Tag Archives: haslam cabinet

Mental Health Commissioner Varney retiring

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Doug Varney will retire next month.

Varney has served as commissioner since 2011. Under Varney’s leadership, the department completed a major transformation in the mental health system in east Tennessee, better serving long-term patients by transitioning them into community-based programs. The department has also improved medical and business operations of state hospitals and made significant progress addressing the prescription drug epidemic.

“Doug’s passion for helping those with mental health and substance abuse issues has made a tremendous impact on the state. As a member of my Public Safety Subcabinet, I especially appreciate all he has done to help fight prescription drug abuse and expand and strengthen drug recovery courts in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Doug has helped change the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and for that I am grateful.” Continue reading

Cate’s consulting (not lobbying) helps clients

The Tennessean has a Sunday story raising the question of whether Mark Cate has engaged in lobbying since he stepped down a year ago as Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief of staff. Cate says he has not, though clients of his consulting firm have done quite well in their dealings with state government.

The clients Cate represents have landed $3 million in state funding, successfully secured approval to open a new mental health facility in East Tennessee and navigated a thorny legislative session for the tourism industry in the last year. Cate also was hired for a $10,000 per month job by a private foundation to oversee the construction of the new state museum, a project he helped lead as one of Haslam’s top advisors.

Cate and his deputies did not register with the state to lobby for 2016. State law forbids high-ranking officials from lobbying for one year after they leave office. Cate, who left the governor’s office on July 31, 2015, said he played no role in landing the state funding for clients because he and his firm were only consultants.

…The Tennessean reviewed nearly two years of emails and text messages between Cate and top state officials from six departments. The hundreds of emails and texts, from late 2014 through early this year, paint a picture of Cate’s broad influence on state government during his time as chief of staff and his continued clout as the principal for his new company, Stones River Group.

Stones River Group works for the National Museum of African American Music, planned to open in Nashville; Strategic Behavioral Health, a mental health company in Memphis; the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.; and three nonprofit organizations created while Cate worked under Haslam to support policy initiatives favored by the Haslam administration. Cate says all of his contracts note that his company is not allowed to lobby. Continue reading

Purkey named new TN safety commissioner

News release from Department of Safety and Homeland Security
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of David Purkey as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security beginning September 1.

Purkey, 57, has served as the department’s assistant commissioner and homeland security advisor since 2011. Under his leadership, the Office of Homeland Security has transformed into a proactive agency, overseeing school security plans, training citizens and law enforcement agencies in active shooter response, and leading the state’s efforts to combat cybercrime.

From 2014-2016 Purkey served in a dual role as director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). Continue reading

Haslam puts Stephen Smith on senior staff

News release from governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Stephen Smith will join his senior team as senior advisor for policy and strategy. Smith is currently the deputy commissioner for policy and external affairs at the Tennessee Department of Education, where he works with the administration, General Assembly and other stakeholders on key policy, legislative and legal issues.

“Given our focus on education, Stephen has already been integrally involved with our office on a number of initiatives and issues over the past six years. I’ve always appreciated his professionalism, grasp of the issues, and relationships with the legislature and stakeholders throughout the state,” Haslam said. “He’s a strong addition to our team, and we’re excited to have him on board.”

Smith, 41, joined the Tennessee Department of Education in 2011 and has been central in the development and adoption of several key administration policies and reforms including revisions to the state’s education accountability system, teacher tenure reform, expansion of school choice options, modernization of the state’s teacher salary schedule, and enhancement of the state’s funding formula for education known as the Basic Education Program (BEP).

“I have been very fortunate these past six years to work in the Tennessee Department of Education and be part of Governor Haslam’s successful efforts to improve student achievement in this state,” Smith said. “I am tremendously excited about this new role and the opportunity to work more directly with the governor on a wide range of issues to help Tennessee continue to be recognized as a national leader in education, job creation and fiscal responsibility.”

Smith is a licensed attorney and formerly worked in private practice as well as the nonprofit sector representing clients in both a legal and consulting capacity. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and law degree from the Nashville School of Law.

He and his wife, Christina, live in Williamson County and have three young daughters, Ellery, Adler and Ivey.

Smith will join the governor’s office August 2.

Haslam announced last week that Will Cromer, who has been his chief policy advisor since 2010, will leave the governor’s office in September. TennCare director Dr. Wendy Long has named Cromer deputy director and chief of staff of TennCare.

Haslam advisor Will Cromer moves to TennCare

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Will Cromer, his special assistant for strategy and policy director, will be joining the Bureau of TennCare as deputy director and chief of staff.

“Will has been one of my closest and most trusted advisors for more than six years, and while I think this is a great opportunity for him and the new leadership team Dr. Long is assembling at TennCare, I would be lying if I said I won’t miss having him one floor away,” Haslam said. “Will is incredibly smart and thoughtful, and he has been at the heart of every major policy decision and initiative we’ve launched in our office. I’m excited to see him apply his knowledge and experience in helping manage this $11 billion agency.”

As special assistant for strategy and policy director, Cromer has led the development and implementation of Haslam’s policy agenda and served as a key advisor and member of the governor’s senior team. He has developed legislation, overseen strategic initiatives, assisted with budget development and served as a liaison to various state agencies and stakeholders.

“It has been an incredible honor to be a part of Governor Haslam’s team and to work every day on a wide range of issues facing our state, from education reform to health care policy to economic development,” Cromer said. “TennCare is one of our most critical areas in state government, and I look forward to continuing to serve this administration and the people of Tennessee in this new capacity.”

