The Gold Club 2018

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”


– Peter Drucker, Famed Business Writer and Educator

Bill Lloyd

Senior Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager, SunTrust Bank

Years with company: 2

Oversees: Business development and helping middle market clients to successfully grow their companies

Over the past 25 years, Bill Lloyd has helped owners of privately held middle market companies achieve their long-term goals. Lloyd is able to combine that experience with the extensive “smart growth” resources of SunTrust to provide Chattanooga area business owners several paths to enhancing the value of their companies. He strives to show his clients that banking is not a loan or a deposit, but rather a vital tool to help achieve financial well-being and accomplish certain life goals. Lloyd is deeply committed to assisting individuals with disabilities. He currently serves on the board of Signal Centers and is also a co-chair of this year’s annual Friends of Special Children fundraising event.

Laura Racovita, PhD

University Senate Chair and Associate Professor of Social Work, Southern Adventist University

Years with company: 5

Oversees: The work of the University Senate, a key decision-making body on campus, as well as student research in the School of Social Work

As an associate professor in Southern Adventist University’s School of Social Work, Dr. Laura Racovita teaches primarily graduate courses, aiming to provide quality education and relevant research opportunities. In addition to her work with students, Dr. Racovita is in high demand as a guest speaker, trainer, and editorial reviewer while also participating in a variety of research studies. This year, her peers elected Dr. Racovita to serve as chair of the University Senate – a key decision-making body on campus. She was also honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship for “exceptional contributions and accomplishments while serving as the hands and feet of Christ in today’s world.”

Patty Martinez

Regional Director of Operations, Vision Hospitality Group, Inc.

Years with company: 6

Oversees: The Greater Nashville hotels of Vision’s growing portfolio, working closely with the management teams at the properties to maintain operating standards and execute daily procedures

Patty Martinez has been an instrumental leader with Vision Hospitality Group since 2012. Over her 25 years in hospitality, she has mastered various roles in management, including guest service manager, training manager, revenue manager, and general manager for Hilton and Marriott full and select service hotels. Her character is matched by her ability to motivate her team and colleagues, which has earned her numerous accolades and industry recognitions. Prior to accepting the Regional Director of Operations role, Martinez held the position of general manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton Chattanooga/Downtown. In this capacity, she was honored with the General Manager of the Year award from Vision Hospitality Group and the 2017 General Manager of the Year award from the Greater Chattanooga Hospitality Association.

Cindy Wheeler

Administrator of Siskin Subacute West, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation

Years with company: 4

Oversees: Siskin Hospital’s Subacute Program

A licensed nursing home administrator since 2005, Cindy Wheeler has more than 25 years of experience in skilled nursing. She is responsible for the overall management of Siskin Hospital’s Subacute Program, which includes the welfare and safety of patients and employees consistent with the facility’s quality improvement plan. Wheeler is also director of case management for the Subacute and Inpatient Programs. She was appointed by Governor Haslam to the Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators and serves on the Tennessee Health Care Education Foundation Board of Directors. Wheeler has been a member of the Tennessee Health Care Association and the Chattanooga Health Care Association for nearly 20 years.

Karen Beam, MSN, CPHQ

Vice President of Quality, Parkridge Health System

Years with company: 12

Oversees: All clinical quality management activities, including patient care and safety, regulatory compliance, infection control, and performance improvement

For more than 35 years, Karen Beam has served as a nurse and nurse leader, passionately working to enhance patient safety and care. As the executive champion of quality management for Parkridge Health System since 2006, Beam has led a team of health care professionals dedicated to providing safe and compassionate healing in all aspects of clinical delivery and quality. Her insight and leadership influence extend beyond her home hospitals, as she serves as a governing board member for the Tennessee Healthcare Innovation Forum and as a member of the Chattanooga Regional Health Innovation Coalition. Beam also works to support the Salvation Army and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.

Lebron Womack

Vice President, Business Banking, First Tennessee Bank

Years with company: 6

Oversees: Middle market business and commercial relationships

With more than 23 years of banking experience in Chattanooga, Lebron Womack provides personalized service and customized solutions. His focus is on having an in-depth understanding of each client’s business. Additional responsibilities include providing clients and prospects with treasury management services, commercial loans, international services, and interest rate hedging products. Specialty industries where Womack provides expertise and support include: medical, dental, manufacturing, and construction lending. Consistently recognized for his sales performance at the company’s annual Diamond Circle Awards, Womack is also active in the Chattanooga community; he has served as board president for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga and volunteers with various other nonprofit organizations.

