2019 Fall Recipients
The Governor’s Excellence in Service Awards began in 2016 to recognize outstanding state employees who are at the forefront of improving the way Tennessee State Government delivers services. The employees selected by their departments’ leaders are helping provide Tennessee taxpayers with the highest quality service at the lowest possible cost. Read below to learn more about each recipient.
Animal Health Technician
Wes Montooth has been serving the Department of Agriculture as an Animal Health Technician for over twelve years. During this time, Wes has demonstrated superior skills in working with all species of livestock. In 2015, Wes was the first to volunteer to deploy to Minnesota during the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Wes’s unit concentrated on poultry surveillance and surpassed all other USDA teams in the field during this effort. Due to his leadership in Minnesota, Tennessee’s task force was commended for their outstanding performance. After returning home, Wes assisted in fine-tuning the state’s HPAI emergency response plan and proved to be an invaluable asset during an outbreak in 2017.
A resident of Overton County, Wes has been involved with animal agriculture his entire life. He is compassionate to animals and always provides excellent customer service to stakeholders. He is respected among his coworkers for his knowledge, hard work, and abilities. Wes is married to Holly and has two sons, Wyatt, age 16, and Waylon, age 14. He enjoys turkey hunting, farming, and spending time with family.
Alisha Singley began her career with the Department of Children's Services (DCS) in June of 2004. She was promoted to Team (Investigations) Coordinator in 2016. Alisha consistently goes above and beyond to help move the department forward and has been instrumental in the ongoing development of specialized teams addressing addiction. She utilizes her training and knowledge to bring awareness to Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigators so they can better serve families and children dealing with this disease. She travels across the state to assist with the Promising Practices in Work with Drug Exposed Children training, which targets both CPS/DCS case managers and community partners. She has also been involved with the development of the Safe Baby Court in Johnson County. Alisha was recently featured in the Department of Health's TN Faces of Opioids campaign where she bravely shared her personal story of her family's battle with addiction and how it impacts her work with the families CPS encounters. She also serves as the Investigations Coordinator in the Northeast Region, supervising seven teams of Child Abuse Investigators, as well as two teams that focus on families with Drug Exposed Children age 0-3 months.
Alisha earned her Master of Social Work with a concentration in addiction and recovery. She has worked in many treatment facilities and with many families and always interacts with community partners, peers, leadership, and families in a professional and respectful manner. Opioid and illegal drug usage has continued to increase in our state and Alisha is intricately involved in finding a solution.
Executive Director of Centralized Complaints and Customer Service Center
Commerce and Insurance
Kristen Aplin began her career with the State of Tennessee in 2007 at the Department of Probation and Parole. She transitioned to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, Consumer Affairs Division, in 2010. In 2016, she developed and implemented the Customer Service Center and Centralized Complaints division with senior leadership and has been serving as the Executive Director for those programs. Kristen has led the Customer Service Center team to meet exemplary goals, including significantly-reduced wait times, new web, chat, and text functions, and 96% customer satisfaction rates. The Centralized Complaints team is performing equally well, processing an average of 160 complaints a week in an average of .79 business days.
Kristen holds a Bachelor of Science from Troy University and has 60+ hours in Tennessee state leadership training, including the CAMP mentorship program and LEAD Tennessee Alliance 9. In March of 2018, Kristen was selected for the #servingTN campaign highlighting Tennesseans in State Government that are serving their fellow citizens. She remains a crucial member in supporting the Department's mission in protecting Tennesseans through balanced oversight and enhancing consumer advocacy, education, and public safety.
Alma Harris began her career in state service as a Correctional Officer with the Tennessee Department of Correction in May 1994. Throughout her tenure with the department, she has served in the role of Correctional Corporal and currently serves as Correctional Chaplain at the Women’s Therapeutic Residential Treatment Center. Alma works effortlessly to ensure religious services are available throughout the facility so that individuals under TDOC custody and supervision receive the services they need. She works collaboratively with religious organizations to assist the department with the rehabilitation of individuals reentering the community. Alma embodies the core values of the agency daily by demonstrating professionalism and integrity through establishing effective relationships with both internal and external customers. Additionally, she promotes the mission of the agency through her unwavering commitment to rehabilitation and public safety.
