Jayme Place Simmons serves as special assistant to the governor for strategy and policy director and is responsible for leading the development of Governor Haslam’s policy agenda.
Simmons previously served as chief of staff for the Tennessee Department of Education under Commissioner Candice McQueen. In that position, she played a key role in crafting and implementing the Department of Education’s strategic plan focusing on early foundations, the bridge from high school to postsecondary and educator support. She also developed a process that allows the department to track the progress of the strategic plan, managed funds to the department from outside foundations and successfully launched the Read to be Ready statewide campaign to increase the percentage of third grade students reading on grade level.
Simmons joined state government in 2011 as an education policy analyst in the governor’s office, where she oversaw work on revamping Tennessee’s academic standards, coordinated the governor’s voucher task force, and assisted in launching the Drive to 55 workforce development initiative.
A former high school math teacher, Simmons earned a master’s of public policy in education from Vanderbilt University and bachelor’s degree in public policy from The College of William and Mary.
She has volunteered as a tnAchieves mentor for the past four years. She and her husband, Barry, live in Nashville and are members of Christ Presbyterian Church Intown.