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2023 Conference Speakers

March 8, 2023

Opening Dinner: Community Building Exercise

Alyson Gallaher, Chief Community Engagement Officer, United Way of Greater Knoxville

Alyson Gallaher has called East Tennessee home for 16 years. Her passion for community development led her to marketing, fundraising, and community engagement roles with a variety of nonprofits including an art museum, a technology nonprofit, a historic preservation group, and currently with Volunteer East Tennessee. 

Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, she worked in advertising and public relations; focusing on community affairs strategies for regional brands like Food City, Home Federal Bank, and the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Alyson is graduate of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2020 and Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness through the University of Tennessee, is a lecturer on Leadership and Service in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, serves on the Community Advisory Committee for the Junior League of Knoxville, and Leadership Knoxville’s Board of Directors.  She earned a BA in history with a minor in art history from Roanoke College which have been relatively useless in her career.  She is a native New Yorker, a birthday cake enthusiast, and hopes to one day live in a world where volunteers are not essential to the work of nonprofits.


Brewton Couch, Chief Strategy Officer, United Way of Greater Knoxville


March 9, 2023

Plenary Session I

Dr. Lerzan Aksoy, Interim Dean, Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business

Lerzan Aksoy is Interim Dean, Professor of Marketing, and Managing Director of the Responsible Business Coalition at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. From 2015 to 2022 she served as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives.


She is the 2022 recipient of the American Marketing Association’s Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award for teaching, research, and service that has had the greatest long-term impact on the development of the services discipline. This is the highest award presented in the field of service marketing.

She is author of the NY Times bestseller The Wallet Allocation Rule and author/editor of four other books on customer loyalty.  Her research has been published in top tier journals in marketing (e.g., Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Interactive Marketing), strategy (e.g., Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review) and service research (e.g., Journal of Service Research and Journal of Service Management). Her research has received more than a dozen prestigious awards, including:

  • Marketing Science Institute/H. Paul Root Award from the Journal of Marketing for the most significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of marketing.

  • Citations of Excellence "Top 50" Award (top 50 management papers of approximately 20,000 papers reviewed that year) from Emerald Management Reviews.

  • Robert Johnston Outstanding Paper Award (3 times) from the Journal of Service Management

  • Next Gen Disruptive Innovation Award

She currently serves on the Academic Council of the AMA (American Marketing Association) which oversees the academic programming of the association.  She will serve as president of the Academic Council beginning in 2024. Professor Aksoy served as co-chair of AMA SERVSIG (American Marketing Association - Service Special Interest Group) from 2014 - 2018 and worked with Filene Research Institute from 2012 - 2016, and 2021 to present conducting research with US credit unions.

Professor Aksoy is a Fulbright scholar. She received a PhD in marketing from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, an MBA from George Mason University, and a BS in Business Administration from Hacettepe University (Ankara, Turkey).

Dr. McRae C. Banks, Dean, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Bryan School of Business and Economics

Dean Banks joined the Bryan School of Business and Economics as Dean in July 2011 and is the Margaret and Harrell Hill Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship. From 1995-2010, Dean Banks served in a dean-equivalent position as head of the Department of Management at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).


Under his leadership of the Bryan School, a new vision and mission were developed in 2011, spawning numerous changes. The Bryan School is now recognized as an up-and-coming business school and its faculty and administrators are having an increasing impact on national and international conversations in a number of ways. Enrollments have increased substantially; student retention and graduation rates have risen; diversity has improved among students, staff, and faculty; faculty research has increased from about 1.3 peer reviewed journal articles per faculty member per year to 2.2; sponsored research has increased approximately 40 percent; and total giving has increased approximately 60 percent. More than 50 faculty members serve as editors, associate editors, or editorial board members on peer reviewed journals, and students completed more than 350 consulting projects for organizations in 2015-16.  


For many years, Dean Banks served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Advancement of Management, including serving as that organization’s international president.  He was chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management and as chair of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division.  He serves on the AACSB Continuous Improvement Review Committee, serving as chair in 2016-17, and is a member of AACSB’s Committee on Accreditation Policy.  


