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Press Release

2023 Friday Medal Awarded to North Carolina Educational Leader Tom Williams

Headshot of Tom Williams

Raleigh, N.C. — The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation has selected Tom Williams, president of Strategic Educational Alliances, Inc., to receive its 2023 Friday Medal award. 

“Tom is an exemplary and inspirational leader in K-12 public education in this state,” said Krista Glazewski, executive director of the Friday Institute and associate dean for translational research in the NC State College of Education. “We are delighted to honor him with the Friday Medal in recognition of his passion, generosity and dedication to developing educational leadership and lifting up educators in North Carolina.” 

In recognition of the commitment of Bill and Ida Friday to educational excellence, the Friday Medal honors significant, distinguished and enduring contributions to education through advocating for innovation, advancing education and imparting inspiration. This award is given annually to selected individuals who embody the mission and spirit of the Friday Institute. 

“To say I was completely taken aback the day I learned of being honored as the 2023 Friday Medal awardee would be a gross understatement,” said Williams. “Having seen the Friday Institute evolve over the past two decades from a raw idea to making a real impact on the lives and practices of K-12 educators, from the classroom to the board room, has been inspiring. The Friday Institute’s mission to advance innovation in education through its collaborative approach with its divergent stakeholder groups is absolutely essential in moving NC forward. I am encouraged that its next two decades will build upon its past and current successes in paving the way forward into our second half of this century.” 

Prior to founding Strategic Educational Alliances, Inc. in 2008, Williams served in North Carolina public schools for 32 years as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent.  Most of his leadership career was spent between four tours in the Johnston and Granville County Schools. Tom served as the superintendent of Granville County Schools for seven years from 2000 until his retirement in 2007. Immediately prior to that, from 1994-2000, he served in the Office of the Governor for James B. Hunt, Jr. as the executive director to the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE). 

Since 2010, Williams has served the NC Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association (NCPAPA) as a founding developer and facilitator of its yearlong, blended learning, professional development series for principals, “Distinguished Leadership in Practice (DLP)” and its “Future Ready Leadership (FRL)” program for assistant principals. From 2010-2017, he was the director of leadership development outreach for East Carolina University’s Department of Educational Leadership (LEED). From 2014-2022, Williams served as a senior consultant to the Friday Institute with a focus on leadership for digital teaching and learning.  

Williams is the 18th recipient of the Friday Medal. The 2023 Friday Medal ceremony will be held at the Friday Institute Nov. 16, 2023, from 4-6 p.m. EST. Click here to learn more about the award and to view past recipients.

About the Friday Institute

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership by bringing together students, teachers, researchers, policymakers and educational professionals to foster collaborations that improve education for all learners. The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is part of NC State’s College of Education, one of the leading land-grant colleges of education in the nation.