Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Tennessee for 2023. When people envision Tennessee, they typically associate it with its delectable fried cuisine, renowned whiskey, and a rich musical heritage that birthed various genres such as country, blues, and rock. The state is also the proud host of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most frequented national park in the U.S., welcoming over 12 million visitors annually. However, Tennessee offers much more than these well-known aspects, including a diverse and thriving economy. Notably, the area houses several major corporations, such as FedEx, the world's largest courier company, and AutoZone, the largest retailer of automotive parts in the country.
Fortunately, there has been a significant evolution within Tennessee's wide range of industries, marked by an increasing focus on women assuming leadership roles. This positive development signifies not only progress in the quest for gender equality but also underscores the invaluable contributions women have made across the various sectors that drive economic health for the Volunteer State — and beyond. In fact, some of the recipients of this year's accolades are associated with well-known brands in the country, including FedEx, AT&T, Dollar General, and others.
This year's honorees include Stacy Mill, the VP of IT and CISO at Nashville Electric Service. Globally recognized for her leadership and and technical vision, Mill is accountable for all IT strategy and execution across corporate systems including cybersecurity for the 11th largest public utility in the U.S. Awardee Nicole Bulgarino is an EVP for Ameresco, supporting the company’s mission to mitigate climate change and energize a more sustainable world. An industry veteran with 25 years of experience, Bulgarino's numerous accomplishments include overseeing the development and implementation of over $3 billion of sustainable solutions in federal and government energy projects.
Lastly, we have the CHRO for Ardent Health Services, Carolyn Schneider, who has worked in the private equity-backed and investor-owned health system sectors throughout her entire career. This includes spending a decade at Capella Healthcare, which consistently received Best Place to Work designations from Modern Healthcare, Becker's Review, The Oklahoman, and The Tennessean, all while under Schneider's leadership.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Tennessee for 2023.
1. Jill Brannon
EVP & Chief Sales Officer, FedEx
Jill Brannon is EVP & Chief Sales Officer of FedEx Corp. She leads a global organization of over 15,000 team members responsible for more than $90 billion in worldwide revenue across multiple FedEx operating companies. Her Global Sales and Solutions organization includes large enterprise portfolio sales, sector, geographic, and small customer selling. She oversees strategic customer and supply chain-related activities and leads sales operations, analysis, education, and customer solutions teams.
Brannon serves on the Strategic Management Committee of FedEx Corp., a select group of the company’s top leadership which sets the strategic direction for the FedEx enterprise. Brannon’s career at FedEx spans over three decades. Prior to her current role, she served as senior vice president of Sales in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and Africa. In this role, she led a team of over 6,000 strong providing strategic direction for sales performance and results. Before relocating to Europe, Brannon served as SVP of international sales. Her previous experience also includes operations, marketing, and strategic planning and analysis.
Brannon served on the International Leadership Council, was integral in the planning and execution of the TNT acquisition, and was directly responsible for the sales integration of TNT globally. She has also served on the boards of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the International Children’s Heart Foundation.
In 2016, Brannon was recognized by Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching and was awarded Hot Topics Top 100 Sales Leaders in their 2015 Future of Sales edition. She is a three-time winner of the FedEx Five Star Award, the company’s highest team member honor. She holds degrees in international business and French from Lenoir-Rhyne University.
2. Joelle Phillips
President, AT&T Tennessee
Joelle Phillips has served as President of AT&T Tennessee since 2013. She brings more than a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry and two decades of experience in the legal profession to her current position. In her role, Phillips works closely with community and business leaders, elected officials, and others at AT&T to continue to bring advanced communications technologies, including mobile 4G LTE and other broadband services, to consumers and businesses. She is also responsible for managing AT&T’s extensive philanthropic and community engagement efforts in Tennessee, including the AT&T Aspire program which focuses on high school success and workforce readiness, and the AT&T It Can Wait campaign to end texting while driving.
Phillips is a 12-year veteran of AT&T and its predecessor companies. She began her career in the legal department and moved through positions of increasing responsibility at the state and regional levels. Prior to joining AT&T, Phillips practiced law with firms in Nashville and Atlanta and served as a judicial law clerk to US Court of Appeals Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree from Birmingham-Southern College in theatre.
