Mack Haltom, Tulsa Day Center executive director, to lead A Way Home for Tulsa
When Mack Haltom first walked into the Tulsa Day Center 23 years ago, he had his eye on a night manager position that just opened.
He interviewed with longtime and legendary Day Center executive director, Sandra Lewis, who didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear.
“She said, ‘I don’t want you to be night manager,’” Haltom said. “But she asked if I could wait for a position to open in a few months and work the front desk in the meantime.”
Needing to support four daughters and a son, he took the job and started at the front desk. More than two decades and many promotions later, Mack Haltom is executive director of Tulsa Day Center and in January became the A Way Home for Tulsa (AWH4T) chair.
“I got there the first day and had no idea what to expect,” Haltom said. “Back then there was no security, it was just me; a little, old woman, and just a long line of people experiencing homelessness who needed to sign in.”
For him — and most who work in the homeless community — there’s a learning curve and a need to break biases. For Haltom, working the front desk was a critical first step to his success. Now, he makes every new Day Center employee work the front desk as part of their onboarding.
“I had to really learn compassion for people experiencing homelessness,” Haltom said. “It took me a few years to understand what people were going through.”
Leading AWH4T means setting the tone for more than 30 partner agencies who work to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring in Tulsa. He said he wants to lead with compassion and maintain the partnerships that AWH4T has built.
“My goal is to keep advocating and keep the unity of AWH4T,” Haltom said. “2023 is going to be an important year. In addition to AWH4T’s many efforts, Mayor G.T. Bynum’s challenge for Tulsa to invest in housing is exciting. AWH4T has to be involved in that throughout the year.
“I’m humbled and proud to serve as chairman this year. It’s really an honor. I hope I serve well.”