Women in Government

Kim McMillan 2018 HONOREE

Mayor, Clarksville, Tenn.

Kim McMillan was a young lawyer in the mid 1990s when she grew frustrated at the dearth of women in the Tennessee General Assembly. She decided to run for a House seat, and won. During a 12-year career as a lawmaker, McMillan became the first woman to hold a leadership position -- House majority leader -- in the state. She left elected office to serve as a senior adviser to Gov. Phil Bredesen, where she helped implement statewide voluntary pre-kindergarten. In 2011, McMillan made history again as the first woman elected mayor of a large Tennessee city.

Clarksville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, with a 13 percent increase in population between 2010 and 2016. McMillan has overseen several new economic development projects, such as a performing arts center and a major athletic complex, along with two new fire stations, one new police precinct and dozens of new firefighters and police officers. She finalized a regional transportation plan to address worsening traffic congestion. 

McMillan says she loved her time in the legislature but relishes her role as a local leader. “In the legislature, you’re one of 132. When you’re mayor, you’re one of one.” 

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.