Meet Our Administration
Dustin Swayne currently serves as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Labor & Workforce Development where he oversees the department's day-to-day affairs.
Prior, Mr. Swayne was Administrator of the Workforce Services Division, working to merge all job services of the Employment Security and Workforce Development division. In this role he oversaw several federal programs invested in the future of our workforce, including the Workforce Investment and Wagner-Peyser Acts. Additionally, he has proven to be an innovator and change agent in developing solutions to improve processes for a more efficient and effective government. He co-developed the OneTouch Business management process, which streamlines processes, improving the customer's experience, while combining measured outcomes for continuous improvement.
Swayne received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Murray State University in May 2003. He received his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in May 2008 and was admitted to the Tennessee State Bar the following October.
Melinda Kelsey is the newly appointed Chief of Staff, coordinating high priority commitments and projects while simultaneously identifying issues that continue the department’s success.
Previously serving as the Administrator of Communications, Constituent, and Government Relations, Kelsey has a specialty for veteran relations. She chairs the “Paychecks for Patriots – Hiring Event,” which has been awarded 11 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Parthenon awards. Serving on the Nashville Serving Veterans Community Board, she was recently presented the “Volunteer Award” by the Tennessee Department of Military for her commitment to serving veterans in Tennessee.
Kelsey is a 2006 Tennessee Government Executive Institute graduate and serves as Vice Chair on their executive committee. She served on the Tennessee Government Leadership Council and is a graduate of the TBI (2011) and FBI (2014) Citizens' Academy. Kelsey is the host of “Inside Workforce Development,” a monthly television show on WTVF Newschannel5+.
Divisions Included under the Deputy Commissioner's Service
- Adult Education
Franklin Johnson, M.A.
Prior to a 2017 appointment, Franklin “Dee” Johnson served as Director of Program Outreach for the Adult Education division. Dee has proudly facilitated educational programming throughout the state, dating back to 1985. Teaching in both Sumner County and Metropolitan Nashville public schools and later administrating at his alma mater as Volunteer State Community College’s Adult Education Supervisor, Johnson has dedicated his career to Tennessee’s education.
Johnson’s professional associations include Sumner County Education Association, Tennessee Education Association (TEA), National Education Association (NEA), Tennessee Association for Adult and Community Education (TAACE), and Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE).
Dee lives in Hendersonville as a proud husband and father of two.
- Tennessee OSHA
Steve Hawkins, B.S.
Appointed in 2012, Hawkins manages the day-to-day operations of Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA) and serves as the liaison between the TOSHA program and federal OSHA monitors. Promoting workplace safety and health across Tennessee, he educates employer groups and labor organizations alike regarding safety and health regulations and better methods for controlling and eliminating workplace hazards. Hawkins has been with the Department of Labor & Workforce Development since 1986, beginning his career as an occupational safety specialist and subsequently serving as an area office safety supervisor, safety compliance manager with statewide responsibilities, and as the assistant administrator of the program.
Hawkins has also been appointed as the department liaison to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Emergency Response Commission. He's a member of the Tennessee Blasting Advisory Council, the Tennessee Associated Builders & Contractors Safety Advisory Committee, the Associated General Contractors Safety Committee, and the Tennessee Road Builders Association Safety Committee. He is the co-chair of the Tennessee Safety and Health Congress and a board member of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association.
Currently serving his fourth term on the Federal OSHA Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health, Hawkins is also a member of the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Advisory board at his alma mater, Tennessee Technological University.
- Bureau of Workers' Compensation
Abbie Hudgens, M.P.A.
Hudgens has served as Administrator for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation since September 2011, with a gubernatorial appointment in 2013. She served the city of Knoxville, and later Davidson County, as their Risk & Benefits Manager. Hudgens left government for a brief moment, providing consulting services for clients of her private practice, The Hudgens Group. She then spent six years, as the public sector representative on the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council.
Long active in professional organizations, she is the incoming president of the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators and the vice president of the International Association of Industrial Accidents Boards and Commissions.
- Workforce Services
Sterling van der Spuy, B.A.
With an appointment in 2013, Van der Spuy has serviced the State with over two decades of notable work, emphasizing the importance of connecting job seekers with employers. With the assistance of federally funded allocations, grants, and programming, he facilitates the division’s efforts to align and leverage resources through numerous partnerships. Van der Spuy holds the division’s initiatives to a standard of effective outreach, connectivity, and accountability. Current inter-agency initiatives include supporting the implementation of Pathways Tennessee, Labor and Education Alignment Programs (LEAP) under the Drive to 55 initiative, the Team Tennessee economic development model, Governor’s Workforce Subcabinet, Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, and the Governor’s Rural Task Force.
As news coverage has accurately reported Van der Spuy’s conviction for furthering education and opportunity, he paired his own certificate from Southern Africa Bible College with a Bachelor’s from Lipscomb University.
- Workplace Regulations and Compliance
Kim Jefferson, J.D.
Jefferson began public service in 2001 as the Bankruptcy Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. She continued her work within bankruptcy for the Office of the Tennessee Attorney General as an assistant attorney general and is currently listed as a Rule 31 Mediator by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She has been with the Department of Labor & Workforce Development since 2005. Her appointment followed in 2013 as the Administrator of the division.
Jefferson is a member of the Tennessee and Nashville Bar associations, Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women, and is a 2015 graduate of the Tennessee Government Executive Institute.
- Unemployment Insurance
Appointed in 2016, Rusty Felts is an 18-year veteran of the department’s Unemployment Insurance division. Starting as an interviewer in the division, Felts was later transferred to the claim center where he served in a multitude of roles: trainer, supervisor, manager, and most recently, Director of Claims Operations.
He graduated from LEAD TN, a DOHR-sponsored statewide leadership program, and currently serves as a board member for the Employment Security Credit Union.
Rusty, a fanatical outdoorsman, is happily married with three children.
- Fiscal and Administrative Services
Mickey Butler, M.P.A.
As a self-professed “airplanes, bars and guitars guy,” Butler serves as Administrator, managing the accounting, budgeting, procurement, and subgrantee contracting needs to the Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
Butler has lived most of his life in Nashville as a proud husband, father and grandfather and has professional ties to The Boeing Company, Gibson Guitar, and B.B. King’s Blues Club.
- Human Resources
Fred Gaston, M.A.
Gaston has served the Department of Labor & Workforce Development for three years and previously served as the director of human resources for both the City of La Vergne and SRS, Inc. He is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), International Personnel Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR), and Tennessee Personnel Management Association (TPMA-HR).
He currently serves on the State of Tennessee Learning and Development Council and is enrolled in the state of Tennessee’s Black Belt Leadership Program.
- Information Technology
Lisa Howard, B.A.
Appointed in 2014, Howard leads a team of 50 highly skilled IT professionals, providing the computer hardware, software, programming and maintenance to meet the business needs of the agency. She is an active member of two state associations: the Information Technology Executive Council as well as the Information Technology Professionals Associations .
Lisa has a distinguished 30-year career with the state of Tennessee. She previously served in leadership positions with the Comptroller of the Treasury, Finance and Administration, and Department of Education.