Press Releases

TN Launches Initiative to Connect Families with Newborns to Appropriate Services

Press release from the Tennessee Dept. of Health; September 30, 2013:

NASHVILLE – On average, more than 79,000 new Tennesseans are born in the Volunteer State every year. Now, First Lady Crissy Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Health will begin greeting each new arrival with a “Welcome Baby” package as part of an innovative new outreach effort. Welcome Baby is designed to help give Tennessee’s newest residents the best start in life by connecting children and families with appropriate services in their community, providing referrals to address family needs and screening babies and their families for potential risks.

“The arrival of a new baby is a joyous time, but it can also be an overwhelming experience for any parent,” said Haslam. “We want to provide Tennessee families with information and resources to help them do all they can to ensure these precious babies grow up to be healthy, strong and productive.”

Starting with babies born in October of this year, all new Tennessee parents will receive a Welcome Baby packet within a few weeks of the baby’s birth. The packet will contain a letter of congratulations from First Lady Haslam, information on the new kidcentral tn website, sign-up material for their local Imagination Library chapter and more. The launch of the Welcome Baby initiative coincides with Tennessee’s celebration of Child Health Week October 7-13, 2013.

In addition to receiving a Welcome Baby packet, some families will receive a follow-up phone call from a nurse and may be scheduled for a voluntary home visit by a local community outreach team member, with additional contacts made with the family during the first year of the child’s life to connect the family with resources. This outreach effort will begin in counties across the state with the highest rates of infant mortality, with the goal of implementing direct outreach in 32 counties by the end of 2013.

“Our Welcome Baby initiative is the next step in our efforts to reduce infant mortality rates and improve early childhood success in Tennessee by helping equip families with the knowledge and skills needed to raise happy and healthy children,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael Warren, MD, MPH.

Welcome Baby is designed to screen families and children for risks at the time of a child’s birth; provide timely referrals to address family needs; connect children and families with appropriate services and improve utilization of community resources. Topics covered during outreach contact will include medical care, parent support, nutrition, safety, child development and smoking.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

Kidcentral tn is a one-stop shop for Tennessee families to connect with important information and resources provided by state government departments. The website features a comprehensive directory of state services for children and families. Learn more at

Press Releases

TN First Lady, Students Begin Planting in New Tennessee Residence Garden

Press release from the Office of the Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam; September 11, 2013:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam today hosted approximately 60 3rd grade students from Crieve Hall Elementary School in Nashville at the Tennessee Residence to begin planting in the newly constructed Kitchen and Cutting Garden.

Students joined Mrs. Haslam in the garden to read the September Read20 Book of the Month, Janet Steven’s Tops and Bottoms, a folktale about gardening and vegetables. Following the reading, students participated in 3 activity stations to kick off planting in the garden: a guided tour of the Tennessee Residence, a farm-to-table cooking lesson with Residence Chef Stephen Ward, and a garden station to plant the first vegetables in the new garden.“We broke ground on the Kitchen and Cutting garden in May, and it is exciting to begin planting fruits and vegetables to serve in the food we prepare at Tennessee’s home,” said Mrs. Haslam. “It is a special treat to kick off planting with Tennessee students.”

As chair of the Tennessee Executive Residence and Preservation Foundation, Mrs. Haslam has been helping to generate private funds for the landscape renovation project at the Tennessee Residence. Phase II of the project included the construction of the Kitchen and Cutting Garden, sponsored by Tennessee companies Nissan North America and Scripps Networks Interactive. As part of their sponsorship, Scripps Networks Interactive helped to develop a Tennessee Residence Garden Guide for children that includes information about the garden, healthy eating, Tennessee Agriculture, activities for the classroom, and instructions for gardening at home. Tours of the garden will be available to visitors by scheduling a tour on the Tennessee Residence website,

“Growing your own produce is a great way to learn about many things including healthy fruits and vegetables, science, problem-solving, sustainability and the environment,” said Mrs. Haslam. “The Kitchen and Cutting Garden is an asset to share Tennessee traditions in agriculture and home gardening with students and visitors from across the state and country.”

