Julie Baumgardner, President and CEO
Julie Baumgardner is the President and CEO of First Things First, an award-winning nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee. FTF’s success has generated model duplication efforts nationwide, and has garnered international attention for its award-winning leadership concerning family and relationship issues, specifically in the areas of fatherhood, marriage and parenting.
Since 1997, First Things First has received numerous awards, including: the Chattanooga Chamber’s Nonprofit of the Year, Best of the Best Nonprofit for 5 years in a row by Times Free Press readers, the Urban League’s Vision award, and the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. FTF has been given the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, the Visions award from the Tennessee Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and several Addy and Telly awards for their creative media messaging.
As a passionate advocate for healthy marriage, fatherhood and families, Julie reaches hundreds of thousands each week through her Chattanooga Times Free Press family column and as host of JulieB TV, a YouTube-based talk show that focuses on all things relational. A frequent speaker to local and state groups, Julie serves on the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Commission, the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute board, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Chattanooga curriculum committee.
For more than 20 years, Julie has provided valuable leadership for Hamilton County and Tennessee state initiatives for parental involvement, gang violence prevention, and early childhood and character education. Along with the FTF development team, Julie has written and received funding for local, state and multi-million dollar federal grant proposals and has raised millions in private funding.
Often in the national spotlight, Julie currently chairs the board for the National Association for Relationship & Marriage Education. She has presented at the White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth, testified on Capitol Hill about the benefits of marriage, and speaks nationwide on topics related to strengthening marriage, fatherhood and families. Internationally, Julie has presented at the World Congress for Families in Amsterdam and at the International Smart Marriages Conferences. Because of Julie's marriage and family expertise, she is broadly utilized as a consultant by communities and agencies, sought-after speaker and retreat leader.
Julie’s tireless efforts have been recognized across the globe. Her many honors include: the International Smart Marriages Impact award, the NARME Vision and Leadership award, the Chattanooga Bar Association Liberty Bell award, and the American Lung Association Woman of Distinction award.
A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Julie’s alma maters include Transylvania University and the University of Knoxville, where she received a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Community Agency Counseling, respectively. Julie is a Certified Family Life Educator and Certified Crisis Intervener, and is also a trained facilitator for PREP, Prepare and Enrich, Couple Communication and Family Wellness. Julie and her husband, Jay, have been married since 1989. They are the proud parents of a daughter, Ashley. In her free time, Julie enjoys gardening, horseback riding, cooking, working with children, mentoring couples and baking.