Executive Circle & Premier Members

Executive Circle

Jill Allen
Urban Story Ventures

As Chief Operating Officer of Urban Story Ventures, Jill Allen oversees construction, leasing and property management. She is both passionate about organizational structure and inspired by company culture.

Her diverse background developing and implementing systems in the hospitality industry provides her the ability to work with a broad spectrum of entities and individuals. From owning a catering and events business to serving as Director of Operations for DJ Ent, she is well versed in many facets of business.

Allen’s inquisitive nature, resourcefulness and pragmatic approach to business breathe fresh air into commercial real estate and development.

Allen graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2004 with a degree in mass communication and sociology. She is also Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200), guiding and practicing at Yoga Landing. Allen currently lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, daughter and two dogs.

In her own words: “Chattanooga’s growth over the past decade is nothing short of amazing. By contributing to Urban Story Ventures’ vision, I’m thrilled to be involved at some level in shaping my city’s future.”

Michael Alston
Husch Blackwell

Michael K. Alston is the Managing Partner of Husch Blackwell LLP’s Chattanooga office and has been licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Alabama for nearly 30 years.  He is a litigator whose wide-ranging practice has included products liability, toxic torts, commercial and business, first-party insurance, construction, healthcare liability, and wrongful discharge, ERISA and other employment related matters.  He is also a certified Rule 31 mediator within the Tennessee judicial system.  He received his Bachelors of Business Administration in Management from Texas A&M University in 1986 and his Juris Doctor from Cumberland Law School at Samford University in 1989. 

In addition to being a regular attendee and supporter of Chamber events, Mike has been active in the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Heart Association as a Past Chairman, as well as a past member of the Tennessee state AHA board.  He currently serves on the AHA’s Executive Leadership Team for the 2018 Heart Ball.  Mike is also a past President of the Chattanooga Bar Association, a Fellow in the Chattanooga Bar Foundation, a past board member of the Federal Bar Association’s Chattanooga Chapter, and a charter member and current Master in the Brock and Cooper Inn of Court. 

Lastly, he is very active at First Presbyterian Church serving in numerous leadership roles including as the current Clerk of the church’s elder board.  Mike and his wife, Lynnette, have three children, Anna (22), John (20) and Abby (14).

Tim Andrews
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Tim has been a member of TVRM for 43 years and volunteer President and CEO since 2014. He is employed by Hamilton County as Director of the Hamilton County Railroad Authority prior to which he served as Executive Director of the Community Research Council and previously as the Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, and the Incubator for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  For over fifteen years he held a variety of engineering, management and executive positions in the Major Appliance and HVAC manufacturing  industries. Tim earned a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Industrial Management from UT-Chattanooga.

Dr. Steve Angle
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dr. Steve Angle assumed his role as Chancellor and the 17th leader of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on July 1, 2013.

At UTC, Angle has worked with the campus and community to focus on two primary strategic priorities: ensuring student success and strengthening community connections.

Prior to coming to UTC, Angle served as Provost and Professor of Chemistry at Wright State.

Before his tenure at Wright State, Angle served as Dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of California, Riverside (2001-2007).

He earned a B.A. degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine and a M.S. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, before returning to UC Irvine for his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry.

Val Armstrong
American Water

Valoria Armstrong is Vice President, National Government and Regulatory Affairs, for American Water, the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company, providing high-quality and reliable water services to more than 14 million people in 46 states and Ontario, Canada.

In her role, Mrs. Armstrong is responsible for leading government and regulatory affairs across American Water’s regulated and market-based businesses.

Mrs. Armstrong previously served as president of Tennessee American Water, where she was responsible for overall operating and financial performance, including leading a dynamic team of professionals who delivered on business targets related to safety and employee engagement, field customer service, distribution, water quality, environmental excellence, and growth. As the principal external contact for the company, she reinforced customer, regulatory, and governmental relationships.

Mrs. Armstrong joined American Water in 2011 as a human resources business partner, supporting Tennessee and Kentucky. In 2013, she was promoted to director of human resources for American Water’s Central Division, leading a team of human resources professionals in seven states. Her responsibilities included employee and labor relations, workforce planning and staffing, performance management, and organizational development.

Prior to joining American Water, Mrs. Armstrong was employed by Food Lion as human resources manager among several other key positions over 15 years.

Mrs. Armstrong was the first woman and youngest president elected to lead the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 2005 to 2012. She currently serves as chair-elect of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Hamilton County Partnership Advisory Board. She is a committed board trustee of the Tennessee Aquarium, Benwood Foundation, River City Company, and Orange Grove Center. Mrs. Armstrong was elected as a director of the National Utility Diversity Council (NUDC) in 2019. Mrs. Armstrong is an alumna of Leadership Tennessee and a graduate of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce Diversity Initiative Fellows Program. She previously served as chair of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Cancer Society and was actively involved in the Chattanooga chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellors' Diversity Advisory Council, and the Volkswagen Diversity Council.

Mrs. Armstrong has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia Southern University and a master’s degree in human resource development from Villanova University. A top priority for Mrs. Armstrong is challenging the community and leaders to be intentional when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Motivating and encouraging young girls to know their value and to exceed any glass ceilings in their paths are also among her passions, reflected in much of her community involvement. Mrs. Armstrong resides with her husband Lawrence in Ooltewah, Tennessee.

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Dr. Rebecca Ashford
Chattanooga State

The Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Dr. Rebecca Ashford as the next president of Chattanooga State Community College.

Ashford has been vice president of student affairs at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville since July 2008. She began her career in higher education in 1997 as a student advisor at what was then Brevard Community College in Florida, and has held executive-level appointments at three community colleges since 2000.

The board met in a special called meeting, by telephone conference call, to receive and consider Chancellor Flora W. Tydings’ recommendation of Ashford for the presidency. Board members voted unanimously to accept the recommendation and appoint Ashford as the new president.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the next president of Chattanooga State Community College,” Ashford said. “I look forward to working with the faculty and staff to build upon the college's successes in meeting the community's educational and workforce needs.”

The board also approved a new process for selecting nominees for faculty and student members of the Board of Regents – a change made necessary by the FOCUS (Focus on College and University Success) Act of 2016. Prior to the FOCUS Act, faculty and student regents rotated among the TBR system’s universities and community colleges.

The new law removed the six former TBR universities from the board’s governance, effective when each of the universities’ new boards of trustees convened for the first time in March and April. In addition, the state legislature this year approved a new law adding a non-voting faculty regent to the board, who will serve for a year before moving into the voting faculty regent role the second year. The 2017 law also made a minor administrative change in the process for selecting student regents.

The new policy provides that the faculty and student regents will come from the community colleges and colleges of applied technology, and sets out a process for how they rotate.

Ashford was one of four finalists for the Chattanooga State presidency selected by a search advisory committee out of 63 original candidates. The finalists spent a day on the campus last month, separately participating in meetings and open forums with faculty, staff, students, alumni and the public. Ashford’s campus visit was April 19; her curriculum vitae and the archived video of her open forum are available on the TBR website at: https://www.tbr.edu/hr/executivesearches/president-chattanooga-state-com...

Ashford holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree, a Master of Arts in Higher Education Student Personnel and a Bachelor of Science in English Education, all from the University of Central Florida, and an Associate in Arts degree from Brevard Community College, now Eastern Florida State College.

She was a student advisor at Brevard from 1997 to 1999 and student development specialist from 1999 to 2000. She held three separate deanships at Brevard: dean of educational services from 2000 to 2003, dean of student services from 2003 to 2005 and dean of enrollment management in 2005. She then served as vice president for student affairs at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., from 2006 through June 2008, when she was appointed vice president of student affairs at Pellissippi State in Knoxville.

