Thomas 'Tank' Strickland, Longtime City Employee and Community Champion, to Retire

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Thomas 'Tank' Strickland, Longtime City Employee and Community Champion, to Retire

Posted: 12/09/2015
Tank StricklandThomas “Tank” Strickland, the City’s Community Relations Director, has announced his retirement, effective Jan 29, 2016.

“I don’t believe there are enough words to describe what Tank has meant to the City of Knoxville and its citizens,” Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “He’s a man who has dedicated his life to service and improving the lives of those around him.”

Strickland credits his parents for inspiring his lifelong commitment to community service, both in the private and public sectors.

A former Knox County Commission chair, Strickland has served for nearly two decades, under four mayors, as the City of Knoxville’s Community Relations Director.

In that role, Strickland served as a liaison between community organizations and the City and represented the City on several boards. His department administers City government’s Equal Employment Opportunity programs, which includes recruiting qualified minority and women job candidates and investigating complaints of discrimination.

Strickland as head of the Community Relations Department also oversaw the City’s Police Advisory and Review Committee, Title VI and Equal Business Opportunity Programs, and the Save Our Sons program to create opportunity and reduce violence involving young men and boys of color.

Strickland was involved in several organizations while a student at Austin-East High School. His organizational and leadership skills were further sharpened while attending the University of Tennessee. Upon graduation, Strickland worked at Rohm & Haas and owned several businesses, but quickly changed direction into a life of public service.

Strickland served as a Knox County Commissioner and was asked to chair the Commission, starting in 2008. The previous year, the commission was found by a judge to have violated the state’s Open Meeting Act in making political appointments, and Strickland’s tenure as chair was credited with helping the Commission clean up its image.

Instrumental in partnering with the City and state of Tennessee in rebuilding the Five Points area of East Knoxville, Strickland also helped create a park with walking trails and an amphitheater in his Knox County Commission 1st District. The park was named in his honor.

But ask Strickland what he is most proud of, and his answer is his work as a founding member of both the InterFaith Health Clinic and the Howard Circle of Friends, a senior day-care group for people with Alzheimer’s.

“I learned that I had a talent for organizing and connecting with people in order to make a difference,” explained Strickland. “I’ve always wanted to make Knoxville a better place to live.”

Strickland recently received the national Jayne Thomas Grassroots Volunteer Recognition Award for community advocacy from the Community Action Partnership. The award is given to a volunteer who makes significant and outstanding contributions to accomplishing the promise of community action and who is devoted to changing people’s lives.

“Change does not happen overnight,” Strickland said. “I‘ve dedicated my life to working with the community to empower, educate and unite the citizens of Knoxville, and hopefully each situation, organization or person will be in a better condition when I left than when I started.”

Native son, community activist, champion of East Knoxville, coach, mentor, elected official – the list could go on and on for the man whose name has become synonymous with advocate or servant to the citizens of Knoxville.

“Tank has certainly made a positive impact on the City, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him,” Mayor Rogero said. “It’s been an even greater joy to call him a friend – he will certainly be missed.

“Knowing Tank, however, this is certainly not the end of his service to the community. This is merely the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.”