Alma holds a Bachelor of Arts in applied technology from Christian Brothers University and a master’s in divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary. Alma is passionate about delivering excellence in her position and her innovation and commitment has helped create a culture in the department that supports customer’s needs.
Director of Business Development
Economic and Community Development
Chassen Haynes has served as Director of Business Development with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD) since the beginning of 2014. Chassen came to TNECD from the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce where he was the Director of Existing Industry & Special Projects. While at the State of Tennessee, Chassen has focused on recruitment efforts in Automotive and Aerospace & Defense sectors, landing nearly 40 projects which represent more than 13,000 new jobs for Tennesseans and over $2.25B in capital investment in Tennessee. Notable clients throughout his tenure have included Mitsubishi Motors, Amazon, Volkswagen, Under Armour, 3M, Develey, Hörmann, and others.
Chassen earned both a BBA and an MBA from Middle Tennessee State University. While at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, Chassen worked with area partners to recruit and retain businesses for the region and promote Rutherford County as a destination for corporate headquarters, back office/shared services, advanced manufacturing, logistics, and aviation.
Assistant General Counsel
Rachel Suppé serves as assistant general counsel for civil rights and special populations at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and previously served as the department’s director of the office for civil rights. Rachel provides technical assistance and training to department staff, local education agencies, and other stakeholders on compliance with state and federal civil rights and special education law, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Her deep expertise, commitment, and leadership have yielded an increase in the rigor of the department’s special education complaint process and effective collaboration among the special populations, office of general counsel, and federal programs and oversight teams. Rachel’s commitment to ensuring equal education opportunities to all Tennessee students is unwavering.
Prior to TDOE, Rachel served as a policy analyst at the Tennessee Bureau of TennCare. Rachel received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Skidmore College and a JD from American University, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law.
Middle Tennessee Stewardship Ecologist
Environment and Conservation
Sam King began his career with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in 2011 and currently serves as the Middle Tennessee Stewardship Ecologist. In this role, Sam is responsible for the management of 30 natural areas of land owned by the state. Sam has an affinity and aptitude for effective natural resource management. Recently, without any prompting, Sam applied for, was awarded, and managed oversight of an AmeriCorps grant that included a 10 person crew assigned to work on these lands at no cost to the state. Sam’s efforts with the AmeriCorps team resulted in more than 20 acres of invasive or unwanted vegetation removed from state natural areas without any use of heavy equipment. He oversaw initial training, daily scheduling, and regular management of this team. The work of this AmeriCorps crew was comparable to what division staff might complete over the course of an entire year. His efforts in this capacity truly increased operational effectiveness of the division and led to better environmental outcomes and operational efficiency of managing these lands going forward.
Sam’s professional attitude, care, knowledge and outward affection for the lands he manages regularly builds relationships that result in conservation partners. Sam depends on data-driven decision making, and he is regularly consulted by professionals from other agencies on various management techniques. His commitment to excellence in land management has resulted in the Division of Natural Areas Fire Team greatly expanding its reach and becoming a preeminent resource on ecological burning that other agencies and private groups look to for guidance.
Sam is a native Tennessean. He is a graduate of David Lipscomb University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in biology/education. Sam lives in Nashville with his wife, Hannah, and son, Bennett.
Accounting Technician II
Finance and Administration
Lisa Patterson has been with the State of Tennessee for almost eight years and currently serves as an Accounting Technician II for the Department of Finance and Administration. In this role, Lisa is responsible for processing payments on behalf of 15 other agencies. She consistently ensures that the invoices being paid are processed both timely and accurately and are compliant with state policy. She regularly goes above and beyond in serving her customers by providing prompt responses to inquiries made as well as researching solutions and providing all information in a professional manner.
Bank Regional Supervisor
John Tubb has been with the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions (TDFI) for seven years and currently serves as a Bank Regional Supervisor for the Middle Tennessee Bank Division. This role is a challenging one; as a Bank Regional Supervisor, John is also the Examiner-in-Charge of bank examinations, a supervisor to a team of examiners, and has a wide variety of administrative responsibilities, but John always makes all of his customers’ needs (both internal and external) the primary focus in his daily responsibilities. He provides supervisory oversight on examinations and provides training and mentoring to his reports, while ensuring to emphasize the importance of a fair and balanced approach when examining regulated institutions. John also participates in TDFI training as a facilitator for the internal examiner training program. John’s servant heart and commitment to his team has resulted in improved performance and renewed dedication to success.
John holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, with a concentration in financial institution management, and a Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in management, from Middle Tennessee State University. He is married to his wife, Jessi, and they have a daughter, Henley.
Management Consultant 2
Frances began her career with Tennessee State Government in September, 1976 as a data entry operator, and has worked in IT for both General Services and Finance and Administration. As a result of her 40+ years of information technology knowledge and expertise, Frances currently serves as a Management Consultant 2 in the Office of Administrative Services and is responsible for all DGS IT-related issues. Frances has consistently gone above and beyond her expected duties in the departments for which she has worked. She is tireless in her efforts to provide excellent customer service and has received untold numbers of compliments and accolades from both internal and external customers. Her interaction with customers has always been focused on customer service, customer satisfaction, and professionalism. Frances treats all of her customers with respect, makes them feel valued, and ensures their needs are not only met, but their expectations are exceeded by the prompt attention and the follow-up she provides to each.
Frances is married, has one son and two grandchildren. She is a devoted member of her church and is known for volunteering to serve her church family, her family and friends, and community in many different ways. Frances is also a licensed funeral home director apprentice. As with those in her professional life, those in her personal life know Frances to exhibit the upmost moral standards, that she is trustworthy, kind, caring, selfless, and willing to help anyone in need. Frances always has a smile and a positive attitude, and is a shining example of what customer service is all about.
Advanced Practice Nurse
Teresa Thayer has served the State of Tennessee for over 36 years and currently works as an advanced practice nurse for the Department of Health at the Blount County Health Department. In her years at the Health Department, she has cared for the patients out of love for her work and the desire to improve the quality of life for her patients. Teresa saw a need at the Blount County Health Department regarding patients with Hepatitis C who were typically uninsured and could not afford treatment. She worked with the Blount County Health Officer to develop a treatment plan for individuals with Hepatitis C who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks of the health care system. Since 2016, 207 patients have started on the medication with 166 completing the program. These individuals have a quality of life they may have never known had it not been for Teresa.
Teresa is an avid bicyclist, camper, and seamstress. Each year she donates one of her quilts to the BCS Program to be used as a fund raiser for Breast and Cervical Cancer. She also makes seasonal matching lab coats for the primary care staff. Teresa’s love of her job is evident not only to the patients she serves but also the staff she works with on a daily basis.
HR Program Manager
Amy Woodard has served at the State of Tennessee for more than 19 years. Following her first three years of service, Amy realized that helping others was her passion so she decided she wanted to specialize in Human Resources. Amy has served the Department of Human Resources for 16 years now; currently as a Program Manager. In this role, she supports internal and external Human Resource Professionals, striving every day to provide the best possible customer service for the State of Tennessee. Amy is committed to providing excellent customer service to her direct reports and all of the state employees they serve. Every interaction she has is a demonstration to the instrumental team of state employees who serve Tennessee each day.
Amy’s two greatest passions include work and family. She has been married for 15 years; she has four children ranging in age from 14 to 25 years old. She enjoys spending time with her family and children. Amy's lifetime goal is to leave a lasting legacy of outstanding work ethic and citizenship for her children.
Eligibility Counselor II/Client Representative
Wanda Nunly-Myers has been with the Department of Human Services for more than twenty years and currently serves as an Eligibility Counselor II/Client Representative. If there is a need in the community, Wanda finds a way to meet that need. This past summer, Wanda found out about a family that just had a child born with disabilities and no air conditioning at their house – with heat indexes over 100 degrees. She could not find adequate community support to quickly provide this family with an air conditioner, so Wanda purchased an air conditioner herself to provide for the family. She recognized this as an extreme situation that needed immediate attention. Wanda has also assisted customers in securing employment by preparing them for job applications and interviews.
Wanda has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Covenant College. She is a member of the Grundy County Health Council and lives in Monteagle with her husband and grandson.
Development Services Coordinator 2/Plans Review Coordinator
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Toni Johnson has worked for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities since 2015 and currently serves in the Person Centered Practice Unit as a Coordinator. Toni’s primary focus every day is making sure that her customers’ voices are heard. She is usually called in to address complex customer service issues and remains calm and understanding, listening to all parties involved and advocating for a solution that meets the needs of customers. Toni always puts the person first and she does not stop until reaching a resolution. Toni surpasses expectations when it comes to the people that the department supports. Her passion for the work is evident in everything that she does, and she is a true advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Toni is a Wilson County native, where she lives with her husband and son. She is a graduate of MTSU, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Toni is also a Certified Person Centered Thinking Trainer, Advocates in Motion mentor, and a Person Centered meeting facilitator.
