Evann Freeman spent one summer after graduation from Central High School volunteering in the U.S. Senate campaign of former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.
"I spent that summer stuffing envelopes for fundraisers," Freeman says. "I absolutely fell in love with the political process. It was sort of a match."
Today, Freeman is director of governmental relations and economic development for EPB and has the opportunity to practice his passion for public policy daily for the Chattanooga-based power distributor.
Freeman, 33, joined EPB in December from the staff of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, where he had worked since 2009 doing constituent service and field representative work in Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga.
At EPB, Freeman, who grew up in Chattanooga, manages relationships with elected officials on the local, state and federal level.
"It's building those relationships with elected officials, making sure we communicate with them," he says.
Freeman says he looks for the chance to partner on federal and state grant opportunities.
So far, he says, he has "gotten into the groove" and learned internally what's going on. He has had the opportunity for some face-to-face interaction, though the social distancing brought about by the coronavirus crisis has limited him.
"Everybody has adjusted to working from home — doing Zoom conferences," he says. "It makes it more complicated. It hinders that personal touch."
One factor he has recognized is how much EPB does for the community, Freeman says. Also, he has seen how influential the distributor is in "being a thought leader in the energy sector," he says.
Freeman says he didn't start out eyeing a career in public policy and government relations.
After high school, he attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and majored in sports management.
"Football was a passion of mine," Freeman says. "I thought I'd be a coach or administrator. I found another passion in the political realm."
Freeman also worked in the private sector with Hampton Inn and Hilton.
While back in Chattanooga, the father of two children says he hopes to give back to the city. He recalls as a middle school student at Orchard Knob taking part in a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after-school program learning public speaking and gaining confidence.
"It was very influential," he says.
David Wade, president and CEO of EPB, says Freeman's experience positions him to coordinate EPB's engagement with elected leaders.
"Over the last 10 years, Evann has demonstrated his ability to work with leaders at all levels of government," Wade says. "His experience is well aligned with EPB's efforts to help the Chattanooga area grow and prosper."