September 19, 2016

Complete Tennessee Kicks Off Inaugural Leadership Academy

Program aims to equip local stakeholders to promote postsecondary success

NASHVILLE, TN – Postsecondary advocacy organization Complete Tennessee will kick off its inaugural Leadership Academy today in Memphis, Tennessee. The Complete Tennessee Leadership Academy (CTLA) brings together community stakeholders from around the state for several months of regional programming that explores the challenges and opportunities facing Tennessee’s higher education system.

Complete Tennessee Executive Director Dr. Kenyatta Lovett said, “Without community education and engagement, Complete Tennessee cannot be successful in its mission to support the Drive to 55 by improving postsecondary access and completion. An integral pillar in our work must be to bring local leaders and stakeholders together to learn about Tennessee’s higher education landscape, and explore best practices to help ensure students not only successfully graduate with a degree, but also gain the relevant skills to move into prosperous careers in the local workforce.”

Over the next seven months, CTLA will convene five working sessions in Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Sewanee. During the sessions, participants will meet with state and national higher education experts, discuss postsecondary and workforce development benchmarks with local leaders, and develop a richer understanding of the state of post-secondary education in Tennessee.

“We’ve worked very hard to engage a diverse group of Leadership Academy participants who represent different areas of the state and can provide insights on the unique needs of local students and communities,” Dr. Lovett added. “Regional diversity will always remain a priority for Complete Tennessee. The solutions we need to improve higher education outcomes in Tennessee will not be one-size-fits-all, and will rely on the constructive feedback from stakeholders across Tennessee. We look forward to a robust kickoff session and a very productive inaugural CTLA class.”

The 2016-2016 CTLA members are:

  • Debbie Adams, Vice President of Student Affairs, Chattanooga State Community College
  • Keith Carver, Executive Assistant to the President, University of Tennessee
  • Cathy Cate, Executive Director, Leadership Tennessee
  • Beth Duffield, Vice President of Workforce Development, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
  • Troy Grant, Assistant Executive Director of P-16 Initiatives, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Lora Jobe, Executive Director, PeopleFirst Partnership
  • Tish Jones, Executive Director, HC* Excel
  • Greg Martz, Plant Manager, Chemours; Board Chairman, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce
  • Jan McKeel, Executive Director, South Central TN Workforce Alliance
  • Danielle Mezera, Assistant Commissioner, Division of College, Career and Technical Education, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Georgia Reagan, College Success Coach, Conexion Americas
  • Jeremy Ross, Chief of Staff, External Operations, East Tennessee State University
  • Graham Thomas, Director of Community Partnerships, tnAchieves
  • Ann Thompson, Director of Workforce Development, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Kasey Vatter, Assistant Director, Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Knoxville
  • Kevin Woods, Executive Director, Workforce Investment Network

Complete Tennessee is a nonprofit education organization that advocates for students and communities by supporting increased postsecondary access and completion. For more information about Complete Tennessee, and to learn about the members of the 2016-2017 Leadership Academy class, visit

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