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Richardson Promoted in Lee Administration

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced key leadership transitions and appointments in the Governor’s office—including the promotion of Alec Richardson of Perry County.

Richardson has been appointed to serve as a senior advisor to the Governor and a member of Lee’s cabinet, in addition to his current role as the director of external affairs.

Richardson earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee at Martin and has served Lee since his successful primary run in 2018.

Other changes:

Michael Hendrix will succeed Tony Niknejad as policy director, effective September 1.

After more than four years in the administration, Niknejad is stepping down to return to the private sector.

Hendrix currently serves as special advisor to the Governor. Previously, he was a senior fellow and the director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute, as well as the senior director for research and emerging issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Hendrix attended the College of William & Mary and is a graduate of the University of St. Andrews.

Chrissy Freeland recently assumed the role of senior policy analyst and has served in the Governor’s office since November 2020.

Freeland previously worked for the Tennessee General Assembly and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Elizabeth Lane Johnson will join Lee’s communications office as press secretary.

Johnson currently serves as press secretary for Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. Johnson has deep media and communications experience from her previous roles in broadcast journalism, including morning television anchor and reporter at the ABC affiliate in Nashville, and service with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Johnson graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Communication and Information Sciences and a minor in Political Science.

Jade Byers, currently Lee’s press secretary, will assume key strategic communications responsibilities as senior communications officer.

Byers has served Lee since his successful primary run in 2018, including her previous roles as deputy press secretary and the director of boards and commissions. Byers earned her bachelor’s degree at Belmont University.

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