JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Patricia “Tish” Oldham will become the Johnson City Development Authority (JCDA) executive director Feb. 7 and take the reins at what JCDA’s chairman called a “critical time” for the agency’s project to convert the former John Sevier hotel to a new use.

“We are grateful to have her level of expertise coming in to the JCDA,” Hank Carr said in a news release. “This is a critical time, not only with the John Sevier project but the growth of Johnson City in general. Tish is equipped to lead downtown into its next phase and ensure it remains a vital part of our community’s growth.”

The appointment follows a search that lasted several months and occurred after the JCDA board opted not to move interim director Dianna Cantler to the permanent position.

Tish Oldham

“We now have, I think, a very high-risk, high-reward agenda and it’s caused us to really think about what kind of person can drive that agenda,” board member Jodi Jones said during the September 2021 meeting in which the board voted 7-1 to seek a new director.

Carr said Oldham has many of the skills needed to keep downtown at the forefront of Johnson City’s growth. The position’s key priorities in addition to management and redevelopment of the John Sevier will include:

  •  Redevelopment of the Downtown Center and associated parking initiatives;
  • Management and oversight of Connect Downtown, which encompasses the Johnson City Main Street Program;
  • Enhancement of the Tax Increment Financing program to promote development in the designated Development District. 

“As a certified planner, Tish brings a deep background in land planning and urban affairs, along with project management, grant acquisition and administration, community board management, and economic development experience,” Carr said of Oldham.

Oldham is a Johnson City native and was East Tennessee State University’s Director of Community Outreach and Economic Development for six years. She has served in professional and volunteer roles for Washington and Unicoi counties in Tennessee, the cities of Bristol, Tenn. and Va., the town of Jonesborough and the city of Knoxville.

She holds a master’s degree in planning from the University of Tennessee, College of Architecture + Design and a bachelor’s in government from The Centre College of Kentucky.