Dr. Nakia Towns is chief of staff for Hamilton County Schools in Chattanooga, Tenn., where she supports the superintendent’s executive cabinet and oversees communications, accountability, strategic planning, and federal programs.
Prior to joining Hamilton County, Towns was assistant commissioner, division of data and research, at the Tennessee Department of Education. During her time at the department, she served on the executive leadership team and helped set the strategic direction for pre-K through 12 education policy by developing the state’s highly regarded plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Towns began her education career in Knox County Schools in Knoxville, Tenn. There, she held roles as director of human capital strategy, acting human resources executive director, and chief accountability officer. During her tenure, the district became the only large, urban school system to ever earn the highest designation on the state’s report card.
Before her work in education, Towns was a finance executive whose clients included numerous Fortune 500 companies. She oversaw a commercial lending portfolio that helped to expand and strengthen small businesses and local economies. While in the private sector, she also co-founded a nonprofit after-school tutoring and intervention program in rural Georgia, continuing her lifelong commitment to public education. Her experience as a volunteer teacher in the after-school program ultimately inspired her to pursue a full-time career in education. Towns earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University and has an MBA and an engineering degree from Duke University. She was a member of the third cohort of the Future Chiefs leadership development program.