Haslam Announces Resignation Of Labor And Workforce Development Commissioner

Monday, March 18, 2013

Governor Bill Haslam on Monday announced that Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis is resigning due to family reasons.

“Over the past two years, the department has implemented several key initiatives including a comprehensive online jobs database to better connect job seekers to Tennessee employers and is playing a vital role in our effort to update Tennessee’s worker’s compensation laws,” Gov. Haslam said.  “I am grateful to Karla for her service and wish her the best.”  

Ms. Davis has served as commissioner since the beginning of the Haslam administration. Prior to that, she served as director of Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, managing and overseeing the Community and Supportive Services Program for three U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HOPE VI public housing redevelopment projects and two HUD ROSS Grant projects in Memphis. Before that she worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 16 years.

The governor has named Burns Phillips as acting commissioner. Mr. Phillips currently serves as managing director in the Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) overseeing customer-focused government initiatives administration wide.

“Burns brings both public and private sector experience to this interim role,” Gov. Haslam said.  “I appreciate his willingness to take on these responsibilities as we continue to focus on serving the citizens of Tennessee.

Early in his career, Mr. Phillips worked in the Budget Office of F&A before going into the private sector where he worked in medical sales and marketing. In 1991, he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States and 30 other countries.

In 2009, he returned to state government to serve as transportation administrative director of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Central Services Division.

Mr. Phillips has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, and he earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law. 


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