2021 Spring 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.
Commodity Distribution Administrator
Terry Minton joined the Department of Agriculture in 1985 and serves as administrator for two USDA nutrition assistance programs: the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Food Distribution Program for schools. She and her team work closely with program partners to maximize usage of all available resources. With a strong focus on customer service and commitment to request-driven ordering, they continue to meet the challenge of increased and overlapping food and funding offers. During the most recent program year, more than 55 million pounds of food valued at $77 million were ordered and allocated to schools, residential childcare institutions, food banks, and community action programs. As numerous citizens struggled to feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Terry's work ensured their access to healthy meals. Not only did she execute this initiative seamlessly, but her professional skills enabled her to take on additional funding without charging administrative dollars for additional staff or resources. There's no question it was a great effort to make this work and her colleagues describe her work as “far-exceeding expectations.”
Terry has an established history of creative thinking, innovating processes, and developing solutions in service to the citizens of Tennessee. In 2014, Terry worked with USDA to develop a rebate project to offset schools' food warehousing expenses by utilizing excess administrative funds provided by USDA. Rather than turning back the unspent federal funds, the department began issuing annual rebates to schools that have grown to more than $1.4 million per year. Terry and her husband, Phil, have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Deputy Regional Director, Office of Child Safety
Ashley Westaway has passionately served the children and families of Tennessee for the past 15 years through the Department of Children’s Services. In her current position as Deputy Regional Director in the Office of Child Safety, she covers the four Eastern Regions (East, Knox, Smoky, and Northeast), spanning a total of 24 counties. This role requires countless responsibilities in working closely with two Regional Child Protective Services Directors and four other Regional Directors to ensure seamless service delivery across the regions. While she is very adept at meeting outcomes by monitoring data, streamlining casework, and promoting efficiency, her work in creating strong partnerships with internal and external customers alike is perhaps most striking. Notably, she can often be found coaching and mentoring the frontline supervisors in rural counties. It is not uncommon for her to take it upon herself to transport children or locate and deliver necessary items when a caseworker is not available, and families are in need. Ashley cares deeply for the children and families served by the department, and her passion, knowledge, and expertise come across clearly in everything she touches.
Prior to this role, Ashley served as an investigator in Child Protective Services, a forensic interviewer, and a supervisor for various programs that provide services to families. She is frequently appointed to committees and councils to offer her unique perspective on child welfare and family policy to audiences across the state. Ashley received her Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Toledo, graduated from the Cornerstone Commissioners Leadership Academy, and is currently enrolled in the University of Tennessee’s Leadership Certification Program.
Paralegal, Regulatory Boards
Commerce and Insurance
Hosam William has served the State of Tennessee for more than 14 years and currently serves the Department of Commerce and Insurance as a Paralegal. For nearly 10 years handling large volumes of processing and resolving complaints, he has developed comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the Comprehensive Online Regulatory and Enforcement (CORE) system and assists his colleagues with any related complaint processing questions. During the pandemic, when the department's operations struggled as team members took sick leave, Hosam stepped up and took over the TDCI Regulatory Boards' collection process during an audit. He quickly and efficiently resolved all financial discrepancies for this audit and answered the auditors' tough questions. His colleagues describe him as "embodying the core values of the agency" through not only his dedication to continuity in service during the pandemic but also his evident commitment to serve internal and external customers with an unparalleled level of professionalism.
Prior to working for the state, Hosam immigrated from Egypt to the United States, where he received his associate degree in paralegal studies from Vol State and a bachelor's degree from MTSU while working full time. He currently lives in Mount Juliet with his wife, Mary, and two children, Maria and Mark.
Director of Workforce Development
Mark Hollis has served the state for over 17 years. In his current role as the Director of Workforce Development, he prioritizes the Department of Correction (TDOC)'s mission of enhanced public safety and strategic goal of decreasing recidivism. Mark understands that an offender's successful re-entry into the community depends upon securing and retaining employment at a livable wage. As such, he works diligently to ensure that he has a pulse on employment trends, engaging daily with employment specialists and employers across the state to identify roadblocks, challenges, and most importantly, securing employment opportunities for TDOC's probationers and parolees. Mark’s sustained efforts have also been crucial to the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic's negative effects on hiring opportunities for his stakeholders. Further, since he is aware of how quickly the job market can change for the offender population, Mark has demonstrated a personal commitment to track the status of work release programs and the work status of probationers and parolees under TDOC's supervision. These accomplishments, along with his work ethic, commitment, and service, make him an innovator, strategic thinker, and dynamic leader. Mark has earned the Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS), Retention Specialist and OWDS Instructor certificates from the National Institute of Corrections and the Lean Facilitator certificate from the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. He is also credentialed as a Global Career Development Facilitator through the Center for Credentialing and Education. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Ashbury Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Science degree Welch College.
