Tennessee Funding Review Subcommittee Members Announced Representing Higher Ed, Business, & Education Foundations & Advocacy Groups

Friday, October 22, 2021 | 03:29pm


Higher Ed, Business, & Advocacy Communities in Discussions

on Student-Based Funding Strategy

Nashville, TN - In the next phase of announcements on Tennessee’s review of a student-based public education funding strategy, today the Tennessee Department of Education announced the members of the Higher Education and Post-Secondary Readiness Subcommittee, the Post-Secondary Readiness and the Business Community Subcommittee, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry Subcommittee, the Education Foundations Subcommittee, and the Regional Collectives and Advocacy Subcommittee.

On Friday, October 8, Governor Lee called for a full review of the state’s funding formula for public education to focus on a student investment strategy that emphasizes all students rather than systems, empowers parents to engage in their child’s education and outcomes, ensures all students are prepared for postsecondary success, and reflects Tennesseans’ values. In total, eighteen subcommittees will convene twice per month to hold conversations on how to create a student-focused investment strategy from the lens of their subcommittee’s respective stakeholder group.

“Bringing voices from our business and industry, chambers of commerce, and education foundations and advocacy communities is essential to guide these discussions on our public education funding strategy rooted in preparing our students for postsecondary success and entering the workforce upon graduation,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Tennessee has a rich landscape of businesses and industries and it is imperative that we allocate resources to support and prepare our students for success in the jobs of the future.” 

The 58 members of the funding review subcommittees with representatives from higher education, business and industry, and education advocacy and foundations communities are:

  • Higher Education and Post-Secondary Readiness Subcommittee
    • Chair: Dr. Youlanda Jones, President, Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology- Covington, Ripley, and Newbern
    • Russ Deaton, Executive Vice Chancellor for Policy and Strategy, Tennessee Board of Regents
    • Emily House, Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
    • David Mansouri, President and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
    • Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director, tnAchieves
    • Jeff McCord, Commissioner, Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development
    • Dr. Claude Pressnell, President, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association
    • Dr. Logan Hampton, President, Lane College
    • Lauren Baker, Director of Legislation and Public Policy, Tennessee School Counselor Association
    • Joey Hensley, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Tandy Darby, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Gordon Ferguson, Member, State Board of Education 
  • Post-Secondary Readiness and the Business Community Subcommittee
    • Chair: Randy Boyd, President, University of Tennessee System
    • Dr. Anita Ricker, Assistant Dean of Workforce Training, Walter State Community College 
    • Christine Richards, Executive Vice President and General Counsel (retired), FedEx
    • Nicole Barranco, Senior Director of State Government Relations, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
    • Lisa Smithgall, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive, Ballad Health
    • Andy Davis, Vice President and Business Manager, Turner Construction 
    • Lee Barfield, Board Member, American Federation for Children
    • Roy Vaughn, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
    • Dr. Tracy Hall, President, Southwest Tennessee Community College
    • Jordan Mellenhour, Member, State Board of Education 
    • Mike Bell, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Ryan Williams, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Chambers of Commerce and Industry Subcommittee
    • Chair: Dr. Jared Bigham, Senior Advisor on Workforce & Rural Initiatives, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry
    • Lora Barnett, Executive Director Government Relations and Workforce Development, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce
    • Ralph Schulz, President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Vicki Bunch, Vice President of Talent Development, Jackson Chamber of Commerce
    • Ted Townsend, Chief Economic Development Officer, Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce
    • Hope McDow, Workforce Development Coordinator, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce
    • Brenda McCroskey, CEO, Sevierville Chamber of Commerce
    • Patrick J. Sheehy, President, Tennessee Business Roundtable
    • Bryan Daniels, President and CEO, Blount Partnership
    • Paul Bailey, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Clark Boyd, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Larry Jensen, Member, State Board of Education
  • Education Foundations Subcommittee
    • Chair: Dr. Dan Challener, President, Public Education Foundation
    • Chris Letsos, CEO, Knox Education Foundation 
    • Katie Cour, President and CEO, Nashville Public Education Foundation
    • Amanda Waddell, Executive Director, Greeneville City Public Education Foundation
    • Lisa Trail, Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives, Murfreesboro City Schools
    • Scott Bacon, President, The Education Foundation for Clinton City and Anderson County Schools
    • Lynn Voelz, Executive Director, Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation
    • Jessica Steed, Executive Director, Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation
    • Stan Harville, Executive Director, Hamblen County Foundation for Educational Excellence and Achievement
    • Richard Briggs, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly 
    • David Hawk, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Regional Collectives and Advocacy Subcommittee
    • Co-Chairs: Scott Niswonger, Chairman and Founder, Niswonger Foundation, and Dr. Nancy Dishner, President and CEO, Niswonger Foundation
    • Dale Lynch, Executive Director, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS)
    • JC Bowman, Executive Director and CEO, Professional Educators of Tennessee
    • Beth Brown, President, Tennessee Education Association
    • Ben Torres, Assistant Executive Director/General Counsel, Tennessee School Board Association
    • Jayme Simmons, Executive Director, Bill and Crissy Haslam Foundation
    • Sarah Morgan, President, Benwood Foundation
    • Tara Scarlett, President and CEO, Scarlett Family Foundation
    • Teresa Sloyan, President, Hyde Family Foundation
    • Ken Yager, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
    • Pat Marsh, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly

“In order to extend the state’s track record of improving student achievement, we must have a funding formula that is responsive to the individual needs of students,” said David Mansouri, President and CEO of SCORE. “We look forward to engaging in discussions about how to create a more student-centered, transparent system that ensures all students can have postsecondary and life success.”

“I am looking forward to being part of the discussion surrounding public school funding in Tennessee,” said Scott Bacon, President, Education Foundation for Clinton City & Anderson County Schools. “Local education foundations play a critical role in supplementing state and local revenues for their partner school districts. It is important that education foundation boards, staff, and donors have a voice in this conversation.”

"Connecting high paying jobs with what is taught in our schools and ensuring students have pathways to become workforce ready is of critical importance for Tennessee, and that starts with how our K-12 public education system is funded,” said Lee Barfield, Board Member, American Federation for Children. “I look forward to discussions with and learning from business leaders and stakeholders from across the state on this topic and how to best support our students through a new and modern financial plan.” 

The state’s engagement includes the central steering committee and 18 subcommittees, in addition to a committee of national experts, regional meetings of county commissioners and school board members, public engagement representatives, and an opportunity for public comment through a formal survey later in the fall. Each of the 18 subcommittees, composed of 8-10 members, will be led by a chair who is tasked with capturing ideas and feedback based in the unique perspective of the stakeholder group or respective topic area they serve. Each chair is a trusted advocate to responsibly collect and share feedback and suggestions for a student-based funding approach.

Over the next three months, the subcommittees will meet twice a month, either in person or virtually. The central steering committee will convene monthly and review finalized feedback provided by the subcommittees. All associated committee meeting materials, including recordings, transcripts, and minutes, will be posted here. Additional subcommittee members will be released in the coming days.

More than 1,000 Tennesseans have already submitted their interest in engaging in discussions and receiving updates related to a student-centered investment strategy. Members of the public are encouraged to continue to submit their interest via this form.

Visit this webpage for more information and learn how to get involved. All Tennesseans are also invited to submit comments and questions via email to tnedu.funding@tn.gov.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.