40 Under Forty Honors Business Community’s 2019 Rising Stars Reviewed by BJournal Admin on . A crowd of around 300 members of the Tri-Cities business community gathered Oct. 4 to fete this year’s class of young professionals at the 27th Annual 40 Under A crowd of around 300 members of the Tri-Cities business community gathered Oct. 4 to fete this year’s class of young professionals at the 27th Annual 40 Under Rating: 0
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40 Under Forty Honors Business Community’s 2019 Rising Stars

40 Under Forty Honors Business Community’s 2019 Rising Stars

A crowd of around 300 members of the Tri-Cities business community gathered Oct. 4 to fete this year’s class of young professionals at the 27th Annual 40 Under Forty Gala at the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough.

“These remarkable young individuals have distinguished themselves not only with their business acumen, but also with their drive to lead, and their commitment to serve the communities in which they live and work,” said Scott Robertson, managing editor of The Business Journal of Tri-Cities, TN/VA, who introduced the honorees at the event. “Whether they be working their way up a corporate ladder, going it alone as hungry entrepreneurs, or crafting careers in the medical or not-for-profit sectors, these 40 men and women show the business community it will be in good hands in the future. At the same time, they serve to inspire other young professionals to pursue success throughout the region.”

Dr. Paula Masters, vice president of Health Programs for Ballad Health, congratulated the honorees on their success and their commitment to the region.

The Business Journal wishes to thank the Tri-Cities-based businesses that supported the event through sponsorship: Ballad Health; Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, the East Tennessee State University Roan Scholars program, Milligan College and Saratoga Technologies.

Special thanks also to Earl Neikirk of Neikirk Photography.

Nominations for the 2020 class of 40 Under Forty will be sought beginning in late spring at the 40under.com website. Watch The Business Journal and our sister publication, Johnson City News & Neighbor for details.

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Dr. Caroline Abercrombie
Dr. Caroline Abercrombie is a professor in the Section of Medical Education at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. You may know her better for her work the last two years as director of the Blue Plum Festival in downtown Johnson City. If not, you may have seen her handiwork as director of the annual Crumley House Polynesian Beach Party fundraiser. In the Quillen College, she captains numerous administrative and teaching projects, leads committees, and organizes everything from camps for high school students interested in medicine as a career to intricate interprofessional team education activities involving 250 students from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health, and Allied Health. Abercrombie’s leadership skills led one nominator to describe what he called, “A swirl of goodness and energy that follows in her wake. She brings people together for good. As she goes forward in her many worthy professional and charitable endeavors, she’s always bringing along and empowering dozens of others.”

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Sherry Boswell
Sherry Boswell has risen from being a first-generation college student earning a business degree at King University to being a six-figure earner with a senior level position in the banking industry at a very young age. She has amassed that success by helping others. Boswell has worked with organizations like Eastern 8 to promote home ownership and has worked with those in the community who are less fortunate on credit repair, saving habits, and overall financial literacy. She’s also an entrepreneur in her own right and an active advocate for animals who donates her time at the local shelter.

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Teni Butler
Teni Butler arrived at Eastman with a position supporting cellulose esters manufacturing, but quickly established herself as a young leader, something she credits to her time as an athlete at the University of Arkansas. She was soon tabbed to lead complex projects that required building consensus between technology, manufacturing, and business functions within the company. In addition to her regular job duties, Butler is active in Eastman’s engineering campus recruiting as well as the company’s annual Engineering Week program to promote interest in STEM careers at local high schools and she is a member and the current chair of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers East Tennessee Local Section.

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Jurnee Carr
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” That verse from Isaiah became the cornerstone for Jurnee Carr’s entrepreurial career. Carr and her father have built Zion Stone, a local stone veneer manufacturer on faith and principles. Along the way, Zion Stone has won the Kingsport Times News Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Stone, Brick or Block Dealer” and the KOSBE Award for “Manufacturing Excellence” while creating 20 new jobs in the region. At the same time, Carr’s Jurnee’s Journey Foundation has directly provided services and funding for almost 300 spay/neuter surgeries, including tens of thousands of dollars in direct support for utility bills and vet bills for local shelters and rescues.

