40 Under Forty Gala Honors Rising Stars in Business

Nick Ward, Mary Mayle and Chad Nimrick

Nick Ward, Mary Mayle and Chad Nimrick

All photos by Tara Hodges, Sweet Snaps Photography

The 40 young professionals that make up the 2016 class of 40 Under Forty were joined by more than 200 friends, colleagues and well-wishers Oct. 14 at the 24th Annual 40 Under Forty Gala at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City.

“For the better part of a quarter century, The Business Journal has showcased the rising stars of the business community as members of the class of 40 Under Forty,” Scott Robertson, Business Journal managing editor, said. “One of the few changes in this program over the years is the increase in emphasis placed on community involvement. We have seen that business leadership and community leadership often go hand in hand. By asking for letters of recommendation regarding community leadership as well as business acumen, we have taken this into account. As a happy side-effect, we have brought into the 40 Under Forty fold a group of individuals who would not have been eligible for the first 40 Under Forty class. You will now see among the honorees individuals who are executive directors at not-for-profits, educators, and medical professionals. We believe this improves the overall program.”

Dr. Bill Greer

Dr. Bill Greer

Dr. Bill Greer, Milligan College president, delivered the keynote speech for the event, encouraging the members of the class to espouse and practice servant leadership. “A servant leader cares about the growth and wellbeing of others as well as their communities,” Greer told the honorees. “Servant leaders are not afraid of sharing power. They put the needs of others first, and that helps others reach their full potential. What happens when the members of a team all reach their full potential? Success.”

The Business Journal wishes to acknowledge the Tri-Cities-based businesses that supported the event through sponsorship: Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, PLC; Hicok, Fern & Co., CPAs; the Milligan MBA; Mountain States Health Alliance; Saratoga Technologies; and Wellmont Health System. Special thanks also go out to the Carnegie Hotel, which served as host for the 40 Under Forty individual photo shoots and interviews.

Nominations for the 2017 class of 40 Under Forty are open now through August 2017 at the 40under.com website. Watch The Business Journal and our sister publication, The Johnson City News & Neighbor for details.

Tekai and Ashleigh Shu

Tekai and Ashleigh Shu

Buddy Scheerer and Dr. Melissa Stukes

Buddy Scheerer and Dr. Melissa Stukes

Tanzid Shams, Chris Miller, Molly Luton, Casey Wilbert,  Brooke Graham, Joshua McFall

Tanzid Shams, Chris Miller, Molly Luton, Casey Wilbert,
Brooke Graham, Joshua McFall

Tyler Parsons and Danielle Webb

Tyler Parsons and Danielle Webb


adkins2Matthew Adkins

It would have been easy for Adkins to have been a victim of the War on Coal. Instead, he’s a man who found opportunities for professional growth with each challenge. Adkins started his career as an accountant for Cumberland Resources, which soon merged with Massey Energy, where he moved up. Following Massey’s acquisition by Alpha Natural Resources, Adkins caught the eye of one of the big four accounting firms, Deloitte, which brought him on as a contract analyst at its Bristol CIS operation. Away from the office, in the last year alone he has been a key player in organizing a food drive, a school supply drive, a community service day at the YWCA and a charity walk/run event.

argabrite2Wes Argabrite

Argabrite is a comebacker, one of those young professionals who left the region in search of a great career, then came home and found one. Following six successful years in Atlanta, the Kingsport native returned to the Tri-Cities six years ago to take a position as a credit analyst at Bank of Tennessee. He’s moved up through the retail end of banking to become a vice president, serving as a commercial relationship manager focusing on Bristol and Kingsport. Outside the bank, Argabrite has served the community, literally, with Meals on Wheels. He’s also been very active with the PEAK young professionals organization and the United Way.

babb3David Babb

When one learns of Babb’s world outside the office, it’s easy to overlook the fact that he’s a rising star in the accounting field. Babb is a world-class bluegrass musician, trained from the age of four, who has toured internationally, including stops at the Grand Ole Opry and the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. So by day he audits employee benefit plans, helping his clients at Blackburn, Childers and Steagall deal with all the regulation surrounding that field, while serving on the Board for the Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House. Then he finds a nice pickin’ porch and wraps himself around a stand-up bass for a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown. You can also find him playing that same bass Sunday mornings at church.