Angel Moore, Esq.

Chief Executive Officer, Erlanger Community Health Centers

Years with company: 2

Oversees: Erlanger’s three community health centers – Southside, Dodson Avenue, and Premier Healthcare

Angel Moore joined Erlanger Health System in April 2016 and is responsible for all aspects of the three community health centers. Recognized for advancing diversity, Moore was honored by the Tennessee Hospital Association in 2017 for actively engaging an underserved patient population to advance their health and lifestyle choices. She also recruits and engages a diverse staff of caregivers and support personnel, and she partners with other mission-oriented organizations in the community. More recently, in April of this year, Moore was instrumental in relocating the Southside Community Health Center to Tennessee Avenue in St. Elmo, so it will provide more convenient and accessible medical services to those living in the community.   

Greg Wesson

Director of Finance and Accounting, 3H Group

Years with company: 3

Oversees: Revenue and profitability analysis; budgeting and forecasting; and reporting, analysis, and modeling of material business performance enterprise wide

3H Group’s Greg Wesson has been an immeasurable asset to the real estate development company since August 2015. Wesson’s career in the finance field began in 2006 after he obtained his Master of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Prior to joining 3H, he held various positions in the finance department at TVA’s corporate office in downtown Chattanooga. As director of finance and accounting, Wesson ensures that analysis for the company is delivered with timeliness and accuracy for the brand, company, and owner profitability. His energy, attention to detail, and outstanding organizational skills play a pivotal role in 3H’s continued success.

Mark Cunningham

Heath Care Shareholder, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, PC

Years with company: 21

Oversees: Counsels regional and national providers, businesses, equity firms, and professionals in the health care industry

Recognized nationally for his legal services in health care and mergers and acquisitions, Mark Cunningham keeps his clients on track in the constantly evolving health care industry. Clients rely on him to deliver strong results through his unique combination of drive, charisma, and niche experience in areas such as revenue cycle management, physician/hospital ventures, and complex transactions. Over the years, Cunningham has led his Chambliss team, serving in several leadership positions including health care section chair and executive committee member. A leader outside the firm, Cunningham chairs the Tennessee Bar Association health law section and serves as president of the local University of North Carolina alumni chapter.

Gregory Nieckula, D.O.

Chief of Internal Medicine/Family Practice, CHI Memorial

Years with company: 4

Oversees: Clinical leadership and strategic initiatives for CHI Memorial Medical Group; hospital quality and strategic metrics for CHI Memorial; and clinical leadership for Alexian Brothers Senior Living

Dr. Gregory Nieckula is a full-time board-certified internal medicine physician at CHI Memorial Internal Medicine Associates – Signal Mountain, partnering with his patients to improve and maintain their health. Additionally, Dr. Nieckula serves as chairman of the board of directors for Memorial Health Partners Foundation and as medical director for Alexian Brothers Senior Living. In his leadership positions, Dr. Nieckula works with health system leadership and other physicians to drive forward the patient-centered care approach for the health system. His work includes integrating work/technology solutions and optimizing work flows and workforce development, as well as physician recruitment and retention.

Cody Flint

Local Sales Manager, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.

Years with company: 2

Oversees: Coaches and develops a team of 11 integrated marketing consultants

Cody Flint is a marketing professional with an emphasis in digital and social media. Over the last eight years, he has worked with sales teams to develop their understanding of industry trends and professional development. Flint works closely with clients to identify brand messaging, recognize gaps in marketing strategies, and create clear campaign objectives. He believes in transparency with his client base and utilizing data to drive results. This approach allows him to become an extension of their business. Flint is also an active member of the nonprofit American Advertising Federation Chattanooga; he currently serves on the board of directors. 

Robert M. Stimson

Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor, Pinnacle Financial Partners

Years with company: 12

Oversees: Development of personal, comprehensive relationships with commercial clients

A 40-year veteran in the financial services industry, Bob Stimson’s banking career has covered the gamut: branch management, treasury management, business development, private banking, commercial lending, and commercial real estate lending. A Chattanooga native who started his career with Hometown Pioneer Bank, he currently manages more than $200 million in commercial client relationships, including commercial loans, deposits, treasury management, and merchant card and insurance relationships at Pinnacle. Stimson’s volunteer work includes leadership positions with Rivermont Presbyterian Church, work with Habitat for Humanity, Chattanooga Room in The Inn, United Way, YMCA, and Dixie Youth Baseball.

