Mayor Kelly Appoints Joda Thongnopnua As Chief Of Staff, Chris Sands As Director Of Community Engagement

Thursday, December 2, 2021
Joda Thongnopnua
Joda Thongnopnua

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly on Thursday announced the appointment of Joda Thongnopnua as chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office, effective this week. Mr. Thongnopnua served as a core advisor during Mayor Kelly’s campaign for elected office, and has been serving as the city’s chief policy officer since the current mayoral term began in April.

Mayor Kelly also announced the appointment of Chris Sands, educator and prominent leader in Chattanooga’s local faith community, as the city’s director of Community Engagement. Mr. Sands will start with the city on Dec. 17.

As chief policy officer for the city of Chattanooga since April of this year, Mr. Thongnopnua played an instrumental role in helping the mayor to develop his One Chattanooga strategic plan including the adoption of a new budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022, launching the hiring process for multiple new city administrators and the chief of police, and overseeing the process for dispensation of American Rescue Plan dollars throughout the community.

Previously, Mr. Thongnopnua served as the director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, which manages over $180 million in charitable assets. He also served as executive director for the Metro Ideas Project, a nonprofit policy research startup dedicated to bringing smart solutions to challenges faced by local governments. Additionally, Mr. Thongnopnua’s experience includes communications work at Lamp Post Group, a Chattanooga-based venture capital firm working to build the infrastructure necessary to support a tech hub in the Southeast U.S.

“With our new budget in place, coupled with American Rescue Plan funds, we’ll be able to make unprecedented investments in improving our city,” said Mayor Kelly. “No one is more familiar with our One Chattanooga vision and framework than Joda, and his diverse background and experience serving our community has prepared him to lead the Mayor’s Office to help make Chattanooga the best city in America.”

The city will immediately begin a search to fill Mr. Thongnopnua’s prior role with a senior policy advisor for the city of Chattanooga to ensure the extensive and ambitious One Chattanooga policy agenda maintains its momentum and priority within the Kelly administration.

Mr. Sands is a longtime pillar of Chattanooga’s faith community, serving as youth pastor and first assistant to Bishop Kevin Adams at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. With a background in leadership studies, Mr. Sands has worked for over a decade in program design, team building, and community coalition building throughout the nonprofit, faith, and private sectors. An author of two books, Mr. Sands has a proven track record in project management and coordination of team initiatives in business development, recruitment and expansion.

As director of Community Engagement, Mr. Sands will work closely with the chief equity officer to ensure city of Chattanooga initiatives are reaching and engaging residents of every ethnicity, background, and zip code.

“I am delighted to welcome Chris to our team at City Hall,” Mayor Kelly said. “With his heart for helping people and his persistent and reassuring presence throughout our community, I’m confident Chris will help ensure that we’re engaging—not just informing—every citizen in every one of our great neighborhoods.”


Chris Sands
Chris Sands

Police Blotter: Customer At Taco Mac Gets Too Personal; Patrons Become Belligerent At Mike's Hole In The Wall

Walker County Arrest Report For Jan. 17-23

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News


A woman at Taco Mac at 423 Market St. said a white male wearing a navy blue jumpsuit (similar to a mechanic's uniform) with the name "Elvis" stitched into the left chest area, came into the restaurant ... (click for more)

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Jan. 17-23: BULLOCH KAWON DASHAWN B/M 19 FELONY OFFICER YOUNG FTA BEATRICE ANDREW JAMES W/M 27 FELONY OFFICER YOUNG PROBATION VIOLATION COX ... (click for more)

We send out headlines each week day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Police Blotter: Customer At Taco Mac Gets Too Personal; Patrons Become Belligerent At Mike's Hole In The Wall

A woman at Taco Mac at 423 Market St. said a white male wearing a navy blue jumpsuit (similar to a mechanic's uniform) with the name "Elvis" stitched into the left chest area, came into the restaurant and began asking her a series of strange, personal questions. He mentioned how he was so happy to finally be able to speak with her and at one point asked her if she lives off of Brainerd ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Jan. 17-23

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Jan. 17-23: BULLOCH KAWON DASHAWN B/M 19 FELONY OFFICER YOUNG FTA BEATRICE ANDREW JAMES W/M 27 FELONY OFFICER YOUNG PROBATION VIOLATION COX ROBERT BRYAN W/M 42 FELONY OFFICER YOUNG IDENTITY THEFT FRAUD, ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT FINANCIAL FRAUD, CARD THEFT FRAUD GONZALEZ MIGUEL ANGEL W/M 22 MISD WILLETT PROBATION VIOLATION PAYNE ... (click for more)

Opinion

Earl Freudenberg: Johnny Haynes Overcome His Disability To Become A Police Department Fixture

Johnny Haynes was a special person. Under almost clear skies and 45 degree temperatures, he was buried Saturday afternoon when a small group of his friends gathered at Greenwood Cemetery off Wilcox Boulevard for the committal service. The retired Chattanooga Police Department employee has been my friend since 1962. The Central High School graduate was born with polio but was ... (click for more)

Employers Broke The Social Contract - And Response

Along with our trust, most employers are going to need to give those who participated in the great resignation something to hold onto. The cliché during the pandemic is that we’re all in the same storm, not the same boat. Some of you are in yachts while the rest of us are drowning, grasping at driftwood. For some it’s being deep in medical debt, for others they suffer from burnout ... (click for more)

Sports

Lady Vols Stay Perfect In SEC With Win At #13 Georgia

The No. 5/6 Lady Vols picked up their fifth AP Top-25 win of the season on Sunday afternoon, defeating No. 13/13 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum, 63-55. Tennessee (18-1/7-0 SEC), the only team undefeated in conference play, is enjoying its best start to a season since the 2007-08 campaign when the squad started 22-1 en route to SEC and NCAA championships. Its league beginning ... (click for more)

UT Men's Basketball Defeats LSU, 64-50

The 24th-ranked Tennessee basketball team led wire-to-wire and avenged an early-season loss to No. 13 LSU in front of a season-high crowd of 21,061 Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena. The final score was 64-50. Santiago Vescovi led Tennessee with 16 points, including five made 3-pointers. Vescovi also tallied a team-high-tying six rebounds and five assists. Making his second ... (click for more)