3. Emily Taylor
EVP & Chief Merchandising Officer, Dollar General
Emily Taylor is Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer at Dollar General.
She leads the company’s merchandising, marketing, global sourcing, digital, merchandise operations, customer insights, channel innovation, and in-store experience efforts for Dollar General and its more than 18,000+ stores. Emily joined DG in 1998 and has held roles in numerous areas within the organization including pricing, merchandising, merchandise planning, financial planning & analysis, and investor relations.
In 2014, Emily was named SVP of non-consumable merchandising where she helped create and launch the company’s non-consumable initiative. In 2019, she led the development and launch of the company’s most recent concept store, pOpshelf, as SVP of channel innovation. Emily is an active member of Women in Retail Leadership, Shoptalk, Network of Pricing Champions, Professional Pricing Society, and the Retail Industry Professionals Group. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville and an MBA from Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.
4. Sara Correa
Chief Marketing Officer, Bridgestone Americas
Sara Correa is the Chief Marketing Officer for Bridgestone Americas. In this role, Correa leads the company’s Marketing Center of Excellence and all marketing activations for the company’s tire and solutions businesses in the US and Canada. She oversees all brand and digital marketing efforts for the Bridgestone and Firestone brands; the company’s sports and engagement platforms; corporate communications; research and insights; and the company’s training initiatives. An accomplished senior marketing executive with diverse, cross-industry experience, Correa has achieved nearly two decades of success identifying, developing, and commercializing B2B technology-based solutions in complex global markets.
Prior to joining Bridgestone, Correa was VP and segment CMO at TE Connectivity, a publicly traded company and global leader in connectors and sensors for the transportation, medical technology, energy, and data communications sectors. Before joining TE Connectivity, Correa functioned in marketing roles encompassing a broad scope of responsibilities, including domestic and global marketing, marketing strategy, organizational development, transformational leadership, and project management. She previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Robson Forensic, and the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology. Correa is a graduate of The Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
5. Rosslyn Cooper
Senior Vice President, WSP
As Strategic Business Architect for WSP's Project Horizon Business Platform, Rosslyn Cooper is responsible for cross-functional processes across all modules and for interactions and integrations with other WSP initiatives. She plays a key role in leading the deployment of a fully integrated Oracle Cloud ERP platform and ensures that critical deliverables, process improvement, and value streams for the organization are developed and deployed. She is passionate about bringing efficiency and consistency to the forefront of the ERP journey for both projects and clients.
Rosslyn is helping to improve operational excellence through simplification and standardization of business processes. She has strong project management skills and extensive experience in the financial and commercial management of projects. She is solution-focused and experienced in Lean Six Sigma principles.
Rosslyn first joined WSP in Australia in 2008 and has enjoyed a varied and exciting career during this time, including a move to Nashville, TN in 2016. She was awarded WSP USA's Business Support Extra Mile Award in 2019.
10. Staci Jackson
Managing Partner, LPL Financial
Staci Jackson is the Managing Partner of LPL Financial, a leader in the retail financial advice market and the nation's largest independent broker/dealer. She brings over 24 years of experience to Wealth Management. During that time, Staci has developed a multigenerational practice that includes working with extended family units and individuals. She believes leading clients in transition is one of the most valuable services a wealth advisor can provide. During transitions such as the loss of a spouse, divorce, retirement, and financial reset, clients are looking for leadership, empathy, guidance, and patience from someone they can trust. Staci’s mission is to provide essential coaching and guidance to her clients to accomplish the things in life that are truly important to them. She does this with the highest level of integrity, honesty, and above all else, great personal care for her clients’ personal needs, giving them the confidence to pursue their personal, professional, and financial goals.
Before joining LPL Financial, Jackson was a managing partner and wealth advisor at Paragon Wealth Solutions and before that a VP of investments at Raymond James. Earlier in her career she worked with Lambuth University as an alumni director. Jackson graduated from Lambuth University with an undergraduate degree.
