Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee announces Cabinet picks

Governor-elect Bill Lee speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Lee defeated Democrat Karl Dean in the gubernatorial race Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
photo Stuart McWhorter

Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee has announced his first Cabinet appointments as well as several key appointments to his staff.

"We have received a tremendous amount of interest from Tennesseans across the state who are interested in serving our administration," Lee said in an announcement Tuesday. "I am proud to announce these first members of my cabinet and staff. They are highly qualified to lead in their respective areas and will be an important part in helping our state continue to grow."

Stuart McWhorter, who is chairman of Lee's inauguration planning efforts, will serve as commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration. He serves as chairman and president of Clayton Associates, an investment management company primarily focused on healthcare and technology industries.

photo Danielle Barnes

Danielle Barnes, who currently serves as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, will continue in that role. Before joining DHS, she served as deputy commissioner and general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. In her capacity, she had oversight over all legal issues within the department, offering counsel and advice to her agency, other state agencies and individuals on employment law matters.

photo Marie Williams

Marie Williams will continue as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She leads the Department and their more than 1,800 employees in assisting individuals in securing treatment and recovery services for serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbances, and substance abuse disorders. She previously served as deputy commissioner and as assistant commissioner of Mental Health Services, where she worked collaboratively to expand consumer-based recovery services.

Lee also announced senior staff roles in the governor's office:

  • Blake Harris: chief of staff
  • Butch Eley: chief operating officer
  • Lang Wiseman: deputy to the governor and chief counsel
  • Chris Walker: communications director
  • Tony Niknejad: policy director
  • Laine Arnold: press secretary