Haslam Names First Head of New ‘Intellectual Disabilities’ Department

Press Release from Gov.-Elect Bill Haslam, Dec. 22,2010:

Henry Will Be First Commissioner of New Department Formed by Legislature

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today announced former state House Minority Leader Jim Henry as the first commissioner of the newly-formed Tennessee Department of Intellectual Disabilities.

The agency was formerly a division of the Department of Finance and Administration before the Tennessee Legislature made it a state department, and it will become official Jan. 5, 2011.

For the past 13 years, Henry has been the President and CEO of Omni Visions, Inc., a company serving adults with developmental disabilities and children and families in crisis. The company has operations in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee.

“I’m delighted that Jim has joined our team because I believe he’s the right man to lead this new department,” Haslam said. “Jim has personal experience with these issues, and he has dedicated much of his legislative and professional career to helping families and children affected by intellectual disabilities and its unique challenges.”

A former Kingston mayor, Henry spent 12 years as a state representative, advocating on behalf of individuals with developmental difficulties.

“I’m honored to serve with Gov.-elect Haslam and be a part of the outstanding team he’s building for Tennessee,” Henry said. “I’ve been a life-long advocate for those with and affected by intellectual disabilities, and as a father of a child with developmental difficulties, I’m committed to serving Tennesseans facing the same challenges my family and I do.”

Henry, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran, is married to Patricia, and they have three grown children. They attend First Baptist Church in Kingston. He was recently honored as Hiwassee College’s Alumnus of the Year.