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Executive Management Bios

Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca Hunter


Rebecca Hunter serves on Governor Bill Haslam’s cabinet as Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources. Prior to this appointment, she spent six years as the Director of Human Resources for Hamilton County Government in Chattanooga and held management positions in governmental finance for over 25 years. Rebecca is a Certified Public Accountant and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources

During her tenure with State government, Rebecca has established the Department of Human Resources as a leader in innovative human resources practices, while shaping the best workforce for state government. She led a successful effort to transform the State’s employment practices with the passage of the T.E.A.M. Act, which is moving the State from a focus on seniority to a focus on performance. As a result, all state employees have a S.M.A.R.T. performance plan which aligns their work with the agency goals and the Governor’s priorities.
Rebecca’s commitment to excellence and performance shines not only in her leadership of the department, but extends to her leadership on various boards and committees. She serves on the board of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, whose mission is to drive organizational excellence in Tennessee. She is the immediate past president of the National Association of State Personnel Executives and the Tennessee Personnel Management Association and is an alumnus of the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee. She also serves on the Tennessee State University College Advisory Board and the board of HealthCare 21 Business Coalition. She is a Commissioner for Hixson Utility District and was appointed by Governor Haslam to the Utilities Management Review Board. She is a member of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and the LEAD Tennessee Executive Leadership Council. Along with Governor Bill Haslam, she serves as the co-chair of the Tennessee Employee Charitable Campaign.
Rebecca strongly believes that continuous improvement, life-long learning and performance excellence are keys to success both personally and professionally, and she demonstrates her commitment to collaboration and teamwork in her daily management style.


Lesley Farmer

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. 

2-27-14 Holliday_Trish_ Assistant Commissioner and Chief Learning Officer_Department of Human Resources

Dr. Trish Holliday, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Assistant Commissioner and Chief Learning Officer

Tennessee was the first state in the country to establish the executive position of Chief Learning Officer (CLO), appointing Dr. Trish Holliday to this role. Trish fosters a culture that promotes engagement, encourages retention, and provides continuous learning and leadership development for all employees, ultimately positioning the state as a learning organization. She drives the overall curriculum focus and development of all statewide leadership programs. Her passion and talent for developing successful leaders and purpose-driven individuals are reflected in these nationally recognized programs.

As a successful change agent, facilitator and storyteller, she is often asked by state leaders to undertake complex problem solving opportunities by bringing people together and helping them discover innovative solutions and develop the leaders needed to execute.

In 2017, Trish was recipient of the Corporate Learning Network Learning Leaders of the Year award, the Tennessee SHRM Human Resource Management Excellence Award, the CLO Learning Innovator Leader of the Year award and the Leadership Excellence Award Top Corporate Leader, ranked 2nd worldwide.  As a result of her influence as a leader, Trish was selected to participate in Leadership Tennessee, 2017 Class IV, an initiative of the College of Leadership and Public Service at Lipscomb University. She was recently selected to participate in the Leadership Middle Tennessee Class of 2018. Trish is an active member in the following international, national, state, and local organizations: TNCPE, IPMA-HR, TPMA, MTSHRM, TNSHRM, and NASPE. She was recently selected as an inaugural member of the TEDxNashville Society of Fellows.

Trish received the 2016 Edwin L. Swain Award of Excellence, the IPMA-HR Southern Region’s highest award given to an individual who has distinguished her/himself throughout their career in HR. Recently she was asked to facilitate the International Public Management Association – HR (IPMA-HR) 2020 strategic visioning task force, identifying critical leadership competencies needed for the future success of the HR profession. In 2016, Trish was also awarded the MTSHRM Development Professional of the year. Trish’s influence reaches beyond state government by serving as an executive leadership coach for private sector businesses, impacting leaders from Kingsport to Memphis. She serves on various boards and as a speaker at the local, national, and international level. Trish was a founding board member of Impact Nashville.

Doc Holliday is driven to help leaders develop strategies, create learning organizations and implement effective change initiatives!


Holliday, T.,, LEAD 2017, Interview, pp. 42-43.

Holliday, T., and Ricketts, E.C., 2017, HR News, Winning the War on Talent with Learning and Development Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Talent,, pp. 8-11.

Holliday, T., 2017, contributor to Chapter 3 in Learning for the Long Run, Holly Burkett, pp. 67-84.

Holliday, T., (2016) HR2020 Shifting Perspectives: A Vision for Public Sector HR, Primary Author: Talent (pp. 11-13), Co-Editor,

Holliday, Ed.D., T., HR News Magazine – IPMA-HR, July 2016, Avoiding the Dark Side, http://ipma-, page 18.

Holliday, T., Rushing, J., Williams, B., (2015). A Post-Secondary Matriculation Case Study of Two Rural Tennessee Counties (doctoral dissertation). Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Holliday, T., (Volume 5: Issue11, November 2015) HR Professionals Magazine, Reinventing HR: Educate. Motivate. Inspire.,, pp. 38-39.

Holliday, T., (Volume 5: Issue 6, June 2015) HR Professionals Magazine, A Call to Urgency: 21st  Century Leadership Competencies Needed for Success,, p. 40.

Holliday,  T.,  (Fall  2014)  The  Public  Manager,  Been  There,  Done  That:  Overcoming  ‘Check-the-Box’  Training Syndrome,, pp. 17-21, copyright Association of Talent Development (ATD) 2014.

Holliday, T., (Volume 4: Issue 3, March 2014) HR Professionals Magazine, Success(ion) Planning: The Learning Community Circle of Life,, pp. 22-23.

8-10-17 TGEI Orientation

Stephanie Penney

Assistant Commissioner

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.