“I am an activist not a pundit. I want to get things done. I don’t want to just talk about things.”
(can I quote myself?)
I was born in 1964 in Wichita, Kansas. The fourth of four children to Don and Shirley Staires. We had moved there after my dads’ stint in the Air Force.
However, my earliest memories as a kid are living in Tulsa, Oklahoma at 51st and Sheridan in the Sun Gate neighborhood. I remember The Farm Shopping Center being built and the Shadow Mountain Inn steakhouse at 61st and Sheridan that seemed like it was out in the country hills. Both my parents had grown up in Tulsa and attended Central High School downtown. My dad went on to graduate from Tulsa University. My dad was a Petroleum Engineer and my mom was a housewife. Many of my fondest memories as a young child in Tulsa, occurred at the Sun Gate neighborhood swimming pool and playing football in our yard with my next door neighbor, Stevie Marburger. God and family were always the focus of my upbringing.
In the early 1970’s, we were members of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church and my mom and dad started a kids bible study in our home that grew quickly and exponentially. In 1972, my parents found a property north of Tulsa in Avant, Oklahoma where they felt the Lord call them to start a summer camp for kids. The camp is Shepherd’s Fold Ranch and it is going into its 49th year this summer.
I was 7 years old when I first walked into Avant Elementary School in the middle of my second grade year. My years at Avant were filled with sports, horseback riding and playing at Seven Caves, an old limestone quarry from the 20’s. It was a perfect playground for myself, Larry Massey, Shawn Cornett and Curtis Bray fishing and shooting turtles with our 22’s down on Bird Creek. My grades in school were average. I remember Mrs. Grimes wrote in my 3rd grade report card, “Clay does not seem to want to learn”. But those years at Avant were a treasure of memories of riding my Shetland pony, Shorty, to school; getting sent to the Principal’s office to get a talking to from Mr. Needham; going to the annual carnival and listening to Pastor Junior Anthony call out the Bingo and spending all summer at camp when hundreds of kids came to my house to hear my mom and dad teach about how to be a disciple of Jesus.
After graduating 8th grade from Avant, I went to Skiatook High School. I was in the Student Council, on the Honor Roll, and was the Senior Class President. I also had some success in sports lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track. I graduated in 1982 and headed for Oklahoma University where I majored in Education, joined a fraternity and actually got to play football for Barry Switzer and go to the Fiesta Bowl. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Education, I got my first teaching position at Tulsa Memorial High School teaching Biology and coaching Track and Football. Our track team was made up of 5 girls and 2 guys and they never won a medal. The football team was the same, going 0-10 the year I was an Assistant Coach.
After a couple of years at Memorial, I moved to Kansas City and took a job teaching Science and coaching track at Hickman Mills High School. While there, I became the Science Department Chair and I was awarded the Teacher of the Year in our district and the Missouri State Track Coach of the Year for three consecutive years in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
While in Kansas City, I met my wife, Lisa. She owned a ballet studio and one of her students, who happened to be one of my students in school, introduced us at church on a wonderful Sunday morning. We were married in 1998 at the Loose Park Rose Garden right next to the Kansas City Plaza. My dad performed the ceremony. We have two daughters, Maddy and Clare.
In 2002, I felt a strong urge to pack up the family and return to Oklahoma. Shepherd’s Fold Ranch was in the midst of a transition in leadership and I felt the Lord inviting me to return home and run the family ministry. After spending 20 years away living in Boston, Tulsa and Kansas City, I was returning to my home in Avant, Oklahoma. While living at the Ranch, I spent time on the Avant School Board, the Skiatook Chamber Board and the Greencountry Ministers Alliance. Lisa and I started a Leadership Training School called The Furnace while we were there with the purpose of training college students how to rightly think about God and how to mature in their faith. A big part of the training was mentoring young kids. In 2012, I was honored with the Skiatook Chamber Citizen of the Year Award for the after school programs that we had designed and ran out at Shepherd’s Fold Ranch.
Lisa and I ran the ranch for 10 years until 2012, when we turned the reins over to someone else, moved to Skiatook and I started my first business, The Leadership Initiative. Leading through transition had seemed to follow me throughout my life so my business consulting company was set up to help small businesses owners lead their companies through the transitions accompanied with growth. Our team, located in Tulsa, currently coaches almost 200 businesses with a combined annual revenue of over $350M.
Teaching, coaching, mentoring, leading, training and inspiring have always been in my life going all the way back to the first public teaching I did at the age of 12 to a group of campers at Shepherd’s Fold. This is what I feel I have been created to do and when I do it, God seems to show up. It happened as a kid when I was at camp. It happened when I was a school teacher and coach. It happened when we started The Furnace at Shepherd’s Fold and it happens every day now as I coach business owners. My goal is to set people free
While living in Avant and running Shepherd’s Fold, I wanted to be the Mayor, but we didn’t live in the city limits so I wasn’t eligible. When we moved back to Skiatook, again, I wanted to be on the City Council and even be Mayor, but, again, we didn’t live in the city limits so I wasn’t eligible. Over this past year of 2020, I got a big dose of the reality of how important it is to be involved in the leadership of the city, county and state that you live in. Like many others in 2020, I watched things happen in our country and in our state that seemed so un-American. Actions that were being taken that were directly against our Constitution and so far away from the biblical values our country was founded on.
This is why I decided to run for this office. I was tired of my voice not being heard and I know that I share these feelings with many other people here in Oklahoma. “Where is our voice?” It’s important for you to know where I stand on issues impacting our daily lives and what my worldview is. If the words that I have written here strike a chord within you, then I just may be able to be your representative!