, and how growing up on a farm helped to strengthen her incredible work ethic.

Ready to play bigger? Listen now to discover: 

  • The biggest challenges Kian has faced while shifting from doer into leader — and how she works through them
  • How she navigates a self-image of herself as an inexperienced “small-town girl.”
  • The exercises she uses to help her team find joy and potential in what they do

Guest bio: Kian Kamas serves as the Executive Director of PartnerTulsa, leading Tulsa’s comprehensive community and economic development strategy and a team of talented professionals dedicated to increasing economic opportunity for Tulsa residents. Prior to this role, Kian served as Mayor G.T. Bynum’s Chief of Economic Development. She and her husband Lathen have lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma since 2009, and are raising their son Leith as a proud Tulsan.


01:45  Intro

03:22  Meet Kian Kamas

05:54  Early work experience

08:24  “All hands on deck”

10:52  Grit

13:10  Building a strong team

16:27  Hardest job & University of Oklahoma

19:10  University of Edinburgh

21:45  Return to the US & finding her place

26:09  Self-perception

28:44  Biggest challenges

34:22  Team-building tips

40:00  Team retreat

45:40  What’s next?



Kian Kamas – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kiankamas