2020 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.
Fire Management Unit Leader
With more than 14 years of experience in forestry and wildland fire management, Wade Waters was appointed fire chief for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in June 2018. In this role, he manages all aspects of the Division of Forestry’s wildfire responses in coordination with local, state, and federal partners to minimize risks to life and property while ensuring the safety of employees. He has worked tirelessly to understand Tennessee’s wildfire community and to cultivate critical relationships. Through Wade’s efforts, the Division set a record this past year in out-of-state deployments of personnel and equipment to support national emergency response efforts. Collectively, Division personnel contributed to the suppression of more than 1 million acres of wildfires and aided in hurricane recovery efforts across 11 states. More than 160 resource positions and 25 equipment units were safely deployed under the management of a well-coordinated inter-divisional support team led by Wade. These deployments not only benefited employees’ pay but also provided critical training opportunities and generated significant additional revenue to the state. Despite the additional challenges of COVID-19, Wade provided the vision, technical expertise, and leadership to navigate this record-setting deployment season.
Wade was first introduced to wildland fire management when he went to work for the U.S. Forest Service. Later, he served as a Regional Fire Management Coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and as a Supervisory Forestry Technician Engine Captain for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wade is a native of Rogers, Arkansas and graduated from the University of the Ozarks with a Bachelor of Science in biology. In his free time, he enjoys camping, coaching soccer, spending time outdoors, and watching sporting events with his family.
Senior Associate General Counsel
Helen Rodgers began her service to the State of Tennessee directly following her graduation from law school in 2013. In seven short years, she mastered not only the law, but also the various program areas that make up the Department of Children’s Services. Serving dual roles as both a Senior Associate General Counsel in the Department’s Legal Division and the head of the Department’s Family First Prevention Services Act Implementation Team, she quickly became the go-to expert for areas as diverse as public records, federal requirements, contracts, facility and contract monitoring, legislation, and any number of other program segments. Colleagues note that Helen is always early to the office and works tireless evenings and weekends to advance the safety, health, and well-being of the children of Tennessee. In the past year, Commissioner Nichols designated Helen to guide the agency's compliance with what many in the agency consider the most important federal legislation of the past 25 years.
Helen is an alumna of Hamilton College and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Helen is married to an active member of the United States Army and treasures the time that the two can spend together with their rambunctious rescue dog.
Director of Consumer Insurance Services
Commerce and Insurance
Vickie Trice has worked at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) since January 2007 and currently serves as the Director of Consumer Insurance Services. In this role, she supports residents who have just experienced terrible losses and are usually frustrated with the customer service they have received with their insurance carrier. In the wake of the March tornado, Vickie was one of the first people to arrive on site to set up mobile claims units and quickly worked to get staff out to all severely impacted locations. Vickie has been described as “the embodiment of excellent customer service.” She is not only an expert at helping external consumers and having insurance carriers reevaluate claims, but she is also patient and compassionate with her team. She strives to make her employees feel included and her impact is felt across the agency.
Prior to working for TDCI, Vickie worked for over 30 years with Medicare. She serves as a board member of the Jumpstart Financial Literacy Group and the Coordinated Community Response (CCR) and is an active member of the Lead TN Alliance One. Under former Governor Bill Haslam, Vickie was also appointed to the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) which assists children from birth to three years of age who have disabilities or developmental delays.
Mental Health Programs Coordinator
Sherlean Lybolt began her career with the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) in June 2014. In her current role as a Mental Health Programs Coordinator, she provides oversight to the Critical Incident Stress Management Team which is designed to provide crisis intervention services during traumatic events at TDOC institutions. Sherlean consistently goes above and beyond to serve the state by partnering with correctional professionals statewide to implement the Crisis Interventions Team Training. This training is designed to equip supervisors and front-line staff to effectively de-escalate crisis situations inside prison environments. Through her consistent professionalism and integrity, Sherlean shows her unwavering commitment to public safety and effective mental health services.