At Pellissippi, Ashford was the senior student affairs officer for the five-campus college with over 10,000 students enrolled in credit courses. Her responsibilities included enrollment management and student services, including admissions, records, financial aid, advising, new-student orientation, counseling, disability services, access and diversity, student support services, student life and recreation, placement, veterans services and judicial affairs.

Tydings interviewed all four finalists, then, after their campus visits, gathered feedback from search committee members and the forums and meetings to select one candidate for nomination to the board. A form on the TBR website allowed anyone to submit comments and views on the candidates.

“This search is especially close to me because the new president is my successor,” the chancellor told the board. Tydings served as president of Chattanooga State in from 2015 until she assumed her new role as chancellor of the Board of Regents system on Feb. 1 of this year. “During my tenure at Chattanooga State, I came to admire and appreciate the students, staff and faculty for their devotion to the institution.

“Chattanooga State contributes greatly to the economy and welfare in that community. I know the person being recommended today will continue the progress that has been made and will strive to keep the momentum going for student success. After careful review and consideration, I am pleased to recommend to you Dr. Rebecca Ashford as the next president of Chattanooga State Community College.”

The chancellor also recognized the members of the board who served on the search advisory committee: Regent Tom Griscom, who chaired the committee, Regents Danni Varlan and Thomas A.H. White, and former Regent Howard Roddy. She thanked the other 17 members of the search committee, which included representatives of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community at large.

Regent Griscom, who made the motion to appoint Ashford, noted that she has an associate degree and began college as a student at a community college.  He also thanked Debbie Adams, the college’s vice president of student affairs and workforce development, for serving as interim president during the search and until Ashford’s arrival on campus in July.

The board approved the Chattanooga State search criteria and appointed members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee on Jan. 27. The committee's charge was to identify and interview candidates and then narrow the original pool of applicants to three to five finalists.

Warren Barnett
Barnett & Company

Warren Barnett is the founder of Barnett & Company. His early beginnings in Washington, D.C. were with the investment banking firm of Kidder, Peabody & Company, and the investment counseling firm of Davidge & Company. He returned to Chattanooga to accept a position in the trust department of a local bank. In 1983 he established Barnett & Company when he perceived the need locally for the same type of investment counseling that he had experienced in D.C. Warren’s generous heart for the community is appreciated by many local non-profits, thus bestowing the honor of the 2019 Ruth Holmberg Leadership Award. In 2015, the Professionals of Southeastern Tennessee named Warren as the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year.

In addition to serving on several charitable and professional boards, he continues to build his legacy of community engagement, fostering relationships with non-profits. Warren is a CFA® charterholder since 1986. He is a Chattanooga native and graduated from The McCallie School. Warren received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

Julie Baumgardner
First Things First

Julie Baumgardner is the President and CEO of First Things First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families.

As a passionate advocate for healthy marriage, Julie reaches hundreds of thousands each week through her family column and as host of JulieB TV. Julie serves on the Juvenile Court Commission, the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute board, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Chattanooga curriculum committee.

Julie currently chairs the board for the National Association for Relationship & Marriage Education. Because of Julie's marriage and family expertise, she is broadly utilized as a consultant by communities and agencies, sought-after speaker and retreat leader. Julie is a recipient of the Chattanooga Women of Distinction and Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year Award.

A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Julie’s alma maters include Transylvania University and the University of Knoxville, where she received a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Community Agency Counseling, respectively. Julie is a Certified Family Life Educator and Certified Crisis Intervener. Julie and her husband, Jay, have been married since 1989. They are the proud parents of a daughter, Ashley. In her free time, Julie enjoys gardening, horseback riding, cooking, working with children, mentoring couples and baking.

Mayor Andy Berke
City of Chattanooga with the Chattanooga City Council

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Andy Berke served as State Senator for Tennessee’s 10th District from 2007 to 2012 before becoming the 65th Mayor of Chattanooga in 2013. As Mayor, Andy is focused on growing the local economy, ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed, making Chattanooga’s streets safer and neighborhoods stronger -- all while running a high-performing and effective government. Known as the Gig City, Mayor Berke has worked to maximize Chattanooga’s high-speed fiber optic infrastructure, establishing the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city and concentrating his efforts on digital equity.

In 2015, Mayor Berke was named the Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine for innovative initiatives such as Baby University, Tech Goes Home, and NetBridge, as well as for his leadership during a domestic terror attack on July 16, 2015, that took the lives of four Marines and a Naval Officer.  

Rick Bishop
Food City, LLC

Born and raised in Rogersville, TN, Rick Bishop began his career at 18 years of age, accepting a position as courtesy clerk for Super Dollar Markets, which was later acquired by Food City.  He was quickly promoted through the ranks, serving as cashier, front-end manager, bakery manager, seafood manager and assistant store manager.  Within five years, he secured his first assignment as store manager and managed ten locations over the next sixteen years. 

In 2004, he was promoted to District Manager, responsible for the operation of 13 Food City locations and 2 convenience stores throughout Washington, Greene, Carter and Sullivan County, TN.  He was promoted to his current position of Executive Vice President of Operations for Food City’s Chattanooga Division in 2017.  Bishop is responsible for the oversight of 27 supermarket locations, including 23 pharmacies and 11 Gas n’ Go fuel centers. 

Bishop is also an active member of his local community, having served with the Rogersville Optimist Club, Newport Kiwanis Club, Morristown Optimist Club, Rogersville Chamber of Commerce, Gray Community Chest, Johnson City Salvation Army, United Way of Johnson City, Niswonger Children’s Hospital, East Tennessee State University, two-time member of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as well as the Board’s of the Chattanooga Chamber and BBB. 

He is a 1982 graduate of Cherokee High School and attended Walters State Community College and the University of Tennessee.  Bishop currently resides in Chattanooga, TN with his lovely wife, Vicki.  He has three children, Lindsey, Derrick and Alexis. 

Jack Bowen
EMJ Corporation

Jack leads EMJ Construction across the U.S., working closely with the Executive Vice Presidents of the Chattanooga and Dallas offices. With more than 22 years of construction experience in a variety roles, from job site superintendent to vice president of construction, Jack is an exceptional leader and problem solver. He excels at strategically marshaling teams to achieve results and provide predictable execution to EMJ’s clients.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Jack’s construction experience includes retail developments, industrial facilities, office buildings, hospitality projects, healthcare and educational facilities.

Tom Boyd

Tom Boyd comes to thyssenkrupp Automotive Systems of America, LLC. with 15 years in the automotive industry, with a wide range of experience in both operations and business management.

“I started with thyssenkrupp shortly after graduating from U of I with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with hopes of developing my technical abilities. Not only was thyssenkrupp focused on automation and cutting edge manufacturing techniques, but they also focused on employee professional development. This is where I was able to grow my managerial expertise until I was able to earn a leadership position within the company. I am currently leading an Automotive Systems LLC here in the Southeast United States, supplying Volkswagen axle assemblies. I am enjoying developing my team to better serve our customers, be valued in the community and grow our sense of pride in being a thyssenkrupp company.”

Marissa Brower
Catoosa County Public Schools

Marissa Brower has been the Communications Specialist for Catoosa County Public Schools since 2005.  She began teaching special education at Graysville Elementary School in 2001 before becoming Communications Specialist for the county.  Prior to a second career in education, Mrs. Brower had a successful business career in sales and marketing.  She has a BSBA from Brenau University, a M.Ed in special education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and an Ed.S. in leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.

Mrs. Brower is currently working on The Catoosa County From HERE to CAREER! College and Career Academy project.  The Academy will form partnerships with businesses and industry to ensure that students are highly skilled to meet workforce demands in the region.

