Deborah Taylor Tate was nominated to the Federal Communications Commission by President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005 and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 21, 2005. She was sworn in as FCC Commissioner on January 3, 2006. On June 20, 2007, Commissioner Tate was reappointed by President Bush to a full five-year term. Among her many responsibilities, Commissioner Tate served as Chair of both the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (Universal Service Joint Board) and the Federal-State Joint Board on Jurisdictional Separations as well as the Federal Chair of the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services (706 Board).
Commissioner Tate has worked extensively to facilitate market-based solutions to public policy issues. Drawing on her extensive experience at the state and local level, Commissioner Tate actively promoted cooperative federalism and public/private partnerships when it was time for the government to act. Often referred to as the "Children's Commissioner," she was a leading voice on issues affecting families and children, and has been at the forefront of the movement to ensure that advances in communications technologies benefit all Americans.
At the time of her FCC appointment, Commissioner Tate was serving a six-year term as a Chairman and director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. In that position, she had been appointed by the Chairman of the FCC to the Federal-State Joint Board on Advanced Telecommunications Services and was already actively engaged in DC on both telecom and energy issues as Chairman of the Washington Action Committee for NARUC. Commissioner Tate also is a member of several bar associations and a Rule 31 Mediator.
Commissioner Tate has been an adjunct lecturer at the MBA, Nursing and Law School level and served as a Director at Vanderbilt's Institute on Public Policy. Commissioner Tate formerly served as Legal Counsel and senior policy advisor to two Governors: then Governor (now U.S. Senator) Lamar Alexander and former Governor and Congressman Don Sundquist. In that capacity, Commissioner Tate addressed a diverse array of public policy issues, including attracting new industries and improving family incomes. Commissioner Tate also was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a Mental Health Commission culminating in the passage of a comprehensive mental health law for Tennessee, including an historic chapter on children and youth.
Consistently recognized by Tennessee Business as one of Tennessee's "Most Powerful People," Commissioner Tate has been the recipient of numerous local and state professional and nonprofit honors as well as the International Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award (Justice Sandra Day O'Conner was a previous honoree). She has participated in numerous international delegations, representing the U.S. in bilateral negotiations, the World Radio Conference in Geneva; the West Africa ICT Conference in Ghana; APEC-Tel, the Asian Pacific Telecom Ministers in Bangkok; and at the Global Forum in Italy.
Commissioner Tate is invited to speak regularly at law schools, nonprofits and professional organizations across the country, seeking to inspire others through her lifelong commitment to volunteerism. She is the founder and former president of Renewal House, a recovery residence for women addicted to crack cocaine and their children. Commissioner Tate is past chair of board of directors of Centerstone, Tennessee's largest, and now the nation's largest, behavioral healthcare organization. Her board service has included leadership positions on the boards of the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Family and Children's Services, Junior League of Nashville, Martha O'Bryan Center Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Tennessee Voices for Children, Tennessee Tomorrow, Inc., and the League of Women Voters. In addition, she is an Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Commissioner Tate has been recognized by a number of outstanding organizations since her appointment to the FCC. These honors include receipt of an Award for Outstanding Public Service from Common Sense Media, the Good Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the Carol Reilly Award from the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Touchstones of Leadership Award for Public Service from Women in Cable Television, the YW Award from the Academy for Women of Achievement, and the Jerry Duvall Public Service Award from the Phoenix Center for Advanced Public Policy Studies. She and her husband, William H. Tate, a Nashville attorney, have three college-age children.