Executive Management Bios
Juan Williams was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources by Governor Bill Lee. Prior to this appointment, he spent fourteen years at Duke Energy’s Piedmont Natural Gas Division in management positions in Human Resources, Utility Operations, and Change Readiness.
During his tenure at Duke Energy Nashville Resource Center, Juan advised managers, supervisors and employees on matters including operations and workplace culture. Previously, Juan served as the Director of Change Readiness with focuses on business process, systems and technology, talent management and restructuring.
He also led the Human Resources department with oversight over Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Talent Acquisition and Business Support functions. In addition to nearly 17 years of human resources and operations experience, Juan is an active member of the community and serves on the PENCIL Foundation Board of Directors.
Juan is a results oriented energetic leader with a focus on excellence in communication and continuous learning.
Juan received a bachelor’s degree in business from North Carolina Wesleyan College and MBA from Queens University in Charlotte, NC.
Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel
Lesley Farmer serves as Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. In her capacity, she is second in command to the Commissioner and oversees all legal issues within the Department, offering counsel and advice to her agency, other state agencies and individuals on employment law matters. In addition, all matters dealing with departmental legislative affairs, employee records, employee relations, mediation, as well as the review of certain statewide employee transactions fall under her review.
Lesley has served as the EEO Administrator & Deputy General Counsel for nearly four years, joining the department in February 2013. In this capacity, she offered advice and counsel to her agency and state agencies in the areas of employment law, ADA, FMLA, workplace discrimination, harassment, and investigations. Lesley has experience in state and federal civil rights laws, employment laws, and affirmative action.
Prior to joining the department, she served as the Assistant General Counsel for Civil Rights for the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Her responsibilities in that role included investigating civil rights complaints within Tennessee public schools K-12 and employment issues within TDOE. Lesley provided training, legal advice and technical assistance to TDOE and Tennessee school officials on school law, employment law, and civil rights matters, including assistance in creating the Tennessee Bullying Prevention Program in schools. Prior to joining TDOE in April 2007, she worked for a private law firm in Memphis, practicing in the areas of criminal defense, family law, personal injury, and general civil litigation.
Lesley is a graduate of both LEAD TN and TGEI, and she is currently a participant in the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law.
Stephanie Penney serves as Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources (DOHR). In her role, Stephanie oversees the State of Tennessee’s Recruiting Center, Agency Resource Center, and HR Service Center of DOHR.
Prior to her current role, Stephanie served as Director of Recruiting Management Services for DOHR. Her division processed more than 330,000 applications for employment and worked with hiring agencies to recruit for the best and brightest. She also served as Staffing Manager for Hamilton County Government in Chattanooga, TN. Her responsibilities included serving as the FMLA Administrator, ADA Coordinator and the online applicant tracking system’s on-site administrator.
Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentrations in both Human Resources and General Management. She is currently attending UTC’s MBA program. Stephanie also earned the designation of PHR from HRCI in 2009 and her IPMA-CP from IPMA-HR in 2009 as well.
Stephanie is currently a member of LEAD TN Alliance Five and is an alumnus of the Tennessee Government Management Institute and the Human Resource Master’s Class presented by the state of Tennessee. She is a graduate of the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute and Hamilton County’s Professional Development Academy. She was recently awarded the designation of Insight Professional User by Neogov Applicant Tracking Systems.
Kim T. Yap
Assistant Commissioner and Chief Human Resources Business Partner
Kim Thau Yap serves as Assistant Commissioner and Chief HR Business Partner for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources (DOHR). This strategic position leads state HR professionals to shape the direction of enterprise-wide HR practices.
In his current work, Kim serves as the project lead for Strategic HR Service Delivery. This statewide initiative centralizes into DOHR the routine HR workload currently performed by agency HR teams, and increases the strategic capacity of the enterprise HR community. Strategic HR Service Delivery empowers agencies to increase focus on developing talent, including strategies for recruitment, retention, workforce development, and succession planning. These strategic HR functions are essential for agencies to develop the high performing workforce required to meet the state’s future needs. Kim also leads a team of HR professionals who provide daily HR services for DOHR, DGS, and nine other small agencies and commissions.
Kim joined DOHR in September 2015 as the Director of HR and Talent Management. Prior to joining the department, he served as Director of Human Resources for the Department of Children Services where he helped establish customer-focused HR operations as a value-added strategic business partner. Kim has nineteen years of HR management and related experience in the public and private sectors, including finance, engineering, and manufacturing. He is known for coaching leaders at all levels to manage employee relations with integrity as a method to achieve sustained business results.
Kim earned a Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Western Kentucky University. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a clinical focus from the University of Central Florida. He is an alumnus of the Young Leader’s Council Nashville, LEAD Tennessee, and the state’s HR Master Series.