Mayor Kelly brings on trio of senior staff who will help implement major policies, leverage best practices, and drive key initiatives

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly has appointed Mike Compton as a senior advisor, as part of a trio of new hires announced this week.

Compton, an experienced leader who has served in the highest levels of local government for many years, will support the mayor, chief of staff and the cabinet as a senior advisor on a wide variety of community, project, operational and political issues. Compton previously served as chief of staff to former Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger from 2011 to 2022, and was also chief of staff under then-Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker from 2001 to 2005. He has also served in leadership roles in the private sector, as chief administrative officer for Walden Security and as vice president of the Corker group, a real estate company that at one time included the city’s landmark Krystal, Tallan, and James buildings.

“Mike is a localist who has dedicated his life to serving the residents of this community, and when he became a free agent I immediately asked him if he would agree to lend his wisdom and experience to accomplish the big goals we’ve laid out,” said Kelly. “His insights and advice will help fuel a more effective, efficient approach to building One Chattanooga.”

Kelly also appointed Nicole Heyman as the city’s chief housing officer, who will help drive the mayor’s $100 million affordable housing initiative, and work to unlock new housing options for residents who 

have been squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages. Heyman hails from New Orleans, where she was director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Assets and Investment, leading a team of policy and data specialists to address problem properties and invest in equitable development. In her prior role as vice president and director of Louisiana initiatives at the Center for Community Progress, she helped eliminate 10,000 vacant and abandoned properties in post-Katrina New Orleans.

“It’s no secret that the creation and preservation of homes that our residents can afford is not only one of our residents’ top priorities, but one of the most important tasks before this administration,” Kelly said. “Nicole brings vast experience in helping to create data-driven and community-informed strategies to help residents live in a quality home they can afford, and I’m excited for her to get started.”

Kelly also appointed Quentin Lawrence as director of the city’s Office of Workforce Development, where he will help coordinate citywide efforts to help job seekers get the skills they need to gainemployment and earn a living wage. Lawrence will lead the city’s strategy to increase economic mobility, and to improve educational and employment outcomes for unemployed, underemployed, and under-educated adults. Lawrence formerly served as vice president of lending for Pathway Lending, which focuses on increasing access to capital for underserved businesses, particularly those in low-income census tracts, as well as women, veteran, and minority owned businesses. Through his experience in banking, nonprofits, and ministry, Lawrence worked with a wide variety of partners and clients from all walks of life, and has demonstrated an ability to coordinate and connect agencies, businesses, workers and nonprofits to help residents succeed.

“One Chattanooga means working to eliminate the barriers and roadblocks that for too long have held back too many in our community,” said Kelly. “Quentin brings the passion and the skillset to enhance opportunities for residents who have been left behind, and support the growth of our small businesses.”