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Cherokee business owner named 'Woman of the Year'

OKLAHOMA CITY - Robin Flint Ballenger, owner and chairman of Flintco Companies Inc., has been named ''Woman of the Year'' for her business leadership and community involvement. She beat out 50 finalists for the coveted title.

The award, conferred annually for the past 27 years in recognition of Oklahoma's most outstanding businesswomen, is sponsored by Oklahoma City's Journal Record, a source for business news in Oklahoma since 1903.

An awards dinner was held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City where the honor was bestowed before an audience of some 800-plus people. In addition to the award, Ballenger, along with the other 49 nominees, will be featured in the Journal Records' upcoming publication, ''50 Making a Difference.''

Ballenger holds degrees in philosophy and gerontology, and says she took classes in construction technique to prepare to run the construction services business her family has owned since 1919. Today, Flintco is the largest American Indian-owned construction company, and one of the largest commercial contractors in the nation.

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''My grandfather taught me to hire people of character and to treat each employee as an equal,'' Ballenger told the Journal Record. ''I have definitely learned to be a woman in a man's world, but I believe before this century reaches the halfway mark, we will see women take a major place in the construction industry.''

''Our company has enjoyed tremendous success,'' she said, ''and I feel it's important to give back to our community. Supporting education and employment opportunities for Indians is a good way to do that.'' A Cherokee Nation tribal member, Ballenger was also the recipient of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's 2006 American Indian Business Owner of the Year Award.

She is an active supporter of the American Indian College Fund, the National Indian Child Advocacy Council and the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, and sits on the board of the Resource Council for Native Economic Development. In addition to her work with the Native community, she is a board member of Tulsa's Philbrook Museum and Library Trust and contributes to other service organizations.