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Former Governor Phil Bredesen
June 29, 2018 @ 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Phil Bredesen is a former governor, mayor and CEO who has spent his career working on common-sense solutions in the public and private sectors.
Phil grew up in rural Shortsville, N.Y., and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University. He and his wife Andrea Conte moved to Tennessee in 1975. Bredesen, an avid outdoorsman, is a licensed pilot and enjoys painting as a hobby.
As governor of Tennessee from 2003 to 2011, Phil Bredesen balanced eight consecutive budgets, opposed a state income tax, kept the state government afloat during the Great Recession, reined in out-of-control Medicaid costs, championed land and water conversation initiatives, and championed education reforms that made Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the history of the Nation’s Report Card.
Elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 — becoming the first governor in Tennessee history to win all 95 counties — Phil’s bipartisan style has garnered widespread support among Democrats and Republicans looking for thoughtful leadership. In the State Capitol, he worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisan politics in order to advance sound policies that benefitted all Tennesseans.
During Phil’s time as governor, Tennessee created more than 200,000 new jobs and generated more than $34 billion in new business investments. Phil worked with U.S. and transnational carmakers to expand Tennessee’s automotive industry, including bringing to the state Nissan’s North American headquarters and Volkswagen’s only North American assembly plant. On his watch, Site Selection magazine designated Tennessee as the top state for economic development.
Phil took control of TennCare, the once-financially troubled Medicaid expansion program, by preserving full enrollment for children and pursuing innovative disease-management initiatives. He expanded long-term care options and launched Cover Tennessee, a series of programs providing health insurance and pharmacy assistance to the uninsured. A critic of recent health care reform efforts, he is the author of the book “Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System,” published by Grove Atlantic.
To preserve Tennessee’s forests, streams and open spaces, Phil founded the Heritage Conservation Trust Fund, protecting more than 40,000 acres for future generations. Through a series of public-private partnerships, his Connecting the Cumberlands initiative saved 127,000 acres as part of Tennessee’s largest conservation effort since the dedication of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Under Phil’s leadership, Tennessee made education a top priority. Working with the legislature, he improved teacher pay and expanded early childhood education. Working with teachers and local school systems, he raised K-12 academic standards to ensure that all students are ready for a career or college and life. He partnered with higher-education leaders to improve workforce development with a focus on college completion. He created the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to provide free books to children from birth to age five.
Before serving as Tennessee’s governor, Phil Bredesen was mayor of Nashville from 1991 to 1999, working with citizens and community leaders to chart a course that made Music City U.S.A. one of the best places in America to live, work and raise a family. Under his leadership, Nashville built dozens of new schools, hired hundreds of new teachers, developed a state-of-the-art library system, redeveloped downtown, expanded parks and drove down the crime rate.
During his time as mayor, Nashville enjoyed record economic growth by recruiting high-quality jobs and companies such as hospital chain HCA Inc. He led the city’s efforts to recruit two professional sports teams: the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
Prior to public service, Phil worked in the health care industry. Between research trips to the public library, he drafted a business plan at his kitchen table that led to the creation of a health care management company that eventually grew to more than 6,000 employees and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Phil and his wife, Andrea Conte, are active in the Nashville and statewide community. He is a founding member of Nashville’s Table, a nonprofit group that collects unused food from local restaurants and distributes it to the city’s homeless population. He founded the Land Trust for Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that works statewide to preserve open space and traditional family farms. Conte is founder and chairman of You Have the Power… Know How to Use It, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about crime and justice issues.