Prior to working at TDOC, Sherlean worked as a part-time therapist for Mental Health Correctional Services and Corizon Health to deliver mental health services to offenders housed at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center (previously Tennessee Prison for Women), and the Charles Bass Correctional Complex. She is a licensed Senior Psychological Examiner and she holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Austin Peay State University. Sherlean’ s professional affiliations include the American Correctional Association (ACA), where she serves as an auditor, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, where she serves as the interdepartmental representative, and the Tennessee Sex Offender Treatment Board, where she serves as a board member and previous chair.
Director of Tax
Economic and Community Development
Debbie Clabo started her career with the State of Tennessee in the Department of Revenue, where she worked in various positions for more than 16 years. In March 2012, Debbie joined the Department of Economic and Community Development as the Director of Tax. In this role, she works extensively with both existing industries and new businesses coming to the State of Tennessee by assisting with tax questions, registration, and unique tax issues that arise over the course of doing business. Debbie meets with every company the Business Development team works with and performs extensive research on the company’s structure, how they are registered, and their liabilities to provide the best tax estimate incentive. No two companies operate in the same manner, and Debbie goes above and beyond to treat each customer with the same respect, attention, and quality of service. As one executive leader notes of her expertise and professionalism, “every state wishes they had a tax director like Debbie.”
Debbie holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Austin Peay State University with a major in accounting. She is from Dickson, Tennessee, where she has lived her whole life. In her free time, Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband Jimmy, three girls, and eight grandbabies. She also enjoys camping, cooking, and spending time with their four dogs.
Training Coordinator and Program Specialist
Randa Meade started working for the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) in August 2017. As the Training Coordinator and Program Specialist for TDOE’s School Nutrition Team, she plans, coordinates, and executes all logistics, trainings, and events for school nutrition professionals across the state. She also works with summer feeding programs to help increase children’s access to nutritious meals. When the pandemic first hit, schools across the state needed to quickly pivot their nutrition programming from standard services to a more flexible program that allowed meals to continue to be provided even as schools closed. Randa used her advanced knowledge of the Seamless Summer Option to help districts rapidly shift their nutrition programming and navigate through complex waiver processes. Randa’s efforts ensured that students were served, staff were supported, and that the overall program continued to meet compliance requirements. As a result, free meals were provided to Tennessee students in need throughout three months of school closures and into the summer months.
Randa is a registered dietitian nutritionist and holds a Master of Nutrition in public health nutrition and a Master of Public Health in health policy and management from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is originally from a small town in Virginia and attended James Madison University for her undergraduate degree. An active member of the community, she also serves as a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. and on their junior board, the Big Impact Group. Randa lives in Nashville with her dog, Duke, and enjoys cooking, exploring the Nashville food scene, reading, and being outside.
Administrative Services Assistant 2
Environment and Conservation
Bradley Smiddy has served the State of Tennessee for seven years between his time with the Department of Environment & Conservation and his work with the Department of Human Services in the Knoxville area. He currently serves as an Administrative Services Assistant 2 for the 300-mile, linear Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park that runs from the TN-GA-AL border near Chattanooga to the Cumberland Gap at the TN-KY-VA border. In this role, he is the park’s outreach specialist, responsible for managing volunteer outreach, recruitment, and tracking, plus grantsmanship, partnership development, and media promotion. This involves maintaining four park websites and a total of 14 social media pages on multiple platforms. Over the tremendous amount of territory and 11 counties he covers, he consistently brings innovative ideas and a respectful attitude to the table. During the pandemic, he has worked closely with park ranger staff to produce online videos that communicate authentic stories from the Cumberland Trail, and provide timely messaging about activities and safety steps taken for visitors. His recorded and live audiovisual productions for park events and social media management are some of the most popular and watched content in the department.
