The 2024 Gold Club

Management

“Make something people want includes making a company that people want to work for.”
– Sahil Lavingia

 

30 Influential Business Leaders

Selected for both their exceptional industry skills and dedication to their workplace and community, the following business leaders make up CityScope® magazine’s prestigious Gold Club this year.

Congratulations to these impactful men and women on this well-deserved honor!

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Shalin Tejani

Owner, Ribbon and Bows Oh My!

Years With the Company: 12

Shalin Tejani is a proud Chattanooga native and serial entrepreneur with a deep-rooted passion for empowering, developing, and connecting people. Co-owner of the nation’s largest e-commerce ribbon retailer alongside Niti Tejani, his wife of 17 years; co-founder and CEO of Legacy Dental Group, a locally owned and operated dental service organization; and founder and managing director of Horizon Hospitality Capital, a hospitality-focused private equity firm, Shalin excels in entrepreneurship and fostering growth and innovation. Shalin serves on several boards including the Tivoli Theatre Foundation, Tennessee Aquarium, and St. Nicholas School, and was in the 2011 inaugural class of “20 Under 40.” A Leadership Chattanooga graduate now participating in Leadership Tennessee, Shalin’s community and professional roles highlight his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to helping develop the community in which he and his wife now raise their three children, Niyam, Shivam, and Siana.

 

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Amanda Jelks

Managing Attorney, Jelks Law, PLLC

Years With the Company: 9

Amanda Jelks is the owner of Jelks Law, where she and her team help with trusts and estate matters to empower people to protect what matters most – family, dignity, and business. Amanda has spent over a decade helping countless families in Tennessee and Georgia prepare for unexpected life challenges. Amanda’s efforts have been recognized both locally and nationally by several organizations. Most recently, Jelks Law was awarded the Best of the Best award by the Times Free Press for the third year in a row, the Rising Stars Award by Super Lawyers, and Emerging Business of the Year by the Urban League. Amanda has served on several nonprofit boards and strongly believes in giving back to the community through her time, talents, and resources. Amanda currently serves as a board member for the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and The Chattery.

 

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Paige T. Walter

Associate Attorney, Evans Harrison Hackett PLLC

Years With the Company: 2

Paige Todd Walter is a civil litigator at Evans Harrison Hackett PLLC. Walter’s scope of practice includes domestic work, breach of contract claims, property and zoning matters, employment law, and tort claims. She is the vice president for the Southeast Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women; a member of the American Inns of Court, the Chattanooga Bar Association, and the Tennessee Bar Association; and a volunteer for the Hamilton County Family Justice Center. In 2022, Walter graduated from the University of Georgia Law School where she exercised her passion for advocacy at the Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic. Walter also enjoyed externing with the city attorney’s office for the City of Chattanooga during her last year of law school.

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Ernie Elemento

Vice President, Hamilton Medical Center

Years With the Company: 9

Ernie Elemento joined Hamilton Medical Center as vice president of professional services in 2015. He brings a strong history of operational and administrative experience to Hamilton Medical Center. Service lines that he leads include Imaging and Neurodiagnostic Services, Laboratory Services, Bradley Wellness Center, Hamilton Sports Medicine, Rehabilitation Services, Pharmacy Services, and Peeples Cancer Institute. Previously, Elemento worked at University Medical Center Health System in Lubbock, Texas, as the UMC Southwest Cancer Center administrative director. He has a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Cebu Doctors University, Cebu, Philippines and a Master of Business Administration from Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas.

 

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Dean Krech

Managing Partner, JHM Certified Public Accountants

Years With the Company: 32

Dean Krech is the managing partner for JHM Certified Public Accountants and has over 30 years of public accounting experience with JHM. Aside from overseeing firm operations, Krech specializes in the industries of commercial construction, nonprofit, manufacturing, and real estate. As managing partner, Krech strives to build lifelong personal, trusted advisor relationships with his business partners and encourages others at JHM to do the same. Krech has many professional and charitable affiliations, including most recently The Speech and Hearing Center, and loves giving back to Chattanooga’s dynamic nonprofit community. Krech is a passionate, lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys and attends games in Dallas with family and friends several times each year.

 

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Matt Jenne

Senior Vice President and Market President, SmartBank Cleveland & Ooltewah

Years With the Company: 6

Matt Jenne holds the position of senior vice president and market president for the Cleveland and Ooltewah area at SmartBank. With over three decades of banking expertise, Jenne demonstrates unwavering dedication to community service. He has notably served two terms as president of the United Way of the Ocoee Region and holds various roles within the organization, including board and executive committee member, community impact team member, chairman of the Personnel Committee, and recipient of the William F. Johnson Community Service Award. Additionally, Jenne plays an active role at City Fields, where he serves as a board member and chairman of the Finance Committee.

