Selected for both their exceptional industry skills and their 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!
Partner, Tinker Ma, LLC
Years with the company: 7
Jessica Stack was recently named Partner at Tinker Ma, LLC, an architecture and design firm. She holds bachelor’s degrees in architecture and construction science & management from Clemson University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Kansas with an emphasis in healthcare design. Stack is a licensed architect, an LEED-accredited professional, and holds NCARB and EDAC certifications. She is an active member of her community, serving as chair of the Community Partners Board for the East Ridge Future Ready Institute of Engineering and Design, secretary of AIA Chattanooga, vice president of the TN PKU Foundation Board of Directors, and vice chair of the National PKU Alliance Affiliate Council.
Owner/Real Estate Broker, The James Company Real Estate Brokers & Development
Years with the company: 25
James Perry has more than 35 years of experience in the real estate business and has dedicated the past 25 years to his independently owned and operated real estate firm, The James Company Real Estate Brokers & Development. A top producer in the industry, he puts quality business – not quantity – as his central focus, and he lives by these personal and company mottos: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” and “Experience – there is no substitute.” Outside of the office, Perry is a part of a number of missions for Jesus Christ, including IBJM (International Board of Jewish Missions), FCA, and Bible in the Schools.
Dalya Qualls White
Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
Years with the company: 3
Dalya Qualls White has 19 years of communications experience spanning several industries including health insurance, healthcare, state government, and higher education. In her role at BlueCross, Qualls White leads all centralized strategic communications functions, including internal and external communications, brand voice, consumer experience, digital marketing, advertising and design, and community relations. Qualls White serves on the board of Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and is a graduate of its Inclusion by Design Executive Leadership Program. She’s on the board for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, serving as vice chair of Diversity and Inclusive Growth. She’s also a member of the Page Society, a community of nearly 800 global leaders in corporate communications and public relations.
Director of Property Management, Urban Story Ventures
Years with the company: 5
With over 20 years of hospitality, customer service, and property management experience, Nicole Willis’ valuable skill set has helped position Urban Story Ventures as a leader in the commercial tenant experience. Willis’ role has evolved as the real estate group has expanded from Tennessee to Florida. Today, she handles all aspects of property management in-house. She leads the maintenance and property monitoring teams across the majority of USV’s portfolio, and she oversees facility and suite buildouts throughout the Southeast. Her previous experience with brands like The Ritz-Carlton and the NINE Retreat has helped her thrive in this role where client satisfaction, relationships, responsiveness, and creativity are key.
Store Manager, Fink’s Jewelers
Years with the company: 6
As the store manager for the Chattanooga location of Fink’s Jewelers, Antony Sprason helps people find the perfect ways to celebrate their most cherished moments, whether it be a wedding, graduation, promotion, birthday, or anniversary. He is educated by the Gemological Institute of America on both diamonds and gemstones, and he is also fully trained on timepieces, specializing in Rolex, Omega, Tudor, Breitling, Tag Heuer, and Cartier, among others. Sprason has over 15 years of sales experience and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Since living in Chattanooga, Sprason has been involved with the American Cancer Society, Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, and the Porsche Club of America
John Sterner, CFP®
Wealth Management Advisor, The Sterner Financial Group
Years with the company: 20
John Sterner is the principal Wealth Management Advisor with The Sterner Financial Group. He was recently ranked by Forbes magazine as the No. 1 Financial Security Professional in Tennessee and No. 25 nationwide. For over 20 years, Sterner has been helping clients reach their goals through comprehensive and personalized planning. After starting his career with Northwestern Mutual as a young college graduate, Sterner’s vision for growth has developed into a team of 10 financial professionals who strategically serve the community through long-term relationships. Sterner is a philanthropic member of the Tocqueville Society, which supports the important work of the United Way across Chattanooga.
Owner, Southside Antiques & Décor
Years with the company: 6
A passionate hobby turned full-time career, Lonna Hamblen truly turned her antiquing dreams into a reality. After starting at Southside Antiques as a high-end antique dealer in 2016, she was given the opportunity to take ownership of the store in 2018. Since then, Southside Antiques has tripled in size. Since relocating to Broad Street, the shop has been converted from a multi-dealer mall to one full of inventory carefully curated by Hamblen alone. Hamblen has passion and pride for top-of-the-line home décor and interior inspiration. Under her ownership, Southside Antiques has become a premier antique store in the Chattanooga area.
