Lee announces ten cabinet roles

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has announced several members of his new cabinet, including a new chief of staff, policy director, finance chairman, and agriculture commissioner.
Stuart McWhorter was selected as finance chairman for Lee’s administration.


In addition to chairing Lee’s inauguration planning and serving as the campaign’s finance chairman, McWhorter is chairman and president of healthcare and technology investment management firm Clayton Associates.


Before coming to Clayton Associates, McWhorter held positions as Censis Technologies, First Bank of Tennessee, Haven Behavioral Healthcare, the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, HealthTrust Inc. and chairman of HCA Healthcare (then called Hospital Corporation of America).


He holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Blake Harris was tapped to serve as Lee’s chief of staff after serving as executive director of his transition team. Harris also served as an attorney and consultant for the Lee campaign.


Butch Eley, presently chairman of Lee’s transition team, will take on the role of chief operating officer for the Lee administration. Eley most recently served as chief growth officer of DBi Services and as the first director of economic and community development for Nashville Mayor Bill Boner.


Lang Wiseman has been selected to become deputy to the governor and chief counsel. He presently served as a lawyer specializing in business and commercial litigation out of the Cordova-based firm of Wiseman Bray PLLC.


A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Harvard Law School, Wiseman previously served as counsel to the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and as a law clerk to Judge Harry Wellford of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He currently serves on Haslam’s Council for Judicial Appointments.


Tony Niknejad was tapped to serve as Lee’s policy director, a position he also held as part of the campaign.


Niknejad previously worked for the American Federation for Children, an organization supporting private school choice as well as worked with the Kentucky Republican party’s House of Representatives campaign in 2016.


Lee tapped Middle Tennessee dairy farmer and current state veterinarian Dr. Charlie Hatcher to serve as his commissioner of agriculture.


Hatcher has served as state veterinarian since 2009, certifying and enforcing animal health standards for livestock products, as well as working with federal officials to accredit Tennessee’s practicing veterinarians.


In addition to his role with the state, Hatcher is the general managing parnter of Hatcher Family Dairy, established in 1831. The farm began bottling its own milk under the Hatcher Dairy brand in 2007.


Chris Walker will also serve as communications director in Lee’s administration as he did for the Lee campaign.


He has held similar roles the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation. Walker previously worked for U.S. Sens. Bill Frist and Fred Thompson and worked in the Department of Treasury and Department of Defense in the George W. Bush administration.


Laine Arnold will also continue as Lee’s press secretary after working with the campaign in the same function. She had served as press secretary for Randy Boyd during his primary bid as well.


Two commissioners appointed under the Haslam administration will also remain under Lee’s new cabinet: Department of Human Services Commissioner Danielle Barnes and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Marie Williams.


Barnes was appointed to her position in 2017. She had previously served as the deputy commissioner and general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources.


Williams took over her role in 2016 after working for the department for 18 years. Williams also previously served as the department’s assistant and deputy commissioner.
Lee said he plans to have his staff fully selected by his inauguration on Jan. 19, 2019.