Brad holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee. He is a native of Campbell County and very active in a variety of community organizations, including founding the Campbell Heartland Network, an initiative to connect resources across stakeholders and promote education, economy, and tourism in Campbell County.
Human Resource Analyst
Finance and Administration
Denise Bearden began her career with the State of Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) in August of 1983 in Benefits Administration. She transitioned to Human Resources in 1990, serving a total of 37 years with F&A. Denise is passionate about being thorough in her work; her co-workers say that she goes out of her way to help find solutions to problems employees bring to her. She is responsive and works to make sure her customers, F&A employees, and their families have the information they need. Denise has had an important role in many of the state's most important initiatives, most recently, the enterprise resource planning project we all know as "Edison". Denise played a role in testing Edison's time and labor, a critical part of the Edison initiative. She also played a role in the creation of the "sick leave bank," which provides paid sick leave for qualifying members. Denise is steadfast in her love and concern for her customers and is an action-oriented problem solver who is respectful of all people regardless of differences. She is a person of integrity and trust who understands that all F&A employees are her customers, and they are her number one focus and priority.
Denise's mother and twin sister also worked for the state government. Denise has two children, Justin and Jason; and, she has two grandchildren, Greyson and Levi.
William Cook began his career with the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions (TDFI) in 2007 as a Bank Examiner. In his 13 years with TDFI, William has served as a Bank Financial Analyst and now as an Applications Analyst. William is extremely dedicated to meeting TDFI obligations and the expectations of customers. He is on the front line every day and is often the lead contact for applicants, discussing various issues with bankers, attorneys, and consultants. He keeps in mind both economic and community development along with a regulatory balance perspective when working with applicants and their representatives. Bankers and attorneys compliment him and his willingness to be so helpful and go the extra mile on their behalf. In addition to those customers that TDFI serves, he has a great working relationship with members of the TDFI staff, working closely with the legal division and safety and soundness area on a daily basis. Every day, William approaches the work that TDFI does on a high level and realizes the impact that the department has on their applicants, coworkers, federal agencies, and other state regulators.
William holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University. He is the father of two teenagers, Allie and Jayden, is an avid sports fan, and enjoys watching his children play soccer, football, and basketball, while also rooting on any team that plays in Chicago. In his spare time, William enjoys traveling, boating, and gatherings with family and friends.
Procurement Program Team Lead
Helen Crowley began her career with the Tennessee Department of General Services (DGS) over 20 years ago and currently serves as the Procurement Program Team Lead within the Central Procurement Office (CPO) of DGS. In this role, Helen and her team are the face of CPO and they are responsible for reviewing purchasing practices for all state departments. She consistently seeks out ways to help agencies improve their procurement processes. The positivity and customer focus that Helen exudes results in consistently high customer service satisfaction ratings for her team. Helen is dedicated to her job and represents the department well in all aspects of her work. She is always focused on the needs of her co-workers and customers. She continually seeks ways to improve processes and services and has created a can-do culture in her team. In addition, Helen is the DGS Alternate Emergency Services Coordinator for Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). She has spent countless hours at the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC) since March 2020. She made tremendous sacrifices to procure needed PPE and medical equipment to serve our first responders across the state.
Helen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University. She was also a member of Lead Tennessee, Alliance 2, and is a member of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism, where she currently serves as a Southern Region Vice President. She is a Big Orange fan whose youngest son will be a junior at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville in January, and she enjoys attending Nashville Predators hockey games.
Dana Garrett had 22 years of service with the State of Tennessee before passing away suddenly in the fall of 2020. In her 22 years at the Department of Health, she worked her way up from staff nurse to Public Health County Director in Rutherford County, one of Tennessee's largest health departments. Dana was a remarkable leader, mentor, and friend to her colleagues at the Rutherford County Health Department and the community she served. She championed public health, choosing to tackle issues of access to care and creating a safety net of services for the county's most vulnerable neighbors. Her innovative and community-centered approach created Rutherford County Health Department's opportunity to partner with healthcare facilities, non-profits, the faith community, and schools that brought programming and care directly to those in Rutherford County that need it most.
