State Government


Stephanie Allen OHara : Legal Program Manager, MTAS

Stephanie Allen OHara

Legal Program Manager, MTAS

865.974.0411 | 1610 University Ave., Knoxville, TN 37921-6741

Stephanie Allen OHara joined MTAS staff in the Knoxville office as a legal consultant on January 1, 2010. Effective November 1, 2013, Stephanie became the Legal Program Manager at MTAS.  Stephanie graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a bachelor’s in business administration. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she interned with the U.S. Congress and Philip Morris USA. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence and Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While in law school, Stephanie interned with Oak Ridge National Labs; Retired Judge James Beckner, Third Judicial District Criminal Court; Chancellor Telford Forgety, Jr., Fourth Judicial District; Judge Benjamin Strand, Jefferson County General Sessions; as well as several law firms. Prior to joining MTAS as a legal consultant, Stephanie served as a judicial clerk to Justice Sharon Lee on the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Court of Appeals. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys volunteering with charities and many outdoor activities, including snow skiing, hiking, wakeboarding, and dragon boating.

Melissa Ashburn : Legal Consultant, MTAS

Melissa Ashburn

Legal Consultant, MTAS

865.974.0411 | 1610 University Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37921



Steven Cross : Fire Management Consultant, MTAS

Steven Cross

Fire Management Consultant, MTAS

615.532.7108 | 226 Capitol Blvd., Suite 606, Nashville, TN 37219

Steven Cross is a Fire Management Consultant with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS).  He joined MTAS on July 9, 2017.  His duties include providing technical assistance and consulting services for municipal governemnt leaders in all areas of fire department and emergency services management as well as serving as a resource for state-wide professional associations.

Steven joined the fire service as a municipal firefighter in 1986.  He served for over 27 years with the Columbia Fire Department, the last 17 years as Columbia’s Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Chief. Prior to joining the University of Tennessee, Steven served in the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office's Fire Fighting Personnel Standards and Education Commission. 


  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Administration from Waldorf University in Forrest City, Iowa
  • Fire Officer Level IV IFSAC / ProBoard from Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama


  • Chief Fire Officer designation (CFO), Commission on Fire Accreditation International
  • Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association
  • Tennessee All Hazards Incident Management Team, Assistant State Plan Coordinator
  • Public Entity Risk Management, Insurance Institute of America


Macel Ely : Executive Director, NCEL

Macel Ely

Executive Director, NCEL

865.974.9830 | 1610 University Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37921

Dr. Macel Ely serves as Director of the Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership (NCEL) at the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service.  The purpose of the NCEL is to provide training and professional growth to leaders at all levels, from the emerging supervisor to the experienced senior executive.  Prior to coming to serve in this role, Dr. Macel Ely, served as training manager for the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS).  During that time, Dr. Ely oversaw multiple training programs including the Municipal Court Clerk Program, Elected Officials Academy, Municipal Management Academy, Municipal Administration Program and the Certified Municipal Finance Officer programs. 

Dr. Ely has earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lee University and Kentucky Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in public administration and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He has earned the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification through the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and also has professional certificates in the areas of coaching, leadership program development and training management.  Recently awarded the 2015 Robert S. Hutchison Outstanding Public Service Professional Award, Dr. Ely has also authored a book entitled Ain’t No Grave which has been featured in such media outlets as CNN Headline News, National Public Radio, and the British Broadcasting Corporation. This literary work was nominated for best historical research by the Association of Recorded Sound Collections. Dr. Macel Ely also serves on charitable boards across the country.  He and his wife, Jamie, reside in Walland with their son, Silas and daughter, Elizabeth. 



Brett Howell : Information Specialist II, CTAS

Brett Howell

Information Specialist II, CTAS

615.532.3555 | 226 Capitol Boulevard Building, Suite 400, Nashville, TN 37219

Brett Howell, communications specialist, holds a master's degree in public administration from Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree in English/journalism from Tennessee Technological University, where he also received a minor in history. Since joining CTAS he has been responsible for public policy and fiscal analysis, particularly as it relates to how the state budget and proposed legislation impacts county governments statewide. At CTAS, he is the managing editor of Tennessee County News. Prior to joining CTAS in August 1995, Brett was a newspaper editor with experience in university public affairs. 