James Purgason, CPA

Senior Manager, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC

Years with company: 4

Oversees: Business development, client management, and tax department operations

James Purgason is a senior manager in the tax department of HHM. He provides a wealth of experience to his clients, assisting owners of small and medium-sized businesses and high-net-worth individuals in achieving financial objectives. Purgason routinely draws upon his experience servicing small businesses and consults owners through various financial, operational, and strategic issues. While his technical background is centered around tax compliance, his practice has evolved to include strategic business consulting and managing growth. His common sense approach led to roles as a guest contributor on the weekly “Money Matters” radio show in Atlanta and frequent guest appearances on local Chattanooga radio shows. Purgason also serves as treasurer of the Erlanger Health System Foundations and treasurer of The Center for Mindful Living.

Benjamin T. Reese, Esq.

Member, Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC

Years with company: 13

Oversees: Litigation in the areas of transportation, construction, premises liability, and workers’ compensation

Benjamin Reese graduated from the University of Tennessee with his Bachelor of Science, cum laude, in 1999. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law – University of Memphis in 2004. His practice includes litigation in the areas of transportation, construction, premises liability, and workers’ compensation. Reese is a member of the Chattanooga Bar Association and Tennessee Bar Association, where he has held several roles through the years. He is also a member of the Defense Research Institute and is presently the publications chair for the organization’s Retail and Hospitality Committee. Additionally, Reese is a member of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel.   

Jill McLean

Market Sales Leader, Mortgage Banking, Synovus

Years with company: 4

Oversees: A team of four mortgage loan officers and branch marketing assistant in the Chattanooga and Ooltewah Synovus offices

With 26 years of experience in the Chattanooga mortgage industry, Jill McLean leads the Synovus mortgage team at Synovus Bank. McLean originally came on board to grow the Synovus mortgage market in the Chattanooga area, and she and her team successfully opened Synovus’s first standalone mortgage office in Ooltewah. McLean is also an affiliate member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, Women’s Council of Realtors, and the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chattanooga. She is currently president of the Chattanooga Mortgage Bankers Association board. 

Eric Myers, CPA

Senior Manager, Elliott Davis

Years with company: 4

Oversees: The tax manufacturing and distribution and trusted advisor groups
for Elliott Davis’ Chattanooga office

Eric Myers has spent the past 14 years – the last four at Elliott Davis – assisting companies with tax-related opportunities and issues. Myers has extensive experience providing a broad range of consulting and compliance services to his clients such as transaction structuring, federal and state tax incentives, and resolving federal and state controversies. Myers relocated from Knoxville in March 2017. He is active in the community and has volunteered with and helped raise money for various nonprofit organizations; in his spare time, he enjoys participating in endurance sports and has twice completed an Ironman.

Dionne Jennings

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Years with company: 7 months

Oversees: Initiatives that increase diversity among staff through recruitment, retention, and community engagement

In her role, Dionne Jennings serves as a centralized resource for diversity and inclusion initiatives and is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the credit union and the community. Before joining TVFCU, she served as president of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, where she moved the center in a new strategic direction and provided financial stability by leading fundraising initiatives, developing new programs, and building strong community partnerships. Jennings devotes her time to mentoring and advocacy programs that inspire and promote leadership development among young girls and women. She is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and an avid community volunteer; she has been recognized as a Community Visionary, a Woman of Distinction, and a Girls Inc. UnBought & UnBossed honoree.

Travis Shears, CPA

Senior Manager, Tax, LBMC, PC

Years with company: 1

Oversees: Business tax planning and compliance

Travis Shears has more than 13 years of experience in tax services, including with Big Four accounting firms. He leverages his broad expertise to bring solutions to current and future clients in the East Tennessee market. As senior manager at LBMC, Shears is responsible for assisting businesses with income tax planning and compliance. His areas of emphasis include accounting for income taxes, internal processes and related controls, federal and state tax structuring, tax credits and incentives, and income tax audit assistance. Prior to joining LBMC, Shears served as a senior manager for Ernst & Young in Nashville. He is a member of TSCPA, AICPA, and the Chattanooga Chamber’s Young Professionals.