Employment Program Specialist 4
Labor and Workforce Development
Alonzo Lewis has worked for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development since 2016 (technically since 2005, but he briefly left the state before coming back in 2016) and was recently promoted to Employment Program Specialist 4. In his current role, Alonzo is responsible for all nine mobile job centers across the state. He serves 27 counties; coordinating all events, facilitating job and resource fairs, providing outreach to rural areas and distressed counties, and networking with government officials and community leaders. Alonzo is passionate about serving and connecting individuals to the supportive services needed to be successful. He continuously collaborates with fellow team members, other agencies, and community partners to provide services where they are needed most. Alonzo consistently provides his time and energy to deliver high quality customer service to assure the needs of individuals and the communities are met.
Alonzo was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. He and his wife, Leslie “Brooke”, are proud parents of three children. He loves spending time with family and friends, music, playing golf, and traveling. He also became a Grammy nominee with the band Ramajay Intercoastal.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Mental Health Services
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Justine Bass has served as the Deputy Assistant Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) in the Division of Mental Health Services since 2015. In this role, she provides program oversight for the TDMHSAS Pre-Arrest Diversion Infrastructure Project (PADIP), which, since inception, has successfully diverted over seven thousand individuals living with behavioral health challenges from incarceration and resulted in an estimated savings to local criminal justice systems of $9.8 million. Additionally, Justine manages the Tennessee Move Initiative, transitioning dozens of Tennesseans from Tennessee Regional Mental Health Institutes to successful community living. She focuses on accuracy, quality, and excellence in all of her undertakings. She is outcome-oriented, and without fail, seeks to surpass the expectations brought to her office by both internal and external customers at all levels.
She previously served the State of Tennessee with the Office of Criminal Justice Programs in Finance and Administration where she managed grant administration, victim services, and criminal justice projects. Before joining state service, Justine oversaw clinical projects, crisis hotlines, volunteered at the Sexual Assault Center, and spent many years volunteering as a teacher and board member for Better Decisions, a program within the Tennessee Prison for Women.
Justine is a Nashville native and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising, with a minor in women’s studies, from Middle Tennessee State University. She is married and has two children.
Fire Safety Compliance Officer
Mark Haraway has been with the Tennessee Department of Military for two years and currently serves as the Fire Safety Compliance Officer at the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. In this role, Mark is responsible for maintaining the fire department’s firefighter occupational safety program. He also displays superior management skills. Recently he completed a 540-line-item database in record time, identifying 16 areas of non-compliance and mitigating 61 hazardous conditions for 67 McGhee Tyson firefighters. Additionally, Mark expertly led the administrative staff in an annual review of the Fire Emergency Services Assessment Program and increased the compliance rate to 97 percent. He also completed a comprehensive inventory of all work center rooks and equipment, securing over 1,000 items in additional to 1,100 individually issued pieces of protective equipment ensemble. His efforts guaranteed 100 percent accountability of assets and eliminated an equipment management shortfall.
Mark has over 40 years in public safety, including as an EMT, firefighter, fire instructor for NASA Ames Research Center, fire marshal, and Fire Chief of Apex NC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fire safety management, an undergraduate certificate in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a second undergraduate certificate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Mark is married to Sheila Haraway, has two children and four grandchildren.
Revenue Processing Technician II
Mona Metry began her career with the Tennessee Department of Revenue in 2007 and currently serves as a Revenue Processing Technician II. Mona functions as a leader within her unit by solving problems, completing payment transaction processing, and submitting deposits for thousands of transactions each year. Since her team’s transition to new software, Mona has completed all testing activities and gave valuable feedback that led to innovation and process improvements. As a subject matter expert in payment processing for multiple software systems, Mona is frequently selected to train others and has successfully cross-trained several team members throughout the processing division. She is a hardworking, positive, and detail-oriented person who strives for excellence each day.
Mona holds a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Alexandria University in Egypt. She moved to the United States in June 1997 and is married to Ashraf Metry. Mona and her husband have three sons: Chris (21), Sam (16), and Daniel (8).
