National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Names Oklahoma Native Natalie Shirley as President and CEO

Museum’s Board of Directors declares new President and CEO after year-long nationwide search.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Board of Directors recently appointed Natalie Shirley, current Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City President, as the organization’s new President and CEO, effective January 15, 2018.

“The Board of Directors is delighted that Natalie Shirley will lead the Museum into its next stage of growth for years to come,” said the Museum’s Chairman of the Board, Lynn Friess. “As a native Oklahoman with strong community ties and a storied history of prominent leadership roles, Natalie was a clear choice when selecting the most qualified candidate for the position.”

Since the Museum’s founding in 1955, Shirley will serve as the first woman in the role. She will lead more than 125 staff and 200 volunteers to continue preserving and interpreting the evolving history and cultures of the American West for the education and enrichment of the Museum’s diverse audiences.

“The opportunity to serve as President and CEO of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is one that truly embodies everything I stand for,” Shirley said. “For me, this role is about engaging our community and sharing the story and values of the American West with the world. The Museum is a place for all generations to learn, explore, and gain a deeper understanding of our Western heritage. It is my honor to build upon the Museum’s established legacy.”

Shirley’s prior experience includes concurrently serving as the OSU – OKC President and as the Oklahoma Secretary of Education and Workforce Development. From 2007 – 2011, Shirley served in Gov. Brad Henry’s Cabinet as Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism where she was the liaison between the Governor, five major state agencies, and more than 30 small agencies, authorities, and institutions. During this time, she also served as the Executive Director of the Department of Commerce – the state’s leading economic development agency.

In addition to her new role at the Museum, Shirley serves on the United Way board as well as several business boards including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Executive Committee, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, State Chamber of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma State Fair board. She also serves on the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum Board of Trustees. Shirley graduated from Oklahoma State University and earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. She has six children and is a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located only six miles northeast of downtown Oklahoma City in the Adventure District at the junction of Interstates 44 and 35, the state’s exciting Adventure Road corridor. The Museum offers annual memberships beginning at just $40. For more information, visit For high-resolution images related to this release, click here.