In Charge '14: Government & Politics

As is our annual tradition, the Post team presents In Charge, a compendium of Middle Tennessee’s top business, political and civic leaders. The 450-plus women and men on our list — our fifth annual — make a positive impact not just on their individual sectors, but on the city in general. These folks are the best of the best — and always “in charge.”


1. Lamar Alexander — U.S. Senator:
Tennessee’s senior senator. Former governor, U.S. secretary of education and University of Tennessee president. Recognized by Congressional Quarterly as one of the most bipartisan legislators in the Senate, up for re-election and expected to pull out a win.

2. Jane Alvis – Owner, Alvis Co.: Represents the Tennessee Municipal League. Has deep roots in legislative, media and political affairs, including stints as press aide to then-Gov. Lamar Alexander, reporter for The Tennessee Journal, partner at Ingram Group and legislative affairs director for former Mayor Bill Purcell.

3. Rogers Anderson – Mayor of Williamson County: Elected CEO of Tennessee’s most economically vibrant county, which is also among the nation’s wealthiest and boasts, arguably, the state’s best public school system.

4. Ward Baker – Political Consultant: Republican operative who served major role on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Appointed to head GOP U.S. Senate efforts nationally. Advises the likes of Congresswoman Diane Black, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and State Sen. Jim Tracy.

5. Megan Barry — At-Large Member, Metro Council: First elected as an at-large member of the Metro Council in 2007, re-elected in 2011, and expected to be a serious mayoral contender in 2015. Serves on the Budget and Finance, Rules and Personnel committees. Past chair of both the Budget and Finance and the Education committees.

6. Rick Bernhardt — Executive Director, Metro Planning Department: Oversees the city department that shapes public policy related to growth and development. Refocused mission of department to include strong sustainable development priorities. Department faced heat last year related to zoning that will allow tall buildings in Green Hills.

7. Diane Black — U.S. Congresswoman, 6th District of Tennessee: Former state senator and representative who chaired Senate Republican Caucus and co-sponsored controversial 2009 guns-in-bars legislation. Elected in 2010 as one of just two freshman members of the influential Committee on Ways and Means.

8. Marsha Blackburn — U.S. Congresswoman, 7th District of Tennessee: Member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Has used her frequent media appearances and Obamacare criticism to become the state’s most high-profile House member.

9. Charles Robert Bone — Member, Bone McAllester Norton: An enduring political force behind the scenes and prominent attorney with concentration in commercial litigation, corporate transactions and entrepreneurial business law.

10. Tommy Bragg — Mayor, City of Murfreesboro: Serving third term as mayor of Tennessee’s sixth-largest city. Former president of Courier Printing and of the Tennessee Municipal League is a consistent advocate for the concerns of cities and towns across Tennessee before the state General Assembly.

11. Phil Bredesen — Former Governor: Health care entrepreneur turned public policy nerd turned health care reform author. While out of office, he is the only influential Democrat on a statewide level alive today. Has ties to green energy company Solar Ranch.

12. Jim Brown — Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business: Former City Paperbusiness editor and Gaylord Entertainment executive who has positioned NFIB in Tennessee as a major voice for business on Capitol Hill. Led charge to phase out inheritance tax and worked to facilitate reform to workers‘ compensation laws.

13. Jim Cooper — U.S. Congressman, 5th District of Tennessee: A veteran policy wonk who famously eschews earmarks and is best known for his work with the House Budget Committee advocating deficit reduction. Former investment banker serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. A part-time Vanderbilt professor.

14. Jon Cooper — Staff Attorney, Metro Council: Director of the Metro Council office and special counsel to the council since 2008 after having served on the staff since 2001. Former touring musician and teacher who graduated from the Nashville School of Law.

15. Robert E. Cooper — Tennessee Attorney General: The state’s consumer advocate is involved in numerous cases and issues facing Tennessee. Appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Only major role filled by Democrat in state government.

16. Bob Corker — U.S. Senator: Elected to Senate in 2006 and has been re-elected since with no major competition, has emerged as a leading voice on financial matters as a member of powerful Senate Banking Committee. Ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and an active member of the Housing and Urban Affairs committees.

17. Karl Dean — Nashville Mayor: A Vanderbilt Law School graduate who served as Nashville public defender (1990-1999) and Metro law director (1999-2007) before becoming the sixth mayor of Metro. Main accomplishment to date is the Music City Center convention facility. Facing opposition with his proposed Amp bus rapid transit proposal.

18. Sonnye Dixon — Pastor and Senior Servant, Hobson United Methodist Church: Social activist who is influential with elected leaders. Has served on the Metro Human Rights Commission and is a member of the NAACP, Project PENCIL and Tying Nashville Together.

19. Bill Freeman — Chairman and Co-Founder, Freeman Webb Co.: Real estate mogul very active in Democratic Party politics over the past several years. Outspoken party power broker. Raised more than $500,000 for Obama campaign. Possible mayoral contender in 2015.

20. Amy Frogge — Member, Metro School Board: Upset well-financed opponent to win a spot on the school board and immediately became a leader in the fight over charter schools. Attorney and grant writer who has quickly become an influential progressive voice in city politics.

21. Enoch Fuzz — Pastor, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church: Pastor at North Nashville church since 1987. Has served as an officer at the NAACP, organized interracial and other cultural dialogues and advocates for affordable health care.

22. Catherine Glover — CEO, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce: Appointed late year to lead state business group. Previously served as executive vice president for global affairs with Albany, Ga.- based Equinox Chemicals.

23. Leslie Hafner — Principal at HafnerAlexander Government Relations: An experienced Capitol Hill pro running the ground game for Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative agenda. Served the administration of former Gov. Don Sundquist before joining Bass Berry & Sims as director of government advocacy.

24. Bill Hagerty — Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development: Financial industry veteran who leads Haslam administration’s ECD strategy. Took brief leave in 2012 to work on long-time friend Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential bid.

25. Joe Hall — Owner, Hall Strategies: Formed firm in 2004 after decade at The Ingram Group. Ex-reporter who has worked with Nashville Capital Network and Live Nation, among others, and led Predators’ PR push to keep team in Nashville under new owners.

26. John Harris — President, Tennessee Firearms Association: Nashville attorney best known for his fierce advocacy for firearms. Gained much attention in 2012 for promoting controversial “guns in parking lots” legislation and major role in defeating State Rep. Debra Maggart.

27. Beth Harwell — Speaker, Tennessee House of Representatives: Former university professor and Tennessee Republican Party chair whose pragmatism has been tested in a legislature comprising some members focused on socially divisive topics.

28. Bill Haslam — Governor, State of Tennessee: Former Knoxville mayor who ran 2010 gubernatorial campaign on premise that state government needs to be run more like a business. Has said that this year he will be focusing on higher education. Is expected to coast to re-election.

29. Peter Heidenreich — Lobbyist, Hall Strategies: Served under four mayors during a 25-year Metro government career, much of it as public works director. As a lobbyist, is one of the most connected and respected representing interests before the Metro Council.

30. Greg Hinote — Deputy Mayor of Nashville: Serves essentially as political and public policy behind-the-scene man who generally avoids the limelight. Worked in the investment banking business and with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper before joining staff of Mayor Karl Dean. Rumored to have mayoral ambitions.

31. Tom Ingram — Founder, The Ingram Group: Former reporter and as chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander. In March 2010, helped create The First Group, the D.C. office of The Ingram Group.Faced controversy last year after failing to be transparent with his lobbying and consulting work with both Metro and Gov. Bill Haslam.

32. Torry Johnson — District Attorney General, Davidson County: Vanderbilt Law School graduate has enjoyed a quarter-century run as Nashville’s top prosecutor, where he oversees a staff of 125 employees. Has created specialized groups of prosecutors to handle certain types of crimes. Had to take a more public role during his office’s management of Vanderbilt rape case. Will not run for re-election this year.

33. Kim Kaegi — Republican Fundraiser: Arguably the state’s best fundraiser. Has helped finance campaigns for Republicans including Bill Haslam, Bob Corker and Fred Thompson. Also handled Karl Dean’s 2007 money organization and consulted on the mayor’s re-election finances.

34. Bill Ketron — State Senator: A go-to guy for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on legislative wedge issues. Former Rutherford County commissioner who is Republican caucus chair of the state Senate and a former chairman of the influential State and Local Government Committee.

35. Matt Largen — President and CEO, Williamson County Chamber of Commerce: Former director of the Williamson County Office of Economic Development. While at OED, his pipeline for relocations included $300 million in potential investment and more than 8,000 new jobs.

36. Jerry Maynard — At-Large Council Member, Metro Council: Also serves as senior pastor of Southside Community Church in Nashville and Clarksville Community Church. Strong advocate for development of new Sounds ballpark at Sulphur Dell. Considered a likely 2015 mayoral candidate.

37. David McMahan — Principal, McMahan Winstead: Arguably the top GOP lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Has led the state’s liquor retailers in the ongoing battle over wine in grocery stores. Became embroiled in a fight over moonshine expansion after taking a minority interest in a Gatlinburg company.

38. Janet Miller — Chief Economic Development and Marketing Officer, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce: The region’s corporate recruitment leader. Has been involved in bringing a number of major industries to Nashville, including Nissan’s North American headquarters, Asurion and Louisiana-Pacific.

39. Ken Moore — Mayor, City of Franklin: Former orthopaedic surgeon sworn in as mayor of Franklin in January 2011, after then-Mayor John Schroer resigned to serve as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. A strong advocate for downtown Franklin development who continues to help spearhead infrastructure projects.

40. Wendell Moore — Senior Public Policy Advisor, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell and Berkowitz: Former deputy governor under Don Sundquist and co-chair of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign in Tennessee. Bona fide Republican lobbyist who is not as visible as some of his peers but is well known among legislators for his GOP credentials.

41. Diane Neighbors — Vice Mayor, Metro Council: Nashville’s first female vice mayor. Former Metro at-large council member who chaired the body’s Budget and Finance Committee. Works as director of Vanderbilt Child and Family Center and holds a doctorate of education from Vanderbilt University.

42. Bobbie Patray — State President, Tennessee Eagle Forum: Leader of the religious far right and head of the state affiliate of the organization Phyllis Schlafly founded. Advocates for “conservative and pro-family men and women to participate in the process of self-government and public policy making.”

43. Lisa Quigley — Chief of Staff, Congressman Jim Cooper: Has served in role since 2008. Previously served as chief of staff for former Democratic California Congressman Cal Dooley for 13 years. Maintains residence as well as a broad network of connections in Nashville.

44. Ron Ramsey — Lieutenant Governor, State of Tennessee: First GOP Senate speaker in Tennessee in 140 years. Bills self as “Tennessee’s conservative leader.” Partisan warrior who leaves policy to others.

45. Richard Riebeling — Finance Director, Metro Nashville: Mayor Karl Dean’s only finance director to date. Was a key to approval for Music City Center convention facility. Has also served as commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Major player with Sounds ballpark plan.

46. Chip Saltsman — Political Strategist: A veteran of Tennessee politics who served as chairman of the state Republican Party from 1999-2001 and was a longtime aide to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Also managed Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign and will be the state House Republicans’ 2014 campaign consultant.

47. Ralph Schulz — President, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce: Leads coalition with diverse business interests in stated goal of “facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity.” Launched “Business is Good” marketing initiative in February 2012. Chamber is now focused on support for the proposed Amp bus rapid transit system.

48. Ronnie Steine —At-Large Member, Metro Council: Former Nashville vice mayor who is seen as the council’s voice of reason. Leader on issues ranging from economic growth and education to public health. Institutional knowledge of the council runs deep.

49. James ‘Tex’ Thomas — Pastor, Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church: Community activist and respected pastor for more than 40 years of one of Nashville’s oldest and most active African-American churches. Church is unofficial meeting place for discussions on civil rights-related issues.

50. Gif Thornton — Chairman, Executive Committee, Adams and Reese: Attorney/lobbyist who is active in Tennessee Republican politics. Formerly served as special assistant to the late Ambassador Joe M. Rogers at the U.S. embassy in Paris, as well as assistant to the Republican leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

51. Justin P. Wilson — Comptroller of the Treasury: Tennessee’s 34th comptroller who previously served as partner in the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. A scion of one of the state’s most influential political families.