Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

AOC Director Tate Named to Three Branch Institute Advisory Committee

April 17, 2018

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts Director Deborah Taylor Tate has been named to a national committee tasked with helping states collaborate across branches and agencies to address the issue of child safety.  

The Three Branch Institute Advisory Committee will develop a toolkit based on lessons learned from various state initiatives as well as feedback from previous Three Branch Institute efforts.

Director Tate’s insights and perspective as a leader in Tennessee’s Three Branch Institute will serve an invaluable resource to the development of this toolkit. 

“I have dedicated much of my career to advocating for children and ensuring the laws and policies designed to protect them do just that,” Tate said. “Our government serves the people better when there is cross-branch cooperation, strategizing, and information-sharing.”

The Three Branch Institute was formed in 2009 by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association with the mission of bringing “the three branches of government together to develop an action plan to address the most pressing child welfare issues,” according to the NCSL.

In its first year, representatives from 18 states collaborated on ways to reduce the number of children in foster care. Since that time, Three Branch Institute member states have taken on a number of different projects aimed at improving child welfare. For instance, Tennessee was one of eight states chosen in 2016 to take part in the Three Branch Institute on Improving Child Safety and Preventing Child Fatalities.

In 2017, Three Branch Institute-affiliated lawmakers helped pass a law in the Tennessee State Legislature that created five new “zero to three” court programs in the state. Those programs are intended “to reduce the incidence of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment, minimize the effects of childhood trauma on small children, and provide stability to parents and children within the state,” according to the text of the bill.

Director Tate brings a wealth of experience to her role on the Three Branch Institute Advisory Committee. A Nashville attorney and former Federal Communications Commissioner, Director Tate began her professional career in Tennessee state government, where she served as legal counsel and policy advisor to two former Tennessee governors: Don Sundquist and now Senator Lamar Alexander.

She has long been recognized for her dedication to issues concerning children. In private practice, Director Tate served as a guardian ad litem, representing families and juveniles in juvenile court. She is also the former president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) board.

In 2009, Director Tate was named a World Telecommunications and Information Society Day Laureate for her work related to empowering children online. She has also been designated to the  Special Envoy for Child Online Protection by the International Telecommunications Union.

Director Tate is currently a member of the Tennessee Three Branch Initiative as a representative of the judiciary. In addition, she serves on Tennessee’s Second Look Commission, which was designed to connect shareholders in the state’s child protection system with representatives from all three branches of state government.

Moreover, Director Tate has served on Tennessee’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice and is currently serving as co-chair of the National Opioid Task Force, organized by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.

The Three Branch Institute Advisory Committee was created by the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices, the National Conference of State Legislators, and Casey Family Programs.

Director Tate, third from left, with the Three Branch Institute Advisory Committee during a recent meeting in Denver.