barnett1Jessica Barnett

If you’ve paid any attention at all to higher education in Tennessee over the last few years, you know the role of community colleges has shifted drastically, taking a far greater importance in overall workforce development. In Barnett’s three years at Northeast State, she’s proven to be an ideal person to help manage the human resources side of that change. After all, it’s people who make it all work. Barnett works with the college’s employees and with companies in the surrounding region to see that the educators are getting what they need to meet students’ needs, and that outside resources are matched with the people who need them. She also serves as chair for the PUSH! Film Festival and is on the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Board.

bartee1Ashley Bartee

Bartee’s title is Community Relations Manager for the United Way of Southwest Virginia. Most folks with similar titles in similar organizations will candidly tell you that what that title really means is, “fund raiser.” And while Bartee has achieved great success in that part of the job, her nominators impressed the judges with her dogged determination to do more. One nominator described her efforts to dig deep into the causes of the problems affiliate organizations are trying to address, then to help structure public-private partnerships to address those specific problems on a community level. A prime example is the new Financial Stability Center to be housed in Independence, Va. It wouldn’t have come to fruition, the nominators said, without Bartee’s bulldog tenacity.

bolling3Samara Bolling

Bolling is proof that being awesome is a portable, highly sought-after skill. Starting as a journalist and getting her Masters in PR, she moved up from community newspaper to PR firm to Eastman Chemical Company in a few short years. Her Eastman-based nominator praised her ability to handle both nitty-gritty challenges and big picture thinking. Such words as creative, diligent, initiative, poise and dynamic visionary were used. Last year, Bolling moved to NTara, where she created an entire traffic department in two weeks. When the firm initiated an Integrated Marketing and Insights team, management had such faith in the traffic system Samara had built – and in her marketing abilities – that it allowed someone else to take over the traffic structure she had designed and moved her up to direct the new department, which is now a growth center for the company.

campbell3Emily Campbell

Dr. Dr. Emily Campbell loves helping active young athletes get and stay healthy. A former college athlete at Wofford with a Master’s in Exercise Science from George Washington University in D.C., Campbell came back to East Tennessee to attend the Quillen College of Medicine in Family Medicine. Despite that broad training, she told The Business Journal in her honoree’s interview she has always been hooked on sports medicine. She doesn’t just maintain that in her practice. She is volunteer team physician for both King University and Virginia High School in Bristol and holds community lectures on related topics. She also serves on the board of Girls on the Run for Northeast Tennessee.

davis1Kim Davis

Virtually everyone in the region knows Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music. And if one visits the Country Music Hall of Fame, one finds that that body acknowledges Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music. But within the next few years, the plan is for the world to know Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music. To that end, Kim Davis was hired as director of marketing. It was an easy choice, her nominators tell us. Davis is originally from Bristol, and according to one nominator, when the state tourism department director was asked for a reference, she told the Birthplace – quote – “You’d be crazy not to hire her.” Turns out they’re not crazy. Kim has quickly become not only an ambassador for the Birthplace, but a sought-after public speaker in Tennessee and Virginia on topics of marketing and promotion.

dominy2Stephanie Dominy

Dominy is the chief operations officer for Mountain States Medical Group, where she has worked for six years, previously as chief financial officer. Said one of her nominators, “Managers do things right…leaders do the right things…Steph does both.” Several nominators were unanimous in praise of her leadership, both in terms of style and outcomes. In addition, she earned praise for the fact that her life outside the office is dedicated to serving others. Dominy gives time to Susan G. Komen, the American Heart Association, and the United Way, and was particularly involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light Up the Night.”

