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CTAS Staff



Stephen Austin, Legal Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219



Stephen joined UT CTAS in January 2003. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Steve served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Tennessee, assigned to the criminal justice division, handling federal and state capital case litigation. Before that, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a judge advocate, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps at the rank of major after 23 years of service. He received his law degree from the University of Memphis in 1989 and his bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1986.





Nikki Ballentine, Manager of Training & Technology Services
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd., Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
nikki.ballentine@tennessee.edu

Nikki joined UT CTAS in October 2019. Prior to joining UT CTAS, she was a senior instructional developer for the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas. She holds a master of science in instructional design & technology from Emporia State University, a master of education in workforce development education from the University of Arkansas; and a bachelor of arts in human development from Christian Brothers University. In 2021, Nikki earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM).





Wes Doyle, Communications Specialist
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
wesley.doyle@tennessee.edu

Wes joined UT CTAS in November 2021. He comes to UT CTAS from a Franklin-based financial firm working in corporate marketing and digital strategy. Prior to that role, Wes worked for the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD), where he was responsible for communications, developing outreach plans, managing statewide partnerships, and providing technical assistance to farmers and landowners on behalf of conservation districts serving Fayette, Lamar, Monroe, Pike, Spalding, and Upson Counties in central Georgia. 

Wes is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in mass communication and a Bachelor of Arts in political science. In his free time, Wes loves to cook, watch movies, read, listen to podcasts, and do DIY projects around the house.





Heather Duncan, County Government Consultant
228 Carroll Hollow Road
Normandy, TN 37360
(931) 273-1080
heather.duncan@tennessee.edu

Heather joined UT CTAS in February 2021.  Heather served as circuit court clerk in Coffee County from 1994 to 2021.  During her tenure as clerk, Heather served as the president of the State Court Clerk’s Association and as president of the County Officials Association of Tennessee (COAT) and earned the certified public administrator designation in June 1999.  Heather has assisted in training newly elected circuit court clerks since 2002.  Prior to being elected circuit court clerk, Heather was an accountant at the Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma.  She holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a major in accounting from Tennessee Technological University.  Heather earned a master’s degree in business administration from Middle Tennessee State University with an emphasis in organizational management.





Rachel Ellington, Training Consultant
605 Airways Blvd, Suite 109
Jackson, TN 38301
(731) 423-3710
rachel.ellington@tennessee.edu

Rachel joined UT CTAS in February 2019.  Previously, Rachel worked as the budget director for Haywood County and as a tax consultant for Deloitte Tax LLP.  She graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor of accountancy degree in 2013 and a Master of Taxation in 2014.  Rachel is a licensed certified public accountant in Tennessee and a member of the American Institute for Certified Public Accounts and the Tennessee Society of CPAs. In 2021, she earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM).





Mike Galey, County Government Consultant
475 Clement Hall
Martin, TN 38238
(731) 881-7056
mike.galey@tennessee.edu

Mike joined UT CTAS in March 2011. Prior to his service with UT CTAS, he worked for 20 years with the Local Government Corporation, providing software training and support to city and county governments in Tennessee, managing the implementation and support staff for the last 10 of those years. Mike earned his masters of business administration in 2022 and a bachelor of science in business administration in 1986, both from the University of Tennessee at Martin. In 2020, he earned the designation of Certified Public Manager. Mike is married to his wife Ginger and they reside in Weakley County. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.





Kristy Godsey Brown, Manager of Legal Services
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219



Kristy joined UT CTAS in February 2007. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Kristy practiced real estate and regulatory law at a Nashville law firm. She received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in political science from the University of Tennessee in 1999 and was the College of Arts and Sciences Top Graduate, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. She received her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2003 and was the Elliott E. Cheatham Scholar, a Dean’s Scholar and on the Dean’s List.





Liz Gossett, E-Media & Information Specialist
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219

liz@tennessee.edu

Liz joined UT CTAS in September 2012. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Liz was a research associate for the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Long Range Planning Division. She received a bachelor of science in 2007 in urban policy studies and a bachelor of arts in sociology in 2005, both from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Liz graduated with a master of science in information science from the University of Tennessee in May 2015. 





