Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.
As a first-generation college student, Dr. Stephanie Barham recalls leaning on mentors to help her reach her goals.
“Dr. Bethany Bullock was mentoring me when I was a student,” Barham recalled. “And Dr. Pam Scott was a great mentor to me. She helped me learn to be a mom and navigate a professional career.”
Since entering the professional world, Barham has established a reputation for her ability to put together long-term strategic plans, to solve problems with outside-the-box thinking and to speak up when she sees a better course of action than the one being proposed. Barham now serves as chief of staff for her mentor Dr. Bullock, the president of Northeast Tennessee Community College.
Barham has made quite an impression among those she works with. As her colleague Brandon Dotson put it in in a nomination letter written on Barham’s behalf, “Her attention to detail is unmatched in my experience with administrators. In fact, she is well respected among colleagues for her ability to manage complex institutional projects.”
As impressive as Barham’s work at Northeast State is, her impact on our region as a whole go well beyond the campus she works at in Blountville. During the pandemic, Barham coordinated a partnership between Northeast State and Sync Space to create programing to help struggling businesses navigate the pandemic and connect with business resources.
Heath Guinn, founder and president of Sync Space, recalls that the project had to be put together in a matter of weeks, and there were plenty of moving parts, but Barham rose to the challenge. “Through Dr. Barham’s steadfast leadership, the program resulted an incredible impact in which 55+ small businesses participated and were directly advised in how to best manage their business during the pandemic and create a sustainable pathway forward for the continued unforeseen challenges.”
If that’s not enough, Barham also co-founded Optimal Concept Solutions with fellow 2021 40 Under Forty honoree Dr. Chelsie Dubay. Their company focuses on implementing online educational programs and training. Barham also volunteers with several organizations, including a technology camp for girls.
By earning a college degree and completing her doctorate, Barham has blazed a trail, and she relishes the opportunity to be a shining example for her two children.
“My children and my family are the biggest things that have motivated me,” she said. “I wanted my kids to see someone – especially a female – be successful and to know that you can be an instructional designer, you can be a chief of staff and be a female and a strong leader.”
Next week we will profile Neil Brown of Eastman Chemical Company. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit www.40under.com/nominate.asp and follow the instructions.