Darlene Brown
Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC

Darlene is President & CEO of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga. She is a Chattanooga native, opened the doors of her real estate company in 2007. It is the largest independent real estate company in Chattanooga with three branch offices and over 125 real estate professionals. Darlene has garnered many professional awards including Realtor of the Year. She has been a past President of Chattanooga Association of REALTORS, Tennessee Chapter of Women’s Council of REALTORS, Chattanooga Chapter of Women’s Council of REALTORS, Certified Residential Brokers, The Multiple Listing Service of Chattanooga, Parent’s Council for The McCallie School and is a past member of the Board of Trustees of the McCallie School. She has chaired REALTOR Political Action Committee, Education Committee, Public Relations Committee, Adopt-A-School Committee, Convention Committee and REALTOR National Task Force for the Homeless.

Darlene was the first female member of the Chattanooga Downtown Civitan Club, Trustee for Tennessee Junior Miss Scholarship Program, Co-Founder of the Missionary Ridge Neighborhood Association and 10-year Chair for Benefit Golf Tournament with Family & Children’s Services and Community Kitchen. The year 2020 will mark her 40th year in the real estate industry.

Dusty Bunton-Vigil
North American Credit Services, Inc.

CEO of North American Credit Services, Inc. Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Microsoft Word, Sales, Team Building, Management, and Leadership. Strong business development professional with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) focused in English Language and Literature & History from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Throughout my career, I have relied on the strong foundation on which our organization was built. Integrity, compassion and customer service are somewhat simplistic in nature, but at times the most difficult to achieve on a daily basis. Medical bills and debt can be overwhelming to consumers and often come during a time of crisis in their lives. Creating an atmosphere where the consumer is treated with integrity, compassion and respect fosters positive relationships between healthcare providers and patients. Our team of Revenue Cycle Management experts allow healthcare facilities and physicians to maintain patient health as their top priority while we navigate the revenue recovery cycle

Alan Burdine
Communication Resources, Inc. (CRI)

CRI started as a regional telecommunications company, being headquartered in Chattanooga for all of its 38 years of business. Over time, CRI has grown to support companies nationally, and even some globally. We help organizations apply technology to improve their business, maintain a competitive edge and maximize their bottom line.

Alan joined CRI in May of 1990 as an Account Executive. His passion for learning new technology helped him progress to Sales Manager, VP of Sales, COO and then on to lead the company as President in 2010. Alan and his wife Robin reside in Soddy Daisy end enjoy spending time with their family, including their new grandson.

Kevin Christopher
Rockridge Venture Law

Kevin Christopher is the principal of Rockridge Venture Law, founded as Tennessee's first B Corp® law firm and a 2018 Best for the World Honoree. Prior to founding Ridgeline, Kevin spent 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area working within startups, and in the commercialization of biotech and energy technologies from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Kevin is a registered patent attorney, mountaineer, published poet, regularly smitten husband and father, and board member to various environmental and social impact nonprofits.

Benic M. Clark, lll
Lyndhurst Foundation
Sean Compton
Southern Spear Ironworks

A native of Milton, Florida, Sean graduated from Florida State with a bachelor’s degree in real estate finance. While at Florida State, he played football from 2004-2008. He went on to receive a master’s degree in construction management from the University of Florida.

Sean relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he has spent over a decade building a reputation for excellence in the construction industry. In 2016, he founded Southern Spear Ironworks with his home as ‘corporate

headquarters.’ In the four years since, Southern Spear has grown into one of largest and most respected structural steel builders in the southeast.

When he isn’t at the office, Sean enjoys spending time with his family, following Noles football, and enjoying life outdoors in Chattanooga.

Scott Cooper
Tennessee Valley Authority
Mayor Jim Coppinger
Hamilton County with the Hamilton County Commission

Mayor Coppinger has served as Hamilton County Mayor since 2011. Prior to being elected as Mayor, he held a position on the Hamilton County Commission as Commissioner of District 3. Jim joined the Chattanooga Fire Department in 1977, where he spent 28 years before his retirement. During his time with the Department he served in several positions, including Fire Chief for eight years. Mayor Coppinger serves on numerous boards and was recently appointed as a member of Governor Lee’s Homeland Security Council.

Jordan Cornelison
P&C Construction

Jordan has been involved with P&C since it began but came on board full time in June of 2008. Starting out in the field as a laborer and working his way through each position before moving into the office in 2012. In recent years he has changed his approach to focus on business development and marketing for P&C. With P&C’s proven track record of honesty and integrity with a new marketing approach, P&C has been blessed with year over year growth since 2017.

Jordan is a member of the AGC, NAHB, AIA, CSI, BBB, ABC and other organizations and is the 2020 president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. He currently sits on the HBAGC Board and the Chattanooga Area BBB Board.

Royce Cornelison
P&C Construction

Royce started his career at P&C in October of 1993 as co-founder and chief executive officer. He started with a goal of building a business with a foundation of ethics and customer service. Since its inception, the company has achieved positive growth and stability, even in uncertain times. Royce has served on the board for the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce since 2017. 

Under his leadership, P&C has received awards from Inc 5000, Diversity Business, the BBB Torch Award, and has been featured in City Scope Magazine.  He is a long- time member of the ACI, AGC, AIA, BBB, CSI, ABC, Chattanooga Home Builders Association, and ICC. Currently, he is serving on the Jackson County Workforce Development Council and has been working with the local high schools and community colleges to increase awareness of the needs of trades training.

Matthew Crider
Arcade Beauty
Mark Cunningham
Chambliss Bahner & Stophel

Mark is president and managing shareholder of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. Recognized nationally for his legal services in health care and M&A, Mark keeps his clients on track, delivering strong results through his unique combination of drive, charisma, and niche experience in areas such as revenue cycle management, radiology, physician/hospital ventures, and complex transactions. While he advises on just about every area of health care, he primarily acts as outside general counsel to large physician and revenue cycle practices, with a specific focus on strategic, contracting, and regulatory issues.

In addition, Mark provides services to other businesses on general corporate issues. Before tailoring his advice, it’s important to Mark to understand his client’s personality and what the business needs at an operational level. With his recognized health care experience, he often shares his insights before professional groups at regional and national conferences.

Mark has worked his entire career at Chambliss and has served in many leadership roles. As president and managing shareholder, he works closely with the executive director to oversee the professional services and overall operations at the firm and to ensure that exceptional client service remains the firm's top objective.

Jay Dale
First Horizon Bank

Jay Dale has worked in the financial services industry since 1994. He is currently focused on leading a team of more than 200 employees across Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia, and the Atlanta metro area in helping provide the best relationship experience possible for First Horizon bank’s customers and community.  He is a certified treasury professional, and on the Boards of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hamilton County, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga.  He is a graduate of the Leadership Chattanooga program.  Mr. Dale has a BS and MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Jon Paul Davis

As the lead partner in HHM’s Management Advisory Services department, Jon Paul Davis provides business owners with the knowledge and foresight they need to navigate complex financial decisions. He guides companies through business planning, including strategic growth decisions, forecasts and financial modeling. Jon Paul also assists clients with all stages of mergers and acquisitions from planning, to implementation, to the evaluation of tax consequences. Business owners rely on Jon Paul to guide them through complex methods of financing, tax and strategic planning, as well as operation support.

Additionally, Jon Paul works with high net-worth clients to provide individual tax and consulting services. Some of these services include year-end tax planning, succession planning, and estate and trust consulting.

Jon Paul is responsible for training and mentoring new staff, especially those heavily involved in advisory services. He is very active within the community and currently serves on the board of the H*Art Gallery. He is a member of Rotaract of Chattanooga, is a former adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee of Chattanooga and is a member of the investment committee of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga.

