BancFirst Regional Executive Karen James, of Seminole, has been selected as one of “50 Making a Difference” in the Journal Record’s 2015 Woman of the Year recognition program. She will also be named to the “Circle of Excellence” as she receives this honor for the third time.

James will be honored at an awards gala to be held at the National Cowboy and Western heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on October 1. The event will be the 35th annual award presentation ceremony which recognizes outstanding women who have made a difference in Oklahoma through their commitment to business, community and quality of life.

James joined the BancFirst group of banks in 1976. She was a loan officer for BancFirst in Shawnee before being named president of BancFirst Seminole/Konawa. She was promoted to her current position of regional executive of BancFirst’s South Central Region in 1999. She oversees 14 BancFirst markets with assets totaling $850 million.

A graduate of Prague High School, she attended then Seminole Junior College and has been inducted into the College’s Alumni Hall of Fame. She received a bachelor’s degree in business from East Central University and was named “General Business Student of the Year” in 1993. She received a master’s of business administration from Oklahoma City University. She pursued additional professional training from the Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia, Post Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin and Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. She also has received certificates from the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s Commercial Lending School, American Bankers Association’s Graduate School of Bank Investments at the University of Oklahoma and the National School of Bank Investments at the University of Illinois.

James has been active in community and civic affairs in several towns as well as in state organizations. She was named Seminole’s “Citizen of the Year” for 1998 by the Seminole Chamber of Commerce.

James is a past Chair of the Seminole State College Educational Foundation, a founding member of the Seminole Economic Development Council and a past President of the Seminole Industrial Foundation. She currently serves as Chair of the Seminole State College Board of Regents.

She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma – Class VII – and is a past member of the Leadership Oklahoma Governing Board.

James has served as board member for Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. (REI) from 2003 to 2014, and was Chair of the Board from 2011 to 2013. She is a past President of the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum Governing Board.

James is a member of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, the United Way of Central Oklahoma and the Board of Directors for Youth & Family Services of Shawnee.

She is married to Mike Wheeler. They make their home in the community of Little, north of Seminole.