Summer Carr Johnson
Assistant General Counsel
Economic and Community Development
Summer Carr Johnson joined the Economic and Community Development (ECD) team in 2012 as Director of Contracts. She was promoted in 2016 to Assistant General Counsel due to her excellent legal skills and abilities. Summer came to ECD from the Tennessee General Assembly, where she served as Research Analyst for the Senate State and Local Government Committee in the office of Senator Ken Yager. Summer is an integral part of the ECD team and uses her extensive experience to provide excellent service to both coworkers and the citizens of Tennessee. She does this while also maintaining a pleasant and helpful demeanor. In her work as Assistant General Counsel, Summer excels at responding to issues tailored to the requestor’s perspective, whether legal or general. Summer loves her job because “no two days at ECD are alike—there’s always something interesting happening to keep you on your toes.”
Summer graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee College of Law with a concentration in business transactions and earned her bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University as part of the Honors Scholars Program. While in law school, she served as Articles Editor for the Tennessee Law Review and was the sole recipient in her graduating class of the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship. While at ECD, Summer has honed her leadership skills through the Commissioner’s Leadership Academy and Tennessee Government Management Institute. Summer is married to Eric, whom she met in law school, and they have two dogs, Penny and Ellie.
Senior Director of Career Readiness
Deborah Knoll began her career with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) in 2015 and currently serves as the Senior Director of Career Readiness in the division of College, Career & Technical Education. In this role, Deborah spearheads the Governor's Future Workforce Initiative, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) school designation, and the department's Code.org partnership, among several others. In 2016, Deborah led the development of the Tennessee STEM Strategic plan, which has become the road map for extending and implementing STEM across the state. Throughout the COVID pandemic, Deb has expertly managed the state's STEM initiatives and the TDOE’s partnership with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN). As a direct result of her work, students and educators across the state have had access to high-quality STEM materials and instructions. Her colleagues describe her as being perfectly representative of TDOE's core value of teamwork by being collaborative, helpful, and always willing to provide support where needed. Deborah is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, earning a Bachelor of Science in maritime transportation and an USCG Unlimited Tonnage 3rd Mate's License, and ultimately holding a commission as an LT in the United States Naval Reserve for 9 years. She also earned her Master of Arts in teaching from Bellarmine University and taught in the classroom for 12 years. Deborah is married to Jason, has two daughters, Emma Grace and Ashleigh Faith, and a 15-month-old grandson, Deacon.
Environmental Consultant I
Environment and Conservation
During Jeremy Hooper’s four years with the Department of Environment and Conservation, he has completed work and delivered projects with results that are consistently above and beyond expectations. In his current role, Jeremy has captured and mapped data from all Division of Solid Waste Management field offices located across the state to enable regulated communities to obtain their permits in a timelier fashion. This effort, and other examples of his Geographical Information Systems expertise in practice, have dramatically improved the department’s ability to provide information publicly and transparently. He has also worked diligently in collaboration with representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Tennessee’s Wildlife Resource Agency to counter the disposal of deer carcasses that have Chronic Wasting Disease. As this is a relatively new occurrence in Tennessee, Jeremy conducted extensive research with western states to identify solutions that ensure the protection of human health and the environment, proving the widespread sentiment that nothing is too large a challenge for him to tackle.
Jeremy earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is currently working on a Master of Environmental Informatics at Tennessee Technological University. When he is not helping improve solid waste management across the state, Jeremy is doing anything he can to support the Nashville Predators.
Finance and Administration
Cedric consistently goes above and beyond to serve his customers in his role as an IT Manager in the Enterprise IT Asset Management division of STS, within the Department of Finance & Administration (F&A). In this role, his primary responsibilities include overseeing all receiving and surplus operations across the state. At the onset of the pandemic in March and April 2020, STS ordered, received, and deployed almost 2,500 laptops to mobilize the State’s workforce so that people could work safely at home. Cedric was instrumental in communicating with delivery drivers and multiple divisions within STS to ensure coordination of operation and that the receiving process was fast, efficient, and accurate. Cedric worked with the workstation support and data center operations teams to find solutions for receiving and storing the inventory, assisting in the logistics of preparing the devices for use, and then staging the equipment for deployment. In addition to his exemplary efforts during the pandemic, Cedric consistently demonstrates outstanding customer service, leadership, outstanding communication and cooperation, a positive attitude, and a continuous desire to learn and improve.
