Going the Extra Mile: Kyle Lankford

Local artist, attorney and graduate from OU Law, home-improvement guru, Thunder season tickets owner and communications coordinator and tech team leader for Outreach’s Central and South Central Comprehensive Centers (C3 and SC3) is logical, creative and a bit of a computer geek.

Although he turned down a full-ride art scholarship out of high school, earned his Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies at Oklahoma Christian University, focusing on business, math, history and political science, built computers as an OU law student and sold software to NASA as the general counsel and marketing director for Air Traffic Simulation Inc., a multimillion-dollar aviation software and safety company, today, Kyle Lankford is “just working on getting more video on the C3 and SC3 websites.”

Lankford is charged with everything from preparing reports required by the U.S. Department of Education to developing marketing materials and reviewing all the centers’ documents prior to public release, making sure all materials and presentations are well-written, professional and have a “harmonized voice.” One can find him either in Cross C, in Washington, DC or running around Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas or Missouri supporting those working to better education for American students.

C3 and SC3 are federally funded regional centers designed to assist state departments of education in building their ability to implement, support, scale-up, and sustain reform efforts to improve teaching and learning support to their respective districts and schools.

Although he has worked for Outreach for eight years as of December, there is no “typical day” in the life of Kyle Lankford, OKC Biz’s 2011 40 Under 40 and the Journal Record’s 2010 Achiever Under 40, because he works well outside of his job description.

“It’s kind of hard to describe what I do sometimes,” Lankford said. “I do what Belinda asks me to do, and she lets me do all sorts of interesting things.” Dr. Belinda Biscoe is associate vice president of University Outreach, Public and Community Services Division (PCS).

“I think I have a great talent for communicating with a wide variety of people,” he told the Journal Record. “I can see things from multiple perspectives, and I’m regularly called upon to play the role of diplomat or mediator to keep projects on track.”

“I like to build things. I like to create things. I like to see how systems work. I like to see how I can make them work better,” Lankford said.

He is most directly involved in online systems, and since his job requires him to travel so much, he is sensitive to the paperwork involved with travel. To help C3 and SC3staff members and consultants, Lankford and the C3/SC3 staff have cut the processing time for travel reimbursements in half.

“If you’re used to paperwork, filling out a state travel reimbursement form might be pretty easy, but to many folks, you can easily slip up when filling out the form.” So Lankford led a team in developing an online system whereby someone can just answer some questions and the system fills in all of the paperwork automatically.

“We are getting rid of as many old-fashioned paper processes as we can,” Lankford said.

Lankford is also proud of the work C3 has undertaken with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) on Kansas’ state education departments. They performed a full quality review and reduced the amount of time it takes for the department to process a license request from an average of two months to an average of about two weeks.

“This could save the education department $60,000 each year and will free up time for staff members so they can tackle other projects they have wanted to tackle in the last few years,” he said.

His favorite part of his job, he acknowledged, is the spontaneity of splitting his time among five departments (SC3, C3, Edutas, SRCL and PCS Development); his least favorite part is telling himself that “great is good enough” when he is on tight deadlines. However, this “streak of perfectionism” has come in handy in a job that requires him to improve processes and communicate effectively.

“There are so many great things that the programs in Outreach do. It’s like every day I’m running into someone who has made an impact,” Lankford said. “We have some pretty amazing people in Outreach.”

Well, Mr. Lankford, you’re pretty amazing, too. We thank you.