25th Annual 40 Under Forty Gala


The 1,000th member of the Tri-Cities’ class of 40 Under Forty honorees was named at the 25th Annual 40 Under Forty gala Oct. 6 at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City. “The 40 Under Forty program, initiated by what was then The Business Journal of Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in December, 1993, has taken note of individuals who have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs, C-suite executives and elected officials over the years,” said Scott Robertson, managing editor of The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA. “It has become a great predictor of both individual career success and community involvement. This year’s honorees have, in their young careers, already shown not just drive, ambition and talent, but also a desire to bring their communities along as they grow their careers.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Brenda White Wright, who graciously agreed to speak at the event for the third time. Wright was the inaugural keynote speaker, returning to address the 10th annual event as well.

Special thanks go to the Tri-Cities-based businesses that partnered in the 25th annual event: Milligan College; RJYoung; Wellmont Health System; Mountain States Health Alliance; Kaplan CFO Solutions; Blackburn, Childers & Steagall; and Saratoga Technologies.

Thanks also go to the Carnegie Hotel, which serves annually as host for the 40 Under Forty photo shoots and interviews; Sweet Snaps Photography, Mail Works, the Millennium Centre, Moon Tuxedo and the staff of The Johnson City News & Neighbor.

Nominations for the class of 2018 are being accepted now at 40under.com.

All photos by Tara Hodges, Sweet Snaps Photography, sweetsnaps.us

Jennifer Adler
Adler makes a significant impact both in her role as assistant director of the Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University and as a recently-elected alderman for the city of Kingsport. In just two years with the Roan program, Adler has developed a stellar reputation among students, peers, and campus and community leaders alike, and become a sought-after speaker and committee member. Whether discussing traditions in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism for a campus “Civility Week” event; offering tips to undergraduates on how to craft a personal statement for graduate school; or debating issues among the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, she is a gifted communicator who thinks deeply about – and can quickly assess – complex issues, then translate those thoughts into straightforward ideas and recommendations.

William Barrett
One might expect the son of two librarians to be quieter and less ambitious than his peers. Not so for Barrett. He has a flair for capitalism dating back to when he sold cinnamon flavored toothpicks to classmates in elementary school. And he has no fear of large jobs. Imagine having to make Neyland Stadium ready for 100,000 guests. Imagine having to clean up Death Valley at LSU or Jordan Hare Stadium at Auburn or Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech – or 160,000-seat Bristol Motor Speedway. That’s what Barrett’s company, Can Do Enterprises does. Barrett started his business career with a pressure washer and has grown Can do into a nationwide cleaning management company. Not satisfied with that, Barrett has also started three other companies, and runs Millstone, a century-old mill in Limestone, Tenn., that has quickly become one of the region’s favorite wedding sites.

Samuel Booher
Booher is one of those accomplishment addicts who can get more done in 30 minutes than some do in 30 days. At the age of 31, a partner at the Law Firm of Holmes & Stice PLC, Booher is the current chairman of the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission, a founding board member of the Kingsport Young Professionals’ Group, PEAK, past-president of the Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center, past-president of the Kingsport Bar Association, and board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport. He also works alongside his grandfather, Sam Anderson, as a downtown developer in Kingsport. It’s safe to say there would be no PEAK organization without Booher. He wrote the charter and the bylaws, filed for the 501(c )4 tax exempt status, and in his spare time, even wrote the lease agreement for the dog park.

Seth Brown
Dr. Brown is medical director of the emergency department at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and his is a hometown boy makes good story. Before attending the Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU, Brown was an emergency medical technician in his hometown of Mountain City. Growing up there, he was convinced he would be a musician. He was a top trumpet player and even became drum major for the band. But one night when he was working as an EMT, he was part of the process of making a patient’s heart start beating again after it had stopped. Fortunately for the children at Niswonger, he decided at that moment to put down his trumpet and pick up a stethoscope.

Eric Carroll
Carroll is director of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital in Erwin. All he’s done since taking that job in 2015 is take a facility built in 1953, do everything necessary to see it replaced with a brand new, state of the art building, then preside over the July 2017 groundbreaking for that new building, with a commitment of more than $140 million in investments in the health of the community over the next decade. He’s done that while the healthcare industry in America is looking for ways to close existing rural hospitals – not open new ones. He is on the board of CASA; The Erwin Chamber of Commerce; the Erwin 911 committee; the Unicoi County MEC; the Unicoi County Community Board; the Monroe Foundation; United Way, and half a dozen other community organizations and not-for-profit efforts. Not bad for a former CT Tech who started his career telling patients, “now hold your breath.” Now we’re all just holding our breath to see how nice that new hospital will be.

