Nearly 46 years after graduating from high school and going to work for the state of Tennessee a month later, Hendersonville resident Darlene Stringfellow celebrated her retirement recently as human resources director for the Department of Human Services.
Stringfellow, a former city alderwoman and current member of the city’s planning commission, first took a position as a typist in the personnel department of DHS in July 1975.
She graduated a month earlier from Hendersonville High School where she took several vocational classes.
“They hired me as a typist, but I mostly just filed papers in the beginning,” Stringfellow recalled.
After a brief stint with the Tennessee Department of Transportation from 1979-1981, Stringfellow returned to the human resources department at DHS where she was named the director in August of 2011.
“From the beginning level of typing and filing, to the highest level as director, I felt like I really did experience it all,” she said. “I feel like I went from the lowest level to the highest level.”
“Her career progression is a testament to her strong work ethic and dedication,” said a DHS spokesperson. “Darlene is a ‘people person,’ and truly cares about our employees at DHS. She leads HR with great compassion and empathy and has built strong relationships throughout our agency and across state government.”
During her tenure, Stringfellow served under seven Tennessee governors and 13 DHS commissioners.
“I loved meeting people and helping them find a job with the state that suited their talents,” she said. “Just to know that you helped someone go further in their career and reach their goals — it was just very rewarding for me.”
Stringfellow admits her last year with the state was a very different one due to COVID-19.
“Because of Covid, we had to work at home in 2020,” she said. “In 2016 we started a pilot program where employees started working from home a few days so we were already moving forward with that when Covid hit.”
In addition to her career with the state, Stringfellow has served the Hendersonville community as well.
She was appointed alderwoman to fill a vacant Ward 6 seat in 2005 and was elected to one term from 2006 to 2010. In 2011, she was appointed to the Hendersonville Regional Planning Commission by then-Mayor Scott Foster.
She and her husband of 38 years, Greg, have three sons and seven grandchildren.
Stringfellow says she plans to travel more now that she’s retired – particularly to visit her grandchildren who live further away in Texas.