Joe McLean, President


Joe McLean is the Senior Partner of the Public Affairs firm, McLean/Clark, LLC, and a veteran political and public affairs strategist for groundbreaking political campaigns, not-for-profit institutions and advocacy organizations, McLean was part of the founding leadership team of Barack Obama’s successful U.S. Senate race and managed Governor L. Douglas Wilder’s historic election in Virginia.

McLean is the fifth generation to raise cotton on the family farm in Crockett County, Tennessee, and served as President and CFO of a commercial construction company in Nashville. He served as a legislative assistant to Congressman Ed Jones in the Tennessee delegation and was a campaign finance analyst with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

McLean lives between Washington, DC and Crockett County with his wife, Kiki McLean and their two children.


Trace Sharp, Communications Director

Trace Sharp is a knowledgeable and creative writer who has been on the leading edge of incorporating new media into political campaigns at the state and local level.

After beginning her career in traditional media as an award-winning journalist in both radio and newsprint and a stint working in economic development serving as a program coordinator with Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council, Sharp foresaw the burgeoning online communities as untapped outlets for candidates to spread their messages. An astute and entertaining speaker, she has been featured at various events across the state on how messaging and strategy is how long-term alliances are created. She gleaned information and experience from working with both Nashville is Talking and Music City Bloggers social sites, from co-creating the NewsTechZilla site and the political commentary site Speak To Power. She was also featured in author Kathy Tyson’s self-published book Wrinkles.

Her personal blog was her original online presence and continues to provide an outlet for thoughtful commentary on rural communities, communication strategy and the lives of the residents who try to thrive in a struggling economy. On, which has been a featured blog at, Sharp has broken news stories that have been linked and further reported by the Huffington Post and CNN. In addition Sharp’s blog provides humorous recollections and political analysis focusing on the state of politics in Tennessee. As a result of the writing on her personal site, she has been interviewed by media from Pakistan to Los Angeles proving the online world has connected people on opposite sides of the globe.

“The key to the online world is that everything goes back to the basic principles of communication and conversations,” Sharp said. “With Out of the Blue, we want to inspire old-fashioned water cooler conversations across the state.”

After working with gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter as a consultant, Sharp is extending her work with McWherter as the editor for Out of the Blue’s Daily Buzz, a daily e-mail that gathers stories from across the state of Tennessee which inform democratic voters of ongoing and upcoming issues that affect them. The Buzz partnered with the Crockett Policy Institute in 2013, continuing the tradition of bringing pertinent political news to Tennesseans.


Dan Black, Senior Fellow for Public Education


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