Tennessee First to the Top

First to the Top Advisory Council


The “First to the Top Advisory Council,” is a broad-based group of stakeholders who will provide strategic guidance, direction, and thought leadership to the work of First to the Top. The Council is charged with helping to ensure that the state is effectively implementing, evaluating, and learning from its work by:

  • Providing strategic guidance as we move forward with the grant
  • Helping communicate key messages about Tennessee’s First to the Top work in communities
  • Serving as champions of the First to the Top initiative


  • Kevin Huffman, Commissioner of Education, *Chair
  • Lyle Ailshie, Director of Schools, Kingsport City Schools
  • Chris Barbic, Superintendent, Achievement School District
  • Byron Booker, Teacher of the Year, Central High School, Knox County
  • Miles Burdine, President & CEO, Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Karl Dean, Mayor, Metro Nashville-Davidson County
  • Dolores Gresham, Senator, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Tammy Grissom, Executive Director, Tennessee School Boards Association
  • Tomeka Hart, District 7 Commissioner, Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners
  • Jill Levine, Principal, Normal Park Museum Magnet, Hamilton County
  • Al Mance, Executive Director, Tennessee Education Association
  • Jim McIntyre, Director of Schools, Knox County
  • Candice McQueen, Dean, Lipscomb College of Education
  • Richard Montgomery, Representative, Tennessee General Assembly
  • Gary Nixon, Executive Director, State Board of Education
  • Risé Pope, Principal, Rose Park Math and Science Magnet, Davidson County
  • Mary Reel, Director of Schools, Milan Special School District
  • Richard Rhoda, Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Teresa Sloyan, Executive Director, Hyde Foundation
  • Ellen Thornton, Executive Director, Tennessee Business Roundtable
  • Jamie Woodson, CEO, SCORE