13. Deb Kirinovic
VP of Enterprise Strategy, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - ALSAC
As Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Deb Kirinovic leads the development and execution of the enterprise strategic plan. Her team works cross-functionally to explore incremental revenue opportunities in new and adjacent markets; identify cost-alleviating measures; apply macroeconomic analyses and trend research; and set and track strategic performance metrics to streamline accountability across teams. Deb also oversees strategic relationships with external consultants to explore blue-sky opportunities for the business.
Deb has deep experience across various industries including non-profit, marketing, sales, professional sports, and international consulting – driving awareness and impact for purpose-driven brands. Her diverse professional accomplishments include the development and deployment of national brand marketing campaigns; corporate prospect and partnership sales; relationship management with professional sports leagues, teams, players, and associations; and consulting with sports federations and sports cities on an international stage. Deb received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a specialization in international business, MBA, and master’s in sports administration from Ohio University.
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15. Lisa Stinnett
Chief Executive Officer, Inhabit®
As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inhabit, Lisa Stinnett has overseen the growth of Inhabit and its residential and vacation PropTech portfolio. Since 2015, she has led the acquisition, development, and integration of more than 30 technologies into Inhabit’s rapidly growing product portfolio. Stinnett combines decision-making and tactical expertise to take initiatives from concept to implementation. As CEO, she brings a customer-centric approach to all business strategies directly contributing to the company’s robust growth in the residential and vacation markets.
Stinnett first got her start in 1999 as a corporate customer relations supervisor at Goodys. From there, she went on to Ministry Brands, before eventually rising to managing partner at Greater Sum Ventures, her most recent position prior to founding Inhabit®. Stinnett graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with an undergraduate degree in retail and consumer sciences.
17. Pamela Owen
Area SVP & Senior Strategic Benefits Consultant, Gallagher
Pamela Owen is an Area Senior Vice President and Senior Strategic Benefits Consultant with Gallagher. With over three decades of experience in mergers and acquisitions, she provides due diligence and insights into what drives performance for a company's sometimes second or third-largest expense item: employee benefits. Pamela is a transformational thinker who advises how an organization and its programs can be proactively, positively, and profitably transformed within the existing culture and business environment or when forming an entirely new culture or company. She bridges benefits and business, linking teams including employers, employees, payors, and providers in a unified goal toward improved performance.
Previously, Owen served as a vice president and welfare practice leader at Hub International. From there, she went on to Marsh, before eventually rising to president at TruHealth Management, her most recent position prior to joining Gallagher.
18. Abby Hamm
Vice President of Sales, Covenant
Abby Hamm is an accomplished and results-driven transportation professional with 15 years of experience in logistics organizations. She currently serves as Vice President of Sales at Covenant Logistics Group. Covenant is a solutions-based organization focused on continuous improvement initiatives for their customers’ supply chain. The company is founded on the pillars of empathy, servanthood, and virtue with the promise of the highest level of integrity in the treatment of both their customers and team members. Abby joined the organization in March 2022 as a senior director of sales and stepped into the VP role in August 2022. Abby oversees sales and pricing for Covenant’s Freight Management Division and is responsible for revenue growth, management, and sales strategy.
Abby has spent her career in logistics. Her first role was as a freight forwarder in Savannah, Georgia, but most of her career has been in sales-focused roles. Before joining Covenant, she spent nine years in a director of sales role and uses that sales experience to develop and implement best practices for the teams she leads. Abby is a dedicated leader and results-driven professional. In addition to her professional career, Abby is a devoted wife and mother to 3 young sons, 9, 6, and 4, and spends her free time living the boy mom life.
19. Lashell Vaughn
VP and CIO, Memphis Light, Gas and Water
Lashell Vaughn is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW). She first joined the company in 2018. MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 444,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County. Lashell is responsible for managing information technology services, data security, client services, and enterprise resources support.
Vaughn is an expert in information technology and holds over 35 years of experience in client management, application development, data center operation, network/telecommunication services, and security and compliance operations. Prior to joining Memphis Light, Gas and Water in 2011, she served as VP of information technology for Hilton Worldwide. She received a master’s degree in computer science from Christian Brothers University and an undergraduate degree in computer science from Mississippi State University.
Vaughn holds membership in a number of business leadership organizations. She serves on the dean's advisory council for the Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering, is a member of the Mississippi State University Computer Science Department Advisory Board, and is chairman of the board for the Greater Memphis IT Council. She is also a member of the Institute of Electronics Engineers, Inc. and the American Society for Engineering Education.