Dr. Janet A. Lenaghan, Dean, Hofstra University, Frank G. Zarb School of Business

Dr. Lenaghan is the recipient of the 2016 and 2003 Teacher of the Year Award at Hofstra University. She has taught such courses as human resource management, compensation and performance, managing employee benefits, and recruitment and selection. Her primary research interests are in the area of human resource management, specifically work-family conflict and employee benefits. Dr. Lenaghan has published in such journals as the Journal of Managerial Issues, Journal of Management Education, Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, Journal of Career Planning and Employment and the College and University Personnel'Human Resource Journal. She has presented seminars at numerous conferences on a variety of human resource management topics.

Dr. Lenaghan received a B.B.A. with honors from Adelphi University and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University. She received her doctorate degree from Pace University and she was awarded the Outstanding doctoral student of 2005. Her dissertation titled, 'The relationship between emotional intelligence, work-family conflict and well-being from a human resource management perspective', was judged to be of the highest quality in both academic rigor and practical application. In addition, she holds the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation awarded by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. She is a member of various academic and professional societies, such as Academy of Management, Society of Human Resource Management, American Compensation Association, College and University Personnel Association, Beta Gamma Sigma, and the International Society Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.


Dr. Daniel Pullin, Dean, Texas Christian University, Neeley School of Business

Daniel Pullin is the John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business at TCU and a teaching dean, serving also as Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Since joining TCU in 2019, Dean Pullin has utilized combined experience in higher education across multiple roles alongside an early foundation in world-renowned business organizations and private industry to serve as a steward for the Neeley School. He holds the Neeley Promise as the guiding truth: The Neeley School of Business unleashes human potential with leadership at the core and innovation in our spirit. Under Pullin’s leadership, TCU Neeley has driven dynamic faculty and staff growth and curriculum innovation; earned increased national visibility and rankings; realized development success; built community and civic engagement; and an unmistakable focus has been placed on inclusive excellence.


To accelerate and focus the business school’s initiatives, Pullin led a detailed strategic planning process aligned with TCU’s Vision In Action: Lead On Strategic Plan, including more than 200 students, faculty, staff, business partners and external resources over an 18-month period. Neeley’s Fulfilling the Promise Strategic Plan launched with five goals categorized as Revenue, Research, Inclusive Excellence, Student Success and Brand Elevation. Pullin’s direction has led to significant growth. Neeley has celebrated an increase in staff and faculty, showcasing three new endowed professorships, five executives-in-residence, and one program directorship.

Dr. Ian O. Williamson, Dean University of California – Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business

Ian O. Williamson was appointed dean of The UCI Paul Merage School of Business on January 1, 2021. Prior to joining the Merage School, he served as pro vice-chancellor and dean of commerce at the Wellington School of Business and Government at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


Williamson received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University. He has served as a faculty member at Melbourne Business School, Rutgers Business School, the Zurich Institute of Business Education, the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and Institute Technology Bandung.


Williamson is a globally recognized expert in the area of human resource management. His research examines the impact of “talent pipelines” on organizational and community outcomes. Williamson has assisted executives in over 20 countries across six continents enhance firm operational and financial outcomes, improve talent recruitment and retention, enhance firm innovation and understand the impact of social issues on firm outcomes.


Williamson’s research has been published in leading academic journals (e.g. Academy of Management Journal, MIT Sloan Management Review, Organization Science, Journal of Applied Psychology) and has been covered by leading media outlets across the world. He has served on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Academy Management Review, Academy of Management Education and Learning, Journal of Management, and Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal and Journal of Management.


Tyvi Small, Vice Chancellor, Division of Diversity and Engagement

Tyvi Small currently serves as UT Knoxville’s vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. He previously served UT in the Haslam College of Business from 2007 to 2018, most recently as executive director for talent management, diversity, and community relations.


Before coming to Knoxville, he was the education coordinator and assistant to the mayor for the City of West Palm Beach, Florida.


Small is a native of Pahokee, Florida. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in education and is currently a PhD candidate in higher education administration at UT.


Small is very involved in the community and serves on the board of directors of the Knoxville Area Urban League and the Tennessee Valley Fair. He is past secretary–treasurer of the Development Corporation of Knox County and vice chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Knoxville Utilities Board. He is a member of Leadership Tennessee Class VII, a 2012 graduate of Leadership Knoxville, and a 2008 graduate of Introduction Knoxville. Small is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He is an active member of Overcoming Believers Church and enjoys spending time with his wife, Tammi.


