Nashville, TN – Abbie Hudgens, Administrator of the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, retires today. She was hired by Governor Bill Haslam in 2011 and has spent the past 11 years consistently working to improve the workers’ compensation system in Tennessee for all stakeholders.
During her tenure, Abbie has introduced and overseen many advancements in the operations of the Bureau and made innumerable contributions. In 2013, she had an important role in drafting legislation to reform the workers’ compensation system in Tennessee. That reform resulted in creation of the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and the appointment of judges as well as the introduction of an Ombudsman Program to help stakeholders get the information they need.
She was instrumental in the legislation for a vocational assistance program (Next Step), the Employee Misclassification Education and Enforcement Fund, and the Uninsured Employer Fund Benefit Program. Recently, she has spearheaded the REWARD Program, which is an acronym for Return Employees to Work and Reduce Disabilities. This program includes resources and a toolkit for employers, Return-to-Work Coordinator Training, and the Certified Physician Program.
“Administrator Hudgens is likely the most important and influential person in the history of Tennessee workers’ compensation,” said Troy Haley, current Legislative Liaison and incoming Administrator. “She has done a masterful job guiding the Bureau over the past eleven years and has left us in great shape. The Bureau team that Abbie put together is a super smart and hardworking group, and I am honored to continue working with the team to fulfill the promise of workers’ compensation going forward.”
“Abbie has been instrumental in transforming Tennessee’s workers’ compensation system into one that is much more fair, predictable and stable for all parties,” said Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator. “Her ability to develop a vision, describe it to others and then work to implement her vision is what has inspired me the most. She is always committed to making things better. I am confident that Troy Haley will continue her legacy and bring further improvements after he assumes the role of Administrator and I look forward to helping him implement his vision, too.”
Prior to leading the Bureau, Abbie was risk manager for Nashville and Davidson County Metropolitan Government, the risk and benefits manager for the City of Knoxville, and a consultant in private practice. A Tennessee native, she graduated from Messick High School in Memphis. She received a B.A. from the University of Memphis and an M.P.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She has been the national president of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC), Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA), and Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA). She has been president of the Knoxville Risk Management Society, Tennessee Valley Benefits Council, and a member of the Tennessee Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation. She was also the Chairman of the Board of HC 21, an employer-led healthcare coalition in East Tennessee. In 2015, she was awarded the IAIABC Frances Perkins Award for Innovation and Progressive Leadership in Workers’ Compensation and Social Security. In 2017, she received the Comp Laude Award with honor, and just recently she was inducted into the 2022 class of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary.
During retirement, she is looking forward to a chance to learn new things. She plans on having more time to spend with family and friends, as well as going on adventures. Although she may be retired, she is not going to stop sharing her expertise with the workers’ comp industry. She will be involved with the new accreditation program called WorkCompCollege.com as a trustee and co-dean of the regulation/legislation section of the training course.
Abbie and her husband, Skip, live in Nashville and are active members of the Church of the Redeemer. They have two grown children, John and Lisa, who live in Knoxville. She is an avid supporter of the Atlanta Braves and UT Volunteers. She likes to travel, garden, paint, read, and cook.
Abbie says her favorite part of being Administrator at the Bureau is working with the people here: “I strongly believe that the best solutions come from the coming together of many voices and opinions. Helen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'”
Source: TN BWC