22. Cici Ebersole
Chief Talent Officer, Ducks Unlimited
Cici leads the Human Resources function at Ducks Unlimited and is a member of DU's Executive Leadership Team. Before joining DU, she held senior HR leadership roles at several top organizations including Smith & Nephew, Express Scripts (now part of Cigna), and Jackson Hewitt. Cici began her career in Human Resources as an employment law attorney and has since had an extensive and successful history of working in the non-profit, supply chain, medical device, healthcare, financial services, and retail. She is skilled in proactive employee relations and engagement, culture building, organizational planning, recruiting, and leadership development. Cici has a passion for helping leaders in their professional development journey and finding strengths in their organizations. With over 20 years of experience in employment law and human resources, Cici brings credibility to the human resources function as a true organizational partner.
She is a member of the Society of Human Resources Executive Network, the SHRM Voice of Work panel, the Chief HR Officer Council at the Conference Board, as well as an Advisory Board Member of the Women in Leadership Program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She holds an MBA from the University of Central Arkansas as well as a JD, and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of the Philippines. In Cici's spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, reading, yoga, and enjoying the outdoors. She manages a busy household, made up of two young children, two huge dogs, and a cat, with her husband of 18 years.
27. Stacy Mill
Vice President of IT & CISO, Nashville Electric Service
Stacy Mill is the Vice President of IT and CISO at Nashville Electric Service with accountability for all IT strategy and execution across corporate systems including cybersecurity for the 11th largest public utility in the US. Collaborating with her business partners, Stacy ensures enterprise risk is understood, and controlled to business-acceptable levels through building trust and awareness at all levels. Stacy has developed many global teams across several industries.
Prior to NES, Stacy served as the chief technology officer for the State of Kansas with accountability of core operations and overall IT strategy across 18 state agencies. As CISO and VP of enterprise risk and global compliance, for Spirit AeroSystems, Stacy led ethics, global compliance, trade compliance, cybersecurity strategy as well as M&A technical strategy. She developed and implemented Spirit’s first Global Enterprise Risk Program for all departments. At KAR Global, she built business continuity, disaster recovery, security architecture, security operations, information risk, and compliance programs. She participated in dozens of mergers and acquisitions which enabled the company’s move from a brick-and-mortar company to a Software as a Service business model over 5 years.
At Yum, Stacy built a dynamic international team to address all aspects of information security spanning 120 countries. Under her strategic leadership, Yum Brands achieved global PCI/SOX/HIPAA/Safe Harbor compliance, built out underlying security infrastructures, and kept ahead of the myriad of US and international data and privacy laws. As a Yum Brands representative, Stacy served on the Overseas Security Advisory Council. She started in security as Humana Military’s Chief Security Officer working with the Department of Defense as a member of the Information Assurance Work Group in support of the Tricare Management Agency and DITSCAP/DIACAP initiatives. Stacy is also a Qualified Technical Expert certified by Digital Directors Network to have the education, applied experience, and formal education necessary to work in the corporate boardroom and oversee risk in complex digital business systems.
Among her many board positions, Stacy serves as vice chair of the Utility Technology Council’s Technology Division, VP of the board of directors for the Utility Technology Association, board of directors for Cloud Security Alliance – Nashville Division, Pivot Technology School Board of Advisors, and the Executive Women’s Forum Board of Advisors. She has been globally and locally recognized for her leadership and technical vision many times. Stacy is a graduate of the 2019 Leadership Kansas class and the 2023 Leadership Nashville class. Her greatest joy is her family and mentoring rising leaders.
30. Patricia Bible
Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer KaTom Restaurant Supply, INC
Patricia Bible is a proud, lifelong East Tennessean who oversees a multi-million dollar business with an international impact. Alongside her late husband Tim and their children, Charley and Paula, she built a world-class company out of her home’s garage. She was one of the first and remains one of the only female executives in the food service equipment space.