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Casey Carringer
Casey Carringer serves as director of Clinical Engagement for Ballad Health. Her responsibilities focus on effective implementation of Ballad’s population health plan by partnering with the regional practice-based community. She is the project director on a federal grant to reduce substance use disorder in our region. Carringer was recently asked to present to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. An active member of First Christian Church, she currently sits on the Junior League of Johnson City board, where she is president-elect, as well as the board of Northeast Tennessee Perinatal Mental Health Alliance. At Ballad, Carringer applied for and was awarded a very competitive, large sum Health Resources and Services Administration grant. She will serve as the lead on this grant which is focused on implementing ground level strategies for rural communities to prevent residents from entering into addiction, expand community supports and scale evidence-based recovery and treatment.

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Tara Chadwell
Tara Chadwell is the director of the Children’s Resource Center at Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health. Prior to taking her current position, Chadwell served as the Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator at Johnson City Medical Center. As director, she is responsible for many of the programs that foster health, wellness, and safety for the region’s children. She runs the Morning Mile program in local schools that keeps kids active and fosters a healthy lifestyle. Chadwell oversees literacy initiatives, bike safety, water safety, and has been the director of the Scarecrow Skedaddle since it began. Some honorees have careers and community involvement interests that are worlds apart. For Tara Chadwell, it’s truly one and the same.

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Donny Chia
After nearly 15 years as an investment banker in New York City, Donny Chia joined Eastman in 2015 as director of Corporate Development, including responsibility for mergers and acquisitions activity worldwide. In 2017, he was promoted to be the youngest vice president at Eastman. This year, he was also appointed to the role of treasurer, responsible for looking after Eastman’s balance sheet and cash flows, including collecting and managing approximately $10 billion in cash annually. As treasurer, Chia’s duties include global cash management, capital markets & hedging, enterprise risk management and insurance, pension and investments, and credit and accounts receivable. As head of Corporate Development, he is responsible for corporate portfolio strategy and the execution of merger, acquisition, divestiture, and joint venture transactions. Chia is a member of Eastman’s Senior Leadership Team and the Eastman PAC Advisory Council. He also coaches little league baseball.

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Zac Clark
2018 was Zac Clark’s first year as a general manager in the Appalachian League. His Johnson City Cardinals broke their attendance record, gained numerous new corporate partners, increased their community service hours, and implemented promotions that had never been tried before. Clark was presented the 2018 Appalachian League Executive of the Year Award. He also accepted the Team Organization of the Year Award and Promotional Trophy Award for the 2018 season on behalf of the orgainzation. The Cardinals also received the Johnson City Press Readers Choice Award for Best in Family Entertainment. Clark founded “The Alliance,” through the ETSU Sport Management Program, an organization that provides networking opportunities for young professionals in the sports industry. He also serves on the board for the United Way of Johnson City/Washington County, YP-Tri, and Johnson City Visitors Bureau.

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Caleb Cupp
Caleb Cupp’s first position with Sodexo was at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City, Tenn., setting up rooms and audio-visual equipment for client events. He eventually progressed into a supervisory role and assumed the role of interim executive chef. When Sodexo won the food service contract at Eastman Chemical, Cupp was promoted to retail manager and was instrumental in both the remodeling and the successful launch of eight cafés inside the Eastman plant. Cupp was subsequently awarded the position of director of Operations. Cupp was recently selected to fill the role of area general manager for Sodexo at Eastman. Said one nominator, “Caleb exemplifies the spirit of today’s young professional, that of someone whose first reaction to being handed a challenge is to say, ‘Yes, we can.’”

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Misty Deskins
Misty Deskins joined the Food City team in 2003, accepting a full-time position as operations clerk for the corporate headquarters in Abingdon, while attending The University of Virginia’s College at Wise as a full-time student. She has risen through the ranks to director of Loyalty Marketing. Deskins is responsible for guiding initiatives including personalized and targeted marketing, customer data and analytics, customer loyalty rewards, associate rewards, affinity partnerships, loyalty clubs and special events for the company’s 132 retail locations. Her team helps coordinate the annual Food City Charity Golf Tournament, which raised over $1.4 million for local charities this year and is also responsible for numerous local Kid’s Club events, plus Family Race Night, Plumb Alley Day, Rhythm and Roots, Haunted Hill and Dolly Parton’s Stampede Whoadeo.