Plenary Session II

Rosite Delgado, Executive Director, Office of Equity and Inclusion, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga


Dr. Anthony Wise, President, Pellissippi State Community College

Dr.  Anthony Wise has served as president of Pellissippi State Community College since 2011, overseeing the College’s participation in Knox Achieves, TN Achieves, and Tennessee Promise. Wise’s tenure has been marked by his devotion to students. 


Wise earned a Ph.D. in history in 1997 from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in United States history in 1993 from Wake Forest University and a bachelor’s degree in history and business economics in 1990 from Wofford College. 


Locally, he’s served on boards of the Great Schools Partnership, Project GRAD, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s Workforce Connections, Knoxville Chamber, Knoxville Opera and the Knoxville Symphony. More importantly, Dr. Wise is a graduate of Introduction Knoxville (Fall) Class of 2011 and Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013. 


Collaborative Business Luncheon

Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite, President Bentley University

Brent Chrite is the ninth president of Bentley University, a premier business and arts and science university located just outside Boston, where he is leading an ambitious strategic positioning effort to ensure the institution’s long-term vitality, health and impact in the disrupted higher education marketplace. Before Bentley, Chrite was the seventh president of Bethune-Cookman University, an iconic HBCU in Daytona Beach, Fla. Chrite and his team led the institution out of the most severe financial crises in its recent history. He also served as the dean of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business as well as the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University.

Chrite also spent a combined 20 years in a variety of academic and senior leadership roles at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At Ross, Chrite led the school’s premier research and outreach entity, the William Davidson Institute, focusing on post-central command and transition markets. In that role, he expanded the breadth and impact of the institute’s geographic portfolio to include Latin America, Africa and Central Asia. 

Chrite is an independent director at Gordon Food Service (GFS), an $18 billion enterprise and one of the largest privately held businesses in America. He chairs the board’s risk committee. Chrite is also an independent director at Algafeed Corporation, a revolutionary photobioreactor-technology company. 


Informational Section

Dr. Sonja Wiley, Associate Professor and Diversity Advisor, Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems, Louisiana State University

Sonja D. Wiley received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She joined LSU, jointly in the College of Business and the Center for Computation Technology in 2002. Associate Professor Wiley is the Donald Lindley and Ruby Wright Phillips Developing Scholar Professor and the Diversity Advisor, for the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems; Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Advisor, Office of Business Student Success - E. J. Ourso College of Business.


Plenary Session III

Dr. Lauren Cunningham, Keith Stanga Professor of Accounting and Cherly Massingale Faculty Research Fellow

Lauren Cunningham joined UT’s Department of Accounting and Information Management after receiving her Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Arkansas. Lauren serves as the Director of Research for the C. Warren Neel Corporate Governance Center and the coordinator of the Neel CGC Distinguished Speaker Series, which hosts corporate executives, board members, regulators, and other industry leaders. She also serves on the editorial and review boards for Contemporary Accounting Research, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, and Accounting Horizons. Her research interests include audit, corporate governance, and the SEC filing review process (comment letters). Lauren’s research has been published in The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Review of Accounting Studies, and Accounting Horizons and presented at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Economic and Risk Analysis as well as conferences internationally. Her research has been featured in The Wall Street Journal,, Accounting Today and in Agenda, the Financial Times’ corporate governance service.

Lauren serves as the audit curriculum coordinator and has taught auditing to both undergraduate and graduate students. She has also taught a PhD seminar on current topics in auditing and corporate governance. Her teaching cases are published in Issues in Accounting Education and Current Issues in Auditing. Her innovative data visualization audit case is the recipient of the Best Paper Award in Issues in Accounting Education and the AAA Innovation in Auditing and Assurance Education Award. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Lauren worked as an audit manager with Grant Thornton, LLP in Dallas, specializing in the real estate and technology industries. She earned her undergraduate degree in accounting from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Texas.