Patricia and Tim found success with multiple businesses before the founding of KaTom, which happened by accident as they were building and opening Western Sizzlin’ steakhouses. They began stockpiling needed equipment and supplies to help with meeting demanding construction timelines and when word of their collection got out, they opened their home’s garage for sales to other food service operators. Patricia stepped into any role necessary to ensure the company’s success since its early days. She earned certification for forklift operation so she could pick up the slack if the warehouse was short, an accreditation that came in handy in 2012 when she helped move the company’s stock to a new headquarters. When travel demands from industry meetings and family trips became overwhelming, she earned her private pilot’s license and began ferrying folks across the country.
While the couple led the company together for nearly 15 years, Patricia assumed the helm alone following Tim’s unexpected passing in 2001. She worked tirelessly to see to fruition Tim’s vision of creating one of the industry’s first e-commerce sites, which remains the primary engine behind the company’s sales and growth to this day.
Patricia remains integrally involved in every aspect of the business, from personally managing stocking orders to giving direction on digital ad spending allocations. When she isn’t at KaTom, Patricia spends time hiking, playing, and exploring the world with her children and grandchildren. She also engages with numerous community organizations and activities, including many she and KaTom financially support, such as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the University of Tennessee.
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32. Donna Jones
President & Director of Associate and Client Experience, AdvoCap Insurance Agency, Inc.
Donna Jones is the President and Director of Associate & Client Experience at Advocate Capital, Inc., which became a part of Pinnacle in 2019. Jones joined Advocate Capital in 2008 having previously held two legal administrator positions with large regional law firms. Additionally, she brought to the firm 14 years of personal injury litigation experience as a trial paralegal, providing a unique perspective into the civil trial practice that is the basis for most Advocate Capital, Inc. customers.
Jones is a member of the Board of Directors of Advocate Capital, Inc. and serves as a member of the Credit Committee. Her responsibilities include education and training of Advocate Capital staff regarding civil litigation, coaching new clients on the fundamentals of Advocate’s online services, as well as its proprietary software application, AdvoTrac®, and all activities related to existing and prospective clients. Jones attended Austin Peay State University and graduated with honors from Southeastern Paralegal Institute. She is a former member of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) and a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. In 2015, Ms. Jones completed the Dale Carnegie® Human Relations Training.
34. Julie Henderson
Chief Revenue Officer, Data Facts
Julie Henderson, boasting nearly two decades of experience across sales, customer service, and management, is a dynamic leader and a driving force behind the success of Data Facts, Inc., a prominent consumer reporting agency specializing in background screening. As the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at Data Facts, Julie holds a pivotal role in the company's strategic direction, overseeing both the sales and client success teams. Her story is not just one of leadership but also of ownership, as she stands as one of the company's owners, steering it towards continuous growth and excellence. Julie's journey in the world of consumer reporting and background screening is marked by a passion for delivering trusted, accurate, and reliable information to clients. With a deep understanding of the industry's complexities and the critical importance of data accuracy, she has emerged as a respected authority in her field.
In her current role as CRO, Julie not only leads the sales team but also takes charge of the client success teams, exemplifying her dedication to not just acquiring new business but also ensuring the satisfaction and success of existing clients. Her client-centric approach and industry expertise have cemented Data Facts, Inc.'s reputation as a trusted partner in background screening. Beyond her day-to-day responsibilities, Julie is known for her industry advocacy, staying at the forefront of evolving regulations and compliance standards to ensure Data Facts, Inc. continues to provide clients with the most up-to-date and accurate information.
Julie Henderson's journey to becoming the CRO and an owner at Data Facts, Inc. is a testament to her relentless pursuit of excellence in the field of consumer reporting and background screening. Her leadership, ownership, and commitment to delivering unparalleled service continue to drive Data Facts, Inc.'s growth and success, making her a revered figure in the industry.
36. Laura Deleot
Founding Partner, COO & Creative Director, Circa Creative Studios
In 2015, Laura Deleot co-founded Circa Design, a graphic design and branding studio that helps business owners, entrepreneurs, and visionaries grow their good ideas. Prior to launching Circa, Deleot served as a freelance designer for clients in real estate, finance, healthcare, and retail. She worked for Chronicle Books in San Francisco as a senior designer in their gift division and began her career with The Valentine Group in New York City. Her work has won countless awards and has been featured at the Museum of Design Atlanta. She holds a design degree from the Portfolio Center in Atlanta and an undergraduate degree in art from the University of the South.