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Matt McGauley

CEO, FTC Development

Years With the Company: 21

Matt McGauley is CEO of FTC Development and a managing general partner of ASLAN – the parent company of FTC, SVN | Second Story, Tomorrow Building, and Aslan Funds. Since his commercial real estate career began in 2003, he has developed or redeveloped nearly a million square feet in the greater Chattanooga area. McGauley developed and owns the first LEED-certified building in Hamilton County and achieved a Gold Level certification. McGauley graduated from Baylor School (’98) and George Washington University (’02) with a degree in economics, later completing CFA Level I and all core CCIM courses. In 2017, he was elected to the Builtwell Bank Board of Directors. In 2022, Gov. Lee appointed McGauley as chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) following his appointment to the THDA Board of Directors in 2020. As a believer in investing in good people and diversifying capital, he holds investments in Builtwell Bancorp, Dynamo Ventures, Vision Hospitality, Alderman Enterprises, and Brickyard.

 

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T. W. Francescon, Jr.

Senior Director, Alumni Culture & Engagement, The McCallie School

Years With the Company: 1

T. W. Francescon, Jr. is honored to have served two organizations that value people, culture, and community. In 1999, he joined Southern Champion Tray, a manufacturer of paperboard packaging. He partnered with over 900 team members and customers in 20 countries, most recently as Director of People & Culture Experience. In 2023, he returned to The McCallie School, where he graduated in 1995, and works alongside over 975 students from 19 countries, 200 faculty and staff members, and 8,500 alumni worldwide. He also serves as an elder at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church and as chair of the Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast, Hamilton County Employee Appeals Board, and S. M. Robertson Police & Fire Christmas Fund. His favorite people are his beautiful bride, Laurel, and their children, Thomas, Noah, and Bella.

 

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Marilyn M. Helms, DBA

Dean, Sesquicentennial Endowed Chair, Professor, Dalton State College

Years With the Company: 24

Dr. Marilyn M. Helms is the dean, sesquicentennial endowed chair, and professor of supply chain management at Dalton State College’s C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business in Dalton, GA, an AACSB internationally accredited institution. She also teaches strategic management to graduating seniors at the Hispanic-Serving Institution. She is chair of the CHI Memorial and CHI Memorial Georgia Hospitals Board of Directors. Originally from Memphis, TN, Marilyn holds a Doctorate of Business Administration Degree and an M.B.A. and B.B.A. from the University of Memphis. Dr. Helms is a frequent speaker to local business and industry groups on strategic planning, time management, and supply chain management.

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Ruchir Shah, MD

Stroke Medical Director, CHI Memorial

Years With the Company: 3

Dr. Ruchir Shah joined CHI Memorial and CHI Memorial Neuroscience Institute as the stroke program medical director. Dr. Shah received his medical degree from M.P. Shah Medical College in India. He completed his residency in neurology at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey and a fellowship in vascular neurology at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Dr. Shah leads a team of neurologists, interventional radiologists, endo-vascular surgeons, and advanced practice providers who provide assessments and treatments to ensure stroke patients receive high-quality, comprehensive medical care. Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, CHI Memorial has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Thrombectomy Capable Certification.

 

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Shewanee Howard-Baptiste, PhD

Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Years With the Company: 10

Dr. Shewanee Howard-Baptiste serves as the vice provost for academic outreach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her role involves overseeing internal campus grants, faculty awards, professional development opportunities, and fostering partnerships between the academic institution and the local community. Her commitment extends beyond campus borders; she frequently engages in teaching and supporting public health initiatives in Haiti, particularly for school-age children and their families. Dr. Howard-Baptiste serves on the Board of Directors for CEMPA Community Care, the American Heart Association, Chattanooga Preparatory School, Montessori Elementary at Highland Park, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Her values underscore collaboration, shared governance, and ensuring diverse voices contribute to collective decision-making involving students, faculty, staff, and the community.