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Jennifer Dixon
Jennifer serves as business analyst for Smarty Pants, a firm based in the Tri-Cities that does market research with dozens of Fortune 500 clients. She currently manages and analyzes the back end of every domestic and international project at Smarty Pants to ensure financial integrity and operational excellence. One nominator said, “She brought new, bright ideas and technological expertise to the company and immediately transformed finance, legal and risk management into properly functioning, operationally excellent departments at a company already known for cutting edge research.” In the community, she organized and headed up a shark tank competition for regional high school students at a First Tennessee Development District event called Career Quest Tennessee…It’s all about business.

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Matthew Dotson
Matthew became a name partner in the law firm of Mullins, Harris, Jessee & Dotson at the age of 28, having been at the firm for only 28 months at the time. His partners praise his work ethic, leadership skills, intelligence and interpersonal communication skills. Community members praise the same traits, but as applied to his work with Kiwanis Club and the First Church of God in Wise. One nominator, a judge and 40 Under Forty alumnus, called Dotson’s rise into prominence in the Southwest Virginia legal community, “somewhat amazing,” crediting it to Dotson’s commitment to the firm and the community.

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Kristina Dulaney
A life experience that was at one time debilitating has served to launch Kristina Dulaney’s life passion to help others. Dulaney is founder of Cherished Mom, the mission of which is to promote awareness and education for perinatal mood disorders and the importance of self-care to new moms, families, healthcare professionals and the community. Dulaney is a vocal advocate for eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Her own personal journey of overcoming postpartum psychosis is inspiring. Her founding of Cherished Mom, her vulnerability in sharing her story on various media platforms, as well as her support of and advocacy for postpartum moms have allowed her to become a nationwide advocate for women facing the unique struggle of postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

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Dr. Jacob Fait
Tusculum University’s College of Business has reached impressive heights since Dr. Jacob Fait was selected as its dean. One of the most impressive has been accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, achieved in late 2018. Through his leadership and in partnership with his team, the Master of Business Administration program has achieved record institutional enrollment for two straight academic years. In addition, the College of Business is earning impressive national rankings and developing new partnerships. At the center of these accomplishments is Dr. Fait, who is constantly seeking ways to advance the quality of the College of Business. At the same time, Dr. Fait remains committed to the community. He is driven to ensure the success of the VITA program, of which the College of Business is a participant. VITA is an Internal Revenue Service initiative designed to support free tax preparation service for the underserved.

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Dr. Ronda Gentry
Gentry currently serves as the executive director of the Office of Student Persistence and Engagement at Tusculum University. She is also director for the Center for Civic Advancement, which includes the Office of Career Services, the Bonner Leader Program, Service Learning, and the Center for Global and Mission Studies. Gentry was selected this year to be one of just 25 faculty members in the nation for a multidisciplinary seminar at DePaul University that fostered growth in interfaith understanding. She has also developed courses and a lecture series on interfaith education. She is a magnet for students of all backgrounds and ages who seek guidance and support, but she also provides valuable assistance to those who report to her. As a community servant, Dr. Gentry provided leadership as a member of the board of directors for A Safe Harbor Home in Greeneville, where she also served as the chief governance officer.

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Bradley Hoover
At the Kingsport Chamber, Bradley Hoover manages or assists with Visit Kingsport’s more than 30 special events annually. In 2019 he took on a greater role with Fun Fest, serving as the liaison to each band and tour manager during the three nights of concerts. In addition to his professional responsibilities at Visit Kingsport, Hoover is involved in the Kingsport community in other ways. He currently serves as Civic Volunteerism Chair for Kingsport’s young professional group PEAK and recently received the Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary of Downtown Kingsport. Hoover has volunteered with numerous community projects including the Santa Train, Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground, and the Johnson Elementary School playground project. This year he was named Civic Volunteerism Chair on the PEAK Advisory Board. Said one nominator, “his is the epitome of the servant’s heart.”

