tnAchieves is available to help you launch a Promise program in your community!
Launched in 2009, tnAchieves has provided support and guidance to nearly 450,000 Tennessee students. From our roots as a community based, privately-funded scholarship program to our role as TN Promise's largest statewide partnering organization serving more than 60,000 students annually, tnAchieves can provide meaningful insight and practical guidance from the idea phase to more mature organizations who are seeking to bolster additional student services or create new methods of program evaluation.
tnAchieves programming is working. tnAchieves students outpace full-time, first-time freshmen at Tennessee community colleges in fall-to-fall retention by 13 percentage points* and 16 percentage points** in six-year graduation. Improving student outcomes is at the core of tnAchieves' programs, and our team is consistently innovating and identifying gaps to ensure each student feels seen and supported throughout the college process. Learn more about tnAchieves' programs and impact by clicking here.
tnAchieves Leadership Team
Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director
Krissy DeAlejandro is the Executive Director of tnAchieves, a nonprofit committed to student success. As the partnering organization to Tennessee Promise, the nation’s first statewide tuition free college program, tnAchieves seeks to provide the opportunity for all students to earn a post-secondary credential. Launched in 2008 under Krissy’s leadership, tnAchieves has grown into the country’s largest college access and success program. To date, tnAchieves has worked with over 400,000 students and boasts college retention and graduation rates well above both state and national averages. The program is also responsible for recruiting, training, and retaining more than 9,000 volunteer mentors to work with its students as they transition from high school to college. As the founding leader of tnAchieves, Krissy spearheaded the organization’s growth from one Tennessee county to a statewide program serving more than 60,000 high school seniors annually. Along with her team, she also built and successfully executed the state’s robust suite of summer programs, intrusive college coaching model and aligned pathway communication strategy. Prior to her work with tnAchieves, Krissy served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Knox County Mayor where she focused on workforce development and higher education initiatives. She also successfully led the mayoral campaign for the third-most populous county in Tennessee. Krissy is a native of Warren County, Tennessee. The first in her family to attend college, she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She earned a master’s degree and pursued her doctorate at the University of Tennessee where she also began teaching at age 24. Krissy has been active in a variety of community and post-secondary organizations including the University of Tennessee’s Chancellor’s Associates, Tennesseans for Student Success, Southern Regional Education Board, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, Tennessee Independent College and Universities Association and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education. She was a 2013 YWCA Tribute to Women honoree, a 2015 Leadership Knoxville graduate, a Greater Knoxville Business Journal “40 under 40” honoree, and a member of the 2016 Leadership Tennessee class. Krissy and her husband, Jeffrey, have three children, Oliver, Beatrice and Henry.
Graham Thomas, Deputy Director of Government Affairs and Community Partnerships
Graham Thomas is a native Tennessean. He was raised in Franklin, TN where he was a third-generation Franklin High School graduate, graduating with honors in 2004. Graham attended the University of Tennessee from 2004 - 2008. While at the University of Tennessee he was active with the Epsilon-Omicron Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, serving as vice president and president of the 135 man fraternal organization. He began his career in Washington, DC as a paid intern and interim staff assistant for a member of the United States House of Representatives. He returned to Tennessee in 2009 and worked for 21st Mortgage in downtown Knoxville. In June of 2010 Graham began working with knoxAchieves, now tnAchieves. tnAchieves serves as the partnering organization for Governor Haslam’s TN Promise in 90 of the state’s 95 counties. tnAchieves exists to provide higher education opportunities for Tennessee high school students by providing last-dollar scholarships with mentor guidance. In its 13 year history, tnAchieves has assisted more than 400,000 students as they navigate the college going process and attempt to enroll in college. Graham is currently the Deputy Director of Government Affairs and Community Partnerships for the non-profit. In his role he manages the 9,000 person volunteer mentor program as well as all outreach efforts, government affairs and external partnerships. He, and a team of three outreach coordinators, recruit, train and manage the volunteer mentors working directly with TN Promise students to alleviate barriers associated with accessing higher education. Graham has been instrumental in the growth of the organization into 90 counties in Tennessee. He began as the second employee when the program was serving 493 students and 165 volunteers. Today the program serves more than 63,000 students annually with the support of more than 9,000 volunteers. Graham also assisted in the creation of each county’s local advisory council and continues to coordinate their efforts at the local level. Graham has been invited to keynote several conferences, including the TN Government Leadership Conference four years in a row. He has represented tnAchieves as a speaker at PromiseNet in 2017 and as an invited guest at the White House in 2016. He has spoken to numerous civic clubs, chambers of commerce and leadership programs across Tennessee. Graham has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East TN where he served as a Big to his Little, Danny. He also served on the University of Tennessee’s Young Alumni Council and previously served on the Young Professionals of Knoxville’s Board of Directors. In 2016 Graham participated in the inaugural class of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute. He also participated the inaugural class of the Southern Education Foundation’s Southern Policy and Practice Network and in 2019 Graham was chosen to participate in the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee NEXT. Graham currently chairs the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s School of Communication Studies Alumni Board and was chosen as the school’s 2019 alumnus of the year. In 2020 Graham was recognized as an inaugural recipient of the University of Tennessee’s “Volunteer 40 under 40.”