 

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Harish Manyam, MD

Chief of Cardiology, Erlanger

Years With the Company: 8

Dr. Harish Manyam serves as Chief of Cardiology at Erlanger and Chair of Medicine at UTHSC College of Medicine – Chattanooga. He is involved with multiple research trials including monitoring the recurrence of atrial fibrillation, optimizing programming options in patients with biventricular defibrillators, and the assessment of lead extraction risk. Dr. Manyam was the first in the country to implant an extravascular defibrillator, a remote Bluetooth defibrillator, and a remote loop recorder. He continues to bring cutting-edge therapy, research, and technology to Chattanooga, where he calls “The best place to live.” Dr. Manyam serves as President of the Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society and President-Elect of the American Heart Association.

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Carrie M. Turcotte

Financial Planner and Investment Strategist, NorthShore Financial Strategies

Years With the Company: 14

Carrie Turcotte and her team are on a mission to empower women with financial confidence. Together, they help clients take control of their future, offering strategies that can eliminate fear and uncertainty about money. As an all-female financial planning firm with over four decades of combined experience, the team at NorthShore Financial Strategies focuses on those who need guidance through critical life transitions. Whether that is preparing for retirement, encountering the complexities of divorce, or coping with the loss of a loved one, Turcotte and her team walk alongside clients as they navigate life transitions. Turcotte is a third-generation advisor. She is credentialed as a certified financial planner, retirement income certified professional, and she has her Series 7, 66, 9/10, and 24 registrations through LPL Financial.

 

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Alan B. Easterly

Equity Member and Management Committee Member, Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC

Years With the Company: 35

Alan Easterly is a managing member in the law firm’s Chattanooga office. He received his B.A. from the University of Tennessee in 1985 and his JD from the University of Memphis in 1988. He has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America in the areas of transportation law, personal injury litigation – defendants, and insurance law. Best Lawyers has also named Easterly a 2020 and 2022 Lawyer of the Year in Chattanooga in transportation law and 2021 and 2024 Lawyer of the Year in Chattanooga in insurance law. Easterly, an AV rated attorney by Martindale Hubbell, has served two terms as a hearing committee member for the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. He is also a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, a frequent speaker in the area of transportation law, and was a Vice Chair, Chair, and Chair Emeritus of the ALFA International Transportation Practice Group.

 

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Karlene Claridy

President & CEO, Claridy Communications

Years With the Company: 17

With over 25 years of marketing, community outreach, event development, and public relations experience, Karlene Claridy founded Claridy Communications in 2007. As president and CEO, Claridy works with nonprofits, small businesses, political campaigns, and authors to develop customized solutions, share compelling stories, and promote their products and services. Prior to founding Claridy Communications, Claridy was the public relations manager of EPB. Additionally, she held positions at Nissan Motor Corporation in Los Angeles, Central Texas Council of Governments, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture. Claridy earned a B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University (Hampton, VA) and an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Presently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and Siskin Children’s Institute. Claridy is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga (‘07) and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Inc.

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Evan Allison

Attorney, Miller & Martin PLLC

Years With the Company: 26

Evan Allison, a firm partner and licensed attorney in Tennessee and Georgia, represents real estate developers, investors, landlords, tenants, and lenders in all types of commercial real estate transactions. Listed in Best Lawyers for real estate law, his experience includes working with both developers and investors in creating joint ventures for acquiring and developing real property. He has specific experience in the development of multi-family projects, the acquisition, development, and management of medical office buildings, industrial building leases, and restaurant leases. Allison has served on committees for the Hunter Museum of American Art’s Spectrum event and CHI Memorial Foundation’s Pink! gala and is co-chair of the Washington & Lee University Alumni Admission Committee for the Chattanooga area. Currently a member of both the firm’s writing academy and associates committee, he has also served as chair of the firm’s commercial department and as a member of the Policy Committee, the governing board of the firm.

 

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Amie Thomas Eldridge

Chief Financial Officer, NAI Charter Real Estate

Years With the Company: 20

Amie Thomas (Eldridge) has over 20 years of experience providing corporate and financial services for NAI Charter Real Estate. She holds bachelor’s degrees in accounting and finance from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Fresh out of college, Thomas began her career as an accountant and commercial property manager with NAI Charter. After helping to grow the property management division, she transitioned to controller, and then on to chief financial officer. In addition to her corporate accounting duties, she oversees a commercial property management portfolio valued at approximately $70 million. Thomas is an active member in the NAI Global Women’s Alliance and, in 2022, was honored to be named one of 10 members of the NAI Global Women’s Leadership Mastermind Council.

