What is your vision for Knoxville 10 years from now?
Knoxville is the greatest city on earth and it is only getting better! My vision is that we continue to excel and invest in our education system. Also to attract more businesses to move here and empower local businesses to succeed. We need to be able to grow sustainably, while maintaining our core values and principals that got us where we are today.
What is Knoxville’s Best Kept Secret?
There are a lot of great aspects of Knoxville that outsiders might not know about. However, I think the best kept secret is the quality of our public school system. My wife and I are both products of Knox County public schools, and I would put our schools up against any other county in the country. Coming in second would be Williams Creek Golf Course. This course is an absolute gem that a lot of people don’t know about.
What would you do to strengthen Knoxville?
Fortunately, I think we are already doing it, which would be to invest in parts of the city where there is opportunity to transform communities. You see this happening now with the transformation of East Knoxville and South Knoxville.
What is your favorite Knoxville memory?
I was 13 years old when the Tennessee Vols defeated the Florida Gators in September of 1998. Like thousands of others, I rushed the field and still have a piece of that turf. Of course, that team went on to go undefeated and win the National Championship, which I was fortunate enough to attend in Tempe, AZ, and I will never forget that!
What is your favorite book or what book is currently on your nightstand?
What is the best advice you have received from a mentor, and who was that mentor?
Nobody cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care. I have heard this from a few different mentors, but first from my father, Bunny Oakes. It hits at the heart of servant leadership and being authentic, and has helped me tremendously throughout my life.
What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
ENJOY the next 6 years, and do not take it for granted. Form as many connections and relationships as you can, and do not let those slip away. Travel/study abroad before it is too late.