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Nicole Hughes
The direction of Nicole Hughes’ life changed the night her son Levi drowned. Hughes was further disheartened when she learned drowning was the leading cause of death for children Levi’s age, yet they had been to the pediatrician just weeks before and the doctor had talked about body weight and mosquito bites without a word of warning. What keeps this from being pure tragedy, and the reason Hughes is honored among the 40 Under Forty, is what she did with the pain and the anger. She founded a non-profit organization, “Levi’s Legacy” focusing on drowning prevention for children. And she challenged all those pediatricians. Recently, she partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and co-authored their updated swim policy. That policy today is shared with every pediatrician in the country. Other children have a greater chance of living today because she refused to accept Levi’s passing as the end of Levi’s Legacy.

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Lauren Johnson
Lauren Johnson is a chemical engineer working in sustainability at Eastman. The company has been performing lifecycle analyses on its products, assessing its portfolio, and Johnson has been instrumental in that. Her expertise in sustainability is so well-respected that she represented Eastman in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Portfolio Assessment Project for the Chemicals Sector. Johnson is currently redesigning Eastman’s portfolio assessment framework and will be relaunching it this year. Through this work, she is ensuring that Eastman project leaders consider sustainability drivers in their projects early. Sustainability will be embedded in Eastman’s innovation and stage gate projects thanks to Johnson’s vision and dedication.

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Heather Keene
Heather Keene is playing an instrumental role in Tusculum University’s efforts to improve health care in Northeast Tennessee and other parts of Central Appalachia. As associate vice president of the College of Health Sciences, which is establishing innovative programs such as the Niswonger College of Optometry, Keene is helping shape key initiatives. She has written feasibility and self-studies and assisted with documents needed for handbooks, committees and accreditation. In addition, she serves as director of Professional Student Advancement for the Niswonger College of Optometry, an adjunct professor for the College of Business, and the liaison between the College of Health Sciences and the university’s Student Services division. Literally a coal miner’s daughter, she applied intellect and work ethic to rise through the ranks from receptionist to executive vice president to associate vice president of the College of Health Sciences. She has also brought recognition to the community through her selection for the Women in Education Leadership Conference at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Jessica Kelso
Jessica Kelso serves as director of Veterans Affairs at Northeast State Community College. Veterans returning to civilian life face many obstacles beyond the classroom. Kelso helps ease this transition with skill and sensitivity. Her office hosts veterans-only orientations, service events, and tutoring opportunities. The office also manages Veterans Centers on three Northeast State campuses. Not only is her dedication and professionalism on display during regular work hours, but also during weekend visits to various local Guard and Reserve units throughout Northeast Tennessee. The purpose of these visits, which are conducted on her own time, are to brief military personnel on their VA education benefits. She assists veteran students with a myriad of issues, which have ranged anywhere from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to Traumatic Brain Injury to day-to-day challenges faced by all college students.

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Mark Lafever
In addition to his work as operations supervisor at Unicoi County Utility, Mark Lafever is also an entrepreneur, part of the ownership group of Erwin Outdoor Supply. He was one of the driving forces behind the formation of RISE, the Unicoi County-based young professionals organization. At his heart, however, says one nominator, Lafever is a public servant. He was first elected as an alderman in Erwin more than a decade ago. The same year he also began serving as a Commissioner of the Unicoi County Gas Utility District (UCGUD). In 2011, he began a full-time position as Public Works Director for the Town of Erwin where he successfully managed Phase 2 and Phase 3 of Erwin’s Downtown Revitalization project. He was selected to return to public service again as an alderman in February 2016. In January 2019, he was appointed vice mayor of Erwin.

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Dale Ledford
Dale Ledford is one of the most popular and inspirational professors at Northeast State Community College primarily because of his innovative and inspirational teaching techniques. Ledford was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was in first grade. He had teachers tell him that he would never amount to anything while in K-12 and he was later rejected from an education program at a four-year university because they felt no school system or college would ever hire him due to the Tourette’s. Ledford walked out of being rejected from the education program straight to class and volunteered to be a research assistant for one of his professors. He continued to receive his Master of Science degree with the same professor as his mentor. Ledford received his Associate of Science from Northeast State and completed his Master of Science in Biology at ETSU. He has worked at Northeast State for ten years starting as an adjunct professor and now serves as a full-time professor.