Becky Cope English
Partner & Managing Broker, Scout Realtor Group
Years with the company: 4
After 17 years as a successful Realtor, Becky Cope English recognized that many of her peers were working women juggling many roles. To address this issue, she envisioned a real estate firm focused on collaboration. In 2018, English and her partners created Scout Realtor Group, a locally owned boutique firm where agents partner to deliver concierge-type real estate services – resulting in more efficient, less stressed agents who enjoy working and giving back. English has been awarded the 2017 Realtor of the Year Award and the 2018 George Kangles Community Citizenship Award, and she currently serves on the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center Board of Trustees and green|spaces Board of Directors.
Vice President/Financial Planning, Hughes Retirement Group
Years with the company: 14
Granger Hughes has 14 years of experience in the insurance and financial industry. He joined Hughes Retirement Group at age 18, and even then he had a vision to educate his clients with the information they needed to be successful. As a product of Grace Academy, CSCC, and Lee University, Hughes is grounded to this community. This, coupled with the fact that he lost most of his home in the Easter tornado, has given him great resolve to help others. He is newly married and loves being part of Challenge Golf, a ministry that seeks to share the gospel through golfing events.
Vice President of Commercial Lines, Brock Insurance Agency
Years with the company: 12
Having always planned to be in the insurance business, just like his father, Trae Vaughan graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.A. in Risk Management and Insurance. After spending several years working as a construction underwriter with Travelers Insurance Company, he came to Brock Insurance Agency in 2009. As vice president of commercial lines, no two days are the same for Vaughan, but most days are spent taking care of customers, mentoring younger agents, and meeting with insurance company representatives. Vaughan is on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga and has previously served on the boards of the Associated General Contractors and the Homebuilders Association.
Vice President of Operations, T. U. Parks Construction Company
Years with the company: 19
Robert Parks is the fourth generation of the Parks family to work for T. U. Parks Construction Company. He started his career on a healthcare project that carried a price tag north of $300 million and continues to help manage projects from their initial concept to the closeout phase. He specializes in commercial and healthcare construction, but also oversees various religious, educational, and even residential projects on occasion. Outside of work, Parks is a member of Chattanooga Rotaract and Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee for Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee. He also joins forces with the American Heart Association to raise awareness around life-threatening healthcare conditions prevalent within the construction industry.
Maggie Tanner has 18 years of experience serving families with generational wealth. At Synovus, she spends her time reducing client stress by organizing their complex liability and liquidity needs and partnering with the wealth management team in the areas of trust, estate/financial planning, investing, and risk management/insurance. Tanner and her team tackle big problems and craft creative solutions. Tanner previously served as the president for the Chattanooga Medical Alliance, and she’s a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, class of 2015-2016. Tanner, her husband Dr. Richard Tanner, and their two children are members of First Presbyterian Church.
Founding Shareholder, Evans Harrison Hackett, PLLC
Years with the company: 12
John Harrison is a founding shareholder of the Evans Harrison Hackett law firm. In his private practice, Harrison focuses primarily on labor and employment law. He spends nearly half of his professional time as a mediator, mediating a wide range of disputes. Having worked with several large law firms in his 42-year legal career, Harrison is proud to say that he has worked for, and with, some of the finest lawyers in this city and strives to be a credit to those who nurtured and mentored him along the way. Harrison is a Master in the Ray L. Brock and Robert E. Cooper American Inn of Court, a former president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, and a member of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation.
Erika R. Burnett
Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga
Years with the nonprofit: 2
A long-time Nashville resident, entrepreneur, educator, and advocate, Erika R. Burnett moved to Chattanooga to lead efforts in addressing the root causes of systemic challenges facing women and girls across our community as executive director of Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga. Burnett is a co-conspirator behind the Women of Color Collaborative, embodying her strong commitment to amplifying the voices of women while creating safe spaces for Black women to work, play, and build together. She currently serves locally on the boards of Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. She’s a proud alumna of Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Owner/Creator, Fox & Fern
Years with the company: 7
With a passion for bringing fine art and upscale design to the floral industry, Liza Greever started Fox & Fern in 2015 from her home while raising her young child. Four years ago, she was able to move her business to Chattanooga’s West Village, where it serves the community as a creative, nontraditional floral boutique. According to Greever, everything Fox & Fern does is customized and tailored around her clients’ needs while also incorporating a unique twist to floral design. Originally from Maine, Greever has a background in art and design from the University of Maine. She moved to Chattanooga for a winter 11 years ago and never left.