fenner3Tara Fenner

A manager in the audit department at Blackburn Childers and Steagall, Fenner is not waiting to be a future leader in the community. She’s already taken the mantle of recognized community leader. This year she became only the second woman to hold the title of president of the Johnson City Kiwanis Club. She has led the club in creating a reading program for children, a giving program to benefit at-risk children in the local schools just before Thanksgiving. She has brought the club’s social media presence up to date and is helping reverse the tide of young professionals that had been moving away from service organizations. When she’s not keeping local government’s finances clean through her work at BCS or being a Kiwanian, she also takes time to be a scouting den mother.

garieannfish1Garieann Fish

Fish remembers the difference healthcare practitioners can make in ordinary people’s lives. Three surgeries to correct congenital hip dysplasia allowed her to become the avid runner and hiker she is today, and several of her family members also received important treatment. Doctors affiliated with the osteopathic med school in the small West Virginia town where she lived became role models, and Fish became an osteopathic physician. Today, while raising two kids and meeting demands as part of a busy gastroenterology practice in Bristol, Fish makes time for a number of volunteer roles. Perhaps the most impactful is her provision of free colonoscopies through Healing Hands Health Center. The osteopathic philosophy places equal importance on body, mind, and spirit. Fish says providing important preventive care for working people who are trying to support their families covers all three emphases.

foley3Joseph Foley

Dr. Foley was the medical equivalent of an All-American basketball player coming out of school. That’s because he was among the top docs coming from an elite training program at the University of Kentucky, which produces cardiology fellows similar to how it produces basketball players – among the best. He chose Bristol because the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute offered him the chance to work with nationally known cardiologists in the overall institute, but a small enough operation in Bristol where he could come in, expand, and build programs with the support of administration. Foley humbly describes himself as a glorified plumber – it’s just that the pipes are blood vessels, including those in the heart. He’s brought new techniques and procedures to the hospital, saving lives in the process.

graham3Brooke Graham

Brooke says of herself, “challenge is kind of my middle name.” Following her father’s suicide when she was just a child, Brooke determined she would go into health care and help others. After graduating with a degree in hospital administration, she took a job in human resources, where she says she did – quote – “basically everything.” And because she was willing to do everything, and do it well, she was noticed and given an opportunity in management. She is now manager of Human Resources for both Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Woodridge Psychiatric Hospital, serving more than 650 team members. She recently completed her MBA and, according to her nominators, is seen as a rising star at MSHA.

hicks1Scott Hicks

Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Scott Hicks knows what Allen was talking about. Hicks went to Tennessee Tech to become a Park Ranger. After realizing he was virtually the only biology major at an engineering school, he transferred to Appalachian State, but was called back home to Blountville because of a family medical emergency. He became an apprentice jeweler, when the apprentice’s master moved out of the region, Hicks ended up at AT&T. It was there he found he had a natural talent for data analysis. He saw patterns and was able to identify problems, often seeing solutions as well. AT&T took notice when he worked in a fraud recovery project that had a multi-million dollar impact. Suddenly he had the career path that was both enjoyable and well-suited to him. Today he manages projects for AT&T. But Hicks still gets to let the park ranger come out and play as Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 240.

hixon2Clay Hixson

Hixson has risen very quickly through the banking ranks in Northeast Tennessee, a tribute, his nominators say, not only to his banking acumen, but also to his leadership skills and moral character. At the age of 34 he had already achieved the rank of market president for two markets, Greeneville and Sevier County with a large regional bank. He now leads the Johnson City efforts as market president for TruPoint Bank. Outside of work, Hixson has served as president of Rise Up for the last two years, though the kids know him not as president, but as, ‘The chicken nugget guy.” In addition, he and his wife Kelly also host a weekly small meeting of young married couples encouraging them with Biblical influence through the early years of marriage.

hull3Andrew Hull

The respect Hull earned as a physician assistant, first at Family Physicians and later at Tri-Cities Skin and Cancer was part of what brought him to become the man who would oversee the creation of a Physician Assistant Master’s Degree program at Milligan College. While continuing his own work as a PA, Hull has guided Milligan’s facilities construction, faculty hiring, and curriculum development. Said one nominator, “When starting new academic programs, Milligan always seeks out a leader who is a trained professional and who has the skills and background to help ensure excellence. But Andy fully exemplifies the model of a servant leader that is the focal point of all of our educational endeavors.”

