Brad Collett Appointed Tennessee RiverLine’s First Executive Director

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Appointment Allows Greater Focus on Community Economic Development and River Stewardship

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After seven years of dedicated service leading the Tennessee RiverLine initiative as part of his teaching and research activity as a University of Tennessee faculty member, Brad Collett has officially assumed the role of Executive Director, marking a significant milestone for the initiative. This appointment, made by UT Extension, signifies a pivotal moment in the initiative’s evolution, allowing Collett to transition into a full-time leadership position and intensify his focus on organizational and partnership development.

Aligned with UT’s century-old land-grant mission in community and economic development, the Tennessee RiverLine, now under UT Extension, further strengthens the university’s dedication to enhancing the overall well-being of communities in Tennessee and the broader Tennessee River Valley. This mission is also shared by Tennessee Valley Authority, a principal partner for the initiative. The collaboration between UT Extension and TVA, as manifested through the Tennessee RiverLine, not only celebrates the beauty, diversity and history of the Tennessee Valley but connects its people and communities. Serving as a catalyst for sustainable economic development and river stewardship, this collaboration embodies a commitment to the well-being of the Tennessee Valley and its residents.

“The appointment of Brad Collett as Executive Director of the Tennessee RiverLine is a testament to his exemplary leadership of the initiative these past many years, and UT Extension’s commitment to the land grant mission. UT Extension strives to help Tennesseans thrive through impactful programs that benefit agriculture, natural resources, families, youth development, and communities. The Tennessee RiverLine exemplifies this mission by not only connecting communities along the river but also by actively enhancing the quality of life for all,” said Ashley Stokes, dean of UT Extension. “In the spirit of natural resource stewardship, as well as community development, this appointment resonates with our dedication to fostering positive change and sustainable solutions for the people of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley region.”

Collett’s extensive background in teaching and research in the UT Department of Plant Sciences and School of Landscape Architecture has been instrumental in advancing the Tennessee RiverLine’s goals. As Executive Director, he will now have the opportunity to channel his expertise in community development, design, and water resource management towards accelerating the realization of the Tennessee RiverLine vision. The appointment reflects a strategic move to enhance the project’s impact on communities along the Tennessee River.

“The Tennessee RiverLine is more than an initiative of historic significance; it’s a commitment to improving the quality of life in our region for present and future generations, and embracing our region’s legacy of innovation through collaboration,” said Collett. “I am honored to take on the role of Executive Director and contribute to the continued success of the Tennessee RiverLine as a signature initiative of UT Extension and a demonstration of our modern land grant mission.”

This appointment underscores UT Extension’s commitment to fostering positive change and sustainable solutions, contributing to the legacy of a century of service and improvement in the region.

The Tennessee RiverLine is an initiative of UT Extension, with principal partners UT Knoxville and Tennessee Valley Authority, and aims to create a continuous system of paddling, hiking and biking experiences along the Tennessee River’s 652-mile reach. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. to Tennesseans and beyond.

 For more information about the Tennessee RiverLine, visit

Media Contact

Lila Honaker

Tennessee RiverLine


Brad Collett, Executive Director