The Tennessee Supreme Court announced today that Nashville attorney and former Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate will become Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“Commissioner Tate’s wealth of experience in law and policy at every level of government and across a wide range of areas will serve our judiciary well in the coming years,” said Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee. “We are looking forward to working with someone whose entire career has been so committed to responsive and efficient government.”
Tate, who was twice nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate to the FCC, began her professional career in Tennessee state government. She served as assistant legal counsel and senior policy advisor to two former Tennessee governors: Don Sundquist and Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Tate also served as both Chairman and director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, led the health facilities commission and was a director at Vanderbilt University Institute of Public Policy.
“I’m honored to be working for the Supreme Court, the judiciary, and the people of our great State,” Tate said. “Our judicial branch plays a crucial role in the lives of every single Tennessean. I hope I can help ensure our citizens – especially our children – realize the importance of the courts to them as well as our entire constitutional form of government.”
Since her term on the FCC, Tate has remained active at the international level in her role as the first Special Envoy to the International Telecommunications Union and was recognized as a Laureate for her work with child online issues. Nationally, she serves as a director of Healthstream, Inc. (Nasdaq: HSTM); as a distinguished adjunct senior fellow at the Free State Foundation; as well as vice-chairman of the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, a group committed to a more diverse media ecosystem.
Tate, a licensed attorney, is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Listed Mediator, Nashville Bar Foundation Fellow, and served in private practice representing families and juveniles in juvenile court as a guardian ad litem. She was also president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) board. Previously, she coordinated both the Juvenile Justice Commission and the Title 33 Commission, which rewrote the entire mental health law for the state of Tennessee. In 2009, she was introduced before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Tate has received numerous awards, including an award for Outstanding Public Service from Common Sense Media, the Good Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the Carol Reilly Award from the New York State Broadcasters Association, the D.C. Policy Leader award from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the YW Award from the Academy for Women of Achievement, and the Jerry Duvall Public Service Award from the Phoenix Center for Advanced Public Policy Studies. She received the prestigious Mary Harriman award from the Association of Junior Leagues International (both Martha Ingram and Justice Sandra Day O’Conner are recipients).
Tate received both her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and also studied at Vanderbilt University Law School while working as a law clerk to Governor Alexander.
A fifth-generation Tennessee native, Tate is a committed volunteer, giving generously of her time and talent to many, including Common Sense Media, Centerstone of Tennessee, Centerstone Research Institute, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and Renewal House, an organization she helped found. She serves as an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church and lives in Nashville with her husband, William H. Tate, who is a partner in the law firm of Howard, Tate, Sowell, Wilson, Leathers & Johnson. They have three adult children.
Tate will join the Administrative Office of the Courts next week. Her predecessor Bill Young was appointed Associate Chief Deputy Attorney General late last year.