Deleot balances the demands of running a studio with the challenges of raising two boys. She is dedicated to mentoring others. Thanks to Circa’s fellowship program, dozens of young designers have acquired jobs in the creative field. In a fast-paced, “me first” world, Deleot is a calm and humble escape. Her accomplishments reveal her design prowess, as well as her quiet, yet confident, leadership style.
38. Jennifer Outland
Chief Operating Officer, Rand Property Management
With a passion for real estate, leadership, and professional development, Jennifer Outland is a distinguished figure in the East Tennessee business landscape. Holding an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and a master's degree in marriage and family counseling from East Tennessee State University, Jennifer has seamlessly combined her academic background with her innate talents to excel in her current role.
Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Rand Property Management, a prominent local real estate company specializing in multi-family housing, Jennifer has showcased her dedication and prowess during her 8-year tenure with the company. Starting as a property manager and subsequently advancing to the role of regional manager, she has consistently demonstrated an exceptional ability to streamline operations, elevate team performance, and foster a culture of excellence.
A visionary leader, Jennifer has also played a pivotal role in Rand Property Management's growth by establishing and developing the HR and Training Departments. Her dedication to cultivating a knowledgeable, motivated, and cohesive team has been a cornerstone of the company's success. Outside of her roles at Rand, Jennifer draws from a diverse background that includes experience in both the service industry and the counseling field. Her unique skill set extends to the realm of public speaking, where she thrives as a charismatic and experienced speaker capable of engaging audiences ranging from intimate gatherings to large crowds of 1,000 or more. In addition to her role at Rand Property Management, Jennifer is a valuable business coach for a reputable real estate education company. Through this role, she contributes her expertise to aspiring professionals in the industry, further establishing herself as a trusted authority in real estate and professional development.
40. Monica Gawet
President, Tennessee Marble Company
Monica Gawet is President of Tennessee Marble Company (TMC) which she co-founded in 1993. TMC is one of the largest vertically integrated domestic marble companies in the United States and is the sole supplier of Tennessee pink marble in the world.
As a third-generation family member in the stone business, she carries on her father's legacy and takes pride in being one of a handful of women-owned quarriers in the world. Monica has given back to her local and professional community through a variety of active board member roles and is a lifelong supporter of Blount County where she has resided since 1993. Her career accomplishments and balance as a working mother would not be possible without the support of her husband, Gus Zacharias, who works alongside her for TMC's strategic development.
TMC is a quarrier of Tennessee pink marble and operates 3 quarries in Tennessee, and also owns and operates the historic Champlain black quarry in Isle LaMotte, Vermont. Through a strategic acquisition in 2007, TMC became the sole supplier of Tennessee pink marble in the country.
43. Sherri Brooks
System Director of Career Development, Baptist Memorial Health Care
Dr. Sherri Brooks is the System Director of Career Development at Baptist Memorial Health Care. Professionally, she has been in corporate and executive leadership roles for over 15 years and is a former associate professor at Arkansas State University where she received her baccalaureate and master’s degrees in communication disorders. Sherri is also an alumnus of the University of Kentucky where she earned her PhD in rehabilitation science.
Dr. Brooks is a serial entrepreneur owning and operating several businesses over the last 20 years. She is most passionate about her professional development and coaching business, Blueprint4change, which is committed to helping individuals and organizations reach their potential by empowering them to see what’s possible and inspiring them to believe in better through an intentional process of change. Sherri strives to live and lead by the leadership code: Think like a hero asking who can I help today? Work like an artist asking what else can we try? Refuse to be ordinary by pursuing excellence and killing it. Celebrate, but take no credit. She is the proud wife of Kennen Brooks, mother to six young men, mother-in-law of two, and “Nonna” to one spoiled grandson.
44. Michelle Rigsby
Director of Client Management Services, Advocate Capital, Inc.
Michelle Rigsby is a seasoned professional with a diverse banking, law, and client management background. Her journey with the company began in 2012 when she joined as a quality assurance analyst. She has since become integral to the organization's client management efforts by promotion from executive client manager to director of client management services. The Client Management Services team manages 90% of the firm's receivables for 560+ Law Firm clients.