For more information about the Kitchen and Cutting Garden or the Read20 Family Book Club visit,, or follow @CrissyHaslam on Twitter.

Press Releases

TN First Lady Hosts Family Reading Event at Cedars of Lebanon

Press release from the Office of Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam; August 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted a Read20 Family Book Club event today at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon to promote the importance of daily reading.

Approximately 90 3rd graders from Southside Elementary School in Lebanon joined Mrs. Haslam by campfire to read the August Book of the Month, Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George. After the reading event, students visited the park’s Nature Center and hiking trails to learn more about Tennessee wildlife and forestry.

“There are many ways to enjoy reading, and it is important for children to explore different topics and styles of writing,” said Mrs. Haslam. “Children can grow love for reading by exploring topics that interest them, and sometimes they just need to find the right book!”

Literacy can be the most important skill for success in school, and the Read20 Family Book Club is an additional tool for families to enjoy daily reading. One book is selected each month as the featured “Book of the Month” and corresponding family activities are featured on the book club website, Families are encouraged to continue reading other books after they’ve finished the Book of the Month. The Read20 Family Book Club is geared toward elementary school-aged children and their families, and Mrs. Haslam highlights the importance of reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

“Third grade is a very important year for students, when they transition from learning to read, to reading to learn,” said Mrs. Haslam. “If a student cannot read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, their chances of succeeding in subsequent grades without reading intervention decreases dramatically.”

For more information about the Read20 Family Book Club visit,, follow @Read20TN on Twitter, or go to your local public library.

Press Releases

First Lady Completes Year of Reading-Improvement Efforts for Kids

Press release from the Office of Governor Bill Haslam; May 17, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam completed a two week-long statewide reading tour yesterday with final school year-end visits to two of her 10 partnership schools.

Haslam’s final year-end visits to schools during the last two weeks included meetings with school administrators, recapping what was learned during the partnership and emphasizing the importance of literacy and parental involvement.

Haslam announced in May 2011 that she would partner with 10 schools across the state to focus on improving literacy rates, and during the past year, Haslam met with school administrators and families regarding parent engagement and promoted her READ 20 message by reading with and delivering books to students.

“The Tennessee Department of Education has set a goal to have 60 percent of third graders reading on grade level by 2014, and currently less half of our third graders are reading proficiently,” Haslam said. “Early literacy is the foundation for academic success, and if children and families commit to reading twenty minutes every day, that’s a tremendous step towards brighter academic futures and greater opportunities in life.”

The Tennessee Department of Education selected the 10 partnership schools based on their third grade TCAP reading scores, which were below the state average, but showed promise for great improvement. On this final round of visits, Haslam discussed their progress and encouraged them to continue to increase in reading proficiency.

“I have truly enjoyed working with our partnership schools,” Haslam said. “I have learned a lot by visiting with their teachers and administrators, parents and students. I hope that they have been encouraged by our work together and that their students continue to make improvements in literacy.”

The First Lady’s Partnership schools are: Coles Ferry Elementary in Lebanon; Dyersburg Intermediate School; Etowah Elementary; Gateway Elementary in Nashville; Hamilton Elementary in Memphis; Happy Valley Elementary in Johnson City; Northwest Elementary in Mason; Red Bank Elementary in Chattanooga; Union City Elementary; and Unicoi Elementary.

Press Releases

First Lady: Parents Should Get Involved in Kids’ Education

Press Release from First Lady Crissy Haslam; March 16, 2011:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam announced at Children’s Advocacy Days 2011 event that she will creatively seek out ways to increase and inspire parental involvement, both in Tennessee schools and during early childhood development.

“To help convey the message that a parent is a child’s first teacher, I want to encourage parents, engage communities and empower families in Tennessee,” Mrs. Haslam said.

The First Lady said she plans to travel the state and meet with parents in order to listen and challenge communities to set local objectives for parental engagement. Mrs. Haslam plans to work with parents to help meet their goals.

