Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly appoints Jermaine Freeman as interim chief of staff

Jermaine Freeman

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly on last Friday appointed Jermaine Freeman as interim Chief of Staff. Freeman will take over the portfolio that is being vacated by Joda Thongnopnua as the administration crosses the two-year mark.

Freeman previously served in senior leadership roles for both Mayor Kelly as well as in the prior mayoral administration, with a heavy focus on economic and workforce development. Under Kelly, he has served as the mayor’s senior advisor for economic opportunity, with responsibilities that have included affordable housing, workforce development, and the management of several key economic development projects. 

“I’ve come to rely on Jermaine for his honest insights, his tireless dedication to closing opportunity gaps for our residents, and his demonstrated ability to make Chattanooga a better place for everybody, ” Kelly said. “As my right-hand man for economic opportunity, I’ve seen firsthand his wisdom and grit, and I know he’s up to this challenge.”

Since Kelly was elected, Freeman has been spearheading several of the mayor’s major initiatives, including the revitalization of Chattanooga’s South Broad district, the renaissance of the former DuPont site in Hixson, the creation of hundreds of new affordable homes, and crafting incentives to help major employers expand in or relocate to Chattanooga. 

“My theory of change is fundamentally economic, improving people’s lives by improving their standard of living, and Jermaine has been critical to these efforts,” Kelly said. “We will continue to support this work vigorously as Jermaine moves into his new duties.” Richard Beeland, the current administrator of Economic Development, will take on a portion of Freeman’s economic responsibilities as he transitions into the Interim Chief of Staff role, and the administration will be considering other strategies to support its economic work in the interim.