lewis3Lynnsey Lewis

An Erwin native, Lewis is director of Strategy and Performance Improvement for Erwin Utilities. She is the lead on marketing for Erwin Fiber, the Gigabit broadband service of the utility. Her skills in strategic planning and performance excellence have both led to, and been augmented by, her role as a Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence Master Examiner. Lewis is an active participant in the community and the driving force for the Unicoi County United Way, taking the lead on the campaign kickoff breakfast and victory luncheon for the past four years. She has been an active member of a young professional group in Erwin; Erwin RISE, whose mission is to Rejuvenate, Invest, Support and Energize Erwin.

lewisd2Daniel Lewis

Dr. Lewis is Chief Medical Officer at Takoma Regional Hospital in Greeneville. His work has been crucial to quality improvement strategy development and implementation of evidence-based solutions and new technologies, resulting in Takoma receiving several regional and national recognitions. Under his leadership, Takoma’s medical staff has worked with area colleges to develop future providers. Dr. Lewis’s passion, innovation and commitment to excellence is, according to one nominator, a great blessing to both patients and the community.

long3Brent Long

Brent comes by his willingness to do things others wouldn’t think to do honestly. His mother was the first woman ever to apprentice as a mechanic at Eastman Chemical Company. So it may come as no surprise that while many young professionals have said, “Wouldn’t it be great if downtown Johnson City had more loft space and more businesses we’re interested in?,” Long went out and turned the old London building into a retail space that lured Trek Bicycles into the first floor and loft space on the floors above. His work earned the 2015 Project of the Year honor from the Washington County Economic Development Council. Now a member of the Johnson City Development Authority, Long is currently working to find the best possible use for the old Giant Foods sign downtown.

long-s1Stacy Long

40 Under Forty often tells stories of young professionals who make their way up through the ranks into leadership positions. Long has done so in a way that has earned her the respect of some of the most fastidious and demanding professionals there are: highly-paid, highly-skilled surgeons. From beginnings as a nurse – and she was Bristol Regional Medical Center’s Surgery Nurse of the Year in 2012 – she has risen to become director of surgical services. Said one nominator of how she has taken to the role she has had for the last two years, “Managing this department takes tremendous skill and requires leadership from someone who can remain level-headed but still ensure the department runs efficiently. In tense times, she is straightforward and honest, never loses her cool and is always able to work through any situation with professionalism.”

lutton2Molly Luton

Luton is corporate director of Marketing & Communications at Mountain States Health Alliance. She coordinates marketing strategy for the entire health system. Her job includes assuring brand standards are met for all marketing material, and that the strategies of all facilities fit together. Luton joined Mountain States in 2007 at Johnston Memorial Hospital and has served in several capacities, working her way up to director of marketing & communications for MSHA’s Northeast Region (three hospitals in Southwest Va.) and then for Washington County, Tenn., before taking her current position. Luton helped facilitate grand openings for two new replacement hospitals (JMH in 2011 and Smyth County Community Hospital in 2012). Outside of work, she has donated her time to the Johnston Memorial Hospital Foundation, United Way of SWVa, Rotary Club of Abingdon and Susan G. Komen For The Cure Tri-Cities as Pink Tie Gala chairwoman.

mancuso2Joshua Mancuso

Mancuso joined High Road Digital after owning and operating Boomtown Film Company, a video and film production company for three years. Boomtown was acquired by High Road in January 2016. Prior to that Mancuso served as the marketing director at Doe River Gorge, an adventure camp for teenagers in Hampton, Tenn. He is active in the local community and his church, Red Stone. Mancuso volunteers and has served the Summit Leadership Foundation, Appalachian Service Project, Melting Pot, Fellowship of Christian Athletics, Morning Rotary Club, and the Salvation Army.

