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TSET Board of Directors Announces the Hiring of John Woods as Executive Director

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Board of Directors on Thursday announced that John Woods has accepted the board’s offer of employment for a permanent executive director position.

The board unanimously agreed to extend the offer to Woods at their quarterly board meeting on Thursday. Woods has been hired to lead TSET following the retirement of the current executive director Tracey Strader later this year. Woods, of Norman, has extensive experience in public affairs, policy and business.

Most recently, Woods has served as the president and chief executive officer of the Norman Chamber of Commerce. He served as the policy advisor to the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010, and worked as the district director for U.S. Congressman Tom Cole. 

Woods said he is excited to be a part of TSET’s efforts to improve the health of all Oklahomans.

“I am very humbled and honored to accept the position to lead TSET,” said Woods. “Personally, I have benefitted from the outreach efforts of TSET to help Oklahomans overcome their addiction to smoking. As a smoker for many years, I knew I needed to quit for my children. Once I reached the point where I felt I need to take action, I called TSET’s Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. The coaching I received from the Helpline enabled me to stop smoking and stay tobacco free. Based on my experience, I know what TSET does to help Oklahomans win the battle against smoking and obesity works and its importance cannot be overstated.”

There were 58 applicants for the TSET executive director position. The board evaluated and considered the qualifications of applicants based on alignment with the criteria outlined in the job description before deciding to extend an offer to Woods.

"I appreciate the thorough search process the Board conducted and the confidence they have exhibited in me to lead TSET.  Moving forward, I look forward to working with the board, Tracey and the staff to make sure the transition is smooth so we maintain continuity and momentum,” Woods said. “I know a transition presents a natural opportunity for us to constructively consider where we are and where we are heading in the interest of making sure we are operationally efficient and financially prudent with the funds to support the mission.  I am excited about the future to make a real difference for the betterment of our state and its people."

Jim Gebhart, chairman of the TSET Board of Directors and member of the executive director search committee, said the board was pleased with the quality and quantity of the applicants.

"John quickly caught our attention because his qualifications and experience aligned with the qualities and criteria outlined in the job description, which we used to guide the selection process,” Gebhart said.

"John already has an appreciation for the mission of TSET and its vital work. His enthusiasm and passion for tackling Oklahoma's health challenges were demonstrated in his interviews.  We were impressed with his desire to collaborate and his knowledge and commitment to TSET’s mission. Given his business experience effectively leading the Norman Chamber of Commerce and his respected work in the public affairs arena, John is the right person to lead TSET on a permanent basis. He will build on the achievements attained under the leadership of Tracey while adding his perspective and ideas to advance the organization in the years ahead.”

Woods expects to start work at TSET by the end of the month. Strader’s last day in the office will be Jan. 6.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                
Julie Bisbee, [email protected]
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693


The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust
The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.