While her work was extraordinary, her greatest legacy will be the leadership she provided to her staff. Dana truly believed that her role was to mentor and train individuals to reach their full potential while remaining in the background. She was quick to give her team credit during successes and equally quick to take the blame during challenges; her team believes her humility, quiet strength, and grace will continue to inspire them to serve the community well.
Helen held dual bachelor's degrees from Western Kentucky University in public health (1994) and nursing (1995). After graduation, she moved to Texas and worked in women's health. She married the love of her life, Steven Montgomery, in 1997. They soon relocated to Murfreesboro, TN, where Dana fell into the perfect career and passion: public health. Dana was more than a director; she was a friend. The impact she had on the health of our community will be felt for generations to come.
Executive Administration Assistant and Board of Appeals Administrator
Nichelle Dorroh began her career with the State of Tennessee in 2014. She served with the Department of Health and the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission before transitioning to the Department of Human Resources in June 2019 as the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel. In her role as a member of the Office of General Counsel, Nichelle goes above and beyond in providing services to internal and external customers in a professional, reliable, and courteous manner. Nichelle demonstrates customer focus by actively listening to customers and ensuring their needs are a primary focus, and she uses that information to make improvements to services. As the Board of Appeals Administrator, Nichelle collaborates and develops positive relationships with the Secretary of State's Administrative Law Division, board members, state agency legal counsels, employees, and private attorneys regarding the employee discipline appeals logistics and processes. Her continuous oversight of the Board of Appeals ensures that matters are followed through timely and efficiently. Nichelle fosters relationships with customers, which allows her to gain their trust and respect, which makes her a vital asset to the State of Tennessee.
Nichelle received her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and her Bachelor of Science from Tennessee State University. She is a loving cat mom to Nala and Tristan.
Masters Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
Trina Weathers-Boyce began her career at the State of Tennessee almost 31 years ago, in November 1989. She stepped away from public service in 1999 for ten years, opening and operating a successful real estate agency, before returning to serve Tennesseans in December 2008 at the Department of Human Services, where she currently serves as a Masters Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. In this role, Trina consistently goes above and beyond; she has introduced customers to existing resources that propel them from poverty to contributing to their community. She used her vast knowledge of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs to educate customers about program eligibility and how VR can benefit customers in achieving their career goals. She connects her customers to other services beyond VR to enhance the customer's experience and their successful outcome. She has connected her customers to the City of Memphis’ Manhood Academy, donated assistive technology devices, and used her guidance and counseling services as resources for VR customers, resulting in program cost savings of $21,000. Trina frequently assists her customers in achieving careers that result in wages above the state average for initial wages. She provides guidance regarding the department's two generational (2 GEN) approach and its core services resulting in customers and their families receiving additional resources and supports. She exhausts all resources for her customers and their families, focusing on the unit moving towards self-sufficiency and independence.
Trina graduated from LeMoyne Owen College with a bachelor’s in business administration. She received her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville in education with a concentration in vocational rehabilitation. Trina has been married to her husband Anthony for 36 years, blessed with four boys, DeMarcus 33, Anthony 31, Adam 23, Meshach 21, and 5 bonus children Iesha, Arron, Nick, Hassan, and Alex. Her most prized blessing is her only grandson, Ashton, 5 years old.
Director of Investigations
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Vicki Loveday has served the State of Tennessee for 25 years and is currently the Director of Investigations in the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) where she is responsible for all abuse, neglect, and exploitation investigations across the state. In this position, she oversees roughly 150 to 200 investigations per month across the state of Tennessee and is on call 24/7 for her customers. Vicki is a true advocate and will fight for what she believes to be the right thing for the department and the person supported, always putting the person’s safety first. She has shown that she is an expert in protection-from-harm investigation in Tennessee, as her expertise has been sought out by other states and national organizations. Recently, Vicki led the efforts to align different systems into one system that streamlined process and reduced unneeded and burdensome regulations while ensuring the health and safety of the persons supported by the department. Vicki's work with providers, TennCare, and MCOs was recognized by all involved and her leadership and knowledge of the systems and needed changes were highly praised by all involved.