Jackie McDonald, Deputy Director of Research and Operations
Jackie serves as the Deputy Director of Research and Operations for tnAchieves. In this role, Jackie oversees data management, student completion research, technology implementation and internal operations of tnAchieves. In addition, Jackie assists with strategic planning and organizational structure as the program develops and shifts based on research and trends. Jackie began working with tnAchieves in 2010 while in pursuing her MBA at the University of Tennessee.
Amy Bain, Senior Director of Post-Secondary Impact
Amy Bain serves as the Senior Director of Post-Secondary Impact. She has been with tnAchieves for almost 10 years and works closely with post-secondary institutions and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) to ensure student data is accurate. In addition to partnering with state and post-secondary partners, Amy manages internal student data in CoPilot/Salesforce. Amy earned a technical certificate in cosmetology from Fullerton College in Fullerton, California and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nonprofit Management from Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is an Intro Knoxville spring 2017 and Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute Class of 2019 alumni.
Maegan Tribble, Senior Director of Finance and Administration
Maegan Tribble serves as the Senior Director of Finance and Administration for tnAchieves. She has been working for the organization since 2012 and was part of the statewide expansion effort of TN Promise. Maegan manages human resources, administration and financial tracking and reporting for tnAchieves. She has a passion for leadership development and is responsible for creating professional development for the 31 team members of the tnAchieves team. Maegan believes that teams reach their full potential when cultures foster self-awareness and personal growth.
In 2018, Maegan participated in Intro Knoxville to learn about local government, education and civic engagement. She was a part of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute (CTLI) cohort of 2020-2021. CTLI gather leaders in education to collaborate and create better outcomes for students in the state of Tennessee. Maegan is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and holds a B.S. in Psychology from Centre College.
Ben Sterling, Senior Director of Content
A 2009 graduate of Karns High School in Knox County, Ben was part of the inaugural class of KnoxAchieves (now tnAchieves). Ben is a graduate of Pellissippi State Community College and Austin Peay State University and was the first person in his family to earn a post-secondary credential. He joined the tnAchieves team professionally in June 2014 as an Outreach Coordinator, helping with mentor recruitment and establishing local advisory councils in 84 counties. He now serves as the Senior Director of Content, leading all external-facing publications highlighting tnAchieves impact and progress. Included in this work are the tnAchieves students, mentor and parent handbooks, the tnAchieves website, all tnAchieves social media content and various presentations/one-pagers highlighting tnAchieves programming. Ben is Intro Knoxville fall 2018 and Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute Class of 2019-2020 alumni. Ben was featured in the 2018 edition of Pellissippi State Connections as a featured alumnus. Ben currently serves on the alumni advisory council for the Tennessee Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at the University of Tennessee and has served as a Big to Nate through Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. Ben and his wife, Mallory, have two children Annsley and Austin.
Jessica Macey, Senior Director of Student Impact
Jessica serves as the Senior Director of Student Impact for tnAchieves. In this role, Jessica organizes our communication efforts with our post-secondary and K12 partners. She also organizes all of our targeted communication sent to our students and their families to ensure TN Promise scholarship requirements are met. In addition, Jessica tracks TN Promise requirement completion for our high schools' seniors across the state. Jessica began working with tnAchieves in 2016 and earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 2014.
Matthew Otero, Senior Director of Data
Matthew serves as the Senior Director of Data for tnAchieves. In this role, Matthew is responsible for overseeing the Salesforce database accessed by tnAchieves staff which manages all tnAchieves related contacts and interactions. Beyond database management, Matthew also oversees the integration and maintenance of external applications the organization uses within its Salesforce instance. Those applications include email, text messaging, data collection through forms, and online scheduling. Matthew began working with tnAchieves in 2015 after graduating from the University of New Mexico and serving two years as an AmeriCorps State member with a college access non-profit (College Forward) in Austin, TX. Matthew will be participating with the 2021-2022 class of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute.
Promise Program Development
- Initial Program Strategy Development
- Establishing Policies and Requirements (e.g. mandatory meetings, community service, FAFSA deadline, etc.)
- Scholarship Structure (e.g. first-dollar vs. last-dollar scholarships)
- Mentor and Coaching Strategy (e.g. paid vs. volunteer mentors)
- Administrative Components
- Establishing Pillars of Work
Implementing Student Services
- Targeted Student Communication
- Student Coaching
- Summer Programs
- Completion Grants (Emergency Funding)
- Student Success Advising
Creating Community Partnerships
- Community Engagement
- Identifying and Educating Local Advocates
- Volunteer Mentor Recruitment and Program Management
- K12 to Post-Secondary Alignment
- Establishing Corporate Partnerships (e.g. Tennessee's Drive to 55 Alliance)
- Government Affairs
- Public/Private Partnerships
Developing Program Infrastructure
- Data and User Management
- Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting
- CRM Administration (Salesforce)
- Organizational Structure
- Coordinating a Mass Communication Plan
- Program Marketing
If you would like to speak with our team about our services, please complete the form below. After submitting the form, a tnAchieves team member will follow up with more information!