Erin Ketelle : Program Manager, DRIVE, CIS

Erin Ketelle

Program Manager, DRIVE, CIS

615.532.4926 | 193 Polk Ave., Suite C, Nashville, TN 37210

Erin Ketelle is the Program Manager for the DRIVE Initiative.

Erin has her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Public Administration and Urban Planning from the University of Tennessee.

Erin began her career with IPS during graduate school while working an internship at the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). Immediately following graduation, she accepted a job in Nashville as the Legislative Assistant with the County Officials Association of Tennessee and soon thereafter became the Research Coordinator for the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS). After several years of conducting research projects for county governments, she was promoted to Assistant to the Executive Director of the Center for Industrial Services. Before joining IPS, she worked as a legal clerk at Sheppeard, Swanson, & Mynatt, PLC.

Erin is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but she now proudly calls Nashville home. 

Patrick Mills : Training Coordinator, NCEL

Patrick Mills

Training Coordinator, NCEL

865.974.6624 | 1610 University Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37921

Patrick Mills serves as Coordinator of the Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership (NCEL) at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Public Service. Before coming to NCEL, Patrick Mills served as Training Coordinator for University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). While at MTAS, Mills coordinated events statewide for the many programs MTAS offers. Mills has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. He is an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Patrick Mills is from Maryville, Tennessee; he is an active member in the community and in his free time, loves being outdoors, traveling and playing golf.  

Janice Rodriguez : Executive Director, TLC

Janice Rodriguez

Executive Director, TLC

615-741-7579 | 220 French Landing Drive, Suite B, Nashville, TN 37243

Dr. Janice Snow Rodríguez is the Executive Director of the TN Language Center (formerly the TN Foreign Language Institute). She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Masters of Arts, in Spanish Literature. Dr. Rodríguez has been employed by TLC (formerly TFLI) since 1999, and is credited with researching and recommending a certification program for court interpreters for the State of Tennessee, adopted by the TN Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the Title VI Coordinator for the Institute, works on the TN Supreme Court's Access to Justice Committee for Interpreter Issues, and is a board member for the Metro Nashville Police Department's El Protector Program, and a Commissioner and current Chair for the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission. 

Certified as a Cross-Cultural Health Care Program Cultural Diversity Trainer, she has conducted numerous cultural awareness and diversity seminars for social services, medical and law enforcement agencies.  She also serves as adjunct faculty for Tennessee State University's (TSU) College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, teaching Human Resources, Organization Theory & Assessment, and Employment Law.  She serves on TSU's advisory committee for International Education. 

She is member of or professionally affiliated with a variety of organizations and associations including Sister Cities Nashville, the Japan-America Society of Tennessee, TN Latin American Chamber, Nashville Hispanic Chamber, Global Nashville Project, the Global Chamber of Nashville, Williamson County Chamber and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. 

Previous professional experience includes serving as an Information Specialist with the Voice of America's Radio Marti Program in Washington, DC; Information Services Director with an intellectual property law firm in Alexandria, VA; software support for a legal business software company in Brentwood, TN, and adjunct Spanish faculty for Lipscomb University. 

A native Nashvillian, she has two children, Javier and Claudia, and resides in the 12th South area of Nashville.  She enjoys traveling, gardening, pottery classes, singing and listening to live music.  She speaks Spanish and Portuguese and has studied Italian and Arabic.

Rick Whitehead : Assistant Director, MTAS

Rick Whitehead

Assistant Director, MTAS

865.974.9853 | 1610 University Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37921

Rick Whitehead is the assistant director for MTAS and works in the Knoxville office.  Before being appointed to the assistant director position in November 2012, Rick served as a municipal management consultant for MTAS.  As a field consultant, he worked an assigned territory in southwest Tennessee that included all of the cities located in Chester, Hardeman, Haywood, Fayette, Humphreys, Perry, Shelby, and Wayne Counties.   Rick has been with MTAS since February of 2004.

Prior to joining MTAS, Rick served as a city manager in Tennessee and as a city attorney and city manager in Alabama. In addition to his experience in municipal government, Rick has professional degrees in public administration and law from Auburn University and the University of Alabama. He is a member in good standing of the Alabama State Bar and is currently licensed to practice law in Tennessee.