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Executive Management Bios

Juan Willimas

Juan Williams


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.


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. 


Dr. Trish Holliday, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, IPMA-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.

Dr. Holliday’s commitment and passion for helping professionals reach their greatest potential is rooted in her experience as an adult educator and certified executive coach, and her early years in full-time ministry as a missionary in Tennessee Appalachia. As a successful change agent, facilitator, and storyteller, she is often asked  by executive leaders to undertake complex problem solving opportunities by bringing people together and helping them discover innovative solutions, and develop the leaders needed to execute.

As an award-winning leader, Trish is the cover feature in the 2019 March issue of the National Chief Learning Officer Magazine. She was named one of the 2019 Women of Influence by the Nashville Business Journal. Trish received the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) Warner W. Stockberger Achievement Award in honor of a lifetime of outstanding contributions toward the improvement of public human resources management.

Trish was awarded the Tennessee Personnel Management Association (TPMA) Richard L. Stokes Personnel Achievement Award for innovation and high standards in Human Resources Management. Other awards received are Corporate Learning Network Learning Leader of the Year, the CLO Learning Innovator Leader
of the Year, and the Top Corporate Leader for Leadership Excellence ranked 2nd worldwide. She is a graduate of Leadership Tennessee and Leadership Middle Tennessee.

Trish serves as an Adjunct Professor at both Lipscomb University and Trevecca Nazarene University. She teaches Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Education as part of the Doctor of Education program at Lipscomb and prepares future leaders in human resources leadership and management, and personal leadership development at Trevecca.

Trish is an inaugural member of the TEDxNashville Society of Fellows. Trish is a speaker at the local, national, and international level. She serves on various non-profit and academic boards and enjoys giving back to the community. Trish was a founding board member of the non-profit organization, Impact Nashville and currently serves as the community liaison.

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.

Stephanie Penney

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

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.