Haslam taps Stephen Smith as new chief of staff

Haslam taps Stephen Smith as new chief of staff

November 9th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday he has named senior adviser Stephen Smith as his chief of staff to oversee day-to-day operations of his office as well as serve as the Republican governor's top adviser and strategist.

Jim Henry will continue serving as Haslam's deputy.

In his news release, the governor said Smith's "experience, knowledge of state government, and commitment to great outcomes make him well suited for the role of chief of staff.

"I greatly appreciate all he has contributed and our entire team is excited to have him in this role." Haslam added.

Smith joined the governor's office in August 2016 and most recently served as senior adviser to the governor. 

He began working for the administration in 2011 and previously served as deputy commissioner for policy and external affairs for the Tennessee Department of Education.

The 42-year-old has played key roles in a number of administration initiatives, including the governor's "Next Tennessee" legislative agenda in areas like rural Internet broadband expansion this year as well as the IMPROVE Act. The latter boosted state spending for transportation with increases in gas and diesel taxes while cutting a number of non-transportation related taxes.

Smith, an attorney, before worked for the Tennessee School Board Association before joining the Haslam administration's Education Department in 2011. 

He was a key player in the governor's controversial changes to teacher tenure protections as well as revisions in education accountability and the expansion of public charter schools in Tennessee.

"I've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of Governor Haslam's administration for the past seven years," Smith said in a statement. Calling it a "true privilege" to work with the governor and top officials, Smith said he is "looking forward to this new challenge."

The term-limited Haslam leaves office in January 2019.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.