Secretary of State Natalie Tennant speaks at ALMBS 2014
The youngest of seven children, Natalie, grew up on a farm near Fairview in Marion County. Coming from a long line of teachers, Natalie’s parents and 5 of her brothers and sister taught in the public school system. She now lives in Charleston with her husband Erik and their daughter Delaney. Erik, who is a state Senator and small business owner, served in Afghanistan in 2011 as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy.
Natalie’s father sold cows to pay her tuition bills at West Virginia University and she contributed by working part-time while in school. Tennant studied broadcasting and broke barriers, becoming the first woman to serve as the WVU Mountaineer. In 1991, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. For the next decade she anchored the news in Clarksburg and Charleston, bringing attention to stories that affected the people of West Virginia. Later, she and her husband started their own media production company, Wells Media LLC.
Natalie was elected Secretary of State in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.
Natalie E. Tennant is West Virginia’s 29th Secretary of State. Throughout her administration, she has been a leader in promoting open and engaging government and business friendly initiatives. Tennant has streamlined the Secretary of State’s Office to make it more efficient and cost-effective while improving services for voters, candidates, business owners, and citizens who depend on the office for important information about charities and administrative law.
Under Tennant’s leadership, the Secretary of State’s Office has met unprecedented challenges and promoted bold initiatives. Most recently, Secretary Tennant spearheaded legislation to allow for online voter registration in West Virginia. In 2013, thanks to years of cost saving and efficiency programs, Secretary Tennant was able to return $3 million of taxpayer money to general revenue.
Secretary Tennant’s vision also includes pilot projects that improved voter turnout and decreased costs, secure community voting locations to make it more convenient to cast a ballot, online annual report filings that save business owners time and money, and a transparent approach to state government. One innovative effort Tennant has taken in transparency is live webcasting and social media so citizens can have an unfiltered look at what actions her office is taking.
West Virginia has also emerged as a leader on the national stage when it comes to making it easier for deployed military to vote using a safe and secure internet connection. Secretary Tennant also has more investigations and convictions for election law violations than any other secretary in West Virginia’s history.
Along with her duties as Secretary of State, Tennant was the first West Virginian chosen for the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship program. In 2011, the Secretary of State’s Office hosted the National Association of Secretaries of State Summer Conference for the first time ever in West Virginia. In 2012, Secretary Tennant was elected to another four-year term. She remains focused on conserving tax payer dollars and providing government transparency.
Secretary Tennant currently resides in Charleston with husband, State Senator Erik Wells, and their daughter, Delaney.