Ken DeFoor
DeFoor Brothers Development, LLC

Ken DeFoor, of DeFoor Brothers Development, LLC, was born in Dalton, Ga. and raised in the rural Murray County—North Ga. He graduated From Southern Adventist University with a B.A. in Journalism. In 1973 started a retail flooring store with his brother Byron and dad Kenneth.  In 1985 he entered into commercial real-estate development in Chattanooga.

In 1998 he started THE CORPORATE IMAGE. The Corporate Image is Chattanooga’s largest real-estate development for office ownership.  With sites at Gunbarrel, Northgate, Shallowford, and 3rd Street (directly across from Erlanger Medical Center), The CORPORATE IMAGE has also evolved into Chattanooga’s largest medical office space for ownership - 500,000 sq. ft.

He is currently co-developing with Byron DeFoor, “Waterside Life Style Center” a 40 acre property affording the retail and office sector to blend with residential.  This property is located directly across from Hamilton Place Mall at I-75 and Shallowford Road.

He also co-developed The Embassy Suites Hotel and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  Opened June 2013.  This hotel was rated the number one Embassy Suites in USA for 2014.

Co-developing The Westin Hotel and Citi/Park Garage Retail Center in down town Chattanooga.  Westin opens October 5, 2017

Ken is a member of the Board of Directors of Millennium Trust and Banking, Chattanooga, TN.

A former Member of the Board of Directors…. Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce; Member of the Board of Trustees and Member of School of Business Advisory Board of Southern Adventist University; and a member of Board of Trustees….Cohutta Springs Resort

He is Founder and Leader of weekly study group, (Collegedale Community Church).  A weekly discussion group dealing with spiritual issues and challenges in everyday life which has 160 members.

Ken is married to Judy and has four children – Kenny, Joel, Larson and Claire.

Jeff DeLoach
Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jeff DeLoach serves as the President of the Chattanooga Time Free Press, after being named to that role in June of 2017. Jeff’s return to his home state of Tennessee follows a lifelong career in the newspaper industry, beginning as a carrier in his hometown of Jackson.

Before taking the helm in Chattanooga, Jeff spent seven years as President of the Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas – and in March 2014, he assumed the additional role of President for the Abilene Reporter News. From 2005 through 2009 Jeff served as the vice president of advertising and circulation for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.  

Prior to his time in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jeff held circulation responsibilities at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis from 1996 to 2005 and at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver from 1993 to 1996. He worked with the Audit Bureau of Circulations from 1984 to 1993, serving as an auditor and later a regional audit manager. During his college years, he worked in the mailroom and transportation departments of the Jackson Sun in Jackson, TN, and in the business office of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.    

Jeff has served on numerous newspaper industry boards during his career, including being a past president of the Southern Circulation Managers Association. In 2008, the Newspaper Association of America recognized Jeff as the "National Circulation Sales Executive of the Year." In 2011 The Texas Daily Newspaper Association recognized Jeff as the “Texas Newspaper Leader of the Year.”

Jeff has served on a number of community boards and looks forward to getting involved in Chattanooga. He earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and in finance from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Jeff celebrated 26 years of marriage to Laurette May 25th. They have three children: Adam, Cara and Joey, all in their early 20’s.

David Denmark
The Maclellan Foundation, Inc.
Hiren Desai
3H Group

In 1991, Hiren Desai had just graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration when he was given an opportunity to work as a general manager of a Chattanooga hotel. Fast forward nearly 30 years later, and he is owner and CEO of a multi-million dollar real estate development company.  Formed in 2000, 3H Group has grown into one of the premiere real estate management and development companies in the industry. 

Currently, there are 14 hospitality projects across the Southeast under 3H’s management, with several more slated to open 2018-2019. In addition to the hospitality industry, 3H Group also specializes in co-working office space, retail, and residential development.  Desai contributes 3H’s success to the family culture established by the associates, partners, investors, and corporate staff.

Warren Dropkin
Dropkin Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
Tom du Plessis
Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations

Tom Du Plessis graduated from the University of Pretoria with a degree in Industrial engineering in 1989. Before his time at Volkswagen, Du Plessis had established a career in the auto industry through the manufacturing field as well as on the supplier level.

Du Plessis joined Volkswagen Group of South Africa in March of 2008 as the Head of Production. Within a year he was appointed to the Management Board as Production Director (2009). Du Plessis continued in this position until 2014, in which time he was able to accomplish constructing and commissioning a press shop, modernize manufacturing within the factory, and introduce a new production system to the Volkswagen brand.

In 2014 Du Plessis moved to Volkswagen Shanghai as the Executive Director over Production SAIC. While in Shanghai, he was involved in 43 new vehicle launches and helped oversee nine car plants, two engine factories, a battery assembly facility and 24,000 employees

Cindy Dycus
American Medical Response
Jamey Dye
COS Business Products and Interiors
Renee Ford
Elliott Davis

Renee serves as the Chattanooga Office Leader for Elliott Davis and has 30 years of experience in public accounting in both assurance and taxation. She leads the Chattanooga audit practice and the firm's Alternative Investment Fund practice and has served on the firm’s Executive Committee. She practices primarily in the area of financial statement audits under both U.S. and international audit and accounting standards.

Within the firm’s Alternative Investment Fund practice, Renee serves domestic and international funds. She advises and assists many customers in successfully maintaining compliance with the complex rules and disclosure requirements of the fair-value accounting standards.

Renee has more than 17 years of experience serving customers in the healthcare industry. She works with one of the nation’s largest long-term care chains comprising more than 250 nursing, assisted, and independent-living facilities, as well as a number of other independently owned facilities.

Todd Fortner
Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Todd Fortner is the president and chief executive officer of Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in southeast Tennessee with more than $1.8 billion in assets and more than 153,000 members. Fortner has served at the helm of the organization since Aug. 1, 2015. Under his leadership, TVFCU leads the way in innovation for community financial institutions nationally as exemplified by its deployment of first in market Interactive Teller Machines, first in market video banking and a 100% electronic consumer loan closing process. TVFCU also leads by example on Diversity & Inclusion as they are one of the only financial institutions their size nationally with a VP dedicated to D&I.

He is active in the community and previously served as the chairman of the board of directors for the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults and on the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He graduated with a B.A. in accounting from Tennessee Technological University.

Evann Freeman

Evann Freeman joined EPB as Director of Government Relations in December of 2019.  Evann leads EPB’s government relations and economic development efforts.

Evann has spent the past decade as a government relations professional, most recently for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. At EPB, he works closely with local, state, and federal stakeholders, as well as local entrepreneurs and area businesses.

A proud Central High alum, Evann serves on several non-profit boards, and has dedicated his career to building stronger communities throughout Tennessee.  Evann sees his role at EPB as an opportunity to focus his public policy efforts on community benefit and coalition building for his hometown of Chattanooga.

Jason Freier
Chattanooga Lookouts

Jason is a co-founder of the Chattanooga Lookouts. He formed Hardball Capital in 2006 to invest in sports and entertainment businesses.  Hardball owns and operates three affiliated Minor League Baseball teams and their associated venues.  Hardball’s teams and venues have been among the most successful in all of Minor League Baseball and have won virtually every industry award. 

Prior to founding Hardball, Jason was an attorney in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.  Jason serves or has served on the boards of over a dozen private companies, non-profits and public commissions.  Jason received his AB with honors from Harvard College and his JD from the Yale Law School, where he was elected to the Law Review.

Eric Fuller
U.S. Xpress

Eric Fuller is President & CEO of U.S. Xpress, the nation’s fifth largest asset-based truckload carrier by revenue. During his 20+ years at the Chattanooga-based company, he has been involved in nearly every corner of the business and transformed it from a traditional trucking company to a next-generation technology innovator with over 10,000 employees. As a lobbyist for regulations like hair drug testing and reduced speeds, as well a member of the Board of Directors for both the American Trucking Associations and the Trucking Alliance, a trucking safety advocacy group, Eric prioritizes safety in all that he does.