 

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Evann Freeman

Vice President, Government and Community Relations, EPB

Years With the Company: 5

Chattanooga native Evann Freeman serves as vice president of government and community relations. His responsibilities include leading EPB’s governmental relations and economic development efforts through key relationships with government partners on the local, state, and national levels. Freeman has played a key role in many projects at EPB, including HCS EdConnect powered by EPB, a program that provides free internet to more than 28,000 people in our community. With over a decade of experience in government relations, Freeman has focused public policy efforts on community benefit and coalition building. He serves on multiple nonprofit boards, including the Urban League, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Municipal Power Association, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and Chattanooga Tourism Company, among others. He was recently elected to the board of the Fiber Broadband Association and chairs its Conference Committee.

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Dallas Joseph

Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer, Baylor School

Years With the Company: 24

Dallas Joseph has served as Baylor School’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer since 2000, overseeing the school’s accounting, dining operations, bookstore, technology, security, transportation, and physical plant operations. Joseph joined the independent school sector after serving as vice president of finance at Fisk University in Nashville; Suomi College in Hancock, Michigan; and Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina. On the national level, he has held leadership roles in finance and enrollment management and served as board chair of the National Business Officers Association and the Enrollment Management Association. He has served on numerous boards, including RockPointBank, The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the Hunter Museum of American Art, and Shaw University.

 

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Martina Suttle Harris, EdD

Dean of Nursing & Allied Health, Chattanooga State Community College

Years With the Company: 10

Dr. Martina Suttle Harris is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has been a nurse for over 30 years. In 2023, Dr. Harris became the Dean of Nursing & Allied Health at Chattanooga State Community College. Dr. Harris’ commitment to community service and advancing the nursing profession locally, regionally, and nationally was recognized with her board appointment by Governor Bill Lee to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Also, in 2022, she was recognized as a Chattanooga Woman of Distinction. Dr. Harris serves on the board of directors for Journey Health Foundation, Volunteers in Medicine, and the Erlanger Foundation Board. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Dr. Harris is the proud wife of Gerald Harris and the mother of three amazing adult daughters (Taylor, Sydney, and Tori), and recently a new grandmother to her granddaughter – Tatum Rouser!

 

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James R. Barber

President, The Generosity Trust

Years With the Ministry: 25

Jim Barber has spent his entire 38-year professional career in nonprofit management and fundraising with three organizations: Moody Bible Institute, Samaritan’s Purse, and The Generosity Trust. At Samaritan’s Purse, he was privileged to help launch the Operation Christmas Child outreach in 1993, which has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 220 million children in more than 170 countries to date. At The Generosity Trust, he leads a team that manages over 700 active Donor-Advised, Giving Circle, and Scholarship Funds, investing almost $34 million into charitable causes in 2023 alone. He serves on the Board of Calvary Chapel Northside in Hixson and is passionate about helping people walk a path of biblical generosity.

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Larvizo Wright

Chief of Staff to the CEO, Unum Group

Years With the Company: 6

Larvizo Wright is responsible for managing critical projects that enable Unum Group’s CEO to spend more time making enterprise-wide decisions, engaging with stakeholders, and driving the company forward. His role helps ensure optimal levels of accessibility and efficiency within the CEO’s work schedule, serving as a strategic partner to the senior leadership team. Prior to this position, Wright served as AVP, Global Corporate Audit. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Beyond his professional endeavors, Wright demonstrates his commitment to the community by serving as treasurer for both the Erlanger Foundation and UTC Alumni Board of Trustees, and he is a 2023 graduate of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga’s “Inclusion by Design” executive leadership development program. Further, he is a licensed CPA through the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy.

 

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Neha Shah, DMD

Founder, BEAM Pediatric Dental Studio

Years With the Company: 4

Dr. Neha Shah is the founder of BEAM Pediatric Dental Studio and a board-certified pediatric dentist. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a degree in biomedical engineering, Dr. Shah completed one of the country’s most prestigious dental programs at Harvard University. Later, she followed her love for helping kids to Chicago, where she trained at the renowned Lurie Children’s Hospital. She is also a proud graduate of Chattanooga’s St. Nicholas School and Girls Preparatory School. Dr. Shah is a member of the American Dental Association, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

 

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J. Eugene Huffstutter, MD

President, Medical Foundation of Chattanooga

Years With the Company: 9

Since serving as president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society in 2015, Dr. Gene Huffstutter has been a volunteer leader of the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga. He is also a practicing rheumatologist with Arthritis Associates in Hixson. Through organized medicine, Dr. Huffstutter has led many legislative initiatives on behalf of doctors and their patients. He is a volunteer with Southeast Tennessee Project Access and currently serves as the chairman of the Tennessee Medical Association Board of Trustees. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Dr. Huffstutter completed his residency at the University of Oklahoma and a rheumatology fellowship at the University of South Carolina. He is married with three adult children.