Mark E. Mendenhall, PhD
J. Burton Frierson Chair of Excellence in Business Leadership, Gary W. Rollins College of Business, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Years with the university: 33
Dr. Mark Mendenhall is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the expatriate performance and global leadership research fields. He has co-authored or edited 30 books and published numerous scholarly journal articles on these topics, and he has been a visiting professor at the University of Bayreuth, Vienna University of Economics and Business, University of Saarland, and Reykjavik University. However, what has given him the most satisfaction in his career is his coaching of hundreds of undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA, and Executive students at UTC to help them strengthen their leadership competencies. Seeing these students grow and develop – and often make 180-degree changes to productive and healthy life habits – has been his most gratifying professional experience.
Real Estate Broker, Keller Williams Realty
Years with the company: 8
Jay Robinson has been a real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty for the last eight years and has been in the real estate business for over 34 years. He is currently the team leader of the Robinson Team and recently topped $1.4 billion in career sales. Having experienced a wide spectrum of market conditions, he sees his role as both an advocate and a broker of change for his clients. He is currently serving on the board of the Fuse program and the Chattanooga Zoo and has previously served on the boards for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.
Neha Shah, DMD
Founder, BEAM Pediatric Dental Studio
Years with the company: 1
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.
Executive Office Manager, See Rock City, Inc.
Years with the company: 26
Laura Prince manages the day-to-day operation of the See Rock City, Inc. executive office, providing administrative support to the senior leadership team including the CEO and directors. Joining the company 26 years ago, Prince’s early hospitality and travel management and marketing study formed an early love for tourism, which encouraged excellent guest service, in several capacities, to help thousands of guests get away and reconnect with family and friends. Prince prioritizes supporting the See Rock City, Inc. team in any way she can. In her free time, you can find her spending time with her husband and cats, at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, or hiking in the woods.
Owner, Hood, CPA & Associates
Years with the company: 3
Ryan Hood has been practicing as a CPA in Chattanooga for the past 18 years. Hood, CPA & Associates was founded in 2019 to fill a gap in the local accounting landscape. His goal was to start a more contemporary firm that brought big firm experience with a small firm personality. Voted “Best of the Best” Accounting Firm in 2020 and 2021, Hood has quickly achieved accolades that support his founding vision. The firm serves the customer through tax, assurance, payroll, and bookkeeping services. Hood also provides tax strategy and advice to clients and business owners. Hood is a member of the TSCPA, AICPA, and UTC Alumni Board.
Director of Community Engagement, Chattanooga Preparatory School
Years with the school: 5
Chattanooga native Montrell Besley is passionate about bettering his community, and he uses his experience in youth development and community relations to ensure change in the lives of Chattanooga’s undiscovered youth and underrepresented populations. His current role as director of community engagement at Chattanooga Preparatory School allows him to serve his community in a very tangible way. In addition to this role, Besley is the owner and operator of Chattanooga Rolling Video Games – a mobile video game trailer. He is also one-fourth of The Lighthouse Collective, an executive board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga, a 2010 graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, and a 2012 recipient of the Jefferson Award.
Candace I. Litchfield
Public Relations & Advocacy Director, Chattanooga Tourism Co.
Years with the company: 18
Candace Litchfield is passionate about the travel and tourism industry and gets to spend every day inspiring people to visit and connecting them with authentic Chattanooga experiences. In her role, she works collaboratively to share the value of tourism and how it contributes to the quality of place for Hamilton County residents; helps gain national coverage in outlets such as Outside, Thrillist, and Lonely Planet; creates the award-winning Chattanooga Travel Inspiration magazine; mentors students and PR professionals; and works with tourism partners to promote their business in creative ways. She enjoys traveling, mountaineering, taking people on outdoor adventures, and volunteering with Crabtree Farms, Red Cross, and other organizations.
Director of Community Education & Engagement, La Paz
Years with the nonprofit: 13
Passionate about serving Chattanooga’s Latino community, Jessica Cliche joined the team at La Paz in 2009. Her responsibility is to cultivate supportive relationships in a welcoming environment, as well as create and develop programs that support economic and workforce development through individual wealth building. Her primary focus is on providing services that address the needs of today while also educating and enabling people to handle the needs of the future. Cliche currently serves as a board member of the Chambliss Center for Children Bright Start steering committee, and she started her first term at the Regional Health Council.