Melina Christian
Christian, Nuclear Fuel Services’ principal engineer, is making a difference at NFS and in her community. Christian has been at NFS for 12 years, and has been instrumental in the start-up and operation of the commercial development line in which surplus nuclear material is recovered and made into the nuclear fuel used to power America’s nuclear navy. She’s a mentor to young engineers and a member of the NFS Speakers Bureau. When she’s not on the job, Christian supports the Towne Acres Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, helping enhance the education experience of the students through programs like STEM Day, which brings community experts to the school to foster the students’ love for science, technology, engineering and math.

Ashley Cox
Most entrepreneurs are experts in their fields, but know nothing about the HR aspects of running their business. Cox saw an opportunity in that – and became an entrepreneur specializing in providing HR services. She founded SproutHR following a decade of experience in corporate leadership and human resources positions. She’s also a founding member and former co-leader of the local entrepreneur group TuesdaysTogether, helping them grow to nearly 300 members in just one year; she participated in and is now a certified facilitator of the CO.STARTERS program, a nine-week program for aspiring entrepreneurs; and she also plays an active role in the community with AccelNow assisting entrepreneurs in starting businesses. She facilitates training sessions locally and online and has been a featured guest expert on multiple online blogs and podcasts. Cox is a leader in facilitating the growth of entrepreneurship in the Tri-Cities.

Andrew Davidson
Davidson joined Nuclear Fuel Services in 2003 and has served in highly technical positions of increasing responsibility including Naval Fuel Development Engineering Unit manager, Uranium Downblending Engineering Section manager, and Uranium Downblending Program manager. He also has extensive experience working with government and commercial customers including the National Nuclear Security Administration, Naval Reactors, and Westinghouse. That’s made him ideally suited for his current role as Uranium Downblending Program manager, where he has led several successful contract proposals, holds profit and loss responsibility for the business line with annual revenue exceeding $60 million, and has contributed to NFS’s business development and merger and acquisition activities.

Nicholas Denton
Nick Denton blends an exceptional knowledge of information technology with a firm grasp of the needs and goals of cancer patients and caregivers. He serves as the Pharmacy Applications Team leader in the IT Department at Wellmont Health System. His main interaction is with the Oncology/Research clinical applications teams. Denton has earned a role building strong relationships with oncology teams across the system, focusing on patient care and cancer research. One example of his leadership is direction of the IT portion of the Oncology Care Model, a new CMS program for coordination of cancer care. His work has been shared with other users of Wellmont’s electronic medical records system across the country. His work is setting the template nationwide. Denton takes his dedication outside of the workplace by spending personal time participating in organized fundraising events to support the needs of Wellmont cancer patients.

Tyler Engle
Engle is an Erwin native who accepted the position of executive director for the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County in December 2016. He’s accomplished much in a short time. Under his leadership, Unicoi County has already been selected as a 2017 recipient of the competitive Governor’s Three Star Grant. Engle also currently oversees the development of a 20-year land-use plan for the Towns of Erwin and Unicoi and Unicoi County. He is an active member of the Erwin community, having served on the Unicoi County Board of Education since 2012 and as the Board’s chairman since 2014. He is an active member of the young professional group RISE Erwin, the mission of which is to rejuvenate, invest in, support, and energize Erwin; as well as First Baptist Church, Erwin and the First Baptist Church Choir.

Matt Evans
At the ripe age of 27, Evans is the youngest vice president within HomeTrust Bank. Charged with creating, staffing and leading a new group; Commercial Portfolio Monitoring, Evans has been recognized as a subject matter expert, and an emerging leader within HomeTrust. This year, he was selected to participate in the HomeTrust Leadership Development Program, signifying the bank’s faith in bigger and better things ahead. Equal to his corporate work is his investment in his community. An Alumnus of ETSU, Evans remains passionately involved in giving back to his Alma Mater. One of his nominators says, “He serves as a role model for our students to understand if you work hard, study, and commit yourself to your task, you can accomplish anything.” In addition to his work with ETSU, Evans is a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow, a Second Harvest Food Bank volunteer and serves on the United Way Allocations Committee.