The First Lady also announced as part of her initiative, she will be focusing this first year on early childhood reading and plans to partner with Governor Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Education to raise the literacy rates for children.

“Outside of parental support, literacy is the number-one predictor of a child’s ability to succeed in school,” Mrs. Haslam said. “We have to be preoccupied with teaching our children to read, because it is a foundational skill upon which the rest of schooling is built.”

The First Lady will support the Department of Education’s Early Grades Reading Delivery plan, which aspires that 60 percent of all Tennessee third graders read at a proficient level or above by 2014.

“Until third grade, it’s important that we teach our children to read, because after the third grade, they read to learn,” Mrs. Haslam said. “Without appropriate grade level reading, children are not equipped for the transition of acquiring reading skills to using the skill to learn other things.”

While the First Lady is encouraging parents to start reading to their children early, she acknowledges that 7,300 children are living in state custody and will work to steer volunteers to be sure that every child has an engaged support network.

“We cannot leave these children out of the growing process,” Mrs. Haslam added. “Community groups and volunteers all play a part in ensuring that we have upward growth in how we empower children from all walks of life.”

The First Lady plans to join Governor Haslam as he talks to principals and teachers at small breakfast gatherings across the state, and she will reach out to local parents to meet, listen and learn how to overcome the obstacles parents might face.

“Bill and I know from experience that being a parent is challenging work,” Mrs. Haslam said, “so my objective is to listen to parents and to be better informed on how we can encourage them.”

Press Releases

Bush White House Staffer to Become New First Lady’s Top Aide

Press Release from Gov.-elect Bill Haslam, Dec. 7, 2010:

Christi Gibbs Is Former Assistant Campaign Manager to Governor-Elect Haslam

NASHVILLE – Crissy Haslam, wife of Governor-elect Bill Haslam, today announced former Assistant Campaign Manager Christi Gibbs as Chief of Staff to the First Lady.

Gibbs brings extensive political and administrative experience to the First Lady’s Office and will work to promote and implement Crissy Haslam’s agenda during her time as First Lady of Tennessee.

“Christi was someone I came to rely on during the campaign time and again, and I know there wasn’t a facet of the campaign that didn’t benefit from her involvement,” Crissy Haslam said. “She’s extremely talented, hardworking and capable, and I’m looking forward to working closely with her in the First Lady’s Office.”

Gibbs joined Gov.-elect Haslam’s campaign in Fall 2009, and as assistant campaign manager, she aided with political organization, communication strategy and outreach and overall campaign management.

Before the campaign Gibbs worked at a private investment firm, Cressey & Company, aiding Nashville partners Ralph Davis and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. She previously worked in the West Wing of the White House as the Associate Director of the National Economic Council during the George W. Bush administration.

“It was evident quickly the impact that Mrs. Haslam had on Governor-elect Haslam’s campaign; they were an unbeatable team,” Gibbs said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to aid in the continuation of this teamwork and help improve upon the challenges facing our state.”

Gibbs has a B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from Texas Tech University and is an active participant in the Nashville community. She serves as President of the Texas Tech Alumni Association for Middle Tennessee, is an active member of the Junior League of Nashville volunteering for the Books from Birth Foundation and currently serves on the board of the Tomorrow Fund. Gibbs is married to Landon Gibbs.

Press Releases

First Lady Series Touches on Agriculture

State of Tennessee Press Release; July 21, 2010:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte will host an event on Thursday, July 22 from 4-6 p.m. CDT at Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence.

The drop-in open house, entitled, “Conservation Hall Supports Agriculture,” will focus on cultivation and gardening, featuring diverse participants that include local produce providers and organic gardeners. Participants can even learn how to assemble aesthetically-pleasing floral arrangements. There will be no formal program. The program is free, but reservations are required.

WHO: First Lady Andrea Conte


· Delvin Farms

· Eaton’s Creek Organics, Inc.

