Please see the biographies of the speakers below:


Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston


Melissa McLawhorn Houston serves the State of Oklahoma as Commissioner of Labor. She was appointed to office by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on November 20th, 2015.


Houston is an experienced administrator with extensive knowledge of state government and considerable experience in state agency operational management, public policy, legislative process, and budgeting.   Houston also has an in-depth background in public policy and played a key role in criminal justice reform efforts and federal anti-terrorism legislation.  She is also a frequent speaker on the impact of terrorism and the importance of anti-terrorism strategies as an Oklahoma City Bombing survivor. 


She served as Chief of Staff for the Oklahoma Attorney General and for the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.  She also has served as deputy director for the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association and as an attorney for the Oklahoma Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission.


Houston attended the University of Oklahoma where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Letters in 1991 and a Juris Doctor in 1994. She is active in the community serving on several boards including the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Cleveland County Community Sentencing Council.  She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Norman.


She and her husband, Ben Houston, who also is an attorney, live in Norman with their two young sons.



David Bates


David Bates is the Area Director of the Oklahoma OSHA Area Office. He  began his career with OSHA in the Little Rock, Arkansas office in 1983 as a    student co-op. He worked as a compliance officer in the Dallas and Fort Worth offices from 1985 to 1993. He has worked for OSHA as an Assistant Area Director in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Little Rock, Arkansas Area Offices from 1993 until 2008, and is now the Area Director of the  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Area Office.


David has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology from the University of Central Arkansas.