Managing Attorney, Jelks Law, PLLC
Years with the company: 7
Amanda Jelks formed Jelks Law to help protect what matters most to everyday people – their family, their dignity, and their business – through tools such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, guardianships, business entities, and contracts. In 2021, the firm was recognized as the “Best of the Best” Estate Planning firm by the Times Free Press. Jelks is currently on the board for United Way and previously served on the board for the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute. She is a Chattanooga native and a 2010 graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Donna Elle Harrison
Director of Cultural Tourism & Inclusive Marketing, Chattanooga Tourism Co.
Years with the company: 3
At the age of 13, Donna Elle Harrison became a teen reporter for WJTT, Power 94 – launching her more than 25-year-long career in radio and television. While you can still hear her Saturday afternoons on G93 with Brewer Media Group, Harrison has channeled her talent toward community engagement and marketing as the director of cultural tourism and inclusive marketing at Chattanooga Tourism Co. She is also a small business owner, healthy lifestyle coach, and author of Smokin Cookies. Harrison is a graduate of Leadership Tennessee and Leadership Chattanooga, an UnBought and UnBossed award recipient, and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She currently serves on the board of the Erlanger Foundation and the Finley Stadium Foundation.
Proprietor/Kitchen Designer, Scarlett’s Cabinetry, Inc.
Years with the company: 32
Following her career in public relations in the athletic department at UTC and auditing for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Jackie Howard turned her passion for interior design into a small business, Scarlett’s Fine Interiors, Inc., in 1989. By 1995, she changed the name of her growing business to Cabinetry and Interior by Scarlett’s, Inc., to dedicate her time to kitchen and bath design. Howard also moved in with The Tile Store, which she now owns with husband David Hulse, to provide her clientele the “one-stop” shopping experience when remodeling or buying a home. Howard remains involved in UTC athletics with her recent stint on the UTC Fan Council, and she is a member of the NKBA organization.
Gary Napolitan is an AV-rated trial attorney with 52 years’ experience. He specializes in catastrophic claims involving the trucking industry, product’s manufacturers, premises owners, and workers’ compensation defense. His career trial results are recognized by election into the American Board of Trial Advocates and Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. He served as the president of the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association in 2000, and he is currently counsel for Coca-Cola Bottling Company, United, Inc., Covenant Transport, Inc., and CHI Memorial Hospital. He is also the president of the Orange Grove Center Board of Directors, where he continues their mission to recognize, support, and celebrate the qualities of the individual.
Chief Operating Officer, Steam Logistics
Years with the company: 3
Joe Saggio oversees operational strategy for one of the fastest-growing third-party logistics companies in the United States. Before Steam Logistics, Saggio spent 13 years working in freight forwarding/brokerage and then three more in the international logistics and drayage division of a Fortune 500 company. Saggio has spent a significant amount of time overseas establishing supply-chain programs, partner relationships, and expanded customer relationships. He places a high emphasis on creating a culture and environment to develop his teams to become dynamic logisticians who rise to any challenge. Outside of work, you might find him coaching his sons’ baseball teams, watching his daughter’s equestrian riding, working out, or planning his next trip.
Principal, Elliott Davis
Years with the company: 11
When Alan Doak returned to Chattanooga in 2015, he joined an accounting practice under unique circumstances. His employer in South Carolina, Elliott Davis, had recently merged with Chattanooga-grown Decosimo – of which Doak’s grandfather was a founder. Now, Doak is a principal in Elliott Davis’ assurance practice, working as a trusted advisor for some of the leading companies in Chattanooga and across the Southeast. He currently serves as a board member or in other advisory capacity for AVA (Association for Visual Arts), Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, and the UTC Department of Accounting and is a recent graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.
Controller, COS Business Products & Interiors
Years with the company: 3
As controller of Chattanooga-based COS Business Products & Interiors, Tara Camp manages the accounting department while also serving as the human resources manager for all COS employees. As part of the Office Depot federation, she serves as an employee of COS and as a direct report to the CFO of the Southeast federation of dealers at Office Depot. Camp has been an active member of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance in Chattanooga for over 15 years. She also volunteers at Kids Quest at Silverdale Baptist Church and coaches both softball and cheerleading for Snow Hill Recreation League and the Ooltewah Youth Association.