· Ellington Agricultural Center

· Pick Tennessee Products

· Gammon Family Dairy

· Gourmet Pasture Beef

· Herb Society of Nashville

· OSHi Flowers

WHAT: “Conservation Halls Supports Agriculture”

WHEN: Thursday, July 22, 2010

4-6 p.m. CDT – Drop-In Open House (No formal program)

4:05 p.m. CDT – media availability with First Lady Conte

WHERE: Conservation Hall – The Tennessee Residence

All parking will be off-site at Judson Baptist Church, 4900 Franklin Pike, Nashville.

Members of the media that wish to attend must park at Judson Baptist Church and take a shuttle to the Residence. The shuttle will begin at 3:45 p.m. CDT. There is no parking available at the Residence.

Press Releases

First Lady Hosting Panel on Partisan Politics

State of Tennessee Press Release; June 14, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte will host a panel discussion on Monday, June 21, at 6 p.m. CDT at Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence. The event, entitled “Left? Right? Where’s the Middle?” will feature a panel discussion focused on the hard-hitting world of partisan politics and its impact on society and governing.

The event is open to the public at no cost; however, seating is limited and reservations are required.

“I think most people recognize politics is a tough business,” said Conte. “But I believe it’s also important to recognize the steady erosion of civil discourse we’ve seen in politics over the past two decades and consider the effect that has on respect for the governing process and, more importantly, personal respect for those willing to offer themselves for public service.”

Dwight Lewis, editorial page editor and columnist for The Tennessean, will moderate the discussion. Participating panelists include:

* Dave Cooley, Cooley Public Strategies

* Tom Ingram, The Ingram Group

* Dr. Carol Swain, Professor of Law and Political Science, Vanderbilt University

A reception will precede the panel discussion at 5:15 p.m. The program will begin promptly at 6 p.m.

Parking is available at Judson Baptist Church, which is located at 4900 Franklin Pike. A shuttle service will begin at 5 p.m. Parking will not be available at the Residence.

To make a reservation, please call (615) 741-7846 or send an email to by June 18. The First Lady’s Series is a monthly event hosted by Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte.

Press Releases

First Lady Conte Pays Visits In Support Of East Tennessee Child Advocacy Centers

State of Tennessee Press Release, March 18, 2010:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Andrea Conte visited several East Tennessee Child Advocacy Centers this week to increase awareness about the issue of child abuse and build support for the work of Child Advocacy Centers to help children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse.

First Lady Conte visited Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center in Sevierville on Wednesday, led a walk in Knoxville on Thursday morning to benefit ChildHelp USA Children’s Center of East Tennessee, and concluded her swing through East Tennessee with a visit to New Hope Blount County Child Advocacy Center in Maryville on Thursday afternoon.

“April will be National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and I think it’s particularly important to act now to raise awareness of this issue and to encourage communities to support the work of Child Advocacy Centers,” Conte said.

When she became First Lady of Tennessee, one of Conte’s priorities was to help establish a child advocacy center in each of the 31 judicial districts across the state. In 2003, there were 25 Child Advocacy Centers. Today there are 43 centers statewide.

Safe Harbor serves Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier Counties. Conte visited the center in Sevierville to learn about Safe Harbor’s plans to expand with two new centers in Newport and Jefferson City. The Newport center in Cocke County is expected to open on a part-time basis by the fist of May. The Jefferson City center in Jefferson County is expected to open by mid-summer.

In Knoxville, Conte kicked off a series of 12 AndreaWalks events that will be held in March, April and May to educate families about the issue of child abuse in Tennessee and the availability of services for victims. The walk to support ChildHelp USA is the first event in this year’s AndreaWalks series. Conte launched the AndreaWalks initiative in 2004, walking more than 600 miles from Memphis to Bristol and raising approximately $1.4 million in cash and in-kind donations for Child Advocacy Centers across the state.

At New Hope in Maryville, the First Lady met with staff and board members who presented the “Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Small Print Media Award” to Blount Today for its ongoing coverage of children’s issues. The First Lady was also briefed about an awareness event New Hope is planning in November to be held in conjunction with the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse.