James Ferguson
Ferguson has been instrumental in helping GAAM Wealth Advisors build its brand and business. His nominators say he is mature and wise beyond his years and works tirelessly to help each client, team member and the community. He graduated from the The Citadel with honors and has his CFP designation. Ferguson is also enrolled in the UVA Darden EMBA Program and works closely with the community in the Chamber of Commerce and FoodHarvest.

Briana Fillers
Since joining United Way of Southwest Virginia in 2016, Fillers has led marketing initiatives transforming the brand of the organization to match its vital community impact work. The United Way of Southwest Virginia operates a workforce development initiative involving thousands of students in dozens of schools, covering 15 percent of Virginia’s geography. Fillers’ organized approach to communication has made it easier for educators, employers and students to understand and buy into that work. In addition, Fillers makes time to lead A Work of Art Gallery and Gifts. She has grown that organization since inception and provides oversight as well as operational volunteer work to this organization. She is also an active member of her church, Highlands Community Fellowship, as a member of a small group and being a go-to person within her peer group. And she has provided one on one mentoring as a Big Sister for the last six years.

Kristan Ginnings
Ginnings was on track for law school, with an eye toward a seat on the bench when the manager convinced her to change course. Rising through the ranks at First Tennessee and TriSummit, Ginnings was made a market executive for the Tri-Cities by Regions, and currently serves as the Tri-Cities market executive for First Citizens Bank. She leads the company’s banking initiatives in the market, focusing on business and commercial lending. Ginnings is a graduate of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Leadership 2020 and served as its chair for 2016-2017. She is an allocations committee member for the United Way of Washington County, a board member on the Workforce, Education and Industrial Council for the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, an adjunct professor for East Tennessee State University and a board member for CASA.

Dana Glenn
Business leaders in Sullivan County know and respect Glenn. They’ve seen her professional handling of presentations for NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, the county’s economic development organization, where she serves as marketing director. Her colleagues in economic development know and respect her, as is evidenced by the Southern Economic Development Council award she picked up in Charlotte at this year’s annual conference. And she is known and respected by young professionals throughout the Tri-Cities for her work on their behalf with PEAK, the young professionals’ organization on whose board she sits and of which she is currently president-elect. She is also an active volunteer for an array of different initiatives, including working with her former employer, The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

Lindsey Harris
Harris is a standout in a male-dominated field, serving as environmental group leader and project manager for S&ME where her colleagues praise her ability to negotiate with environmental regulators with competence, care, efficiency and effectiveness. She recently graduated from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) TN Leadership PE program. That program is targeted to industry professionals identified by their firm as a “future leader” of their business. She has volunteered for several Appalachian Service Projects and American Cancer Society events and is committed to assisting with the completion of the playground for Family Promise of Johnson City. Last year with Johnson City Morning Rotary, she was one of the youngest Rotary presidents ever in a district spanning from Greeneville, Tenn., to Northern Virginia.

Jody Helms
Dr. Helms has served on the medical staff of Bristol Regional Medical Center since 2010 and has already made a mark on the quality of care at the hospital and in his practice at Highlands Neurosurgery. He holds three leadership positions at the hospital – chairman of the Physician Clinical Council, medical director of the neuroscience service line and chief of surgery. He also serves on the medical executive committee and credentials committee. Despite his busy practice and leadership roles he stays active with Young Life in Bristol, and at State Street United Methodist Church, participating in a ministry among the community’s most vulnerable children and their families.

Teresa Hicks
Hicks, corporate director of Communications for Mountain States Health Alliance, has now swept the Business Journal’s awards, having already been recognized as a Health Care Hero. Hicks was an award-winning reporter for the Kingsport Times-News and Johnson City Press covering health care, and served as the editor of a monthly publication on healthy living called Thrive, for which she won that honor. She joined Mountain States in 2011 as communications manager and became director two years ago. She oversees external and internal communications for the 14-hospital system serving 1.1 million patients in 29 counties. Her responsibilities include strategic communications, media relations, crisis communications, internal newsletters, physician communications and web presence.

Russell Ingram
Ingram is a come-backer – a young professional who grew up in this region, then left to find his fortune, only to return home to make it. When his father called him home from Chicago to work in the family business, Ingram Financial Services, in 2010, he realized home was home. Now Ingram says he sees the opportunity to take his father’s vision and apply it to a new world. Ingram recently earned membership in the Million Dollar Round Table as one of the younger members in East Tennessee. He is also supportive of the community, where he previously served on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center. Russell also supported Steppenstone, by being a 2016 participant in Dancing with the Tri-Cities Stars, and hosting a golf tournament to raise funds for the cause.