Cromer, 31, has served as Haslam’s policy director since his 2010 campaign for governor, during which he was responsible for platform development, debate preparation, issue research and positioning, and assisting with strategic messaging and speechwriting.

Prior to his time with Haslam, Cromer worked for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), a bipartisan education initiative founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, where he was involved in a number of areas in the early stages of the organization. Before that he worked in the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C., promoting free market policies.

A Nashville native, Cromer is an honors program graduate of Belmont University, where he served as student body president.

He currently serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation and is a member of the Governor’s Rural Development Task Force, Three Branches Institute, and Public Safety Subcabinet.

Cromer and his wife, Catherine, live in Nashville.

Cromer begins at TennCare on Tuesday, September 6. His successor will be named at a later date.

Jim Henry ‘still in shock’ from death of wife, son

Excerpt from Georgiana Vines’ tribute to Pat Henry, who died recently.

Her husband, Jim Henry, is deputy governor to Gov. Bill Haslam. Now he’s grieving not only his wife’s death but the death of another son, Jimmy, on May 31.

“One week you have everything, then the next you don’t,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday, his voice breaking up. “It is just an unbelievable sequence. It’s just been 30 days (since Jimmy died). I’m still in shock, I guess.”

Pat Henry died on the Henry farm in Roane County on Monday of probably what was uterine cancer, her husband said. The diagnosis was a surprise, he said.

“She had a physical in January and got a clean bill of health. But she wasn’t feeling at the top of the world. She kept feeling bad, couldn’t eat…I think it’s obvious it had been there awhile,” he said.

She had two surgeries within the past month at Turkey Creek Medical Center. The cancer was aggressive and she would have needed aggressive treatment, Henry said.

“She wanted to come home. The chances of cure were miniscule,” he said.

So she went to their home on the farm and died with family and friends, he said. She was buried Friday.

Haslam names veteran TDOC staffer as new commissioner

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Tony Parker as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of the Correction (TDOC) effective June 19. Parker will replace Derrick Schofield who announced June 1 he is leaving the administration to join GEO Group in Florida as executive vice president for continuum of care.

A 33-year veteran of TDOC, Parker has served five administrations, beginning his career as a correctional officer, working his way up and serving since 2012 as assistant commissioner of prisons, supervising prison operations, security operations and offender management.


“Tony Parker has spent his life dedicated to serving our state through the correctional system. He put himself through school, earning his associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees while being promoted through the ranks of the Department of Correction,” Haslam said. “Tony understands the department and its mission from top to bottom, and I have no doubt he will do an outstanding job leading it.” Continue reading

Embattled Correction Commissioner Schofield resigns

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield will leave the administration at the end of June to join GEO Group in Florida as executive vice president for continuum of care.

Schofield, 55, has led the department since the start of the administration in 2011 and has been an integral voice in shaping the governor’s public safety agenda during the administration. He has served on the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet since its inception, most recently helping to shape the Public Safety Act of 2016, which makes smarter use of prison bed space, among other important safety objectives.

“Tennessee has been extremely fortunate to have someone of Derrick’s caliber as commissioner of the Department of Correction,” Haslam said. “I am personally grateful for Derrick’s professional approach and personal integrity as he worked to reduce recidivism, improve offender outcomes and assure a safe and secure environment in our corrections system.”

The state’s corrections system is comprised of 14 prisons, collectively housing approximately 21,000 offenders. The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has more than 6,500 employees and supervises 79,000 offenders on probation, parole or community corrections.

“I am thankful for the ability to serve under Gov. Haslam’s leadership and am proud of the work that we accomplished together,” Schofield said. “I am especially proud of the hard work the more than six thousand correctional professionals have put into making the Tennessee Department of Correction one of the best in the nation.”

The mission of the department was expanded in 2012 to include providing effective community supervision of adult offenders, transferring certain functions from the Board of Parole to the department.

Before becoming TDOC commissioner, Schofield was an assistant commissioner of Corrections in Georgia. A native Georgian, he spent eight years with the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of Captain, and has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University.

Schofield’s last day will be June 20.

UPDATE/Note: In an unusual move, the governor’s office, after sending out the above, also sent media the governor’s response to a reporter’s question later in the day. The question was whether Schofield’s departure had anything to do with the criticism he has faced. The answer:

“Absolutely not. I want to be as clear as I can: Derrick Schofield has been a great commissioner of correction. He got a wonderful job offer. I begged him to stay. It’s a really good offer that he thinks is the right thing for him. But I couldn’t be more grateful for the work he’s done here, and I will miss him.”

Bill Gibbons leaving as TN safety commissioner

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons will leave the administration at the end of the summer.

Gibbons has led the department since the start of the administration in 2011 and has also served as the chair of the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet. Under Gibbons’ leadership using a data-driven approach, traffic fatalities in Tennessee have decreased – five of the six lowest years in the last 50 years have happened under this administration. He also directed improvements to the driver services division, including the addition of new technology, that have resulted in the average wait time dropping from 35 minutes in 2011 to less than 20 minutes and better customer service for Tennessee taxpayers.
Continue reading

Templeton named TN agriculture commissioner

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Jai Templeton, a sixth generation Tennessee farmer, as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture effective May 1. Templeton will replace Julius Johnson who last week announced his retirement.

Templeton, 44, currently serves as the department’s deputy commissioner, leading the day-to-day operations and directing programs and services that range from food safety to animal and plant health to agricultural development.

“Jai has played a critical role in developing the department’s 10 year strategic plan to grow Tennessee’s agricultural and forest industries. As a lifelong farmer, he will be a champion for the farming industry and continue the department’s work to strengthen our rural communities,” Haslam said. Continue reading