“There are a lot of good things going on in East Tennessee and it has been wonderful to see the good work that’s being done by Safe Harbor, ChildHelp USA and New Hope to serve children who are the victims of abuse,” said Conte.

To learn more about the work of Child Advocacy Centers to keep children safe, visit

Press Releases

First Lady Andrea Conte to Lead Walks for Child Advocacy Centers

Press Release from the Gov. Phil Bredesen administration, March 1, 2010:

13 Walks Scheduled for Months of March, April and May

NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte has announced the dates for 13 AndreaWalks events in the months of March, April and May. Conte, a longtime advocate for victims’ rights issues, launched the AndreaWalks initiative in 2004 to promote National Child Abuse Prevention Month and provide support for Tennessee’s Child Advocacy Centers.

“Child Advocacy Centers provide comprehensive support programs for children who are the victims of sexual or severe physical abuse and their families,” Conte said. “These organizations work diligently every day on behalf of children, and these walks are something we can do to raise awareness and increase support for our Child Advocacy Centers across Tennessee.”

Conte made promoting and providing support for the Tennessee Child Advocacy Centers a priority when she became First Lady in 2003. One goal was to help establish a Child Advocacy Center in each of the 31 judicial districts across the state. In 2003, there were 25 Child Advocacy Centers in Tennessee. Today, there are 42 centers statewide.

Tennessee’s First Lady has worked to serve victims of crime and abuse for more than 17 years. In 1993, she founded You Have the Power…Know How to Use It, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about crime and justice issues. In 2008, Conte received national recognition for her outstanding service to crime victims when she received the National Crime Victim Service Award from U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

In the inaugural year of AndreaWalks, First Lady Conte walked more than 600 miles from Memphis to Bristol and raised approximately $1.4 million in cash and in-kind donations for these organizations.

This year there will be 13 AndreaWalks events held in March, April and May in Knox, Wilson, Putnam, Davidson, Cannon, Rutherford, Sullivan, Anderson, Scott, Sumner, Robertson, Lincoln and Fentress counties. Interested participants in these locations may contact their local Child Advocacy Center for more information or to register.

To learn more about the work of Child Advocacy Centers, visit

Knoxville – Knox County

Thursday, March 18

To benefit the ChildHelp USA Children’s Center of East Tennessee

9:00 A.M. EDT

For additional information, call (865) 637-1753

Lebanon – Wilson County

Friday, April 9

To benefit the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center

9:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 449-7975

Cookeville – Putnam County

Friday, April 9

To benefit the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center

1:30 p.m. CDT

For additional information, call (931) 525-1080

Nashville – Davidson County

Saturday, April 10

To benefit the Nashville Children’s Alliance

9:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 327-9958

Woodbury – Cannon County

Friday, April 16

To benefit the Child Advocacy Center of Cannon County

9:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 867-9000

Murfreesboro – Rutherford County

Friday, April 16

To benefit the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County

12:30 p.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 867-9000

Blountville – Sullivan County

Saturday, April 17

To benefit the Child Advocacy Center of Sullivan County

9:00 a.m. EDT

For additional information, call (423) 279-1222

Clinton – Anderson County

Thursday, April 22

To benefit the Clinch Valley Children’s Center

12:00 p.m. EDT

For additional information, call (865) 463-2740

Oneida – Scott County

Friday, April 23

To benefit the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands

9:00 a.m. EDT

For additional information, call (423) 569-8900

Gallatin – Sumner County

Tuesday, April 27

To benefit Ashley’s Place

10:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 451-2169

Springfield – Robertson County

Tuesday, April 27

To benefit the Robertson County Child Advocacy Center

1:30 p.m. CDT

For additional information, call (615) 384-5885

Fayetteville – Lincoln County

Thursday, April 29

To benefit Junior’s House

10:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (931) 438-3233

Jamestown – Fentress County

Saturday, May 1

To benefit the Fentress County Children’s Center

9:00 a.m. CDT

For additional information, call (931) 879-7290