Impacting Tennessee

Long before COVID-19, Tennessee was facing other challenges that affect the quality of life for its residents. In areas such as homelessness, access to broadband and voter registration, Tennessee frequently ranks low compared to other states.

In early 2021, the UT Institute for Public Service’s (IPS) agencies assembled panels of experts across the state to study five of the low-ranking issues, and make recommendations to help move the needle. Through its outreach efforts across Tennessee, IPS agencies have regular contact with cities, counties, state government employees, businesses and law enforcement – all of whom are affected by the quality of life issues facing the state.

IPS appointed 10 employees to co-facilitate panels on homelessness, voter registration, access to broadband, the urban-rural employment gap and the opioid epidemic. With ideas from expert panelists from across the state, the groups produced white papers, resource guides, best practices and websites that will be made available to all IPS customers.

Below is a report from each of the panels with recommendations:


Panel Members:
Elisha Hodge, MTAS, Co-facilitator
Susan Robertson, IPS Administration, Co-facilitator
Dr. David Patterson, UT Knoxville
Dr. Joe Savage, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Tyler Yount, Director of Special Projects for the Mayor of Chattanooga
Michael Dunthorn, City of Knoxville Office on Homelessness
Chere Bradshaw, Community Alliance for the Homeless (Memphis)
Abigail McDowell, Metro Homeless Impact Division (Nashville)
Thomas Clinton, Knoxville Police Department
Ethan Frizzell, The Salvation Army, South
Rozann Downing, Jackson/West Tennessee COC

Resource Guide

Access to Broadband

Danny Norman, CIS, Co-facilitator
Mike Galey, CTAS, Co-facilitator
Dr. Jamie Greig, UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)
Crystal Ivey, Broadband Director, Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TECD)
Ben Lovins, Senior Vice President, Telecom Division with Jackson Energy Authority
Dr. Matthew, Owen Senior Research Associate, Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovermental Relations (TACIR)
Deb Socia, President/CEO The Enterprise Center
Mark Smith, Miller & Martin PLLC
Charles “Chip” Spann, Director of Engineering & Technical Services, Connected Nation (Formerly Connected TN)
Dr. Sreedhar Upendram, UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)

Broadband Access Summary

Opioid Abuse

Jeff Stiles, NCEL, Co-facilitator
Tim Waldo, CIS, Co-facilitator
Dr. Todd Bess, Director of Controlled Substance Monitoring Database
Dr. Katie Cahill, Baker Center for Public Policy
Amy Dolinky, Substance Misuse Response Coordinator, All4Knox Group
Tommy Farmer, TBI
Dr. Matthew Harris, Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
Amy Murawski, Director, Opioid Response Coordination Office
Carole Myers, UTK Department of Nursing
Mary Linden Salter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services
Dr. Jennifer Tourville, Substance Misuse and Addiction Resource for Tennessee (SMART) Policy Network
Michele Trofatter, Overdose Response Strategy for the state and the CDC Foundation.

Opioid Panel Report

Substance Use Disorder County Facts

Voter Registration

Scott Gordy, IPS Administration, Co-facilitator
Dr. Janice Rodriguez, TLC, Co-facilitator
Dr. Katie Cahill, Baker Center for Public Policy
Roger Campbell, Assistant City Manager, Maryville
Dr. Mary Evins, MTSU
Joy Fulkerson, ETSU
Dawn Schluckebier, Advocacy and Government Relations Director, Think Tennessee
Debby Gould, League of Women Voters
William Rawls, Mayor, City of Brownsville

Urban-Rural Employment Gap

Beth Phillips, CIS, Co-facilitator
Kaley Walker, CTAS, Co-facilitator
Dr. Ann Berry, UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)
Brooxie Carlton, TN ECD
Dr. Timothy Ezzell, Institute for Secure and Sustainable Environment
Dr. Matthew Harris, Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
Dr. David Hughes, UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)
Matt Largen, Williamson Inc.
Greg Lowe, City of Lewisburg Director of Economic Development
Matt Murray, Former Director, Baker Center for Public Policy
Amy New, Putnam County Chamber/EDA
Jody Sliger, Department of Economic Community Development
Shelby Spurgeon, Economic Development Director for Weakley County
Dr. Sreedhar Upendram, UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA)
Dr. Marianne Wanamaker, Director, Baker Center for Public Policy

Final Summary