As Lead of the inTulsa Visa Network, Stan helps companies bring great international talent to Tulsa.
As Lead of the inTulsa Visa Network, Stan Khrapak helps companies bring great international talent to Tulsa.
Where did you start your career?
I got my B.S. in education, with a minor in business, and my Master’s in higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma. I met my now-wife in graduate school, and we moved to Colorado, where I worked for Colorado State University as an engagement operations manager. While I loved higher education, my wife was feeling a bit homesick for Tulsa. I was fortunate to become a member of the inaugural cohort of Tulsa Remote, and I brought my remote job with me so we could move back here.
Once in Tulsa, I became the operations manager for the Holbertson School, which teaches software engineering. And then, through my local network, I was able to connect with inTulsa and pitch my idea for the inTulsa Visa Network.
What inspired the inTulsa Visa Network, and how did it get launched?
I’m originally from Ukraine, and when the war broke out there, I was living here and I felt disconnected and unable to help. I had family who were still there and impacted by the war.
At the same time, a lot of companies were starting up in Tulsa and moving to Tulsa, and there just wasn’t enough local, highly skilled talent to fill those critical skills gaps. Combine that with some of the global geopolitical issues that are happening, and there are a lot of highly skilled workers who are now displaced.
The inTulsa Visa Network originated from an economic development perspective as well as a lens of humanitarian support. This idea gave me a tangible way to help people, not just Ukranians but other people too, who are in similar situations and who just want to live a good life. So, I pitched the idea, and now we have a program that helps relocate international talent to Tulsa.
Highlight a bit about the program and what it does.
The program launched in 2022, and there are four components to it. We have a partnership with an immigration law firm, and we help put together the legal framework for foreign nationals to come to Tulsa. Once they’re here, we help them with their on-the-ground needs, such as housing, transportation, and legal support. We help them with their flight to Tulsa and help them land in a suitable job, ideally with a local employer right within Tulsa. To facilitate that, we have relationships with Tulsa-based companies who are willing to diversify their workforce and sponsor people.
What’s your role at inTulsa like?
As lead of the inTulsa Visa Network, I manage the life cycle of the candidate when they're coming to Tulsa. The goal is to help people who have already made a choice to come to the U.S., they’ve already decided to move here. We’re just giving them a soft landing option in Tulsa, so they can choose to start a new chapter of life here and jumpstart their new career.
We have six program members here with their immediate families right now, a total of twelve people if we count spouses and children. Three of the six have already landed really great jobs. The program is working, and we’re able to work with a variety of other countries and those with specialty visas too, like H-1B visas.
What gets you excited to go to work in the morning?
My work is meaningful for me because it gives me a chance to give back, and it really helps me change people’s lives in a meaningful way. I take my work very seriously, and it means a lot to know that people can go from a very unfavorable situation to being in a safe and thriving economic community. We can welcome people to Tulsa and imbue the workforce with really strong talent.
And the program is really unique. There are not a lot of programs in the country who are doing quite what we’re doing. It’s inspirational to have such a unique program.
I genuinely love working with the inTulsa team. I have really great colleagues who support me. My success is a reflection of people who support me and work with me every day. I’m really excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to grow this program and see where it leads us.
Can you share a story of someone you’ve helped through the inTulsa Visa Network?
Yes! Our very first program member came to us from Odessa, Ukraine. She took a bus ride from Odessa to Moldova, then flew to Istanbul, then to Chicago, then to Tulsa. She started working in December 2022 and is already on her feet and getting acclimated to living here. Helping someone navigate those turbulent channels and then seeing them thrive and prosper within just a few months is just a heart-warming feeling.
What value do Visa Network members provide to the city?
These individuals are going to be active in our community. From a long-term view, there are all the obvious economic benefits of filling hard-to-place job roles. The long-term snowball effect of having highly skilled workers is clear. But also, these people will be giving back to the community, enrolling their kids in school, volunteering — all of these things we'll see over the next several years really impact Tulsa and bring a more vibrant, eclectic mix of people to Tulsa.
What are the most critical elements to consider when you're partnering talent with businesses through the inTulsa Visa Network?
First, our Visa Network members can certainly find a local employer through the local partnerships we have. This means knowing the companies in Tulsa that are willing to bring an international perspective into their teams, so our relationships with local businesses and leaders are critical.
We also want to make sure that the candidate is a good fit for the company, and that the company is a good fit for them. But it’s important to note that these candidates can also work remotely from Tulsa for remote employers. Making that perfect “glass slipper” connection for them to find the right job is key.
There is a lot of acclimation that happens too. One of our prerequisites for our program is that candidates have to speak English. But their experience is still very different from what it’s like in the U.S., so we also provide coaching on how to approach an American job interview. It is challenging, but employers thus far have been very pleased with the types of candidates we’re bringing to them.
What do you love about Tulsa?
Tulsa has allowed me to put down roots for the first time since leaving graduate school. It’s a place where you can make a big impact. I was able to purchase my first home in Tulsa. I make great connections and the networking opportunities are limitless.
There’s some incredible nature in and around Tulsa. I love exploring, backpacking, hiking and camping, all within 2-3 hours of the city. Lake Keystone is one of my favorite places to go.
I’ve been able to get involved with the local community here. I serve on the board of directors at Under the Canopy, an after-school program that promotes nature exploration and outdoor learning for kids. And I serve as chair of the community relations committee (and a board member) of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. Being able to connect to my Jewish identity here has been really meaningful to me. I really feel really comfortable doing that in Tulsa.
Plus, Tulsa has really great music and great food. I’m never bored. There’s plenty to do and see. Those factors make Tulsa a great place to live.
What books, music, podcasts or other resources are you enjoying right now?
I’ve recently contributed an article to Interfaith America magazine, which brings people together from all different perspectives to learn about what we have in common rather than what divides us. So I recommend checking out Interfaith America.