Jenny Kontos
You may not have seen Kontos’s name in the headlines, but you’ve seen the results of her dedication to community. An award-winning graphic artist by trade, she has held six positions with the American Advertising Federation. Kontos serves as a student mentor with tnAchieves. She volunteers her time, talents, and personal finances to the SBK Animal Shelter in Kingsport. She is co-leader of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians and fundraising chair at Ridgeview Elementary. Kontos put herself through the 2017 Leadership Kingsport Program and is a member of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, the KOSBE WOW networking group, and the Abundance Networking Group. Through her Youtee project, $2500 has been donated to The Greater Kingsport Boys & Girls Club and the Dollywood Foundation My People Fund.

Bart McMillin
McMillin’s life story could be called “Learning to run the world from Edgemont Avenue.” Everything from his dad’s business to the schools he attended were on that road. Oh, granted, he went off to Blacksburg to play football for Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, but after a stint with a mechanical engineering firm in Nashville, he found his way home to start his own business. It was when he was listening to a group of doctors complaining about medical waste that he found his inspiration. With a pick-up truck, a box truck and a trailer, he founded Blue Ridge Environmental, which he has made into one of the region’s fastest growing companies, doing medical recycling and business shredding. McMillin not only has the ability to work hard with his start-up company, but also has time to devote back to others by supporting Young Life and several environmental and wildlife concerns.

Cody Murdock
If the merger between Wellmont and Mountain States closes in early 2018 as expected, it’s people like Murdock who will make it work. His current title is system director of Operational Excellence. His department is tasked with developing opportunities to standardize work to increase quality of care while eliminating waste and redundancy. Murdock developed Lean curricula for all 7,000-plus Wellmont employees. To date, the results have included improvements in patient outcomes and improved patient access. Murdock put in place a requirement that employees devote one hour to a community project every month. He says he hopes the system will adopt the idea of allowing employees to take one day every fiscal year for community service. The kicker is that this is being done while improving care and access while eliminating waste.

Myra O’Dell
O’Dell has climbed the company ladder from interning to becoming the newest partner at BCS Wealth Management. She earned that title, said one of her nominators, for leading in two ways – by example and with forethought. “She provides leadership by modeling a job well done,” said the nominator, “but also by having great vision for planning company processes, goals and direction.” Others mentioned her technical knowledge as a financial planner, her attention to detail and her ability to take complex situations and explain them to people without a financial services background. O’Dell is a loyal supporter and alumna of Milligan College, has served on the finance committee and the choir at her church, and has captained local USTA tennis league teams. She will also be a part of the next Johnson City Chamber Leadership Class.

Emily O’Quinn
O’Quinn is senior director of Corporate Communications for Contura Energy. She develops executive communications and messaging for internal audience of several thousand employees and diverse external constituencies. She also leads the crisis communication team and is responsible for employee town halls. O’Quinn participates in weekly cross-functional risk management meeting to assess potential external risks and response and develops and implements corporate themes and messaging. She has served on a wide variety of boards including:  the Library of Virginia executive committee, the Barter Theatre, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, Wellmont Health System Foundation, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, CONVERGE Virginia, the Bristol Public Library (past president) the Healing Hands Health Clinic Gala Committee, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red.

Candi Overholt
Dr. Overholt joined the Takoma Regional Hospital medical staff in 2009 and distinguished herself by doing things like making calls on her patients after normal hours at their residences. She has previously served as chairwoman of the medical staff and the clinical quality performance committee, and she is now serving as chairwoman of the ethics committee. Overholt is also focused on improving the quality of life in the community. Most notably, she founded Empower Cocke County, a charitable organization designed to bring together multiple churches to improve the well-being of the community and the region.

Jennifer Owen
As senior vice president and senior commercial loan officer for Capital Bank, Owen manages a portfolio of middle market customers that have lending, depository, and treasury management needs. She is a Chairman’s Club Award winner, having received the award for production results in the Top 10 percent of her company’s commercial banking group. Before transitioning to banking, Owen was director of development for the Rutgers University Foundation, where she was honored as a recipient of the President’s Distinguished Leadership Award for the Top 1 percent of fundraisers during the billion dollar Campaign for Promise. In the community, Owen serves in multiple roles, including the Northeast State Foundation Board, as well as in several leadership roles within her church. Owen is a graduate of the Leadership Kingsport Class of 2016.

