I was born and raised on a small family farm in the hills of Middle Tennessee.  My granddad was a life-long farmer, and my dad retired as soon as he was eligible from being a factory worker to farm.    I have two brothers and two sisters, and I am the only one who did not stay within a few miles of the family farm.

I married Vickie when her daughter Heather was 7, and Daniel was born a couple of years later.  Vickie died suddenly in 2016.  Heather and husband Tim have Haley and twins, Tommy and Ben, just graduating high school of this writing.  Daniel and wife Rosie have Andrew, who is 2 as of this writing.  I’m blessed when it comes to family, they have done well.

I earned a Bachelors in Human Services and a Masters in Education from the University of Tennessee.  Soon after getting married I became disenchanted working on a Masters in Social Work and stopped a few hours short of that degree.  I spent the next 7 years working for TVA on nuclear construction sites.  During the last couple of those years, I earned a MBA at night while Vickie held things together at home.

While working through college I spent 2 years as a resident assistant in dorms, 2 years working with multiply handicapped children at a school for the deaf, a summer working in a baby furniture factory, and two summers cleaning a theme park at night.  In college intern programs, I counseled at a prison for women, student taught at a school for children with behavior problems, and was a social worker with a kindergarten program in a low income minority neighborhood.  I can’t claim to have accomplished much in those jobs (though I am proud of some accomplishments with the multiply handicapped children), but I gained very broad experience.

I then spent 30 years as both risk manager and benefits manager, first for the City of Oak Ridge and then the City of Knoxville.  The vast majority of those years I handled both responsibilities.  Either my programs or I individually received several national recognitions:

2016 Risk Manager of the Year Finalist, Business Insurance

2012 Public Risk Manager of the Year, Public Risk Management Association

2012 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, Risk and Insurance

2011 Champion Award for Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management, National Underwriter

2010 Benefit Manager of the Year Finalist, Business Insurance

2006 Employer Excellence in Value-Based Purchasing Finalist, National Coalition on Health

In some cases it was the first time a program or manager in the public sector had received the recognition.

During my tenure with Knoxville the cost of employee injuries declined by over 60% and injuries resulting in permanent disabilities decreased 80%.  Medical insurance claims decreased from 28% above the national average for large employers to 17% below that average.  I like to believe the numbers show I accomplished more than anyone else has to improve the quality of life of the employees of the City of Knoxville.   There are a number of things we implemented in both employee benefits and occupational health and safety that to my knowledge no other employer has implemented.

I was lucky at key times to have had senior management that was receptive to letting me implement innovative programs (which is not common, particularly in government).  I was not blessed with an employee population that was very receptive to cutting edge programs nor senior management that would champion the programs or defend me when I was under fire (even less common).  That took a toll over the years, but I’m proud of the results.