Alonda McCutcheonAlonda McCutcheon

Executive Vice President & General Counsel |
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation

Many of you remember Alonda McCutcheon from her time as a Member in the Labor & Employment Practice Group at Bass, Berry & Sims. After leaving the firm in 2013, Alonda began working at the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation where she currently serves as the Executive Vice President & General Counsel. She is passionate about making positive changes at her job and in the community. When Alonda isn’t pursuing professional successes, you can find her unwinding in a book or movie.

What is the best and/or most rewarding part of your role?

The revenues raised by the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation help fund scholarships and grants for education. In January 2024, the Lottery will celebrate 20 years and has raised more than $7 billion for education. For 10 of those 20 years, I have played an integral role in making that $7 billion possible. It is rewarding that the work I do everyday helps to change someone’s life for the better. Many students would not be able to afford college without these scholarships and grants.

I also like to think that I am making a positive difference in the lives of those with whom I work. As a member of the executive team, I do a lot of work – both legal and non-legal – to positively impact the workplace for Lottery employees. For example, during the beginning of the pandemic, I worked to develop a corporate response plan and implement safety protocols. I lead the Retirement Plan Committee and act as the executive liaison for our Events Committee, which plans social activities for staff. These often-overlooked responsibilities are critical to the success of a business and the morale of its employees. I know that they are important and that sense of accomplishment is its own reward for me, even if it is not always widely recognized.

What advice do you have for attorneys interested in having a career like yours?

You could talk to ten attorneys and probably get ten different responses regarding their career path. What that says to me is that there is no one path to get from A to B. When I give advice to aspiring attorneys or newly-minted attorneys, I always say it is good to have a roadmap for where you want your career to go and a plan to get there, but don’t have tunnel vision or be afraid to go off course. This is a lesson that I did not learn until 11 years into my legal career. I never veered from the plan I set for myself in fourth grade for fear that I would not reach my goal. In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama said it better than I ever did when she advises people to be open to the “swerve.” After reading the book, I literally bought the t-shirt and the next time I spoke to a group of students I wore the MO Swerve t-shirt to help illustrate my point.

How did your time at Bass, Berry & Sims prepare you for your role?

Having spent 11 years at the firm, there were a number of experiences, opportunities and people that helped prepare me for my current position. The time spent as an associate writing legal memoranda for summary judgment motions helped hone my legal writing skills. The opportunity to present employment law updates at a breakfast seminar (while personal torture for me at the time) prepared me for the yearly compliance training seminars I now organize and facilitate at the Lottery. Watching the partners in the Labor & Employment practice talk through a legal issue with clients helped me develop my skills as a legal advisor and learn how to guide supervisors through the disciplinary process. My many years on the Recruiting Committee gave me skills that I have used in recruiting employees for the Lottery’s legal division and for further developing the Lottery’s summer internship program. While I had opportunities as an associate to develop as a leader, certainly my experience as a partner took those skills to another level. Working at Bass, Berry & Sims was an excellent foundation for my legal career.

What do you do to unwind?

When I need to unwind from my thoughts, I will watch television in my recliner. Typically, I am watching something mindless like Young & Restless or a Hallmark movie. When I am unwinding to relax, I read fiction, usually a romance novel, while sitting in my recliner or on a warm day outside in a lounge chair. Clearly, there is a theme—I love a good love story! I also like shopping as relaxation therapy.

What was your childhood ambition?

To be an attorney. Since fourth grade, I was singularly focused on going to law school and practicing law. During a career fair in elementary school, I asked an attorney about the best major for getting into law school. He explained that most people are political science majors, but he felt that an English degree would be most beneficial due to the amount of reading and writing required of law students and attorneys. It should come as no surprise that my major was English. Initially my ambition grew from the fact that I wanted to be like my mother (a banker) and Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show) and wear suits to work. As I matured, being an attorney continued to be my ambition because I wanted to make a positive impact with the work that I pursued.

What motivates you?

For the last 13 years, my daughter has been my motivation. It is important that I carry myself personally and professionally in a way that is worthy of being modeled. If she is ever asked who are her role models, I want to be at the top of that list, not a celebrity whom she has never met and only knows how they live their life because of what she sees on social media or in the media.