Skip to Content

Meet the Staff

Julius Johnson, Commissioner
(615) 837-5100
Julius Johnson was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam and sworn in as Tennessee's 36th Commissioner of Agriculture in January 2011. Prior to his appointment, Johnson served as Chief Administrative Officer of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, a leading farm and rural advocacy organization with the largest membership in the nation. During his 37 years of professional service to the TFBF, he directed the organization's legislative affairs, served as director of research and served as a regional field service director. More>>
Jai Templeton, Deputy Commissioner
(615) 837-5103
Jai Templeton oversees day-to-day operations, directing programs and services ranging from food safety, animal and plant health, pesticides and consumer protection to forestry and agricultural development. Prior to joining the department in June 2011, he served as mayor of McNairy County, leading that county's successful efforts to reduce debt and increase fund balances without raising taxes during the economic recession. He is a sixth generation farmer producing grain, cotton, hay, timber and cattle. More>>
Carol Coley McDonald, Asst Commissioner, Policy and Legislation
(615) 837-5172
Carol McDonald serves as the department's liaison to the Tennessee General Assembly and directs policy and program development in areas ranging from food safety, pesticides and consumer protection to forestry and agricultural development. She also supervises the Agricultural Crime Unit, which provides a range of security and investigative services to aid rural communities. Prior to joining the department in 2011, she served as an Extension agent in Smith County, coordinating 4-H activities. She has also worked in education and has extensive experience in agribusiness. More>>
Larry Maxwell, Asst Commissioner, Administration and Grants
(615) 837-5111
Larry Maxwell has served as the department's chief fiscal officer for more than 40 years. In addition to ensuring the financial integrity in programs and services, he also provides administrative oversight of the Commodity Distribution program, which distributes USDA surplus foods to schools and charitable organizations. And, he directs the work of the Water Resources program, which provides federal and state financial assistance to help landowners protect soil and water resources. More>>
Ed Harlan, Asst Commissioner, Market Development
(615) 837-5165
Ed Harlan has been with TDA since 2003 and is responsible for directing marketing, promotion and development activities. Ed is a farmer, businessman and former Maury County executive. During Harlan's time at TDA, he has developed strategic plans to expand current business and grow new business within Tennessee's agriculture sector and established close working relationships with agencies and businesses statewide to ensure greatest cooperation and customer service. His efforts over the past few years have contributed to an increase in corporate and on-farm investments in Tennessee. More>>
Jimmy Hopper, Asst Commissioner, Consumer and Industry Services
(615) 837-5152
Jimmy Hopper has been with TDA since 1985 and is responsible for the administration and implementation of regulatory programs affecting consumer protection and safety. His responsibilities include food, drugs and dairy; weights and measures; petroleum quality; feed, seed and fertilizers; grain dealers and warehouses; pesticides; plant and animal health; laboratory services, and prevention of youth access to tobacco. He grew up on a dairy and row crop farm in Madison County, where he owned and operated the Family Tradition Dairy Farm from 1979 until 1985. More>>
Jere Jeter, State Forester and Asst Commissioner, Forestry
(615) 837-5411
Jere Jeter was appointed state forester and assistant commissioner in 2012. He is responsible for directing the activities of the Division of Forestry in wildfire and forest health protection, landowner assistance and state forest management. A native of Weakley County, Tennessee, Jeter has been with the state for more than 31 years. He first joined the agency in 1975 as an area forester. More>>
Theresa Denton, General Counsel
(615) 837-5280
Theresa Denton directs the department's legal work in all areas of responsibility. She directs legal research and represents the department in civil and regulatory proceedings as well as other legal matters. She served two years as Deputy General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. She also served as Environmental Legal Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation from 1994 to 2005, and as a staff attorney for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. More>>
Liz Sneed, Director, Human Resources
(615) 837-5115
Liz Sneed has served as the department's Human Resources Director with oversight of all human resources functions since 2006. This includes but is not limited to benefits, classification/compensation, employee relations, payroll and HR transactions. Liz holds a Bachelor of Art degree from Western Kentucky University in Psychology. She has one year of graduate coursework completed at Middle Tennessee State University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. More>>
Tom Womack, Director, Public Affairs
(615) 837-5118
Tom Womack has served as department spokesman for more than 25 years. As director of Public Affairs, he is responsible for internal and external communications. In addition to coordinating media relations, he also provides administrative support for programs ranging from food safety and animal health, to forestry, marketing and conservation. He has experience in crisis communication through TDA's forest fire protection and regulatory programs, and through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. More>>