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Dr. JD Madill
Dr. JD Madill’s story is just like that of every other Canada-native former University of Georgia baseball player turned Northeast Tennessee construction company owner who’s gone on to become a successful chiropractor. He serves on the Tri-Cities Advancement Council (Ballad Health Foundation Board). He just completed a term as president of the Johnson City Morning Rotary Club and is still an active member. In his early 20s he formed a construction company before pursuing his doctorate. At age 26 he formed Foundation Health Services, now with two locations in the region. In five years, it has grown into a multi-specialty healthcare company that provides medical, physical therapy and chiropractic services. He also opened Foundation Academy, a fitness facility, in 2018. In his spare time Madill renovates homes for resale.

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Jason Meredith
Jason Meredith began his career in the city of Kingsport’s planning department, where he quickly earned a reputation for being detail-minded and smart. He led the Historic Zoning Commission in establishing the Civil War Trails Kingsport site. His ability to get things done and lead others caught the eyes of those who nominated Meredith for the State Government Affairs Council Program in 2015 and Leadership Kingsport in 2012. By the time Meredith was 32, he was employed as the state government affairs representative eventually managing nationwide state legislative and regulatory affairs for Eastman. Meredith also has developed strategic relationships with key officials in various states, allowing him to explore and implement tax incentives that may be available to Eastman through planned expansion efforts. His reputation among his peers is evidenced by his having been named chair of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) State Government Affairs Committee. He’s a deacon in his church and has the courage to be a youth basketball referee.

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Jenna Moore
Jenna serves as Director of Sales for the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. When she arrived, she set about to bringing not just the sales, but the entire online outreach program of the CVB up to a new level. She created the CVB’s Instagram account. And all those motorcycle groups you see around the Tri-Cities on the weekends? She brought most of them here. She’s been responsible for bringing in multiple 500-room-night events from Gold Wings to Southern Crusiers to Miata owners. Moore was also responsible for bringing in the Geico Hot Bike Tour, in which our region hosted more than 12,000 attendees including 2,200 registered “long riders.” In 2019, Moore hosted 12 bloggers whose articles reached more than 28 million people. She also recruits meetings and conferences. She currently serves as vice president for Young Professionals of the Tri-Cities, a position she has held for the past three years. She recently finished serving 18 months on Johnson City’s Sesquicentennial Commission.

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Cole Morgan
If you’re a customer of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, you probably owe Cole Morgan a thank you note. His title is working foreman, but that belies the amount of work he does above and beyond that call. For instance, Morgan oversaw all the substation work needed to implement BTES’s automation system that has helped save customers more than $12 million in the last four years. He is a member of the Continuous Improvement Team at BTES which led the organization in achieving the nation’s highest honor for quality in 2017 – the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. He also serves as the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) group at BTES. In his off time, he is a quiet but extremely generous supporter of Tri-State Baptist Children’s Home and the Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

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Brandon Mowell
Brandon Mowell began his career with Food City as a courtesy clerk in 1998. What started as a part-time “high school job” has quickly become an impressive career. His nominators credit that to Mowell’s hard work, determination, professionalism and leadership abilities. He has risen quickly in the Food City family to become the district manager for this region. In this role, he successfully leads the operations for 13 Food City stores in Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and Scott, Lee, Wise and Dickenson counties in Virginia. His stores are among the most successful in the Food City chain thanks, his nominators say, to his strong business leadership. Mowell has completed all of the company’s management training programs, including Mega Star, Dale Carnegie and the National Grocers Association executive leadership program. Mowell also serves on the Board of Directors for the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

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Dr. Paige Niles
Dr. Paige Niles is a 26-year-old physical therapist and director of a private practice orthopedic physical therapy clinic in Johnson City called PT Solutions Physical Therapy. Niles has rapidly grown her clinic by three-fold in productivity and patient satisfaction rising to the 96th percentile rank among all outpatient PT clinics nationwide. She has initiated partnerships with the Wellness Center, the Goose Chase, Tri-cities school districts, Fleet Feet, JC Running Club, Dawn of Hope, ETSU and Milligan College. Niles is a current clinical instructor for Doctorate of Physical Therapy students at ETSU.

