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Tom Friedemann, the son of Adolph and Florence Friedemann, was raised on the family farm southeast of Stillwater in Payne County.

He began his 49-year career in CareerTech education in 1970 as a vocational distributive education (marketing education) teacher at Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma City. His DECA chapter there received numerous state and national awards, including Oklahoma DECA Chapter of the Year in 1973 and 1974, placing sixth both years for the national award.

In 1974 he joined the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education as a curriculum specialist before being promoted to assistant state supervisor for distributive education and state DECA adviser. In 1978, he left the state agency to join the administrative team at Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton where he was soon promoted to assistant superintendent.

In 1981, he rejoined the state agency as assistant state coordinator for technology centers; he later was promoted to assistant state director. During his stint at the state agency, he was responsible for the establishment of 10 new technology centers in Ada, Okmulgee, Wetumka, Omega, Altus, Stigler, Tahlequah, Sayre, Frederick and Kansas, Oklahoma.

Friedemann has served as president of the National Council of Local Administrators, the Oklahoma Council of Local Administrators, the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation, the Administration Division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Tech Center Superintendents’ Association and as chairman of the board for the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma, Leadership Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Educators’ Leadership Academy and Duke University’s Executive Education for Government Officials Academy.

Friedemann holds a master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Oklahoma State University, where his dissertation on correctional education was recognized by the graduate college for research excellence and used as justification for expanding Oklahoma’s system of inmate training centers.

While Friedemann was at Oklahoma CareerTech, Gov. George Nigh appointed him to the Governor’s Committee On Jobs For Veterans. In 1991 he received the President’s Award from the Oklahoma Association of Minorities in Career and Technology Education for his efforts in advancing opportunities for minorities in CareerTech education.

Friedemann has written many articles on CareerTech education that have been featured in state, national and international publications, and he is a sought-after speaker on CareerTech education. He has testified before Congress twice about the benefits of CareerTech education on workforce development.

He led the effort and helped write state legislation giving Oklahoma technology centers the opportunity to develop career-focused college prep academies. He also led the effort to change the rules of the State Board of Career and Technology Education to allow homeschooled students the opportunity to enroll in tech centers.

He received the Arch Alexander Award, presented by the University of Oklahoma, in 2009. In 2012 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council of Local Administrators, and in August 2013, he received the Francis Tuttle Career Excellence Award from the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. In 2015, he was named one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs by The Journal Record. In 2016, Gov. Mary Fallin appointed him to serve as Oklahoma’s representative to the 16-state Southern Regional Education Board and also to her Education Advisory Committee.

In 2019, Friedemann received the InnoVisionary Award from the Francis Tuttle Foundation for his visionary and innovative leadership and the Distinguished UCO Alumni Medallion from the University of Central Oklahoma Alumni Association and was inducted into the Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce Hall of Honor.

Friedemann and his wife, Cindy, have four adult children and eight grandchildren. After spending nearly a half-century in CareerTech education, he retired in 2019 so he could travel the globe in pursuit of fish yet to be caught on a fly rod and begin writing books based on fishing journals he had been keeping since he was 10 years old. He has written two books based on his fishing journals, “If It Were Easy, They’d Call It Catchin’” and “Bent Poles, Happy Souls.” He just completed a third book that was published in February 2024 focusing on the back stories that led to the development of Oklahoma’s nationally recognized CareerTech system. It is titled “The Stars Aligned And The Rest Is History.”

He was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2024.

Last Modified on Jul 18, 2024
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