Phil Bredesen grew up in rural Shortsville, N.Y, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University. Before entering public service, Bredesen worked in the health care industry. He founded HealthAmerica Corp., a Nashville-based health care management company. He served as mayor of Nashville, Tenn., from 1991 to 1999.
Bredesen took office as Tennessee’s 48th governor in January 2003 and was reelected in November 2006, winning all 95 of the state’s counties. By Bredesen’s fourth year in office, Tennessee passed four balanced budgets, received improved rankings from bond rating agencies, and raised its Rainy Day Fund to a record high. Bredesen expanded the state’s pilot Pre-K initiative into a voluntary program for four-year-olds across the state and created the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to offer children free books monthly up to their fifth birthday in each of Tennessee’s counties. Bredesen launched CoverTN and CoverKids to provide health insurance for working Tennesseans and uninsured children. During his time in office, Tennessee experienced tremendous progress in economic development, including 45 new corporate headquarters, 170,377 new jobs, and more than $27.7 billion in new investments.