Chantelle Roberson

AVP and Legal Counsel, Unum Group

Years with company: 1

Oversees: Regulatory affairs

A former trial attorney, Chantelle Roberson brings proven expertise and leadership to her role as assistant vice president and legal counsel at Unum. In her role, she handles regulatory affairs for all 50 states to ensure product compliance and consumer protection, as well as advancing the regulatory and legislative agenda of Unum’s expansive financial protection portfolio. She is also the co-leader for the Race & Ethnicity employee resource group and an active participant in Women in Leadership group, using her voice to empower and encourage women and people of color. Roberson is a founding member of Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement, a philanthropic group that invests directly into arts, culture, education, and entrepreneurship in Chattanooga’s communities of color.

Jack Bowen

Executive Vice President, EMJ Construction Chattanooga

Years with company: 13

Oversees: Day-to-day operations of the Chattanooga office, providing leadership to more than 75 employees

With more than 21 years of construction experience, Jack Bowen serves as the executive vice president of EMJ Construction’s Chattanooga office. Since joining EMJ in 2005, Bowen has served in various roles from job site superintendent to vice president of construction. He excels at strategically marshaling his team’s resources to achieve results and provide an exceptional client experience to EMJ’s partners. Bowen has led his team in producing retail developments, industrial facilities, office buildings, hospitality projects, and health care and educational facilities, including some of the largest jobs completed by EMJ. In his spare time, he volunteers as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga and serves as a mentor in EMJ’s corporate mentoring program.

Amanda Thompson

Vice President of Human Resources, U.S. Xpress, Inc.

Years with company: 14

Oversees: Human resources including total rewards, employee relations, talent development, talent acquisition, and retention and policy creation

With an extensive background in human resources, Amanda Thompson is an accomplished and inspirational leader. Thompson started her human resources career in the carpet industry and transitioned to the transportation industry in 2004. Over her 14-year career at U.S. Xpress, she has been responsible for overseeing the development of numerous programs that promote professional enrichment, including the Xpress Elite program which won the Leadership Excellence and Development Award. Thompson thrives on collaborating with U.S. Xpress and its employees to assist in ensuring the business has the right talent in the right role at the right time. She recently graduated from the Chattanooga Leadership Council Class of 2017-2018. 

Yancy Freeman

Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Success, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Years with company: 23

Oversees: Admissions, advisement, financial aid, orientation, records, and registration

Over the course of his more than two-decade career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Yancy Freeman has helped thousands of students reach their dream of a college education. He has steadily advanced at the university, taking on increased responsibilities in admissions, recruitment, advising, and student success. Through his efforts, Enrollment Management and Student Success improved operations for records and registration, financial aid, admissions, and student orientation and advising. Freeman – a Chattanooga native – has served as a member of many organizations, including the boards for the YMCA Youth Leadership Chattanooga, Girls Preparatory School, and Chattanooga Christian School.

Dr. Natalie Tate

Vice President of Pharmacy Management, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Years with company: 9

Oversees: All aspects of the BlueCross pharmacy management program

Dr. Natalie Tate provides strategic direction for BlueCross pharmacy teams and works with providers across the state to help members improve their health outcomes. She has been a key part of BlueCross efforts to address the opioid crisis in Tennessee, helping develop and implement community engagement and clinical education opportunities aimed at combatting prescription drug misuse and abuse. In 2017, Dr. Tate received the Cardinal Health GenerationRx Champions Award from the Tennessee Pharmacy Association for demonstrating excellence in community-based prescription drug abuse prevention.

Clinton P. Sanko

Shareholder and eDiscovery and Document Review Officer, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Years with company: 7

Oversees: Baker Donelson’s eDiscovery, Document Review, and Investigations Team

Clinton P. Sanko is a seasoned commercial trial lawyer who advocates for client value through proportionate eDiscovery. He has been the lead lawyer on various high-stakes commercial litigation and principally manages the juncture where electronically stored information intersects with legal need. Sanko has led the development of Baker Donelson’s LeanDiscovery® system, which seeks to closely integrate process, technology, and the various team constituencies for the cost-effective and efficient management of eDiscovery and document review. He has been recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers® since 2013 in the area of business litigation and was also recognized as a “Top Author” in JD Supra’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards for his written contributions on the topic of eDiscovery.