Cedric is a graduate of the F&A Leadership Academy and utilizes many of the tools and concepts learned from that experience every day. STS customers
Senior Associate Counsel, Deputy General Counsel
Denise Cole started her career with the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions in 2009. Today, she is a Senior Associate Counselor serving as the Deputy General Counsel to the department. Over the last year, she has taken on several additional responsibilities to help the department meet its regulatory requirement. For example, she led the initiative to improve the process by which the department defines, creates, approves, communicates, and reviews internal policies. Denise has also assisted in updating the department's ethics policy and developing training for all staff members. These process improvement efforts are among many that stem from her dedication to the department keeping pace with the rapid innovation and technology changes within the financial industry. Denise is a team player and her strides for the department have enabled countless other employees to provide excellent service to external customers.
Denise earned a bachelor's degree from Fordham University, a master's degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore, and a law degree from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining the state, she worked as a Municipal Securities Analyst for Chase Bank in New York and as a finance professional before embarking on a career in law. Denise and her husband have four grown children and one grandchild. When she is not working, Denise enjoys volunteering, creative writing, and photography, and she has been an active member of the First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro for about ten years.
Lisa Reaney has worked with the State of Tennessee for more than 17 years, serving in multiple roles between the Departments of Transportation and General Services. When Lisa joined the Department of General Services, she made an immediate impact by assuming the lead role in managing the State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management (STREAM) Capital Grant program. In this capacity, she developed an educational program for grantees to both apply for new grants and administer active grants to receive timely reimbursement of expenses. Lisa manages several notable grants, including Tennessee Performing Arts Center; the Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel; the Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville Zoos; the Chattanooga Aquarium, and the Clayborn Temple. Lisa also does a remarkable job packaging new grants for timely approval through the State Building Commission process. In addition to managing the STREAM Capital Grant Program, she also manages the STREAM Consultant program and proudly serves informally as the STREAM "Well Wisher and Motivator." Notably, Lisa always takes the time to organize team meet-ups and lunches to maintain team morale and never fails to take an opportunity to celebrate or recognize someone.
Lisa is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace administration and a master's degree in aerospace education. Lisa and her husband, Bill, have two grown daughters, Lauren and Ashley, a cat, and four dogs. Outside of work, she is also an active member of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN, the Salvation Army Angel Tree, and many more charitable organizations.
Public Health Office Assistant
Brenda Winningham began her career with the State of Tennessee in March 2009 as a Public Health Office Assistant. Since then, Brenda has always gone above and beyond for the Department of Health and its customers. As the only clerk at the Pickett County Health Department, Brenda completes all clerical and supervisory job duties. Each day, she works diligently to ensure that the clinic runs efficiently and professionally. When the COVID-19 pandemic changed some of her job assignments, she took this in stride and worked with the nursing staff to help smoothly implement testing and vaccination procedures. Before implementation of the VRAS appointment scheduling system, Brenda was the lone appointment scheduler for around 100-200 first-dose vaccine appointments each week. She came in early and stayed late each day to ensure that the appointment slots were filled, the community still had access to the available health department services, and still completed other job responsibilities. She calls customers to remind them of their vaccine appointments and assists anyone who needs help scheduling appointments in VRAS. Even though these months of the pandemic have been challenging for everyone, Brenda still provides the same upbeat, positive attitude to all customers and colleagues. Brenda is always professional and compassionate. She is conscientious of customers’ needs and meets those needs professionally, effectively, and efficiently. Customers regularly comment on how Brenda brightens their day.
She is a lifelong resident of Pickett County and has two children. Her son, Nathan, lives in Johnson City with his wife, Delaney, and their two children. Her daughter, Katie Beth, lives in Byrdstown with her daughter. When she is not helping her local community, Brenda enjoys spending time with her family.
