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David Purkey – Tennessee’s Fourth Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security
David Purkey is a researcher at SEI — Stockholm Environment Institute and serves as Center Director for Latin America as well as leading their Water Group within US Center.
His research includes studying and adapting to climate change impacts in the water sector and aquatic ecosystems; integrated water resource management that incorporates surface and groundwater management approaches for meeting multiple objectives; equitable transboundary management of transboundary waters resources.
Early Life and Education
David Purkey was born February 5, 1945 in Texas. He enjoyed playing guitar, singing, hunting and fishing; traveling; water skiing; telling jokes; telling tall tales and spending time with family.
David was a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in public health and University of Tennessee with a master’s in public health, serving for eight years with both organizations before becoming a licensed emergency medical technician.
His government service spans more than three decades, from 9-1-1 dispatcher and emergency management director for Morristown-Hamblen County emergency planning; to state trooper assignments in Nashville and Fall Branch districts as well as being assigned as Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent in Chattanooga – plus four terms as mayor of Hamblen County.
David Purkey is an enthusiastic water expert. Since 1998, he has led SEI’s US Water Group Leader as the bridge between science and policy for sustainable development.
He oversees a team that develops and deploys Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP), the Institute’s signature river basin simulation software. His work spans various topics such as understanding climate change impacts, integrated water resources management practices and equitable transboundary water system governance.
He currently serves as Center Director for SEI Latin America based out of Bogota, Colombia and hails from Hamblen County in Tennessee. With over 35 years of experience working for state and local government as well as emergency management agencies – from 9-1-1 dispatching, emergency management director in Morristown, state trooping in Nashville/Fall Branch districts as well as being assigned as Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent, to becoming mayor four times over – Mr. Hobgood holds numerous roles across state/local governance/emergency management between his experiences he holds several key positions which is demonstrated in his experience as Center Director in Bogota Colombia.
Achievement and Honors
David Purkey currently serves as Tennessee’s fourth Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security and boasts an illustrious career in safety and homeland security. He holds a Bachelor’s of Public Health from East Tennessee State University as well as a Masters of Health Education from University of Tennessee.
He has held many prestigious positions throughout his career, from being an assistant for Judge James K. Miller and Hamblen County Mayor to earning an award for best emergency medical service of the year as 911 dispatcher in Morristown and serving as Emergency Management Director in Cleveland and Hamblen Counties as well as being appointed the state’s first police accreditation manager for Morristown city police department – truly an astounding achievement for someone born into a poor family in Mount Perry.
David Purkey enjoyed an active, fulfilled and adventurous life. His hobbies included playing guitar, singing, horse training, hunting and fishing for food as well as water skiing, telling jokes and spending quality time with his family.
His faith was at the center of his life. He enjoyed a strong relationship with God and served in His church for years.
He was an outspoken supporter of those with special needs who had been neglected or mistreated, while emphasizing the significance of teaching children and youth about their rights as well as helping them establish an identity and sense of belonging.
David Purkey was a distinguished former 9-1-1 dispatcher, emergency management director in Morristown, state trooper in Nashville and Fall Branch districts of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), mayor of Hamblen County for four terms and public health advisor to Governor Bill Haslam. Additionally he was employed as chief homeland security officer by Tennessee Emergency Management Agency since 2014. Dave was passionate about his faith, often reading the Bible while spending time with family. Additionally he enjoyed playing guitar, training horses, hunting fishing water skiing as well as telling jokes – leaving him many memories behind including wife Sharon; brother Richard; nieces nephews as well as fur babies to cherish.