Title: Founder President: Historical Theater, Inc.; Edmond, Oklahoma; United States
Oklahoma Playwrights Association; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; United States
Founder/CEO Nationwide HealthSearch, Inc.; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; United States
Janis K. Montgomery-Contway, Founder-Director of Nationwide HealthSearch, Inc., Founder-Director of Oklahoma Historical Theater, Inc., and founder-Director of Oklahoma, Playwrights Association has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Business Owners for dedication, achievement, and leadership in business and theater.
Growing up on the self-sufficient family farm on her Cherokee Grandmother’s Indian allotment land, Janis became the first in her family to complete high school when she graduated from the very small Warner High School with her class of 18 students.
In eleventh grade, a dedicated Math teacher and coach filled in for the English teacher who left unexpectedly. After he submitted an essay by Ms. Montgomery-Contway to a national contest and it won, he discovered the English teacher had left without reserving a script for the annual school musical and he asked Janis to write something. Despite never having seen a musical, she wrote a musical comedy that was a hit with her friends. When Janis experienced the joy of seeing her work onstage, she knew writing would become a very important aspect of her life.
After graduating high school at age seventeen, Janis graduated from the Bacone Indian College with a degree in Registered Nursing at age nineteen while expecting her first child. At Bacone, she pursued a minor in Visual Arts and her arts professor, Dr. Dick West, displayed her sculpture and paintings in the annual Native Arts festival at the Smithsonian Institute and later sold her work to New York City arts dealers.
Upon receiving her nursing license Janis served as Emergency and Delivery Room nurse at Muskogee General Hospital. Later she used the writing skills developed in high school and the problem-solving skills acquired in her nursing degree to write and manage grant applications for developing a six county health program in Kansas. She also wrote a newsletter for physicians and illustrated a coloring book for introducing Native children to the health professions which was distributed by government programs nationwide and displayed in the Amerind Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Still, in her -twenties she accepted the position of Grants Analyst for the Office of Native American Programs in Washington, D.C. and became a representative to the World Health Organization. She also wrote responses to Presidential and Senatorial inquiries and developed first drafts for legislative proposals. When she responded to inquiries from Hollywood producers, three of her stories were telecast by the “Kojak,” “Baretta,” and “Rockford Files” television series.
To return to her home state, Janis accepted a position with the Oklahoma City Area office of the U.S. Public Health, Indian Health Service. In that position, she used her writing and performing skills to speak to medical educators and physicians and to developed brochures, magazine articles, and audio-video programs which became national models for recruiting health professionals to Indian Health Service.
Janis left Indian Health Service, to use her writing skills in developing scripts for producers of feature movies and to develop contract proposals for what became her own successful multi-million dollar military contracting firm, Nationwide HealthSearch, Inc. While developing her business, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
On April 19 while driving near the Red Cross building in Oklahoma City, she noticed smoke spiraling from the tragic 1995 bombing of the Murrah building. Responding to an urgent call for nurses, she became an honored “First Responder” to the tragic emergency. Like others frustrated by their inability to save the 168 men, women and children lost that day, she briefly suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, but quickly rapidly improved to comfort her family and others forever impacted by the incident.
While continuing to develop Nationwide HealthSearch, Inc. she followed her creative instincts to earn a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing for the Stage. Her first post-graduation production was a full-length comedy set in the Oklahoma oil bust of the eighties. It was performed throughout the southwest where the oilfield culture of boom and bust thrived. Her next production was a historical musical which resulted in commissions for historical musicals in other areas. Soon thereafter, she established Oklahoma Historical Theatre, Inc. to involve more writers, musicians, performers and audiences in the excitement of history onstage. Following each production she received commissions for more historical plays and musicals including seven children’s musicals performed by a church organization in the suburbs of Chicago.
Recognizing the need for encouragement of Oklahoma Playwrights, she formed Oklahoma Playwrights Association to encourage greater numbers of playwrights to enter the field and to promote the production of more original works by communities and theaters worldwide.
As a testament to her success in theater, Ms. Montgomery-Contway has received a myriad of awards for her songs, playwriting and community service from state and national organizations and she was nominated for Best Actress at an International Film Festival.
Ms. Montgomery-Contway attributes her success to God and believes the application of scientific problem-solving techniques studied during her nursing education and the writing skills developed in high school along with being enthusiastic about new and creative ideas are all important for success in any field. She appreciates the support and help of her husband, children, parents, employees and others.
The highlights of Ms. Montgomery-Contway’s career have included the success of her two children and the joy of seeing productions of her plays and musicals in theaters around the U.S. and in a few foreign countries.
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