Dr. Ashley King, Lecturer, Accounting and Information Management

Ashley King is a lecturer primarily in the information management group in the Department of Accounting and Information Management.  Prior to coming to the University of Tennessee, Ashley worked as a senior auditor for LBMC in their Knoxville office.  During her experience in public accounting, Ashley worked on engagement teams to audit both financial statements and information systems for many companies.  As a precursor to her public accounting experience, Ashley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting as well as a Masters of Accountancy degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  When not in the classroom or at work, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband, Martin and her children.  Ashley enjoys sports and is an avid Tennessee football fan.  She is active in the community and serves on local PTA boards as well as a board of directors for a local non-profit.


Informational Session

Blane Ruschak, President, PhD Project

Blane Ruschak began his career in the Audit department of KPMG’s Honolulu office where he serviced clients in the healthcare, nonprofit, real estate, agribusiness, and hospitality industries. Throughout his time at KPMG, Blane has helped lead professional development and recruiting for the firm at various offices, working from Honolulu, Long Beach and Los Angeles, before taking on a role as a National Director of Campus Recruiting in 2000 in Montvale, New Jersey. In 2008, he took on the role as Executive Director of Campus Recruiting and University Relations for the firm and in 2020, Blane became President of the KPMG Foundation and The Ph.D. Project.


Dr. Sonja Martin Poole, Professor of Marketing, University of South Florida

Sonja Martin Poole is a pre-eminent thinker, influencing key decision-makers in transformative marketing strategy and public policy. As Professor of Marketing at USF, Professor Poole pays particular attention in her research, teaching and public commentary to the ways in which marketing transforms individuals, institutions, systems, and societies, and impacts consumer well-being. Her latest research focuses on the role of race in the marketplace and has appeared in a range of academic journals such as the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, and Social Marketing Quarterly, among others.


Drawing from her expertise in behavioral economics, Professor Poole helps her students explore innovative ways to excite, educate and engage primary audiences and customers, giving students an informed head start as prosocial, consumer-centric marketing professionals. Among the undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in her teaching portfolio are Multicultural Marketing; Marketing for Social Good; Marketing Principles; Ethics, Public Policy & Marketing Intelligence; and Race in the Marketplace.

Professor Poole is a New Orleans native and maintains an active consulting practice in Oakland, California.


Plenary Session IV

Tanisha Baker, Director Equity and Inclusion Analyst, Knoxville Utilities Board

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee. Valedictorian of Austin-East High School class of 1988. Graduate of both Florida A&M and the University of Tennessee with degrees in Actuarial Science and Education. Completed her certificate in Social Enterprise Effectiveness out of the UTK’s Haslam School of Business, is a graduate of the Leadership Knoxville class of 2020 and currently one of 30 across the state of Tennessee chosen for the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute. Recently accepted as a MOSAIC Changemaker fellow for 2021.

Strategist, analyst and community leader Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker has spent most of her professional career in the educational arena focused on equity and access for those underserved and underrepresented from communities of challenging circumstances. Baker is a founding member and current president of the Five Points Up Community Action Group, a founding member of East Knox Lions Club, member of Volunteer Rotary of Knoxville, member of the steering committees for Eastside Sunday Markets and Community Voices Coalition and is on the board of directors for the YWCA. She received the “Woman 2 Woman” Community Outreach award from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the 2020 MLK Commission’s Award for Community Service.


Jeremy Cook, Senior Vice President, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for East Tennessee Region, Pinnacle Financial Partners

Jeremy Cook, who holds an associate’s degree in science from Pellissippi State Community College, also serves on the advisory board of the Future of Hope Institute, which connects high school students, many from Knoxville’s Empowerment Zone neighborhoods, with community service and mentoring opportunities around the city. Cook, who spent seven years gaining banking experience at area financial institutions before joining Pinnacle in 2014, also sits on the board of directors for HomeSource East Tennessee, an organization that works to strengthen communities by providing opportunities for families to find sustainable housing.


Cook also serves as a local district chair for the Boy Scouts of America and the organization honored him in 2014 with its Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award for developing scouting opportunities for youth from rural or low-income urban backgrounds.


