Congratulations to UTK public health alum Stephanie Welch on her victory in last month’s city elections, where she won the Knoxville City Council’s district one seat* with nearly a 3:1 margin of the vote!
Welch, originally from New Hampshire, graduated from our master’s program in 1997 with a dual MS-Nutrition/MPH degree. After graduation, she first joined the East Tennessee Regional Health Office, then later the Knox County Health Department, where she worked to create healthy environments and promote healthy behaviors within the city. She currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for the Great Schools Partnership, a non-profit organization which strives to create community schools – public schools that serve as a resource and activity center not just for students, but for the entire neighborhood. She has also served in the US Army Reserves for 18 years.
Since moving to Knoxville, Welch has taken part in numerous civic and non-profit committees, including the Knoxville Nutrition Council, the District Dietetic Association, the Food Policy Council, the Better Building Board, Ijams Nature Center, the YMCA, and the Knoxville Leadership Association.
In a recent interview on Talk Radio 92.3’s “Speaking Freely”, Welch said that she is very passionate about Knoxville’s move to become more walker-friendly. As the district one representative, she would like to help further this transition by improving public transportation and creating opportunities for small businesses to open in accessible locations. She would also like to see the Urban Wilderness used to bring more attention to Knoxville.
“What makes Knoxville even more unique than other cities in our region is that we have this Urban Wilderness that is near downtown. I mean it’s just 1 ½ miles from downtown.”
She is also very focused on revising outdated zoning regulations. She pointed out that the current zoning ordinance, created several decades ago, is no longer effective for the culture of today’s Knoxville. She would like to encourage development along and improvements to infrastructure already in existence. She would also like to add more flexibility to land-use regulations, which could lead to the creation of both affordable housing and mixed-use/walkable development opportunities in Knoxville.
Welch said, “This is an exciting time in the city right now… we have a lot of forward motion.” We here in the Department of Public Health would like to offer her our best wishes on keeping that momentum going strong. We believe she exemplifies all that is positive about our program and the discipline of public health – she talks the talk and walks the walk!
Congratulations, Stephanie! We are so proud of you and look forward to seeing what you will accomplish next!