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Burns Phillips

Labor and Workforce Development

Governor Bill Haslam appointed Burns Phillips commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development in June 2013.  Phillips had been named acting commissioner in March 2013. 

Previously, Phillips had worked in state government in the Budget Office of the Department of Finance and Administration for seven years before entering the private sector in 1981 where he engaged in the sale and marketing of surgical and general medical products. In 1991 he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 28 countries throughout Europe, South America and the Pacific Rim.

Prior to coming to Labor and Workforce Development, he had returned to state government in 2009 to serve as the administrative director of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Central Services Division, and in 2012 served as managing director in the Department of Finance and Administration (F&A), overseeing customer-focused government initiatives administration-wide. 

Phillips has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He also earned a law degree from the Nashville School of Law.