marquat1Andy Marquart

Three years ago, Marquart arrived as the new director of Hands On! Museum in downtown Johnson City, finding an organization in need of some stabilization. Today, the museum has moved forward to a future in which it will partner with East Tennessee State University to take over the exhibition space at the Gray Fossil Site Museum. The move will allow Hands On! to expand at a significantly lower cost than if it had tried to do so in downtown Johnson City or another site, while also providing benefit to the university and its operations in Gray. Said one nominator, “Andy’s ability to not only envision the potential in such a partnership, but to work with others to make it happen will lead to an educational science center the entire Tri-Cities community will be very proud of.”

mayle1Mary Mayle

A Kingsport native who attended UVa-Wise when it was still Clinch Valley College, Mayle has done many things to exemplify success during her 10 years with Bell Helicopter, where she currently works as logistics and continuous improvement manager in their Piney Flats, Tenn., facility. She is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and has used her training to improve processes and reduce cost in the Logistics Department. She has also mentored and trained more than 20 Six Sigma Green Belts to certification, increasing the company’s continuous improvement capabilities. Mayle is a high performer in her role, consistently maintaining 99% accuracy in quantity and value for inventory in excess of $7M. Mayle also takes on special projects at Bell and was instrumental in the successful implementation of a new ERP system. In addition, she has been a key player in an effort at Bell’s Piney Flats facilities to raise money to benefit St. Jude’s Research Hospital, and she’s a regular participant in the annual Dragon Boat races.

mcfall1Joshua McFall

McFall is chief financial officer for both Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Woodridge Hospital, a post he has held for the last two years. He oversees the hospitals finances, helping to develop facility strategic initiatives and manage capital equipment purchases. A graduate of East Tennessee State University’s College of Business and Technology, he has also earned Bronze certification in Lean improvement processes and is on track to earn an accelerated MBA. Outside of work he is a past trustee at Bentley’s Chapel Baptist Church, is an active member of Tri-Cities Baptist Church, has served as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and is on the Washington County, Tennessee United Way Finance Allocation Committee.

miller1Chris Miller

Miller started in the field of “patient experience” in 2012 at Johnson City Medical Center and has since moved up the ranks to the C-Suite, becoming chief experience and outcomes officer. In a field that constantly focuses on processes and procedures, Miller is more focused on customer service. “Health care can be really scary at times for patients and their families,” he said during an interview earlier this year. “Providers can be clinically astute, but they also need to put some compassion behind that.” Earlier this year, Miller also took over several other duties as assistant administrator, working with departments including laboratory and pharmacy. A servant leader, Miller also leads a Christian fellowship gathering for team members twice a month.

mullins3Christopher Mullins

Despite his tender years, Mullins has already achieved status as a pillar of the community in Mountain City, Tenn., where he was born and raised. He serves on the Board of Directors for Johnson County Bank. He owns and operates Mullins Real Estate and Auction, which he started three years ago and which has already been voted the top real estate agency by readers of the local newspaper in Mountain City. Also, he is a full-time U.S. History teacher at Johnson County High School, a post he’s held for 15 years. In addition, Mullins donates his time and talents as an auctioneer to charity auctions, including the United Way Winter Jam.

parsons1Tyler Parsons

Parsons has taken minor league baseball and done it in a big league way. The general manager of the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League, he has revitalized the ballpark experience, bringing new life and a renewed relevance to an entertainment space that many people had given up on. It has been a remarkable balancing act. He has made the game experience more family-friendly while at the same time, bringing back beer sales to boost revenue. He has sold the naming rights to the field while at the same time bringing the team name back to the general public consciousness. Of course the fact that the product on the field was a championship team didn’t hurt. But Parsons has won praise for an incessant drive to make the Cardinals a real part of the community, from his achievements as president of the Johnson City Young Professionals Group, YP-Tri, to his work with Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce.

