Local businesspeople marked the completion of the Leadership Chattanooga and Protégé courses at a luncheon today.

2013-14 protégés and mentors


Tia Capps, The Company Lab

Tyler Forrest, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Alishea Hixson, First Things First

Erica Jolly, Tennessee Valley Authority

Jeff Murphy, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Leif Ramsey, SVAD Productions

Matthew Richman, Debo’s Diners

Tiffanie Robinson, WayPaver


Stephen Culp, Smart Furniture, Delegator and Causeway

Tom Griscom, consultant

Michael Lebovitz, CBL & Associates Properties Inc.

MaryStewart Lewis, AT&T

Bernie Miller, New Covenant Fellowship Church

Kim White, River City Company

Ladell McCullough, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough

Bo Watson, speaker pro tempore of the Tennessee Senate

Leadership Chattanooga, which provides leadership training through interaction with top community leaders, experiential learning opportunities and service projects, is conducted yearly by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Protégé, organized by the Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga, is a team-based mentoring program where class participants meet as a group with a mentor each month. Protégé is designed to enhance participants’ skills and professionalism, equipping them to advance both personally and professionally.

Click here for information on how the chamber supports YPAC’s mentoring program.

“Spending time with leaders of this caliber is an amazing professional development opportunity for our protégés,” YPAC President Josh Davis said in a prepared statement. “This is only our second graduating class, but we’ve already received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the program.”

This year, Leadership Chattanooga participants were grouped into five teams serving five schools in an effort to strengthen schools’ relationships with the business community and support students on many levels, including mentoring, encouraging them to think about the future and providing enrichment activities, according to a prepared statement.

The Leadership Chattanooga participants and the schools they worked at are detailed below.Protégé class members and the mentors are listed to the right.

Orchard Knob Middle School
Orchard Knob’s students require unique care and a modified curriculum because many are on the autism spectrum. The school runs Students Utilizing Classroom and Community to Enhance Everyday Development to boost students’ chances at academic success and building life skills.

Leadership Chattanooga participants enhanced the effectiveness of the SUCCEED program by partnering with school personnel to renovate an old vocational shop into a room of simulation stations. The team cleaned and painted the space, designed a floor plan and secured donations.

Students now have a library, more computers, office stations to learn office tasks, a laundry station, a recreational area and more. The repurposed space allows students to build independence and prepare themselves to enter the workforce after graduation.

“I think our team members built long-term relationships with our school that will extend beyond this project,” said Stratton Tingle, Orchard Knob team member and account executive at the Chattanooga Chamber. “Schools want to utilize local professionals as volunteers, and the business community wants to help out, but the two groups often aren’t sure how to engage each other. Leadership Chattanooga makes that connection for them.”

Team members:

  • Andrew Horton, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Beverly Jerman, Office Furniture Warehouse LLC
  • Kevin Lusk, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
  • Britton Stansell, Republic Parking System Inc.
  • Anna Steere, Skye Strategies
  • Stratton Tingle, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Michael Turpin, Volkswagen Chattanooga
  • Alexis Willis, Natural Beautiful Me

East Lake Academy of Fine Arts
The East Lake team piloted a project that uses enrichment activities to bridge achievement gaps in the student body. Leadership Chattanooga participants partnered with local organizations to provide after-school programming for sixth-graders to help teach positive relationships and productive use of time outside of school.

The activities were designed to expose kids to art and cultural offerings, promote health and wellness, and develop meaningful life skills.

“It was an invaluable experience for our team to promote educational pursuits, cultivate creative talents and influence positive lifestyle choices while giving working parents peace of mind that their kids are in a safe environment after school,” said Kevin Smith, East Lake team memberand vice president at Suntrust.

Team members:

  • Katie Downs, Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Jay Elliott, Miller & Martin PLLC
  • Andrée Herbert, Tennessee Aquarium
  • Amber Mainda, Progressive Health
  • Jason Martin, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough PLLC
  • Geovanny Ragsdale, Southern Adventist University
  • Kevin Smith, Suntrust Bank
  • Nick Spinelli, Mike Collins and Associates

Woodmore Elementary
Woodmore Elementary’s career academy, in its second year, helps students explore the relationship between career paths that interest them and the education levels required to enter those fields.

Students partnered with Leadership Chattanooga participants to address a topic relevant to future career satisfaction, such as dressing for success, the benefits of a college degree, and pinpointing careers based on individual strengths and interests.

“Our team’s diverse educational and career backgrounds were an asset to the career academy,” said Doug Ehman, Woodmore team member and sustainability manager at Southern Champion Tray. “We were able to use our varied experience as a teaching tool, giving students new career paths to consider and an overall different perspective on education and career than they get from their everyday teachers.”

Team members:

  • Melinda Bone, BFS Facility Services
  • Doug Ehman, Southern Champion Tray LP
  • Elizabeth Hammitt, EPB
  • Maggie Hodges, Full Media
  • Craig Miller, Cohutta Banking Company
  • Max Poppel, The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel
  • Daniel Stetson, Hunter Museum of American Art
  • Malaka Watson, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

East Lake Elementary School
Participants launched a program to introduce leadership concepts to fourth-graders to prepare them for an already-existing fifth-grade leadership course. Leadership Chattanooga participants conducted two sessions per month from October through April during students’ related arts time. Topics such as perseverance, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and decision-making were discussed. The team also incorporated reading and writing exercises into the curriculum to boost students’ literacy skills at the school’s request.

During the second half of the course, the Leadership team concentrated on developing a recycling program. The team encouraged students to be good leaders in their community by recycling and urging others to do the same.

“The kids were always excited to see us, and they were very engaged throughout the project,” said Autumn Jewell, East Lake team memberand comptroller at CARTA.“After our last session, one of our girls gave me a big hug and told me she loved me. In that moment, I felt like we had made a difference.”

Team members:

  • Kyle Bryant, Lamp Post Group
  • James Chapman, Change-N-Go
  • Jay Dale, First Tennessee Bank
  • Autumn Jewell, CARTA
  • Tesia Jones, JCC Design Studio
  • Amanda Kelley, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz
  • Russell Moorehead, Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon
  • Dan Norton, Lawson Winchester Wealth Management

Soddy-Daisy Middle School
SDMS team members implemented a college/career preparation program for targeted students. The purpose was to make students aware of career options and the educational requirements for those careers to help them facilitate a plan for high school and beyond.

The students took field trips to several local organizations and participated in lunch-and-learn sessions, where they discussed topics like job searches, salary ranges and continuing education.

“We wanted to use this program to show the kids that you can be successful regardless of where you’re from,” said Justin Furrow, SDMS team member and attorney at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. “We took our students to UTC, and it was so rewarding to see them envision themselves as college students.”

Team members:

  • Tish Calitz, Decosimo
  • Traci Day, Woople
  • Justin Furrow, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC
  • Michael Hutcherson, March Adams & Associates Inc.
  • Mark Jones, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  • Rose Martin, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, African-American Museum
  • Amanda Merideth, Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians
  • Ryan Rogers, U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc.