Bright Start TN

A promising partnership for Knoxville/Knox County

United Way of Greater Knoxville is leading an inclusive strategy to transform the Early Care and Education System in Knoxville-Knox County through its development, implementation, and advocacy of the Bright Steps Action Plan.

Explore the Bright Steps Action Plan at

“United Way of Greater Knoxville is honored to be part of this first-of-its-kind initiative that strongly aligns with our mission to improve education systems and outcomes in our community. Early childhood care and education is critical to future academic and career success, and the need for change is urgent. It’s time to align our community around a regional early childhood plan.”

— Matt Ryerson, CEO United Way of Greater Knoxville

Knoxville/Knox County Leadership Team

Ellie Kittrell
Bright Start Fellow, Director of Childcare and Early Education Systems, United Way of Greater Knoxville

Megan Barolet-Fogarty
Centro Hispano and Co-Chair TN Afterschool Network

Patty Bowlin
Program Coordinator, East TN CCR&R and University of TN

Denise Dean
Executive Director, East TN Freedom Schools

Dr. Hope Denny
Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator, Pellissippi State

Allison Douglas
Resource Center Manager, Harmony Family Center

Kara Finger
Executive Director, Wesley House and Co-Chair TN Afterschool Network

Mayor Glenn Jacobs
Knox County Government

Renee Kelly
Chief of Staff, Knox County Schools

Mayor Indya Kincannon
City of Knoxville

Dr. Beth Lackey
Supervisor of Voluntary Pre-K, Knox County Schools

Chris Letsos
CEO, Knox Education Foundation

Tracy Liebermann
President, Knoxville Association for Children’s Early Education (KACEE)

Lauren Longmire
Director of Regional Enhancement, Knoxville Chamber

Dave Miller
President of East Tennessee, First Horizon Bank

Lisa Rottman
General Manager of Marketing and Strategy, Stowers Machinery Corporation

Dr. Javiette Samuel
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement and Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, UTK College of Child and Family Studies

Jennifer Searle
Special Program Manager, Office of City of Knoxville Mayor

Rhonda Smithson
Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of Knox County Mayor

Daniel Watson
Knox County Board of Education and Executive Director, Restoration House

Angela Webster
Executive Director Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee

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