Skip to content

Cortney Piper: A Force of Nature

Cortney PiperSteely Dan was never going back to “My Old School,” but the Beach Boys felt you should be “True to Your School.” So does Cortney Piper (’03), who recently took over as head of our Political Science Advisory Board.

Piper is not a Tennessee native, but she has made it her home since coming to UT to matriculate. She was born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (the apparent reason she is a Red Wings hockey fan) and came to UT to swim competitively for the Lady Vols. She decided to stay. Cortney received her bachelor’s degree in 2003 from the Department of Political Science and, since 2008, has served as president and founder of the Knoxville-based firm, Piper Communications.

Piper’s uncanny ability to affect change is demonstrated by her understanding of the clean energy sector. Over the course of the last decade, Piper has earned the trust and respect of for-profit and nonprofit clients, government officials, members of the media, and other stakeholders as a means of developing strategies that address issues of regional, statewide, and national significance. Her expertise is valued by governmental officials and the media. She is frequently sought out as a consultant by local and regional government officials and she demonstrates her expertise in her frequent appearances on local news.

Piper’s commitment to addressing critical energy policy matters through external relations is unquestionable. Between her studies and her time in the pool as a member of the swimming team, she built an impressive educational foundation and took advantage of her opportunities as a student athlete. As a result, she has achieved an extraordinary level of professional success at a young age and was recently selected as one of Knoxville’s “Top 40 under 40.” She is a great success story that we proudly point to as a stellar alumna who continues to give back. While we probably had very little to do with that success, we are not above taking some of the credit and will certainly brag about her, especially since last year she received a prestigious award from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cortney Piper is truly the definition of the term “a force of nature.” She continues to run her business, serve as a consultant and an expert, do a wide range of charitable work, and even assume leadership of the department’s advisory board. Now, she faces her greatest challenge yet with the recent addition of not one, not two, but three new children. The triplets are one short of a standard swimming relay team, but should be enough to keep her busy.

Hallerin Hilton Hill, a member of our Political Science Advisory Board, interviewed Piper about UT and the Department of Political Science. View the video on YouTube.


The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.