NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam has named a new chief of staff.
Haslam’s office announced that current staffer Rachel Lundeen has been promoted to the top job following the departure of Christi Gibbs.
Gibbs has been hired as the executive director of next year’s National Governors Association meeting in Nashville.
Before joining the first lady’s office, Lundeen worked on Bill Haslam’s gubernatorial campaign and his transition team.
Lundeen said in a release Thursday that she looks forward to working on the first lady’s and governor’s education initiatives and managing the governor’s mansion.
Lundeen holds a law degree and a master’s in public policy.
Once shy about being in a public role, Haslam said she now enjoys using her position to promote early education and the importance of parental involvement, according to The Tennessean. “I really look at this role as an opportunity to serve,” Haslam said. “I have a voice, and I want to use it in the best way I can. I started looking at the dropout rate (for high school students), and what I learned is that they were probably behind and had been behind – some as far back as the third grade.”
It is a time in a child’s education that is usually the most critical, she said.
“You learn to read in the third grade and then you read to learn, so you have to be on grade level,” Haslam said. “I learned that 46 percent of third-graders are proficient in reading and more than half are getting behind.”
Haslam said Sumner County fares a little better than the state average with 54 percent of all third graders on grade level in reading, but that still means that 46 percent are not, she said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam is teaming up with Grover, the loveable Muppet from Sesame Street, and United HealthCare to teach kids the benefits of eating healthy and getting in shape while helping them learn to love reading.
The First Lady will meet with a group of kindergartners and pre-K students at Buena Vista Enhanced Option School in Nashville on Tuesday and read to the children Sesame Street’s book “Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget.” The event will combine the First Lady’s mission of helping kids to be better readers and Sesame Street’s efforts to teach kids about nutritious eating. Haslam will read to the children before they engage in an interactive session on healthy food.
Tennessee is said to have an obesity rate of 30 percent.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — First lady Crissy Haslam is using her Read20 Family Book Club to commemorate Women’s History Month.
Haslam is scheduled to read to about 60 fourth-grade students in the House chamber of the state Legislature on Thursday.
She will be reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Independent Dames, a book with stories about women who influenced the Revolutionary War.
Haslam will be joined by House Speaker Beth Harwell, the state’s first female speaker of the House.
As first lady, Haslam is working to promote early literacy. Last summer, she launched the Read20 Family Book Club, challenging Tennessee families to read together for at least 20 minutes each day.
News release from Department of Transportation:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Governor’s Highway Safety Office, in partnership with First Lady Crissy Haslam, will celebrate a milestone, Tuesday, October 9th at the New Hope Academy in Franklin at 2:00 p.m. The celebration will commemorate the 400,000th child in Tennessee served by Ollie the Otter. The event will spotlight the character-driven educational program initiated and supported by the Tennessee Road Builders Association and funded through the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.
“This program shares an important message with children and helps to have a safe and healthy start in life,” Mrs. Haslam said.
Ollie the Otter Booster Seat and Seat Belt Safety Program is targeted to Tennessee’s elementary school children and their caregivers. With repeated exposure and by creating a fun environment, the program reaches children at a critical age, when good safety habits are formed, teaching them to make the correct choices as they move from car seat, to booster seat, to seatbelt. The program utilizes volunteers from the safety industry. Law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighters, educators and others from the community health field play a role in the success of Ollie the Otter.
Program founder and current TRBA Foundation Chairman Carol Coleman said the program has been endorsed by education, health and safety professionals throughout the state and nation. “In less than five school calendar years, the program has visited more than 1,400 schools, incorporating more than 23,000 classrooms throughout the state,” Coleman said. “With over 1,000 trained volunteers, Ollie has visited all 95 counties. The program promotes overall safety and focuses on the use of booster seats for children under nine, or 4 feet 9 inches tall.”
Kendell Poole, Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, praised the program for educating our children and ultimately saving lives. “The success of this program is a testament to Carol Coleman’s vision and her drive to develop a prevention piece targeted at keeping our children safe. Her leadership inspired a movement in TN. She was able to attract the right players to get involved to help make the Ollie the Otter program what it is today.”
To learn more about Ollie the Otter and how to reserve a presentation, please contact Julie Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 931-372-3318. Visit the Ollie the Otter website at www.seatbeltvolunteer.org.
Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam, state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero all received their seasonal flu vaccinations Thursday morning at the Knox County Health Department on Dameron Avenue, reports the News Sentinel. “I brought my wife with me so I would be OK,” quipped the governor, who gave a fake grimace when he received his shot from Jody Persino, an RN at the health department.
“We joke about it, but flu shots aren’t painful,” Haslam said. “We are trying to spread the message across Tennessee that certain preventative things are good for us. Getting a flu shot is an easy way to do that.”
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam today announced the governor will issue an executive order refocusing and restructuring the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, which they will co-chair.