Vicki is an East Tennessee native, growing up in Crossville. Upon graduation, she joined the United States Army and served with the Military Police and Military Intelligence. She is an honor graduate of Wayland Baptist University.
Unemployment Claims Adjudicator
Labor and Workforce Development
Melinda Guyton has served the Tennessee State Department of Labor and Workforce Development for over five years and currently serves as an Unemployment Claims Adjudicator. In this role, Melinda is one of the essential frontline employees helping assist the 900,000 citizens who have been out of work due to the pandemic. As a member of the Customer Success Team, Melinda is part of a unit that directly assists citizens who have filed unemployment claims, appeals, or overpayments, etc. Based on her past claims experience, along with her detailed knowledge and understanding of unemployment programs, policies, and procedures, Melinda can assist customers with the most difficult issues. She, and other team members, worked as unemployment (UI) claims increased from 2,700 weekly to a week that capped at 116,000 new claims. The Customer Success teams addressed customer call volumes that grew from 4,000 weekly to an average of 82,000 weekly calls. Melinda approaches each situation with a vigor to help Tennesseans in need and resolve their UI claim issues. Her positive approach to resolving unsettled claim issues builds trust with both the customer and employees within the agency. She is one of the agency's "go-to persons" to handle critical UI claims elevated by the legislative body, other agencies, and senior staff at the Department of Labor & Workforce Development. She provides for Tennesseans a "sense of hope" to those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the natural disasters in March (tornadoes), or for other reasons that they have found themselves to be unemployed.
Melinda and her husband have been married for 36 years, and she has three stepdaughters and seven grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering at her church, serving meals to the church members as well as the shut-ins (prior to the temporary COVID closure).
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Dedee Hayes began her service to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 1993, as a Psychiatric Teacher’s Assistant at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. After taking time off to raise her daughters (Brittany, Bre, and Brooklyn), she returned to the Department’s Division of Substance Abuse Services in 2007, later transferring to the Division of General Counsel where she has served as a Contract Specialist since 2013. Dedee is an asset to the Department, to the State, and to all those living in Tennessee who need mental health and substance abuse services. She works long days without complaint to ensure community agencies and programs receive state and federal funding through their contracts with the Department, thus ensuring services are provided across the state to in-need Tennesseans. She does this with an amazing attitude, evident as Dedee explains “I enjoy knowing that what I do enables some of the most vulnerable Tennesseans to receive services to add to their quality of life.”
Dedee is a Nashville native and graduate of Pearl-Cohn high school, Aquinas College, and Belmont University.
Firefighter Supervisor/Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention
Leigh Andersen began her career with the State of Tennessee’s Department of Military in 2004 as the first female firefighter employed by the State. She is currently a Firefighter Supervisor at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, located in Louisville, TN, where she serves in the role of Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention for the installation’s Fire Emergency Services flight (she is also the first female in the Assistant Chief role). Leigh consistently goes above and beyond in her service to internal and external customers. Intrinsic to the fire department, she aggressively pursued professional development and continuing education opportunities enabling herself to become a subject matter expert in the field of fire protection and prevention. Her incredible skill building led to her ability to instruct, evaluate, and certify peer firefighters, ensuring the fire department remains capable of meeting mission requirements. Externally, she provides outstanding fire prevention services to over one thousand personnel, 332 facilities with over 900 thousand square feet, and seven local motels contracted for military personnel during Unit Training Assemblies. Daily, she engages with facility managers and contractors on the installation in pursuit of providing timely and accurate guidance enabling the safest possible operations. Additionally, her unmatched dedication to duty ensures the personnel of the 134th Air Refueling Wing are kept hazard free and able to execute the Wing’s state and federal missions resulting in zero fire loss over the last three years.