Before joining Advocate Capital, Inc., Michelle worked for Regions Bank, heading up the Middle Tennessee Business Banking Administration team. With over twenty years of experience in the banking sector, Michelle has gained a deep understanding of various banking departments, including small business, trust, consumer, and operations. In addition to her banking background, Michelle previously worked as a paralegal for a large law firm. This legal experience is valuable to her current role.
In her role at Advocate Capital, Inc., Michelle is dedicated to fostering strong and trusting relationships within the Client Management team, law firm clients, and lawyers nationwide. Her unique blend of skills, encompassing banking, legal, and financial knowledge, positions her as a valuable resource for personal injury law firms seeking the best results for their clients.
Rigsby's educational journey includes her time at the University of Northern Colorado and the Metropolitan University of Denver, where she graduated with an undergraduate degree in political science. She is a certified paralegal, demonstrating her commitment to the legal profession and ability to navigate legal matters' intricacies.
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45. Alexa Voytek
Deputy Director, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Alexa Voytek is the Deputy Director of Programs, Innovation and Transportation, and Communications at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Office of Energy Programs (TDEC OEP). She serves as the principal investigator for the US DOE’s State Energy Program, oversees OEP’s sustainable transportation and alternative fuels programming, and assists with the administration of a variety of funding sources, including the State of Tennessee’s initial allocation under the Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust, the State’s annual allocation under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program, the implementation of formula funding under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, and the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funded Grid Resilience Formula Grant Program.
Alexa also serves as the Coalition Director for US DOE’s Clean Cities Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, through which she acts as a technical resource for fleets and individuals evaluating alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. She is co-chair of the National Association of State Energy Officials' Transportation Committee and also serves as the Governor’s designee to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Regional Energy Resource Council, which provides guidance on how TVA manages its energy resources against competing objectives and values.
Prior to joining TDEC, Alexa interned with the UN Division for Sustainable Development and the US Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia. Most recently, Alexa served as an assistant account executive for the public relations firm Ketchum, Inc., where she was assigned to energy- and technology-related projects. Alexa holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in Russian, Eastern European, Balkan, and Eurasian Studies and graduated summa cum laude from Duke University, with an undergraduate degree in history and Russian language/area studies.
47. Katherine Briefs
Deputy Director, RenUSA.org
Kate Briefs (she/they) is a seasoned community engagement expert with a foundation in education and community organization. As the Campaign Manager for TN Representative Aftyn Behn, she leverages her skills to drive positive change. Kate builds community and voter support for new and ambitious public-private partnerships, multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects, and economic development initiatives as well as for utility-scale renewable energy projects nationwide. She is tasked with designing funding plans for local projects based on community needs and creating partnership connections to build successful foundations
A proud queer, disabled, German-American, Kate holds an undergraduate degree in women’s and gender studies from Keene State College, complemented by a MED in community development and action from Vanderbilt University. Passionate about quality seafood, she cherishes moments with her two dogs and has an affinity for well-fitted jeans.
50. Marian Matthis
Marketing Director, Blackbird Studio
Marian Matthis began her professional career 30 years ago. Today, she is the Marketing Director of Blackbird Studio. The Blackbird Academy was started in 2013 by recording and live sound engineer John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride. They created Blackbird Studio in 2002, which has grown to be a top production stop for recording artists like Taylor Swift, Jack White, The Black Keys, Rush, Keith Urban, Queen, and many more. Matthis manages the social media channels, websites, SEO, email marketing, and other digital stuff for The Blackbird Academy and Blackbird Studio. She also designs print advertising and the catalog for The Blackbird Academy.
Matthis has been a freelance marketing/design pro at Big Moon Marketing since 2000. There she found her love of designing everything related to music and created pieces for artists such as George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton, Lee Ann Womack, Terri Clark, and many others. In 2018, she joined authors Dwight Lewis and Susan Thomas in creating the book, Temple’s Tigerbelles: An Illustrated History of the Women Who Outran the World, which she designed and produced. Matthis is a former manager, admin & design in the newsroom and marketing director at The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. Matthis holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and an undergraduate degree in marketing from Murray State University.
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