patton1Rachel Patton

There may be no place in America where redeveloping the workforce is more important than Southwest Virginia. The one-two punch of losing coal jobs and the jobs of businesses that supported the coal industry, such as rail, trucking, and retail, has put many people out of work and stifled the economies of communities throughout the region. That’s what makes Patton’s work so important. As business services director for the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board, she takes years of experience in higher education creating non-credit professional development programs to meet the need to retrain the workforce. What doesn’t get a lot of press about the situation in Southwest Virginia is that there are plenty of companies still offering jobs and looking for employees. Patton works to see that the companies have access to every opportunity to get the workers trained and in place to work, without either the workers or the companies having to leave the region.

preston1Richard Preston

In 2001, Preston, who had just completed his architecture degree from the University of Tennessee, came home to the Tri-Cities to run the family construction business following the passing of his father. At the time, Preston Construction was a small firm doing a mix of residential and commercial projects. Since then, he’s grown the firm to be one of the premier commercial contractors in the region, with a reputation for doing big projects in tight timelines. This summer alone Preston did renovations to Happy Valley High School and Hampton High School stadiums and Temple Hill Elementary School, all of which had to be done start to finish while students were off on summer break. Preston was also chosen as one of three general contractors to bid on a new Data Center for ETSU in 2015, earning the $2.4 million contract for its construction. To top it off, a good deal of the growth of this company has come in the last five years, during which he and his wife Holly have welcomed four children into the family. A devout Christian, Richard also serves as a deacon at his church.

puckett1Jennifer Puckett

Higher education is working with business to make sure students have opportunities to get good jobs in the region and employers have opportunities to hire trained – or trainable – qualified employees. Puckett has been on the front line of that effort, working as event coordinator for the Kingsport Academic Village and also working at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, where she coordinated with the business community, including major employers such as Eastman and Domtar before moving on to her current position as director of Northeast State at Bristol. Puckett maintains and manages the site and staff, develops the schedule and oversees security, marketing and enrollment. In addition, she is a volunteer soccer coach for FC Dallas TRI.

shams1Tanzid Shams

Dr. Shams has lived and worked in San Francisco, Boston and New York and received his undergraduate training at Harvard with residency programs in pediatrics and adult neurology from Columbia University, as well as a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology. Today he is director of Neurology Services at Johnson City Medical Center, where he is developing a neurology team and leading development of a Comprehensive Stroke Center. When he moved here from Boston, Shams said he asked, “Where can I see myself for a decade or longer?” Here, he is afforded the opportunity not only to build a team, but also to continue research and treatment in his area of particular passion, sports concussions. In his spare time, Shams relaxes by training for and competing in Olympic-distance and half-Ironman triathlons. He’s also done volunteer work in Haiti, Brazil and Grenada.

shu3Tekai Shu

A first-generation college graduate from a family that moved south from New York, Shu was a Bonner Scholar at Emory & Henry, an experience that instilled a strong sense of community in him. After answering an ad for a manufacturing floor worker at Strongwell in Bristol, Tekai moved into an office position in less than two months. He’s been at Strongwell for more than eight years now, having been promoted twice more, to his current role managing Strongwell’s social media and certain facets of online business development. He’s regularly invited to appear on speaker panels related to engaging the next generation in business, higher education, online marketing and more. In addition, he’s been recognized with the Leadership Service Award by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Volunteer of the Year Award by the United Way of Bristol. One nominator called him, “A man who puts himself totally into meeting the needs of his company, his community and his family.”

sokol1Janessa Sokol

The difference between good people and great ones in any workplace is often the effect they have on others. At Holston Valley Medical Center, Sokol exemplifies the best qualities healthcare professionals need to show to patients and their families. As the hospital’s patient experience specialist, Sokol’s role is essential in ensuring every patient and visitor has an optimal experience. Whether encouraging her co-workers to go the extra mile, examining patient surveys or just giving a visitor a warm smile, she shows the caring spirit every healthcare worker should possess. The impact of her contributions reaches all levels of the organization as well as the community. She serves on the United Way of Greater Kingsport’s Campaign Cabinet for the Healthcare Division and volunteers for Meals on Wheels. And as a highly effective speaker at the local and national level, she captivates her audiences leaving them feeling empowered to go out and make a difference.