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Josh Schweiger

Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

Years With the Company: 6

Josh Schweiger is a financial advisor and limited partner with Edward Jones, the largest privately held financial services firm in the industry. He works with multi-generational families and executives to navigate complex investment environments, helping them build comprehensive financial strategies for their current season of life and future generations. Schweiger obtained a Bachelor of Applied Sciences with a concentration in business administration from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He has expanded his knowledge to have a positive impact on his clients’ whole financial picture by earning the Accredited Behavioral Finance Professional™, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™, Accredited Asset Management Specialist™, and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist™ designations. He serves as president of the Red Bank Lions Club and sits on the boards of Lions Club International and the Red Bank Food Pantry.

 

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Don Mueller

President and CEO, Siskin Children’s Institute

Years With the Company: Newly Appointed, January 2024

Although new to the organization, Don Mueller brings over two decades of pediatric healthcare and administration experience to the Institute. Formerly president and CEO of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA, Mueller will oversee all day-to-day operations at Siskin Children’s Institute, strategically guide the organization in reaching its developmental healthcare goals, serving over 7,000 children annually across Middle Tennessee and North Georgia, and act as the main point of communication between the board of directors and nonprofit operations. Additionally, Mueller will foster new relationships to expand the organization’s mission and secure philanthropic support for all developmental medicine and early intervention services.

 

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Bill Crawford

President and CEO, Lawson Electric Co. Inc.

Years With the Company: 38

Bill Crawford has been with Lawson Electric since 1986, starting as a residential electrician after graduating top of his class in the five-year apprenticeship program. His journey to CEO began in 1995 when he left working in the field and joined on as a project manager, tasked with opening an office in Dalton, GA. By 2000, he had built a successful Georgia office and laid the groundwork for the significant growth of Lawson’s Georgia operations. He continued to run operations in Georgia until 2017 when he assumed the role of president and CEO. As CEO, Crawford oversees all aspects of the company’s business functions, providing executive oversight to management teams and guiding the day-to-day operations across multiple locations.

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Cara McGowan

Director of Marketing & Communications, Hunter Museum of American Art

Years with the Company: 8

Cara McGowan has more than 20 years of experience in the strategic marketing of cultural nonprofits, including eight years in Boston overseeing marketing efforts for WGBH Radio’s broadcast, streaming, and on-demand audio programs and services. At the Hunter, McGowan has expanded the reach and impact of the museum’s marketing. She also oversees the Hunter’s grant writing efforts and plays a pivotal role in driving strategic initiatives. In 2022, she participated as a member of the second cohort of the Southeastern Museums Conference Leadership Institute. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and has completed coursework in nonprofit management at UNC Chapel Hill. Currently serving on the boards of the Association for Visual Arts (AVA) and the Signal Mountain Library, she has also volunteered with the AIM Center and the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga.

 

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Jason Skinner

Director of Marketing and Business Development, University Surgical Associates

Years With the Company: 2

Jason Skinner oversees the marketing, patient/provider experience, and business development functions at USA. He designs, plans, and implements the strategic marketing plans of the practice, serves as the primary media contact, manages community relations and events, and is active in the medical community building relationships with referring physicians on behalf of USA. Skinner serves on the board for the East Tennessee Healthcare Executives Affiliation and the Chattanooga Medical Group Management Association. He has also served on the board of directors for the Midtown Council of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered for Bridge Refugee Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chattanooga, the READ Chattanooga adult literacy program, and others. Skinner earned his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Alabama, and his MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

 

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Tonya Craft

Attorney and Managing Partner, Tonya Craft Legal

Years With the Company: 5

Tonya Craft, a remarkable business leader, emerged from adversity as a former kindergarten teacher falsely accused of the most heinous crime imaginable – child molestation. Following her triumphant legal battle, she transitioned to consultancy, dedicating a decade to helping others navigate similar cases while earning her law degree in 2018. Craft, now an accomplished lawyer, author, and speaker, sheds light on the complexities of such accusations through her book Accused and upcoming movie and documentary. Specializing in high-profile cases akin to her own, Tonya Craft Legal also focuses on family law, offering expertise in custody, divorce, and dependency and neglect. In addition to that, Craft represents teachers facing suspension, termination, or criminal charges based on unsupported claims. Craft’s commitment to sharing her journey aims to inspire others, as she balances her multifaceted career with continued dedication to education, albeit outside the traditional classroom.

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