Commission selects director to lead disability agency
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Commission for Rehabilitation Services appointed Melinda Fruendt as executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services on Monday (November 5).
Fruendt, who was briefly interim director, will lead more than 1,000 state employees who served 97,864 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2017.
In a message to DRS staff, Commission Chair Emily Cheng wrote, “The Commission is confident that Melinda's work ethic, compassion and ability to inspire teamwork will lead DRS into the future and ensure that our agency and our stakeholders continue on a path to success.”
Fruendt was previously DRS chief of staff for DRS’ seven divisions with 25 statewide programs focused on employment, education, independence and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
“I am fortunate to have worked with the DRS commissioners and community and advocacy partners for a long time to help Oklahomans with disabilities achieve their career goals, independence and economic self-sufficiency,” Fruendt said. “Working together to achieve full accessibility and inclusion in society is a way of life for us.”
Her past positions include executive-level project coordinator for DRS and program manager of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, a DRS partner.
Fruendt is a member of the current class of the Center for Advancement of Leadership Skills of the Southern Legislative Conference.
She earned the Workforce Champion award in 2016 from the Oklahoma Association of Workforce Development Boards and the Oklahoma Workforce Association.
Fruendt grew up the youngest of six children on a family farm in Chouteau. The daughter of Aletha and the late John Courtney, she was active in 4-H, FFA, sports and dance.
She earned master’s of science and bachelor’s of science degrees from Oklahoma State University.
Fruendt and her husband Paul farm and ranch in Guthrie where they have a cow-calf and stocker operation, as well as diversified crops production.
For more information about services offered by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, phone (800) 845-8476 or visit www.okdrs.gov .