He is also committed to protecting the environment, pushing initiatives to decrease emissions and maintaining the company’s 15-year partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay program. He is also a President’s Club member of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce where he is helping develop a strategy to guide Chattanooga toward its 2040 vision.

Stuart Gaines
New Blue Construction

Stuart founded New Blue in 2008 as a small start-up focused on outstanding carpentry and has grown the company into one of the City's most trusted construction companies. A Chattanooga native, Stuart has a background in management, carpentry, and communications--studying print journalism while attending the University of North Carolina, Asheville. A proud father of four, the Gaines clan fills weekends with soccer, watering plant(s), hiking trails, and wrestling two large family dogs. Stuart also collects vinyl LPs of note and CrossFit injuries of medium repute in his intermittent spare time.

Gregg Gentry
Erlanger Health System

Gregg Gentry serves as the Chief of Staff to the President & CEO and Chief Administrative Officer for Erlanger Health System. In this capacity, he works closely with the President & CEO on strategy and governance and is responsible for administrative areas of the health system’s five hospitals.  He has been with Erlanger since 1989. 

Mr. Gentry received his undergraduate and Master of Business Administration degrees at the University of Alabama.  He is a member of several professional organizations including the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Society for Human Resource Management.  He is active in the community and currently serves as Chairperson of the Finance Committee at his church. He also serves on the Health, Educational and Housing Facility Board of the City of Chattanooga (HEB), and previously served on the Boards of Goodwill and Plaza Surgery.

Carol George
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Carol is the Managing Director for the Tennessee Valley Merrill Lynch market, which is based in Chattanooga and is comprised of 8 offices in eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama.  She leads over 150 associates who deliver comprehensive wealth management solutions to clients. 

In her 35 years with ML, she has held key leadership roles across the firm.  Carol served in various national management roles in the areas of service, risk and business management for Merrill Lynch.  Carol is a graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and earned a BS in Business Administration from the College of Charleston.

Tom Glenn
Elder's Ace Hardware

Tom has served as President of Elder’s Ace Hardware for the past 28 years.  Along with a team of dedicated long-term leaders, Tom has worked to grow Elder’s into one of Ace Hardware’s largest members with over 500 associates and 22 stores stretching from north Georgia and Chattanooga north to Knoxville. Tom served on the national Board of Directors of Ace Hardware Corporation for 12 years from 1996 to 2008, the last five years serving as the corporation’s Chairman. 

Tom received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, and his MBA from Duke University.  But Tom considers the time he spent sitting at the feet of and working in the family business with his now-deceased father, Elder, as his most priceless training.

Tom has had the good fortune of being actively engaged in the Chattanooga community.  He has served on the Boards of the United Way (Chairman, 2014-2016, Campaign Chairman, 2011), the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce (Chairman, 2018-2019, Secretary, 2016-2017), the National Center for Youth Issues, Bible in the Schools (Chairman, 2020), The Generosity Trust (Treasurer), the Community Foundation, Souls for Christ, St. Nicholas School, and the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy.

Tom is also a member of the First Horizon Bank Chattanooga advisory Board of Directors and a member of the Downtown Rotary Club.

Steve Goede
West Star Aviation

Steve began his role as General Manager in November 2018.  Before coming to Chattanooga, he was Director of Landing Gear and Accessory Programs at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colorado.  Steve was recognized in 2016 by AMT’s 40 Under 40 Next Gen Awards program for his contribution to the aviation industry.  Steve earned his Bachelor of Business in Marketing at The University of Iowa and his International Business Certificate from Roskilde Handelsskole in Denmark.

Michael Gorey
Propex Operating Company

Mike joined Propex Operating Company in April 2011 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mike is a visionary, roll-up-your-sleeves CEO and brings a proven and consistent track record for turnaround and growth success, even in downturned economies. He has the know-how to drive innovations and strategies that produce growth, profitability and market leadership, even in escalating volatile markets. Coupled with his executive leadership experience and abilities is a strong background in Finance, Operations, Marketing & Market development.

Rusty Gray
Baker Donelson

Russell W. Gray, of Baker Donelson, represents local, regional and national clients on a full range of labor and employment matters, including wage and hour, drug testing, policy manuals, covenants not to compete, response to union activity, various employment forms, compliance advice and employment litigation.

Mr. Gray also has more than 15 years of experience in commercial and business litigation, including litigation involving contractual matters, trade secrets, stock valuation and real property. He has litigated matters before courts or government agencies in approximately 20 states

Mr. Gray is the managing shareholder in the Chattanooga office, and he also serves on Baker Donelson's Board of Directors.

Bill Groth

Bill Groth is a Sr. Project Director for AECOM with over 35 years in the design, construction, and construction management of heavy civil works.   Bill graduated from Gonzaga University with a Bachelors of Science in Civil engineering and is a registered profession al engineer in multiple states. 

Over the course of his career Bill has lived and worked building dams and hydroelectric projects throughout the US and in the Philippines and Uganda. He is currently managing the $240 million construction of Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project for AECOM scheduled for completion in 2023. 

Rock Haines
TriStar Beverage of Chattanooga
Jim M. Haley, IV
Miller & Martin, PLLC

Jim Haley is a member of the commercial department of the law firm of Miller & Martin PLLC which has offices in Chattanooga, Atlanta, Nashville and Charlotte. He previously served as Managing Partner and later as Chairman of Miller & Martin for a total of sixteen years. He is recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Mid-South Super Lawyers. He also is a former president of the Chattanooga Bar Association. He served as president of The Baylor School Alumni Association and as a trustee of the school. He serves as Chairman of the Lookout Mountain School Board, and is a former board member of United Way. He has served on the Board and the Executive Committee of the Chamber.

Jim’s undergraduate degree is from the University of North Carolina where he was a Morehead Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his law degree is from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Jim is married to the former Margaret Anne Gwynn of Tallahassee, Florida, and he has four adult children and three grandchildren, all of whom unfortunately reside outside of Chattanooga.

Among his personal interests, Jim is an avid golfer and hiker. He looks forward to serving the Chamber as Chair-Elect and next year as Chair.

Susan Harris
See Rock City, Inc

Susan Harris is an executive leader with full responsibility for operational, cultural and financial performance of a privately held, multi-site hospitality company. Susan joined the executive staff at See Rock City, Inc. as the Director of Human Resources & Organizational Development in June 2008 and was promoted to President, SRC Attractions in February 2013, with added responsibilities as COO in 2016. Since joining SRC, Susan has worked extensively in organizational culture and leadership development.  Previous professional positions include the Director of Human Resources for Express Financial Services and the Director of People Development for Chattanooga Group.

Susan is a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, and she also serves as a Board member of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. Susan serves as a mentor with the 10 Project, and has also been an adjunct faculty member with the University of Phoenix, and a past Board member for the Chattanooga chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Susan is an HRCI certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and also holds designation as a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). In September 2012, Susan was awarded the HR Professional Excellence Award by the Tennessee SHRM State Council.

Susan earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2005 and her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Berry College in 1990.

Susan is a native Chattanoogan, having graduated from Hixson High School in 1987. She left the city after graduation to attend college; after graduation, she worked in the Rome and North Atlanta area for several years before moving back to Chattanooga in 1998. She and her husband, Jaye currently reside in the city with their two sons, Jack (22) and Duncan (17). Jaye’s oldest son Riley and his wife live in Nashville with their 3 beautiful daughters.

Jaye and Susan are members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, where Susan recently concluded service as the chairperson of the Rector Search Committee and currently serves as a member of the Altar Guild. Susan serves on the board of the Tennessee Academy of Gymnastics Booster Club as the Treasurer. She is a past board member at Hixson Youth Athletic Association.