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Dr. Shyam Odeti
Dr. Shyam Odeti, as a leader of the hospitalist group, has been instrumental in team-building with all other groups of physicians at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, to the benefit of both the hospital and its patients. For example, his collaboration with emergency medicine leaders to create an evidence-based chest pain initiative has helped patients avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, resulting in millions of dollars in savings. In 2018, the American Academy of Family Physicians recognized that effort and his leadership by awarding Odeti and his team the Best Quality Improvement Project of the Year. He was also a key player in implementing Family Medicine and Internal Medicine residency programs at JMH. Since their inception he has worked to train and develop future physicians. This work was recognized with Teacher of the Year honors for him in 2018 by the Virginia Association of Family Physicians.

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Landon Owen
Landon Owen is the senior director of Ticket Sales and Operations at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition to overseeing ticketing efforts for NASCAR race events, Owen’s ticketing leadership significantly contributed to The Battle at Bristol college football event setting the world record at 156,990 attendees welcomed to the Last Great Colosseum. He also helps give back to younger individuals who want to work in sports marketing. Last year, Owen organized a professional meet and greet that introduced 30+ sport organizations to more than 200 undergraduate sport management students. He’s also active not only in Speedway Children’s Charities events, but in the United Way, and Day of Community Service as well as the ETSU sports management advisory board and the Roan Scholars screening committee.

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Sarah Presnell
Sarah Presnell is a manager in the Blackburn, Childers & Steagall tax department. She is the firm’s nonprofit tax expert, in addition to preparation and review of individual and business tax returns, consultation on business transactions and other tax-related matters. She also serves the firm with her involvement in recruitment and retention, employee evaluation, internal leadership program, and the marketing committee. A passionate advocate for children in the region, Presnell serves as the vice president of the Board of Directors for Hands On! Discovery Center and the board president for Isaiah 117 House. One of her nominators from Isaiah 117 House says Presnell is referred to there as, “the calm in the storm.”

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Austin Ramsey
Austin Ramsey is a Roan Scholar, a member of the National 4H GIS Leadership Team and a computer and technology consultant in the Tri-Cities. He has become a sought-after consultant by local individuals and firms. While maintaining a 3.96 GPA with a major in computing, Ramsey launched his newest business venture while a student at East Tennessee State University. He provides computer-consulting services to clients through the company he founded, Pointech, LLC. Last summer Ramsey took his technological skills to northern India, where he used dronography to assist a non-profit that builds wells to provide rural villages with clean water. Back home, Ramsey and his team are leading the way in equipping communities with data and insights to help address some of the region’s most intransigent health challenges.

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Sunny Sandos
At only 35 years of age, Sunny Sandos is already past-president of the Washington County Bar Association and is the first female staff attorney for the city of Johnson City. Outside of her new role for the City, Sandos serves her community as chair for the Planned Giving and Endowment Council for Munsey Church; treasurer of the Washington County Bar Association; and, as a member of the Johnson City Leadership 2020 Class. She is also on faculty with the National Business Institute and previously taught as an adjunct professor of Communications Law at ETSU. Prior to role at the City, Sandos practiced municipal law and civil defense litigation for two local firms and served as the executive director of Planned Giving for the ETSU Foundation.

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Dr. Ashley Sant
Being one of only about 3,000 Board Certified Oncology Pharmacists in the nation, Dr. Ashley Sant has the responsibilities of medication management for all of Ballad Health Cancer Centers. She works closely with prescribers to ensure proper chemotherapy regimens are followed and even aids prescribers in adapting chemotherapy regimens for individual patients. When Sant isn’t working for Ballad Health, she enjoys running marathons which raise money for organizations as St Jude’s and Race for the Cure. She also cooks each month for the Ronald McDonald House and helps raise donations for animal shelters and school supplies. Sant has been very active in collecting donations of food for families at Thanksgiving, presents for kids at Christmas through Adopt A Star, candy for the Ballad Trunk-or-Treat and Easter baskets. She is also a BeachBody coach and motivates many women to be their physical and mental best.

