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This story was updated at 1:55 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, with a statement from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

EPB Vice President Hodgen Mainda has been named as Tennessee's new commissioner of Commerce and Insurance.

Mainda, who joined EPB in 2017 after working in government relations and business development jobs in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, will fill the vacancy created when Julie McPeak quit as the state's top insurance regulator in June to join a Nashville law firm. Mainda, who begins his new job in October, becomes the first Chattanoogan in the cabinet of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

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Hodgen Mainda. Contributed photo.

"Hodgen joins my cabinet after an outstanding career as a community leader in Chattanooga," Lee said in an announcement Thursday. "He is respected for his ability to build partnerships across multiple sectors and we welcome his leadership to such a multifaceted department like Commerce and Insurance."

In his role with EPB, Mainda built partnerships across the state and federal level and increased EPB's role in regional economic development.

In addition to his work with EPB, Mainda serves on the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Chattanooga Rotary Club, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor's Roundtable and the College of Business Advisory Board. Mainda is also a member of the Leadership Tennessee Class of 2019 and a 2018 graduate of the Harvard Business School Young American Leaders Program.

"I am thrilled for the state of Tennessee to have such a wonderful young leader in such a very important role," said state Rep. Robin Smith, the chairman of the House Insurance Committee. "Hodgen will do a fantastic job based on his history of working on any number of projects in the Hamilton County area."

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., also applauded the appointment, noting "his immense contributions to the Volunteer State have been recognized time and time again.

" In this new capacity, Hodgen will be an asset in furthering the Lee Administration's objective to ensure that Tennessee is the best place to call home," Fleischmann said in a statement Thursday.

Mainda, whose father was a former financial advisor to Kenya's president, left Nairobi, Kenya, in 1997 to play rugby at Middle Tennessee State University and studied political science.

After moving to Chattanooga in 2008, Mainda met his future wife and decided to put down his roots and have a family in Tennessee rather than return to Kenya. He is a graduate of the University of Eastern Africa and currently resides in Chattanooga with his wife and two children.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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