Terry Hart
Chattanooga Airport Authority

Terry Hart’s aviation management experience includes over 39 years in aviation operations, strategic planning and administration.  Before moving to Chattanooga in 2007, Mr. Hart held regional management and vice president of field services positions with American Airlines and American Eagle, including responsibility for a $200 million budget and 1,500 employees. 

From November 2007 until October 2011, Mr. Hart oversaw general operations at the Chattanooga Airport before being named President and CEO, where he has overseen the growth in each piece of the Airport’s business.  Mr. Hart has earned the Airport Certified Employee Operations designation by the American Association of Airport Executives, and previously served as Chairman of the O’Hare Airline Managers Association.  Last June, Terry received the 2019 Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year Award.   

Mr. Hart lives in Chattanooga with his wife, Zita and they have two sons, Andrew and Stephen. Both sons are graduates of Loyola University in Chicago.

Harry Hawkins
Barge Design Solutions

Harry Hawkins is the Client Service Leader for Barge Design Solutions’ Chattanooga office. He has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Harry has nearly 35 years’ experience in civil engineering and construction. Prior to moving to Chattanooga in 2007, Harry was CEO of DMS, Inc a project management and commercial construction corporation in Georgia. After moving to Chattanooga, Harry has held various leadership positions with Chattanooga State, Thompson Engineering, Terracon Consulting and now Barge Design Solutions.

He is active in the community and has been since moving to Chattanooga. He currently serves on the Chattanooga Area Chamber’s Enterprise Gateway Council board; chairs the HCDE Future Ready Institute of Architecture and Engineering Design Advisory Board at Ooltewah High School; chairs the Tennessee Building Construction Institute (TNBCI) Executive Committee; chairs the East Tennessee Safety Council; National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Master Trainer for the AGC of East Tennessee’s Workforce Initiative; Past-President of the Chattanooga Engineers’ Club; member of the Engineers’ Week (E Week) planning committee and other various community organizations.

Harry is passionate about workforce development and is committed to helping educate and prepare the next generation of architects, engineers and craft construction workers. Harry comes from a family of builders and his vision is to ensure that Chattanooga has a workforce capable of designing and constructing the infrastructure and facilities needed to house Chattanooga’s growth for generations to come…

In his spare time, Harry enjoys sailing, golf and spending time with family.

Scott Hibberts
Reagan Outdoor Advertising

Scott Hibberts serves as the General Manager of Reagan Outdoor Advertising of Chattanooga.  Scott has nearly 15 years of experience in out-of-home advertising sales, real estate and management, helping local and national clients tell their stories on Reagan’s 1600-plus billboard displays in the Chattanooga market.  He previously served as a Vice President with SunTrust Bank and in management at Unum before returning to the Out-of-Home industry in 2015.  Scott is a Chattanooga native, graduating from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1996 with a degree in Business Marketing.  He currently serves as a Director for the Outdoor Advertising Association of Tennessee.

Reagan is a family-owned business that has been serving advertising clients for over 50 years.  Reagan, who purchased the Chattanooga assets in 2019, ranks as the fourth largest Out-of-Home advertising company in the nation, operating over 9000 billboard displays.

Roy Hibbs

Roy is the Head of US Consumer Healthcare Industrial Affairs for Sanofi (previously Chattem) overseeing all operations in Chattanooga. He has led the industrial integration of the Chattanooga site into the larger Sanofi global network over the past two years. Before joining Chattem in 2010, Roy worked at Fujifilm Chemicals. Roy earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, and MBA at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Dr. JD Hickey
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Jason D. (JD) Hickey, M.D., is president & CEO for Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

In this position, Hickey is responsible for the development and implementation of long-range plans, goals and objectives for the organization. He leads the executive team responsible for daily management of the enterprise that serves more than 3 million members.

Prior to his appointment as CEO in September 2015, Hickey served as BlueCross Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for three years. He joined the company in 2011 as President and CEO of Medicaid managed care subsidiary BlueCare Tennessee.

Before coming to BlueCross, Hickey was a partner at McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s leading strategic management consulting firms. Located in McKinsey’s Washington, D.C. office, he was a leader within the Payor Provider Practice and a recognized expert on health care reform.

As a member of Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s cabinet, Hickey served as director of the Tennessee Medicaid Program, TennCare, from 2004 to 2006. In this role, he led efforts to reform the TennCare program and ultimately return it to financial stability.

After graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University, Hickey earned his medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine and his juris doctorate from the Duke University School of Law.

Hickey serves on the board of directors for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the National Institute of Health Care Management. He is also a board member of the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga.

Craig Holley
Pinnacle Financial Partners

Craig Holley is Chairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners in Chattanooga. Previously, he was Chairman, President and CEO of CapitalMark Bank & Trust which he founded in 2007 and merged with Pinnacle in 2015. He has served on numerous boards in Chattanooga, most recently serving as the Chairman of the Board for the Hunter Museum of American Art. 

In addition, he is a former member of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta. He was the 2012 Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year and is the 2021-2022 Rotary Club President-elect. Mr. Holley earned his BS degree in Economics at Auburn University in 1979 and is a 1987 graduate of the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. 

Steve Hunt
Berry & Hunt
Dr. William L. Jackson
Erlanger Health System

William L. Jackson Jr., MD, MBA, serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for Erlanger Health System. In his current role, the seasoned healthcare executive oversees one of the largest public health systems in the United States. In his previous role as Erlanger's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jackson was responsible for oversight of Quality, Safety, Erlanger Medical Group, Physician Services, Research, Medical Affairs, and inpatient and outpatient care delivery for the health system. He also focused on advancing a clinical agenda that supported Erlanger’s 975-member medical staff and outcomes critical to their success.

Before joining Erlanger in 2015, Dr. Jackson served as Chief Medical Officer for Alexandria Hospital and Associate System Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Effectiveness for Inova Health System. During his tenure at Inova, Dr. Jackson had several additional roles, including practicing as an intensivist at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He also led the Inova Telemedicine Institute as Medical Director, and served as the first System Director for Adult Critical Care.

Dr. Jackson received his medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA, and completed his postgraduate training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He is a veteran, having served nine years with the United States Army. He completed his MBA at the University of Virginia. Dr. Jackson is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Critical Care Medicine, and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians.

Joseph Johnson
Johnson Group

Joe is a Chattanooga native who graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Began his advertising career in Chattanooga. Raised his family in Chattanooga. And, founded The Johnson Group Marketing & Advertising Agency in Chattanooga. Under his guidance, The Johnson Group has had the privilege of working with many of Chattanooga’s major brands including McKee Foods, U.S. Xpress, Erlanger, Chattem, Krystal, EPB Fiber Optics and both The Chattanooga CVB & Chamber of Commerce. Due to these Chattanooga successes, The Johnson Group continually helps market the major brands in cities all over the country including Anchorage, Alaska; San Diego, California; Binghamton, New York; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Hays, Kansas; Waco, Texas; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Waynesboro, Virginia.

Mike Kramer
Southeastern Trust Company

Mike Kramer is Chairman of the Board of Southeastern Trust Company, a Chattanooga headquartered, wealth management and trust services provider that works with high net worth individuals, families and foundations across the southeastern United States. Mike retired as President and COO of Altantic Capital Bank, NA and its parent company; Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACBI) in December of 2017. Mike joined ACBI through the merger of FSGBank, NA and its parent company; First Security Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSGI) into ACBI in October of 2015, where he served as President and CEO. At FSGI Mike and his team engineered a turn-around strategy recapitalizing the company by raising over $97 million in new capital, relieving the bank from all Regulatory Orders and returning the bank and company to profitability in a period of less than 30 months.

