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TDEC Leadership, Boards & Commissions

Tisha Calabrese-Benton

Tisha Calabrese-Benton was named Assistant Commissioner in May 2012 to lead TDEC’s Office of External Affairs. Tisha previously served as the department’s Communication’s Director, where she was recognized for her skill, intelligence, teamwork and effective relationships across diverse constituency groups. In particular, Tisha was well regarded, both internally and externally, for her responsiveness and ability to help make complex issues understandable to the general public. As Assistant Commissioner for External Affairs, Tisha has built a high-achieving team with a focus on strong customer service and being proactive in their communications and approach to stakeholder involvement. Tisha reports directly to the Commissioner and has department-wide responsibility for:

  • Communications and Media Relations
  • Digital Media and Publications - including departmental websites, social media and The Tennessee Conservationist magazine
  • Eight Regional Directors for External Affairs
  • Government Relations

Tisha has been with the department for nearly 10 years, starting as TDEC’s East Tennessee Communications Coordinator, then serving as Deputy Communications Director and Communications Director.  Throughout that period, she added increased responsibilities for planning, organizing and directing media coordination and strategic communications for critical department activities. Prior to working at TDEC, Tisha worked in television news in Reno, Milwaukee and most recently as the Senior Executive Producer at WATE-TV in Knoxville.  She has a bachelor’s of journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia.  Once she made it to Tennessee, Tisha found her home in the state she loves.  She and her husband David enjoy hiking and getting outside with their young daughter, and can’t wait until she’s old enough to begin kayaking in Tennessee’s amazing rivers and creeks.