Mary Beth Oxenine Woodby
Woodby has built a career around strengthening the region’s workforce. As career development coordinator for Northeast State Community College, she works closely with area employers to ensure that they have access to highly-skilled job candidates. She offers her expertise to individuals, school systems and community agencies to promote awareness and readiness for available career and training opportunities. She played an instrumental role in spearheading the Sullivan County Work Ready Community Initiative, which has since expanded into a regional effort for Northeast Tennessee. She continues to serve on the leadership committees for these efforts. In addition, she has volunteered with the United Way of Greater Kingsport since 2012; serving on the board and holding leadership positions on the Self-Sufficiency Vision Council and the Community Assessment & Planning Committee over the years.

Kathryn Perrin
Perrin is a dynamic and passionate leader in the Bristol community. She’s served in numerous leadership roles, including YWCA Bristol board, where she chairs the Bristol Bridal Station committee. She’s also multi-term board member and past-president of Believe in Bristol, and a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of Kingsport. Perrin’s career trajectory has led her ever upward at Eastman where she currently works in marketing communications, but she’s never been too busy to give back to the community. Her tenure with the Believe in Bristol board has coincided with the tremendous revitalization of the Main Street corridor. As her second term ended and she had to roll off of the Believe in Bristol board of directors, she took on the leadership of a committee tasked with generating significant revenue for the mission of the YWCA.

Lindsay Powers
As membership and events manager for the Kingsport Chamber, Powers leads the organization’s membership program. She also successfully manages the ambassador program, where she recruits and leads the organization’s membership volunteers. In just two years, she has already been promoted twice to key leadership positions. Powers is earning leadership roles in Kingsport at the age of 23. She serves on the PEAK Young Professionals board, where she is events co-chair, and serves on the United Way of Greater Kingsport’s communications committee. She is also a contributor and volunteer for Emory & Henry College, the Relay for Life and the United Way of Greater Kingsport. She has also volunteered for the Kingsport Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade, Boys & Girls Club and the Spring Wing Fling.

Jamie Rice
A native of Erwin, Tenn., Rice is co-owner and operator of LiveWell Investment Group and The Bramble in Erwin. She also serves as communications director for the town of Erwin. As co-owner of The Bramble, she led the renovation of the historic A.R. Brown building in downtown Erwin in its conversion to an event space that hosts weddings, parties, dinners, and community events. Rice is also an active advocate for the Erwin community. She serves as president of the young professional group RISE Erwin. Under her leadership, that organization has created the Annual Erwin Great Outdoors Festival held each spring, The Erwin Elephant Revival celebration and fundraiser, the Erwin Farmers Market, and the Nativity Parade. She is also a member of the Downtown Merchants Association and Love Chapel Christian Church.

Daniel Ruble
Ruble is a community standout in Washington County, Va. He is a successful certified public accountant with Spiegler Blevins and has aided agencies, boards and committees with his financial knowledge. He was elected to the Washington County School Board, and is currently running for another term. He is Chamber of Commerce past-president and is currently the treasurer. Ruble serves on numerous committees and boards at Abingdon United Methodist Church, the Holston Conference, and Emory & Henry College, where he graduated as a four-year Bonner Scholar. He also helped Abingdon United Methodist Church increase its budget 150 percent.

Brackton Smith
Smith moved to the area in April 2016 and in a year and a half has become a community leader. He sits on the board of The Rotary Club of Johnson City and on the Board of the Dawn of Hope Foundation, working on their annual golf classic and other events. He is president of Young Professionals of the Tri Cities which is an organization of around 100 members under the age of forty. He is also a successful financial advisor for Edward Jones, having already moved his office into a new downtown Johnson City location.

Matt Storey
When you look at Storey’s resume, it’s hard not to be impressed. He’s a strategy manager at Eastman. He has an engineering degree from Georgia Tech and has attended professional development courses at Wharton School of Business and Owen Graduate School of Management. He sits on four boards and is president of two organizations. He’s a key player in the United Way and Second Harvest. He is president of the PEAK young professionals group. Said one nominator, “If you need encouragement, he’s your guy. If you share an idea with him, you’ve immediately got a cheerleader. And when your idea hits a little bump in the road, he’s there to help you strategize next steps.” These seemingly small acts have not only helped a group of area young professionals gain confidence and do big things, but his enthusiasm in PEAK has become contagious as that group has grown.