Mike is also a member of the Board of Directors of Midsouth Bancorp, a $2B community banking company (NYSE: MSL) with corporate offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana and Dallas and Houston, Texas. Mike serves as Chairman of the Corporate Governance, Nominating and Compensation Committees of the company.

Mike began his banking career with Star Bank (nka US Bank) and has served in various roles in Commercial Banking, Correspondent Banking, Merchant Banking, Banking Operations and Technology during his three decades in the Financial Services industry.

Mike and his wife Meg have a record of commitment to the communities in which they have lived; Mike has served on the Board of Directors of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the UC Foundation, the Tennessee Bankers Association, the Public Committee for Bible in the Schools, and the Brock Fellows. Meg serves as President of the Board of the Chattanooga Ballet and the Chattanooga Young Life Committee.

Mike and Meg have three grown children; Sarah Kovack, Elizabeth Kramer and Thomas Kramer, along with two grandchildren; Levi Michael and Lucy Kate Kovack.

Chris LaBonne
Jared Lane
Livability Media
Andy Lang
McKee Foods

Andy joined McKee in 2017 and has served as CFO for three years.  He also serves as CEO for McKee’s wholly owned subsidiary Prairie City Bakery, LLC.  Andy previously held various senior management roles for several leading food companies including Chiquita Brands, Bimbo Bakeries USA and Kraft Foods.  His career has taken Andy and his family throughout the US, having lived in New York, Colorado, California, Texas and North Carolina.  He currently resides in Ooltewah, Tennessee.  Andy earned his Bachelor of Science from Binghamton University and his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Paul Leath
Chattanooga Gas

Paul Leath was named Regional Director of Operations for Chattanooga Gas & Northwest Georgia in 2018.

Mr. Leath joined Southern Company Gas in 2001 and served the company most recently as director, external affairs for Tennessee. In this role, he was responsible for working cooperatively with our regulators, elected officials, business and community leaders. This position gave him the opportunity to play a key role in the community’s economic development efforts and to take a prominent position in civic and community activities. In addition, Paul was responsible for ensuring Chattanooga Gas maintained a strong relationship with the Tennessee Public Utilities Commission. 

Mr. Leath has over 30 years of senior management experience.  Prior to joining Southern Company Gas, he was the manager of distribution and logistics for General Electric Lighting Systems and served as a logistics officer in the U.S. Army.

Mr. Leath has been very active in community service. His current and past community service includes:  the Tennessee Chamber Board of Directors, the Tennessee Gas Association Board of Directors, Chattanooga Chamber Executive Committee, Leadership Georgia Board of Trustees, and Past Chairman of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce to name a few.

A graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, Leadership Macon, and Leadership Georgia, Mr. Leath was named to Georgia Trend Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list of outstanding Georgians and to Macon Magazine’s “Five Leaders Under 40” list.

He is a graduate of Loyola University in Maryland, where he earned a bachelor of business administration degree in finance and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.    

A native of Aberdeen, Md., Mr. Leath resides in Chattanooga with his wife, Sharon, and their two children, Jessica and Zachary.

Michael Lebovitz
CBL & Associates Properties Inc.

Michael I. Lebovitz serves as President of CBL Properties, Inc. He is responsible for a broad range of the companies activites including operations, development and redevelopment.  Prior to joining CBL, he was affiliated with Goldman, Sachs & Co. from 1986 to 1988.  He is past president of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga.  Mr. Lebovitz currently serves on the national boards of Jewish Federations of North America and the United Israel Appeal. 

He formerly served on the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and was National Campaign Chair for the Jewish Federations of North America from 2010 – 2011.  He is also a member of the board of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and formerly served on the board of The McCallie School in Chattanooga

Less Lee
Lee-Smith, Inc.

Less Lee is President and CEO of Lee-Smith, Inc., a 75-year old International, Ford, and Isuzu Truck Dealership.  Since joining the Company at an early age, Less has helped build Lee-Smith, Inc. into the largest truck dealership in the area.

Less is a native of Chattanooga and graduate of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.  Along with his wife, Cindy, they have three children, Taylor, Sarah Morgan, and Carver.

Lou Lentine

Lou Lentine, of Echelon, believes that the frontier of innovation starts with an idea. Developing products that make sense or solve a common problem is one of his biggest passions. In his opinion, watching a product blossom from an idea to a reality, to ultimately landing in the hands of a happy customer is the biggest success any inventor can reach.

Although Lou Lentine enjoys inventing new products, he also supports those who inspire innovation! Unlike many companies that solicit new products, Lou Lentine accepts new product submissions from inventors around the world. If a product is not appropriate for Viatek’s channels of distribution, Lou provides adequate, positive, truthful evaluations. In all cases, Lou strives to give constructive criticism and often provides referrals to hopeful inventors.

This year alone, Lou encouraged long-lasting business relationships with third party inventors who developed new innovative products including: Broomy, Foldable Broom and Dust Pan, Plug Genie ®, International Power Strip and Adapter Set, and Cozy Cup, a wrap around heated sleeve for coffee cups-featuring technology developed by NASA.

Darde Long
Chattanooga Zoo

Darde Long serves as the President & CEO of the Chattanooga Zoo. She always aspired to become a veterinarian and work with animals. Darde became a veterinary assistant with Byles and Martin Animal Hospital in Chattanooga, TN. While there, an opportunity to work at what was then the Warner Park Zoo became available. In 1985, she joined the Chattanooga Zoo, which then became a two person operation. Under her leadership, the Chattanooga Zoo was able to complete a $2.5 million project to implement a giraffe exhibit.

Darde received her education from Auburn University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga and enjoys coming to work every day

Hugh O. Maclellan, Jr.
The Maclellan Foundation, Inc.
Stephanie Mansueto
JP Morgan Chase

Stefanie Mansueto is a Market Executive with the Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries group of JPMorgan Chase in Chattanooga, TN.

Stefanie has resided in Chattanooga for ten years, and most served as Development Director of Normal Park Museum Magnet School before rejoining Chase in August 2012.

Stefanie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Stefanie currently serves on the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute, A Step Ahead Chattanooga, and Financial Executives International boards. She also serves on the United Way of Chattanooga’s Finance Committee.

Barbara Marter
Weldon Osborne Foundation
Michael Mathis
Regions Bank

Michael Mathis has been Market President at Regions Bank since 2007. Prior to joining Regions, he held multiple positions at Pioneer Bank. He graduated with a B.A. in accounting from Furman University and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Mr. Mathis has served as the chairman of the board of directors for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation. He’s served on many Chattanooga-area boards, including Siskin Hospital, Venture Forward, Brainerd Baptist School, UTC Chancellor’s Roundtable, UTC Finance Advisory Board and the McCallie School Alumni and Athletic Councils. Most recently he was the 2018 United Way Campaign Chair.

Rick McKenney
Unum Group

Richard (Rick) McKenney is president and chief executive officer for Unum Group, one of the world’s leading providers of workplace financial protection benefits. He became president in April 2015 and assumed the role of CEO in May of the same year.

McKenney served as executive vice president, chief financial officer for Unum Group from 2009 to 2015, where he was responsible for overall financial management of the company, including financial reporting, treasury and capital management, strategic planning and mergers and acquisitions, investments, financial planning, investor relations, and enterprise risk management. He also chaired Unum’s Operating Committee, which oversees the company’s business operations throughout the U.S. and U.K.

Prior to joining Unum in 2009, McKenney was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Sun Life Financial, Inc., an international financial services company based in Toronto.

McKenney began his career at GE, transitioning in his roles from manufacturing to financial leadership. He joined GE Financial Assurance in 1996 and became CFO in 2002. In 2004 he became CFO of Genworth Financial as part of the team that launched its initial public offering from GE.