Lauren Longmire, Director of Regional Enhancement, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce

Lauren Longmire is a native Knoxvillian and graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business, receiving a BS in Marketing and Supply Chain Management. In her eleven years with the Knoxville Chamber, Lauren has also graduated from Introduction Knoxville, Leadership Knoxville, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives Institute. She is proud to serve as co-chair of The 865 Academies Steering Committee, a member of the United Way’s Bright Start Advisory Committee, and part of the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Community Empowerment Roundtable.

As director of regional enhancement for the Knoxville Chamber, Lauren focuses her time on workforce development and talent retention, and attraction. Engaging with community leaders and regional partners to create a prosperous, inclusive environment for Knox County’s workforce is a priority for the Chamber team.

Lauren currently resides in North Knoxville with her husband and two children.


Awards Dinner

Renee Kesler, Executive Director, Beck Cultural Exchange Center

Renee Kesler previously held leadership positions in banking and community development before taking over the reins of President and CEO of The Beck Cultural Exchange Center. She also serves as Associate Minister at Mount Calvary Baptist Church. Kesler received a framed proclamation honoring her extensive community service and commitment to preserving Knoxville’s Black history. She received a B.S. degree in Business Administration from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville and a Member of the University of Tennessee Chancellor Association Program.

Kesler is married to Christopher Kesler, Math Teacher and Head Boys' Varsity Basketball Coach at West High School. Together they have two daughters; Crystal Kesler, Esq., a licensed attorney in Atlanta, Georgia and Sydney Kesler, a graduate of the University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.


March 10, 2023


Fireside Chat

Dr. Stephanie Bryant, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Accreditation Officer, AACSB

As executive vice president and global chief accreditation officer for AACSB, Stephanie Bryant provides vision, leadership, and oversight of AACSB’s accreditation-related services and strategic direction for the organization. Under Bryant’s leadership, AACSB adopted the 2018 accounting accreditation standards and the 2020 business accreditation standards.


Before joining AACSB in 2017, Bryant served as dean of the College of Business at Missouri State University. During her tenure, enrollment grew to 5,500 students, making it one of the largest colleges of business at any public university in the Midwest. Previously, she was director of the University of South Florida’s School of Accountancy, overseeing a program of nearly 1,000 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral accounting students.


Bryant’s area of academic specialty is information technology security and control, and she has co-authored two textbooks and more than 30 academic articles. She is actively involved in civic and community activities, including Beta Alpha Psi and the American Accounting Association. Bryant received her PhD in accounting and BS in accounting from Louisiana State University and is a Louisiana CPA (inactive).


Dr. Stephen Mangum, Dean, Haslam College of Business

Stephen L. Mangum is the Dean of the Haslam College of Business and the Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair at the University of Tennessee. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in human resource management from the University of Utah.


He earned a doctorate in economics from George Washington University.


Prior to joining the University of Tennessee, Dr. Mangum was senior associate dean of the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. He joined the faculty of Ohio State in 1983 and taught in the Department of Management and Human Resources for several years before managing the department. Before joining Ohio State, he taught and conducted research at George Washington University.


Dr. Mangum’s areas of research expertise include labor market analysis, social legislation, workforce development, and international economic/ human resource development. His research addresses issues of national training policy, returns to post-school occupational training, international human resource development, contingent employment and poverty. He has published five books and more than 50 book chapters and articles in academic journals including the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, the Journal of Development Economics, Economic Development Quarterly and the Journal of Business Ethics. He has taught classes in Labor Economics, Human Resource Policy, Human Resource Planning, and Organizational Economics, among others.



Informational Session

Dr. Janelle Coleman

Janelle Coleman is currently the executive director for diversity and engagement at UT. In this role, she acts as a consultant to senior administrators and department leaders to support diversity, inclusion and engagement efforts in their areas. She assists in the development and implementation of goals and objectives for the Division of Diversity and Engagement in alignment with institutional goals, and partners with the Office of Institutional Research to prepare analysis of data and other evidence related to the progress of the institution in diversity, engagement, and inclusion. She also serves as liaison between the division and the chancellor’s commissions and the Council for Diversity and Inclusion.


