Meet our Team
The Division of Business Development is a team of professionals dedicated to helping you succeed in creating or expanding your agricultural, food, or forestry business. Assistant Commissioner Keith Harrison and his team of business consultants are prepared to help you in all phases of business development. Contact one of us today for more information on how we can help.
Keith began his career at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in the Marketing Division in 1984 as an Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and later served as the Director of Marketing. In 2001, Keith began working for Tennessee Farmers Cooperative in LaVergne where he served as Feed/Animal Health Marketing Manager and later as Communications and Marketing Manager. In 2017, Keith rejoined the staff at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as the Assistant Commissioner for the Consumer and Industry Services Division. In 2019, he was named Assistant Commissioner for the Business Development Division. In this position, Keith oversees the department’s ag industry development, marketing activities, Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program and the Agricultural Enterprise Fund.
A native of Watertown, Keith attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He obtained his Master of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University. Keith is a 2017 graduate of the Tennessee Government Executive Institute and manages a commercial beef cattle operation in Wilson County.
As Executive Assistant, Rachel oversees contracts, grants, budget, and human resources for the Business Development Division. Prior to joining the Business Development team, Rachel worked in the Consumer and Industry Services Division where she oversaw all contracts and procurement. Rachel served as Constituent Services Assistant for 7 years in the Tennessee State Senate, working for Lt. Governor John Wilder and Senate Republican Leader Ben Atchley. Rachel also has 5 years of non-profit management experience.
Rachel is a native of Georgia, having moved to Nashville to attend Lipscomb University. Rachel received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, with an emphasis in Public Administration.
Expertise: Pick TN Products
Debbie joined the staff at the Department of Agriculture in 2008 as Statewide Outreach Coordinator for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. In her current role, Debbie manages the Pick Tennessee Products Program, providing assistance to new and existing businesses as well as oversees the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Before joining the staff at the department, Debbie held both marketing and advertising positions in the private sector. She also served as Communications Coordinator for the Tennessee Pork Producers Association. Debbie grew up in Coffee County on her family’s purebred hog farm.
Expertise: Food Manufacturing
Mike has been with the Department of Agriculture since 2014, originally serving as Outreach Coordinator for the Consumer and Industry Services division. In his current role in Business Development, Mike is a resource for new and expanding food manufacturers, assisting them with developing marketing opportunities.
Prior to joining the department, Mike worked as a food marketing and product development consultant. With 36 years in the food industry, Mike holds a Bachelor of Science in Food Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Master of Science from Tennessee State University.
Expertise: International Marketing
Whitney joined the Department of Agriculture’s staff in 2016, working in the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. In her current role as International Trade Consultant, Whitney organizes Business Development’s trade focused initiatives as well as international trade shows and missions. Prior to joining the department, Whitney worked for the 2Seeds Network, a development non-profit based in Tanzania focused on human capital development.
A native of Newbern, Whitney attended Middle Tennessee State University where she received her Bachelor of Science in International Relations. While at MTSU, her studies focused on food security and international development.
Expertise: Agriculture Enterprise Fund
Will joined the Business Development team in 2019 and serves as a business consultant focused on agribusiness development. In his role, Will manages the Agricultural Enterprise Fund and the social media efforts of the division. He previously served as the department’s Public Information Officer, coordinating media relations, communications, and public outreach.
Prior to joining the Department of Agriculture’s staff, Will served as legislative assistant in the Tennessee General Assembly. He attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he obtained a degree in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication and served as the student body president. Will grew up in Portland on his family’s beef, poultry, and forage production farm.
Expertise: Wine, Spirits, and Hemp
Kyle joined the Business Development team in 2018. As a Business Consultant, he focuses on the wine, spirits, and hemp industries. Prior to joining the Department of Agriculture’s staff, Kyle worked as a recruitment coordinator at the University of Tennessee, Herbert College of Agriculture.
Kyle grew up in Lenoir City where he was active in 4-H. He attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and a Master of Business Administration.
Expertise: Forestry, Wood Products
Prior to joining the Business Development team, Neil was a State Program Forest Specialist in the department’s Division of Forestry. Neil has a history of forestry consulting in the private sector where he provided management strategies, promoted sustainable forestry initiatives, and managed more than 20,000 acres of timberland for investment firms and private landlords.
Neil is a native of West Virginia, having moved to Tennessee to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Forest Resource Management.
Expertise: Farm Direct
Grant joined the Business Development team in 2018 as an Ag Marketing Consultant. He works to foster growth in the Pick Tennessee Products program and in farmers markets. Grant also manages a cost share program that gives specialty crop growers the opportunity to become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certified.
While growing up in Wyoming, Grant was active in FFA. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications from the University of Wyoming. Grant moved to Nashville to intern at RFD-TV. Upon completion of his internship, Grant joined the staff at the Department of Agriculture.
Expertise: Livestock, Meat Processing
Wendy came on staff at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in 2007 to manage livestock programs for the Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program. While still assisting with outreach efforts, she took over Livestock Marketing functions in 2009 working directly with producers marketing livestock off farm through retail as well as overseeing the Market News & Livestock Grading programs. She continues her work with livestock marketing, but has added business development priorities involving meat processors and the expansion of harvest capacity/processing in Tennessee.
Wendy was raised on her family’s dairy and row crop operation in Weakley County. She now assists in managing her family’s registered cattle operation and feed store in Warren County. She attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where she received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Business Administration.
Kacey joined the Business Development team in 2019. As a Business Consultant, she focuses on expanding the Agritourism industry. Before becoming a Business Consultant, Kacey worked for UT/TSU Extension in Rutherford County with their 4-H Youth Development program and the Rutherford County Farmers Market.
Growing up in Southern Maryland, Kacey was raised on her family’s Agritourism farm. She moved to Tennessee to attend Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness as well as a Master of Education in Ag Educational Leadership. While at MTSU, Kacey chartered and served as the first president of the Agritourism Club. She also served as the Student Coordinator for the MTSU School of Agriculture’s two annual Agritourism events.