Leigh maintains advanced certifications as Fire Officer III, Fire Inspector III, Plan’s Examiner, Hazardous Materials Incident Commander, and is currently completing the Public Life Safety Educator certification. Her professional philosophy is, “Preventing fires today means not having to put them out tomorrow”. She enjoys the opportunity to make a positive difference in the safety of the base for others to work and visit McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base facilities.
Administrative Services Assistant 5
Belinda Boddie began her service to the State of Tennessee in 1979 as a Searcher in the Vehicle Services Division of the Department of Revenue. She has been with this division through many Department changes and has gained so much experience during her years of service. Given that Belinda has served within some aspect of title and registration her entire career, she has been able to develop such an extensive knowledge. Her positive attitude and sweet demeanor make her a joy to work with. She truly has everyone's best interest at heart and understands the importance of high customer service. Belinda often receives complicated titling issues and always looks for the most efficient ways to help her customers. She is constantly reading multiple resources to see what solutions are available. When Hickman County Clerk, Casey Dorton, was asked his thoughts on Belinda he stated, "Belinda treats the County Clerks like we are her family and we love her like she is ours."
Belinda has a daughter, Danyel, and a granddaughter, E'niya, that she enjoys spending quality time with.
THP Captain/Executive Officer
Safety and Homeland Security
Les Dolente has served the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security for over 16 years and currently serves as a THP Captain / Executive Officer. In this role, Les is responsible for representing the Commissioner of Safety in a variety of important activities involving coordination and development of policies. His work ethic is unquestionably focused on the department’s employees and customers. He consistently acts with humility and honor and passionately tackles his assignments with the safety of the customer as his first concern. Over the past year, Les has been instrumental in developing the first multi-year Strategic Plan for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. This plan is a road map for all four grand divisions: Tennessee Highway Patrol, Homeland Security, Highway Safety, and Driver License to better serve its customers. After carefully reviewing each division, he developed a multi-year strategic plan in order to provide the best quality service and security to all Tennesseans that will strive to reduce traffic fatalities, improve driver services, increase collaborations, and ensure operational readiness. Les always exhibits a behavioral model that exudes passion and enthusiasm about his work.
Eligibility Policy Director
Jordan Hall joined the State of Tennessee in 2014 as an Eligibility Policy Analyst for the Division of TennCare and was promoted to Director in just two short years. She continuously works to improve the lives of Tennesseans through her diligent work in eligibility policy, which helps ensure Tennesseans receive correct eligibility determinations at the most appropriate benefit level available. Jordan recently played a critical role demonstrating the eligibility determination system to CMS in order to obtain the coveted formal certification of the system. This required an enormous amount of preparation, which she performed in addition to her normal duties. Jordan’s commitment to doing what is right and in the best interest of TennCare’s members at all times is admirable.
Jordan is a 2012 graduate of Baylor University where she received a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies. She has previously served as a pediatric social service case manager with Mercy Community Healthcare (Franklin, TN) where she worked to connect patients to resources within their community. She also currently serves as a member of the Associate Board of Ambassadors for the American Cancer Society in Nashville.
Public Relations Media Manager
Jill Kilgore serves as the Public Relations Media Manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), where she manages domestic and international media campaigns to promote tourism across the state. Jill is a skilled project manager and leads PR strategy for statewide campaigns and events including the industry's annual Economic Impact reporting, Songwriters Week, media familiarization tours, and more. Her news background has earned notable news spots for the department, including recent stories in The Washington Post highlighting the state's Colorblindless Viewfinders and a significant piece highlighting tourism in our rural areas on the department’s “Discover Tennessee: Trails and Byways” program in The Tennessean. Jill consistently goes above and beyond to serve TDTD’s internal and external customers. She served on the TN Woman 100 Committee with the purpose of coordinating women's suffrage centennial celebrations across the state, continually advocating for our partners, offering countless guidance, sharing their stories with media and more. Furthermore, she is an excellent advocate for the internal team as the representative both for DOHR's Working for a Healthier Tennessee effort, as well as serving on the department's committee to increase fun, the Merriment Fundation.