Safety and Homeland Security
Edwin Wilkins has been with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS) for almost seven years and currently serves as a Trooper in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Region 4. Prior to his career with TDSHS, Edwin worked as a financial fraud investigator in the banking industry and has brought a wealth of knowledge concerning fraud investigations to the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Criminal Investigation Division. He is also a State recognized and trained leader when it comes to debriefing personnel involved in traumatic events. He has led and participated in multiple Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) events in the State and members of the agency contact him frequently for assistance. Edwin is helping transform the mental well-being of members of the THP by changing how members internally process the all-too-often traumatic events encountered by law enforcement. He continuously goes above and beyond the call of duty to assist others and he is very well respected by his peers.
Trooper Edwin Wilks is a decorated United States Marine (retired- Gunnery Sergeant). He received the MADD DUI Enforcement Award on two separate occasions and he also served as the THP Grenadier for the THP 4th District Strike Team. He was also selected to participate in the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Detail in Washington, D.C. Edwin is married to his beautiful wife and they reside in Memphis.
Michelle began her career with the TennCare Office of General Counsel's Estate Recovery division as a Legal Assistant in 2016. In this position, Michelle’s management of incoming estate recovery cases, thorough asset searches, and innovative improvements to the estate recovery process have contributed significantly to the division’s historically high recoupment totals. Michelle has approached her work with an infectious positivity and a willingness to excel in all aspects of her work. She addresses grieving family members of deceased TennCare enrollees in a respectful, supportive, and professional manner. She is a true team player who is willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed, without complaint.
Prior to her state service, Michelle had 8 years of experience in the legal industry, working as a deputy clerk of court and legal assistant in North Carolina. She also has a sound grasp of the financial and banking industries, having worked as a bank teller and relationship banker for 9 years. She is married and has two wonderful daughters, Taylor and Erin.
Welcome Center Manager, Cocke County
Collin Woody has been with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development for over six years and currently serves at the Cocke County Welcome Center as the Welcome Center Manager. In this role, Collin is responsible for the overall operation of the center and ensures that every visitor has a safe and positive experience. His duties require excellent leadership and knowledge of area tourist destinations, as well as timely responses to unexpected events. Collin is an exemplary employee and demonstrates excellence across all areas of his job. He serves as a role model for workers across the state and provides excellent customer service through his interactions with guests.
Collin is a recent graduate from the Tennessee Ambassador League Institute Program. His leadership is an important asset to the Hartford community and Cocke County, where he serves as a champion for cross-sector collaboration among state government agencies.
Transportation Manager I
Shaun Armstrong began his career with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in 2003 in the Design Division, serving as a CADD Technician and working his way up to developing full design plans for roadway projects. He transferred to the strategic Transportation Investments Division in 2013 and currently serves as Transportation Manager I, overseeing technical reports for Region 3 projects. In this role, Shaun brought his years of technical design experience to improve quantity estimations, right-of-way impacts, and constructability concerns which result in better cost estimates for budgeting and accurate information for customers. He remains the point-person for design software questions and continuously provides assistance across the entire division. Shaun is a trusted and valued member of the TDOT team and encourages his staff every day to meet the highest expectations.
Shaun holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from Austin Peay State University, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee. He serves as Vice President of the American Society of Highway Engineers and is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Shaun is married to his wife, Katie, and they have two children, Luke (9) and Lucy (5).
Ronald Dvorsky Jr.
Training Officer 2
Ron Dvorsky, Jr. began his career with Veterans Services in December 2017 as a Veterans Resource Coordinator in the Appeals Division. He was promoted to training officer in 2019 and is responsible for teaching and mentoring designated employees on the advocacy role for veterans through the claims and benefits process. Ron’s intentionality and courageousness have helped him break down barriers and build trust among his stakeholders. He has earned respect as a subject matter expert within the department, established lasting relationships with county and federal partners, and provided relevant training tools that benefit veterans.
Ron is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major serving 32 years as an Aviation leader. A graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in professional aeronautics and a double minor in management and aerospace safety. Ron is also a Certified Scuba Instructor and is currently studying to be a MASTER Scuba Diver Trainer. While on active duty, Ron, his wife (Margie) and two sons (Ronnie and Tommy) served our country both stateside and abroad. Ron and his family now reside in the great state of Tennessee.