Joe Griffin, Property Assessment Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(931) 215-1635
joe.griffin@tennessee.edu

Joe joined UT CTAS in 2016 to become one of two property assessment consultants. Joe has over 23 years of property assessment experience. Prior to joining CTAS worked for the Metro Nashville Davidson County Property Assessor’s office for three years where he served as the assessments manager. Prior to working for Davidson County, Joe worked as an Area Supervisor for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of Property Assessments. In 2004 Joe earned the Residential Evaluation Specialist Designation (RES). He earned the designation of Tennessee Master Assessor in 2005, and he received the TNAAO Award of Excellence in 2011. In 2012, he was awarded the IAAO designation of Assessment Administration Specialist (AAS). In 2017, he became an IAAO instructor. Joe earned his BBA in business management with a minor in general business/marketing from Austin Peay in 1993.





Rick Hall, County Government Consultant
2112 North Roan Street, Suite 604
Johnson City, TN 37601
(423) 282-4141
rick.hall@tennessee.edu

Rick joined UT CTAS in January 1992 as assistant county field advisor, working with counties which have adopted the Financial Management Act of 1981. Before coming to UT CTAS, Rick was finance director in Scott County. He serves counties in northeast Tennessee (Region 1). He has a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology and a master's degree in city management from East Tennessee State University.





Jim Hart, Manager of Field Services
6435 Harbor Master Drive
Hixson, TN 37343
(423) 413-7902
jim.hart@tennessee.edu

Jim joined UT CTAS in January 2008. He began his career in corrections in 1975 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. His 22-year career was spent working in five different Marine Corps correctional facilities, operating a correctional custody (boot camp program for minor offenders), and as the director of Marine Corps Corrections. Upon his retirement in 1997, Jim became jail captain for Hamilton County, where he was responsible for day-to-day operations. Later, he was promoted to chief of corrections responsible for the overall operation of the jail. He is a Certified Jail Manager with the AJA and a Certified Corrections Executive with the ACA. He holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Park College and a master of arts in leadership and public service from Lipscomb University. Jim was named manager of field services in April 2022.





Kim Henry, Training Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
kimberly.henry@tennessee.edu

Kim joined UT CTAS in January 2004. She was previously employed with the administrative office of the Tennessee Supreme Court as a conference coordinator. Prior to her experience with the Tennessee Supreme Court, Kim was a retirement specialist and marketing representative with the Treasury Department. She also has experience as a correctional officer with Corrections Corporation of America. Kim has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with a criminal justice minor, from Tennessee State University. She earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM) in 2021. Kim earned her master of arts in leadership & public service from Lipscomb University in August 2022.





Melisa Kelton, County Government Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37216
(615) 532-3555
melisa.kelton@tennessee.edu

Melisa joined UT CTAS in January 2017 as our finance and budget consultant. She was named county government consultant for the southern Middle Tennessee region in February 2020. She previously worked at the Center for Industrial Services, beginning in December 1996. She also has over 20 years of experience working in both private and public financial sectors. Melisa earned her undergraduate degree from Tennessee Technological University and her graduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University. 





Jacob Kennedy, Database Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd, Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
jacob.kennedy@tennessee.edu

Jacob joined UT CTAS in February 2020 as database consultant. Prior to UT CTAS, he worked seven years as an information systems auditor for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and three years as the database administrator for the enterprise resource planning system of Williamson County. He earned a master of business administration from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016. Jacob has been a Certified Information Systems Auditor since 2013.





DeAnna Ledbetter, Administrative Coordinator
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
deanna.ledbetter@tennessee.edu

DeAnna joined UT CTAS in March 2020. She previously worked as a service consultant at Forklift Systems. She is a Tennessee native who loves to travel and spending time with her nephews.





Gabe Looney, Property Assessment Consultant
1610 University Ave
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 271-7803
gabe.looney@tennessee.edu

Gabe joined CTAS in March 2017. Gabe has over 20 years of property assessment experience. Gabe previously worked for the Blount County Property Assessor’s Office as the Assistant Property Assessor and for an assessor in Clay County, Florida, as a commercial/industrial field appraiser. After serving on the Executive Board of the Tennessee Chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers he stays active as a committee chairman and as a state representative to IAAO. In 2017 he was awarded the IAAO designation of Assessment Administration Specialist and the Tennessee Master Assessor from the State Board of Equalization. Gabe earned his Bachelor of Arts with emphasis in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of North Florida in 1995.





