Andrea Conte is the wife of former Governor Phil Bredesen, who is currently running for the open U.S. Senate seat for Tennessee. Bredesen recently won the Democratic primary for the Senate seat with almost 95% of all Democratic votes.
Conte has long been an advocacy of victims’ rights organizations, and even created her own after she was personally the victim of a violent abduction in 1988. She has also served as the First Lady of the Governor’s office, and walked 600 miles to raise awareness for child abuse.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. She Was the Victim of an Attempted Abduction When a Man With a Gun Pushed Her Into a Car
In 1988, Conte was attacked by a man in a parking lot who pulled a gun on her and told her to get in the car. When she refused to get into the car, the man began to smash his gun against her head until the gun broke. To The Tennesean, Conte said, “You see all this blood and realize it’s coming from yourself. You have to think. What am I going to do?”
Conte continued, “I just thought, ‘I’m not going out like this.’ I thought about my son, and I remember thinking, ‘I’m not going to go out like this.’ ”
Conte continued to fight while the attacker repeatedly hit her hands that gripped her steering wheel, eventually breaking her bones. The attacker was able to push her into his car, but wasn’t able to shut the door because she kept her legs out. Conte said, “I’m saying, ‘Why are you doing this? What are you doing?’ He was yelling at me: ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!’ ”
The attacker began to drive, but Conte reached over, pulled the keys out of the ignition and rolled into the back seat; the front seat handles were allegedly duct taped. Conte eventually was able to get back to a gas station where someone called 911. Of her attack, she said, “That first day was really hard. But I’m not going to let this guy control my life.”
The man who attacked Conte was never found.
2. In the Wake of Her Attack, She Started a Victims’ Rights Group, ‘You Have the Power’
After her attempted abduction, Conte founded a victims’ rights group in 1993 called ‘You Have the Power’ (YHTP). According to the group’s mission statement, “You Have the Power (YHTP) brings people whose lives have been touched by violent crime to address these incidents and their consequences, focused on information and prevention. A 16-member board of community and civic leaders governs the agency. Each board member serves on one standing or event committee each year to develop and recruit individual and corporate donor opportunities.”
YHTP focuses on four essential pillars: production (of documentaries and resource guides), collaboration (with communities), advocacy (for victims and their families), and education (with offenders and parolees).
3. Conte and Bredesen Have One Son Named Ben Bredesen, Who Is the Owner & Founder of Tennessee Brewing Company ‘Fat Bottom Brewing’
Conte and Bredesen have a single child, Benjamin, who worked in the software industry before founding a brewery called ‘Fat Bottom Brewing.’ Benjamin Bredesen’s vision for the brewery focuses on “quality over time or money,” according to the Fat Bottom Brewing site.
According to its site, “the recipes were developed from Ben’s time as a homebrewer, and scaled up to fit the newly installed 15 barrel brewhouse. As the city of Nashville grew, so did the brewery, and it quickly became apparent that Bredesen couldn’t do it all the brewing, sales, and business management by himself.”
Bredesen has since created a team for the brewery, which currently offers up to eight beers, both flagship and seasonal.
4. In 2004, Conte Walked 605 Miles Across Tennessee to Raise Awareness & Funding for Child Advocacy Centers
In 2004, Conte embarked upon a 605 mile walk across the state of Tennessee, intentionally walking past all 25 of Tennessee’s child advocacy centers as a means to raise awareness and funding for them.
Via Boston.com, Conte said of her walk at the time, ‘This is a way to get the word out about child abuse and child sexual abuse. It’s prevalent, it’s underreported, and it’s an abomination, but we have the resources to help these kids.”
She also explained that her walk was an excellent metaphor for how victims can learn to move through trauma. ‘It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow you go,” she said. “Just take one step at a time and we’ll get there,”
5. She Trained to Be a Nurse at the University of Washington, But Later Got Her MBA in Night School
Conte received her nursing degree from the University of Washington, then eventually received her MBA from Tennessee State University two decades later, by taking night classes.
Conte worked for the Hospital Corporation of America for several years, then worked as first lady of the Governor’s office to champion victim’s rights issues. She also spearheaded a restoration and renovation project for the Governor’s mansion in Tennessee.