Oak Ridge Personnel Director Penelope Sissom to Retire


July 12, 2016

City Manager Mark Watson announced the retirement of Penelope “Penny” Sissom, Director of the Personnel Department at the City of Oak Ridge. Sissom will be ending a 52 year career with the City, the longest service of any employee to date.

“I believe it is absolutely fitting to honor Ms. Sissom’s long tenured service to the Oak Ridge community,” Mr. Watson said. “It is rare to find those that are motivated to public service for a lifetime.”
On June 8, 1964, Sissom accepted a job as a Personnel Clerk and embarked on a career-long journey with the City of Oak Ridge as a community activist and a devoted employee. 

During her time with the City, Sissom helped organize the schools’ Student-in-Government Day. Sissom played a significant role during the successful campaign for a new public library and community recreation center. 

Sissom’s unadulterated passion for community engagement and leadership skills accelerated her career. Sissom was promoted from Human Resources Manager, to Personnel Administrator, to Personnel Director, the position she holds today.

She was the first female member of the Tennessee City Manager’s Association as well as the first female Personnel Director in the state. Sissom was also a trailblazer within the Southern Region of the International Personnel Management Association, becoming the first person to progress through all chairs of the organization.

She is the mother of sons David and Morgan and has three grandchildren.

“I have had the pleasure and occasional frustration of working for eight different City Managers and with numerous Department Directors,” Sissom said when asked about her career. “I have made many friends and acquaintances, and probably some enemies, among the almost 3,500 individuals hired by the City since I was originally hired. I had something to do with the hiring of each of these people and occasionally a lot to do with the end of their employment. I value many experiences during my tenure – probably good fodder for a book or two; or maybe there is a City Board or a City Council seat in my future.”

To mark Sissom’s retirement and thank her for a long and impressive career, the City of Oak Ridge declared July 15, 2016, as “Penelope H. Sissom Day.”

“Penny has provided leadership and guidance to the City of Oak Ridge organization as it has grown and changed through the years,” Mr. Watson added. “The City of Oak Ridge will miss her vast knowledge of this organization and service to our employees.”

Bruce Applegate will be serving as interim Personnel Director.