Mark W. Degler

Attorney, Miller & Martin PLLC

Years with company: 25

Oversees: The firm’s active corporate mergers and acquisitions and private equity transaction practice group

Mark Degler, a partner at Miller & Martin with nearly 30 years of legal experience, is a licensed attorney in Tennessee, Georgia, and D.C. He concentrates his practice in the area of corporate law, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, business transactions, international law, and taxation. He serves as corporate counsel to many clients and also has a very active practice advising clients in acquisitions, mergers, reorganizations, and sales of businesses. Degler serves as chair of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity Practice Group, as well as partner-in-charge of the firm’s Practice Development department. He is also a board member with the Chambliss Center for Children. His honors include recognition in the area of corporate law by The Best Lawyers in America© and Mid-South Super Lawyers®.

Roger Aldridge

Producer, McGriff Insurance Services, (formerly BB&T Huffaker Insurance)

Years with company: 4

Oversees: Commercial property and casualty insurance

Roger Aldridge has worked in the property and casualty insurance field for over 20 years – the last 13 of which have been in Chattanooga. He works closely with business owners and risk managers to form a trusting and consultative relationship to become a key advisor in helping to protect a client’s business assets and their employees. Industries that Aldridge has a specific focus include manufacturing, wholesale fuel distribution, professional services, and nonprofit organizations. He has been recognized for his sales performance at BB&T Insurance’s President Club for the past four years.

Jill Green

Director of Mortgage, Atlantic Capital Bank

Years with company: 6

Oversees: A team responsible for all aspects of the mortgage process, from origination to underwriting to closing

With offices in Chattanooga, Atlanta, Dalton, and Knoxville, Jill Green is focused on expanding the company’s mortgage division in existing and new markets. Prior to joining Atlantic Capital, Green spent 16 years in various banking and mortgage positions with other institutions. She utilizes her expertise in real estate and finance as a foundation to help clients with all their real estate finance needs. Her reputation in the industry and local market is built on the ability to develop effective mortgage strategies and lead with integrity, purpose, and expertise. Green is passionate about helping clients develop the right financial strategy across their real estate portfolios to meet their long-term financial freedom goals. 

Matt Jenne

Senior Vice President, Cleveland Market Executive, SmartBank

Years with company: 2

Oversees: SmartBank’s Cleveland market leading a talented team of bankers focused on building solid client relationships and promoting SmartBank’s growth in the community

Matt Jenne is a proven leader with over 25 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry. His focuses include commercial and consumer lending with experience in trust sales, estate planning, and retail investments. Throughout his career, Jenne has maintained a commitment to exceed client expectations with a true team approach, and his team has been instrumental in SmartBank’s entrance and growth within the Cleveland market. Jenne is also very passionate about his community and takes an active role in volunteer service. He has been involved with The United Way of the Ocoee Region, Cleveland Family YMCA, Cleveland Country Club, Cleveland State Foundation, Cleveland-Bradley Public Library, and the Boys & Girls Club of the Ocoee Region.

Angela Carr

Senior Manager, Field Services, EPB

Years with company: 8

Oversees: EPB’s Field Services crews

Angela Carr exemplifies EPB’s culture of working together to provide world-class customer service with a local accent. Her focus on neighborly customer service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is demonstrated by the fiber optics installers who put on “Blue Booties” to protect every new customer’s floors, as well as the Field Services crews that work through the night to make repairs in the aftermath of a storm. Among her peers, Carr is a respected expert on everything related to the day-to-day operations of EPB’s Electric Power and Fiber Optic divisions. “In my mind, great customer service starts within the EPB team,” Carr says.

Michael S. Swanson, PE

Vice President of Operations, Astec Inc.

Years with company: 23

Oversees: Manufacturing operations at the Chattanooga facility and construction of Astec’s products at customer sites worldwide

Michael Swanson joined the Astec Industries family in 1995 as a design engineer with Heatec in Chattanooga. He then moved to Astec, Inc. in 2002 as a design engineer with the burner group. He was soon promoted to director of the burner group and oversaw the creation of several product lines for the hot mix asphalt industry. In 2016, Swanson assumed his current role, which oversees all of Astec’s manufacturing and construction operations. He leads the effort to modernize and streamline Astec’s production processes to enable future growth and continued success. Swanson is also active in the local community where he has served as a board member and volunteer with several organizations.


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