Brandon Marks, Training Consultant
739 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 777-6219
brandon.marks@tennessee.edu

Brandon started with CTAS in March 2022. Prior to joining CTAS, Brandon worked as a legislative auditor with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury for nine years. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration with a major in accounting from the University of North Alabama. Brandon earned a master’s degree in business administration from Tennessee Technological University in 2012.





Gabrielle McCollum, Manager of Operations & Customer Service
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
gabrielle@tennessee.edu

Gabrielle joined UT CTAS in 2018. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Gabrielle was in public education for 17 years in Texas as a classroom teacher and then as an instructional technology specialist.  Gabrielle earned a bachelor of interdisciplinary studies degree in education from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX. She is a native of Colorado and loves to travel.





Kelley McNeal, Training Consultant
25 West Broad Street, Suite 6
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 260-2233
kelley.mcneal@tennessee.edu

Prior to joining UT CTAS in July 2018, Kelley worked as an information systems auditor with the Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of Local Government Audit for 23 years. Kelley holds a bachelor of business administration in accounting and a master of business administration with an accounting concentration from Tennessee Technological University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Nashville State Community College and Tennessee Technological University.

Kelley is a licensed certified public accountant and a certified government financial manager. She is a member of the American Institute for Certified Public Accounts (AICPA), Tennessee Society of CPAs, AGA (formerly Association of Government Accountants), and Tennessee Government Finance Officers Association (TGFOA). In 2021, Kelley earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM).





Jeff Metzger, Legal Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219



Jeff joined UT CTAS in 2007. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Jeff was an associate at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. He graduated magna cum laude from Tennessee Technological University with a bachelor of science degree in 2001. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2005, graduating summa cum laude. While at the University of Tennessee College of Law, he received a Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Professional Promise.





Chris Payne, Training Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
chris.payne@tennessee.edu

Chris has been with CTAS since July 1999.  Before Chris began working in the CTAS Training Department, he provided IT and GIS consulting to Tennessee counties.  In addition, Chris has worked with the County Officials Certificate Training Program for more than twelve years.  Chris has a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Alabama.  In 2021, Chris earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM). He earned his master of arts in leadership & public service from Lipscomb University in August 2022.





Pamela Peters, Accounting Specialist
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
pam.peters@tennessee.edu

Pam joined UT CTAS in March 1997. Previously, Pam was the office supervisor at the Center for Industrial Services (CIS), where she started in December 1988. Prior to working at CIS, she was the office manager and executive assistant to the director of the state of Tennessee Military Department Facilities Engineering office. She graduated from Draughons Business College and has attended TSU and Nashville State Technical Community College.





Kim Raia, Environmental Management Consultant
1610 University Ave
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 974-6434
kim.raia@tennessee.edu

Kim has been with UT CTAS since 2000. Kim has worked in environmental services since the early 1980s. She has worked with federal, state and local officials on environmental issues related to GIS and land use planning, solid waste management, water quality, education, and environmental compliance. Kim holds three degrees from the University of Tennessee —bachelor’s degrees in biology and geography and a master’s degree in geography. She is a certified GIS Professional.





Wesley Robertson, County Government Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(931) 797-6474
wesley.robertson@tennessee.edu

Wesley joined CTAS in May 2011. Wesley received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Tennessee Technological University. Prior to joining CTAS he served as the executive director of Local Finance with the Tennessee Department of Education. Wesley is also a Certified Government Financial Manager(CGFM) and currently serves on the board of directors for the Tennessee Government Finance Officers Association (TGFOA).





Ben Rodgers, County Government Consultant
25 West Broad Street, Ste. 6
Cookeville, TN 38501
(931) 510-6902
ben.rodgers@tennessee.edu

Ben joined CTAS in 2005. He graduated from Tennessee Technology University in 2002 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration majoring in accounting. From 2002 through 2005 Ben worked in public accounting for a CPA Firm located in Nashville. He completed tax returns and audits for the music industry.

Ben is a native of Baxter in Putnam County and currently serves on the Putnam County commission. He also serves as a board member for the Emergency Communication District, the Highlands Residential Service, and the chamber of commerce. Ben became a Certified Fraud Examiner in 2019 and earned the designation of Certified Public Manager in 2020. He has been married to his wife, Amy, since 2008. They have three dogs; Bella, Sam, and Maggie.