Employee Relations Manager
Michelle Humphrey has served the Department of Human Resources (DOHR) since January of 2018. In her role as the Employee Relations Manager for 13 state agencies, Michelle approaches any challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. For instance, she took the lead role in 2020 to work with DOHR's Office of People, Performance, and Culture to train and roll out the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) system in Edison, led the training, and contributed significantly to training materials. Michelle continues to provide assistance as needed to FMLA Coordinators from across the enterprise. This is all above and beyond her role as an Employee Relations Manager serving DOHR and 12 boards and commissions serviced by the division. In this role, she has direct contact with each agency's Appointing Authorities (AA). She is responsive, patient, professional, and direct as she advises those agencies on HR-related issues. Many AAs now contact Michelle directly on highly sensitive HR issues instead of going through the Administrator first. This is a testament to the strong relationships she has developed, and the high degree of confidence leaders have in her.
Michelle earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management and human relations from Trevecca Nazarene University and a Master of Business Administration from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. In addition, she has successfully completed DOHR's Next Level Leadership Academy. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and two labs, reading, listening to music, and crafting.
Krissy Brassell began her career with the Department of Human Services in December 2001 as an Eligibility Counselor and has held multiple other roles in the agency since. In her current role as Program Coordinator, she has gone above and beyond in her efforts to serve as a technical liaison during the pandemic by leading initiatives in both Edison and WebEx. For example, to guarantee the success of the 13-week training program for newly hired eligibility counselors, Krissy took it upon herself to provide one-on-one training for all facilitators. She also remained available to troubleshoot technical issues for both facilitators and learners as they maneuvered the new virtual environment. Within three months, Krissy was able to schedule and provide support for 200 WebEx sessions. As a result of her efforts, learners were better able to remain engaged in the session, and numerous customers have made it known what a difference Krissy’s support made in their professional development.
Krissy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tougaloo College and a master’s degree in human resources management from Webster University. She has volunteered as a tnAchieves mentor for the last four years and was selected to be a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Champion for the group, and is also currently serving as a mentor for Tennessee Government Leadership (TGL) – Toastmasters, the TGL Black Belt program, and the TGL Book Club. Krissy is married and has two sons and one daughter.
Licensed Senior Psychological Examiner
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Shannon Westerman has devoted 21 years to serving the State of Tennessee through the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. As a Licensed Senior Psychological Examiner, she has excelled in applying her diverse behavioral health knowledge and proved a valuable asset in assuring the safe and successful transitions of countless persons from long-term institutional care to community supports and opportunities. Notably, Shannon consistently maintains a high degree of person-focused flexibility, tailoring her presentation and approach to the unique needs of each beneficiary. Shannon cultivated her diverse skillset during her early career with the Greene Valley Developmental Center (GVDC). Recognizing her value, subsequent to GVDC closure, she was recruited to fulfill a cornucopia of behavioral health service roles, including the provision of applied behavior analysis to persons living in the East Tennessee Homes, performing forensic service activities throughout the entire East Tennessee region, providing psychological insights during interdisciplinary psychopharmacology reviews, and enthusiastically immersing herself in multiple special projects.
Shannon is a devoted daughter and mother outside of her dedicated work in service to some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens and those supporting them. She and her son, Brayden, share a love for hiking and other activities in the great outdoors. The pair also utilize their expert baking skills, providing delicious goodies for charitable fundraisers. Within her packed schedule, Shannon manages to teach psychology courses and volunteers time as a Scout Mom.
Labor and Workforce Development
Abbie Blake began her career with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development as an Unemployment Insurance (UI) Part-Time Claims Agent, was promoted to Full-Time Claims Agent in March 2016, and Adjudicator in January 2018. As an Adjudicator, Abbie is responsible for resolving discrepancies in claims and determining the most appropriate resolution. She has been very successful in this role, and, since the start of the pandemic, Abbie has resolved a total of 4,993 claims and has completed 2,610 tickets and closing 2,633. Additionally, Abbie is one of the subject-matter experts on the various federal programs such as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). She has played a vital role in teaching other employees and teammates the details and technical skills of the various federal unemployment programs, including the latest, Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).
Abbie and her husband, Tony, are the "proud and active" parents of Preston, age 13, and Charlee, age 9. Preston is in the band at Soddy Daisy High School, and Charlee plays travel softball for the Frost Falcons. Being an athlete herself, Abbie also coaches travel ball. She grew up playing travel softball in Chattanooga and went to Cleveland State on a softball scholarship. The Blake family currently lives in Ooltewah, located in Hamilton County
Hospital Administrator and Interim Nurse Executive
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Zach Edmiston has served the State of Tennessee through the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services since 2017. Serving first as the Assistant Nurse Executive at Memphis Mental Health Institute (MMHI), then as the Hospital Administrator, and finally as the Interim Nurse Executive for the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute (MTMHI) in addition to his primary position at MMHI to cover critical capacity gaps during the pandemic. This dual appointment requires him to achieve the responsibilities of two positions at two facilities in two different areas of the state. Through all the challenges of the last year, Zach has worked tirelessly on the frontlines of the pandemic to protect his patients and fellow staff at both facilities while simultaneously helping restructure and reinvigorate the Nursing Department at MTMHI to face the challenges of the future. In this pursuit, he has quickly learned new processes and procedures for our largest hospital and earned the trust and respect of the MTMHI team as a result of his outstanding work ethic, proven leadership abilities, and unwavering standard for excellence in service.His ability to step up to extreme challenges with humility and selflessness makes his colleagues describe him as a “shining example” of the department’s core values.
Zach began his career in the United States Army in 1990 as a Medical Laboratory Technologist and served in Operation Desert Storm. He earned his Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2012 and his Master of Science in nursing in 2014 from the University of Memphis. Prior to joining the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 2017, Zach worked as a Phlebotomist and a Registered Nurse for Baptist Memorial Hospital and Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis. He later served as Clinical Director of a Medical/Surgical/Oncology Unit at Methodist Le Bonheur and Clinical Director of an ICU, CVICU, and Telemetry Unit at Methodist Le Bonheur North. He currently lives in Bartlett, Tennessee, with his wife, son, and daughter and enjoys serving in his church and volunteering in his community in his free time.
Administrative Services Assistant III
Theresa Smith started her career with the Tennessee Department of Military in December 2016. In her current role as an Administrative Services Assistant III, Theresa embodies customer service. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Theresa volunteered her time and effort to support other departments outside of Administrative Services with their day-to-day tasks. She consistently stayed after hours to ensure receiving and invoicing functions were current and no deadlines were missed. On multiple occasions, Theresa traveled outside the local work area to pick up physical property tags for a property with complete paperwork ready to deploy, saving valuable time in an area that could have been easily overlooked. This was a critical support effort that ensured ventilators, personal protective equipment, and miscellaneous medical supplies were deployed to the field in a timely manner, alleviating the burden on Tennessee’s Emergency Management Agency. Theresa owns her processes and takes pride in her work, always looking to help the agency achieve its mission. Her colleagues describe her as a model public servant, proactive, and always looking for opportunities to help others with their tasks to ensure mission success.
Theresa is from Statesboro, Georgia, and graduated from Ogeechee Technical College with a degree in marketing management. She is married and has one daughter, Dameshia, age 22, and one son, Harrison, age 17.
Data Specialist III, Revenue Processing
Casey Oldham has served the State of Tennessee for 17 years through the Department of Revenue. In her current role as a Data Specialist III, she contributes daily to the stability of the division by running and troubleshooting issues with large-scale scanning equipment for herself and her peers. She is very knowledgeable and maintains a level of subject matter expertise on processes across the division, participating in creating or updating procedures as well as testing new processes. The level of detail in her ability to detect and prevent errors in batching and workflow through the scanning team ensures that the Processing Division's data capture team and internal customers throughout the department receive error-free work with clear and clean images. Even during high volume and stressful times, Casey remains dependable, dedicated, and helpful to everyone she meets.
Casey graduated from Stratford High school in 1990. In her free time, Casey enjoys baking, volunteering at her church, and spending time with her family and friends. She has three beautiful children: Chase, 23, Chelsea, 20, and Chandler, 17.
Lieutenant and Chief Pilot, Tennessee Highway Patrol
Safety and Homeland Security
Lieutenant Bradley “Brad” Lund is the Chief Pilot of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) and has served the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security for 24 years. From 2015 through early May 2021, Lieutenant Lund has worked 1,348 total missions, assisting THP and local, state, and federal agencies alike in missing person searches, criminal searches, agency assists, and rescues. Among his many missions, he has put others before himself countless times to serve the people of Tennessee. Including but not limited to being shot at during searches for homicide suspects, utilizing lower performance equipment during extreme weather incidents to respond immediately to citizens in danger, and being on call 24/7 to serve the people he has taken an oath to protect. In addition, since transferring to the Aviation Unit in 2000, Lieutenant Lund has consistently sought areas for improvement, both in the team’s equipment and in extending his problem-solving guidance and experience to support his colleagues and ground units.
