The 1889 Institute is an initiative of the TEL Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 education and research organization. The 1889 Institute analyzes and develops state public policy for Oklahoma based on principles of limited and responsible government, free enterprise, and a robust civil society. We disseminate analysis and recommendations to policymakers and the general public. 

We research and develop policy recommendations in the areas of k-12 educationhigher educationhealthcare, welfare, economic libertycronyism, and state finance. Our approach to issues begins with the realization that the greatest successes for individuals, societies, and nations have occurred in an environment of limited (but necessary) government, free enterprise, and civility. 

The 1889 Institute does not engage in policy advocacy. Rather, it provides dispassionate policy expertise to policy makers and the general public. The Institute does not have members or engage in grassroots organizational activities.

      Staff     Outside Authors

Our Team

​Byron Schlomach



In addition to being Director at the 1889 Institute, Byron is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at Oklahoma State University. Doctor Schlomach has researched and written broadly in public policy in areas as diverse as economic development, transportation, public education, welfare, health care, government finance and transparency, regulation, and occupational licensing. He has been published in numerous newspapers in Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma as well as Business Week Online, National Review Online, and The Hill. Byron has made many media appearances on radio and TV during his 24-year career working in state public policy. More.  

Benjamin M. Lepak


Legal Fellow

Benjamin joined the 1889 Institute in October, 2018. He is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at Oklahoma State University. Benjamin has practiced in both the public and private sectors in Oklahoma and Texas, most recently serving as the Chief of the Civil Division in an Oklahoma district attorney’s office where he was responsible for providing advice and counsel to 24 elected officials across three counties. Prior to that, he was in private practice, first with a large law firm in Dallas, Texas and later with a firm that he co-founded in Norman, Oklahoma. More. 

Michael R. Davis


Research Fellow

Michael joined 1889 in November 2018. His research and policy interests lie in constitutional structure, occupational licensing, free speech, and private property rights. He has researched and assisted in strategy development in both state and federal constitutional law litigation against governmental overreach. Prior to joining 1889, Mike worked with the Nevada Policy Research Center and the Institute for Justice, assisting in case positioning, drafting appellate briefs, and trial preparation. More.

Vance H. Fried


Senior Fellow

Vance H. Fried is Director of the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise and Riata Professor of Entrepreneurship Emeritus at Oklahoma State University, an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and President of the TEL Foundation. His research focuses on education policy, public policy and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in education, and venture capital. He is the author of the book, Better/Cheaper College: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Rescuing Undergraduate Education, and related papers for the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation. More.

Outside Authors

Jonathan Butcher


Jonathan Butcher is Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Education Policy, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation. He previously served as Education Director for the Goldwater Institute. He was a member of the Arizona Department of Education’s Steering Committee for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the nation’s first education savings account program. Jonathan was the Director of Accountability for the South Carolina Public Charter School District. He studied education policy at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and worked with the School Choice Demonstration Project, which evaluated voucher programs in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisc. He holds a B.A. in English from JFurman University and an M.A. in economics from the University of Arkansas. Jonathan's 1889 publications

Baylee Butler


Baylee Butler is Free Enterprise Scholar Coordinator at Oklahoma State University and former Research Associate for the 1889 Institute. She has a B.A. in Psychology/Liberal Studies and an undergraduate Honors Degree and M.A. in Political Science, all at Oklahoma State University. Previously, she worked part-time for the Political Science department at OSU as both a Teaching and Research Assistant and also recently worked for the Payne County District Attorney's Office. In addition to being involved in the Free Enterprise Society at OSU, she is also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, and a past officer for the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature. Baylee's 1889 publications

Per Bylund


Per Bylund is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Records-Johnston Professor of Free Enterprise at Oklahoma State University. He is also an associate fellow of the Ratio Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, a research fellow at the McQuinn Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership, and an Associated Scholar atthe Mises Institute as well as senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institutet i Sverige. Per's research aims to explain the market process of wealth-creation and economic development with a focus on organizations, institutions, strategic management, and entrepreneurship. Originally from Sweden, Per lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his wife Susanne and their semi-spoiled Plott Hound, Georgia. Per's 1889 publications

Katherine A. Curry


Katherine A. Curry is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate College of Education at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She serves as Program Chair for the School Administration program in the School of Educational Studies. Her research focus includes educational leadership, school improvement/reform; parent/school/community collaboration, parent social networks, and culture/climate indicators in schools. Katherine also has education administrative experience as Headmaster, Middle School Principal, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction (PK-12). Katherine's 1889 publications

Jon Loffi


Jon Loffi is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education Aviation and Space program at Oklahoma State University. His research focus is in the areas of innovation in designs for sustainability in aviation security, a holistic approach to aviation security, introduction of Unmanned Aerial Systems into the National Airspace, and global stakeholder’s perspectives in aviation security. He is the faculty advisor for the Flying Aggies student organization. Jon has experience in security issues as a former local and state law enforcement officer and served as a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force post-September 11, 2001. Jon's 1889 publications

Sean Kinder


Sean Daniel Kinder has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Science. While in law school, he opted to become a teacher, so obtained an M.S. in Teaching, Learning and Leadership while gaining two years of teaching experience at a private school in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Sean taught 9th grade social studies, Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development classes in the Union Public School system. Currently, he works as a Graduate Research Assistant at Oklahoma State University while pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. His goal is to either work as university faculty or in public school administration while pursuing research in educational leadership in employment of the disabled in public schools. Sean's 1889 publications

Lou L. Sabina


Lou L. Sabina is an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University. His primary research focuses on PK-12 organizational issues in education including staffing, human resources development, succession planning for school administrators, and school finance issues. His recent work includes “Planning for Principal Succession: A Conceptual Framework for Research and Practice” (Journal of School Leadership, 2014) and “Assessing the Performance of a Cohort-Based Doctoral Program Overseas Using Both International and Domestic Practices” (submitted, 2015). Lou earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Lou's 1889 publications