Chattanooga Mayor Kelly today announced his appointment of Tamara Steward to serve as the city’s inaugural Chief Equity Officer.
Steward’s appointment is a key pillar of the mayor’s plan to enhance the city’s focus on equity and begin to bridge long-festering opportunity gaps in Chattanooga. The position was created in part through conversations with the mayor’s transition team as a way to help drive inclusivity throughout city government rather than limiting it to a single department.
“Today, the data tells us that Chattanooga is one of the worst places in the nation to grow up poor.” Kelly said. “And while we can’t and won’t attempt to guarantee equal outcomes, what we can do is ensure that every Chattanoogan has access to opportunity. And Tamara has the experience and leadership ability to unlock our community’s true potential.”
During his campaign and term in office, Kelly has talked frequently about equity and diversity as both a moral and a practical goal, pointing to efforts across the business and political spectrum to involve more of the community in the city’s workforce, decision-making and thought leadership.
Steward will lead the Department of Equity and Community Engagement, and will report directly to the mayor. In addition to the functions of the former Office of Multicultural Affairs, the department will also house the newly created Office of New Americans, which will work to more effectively include Chattanooga’s growing Hispanic community in civic life. As part of her portfolio, Steward will oversee efforts to stimulate inclusion and diversity in city government, engage philanthropic partners, drive supplier diversity programs, and work to close communication gaps within our community.
“I am deeply honored and excited to join the city and Mayor Kelly in service to our community, its residents and visitors as we work together to realize his vision for One Chattanooga,” Steward said. “Through building bridges, removing barriers, and enabling access, I will work to ensure that Chattanooga is a place where all residents and neighborhoods can thrive and have their voices heard.”
A native Chattanoogan, Steward previously served as a leader in human resources for TVA, where she spearheaded transformational projects across the federal agency, and has also led efforts in human resources, financial services, external relations, emergency management, as well as diversity and inclusion. She represented TVA in the Leadership Chattanooga class of 2022 through the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to TVA, Steward was the community outreach manager for Hamilton Health Care System.
She was also president of the board of directors of A Step Ahead Chattanooga, served on the economic opportunity committee for the Mayor’s Council for Women, and was appointed to the board of directors for CARTA, where she was elected as vice chair.
Steward graduated from Girls Preparatory School, received her bachelor of science in sociology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and earned her MBA from Bryan College. She is also a certified project management professional through the Project Management Institute.
She enjoys traveling with her husband, Adrian as well as reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.