This makes the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet the only one in the country co-chaired by both a governor and the spouse, according to the National Forum for Youth Investment, and the group through collaboration and cooperation will create a comprehensive strategy focused on issues such as children’s physical and mental health, education, safety and overall well-being.
The group also will work to coordinate, streamline and enhance the state’s efforts in providing resources and services to Tennessee’s children.
“An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now,” Haslam said. “Providing the best services and creating the best opportunities for Tennessee’s children to succeed must be a priority. By bringing together the Children’s Cabinet, Crissy and I want to share policy, coordinate, collaborate and cooperate so the future for Tennessee kids is as bright as possible.”
The Haslams will co-chair the group consisting of commissioners from the departments of Children’s Services, Education, Health, Human Services and Mental Health as well as the TennCare director and any other individuals the governor may deem appropriate. This executive order will replace Executive Order No. 7 from the previous administration.
“Bill and I are grateful that so many people have been working hard to serve children and families in our state,” Crissy Haslam said. “The Children’s Cabinet is a wonderful opportunity for state agencies and stakeholders to work together toward a common goal of improving the future for Tennessee’s children.”
The Children’s Cabinet will be directed by Jude White, who brings a mixture of experience in judicial and private law practice, non-profit management and state government services. White recently served as the executive director of Renewal House, a local non-profit agency in the Nashville community serving families in recovery from addiction. She worked formerly as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children Services, after practicing law and serving as a judicial clerk.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has lit the Capitol Christmas tree in a ceremony moved inside because of rain.
He and his wife, Crissy, lit the 27-foot-tall Norway spruce Monday evening in the first such ceremony for the governor, who took office last January. The tree was donated by Ed Mascolo of Nashville.
The tree is decorated in red, silver and blue with Tennessee flags. It features an oversized tree topper bow, which was handmade in the state. There are more than 3,000 LED lights on the tree.
Two years ago, the state Christmas tree toppled over at one point during high winds.
First Lady of Tennessee Crissy Haslam came “home” Monday to belatedly celebrate Knoxville’s 220th birthday and to praise Knox County’s historic house museums, reports the News Sentinel. Haslam spoke at a luncheon fundraiser held by the Historic Homes of Knoxville. About 160 people attended the event that grossed some $7,100 for HHK.
The group is a partnership of six Knox County historic homes open to the public. Those homes are Blount Mansion, Crescent Bend House & Gardens, Ramsey House, James White’s Fort, Mabry-Hazen House and the Marble Springs State Historic Site.
The structures range from those built in the late 18th century to those built in the 19th century. Knoxville marks its founding on Oct. 3, 1791. That’s when James White sold one-half acre lots to establish the town.
Haslam moved into the Tennessee governor’s mansion in Nashville from Knoxville when her husband, former Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, was elected governor. That residence, built in 1929 as a private home and acquired by the state later, was renovated during the administration of Haslam’s predecessor, Phil Bredesen.
Crissy Haslam is heading an effort to restore the property’s gardens and landscaping using private funds.
Tennessee’s First Lady held a luncheon Thursday to raise money for continuing restoration of the Governor’s residence, reports WTVF-TV of Nashville. The Tennessee Governor’s Mansion was originally built for a family in 1929 and purchased by the state in 1949. The renovation and restoration of the home began in spring of 2010 by former First Lady Andrea Conte.
The current first lady, Crissy Haslam, is continuing the project through her term. Haslam said the looked at the master plan for the project and has chosen to work on the landscaping and gardening around the residence. She will be partnering with Tennessee landscape artist Ben Page.
Haslam and Page unveiled the plan to renovate the garden on Thursday, and began raising money for the project.
“It’ll be a project that goes on for several years, hopefully I can complete it. We’ll see. [There are] about 630 to 640 people here today — men and women from across the state with an interest in horticulture and gardening and they are here because of that reason,” said Haslam.
Mrs. Haslam said they’ve had a lot of interest in the project from Garden Clubs around the state
News release is below.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam today hosted more than 100 spouses of deployed soldiers of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard for a reception at the Tennessee Residence.
The purpose of the event was to honor the sacrifices that military families have made and to pay tribute to the spouses who play a vital role in our nation’s defense. Country Singer/Songwriter Josh Thompson provided entertainment at the event.
“Men and women in the military make incredible sacrifices, and we can never thank you enough for the sacrifices your families have also made for our country,” Mrs. Haslam said during the event. She also shared best wishes from the governor, who is currently overseas visiting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Col. Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, and Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Adjunct General of the Tennessee National Guard, both attended the event to honor military families. A Military Spouses’ Day Proclamation, recently signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, was read aloud to acknowledge the significant contributions, support and sacrifices of spouses of the Armed Forces.
“It was an honor to welcome so many brave military spouses to the Tennessee Residence, and we are so incredibly grateful for their service and sacrifice,” Mrs. Haslam said.