After graduation from high school, Lieutenant Lund served in the U.S. Navy and began his law enforcement career in 1992, serving as a Correctional Officer at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. He later served as a Police Officer for the Whitehouse Police Department and Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, a Tennessee State Trooper, a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) officer, and Aviation Sergeant. Lieutenant Lund has two children, Emma and Anna Claire.
Appeals Litigation Manager
Laykelin Adams began her career with TennCare in February of 2017 as a Resolution Specialist in Redetermination Appeals. In her current role as an Appeals Litigation Manager, Laykelin goes above and beyond her role and responsibilities to ensure appellants receive the most advantageous outcome. When the department first moved into a new eligibility determination system, Laykelin was a pioneer in improving the system for further efficiency and logging incidents or escalating system concerns for updates. Her dedication to discovering workarounds for tricky situations was pivotal in earning customers' and team members' trust. Whether it be testifying at a hearing, supporting a team member in resolving an appellant's issue, or calling directly to speak with an appellant to send in the needed information for their eligibility, Laykelin approaches all situations with the same positivity and grace as an outstanding representative of the state.
Laykelin holds a degree in sociology from East Tennessee State University and recently graduated from the TennCare Leadership Academy. She is known to constantly work to improve herself, combining innovative problem-solving,
Manager, Kingsport Welcome Center
Ken Olinger has been serving the Department of Tourist Development since 2001. As the first manager of the newly constructed Kingsport Welcome Center in 2014, Ken was instrumental in establishing the center from the ground up to become a showplace enjoyed by local people and out-of-state travelers. Ken's dedication and leadership skills are reflected in the overall appearance of the center, and travelers frequently report that the Kingsport Center is the "cleanest and nicest welcome center" they've ever entered. In response to the pandemic, Ken jumped into action with carpenter skills to lead his staff by constructing high-quality counter guards for the Northeast region. His swift actions saved money for the state and cut the wait time for these high-demand counter guards so that staff was able to continue to communicate safely with travelers without interruption.
After a 29-year career with the Kingsport Press, Ken first came to work at Bristol Welcome Center for the Department in 2001. He has since received three promotions during his career with the department, from Building Maintenance Worker I to Building Maintenance Worker II, to Manager of the Bristol Welcome Center, and finally being transferred to the Kingsport Welcome Center in 2014. Ken is looking forward to a well-deserved retirement this fall.
Administrative Assistant II
Lisa Christo-Dorozynski has been employed with the Department of Transportation since August 2017. One of her primary responsibilities in her current position involves answering the main line switchboard calls for the entire department. This requires a great deal of knowledge for innumerable matters across the department, related agencies, and beyond. As an ambassador of the state, she always answers calls with "a smile in her voice" and will go to great lengths to ensure the caller receives the information they're seeking. Lisa is constantly updating her "book of knowledge" to be prepared to direct callers to their correct destination, striving to help them avoid the situation in which they are transferred between lines multiple times. When callers reach Lisa, they reach a calming and compassionate voice who is an embodiment of the department's core values of stewardship, integrity, consistency, and collaboration.
Lisa earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies with a minor in business administration. Her daughter, Katerina, is 19 and is starting at Belmont University in the fall. Lisa is quoted as relating her service to the state and her personal life in saying, "My own loved ones use the highways, and in this way, we are all connected, as everyone wants to know their safety is a priority."
Veterans Outreach Coordinator
Dan began working for the Department of Veteran Services in January 2019. In his current role as Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Dan consistently embodies the department's mission of customer service. Dan understands that majority of the time, veterans or their family members cannot be reached until after our normal business hours. Dan flexes his normal hours to be able to reach them at their convenience. He also collaborates with state partners & non-profit organizations to see how we can work together to educate the veteran community on the available benefits. Because of Dan's knowledge and professionalism, Dan quickly became the "go-to guy" for all complicated or delicate issues. In his short tenure with the state, he has shown a great deal of creativity and dedication in his approach to solving these issues. For example, rather than leaving veterans to deal with medical billing issues on their own, he has been known to spend countless hours setting up and joining conference calls for the veteran to speak directly with doctors, the billing offices, and even the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dan walks everyone through the steps to rectify the situation and does not stop until the issue is solved.
Dan is a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant with over 23 years of active duty service. After retiring from service, he earned a Bachelor of Science in political science and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and has held post-graduate positions in both the public and private sectors. Dan is married to Jaime, and they share a 14-year-old son, Alex.