Susan Reid, executive director of the First Tennessee Development District retires
Susan Reid has dedicated her professional career to people and programs she dearly loves. The results of that career span 44 years of multiple successes. She is now spending her last few months in the transition process with her replacement Chris Craig.
The information under Susan’s Science Hill High School class of ’65 annual photo reads… “Good nature is the sign of a large and generous soul.” I am lucky to be one of Susan’s classmates who can attest to that statement.
Susan Reid’s dedication to her work and fellow employees has served her well since joining the District in 1973, more evidence of a good nature and generous soul. In today’s world it is a rare occurrence for a professional to stay with one company or institution for 44 years. She also carries the distinction of being the first female and longest serving Development District Executive Director in Tennessee history.
During her tenure she has received numerous awards and recognition such as the Tennessee Valley Corridor’s Champion Award she shares with fellow recipients Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Chuck Fleishmann and recently as the first recipient of the Tennessee Development District Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I so love what we do. How many people get the opportunity to work with people you love and to do good things for people all the time? I have been so blessed,” Susan shared.
Many people in the region may not be aware of the continuous projects or major successes the First Tennessee Development District has championed. There are too many to share in this space but all have been vital for our region.
I asked Susan what she considered an accomplishment she is most proud, “I would have to say our work on getting Interstate 26 completed. That was huge. Our agency worked very hard for 20 years with our elected officials to get it completed. I think the cost was around $15 million per mile.
“We met with North Carolina delegates monthly. We sent letters to the North Carolina General Assembly outlining the benefits for both states and region. I can’t stress how hard we worked alongside many supporters,” Susan explained.
“I am also very proud of the work we have done helping the people in Sneedville in Hancock County. Their communities are so remote and isolated and it was difficult getting the projects completed. The people there are just fabulous. They were wonderful to work with. The state recently committed to building a call center which will help employment,” she added.
“One of our most difficult but rewarding projects involved getting water to the Fish Springs community near Watauga Lake. Children from that community wrote letters to Washington sharing their experiences ‘that to get water, they had to go to the creek to fill buckets to take back home. They explained that many times little wiggly things were in the water.’ That touched my heart. It’s unthinkable in this day and time people don’t have clean water to drink. We tried to find a water source for the community but none was available. It was expensive but we ended up digging a well and now they have clean drinking water,” she explained.
Susan said the District works closely with the Appalachian Regional Commission and is one of the most efficient government agencies in Washington. She said they have come to our aid many times and understand the region’s needs without having to jump through numerous hoops.
She leaves a legacy of success most times behind the scenes and very quietly. She insists that has given her people the opportunity to focus on the successful completion of their numerous projects.
Congratulations Susan Reid on a career of distinction, service and dedication to our communities and region.