Oklahoma Magazine recently named Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services Director of Clinical Operations, Lauren Bristow, as one of the top 40 young professionals in Oklahoma. The publication recognizes 40 individuals annually who “reach beyond the expected” and make a positive impact in their communities and state as a whole.

“I was so surprised and humbled that I would even be considered,” Bristow said.

Since joining CPN’s workforce fall 2019, she has served on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. She worked closely with fellow CPNHS leadership to organize COVID-19 testing and vaccination drives while also helping the Tribe’s clinics maintain operation.

“It’s certainly a change from day-to-day health care operations, which constantly evolves anyway,” Bristow said. “It has been a challenge, but I couldn’t ask for a better team. We have an absolutely wonderful team.”

When the COVID-19 vaccines first became available, finding opportunities to receive an inoculation proved difficult for some people. The chance her career provides to help the Nation serve its fellow citizens and the community at large is gratifying for the Pottawatomie County native.

“It’s been incredibly touching,” Bristow said. “We’ve had seniors who struggled to be able to find a vaccine just completely breakdown, and that’s heartbreaking to see that. … But, we’ve been able to help them.

“There have also been Tribal members who have came from Texas, Mississippi and Colorado who were very thankful to the Tribe to be able to have access.”

Bristow delivers key management and oversight that keeps CPN’s two clinics, imaging center, chiropractic care facility and more operating smoothly.

“It’s important to understand how each position impacts the bigger picture. It’s important to know what your front desk does, what your business office, your medical team does — all of those pieces are necessary to make a clinic run,” she explained.

Reducing Native Americans’ health disparities, supporting philanthropic efforts and ensuring her children carry on Potawatomi culture are some of Bristow’s main passions.

“I was brought up to honor my heritage and understand my heritage, and so it’s important to me that (my children) are able to see that. … I feel like I am honoring my family by doing that,” she said.

Bristow enjoys learning beadwork techniques with her daughter and hopes both her children continue the Toupin family’s tradition of reciprocity.

“I feel very honored to be able to give back to my Tribe,” she said. “My grandparents were very involved, and so I feel very honored to be able to impact my Tribal community and the community I grew up in, even Shawnee as a whole.”

View all of this year’s 40 under 40 nominees at cpn.news/u40, and learn more about CPNHS at cpn.news/clinics.