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Scott Saylor
When a coach gets a new player he thinks has the potential to be great, sometimes he’ll give that player a monumental challenge to complete in front of the entire team. Scott Saylor has volunteered on the sidelines for the Unicoi County Blue Devils football squad, so it came as no surprise to him when, shortly after he arrived at Erwin Utilities, his boss said to him, “alright, you’ve been here a week. Inventory the whole warehouse.” Not only did Saylor complete the task accurately and in a timely fashion, he streamlined warehouse processes while doing so. Today, he is director of purchasing and warehouse, and the whole Erwin Utilities team knows they’ll have what they need when they need it. Away from work, Saylor goes to extraordinary lengths to assist young people in need in Unicoi County. One nominator said, ‘you never see his name in the paper, but he is a rock for this community.”

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Stacey Sheffey
Stacey Sheffey serves as the human resources benefits administrator at BrightRidge. She is responsible for handling benefits for over 180 employees, onboarding new hires, and other HR matters. Said one nominator, Sheffey epitomizes Steven Covey’s habit of “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” when seeking to disseminate information. Sheffey is active in the community, participating in the United Way Vello reading program, volunteering for the Special Olympics Track & Field events, and packaging food for the Hunger to Hope ministry. She also coordinates company activities to benefit the community such as a food drive for the Washington County Animal Shelter, a food drive for the Second Harvest Food Bank, a school supply drive for Good Samaritan Ministries, and participation in the United Way Week of Caring.

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Corey Shipley
First in his family to attend college, Corey Shipley began practicing law in 2014, and served as special assistant U.S. Attorney in 2015-16. With his partner, Shipley now operates his own firm, Collins Shipley, PLLC, in Greeneville. It is a different thing to be not only an attorney, but also a business owner who, along with just one other person, must pay the rent, the employees and all the other bills for a firm,” said one nominator. “Corey does that by being the first attorney in town to arrive at work and the last to leave.” In what time is left between his legal obligations and time with his family, Shipley is the Greeneville president for Junior Achievement of the Tri-Cities and serves on the board of the United Way.

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Ashley Shutt
Ashley Shutt is an entrepreneur and co-founder of ARO Creative Inc., a minority-owned marketing company in downtown Kingsport. From the onset of ARO Creative, Shutt’s business model provides her the time and resources to help other startup companies in the region and beyond. She works with community organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Second Harvest Food Kitchen, Streamworks and the Inventor Center, where she offers marketing strategy and design services free of charge. She donates her services and experience to advise inventors and aspiring business owners, encouraging their ideas and strategizing pathways to success. Shutt is also the creator of MADE, a formal entrepreneurial event unlike anything seen in our region. The event highlights makers, artists, designers and entrepreneurs in an evening where their art is celebrated in a gala setting. The event, in partnership with Downtown Kingsport Association, features downtown locations to promote what is available there.

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Brian Tibbs
Brian Tibbs is one of Marion, Va.’s true success stories. A child of Sugar Grove Elementary School, Tibbs grew up in Marion, then worked for the Barter Theatre in Abingdon for a few years before heading off to make his mark in sunny Orlando. Unfortunately, his entry into the world of big-time entertainment coincided with the coming of the Great Recession, and Tibbs ended up wearing a Dudley Do-Right costume and sweeping popcorn at UniversalStudios theme park. He credits that time for teaching him the work ethic that has made his time as executive director for the historic Lincoln Theatre a success. In a short time, Brian has transformed the programming to offer not only a wider variety, but a much fuller catalog of programs that continues to grow the Lincoln into an economic generator for the town and for the region. Said one nominator, “The work that Brian does both in and out of the Theatre is vital to the success of Marion and our growing tourism economy.”

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Tiphanie Watson
Tiphanie Watson serves as the customer support manager at BrightRidge. She is responsible for supervising thirty employees in the Customer Support department, which includes call center, walk-in center, cashiers, and account services. Watson rose from bilingual customer service to management, according to one nominator, by learning every job in her department, then proving she could create efficiencies, thus improving how BrightRidge does business. She has served on the Customer Support Leadership Team and has been a speaker for Technology Day of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership 2020 program. She achieved the Certified Power Supervisor designation from the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA). Watson also represents BrightRidge at the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) Members Information Conference. Como se dice excellence in action?

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