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Montressa "Monty" Elder

Environmental Program Manager

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1677


Monty Elder is currently the Risk Communication Manager and Media Spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. She provides risk communication and community education for the state Superfund sites as well as for high profile complaint situations including emergency response. She was instrumental in developing the National EPA Pilot Program for Superfund State Delegation. In addition, she manages the state SARA Title III Program including Community Right-to-Know, Toxic Release Inventory, and LEPC coordination.


She serves as the Public Information Officer for DEQ. She currently coordinates risk assessment and public participation across media for DEQ. Monty supervises the statewide Laboratory Certification program as well as Graphic Arts for DEQ. She is responsible for the Customer Services Division budget and divisional coordination with Information Technology.


Monty is a Registered Sanitarian and Environmental Health Professional. She is a member of several national organizations including President of the National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials, TRI Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, the Bioavailability workgroup of the National Environmental Policy Institute, and the ECOS steering committee on Childhood Asthma. In 1994, she was selected for the Lloyd Pummill Sanitarian of the Year Award, given to a sanitarian in a mono-program area.


In 1997, Monty received a Governor's commendation as the Outstanding State Employee. Twice, in 1993 and 2001, she was honored by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a member of a Superfund Team of the Year. In the fall of 2005, Monty was detailed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Alabama to provide public information expertise as part of the recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina.


Her previous experience includes 15 years as a science educator at the secondary as well as college level and 5 years experience in research labs. Her educational background includes a bachelor's and master's degree in microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

What I Learned at EPHLI

It has been a privilege to participate in the first Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute. The coursework has been challenging. This was my first exposure to systems thinking and I have used it to clarify my thinking about a number of problems in both my professional and personal life. I experienced a number of "ah ha" moments during the study of archetypes and mental models. It was particularly helpful to use the diagrams to explain the underlying causes of a problem. I am excited about continuing to develop an understanding of these tools.


In the personal leadership development phase of the institute, I am appreciative of the opportunity to use the Skillscope 360 Assessment. For a number of years, I struggled with no success to get just that kind of feedback from the folks I supervise. I gained valuable insight into specific areas of management and leadership skills that needed improvement and I have been able to take concrete steps toward improvement in those areas. I also was unaware of change style preferences and how they relate to working relationships with others. This has also been a valuable tool for working with others productively.


Finally, the best part of the institute was the opportunity to get to meet so many wonderful people. The staff was not only extremely knowledgeable but also very helpful. The other fellows had a wide variety of experiences and skills, which added texture to the learning environment. Plus, they were all really fun to get to know outside of class. The institute has given me a network of colleagues, which I can draw on for assistance in the future. The hard work of the institute has resulted in the acquisition of priceless tools, experiences, and friendships. I can't express enough my gratitude for the opportunity.