In 2010, Mary Fallin was elected Oklahoma’s first woman governor. She was re-elected in 2014 to her second term, carrying 71 out of 77 Oklahoma counties. In 2014, Governor Fallin launched and continues to support Oklahoma Works, an initiative to align education and workforce needs, especially in high demand occupations with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The governor holds an annual STEM Summit to bring together educators and the business community to discuss the alignment of education with needs of industry. Since the 2009-10 academic year, the number of STEM degrees awarded at colleges and universities has increased by more than 47 percent.
Governor Fallin is a strong advocate for Complete College America, the most comprehensive and ambitious higher education initiative ever undertaken by the state of Oklahoma. Its goal is to increase the number of postsecondary degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma by 67 percent by 2023. In the first four years of the initiative, the number of degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma has increased by 8,462, surpassing the state benchmark of 6,800.
Last year, Governor Fallin set a new goal to increase the number of Oklahomans engaged in quality work-based learning to 20,000 per year by 2020; currently, Oklahomans experience approximately 15,000 work-based learning opportunities each year. The governor also is asking lawmakers to support legislation that establishes a “registered internship” program in Oklahoma, which aims to create rigorous, high-quality, employer-driving work opportunities in the state.
She also championed legislation that requires each freshman to develop and maintain an Individual Career Academic Plan (ICAP) to graduate from high school. The ICAP program requires school districts to engage with the state Department of Education, State Regents for Higher Education, and the Department of Career and Technical Education as well as business and industry.
Prior to serving as governor, Fallin represented the people of Oklahoma in a number of state and federal positions. She served two terms as a state representative before becoming Oklahoma’s first Republican and first woman lieutenant governor in 1995. After serving as lieutenant governor for 12 years, Fallin served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. The governor is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. She is married to Wade Christensen, Oklahoma’s first First Gentleman. The couple has six children between them.