Rachel Ruble, Administrative Coordinator
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd, Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555


Rachel joined UT CTAS in August 2021. Prior to joining UT CTAS, she worked in higher education throughout Middle Tennessee for over 11 years, including eight years as an admissions advisor for Volunteer State Community College, helping students from application to graduation. She also worked previously in customer service within the private sector. She holds a bachelor of science degree in advertising from the University of Tennessee as well as an associate of science degree in communication from Volunteer State Community College.





Kelsey Schweitzer, County Government Consultant
605 Airways Blvd., Suite 109
Jackson, TN 38301
(731) 336-3576
kelsey.schweitzer@tennessee.edu

Kelsey joined UT CTAS in October 2017 as county government consultant for the southern West Tennessee region. He previously worked for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury as a legislative auditor and in the banking industry. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree in 2017 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, summa cum laude, in 2010, both from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Kelsey also earned the Certified Government Financial Manager designation in 2019.





Laylah Smith, Legal Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd, Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219



Laylah joined UT CTAS in September 2020.  Prior to joining UT CTAS, Laylah was the chief legal counsel for the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC), where she focused primarily on legal issues affecting local government, government contracts, and employment law.  Before joining GNRC, Laylah was a solo practitioner focusing mainly on elder and family law.  Laylah received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Belmont University in 2004 and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in 2008.  She received her law degree from Nashville School of Law in 2013.





John Sutton, CCFO Program Manager
1610 University Ave
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 963-5633
john.sutton@tennessee.edu

John started with UT CTAS in July 2019 with 35 years’ experience in local governmental accounting, auditing and financial reporting. Previously, John was a senior audit manager with PUGH CPAs, an RSM US Alliance Firm, and with another local certified public accounting firm both located in Knoxville. After graduating with a bachelor of business administration degree with a major in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University, he began his career as a staff auditor with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Division of Local Government Audit. John has extensive experience working with counties, boards of education, cities, utility districts and governmental pension and retirement plans. John has been a licensed certified public accountant in Tennessee since 1987 and in April 2021 he became a Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM).  He is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA), Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and the TN Government Finance Officers Association (TGFOA). 





Jon Walden, Executive Director
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
jon.walden@tennessee.edu

Jon Walden, executive director, has been with UT CTAS since October 1993 as administrator of information technology. He was named executive director on December 1, 2021. Jon served as interim executive director from May 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021. Prior to serving as Interim executive director, Jon served as manager of information technology & environmental services from October 2002 until May 1, 2020. Before joining UT CTAS, he was a programmer analyst with Columbia State Community College. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Tennessee State University and a master of arts in leadership and public service from Lipscomb University.





Kaley Walker, County Government Consultant
1610 University Ave
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 898-9321
kaley.walker@tennessee.edu

Kaley joined UT CTAS in November 2017 as our Region 2 county government consultant, serving southern East Tennessee. Prior to joining UT CTAS, Kaley was the Rhea County finance director. She brings extensive experience in accounting, budgeting, and auditing. Prior to her position as finance director, Kaley worked in the private sector as an accountant and financial analyst. Kaley is a certified government financial manager and a graduate of Leadership Roane County and the Naifeh Center. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in Communications from Michigan State University and an MBA in Finance from Walsh College.





Kerry Watkins, Budget & Finance Consultant
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd., Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
kerry.watkins@tennessee.edu

Kerry joined UT CTAS in June 2021. He is a graduate of Memphis State University with a bachelor's degree in finance. Kerry previously worked with Memphis City Schools/Shelby County Schools for 20 years and five years with the City of Memphis. In the last few years of Kerry's role with the school systems, he was responsible for leading the accounting function for the division of Nutrition Services. These duties included but were not limited to coordinating month end and year end close, working with external auditors, filing a monthly federal claim for reimbursement with the state of TN Dept of Education and preparing a yearly budget totaling $60m to $70m. His position as CIP senior financial analyst with the City of Memphis allowed him the opportunity to assist in developing and monitoring an $88m budget for the city’s capital improvement program.





Karisma Williams, Operations & Customer Service Specialist
226 Anne Dallas Dudley Blvd Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-3555
karisma.williams@tennessee.edu

Karisma joined UT CTAS in February 2019. Prior to joining UT CTAS, she worked as the UT CTAS administrative intern at the Tennessee County Services Association. She holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration management from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master of public administration management degree from Arkansas State University. In 2021, Karisma earned the designation of Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM).