Your Community Partners: 2017 Distinctively Southern Gentlemen

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Jeff Hentschel is a storyteller. Jeff was the Communications Director of Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development as well as a Commercial Producer at CBS in Knoxville. At CBS, he made scores of thirty-second stories for clients. He also worked as the manager of a live-event company, and over the years has worked with people like Joan Rivers, Dick Clark, Lorrie Morgan, and Dolly Parton.

“I’ve been extremely lucky to have jobs that require creative writing, video production, and graphic design—tasks I enjoy doing every single day,” Jeff says.

He is currently the Communications Director of the City of Gallatin telling Gallatin’s story. For example, the “City of Silence” videos that he and historian Kenneth C. Thomson Jr. are releasing about the Gallatin City Cemetery. These videos focus on local figures such as Vena Stuart and Eliza Allen Houston and have become wildly popular with more than 20,000 views on their social media sites.

His greatest work and personal accomplishment was while he was working as the spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Labor during the recession. “At that time, the unemployment system was severely strained, and our staff of less than 100 employees were struggling to handle more than a million calls a month.  The media across the state targeted us daily with stories of folks who were desperate for help. I was one of two people who created an online ticketing system, which turned around our customer service overnight. That project made me realize that you can actually improve people’s lives with hard work,” Jeff says.

Jeff has lived in Hendersonville for sixteen years but has worked in Nashville until he became Gallatin’s Communication’s Director. Now he enjoys working closer to home. “Sumner County just feels like home. Now that I work in the county where I live, it has really amplified that connection. Don’t get me wrong I do love our noisy neighbor Nashville, but the hum of the county is as comfortable to me as a fried pie or a summertime BLT,” Jeff says.

He is the proud owner of a Triumph motorcycle. It’s bright orange, the perfect color for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville alum. “I often ride to Gallatin to see the lake or ride through the City Cemetery. Sometimes I’ll take Highway 25 to Cottontown to visit the longhorns or see how far I can go in any direction without getting on the interstate.”

He and his wife, a Sumner Country native, have been married for sixteen years. If he could change anything about Sumner County he would strengthen the sense of community in Sumner. “In Virginia Beach in the early 80s, I remember my basset hound Sam would run away once a month or so. Kids in the neighborhood would bring her back because everyone knew she was our dog. While the internet has made the entire world a smaller place, there is still something tangible in knowing your neighbors,” Jeff says.

He compares his inspiration to the introduction of the “cronut.” Just like the merge and unique combination of croissant pastry and donut preparation, created something new and innovative, he strives to take an ordinary story and build it into a creative narrative. “Capturing the emotion of a story with the right angle, using tools like HD video, drones, graphics and live streaming has raised the bar on how I approach every project,” Jeff says.

“Sumner County just feels like home. Now that I work in the county where I live, it has really amplified that connection.”

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