Jill joined the TDTD team in 2017 following a successful career in TV, having worked as a producer at multiple stations including Nashville's WZTV and WGNO-ABC in New Orleans. She's a passionate community advocate, and was named to the 2020 class of E'Levate, an esteemed leadership program for the Donelson/Hermitage community.
Environmental Supervisor, Region 3
Michael Finks began his career with the State of Tennessee in 1991 as an intern with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Water Supply and remained with TDEC for the next 23 years working within multiple divisions, including Groundwater Protection, Underground Storage Tanks and Water Pollution Control. Michael joined the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in 2016 and is currently a Transportation Environmental Studies Specialist Supervisor. Michael is very much a “people person” and always makes customers and their needs his primary focus. He continuously encourages coworkers and other staff by communicating to them how appreciated they are and their importance to the TDOT Team. This communication and encouragement foster a healthy work environment by instilling trust and a sense of family and belonging among staff. Michael’s positive energy and kindness, coupled with his high level of commitment and integrity, make him an exceptional and invaluable member of the TDOT family.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in natural resource management. He and his lovely wife, Stacy, recently celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. Michael is the incredibly proud father of Katherine and Josh. Katherine graduates in December 2020 with a civil engineering degree from Tennessee Tech and Josh is a soldier in the U.S. Army, currently in advanced Military Occupational Specialty training. Michael is an avid hunter and fisherman and has been a member of the Stones River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited for the last 18 years. Michael is also very active in Little League Baseball and was named the 2018 Umpire of the Year by the Middle Tennessee Youth Umpire Association.
Quality and Appeals Specialist 2
Carol Swindon has served the State of Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs (TDVS) for 18 years and currently serves as a Quality and Appeals Specialist 2. In this role, Carol and her team not only serve veterans and their families but provide valuable customer service to TDVS field office personnel and county service officers. Time and time again, Carol and her team go above and beyond to meet the needs of both internal and external customers. Whether it’s staying late to ensure all claims are reviewed and filed timely or developing training to improve the advocacy and services TDVS offers, Carol and her team will not rest until they’ve exceeded customer expectations. Recently, because of Carol’s focus on standard process and incorporation of innovative solutions, the entire Appeals Division was able to quickly move utilize AWS during the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining a high level of customer service to internal and external customers.
Carol is a retired Yeoman Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Outside of work, she is an avid knitter and seamstress and has created costumes for several plays in her local church and community. She and her husband, John, love to travel and spend time with their children and grandchildren.
Manager of Team Development
Economic Recovery Group
While Audrey Jackson is the Manager of Team Development for the Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), she also has performed all administrative duties for the Economic Recovery Group (ERG). The ERG was formed in March 2020 to safely reboot Tennessee’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this effort, Audrey has coordinated countless meetings with wide swaths of stakeholders and kept the team on task with tremendous efficiency. This required many late evenings at the office during the early stages of the Tennessee Pledge’s development. Notably, Audrey has performed these vital ERG duties in addition to her regular job responsibilities at TDTD, while maintaining a relentlessly positive attitude in both circles. The ERG would not have been able to facilitate an open line of communication between business leaders, local officials, and commissioners throughout the pandemic without her instrumental support.
Audrey is originally from Cookeville, Tennessee and holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental science and sociology from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Arts in environmental leadership from Naropa University. In her position with TDTD, she facilitates employee training courses, coaches supervisors on employee development, and promotes a culture of feedback through surveys and intentional community building.