stafford2Kevin Stafford

Kevin Stafford joined the Food City team in 1996, accepting a position as courtesy clerk in Bristol, Tenn., while attending Sullivan East High School. What began as a part-time job quickly grew into the makings of an extraordinary career, as Stafford developed a genuine passion for the business that quickly catapulted him through the ranks. While earning both an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Milligan College, Stafford has served in a number of key positions at Food City, including head cashier, front-end supervisor, helpdesk manager and director of Front-End Operations & e-Commerce. This year he was promoted to vice president of Marketing. As such, Stafford is responsible for overseeing advertising, creative/design, loyalty marketing, special events, including Food City’s sports marketing endeavors and print shop activities. Stafford is extremely active in the community, volunteering with several organizations, including the United Way, the Salvation Army and his church.

stukes1Melissa Stukes

Dr. Stukes has been principal of Mountain View Elementary School since 2014. She came to the Tri-Cities after a lifetime as a student and educator in South Carolina. Like so many other young professionals who move to Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, she was lured by the quality of life, including the lack of traffic and relatively safe environment, with a low cost of living. She earned her doctorate at ETSU while teaching at South Side Elementary School in Johnson City. During her first full year as principal, Mountain View was recognized as a Level 5 school. She is well respected by members of the community and is adept at making connections between the school and community. While leading the school, she has also served as a board member for Insight and been a part of the committee who selected the dean for the College of Education at ETSU.

tipton3Kristy Tipton

As director of Frontier Health’s Mobile Crisis Team, Tipton is responsible for a 25-member crisis and triage staff whose members respond 24/7 to crises involving individuals with behavioral health emergencies. Her team members are essentially the first responders of behavioral health. They run toward the crisis when others would run away. Unfortunately, business is not slow. The crisis team assesses an average of 600 individuals a month. During a recent interview she explained that she loves doing crisis work. “It’s a great feeling to have walked in on someone’s worst moment in their lives and to have been able to get them the help they needed right then,” she explained. One of the keys to success is often arriving in time to help. Under Tipton’s leadership, the average wait time from call to the mobile crisis team to evaluation is now under 38 minutes, a remarkable feat.

vashti3Amit Vashist

Dr. Vashist is a remarkable individual, one of a very small class of individuals to have been honored both as a member of the class of 40 Under Forty and as a Healthcare Hero. Vashist took over as the medical director of Johnston Memorial Hospital’s Hospitalist division in 2014. In less than two years time, riding on his record of achievements in domains like reducing mortality rates for sepsis and pneumonia, as well as leading a system-wide initiative to reduce unnecessary testing for hospitalized patients, he has earned appointment as the system chair for the entire Mountain States Hospitalist Division. Dr. Vashist leads an annual drive for clothing donations to local homeless shelters. He also actively leads an annual fundraiser to help orphanages in poverty-stricken areas of India.

wardNicholas Ward

Ward has accomplished many things during his 10 years with Bell Helicopter. He has progressed through several roles in different functions of Engineering to become a manager of Test and Certification. What that title means is he and his team are responsible for the airworthiness of all products designed at Bell Piney Flats. He also leads the certification aspects for Supplemental Type Certificate projects. Ward is a recognized expert in FAA product certification and Structural Dynamics. When he’s not working at Bell, he enjoys building and selling homes as a licensed general contractor, and hiking the Appalachian Trail.

wilbert1Casey Wilbert

Wilbert is Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator at Johnson City Medical Center, where  he manages 25+ team members and drives the clinical initiatives for the entire hospital. He has worked on several cost savings initiatives that have saved the hospital over $100,000 in the last year. He is also highly involved in the community by serving as a clinical preceptor for the Gatton College of Pharmacy at ETSU and he volunteers to speak to children at local schools. Wilbert has also been involved in a number of research projects and publications to help impact patient care on a more global perspective, while locally he supports causes such as the Dragon Boat fundraiser, the United Way, the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon, and more.


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