Tianna Storey
If you’re planning an event, you want Storey on your committee. In fact, given her history of community involvement, there’s a good chance she’s already on your committee. Storey has event expertise that’s nearly impossible to come by. She puts this expertise to great use, not only in her job as catering manager of East Coast Wings, but also through planning events throughout the community. Storey has helped many area non-profit organizations, including Downtown Kingsport Association (DKA), PEAK, YWCA, and Make-A-Wish plan highly successful fundraising events on shoestring budgets. She has also served on the OneKingsport Downtown Revitalization work group and on multiple committees for the United Way of Greater Kingsport. In 2018, Storey will serve as president of DKA.

D.J. Swatzell
Swatzell is a certified financial planner who has been with Marmo Financial Group for 12 years. He currently serves as chief compliance officer and director of operations. Swatzell graduated from ETSU with honors in 2005. He has held a myriad of roles with MFG throughout the last 12 years and has been an integral part of MFG’s growth throughout that time, rising to become one of the leading financial planners in Northeast Tennessee. Outside of the office, Swatzell currently serves as president of the Ronald McDonald House, where he has served on the board of directors for the last four years. He is an active member of Heritage Baptist Church in Johnson City.

Lori Templeton
Templeton has been using her relational and hands-on management style to build and grow Zion Marine successfully into its second year. In a male-dominated industry, underwater dam repair, Templeton and Zion Marine are flourishing. Under her leadership, Zion Marine has expanded to two offices and secured just under $1 million in contracts. Her thorough branding efforts and strategic networking have made Zion Marine an easily recognizable name in the industry. She is also the founder of SO REAL, a volunteer-run non-profit seeking to end the cycle of violence and self-destructive behaviors among teens. This organization, a continuation of her platform she promoted as a former Miss Kingsport, has grown from serving two counties to covering a 250-mile radius in three states, impacting more than 125,000 individuals.

Jennifer Thacker
Thacker is not a university president – yet. As Northeast State Community College’s director of the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, she provides leadership and management for operations for administrative and support staff. She works in coordination with other departments/buildings, staff, city and state officials, and other stakeholders to effectively and efficiently manage an off-campus teaching site with heavy emphasis on student centered decision-making. She develops a team of academic professionals and other personnel from sister colleges and the community. She schedules classes and student events; and oversees non-academic student discipline. She also serves the community through board service, speaking engagements, and targeted presentations. And she is entering the dissertation phase of her Learning Environments and Educational Studies PhD program at the University of Tennessee.

Adam Tolbert
A lifelong resident of Smyth County, Virginia, Tolbert is the information technology systems engineer at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, a position he has held since 2013. He also serves as the Center’s legislative liaison, advising on legislation and policy matters. Since 2014, he has served as chairman of the Ninth Congressional District Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia, serving 29 localities in Southwest Virginia. He is a 2014 graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Said one nominator, “Notwithstanding his intelligence and wealth of knowledge, Adam conducts himself with integrity, honor, honesty and humility. He exemplifies the virtues of good citizenship; he has demonstrated ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication, devoted himself to voluntary service, earned the respect of his peers, and become a role model in his field.”

Joseph Wigington
Wigington has served as an electric engineer associate with Erwin Utilities since 2012. His voltage reduction program has created a cost savings of approximately $530,000 for Erwin Utilities. He also constructed and maintains EU’s electric system model which facilitates the voltage reduction program without necessitating purchase and implementation of advanced metering infrastructure, thereby creating even more savings. He is an active member of First Christian Church, Erwin and serves as a church board member and musician. Wigington is also an active member in the young professional group RISE Erwin. Recently, he was appointed to the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence Board of Examiners for the third time.

Natalie Willis
Willis is the Access Control and Compliance manager, and the Classification officer for Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., in Erwin, Tenn. With more than 15 years’ experience at the site, Willis has served in a number of areas within the Security Department. She currently manages a team charged with the development, implementation and maintenance of Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission programs including computer security, classification administration, communications security, NRC licensing requirements, DOE Orders and Naval Reactor Office directives and policies. She is a member of Women in Nuclear, the American Society of Industrial Security and is Sigma Green Belt certified. She supports the Unicoi County School System Parent Teacher Organization, Unicoi County Little League and Unicoi County 4-H program. Willis is a 2016 graduate of the Unicoi County Chamber’s Leadership Program.

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