Stevans embraces servant leadership, regional progress


Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.

When Mark Stevans looks back at the career path that brought him to his role at the First Tennessee Development District, the journey seems almost accidental.

Stevans started out on Capitol Hill before eventually returning home to east Tennessee to serve as Director of Special Projects at the FTDD. He’ll tell you he never set out to work in the public sector, but embracing the call to servant leadership that was instilled in him from a young age by his grandparents and his mother have led to a rewarding career.

“If you see a problem or a need, you try to fill that or correct it if you can,” Stevans said. “That has really driven most of my career choices.”

Those who know Stevans best say that when he sees a problem or need, he dives headlong into the fray. He never shies away from additional duties and responsibilities and uses his government relations savvy, grant writing skills and relentless desire to see our region thrive to address the issue at hand.

Stevans is equally passionate about helping others outside of his job. He volunteers for a litany of organizations in our region and joins his wife Meredith to help make his hometown of Greeneville a better place to live through several initiatives.

Much of the work Stevans does takes place behind the scenes, and he takes pride in allowing the credit for successful projects go to the elected officials and organizations that partner with FTDD.

“We can do things behind the scenes in a way that puts the communities in the forefront,” Stevans said. “That’s the point. It’s not about getting credit, it’s about getting the job done.”

As we continue to emerge from COVID-19, Stevans said his goal is to help the region capitalize on the unprecedented opportunities presented in the wake of the pandemic. Of course, he’ll be thrilled to do so behind the scenes working with a great team at FTDD.

“Coming home and working for people that are trying to make things better is probably what keeps me going,” he said. “It’s really a privilege to help work on initiatives. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of it.”

Next week we will profile Jen Tharp of Johnson City Medical Center.

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