In 2017, McKenney joined the Board of Directors of U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States. He also serves on the board of the American Council of Life Insurers.

McKenney graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

McKenney lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife and three children, and is active in his community, serving on the boards of the Siskin Hospital for Rehabilitation and the Chattanooga Chamber Foundation.

Jim McKenzie

Jim McKenizie is a native Chattanoogan and graduate of The Baylor School and The University of Tennessee at Knoxville. 15 Year Banker…Chattanooga President of FirstBank for 4 years…began banking career at the old American National Bank in Chattanooga. Jim was the former Executive at Kenco Logistics. He is a past board member of St. Peter’s Episcopal School, The Baylor School Parent Alumni Board & North River Soccer Club.

Jim is married to Katie Lonas McKenzie with 2 sons and 1 granddaughter. In his free time he enjoys running, golf and trips to Lower Alabama, aka the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach area. Jim coached youth/club soccer for 20 years

Benny Middleton

Benny Middleton is the Tennessee Director of Business Development for dcBLOX Inc.  Since joining dcBLOX in 2016 he has driven sales and company direction for Chattanooga’s newest Data Center.  dcBLOX chose Chattanooga for its first build due to the robust technological advances the city has made in recent years. dcBLOX presently operates two Data Centers.  One in Atlanta, GA and its latest in Chattanooga, TN.  It has plans to add at least 5 more Data Centers across the Southeast.  Benny recently moved to dcBLOX from Windstream Communications where he enjoyed an 18-year career leading sales in GA and TN.

Benny resides in Dalton, GA.  He is a graduate of the University of West GA where he obtained a BBA in Marketing and was inducted into the Beta Gama Sigma Business Honor Society.  Along with his wife Regina they have 2 children.  Coley 12 and Bella 9.

Benny has served on several Chamber boards across Northwest, GA.  He is also the past president of the Murray County GA Rotary Club and past board president for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest GA.  He has also served on the Executive leadership team's for both the Hamilton Healthcare Foundation and the North GA Heartball benefiting the American Heart Association.

Melvin Moody

Melvin began his role a Unit General Manager of Pepsi in Chattanooga in November of 2019. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Pepsi in Cordele, GA and worked at Pepsi in Atlanta and Rome, GA in various management roles including warehouse, delivery and other operational functions.  Melvin started his PepsiCo career back in 2003 in Rome, GA.   Melvin prides himself on being able to coach and develop talent to help drive topline performance for the organization. 

Melvin is married to his wife Erica for over 20 years and has 2 boys, Austin and Aiden.  Hobbies include hunting, fishing a wrestling. 

Russell Moorehead
Croy Engineering

Russell Moorehead, PE is a Vice President for Croy Engineering, LLC, a full-service consulting engineering firm with offices across Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. In this role, Russell also serves as the Office Manager for Croy’s Chattanooga office, which he opened for the firm in early 2019.

Russell has more than 33 years of experience as a civil engineer with extensive experience in municipal engineering and project management. He first worked in the Atlanta, Georgia area, moving his way up through career changes and promotions to become the Public Works Director for Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta. In 2003, he changed careers and zip codes, and moved his family to Chattanooga. Since that time, Russell has utilized his experience in public service to provide consulting services to municipal and public utility clients.

Russell graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Civil Engineering and is a registered professional engineer in four Southeastern states. He is an active volunteer, having served in leadership roles for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Russell enjoys cooking barbeque, playing golf, going fishing, as well as spending time with his wife, Debbi, and their two children, Audrey and Nathan, and dog, Oscar.

Sarah Morgan
Benwood Foundation
Glenn Morris
M&M Industries, Inc.

Glenn Morris is the President and CEO at M&M Industries, a US based manufacturer which was established in 1986 by his father, Glenn Morris Sr.  M&M Industries has manufacturing plants in Tennessee and Arizona and employs several hundred people.

Glenn has held multiple positions within M&M Industries since 1986, such as Sales Manager, Product Development Manager, Plant Manager, and Operations Officer.  Under his leadership, M&M has manufactured and patented packaging containers, Life Latch®, Lite Latch®, Life Latch Square® and introduced the Revolutionary Pail.  These containers are used for biohazards, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, environmental, nutritional supplements, hazardous materials and much more.

He is a member of Tennessee Manufacturers Association and Society of Plastics Engineers. He is Past President of Plastic Shipping Container Institute and former Treasurer of Rotary Club of Chattanooga. Glenn participated in the 2009 Leadership Chattanooga Program.  He is currently serving on the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association. Glenn is also involved with several local charities including Ronald McDonald House, On Point, First Things First, House of Refuge, and Church of the First Born.

He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Glenn resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee is married to Suzanne Morris and they have two daughters, Emma and Sydney.

Thomas Ozburn
Parkridge Medical Center

Tom joined Parkridge Health System as President & CEO in February of 2017, coming to Chattanooga from TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville. A native of Chattanooga, Tom Ozburn brings 20 years of executive healthcare leadership to his new role. Prior to TriStar Southern Hills, he served as chief operating officer in TriStar Summit and TriStar Greenview medical centers, sister TriStar Health facilities in Hermitage, Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, respectively, and worked in operations with HCA Physician Services Group.

Ozburn, a native of Chattanooga, earned a bachelor of science in Health Care Management from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a masters of Health Administration and a masters of Business Administration from The University of Memphis.  He is currently enrolled at UAB in the Doctoral program in Health Services Administration.  He is board certified in healthcare management by the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Medical Practice Executives.  In 2006, Ozburn achieved the status of Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives and served as a board member of the Middle Tennessee Chapter.  

Ozburn currently serves on the board of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  He is a past Board member for the Tennessee Hospital Association and The American Heart Association and has served on the board for Men of Valor, the Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce, Healthcare Executives Forum of Middle Tennessee, YMCA and Soles4Souls. 

Ozburn enjoys running and cycling.  He has completed over 14 marathons/triathlons across the country.

Ozburn has two children: Thomas, age 19 and Allie Grace, age 17. 

Ozburn is married to Lori Mitchell, Anchor/Reporter, for WRCB TV News Channel 3 in Chattanooga.

John Papas
Cherokee Distributing Company

Premier Members

6 Strong Media LLC

17 Broad

Allegiant Electric, Inc.


Astec Industries


BankcorpSouth Bank

Bantam + Biddy

Burns & McDonnell

Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics

Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc.

Chattanooga Convention Center

Chattanooga Marriott Downtown

Chattanooga Mercantile

Chili's - Hamilton Place

Christian Brothers Automotive

Comprehensive Spine Institute

Drake's Restaurant

Ernst & Young, LLP

Excel Rehabilitation & Sports Enhancement

Fillauer Companies, Inc.


Gate 11 Distillery

Giant Steps Music Corporation

Grass Roots Health

Groome Transportation

Horizon Hospitality

Infinity Logistics

Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q


Komatsu America Corp

Logan's Roadhouse- Hixson

Life Care Center - East Ridge

MCP Industrial Cleaning Solutions

MediaOne North America 

MedX Medical Management Services

Michael's Homes LLC

Miller Industries, Inc.

Mueller Co., LLC

Newcomb Spring of Tennessee


Ntracts, Inc.

P & C Construction, Inc.


Pro-Ad Apparel

Reliant Bank

Ruby Falls, LLC

Russ Blakely & Associates

Southern Adventist University

Spero Health

Terminal Fifty7

T-Mobile Call Center

The Transition House of Tennessee

Thrive at Brow Wood

Tranco Logistics, Inc.

Trident Transport

United States Stove Company, Inc.

Vivial Media

Walmart - Hixson #1606

Walmart - Signal Mountain Road #3659

WRCB TV / ST Production Services

Wright Brothers Construction Company, Inc.