shown: Virgin Falls, Sparta Tennessee
USDA Rural Development
Mary Ruth Tackett was appointed Tennessee State Director for USDA Rural Development by President George W. Bush on April 9, 2001. Tackett manages Rural Development programs and administration for 141 staff working in the state office and nine area offices across Tennessee. Rural Development currently manages a loan portfolio of more than $1.3 billion invested in the development of business, housing, utilities and essential community services for Tennessee communities.
With 40 years experience at Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration), Tackett is one of the most knowledgeable State Directors and Tennessee's first woman to serve in the top executive position. Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr also appointed Tackett to serve as chairperson of Rural Development's National Marketing Committee made up of state directors and the marketing firm Osborne-Barr. Over the last five years this committee has developed communications strategies that are revolutionizing the way Rural Development programs are delivered to the public and local governments.
Tackett has completed numerous leadership and community development programs and earned an American Management Association Degree. Tackett is a graduate of the WestStar Leadership Program at University of Tennessee at Martin and a member of the WestStar Alumni Association. The WestStar program educates people to assume leadership responsibilities in economic and social development.
Productivity has risen every year Tackett has been State Director thanks to the hard work and innovative ideas from staff. In 2007 administrative costs to deliver RD programs in Tennessee were lowered to less than four cents per program dollar. Under Tackett's leadership RD Tennessee regularly delivers more than 100 percent of its initial state allocation of funds for multiple programs. This helps lower the cost of delivering programs and maximizes the impact of every tax dollar invested in the state through USDA Rural Development.
Rural Development helps build communities from the ground up through business development, community infrastructure and housing programs. In 2007, RD staff touched the lives of more than 600,000 people in rural Tennessee. Through loans and economic infrastructure RD helped nearly 900 rural businesses create or retain more than 2,600 jobs. Most importantly, the impact of nearly $309 million invested by RD in 2007 will continue to positively impact the lives, health, safety, education, homes and livelihoods of families and individuals for years to come. Tackett's focus for RD in Tennessee is on lasting partnerships that build sustainable rural communities.
A native of Bolivar, Tennessee, Tackett is married to Glenn Tackett. They have two children, a son Doug, and a daughter, Amy.