Coleman has a PhD in Hispanic language and literature, an MS in teacher education, and BA in creative writing and Spanish, all from UT. Her research interests include Hispanophone Caribbean history and cultures, Luso-Brazilian history and cultures, US Latinx and African Diaspora studies, culturally responsive pedagogy, inclusive teaching, and assessment in higher education. She previously served as the faculty consultant for assessment and inclusive teaching in UT’s Teaching and Learning Innovation department. In this role, she led the department’s inclusive teaching initiatives and coordinated Diversi-Tea, a program that facilitates ongoing dialogue related to issues in diversity and inclusion in pedagogy. She also served as chair and founder of UT’s Inclusive Teaching Task Force and a member of university’s Assessment Steering Committee.


Coleman is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program here at UT. When she is not studying or working, she enjoys traveling around the world, learning about other cultures, reading fiction, and participating in activities with the UT Graduate Student–Faculty Chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.


Panel Discussion

Dr. Javiette Samuel, Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of Community Engagement & Outreach, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Javiette Samuel is the associate vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, director of community engagement and outreach, and affiliated associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies. She is an experienced engaged scholar with a unique combination of educational, interpersonal, and creative skills. She has worked with underrepresented P-20 students, families, faculty, and communities for nearly 25 years. Focusing on engagement, outreach, and evidence-based programs her primary applied research interests have been child development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), positive youth development, parenting, and family well-being. She is especially passionate about addressing educational disparities, early warning signs of disengagement from school and learning, mentoring, and increasing parental involvement.


Samuel cultivates relationships with local, state, regional, and national partners; works with university units and community organizations to connect UT’s knowledge with the community in mutually beneficial ways; identifies and tackles complex issues to help improve the well-being of our state’s citizens; oversees UT’s Carnegie Elective Community Engagement Classification; and partners with units across campus on initiatives that ensure access and are designed to address recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff.

She leads the Division of Diversity and Engagement’s faculty initiatives related to historically underrepresented and marginalized groups, including but not limited to: providing leadership for all competitive funding, overseeing the Faculty Advisory Board, coordinating the Faculty and Administrative Fellows Program, co-leading the Research Development Academy, and coordinating Academic Diversity Initiatives.


A three-time UT alumna, Samuel earned her bachelor’s degree in 1996, master’s degree in 1999, and doctorate in 2002. She has served as a faculty member and extension administrator at the University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, and Tennessee State University. She is an Intercultural Development Inventory qualifying administrator and has completed Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program.


Samuel is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and a member of the Alpha Pi Omega Foundation. Samuel serves on various boards and is a member of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2021. She enjoys reading, writing poetry, outdoor adventures, and spending quality time with her beautiful granddaughters.


Matt Ryerson, Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Greater Knoxville

Matt Ryerson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Greater Knoxville where he is leading a century-old philanthropic organization. His leadership is positioning UWGK to better fight our community’s greatest challenges through community-driven systemic work. In his one year at the helm, Matt has ushered UWGK into a new era of effective impact. He closed the deal to sign on the first major University to Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud just before working to raise over $1 million in COVID emergency funding for Knoxville and ultimately a $10 million gift from noted philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, a record-setting gift at UWGK.   


Matt’s service in the United Way network includes several years of service in the National Professional Council (NPC) and the National Presidents Roundtable (NPR), an early adopter of the network technology Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud (SPC), as well as several subcommittees.  In the Tennessee state association, he has served as a Board Member for the past 8 years and Board Chairman in 2015.


Matt’s passion is to create opportunities in low-income communities with the belief that with the appropriate tools, people can achieve their full potential and thrive. Matt has been the recipient of a number of awards in his career, most notably Kiwanis Community Leadership Award in 2015 in Cleveland, Tennessee.


Matt holds a BS in Education from Bowling Green State University and an EJD from Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He has a wife and four children and calls Knoxville, Tennessee home.


Tammy White, President and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Knoxville

Tammy White is a native of South Carolina and has made her home in Knoxville for more than three decades. She embraces servant leadership, with a strong sense of community and a desire to serve.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and her Master’s in Conflict Management from Lipscomb University.  

