Former Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke was appointed on Thursday by President Joe Biden to serve as administrator of the Rural Utilities Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Officials said, "Mr. Berke is a dedicated public servant with a history of advocating for rural communities in federal, state and local government. Most recently, he served as a special representative for Broadband at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Prior to joining NTIA, Mr. Berke served as mayor of Chattanooga, from 2013 to 2021, during which he established a first-of-its-kind program to expand free high-speed internet service to families with children receiving free or reduced lunch at school. In addition, his administration launched efforts to reduce poverty, improve aging infrastructure and increase the use of clean energy. During his time as mayor, Mr. Berke was named a Digital Inclusion Trailblazer by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine, and City Executive of the Year by State Scoop. He was also awarded the Digital Inclusion Award from Next Century Cities in 2017."
In 2007, Mr. Berke was elected to the Tennessee State Senate, where he served until 2012. During his tenure, he was on the Senate Transportation and Education Committees and was appointed to the Governor’s State Workforce Development Board and Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Learning. Mr. Berke also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and as a legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Bart Gordon of Tennessee.
“Throughout his career, Andy has demonstrated a clear and constant vision to improve the lives of rural Americans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Andy’s advocacy for better services, safer streets and improved infrastructure makes him an inspired choice for the role of Rural Utilities Service Administrator. I look forward to his continued leadership at USDA.”
Outside of government, Mr. Berke has been a partner at urban planning and consulting firm Cityfi, a special advisor to the Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and a managing partner at Berke, Berke & Berke.
He received his Bachelor of Science from Stanford University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School.