Fort Payne Improvement Authority General Manager Mike Shirey has joined the Board of Trustees of the Thrive Regional Partnership, a nonprofit organization that addresses development needs across a 16-county area and encourages responsible growth.

The Fort Payne native joins four others selected to serve. The others include Darren Bakkestuen (Rhea County, Tenn.), Amy L. Jackson (Catoosa County, Ga.), Carey Garland (Marion County, Tenn.) and Courtney Keehan (Hamilton County, Tenn.).

“Our entire organization is thrilled to welcome these five incredible individuals to our board,” said Bridgett Massengill, Thrive Regional Partnership President and CEO. “Each of them truly understands and lives by our mission at Thrive to inspire responsible growth in the greater Chattanooga region. As leaders representing a variety of sectors across Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, we know that these five outstanding community leaders will bring new and valuable perspectives to our board.”

Headquartered in Chattanooga, the Thrive Partnership “inspires responsible growth through conversation, connection, and collaboration across the greater Chattanooga region. The nonprofit unites people to preserve community and natural character,” according to Chairperson Connie Vaughan.

“Our board is composed of leaders from across the tri-state region who each bring a unique and special attribute to the table. Watching Thrive grow over the past almost six years has been remarkable. Being able to add new members to our board is a testament to that growth. I know Darren, Mike, Amy, Carley and Courtney are going to bring a plethora of new ideas to our board, and I cannot wait to see what all our organization accomplishes in 2022,” Vaughan said.

Among its accomplishments, the Thrive Regional Partnership has secured federal grants for transportation by convening nontraditional freight partnerships across state lines, created a unified front for landscape conservation, equipped rural communities with tools to build economic resiliency, and built an open source Geohub for decision-makers to access the latest data about the region.

Shirey graduated from Fort Payne High School and earned a degree in civil engineering while playing football as one of Coach Pat Dye’s first team captains and the first of his players to earn his degree. In 1982, Shirey started his career with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). He has served in multiple general manager roles including business services, transmission projects, transmission line engineering, generation projects and transmission contract projects. After a 35-year career with TVA, he retired in 2017. He and the FPIA team have worked to strengthen and improve the power distribution system serving Fort Payne and the surrounding community.

In 2020, FPIA completed the deployment of an advanced metering infrastructure system, and in 2022, a new substation will be placed in service that will improve reliability and provide flexibility for growth.

In addition to his work with TVA and FPIA, Shirey is currently in his 23rd season as a line judge with the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Shirey has been an official in some of the South’s oldest rivalries and has officiated two SEC Championships and multiple bowl games including the Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls. Shirey and his wife, Amanda, have been married for 40 years. Their daughter Hannah and her husband, David Burton, have two children, Corbin and Sadie. Their son Jake and his wife, Annie, have two children, Colton and Christian.

For more information about Thrive Regional Partnership, visit

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