She serves as President / CEO of Leadership Knoxville and brings extensive experience in the public, private and civic sectors. Since joining Leadership Knoxville in 2009, she launched the Mayors’ Leadership Luncheon, an annual event hosted by the City and County Mayors to inspire community leaders to positive action. While helping build a leaderful community, she has overseen the addition of youth (YLK) and collegiate leadership programs (LK Scholars) to create a pipeline of leaders, from youth to seniors. Additionally, she helped launch Connect Knox and The Big Table, which serves as a civic solutions lab to convene stakeholders on pertinent issues in our community. Currently, she is developing a seniors retiree program, Encore, which will launch in 2023 to engage and connect these sages to our community in meaningful ways. Collectively, these programs are helping LK intentionally build a continuum of leaders, cross-sector and cross-generational, throughout our community and region.

In 2010, she was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to the State of Tennessee Ethics Commission, where she currently serves as Secretary and Past Chair. Governor Bill Lee recently appointed her to the Keep Tennessee Beautiful State Advisory Council. White previously served as a member of the National Association of Leadership Programs board of directors. She serves on the board of directors for The Change Center, the Knoxville Fellows, and the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee. She is a member of the Executive Women’s Association, a past member of UT Chancellor’s Associates, and is a graduate of East TN Regional Leadership Association (ETRLA) and Leadership Loudon County (Class of 2001). In 2008, she was featured in skirt! Magazine Knoxville as one of five “Women to Watch” and was a 2015 finalist for the YWCA Tribute to Women award.

She resides with her daughter, Courtney, who attends Clayton-Bradley Academy class of 2023, along with their miniature schnauzer, Coco the wonder dog. They are members of Grace Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. 

Dr. Hettie A. Richardson, Interim Dean, Neeley School of Business, Texas Christian University

Hettie A. Richardson is the Interim Dean of the TCU Neeley School of Business, as well as a Professor of Management and Leadership. Richardson also will continue to serve as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs for TCU Neeley. 


In her role as Associate Dean, Richardson leads the Neeley School’s undergraduate programs and services, including the business core curriculum, academic advising, Alcon Career CenterProfessional Development Center, and Pathways of Distinction programs. 


Richardson places a high value on her role as an educator and teaches courses in leadership and international management. In the past, she has taught human resource management and organizational behavior at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Richardson’s teaching practice extends beyond the traditional classroom. She has also provided executive training and consulting for organizations and industry groups on topics of leadership, motivation, and reward and compensation design.


Richardson’s current research addresses employee empowerment initiatives and the alignment and pursuit of organization and employee goals. Her work appears in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, Organizational Research Methods, Journal of Management, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. Richardson is the Senior Editor of Research Methods for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management, and she is an Associate Editor at Group and Organization Management. She is also a member of the editorial review boards for Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Organizational Research Methods.


In 2021, Richardson was named Best Developmental Reviewer by the Academy of Management Review and also received the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Discipline and Community from the TCU Neeley School of Business. 


In 2020, Richardson completed a term as President of the Southern Management Association, where she has also served in roles as Program Chair (2017-2018), Board Member (2006-2009), Doctoral Consortium Co-coordinator (2008-2009), Organizational Behavior Track Chair (2007), and Research Methods Track Chair (2005). She was elected as a Fellow of the Southern Management Association in 2019. Earlier in her career, Richardson served as Chair of the Research Methods Division of the Academy of Management (2015-2016). Previously, she completed a three-year term as one of the division’s Representatives-at-Large (2009-2012).


Prior to joining the TCU Neeley School of Business, Richardson worked at Louisiana State University for 12 years, five of which as the Co-chair of the Rucks Department of Management. 


Richardson earned her BA from the University of Houston before acquiring an MA in Sociology and PhD in Business Administration from the University of Georgia. 

Alyso Gallaher
Brewton Couch
Lezan Aksoy
McRae Banks
March 8
March 9
Opening Dinner
Plenary I
Janet Lenaghan
Danie Pullin
Ian Williamson
Tyvi Small
Plenary II
Rosite Delgaldo
Anthony Wise
LaBrent Chrite
Info Session
Sonja Wiley
Barbara Lofton
Plenary III
Lauren Cunningham
Ashley King
Info Session
Blane Ruschak
Plenary IV
Tanisha Baker
Jeremy Cook
Ashleigh Christian
Awards Dinner
Renee Kesler
March 10
Fireside Chat
Stephanie Bryant
Stephen Mangum
Info Session
Janelle Coleman
Javiette Samuel
Matt Ryerson
Tammy White
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