Mentor Image

Business Mentor Program

Through the Success Center in the College of Business,  we are providing resources for our students to become “Business World Ready” as they launch their careers.  One of those resources is the Business Mentor Program available to sophomore, junior, senior and graduate students. Undergraduates may even engage in the program for academic credit through BUS2900.

The mentors who make up the Business Mentor Program are experienced professionals who are willing to share their knowledge with upper level students to help develop life skills for success. The mentor acts as a coach and role model to support a student with his/her personal and professional growth. The program provides a great opportunity for professionals to counsel and influence the next generation of business leaders. Being a mentor provides personal satisfaction as well as the ability to increase the workforce readiness of future recruits. Please note: Mentors may not be available every semester of the program due to business requirements.

The objectives of the mentor/mentee relationship are to help students:

  • Bring career goals into focus
  • Become ready for the workforce
  • Increase business connections  and network strategically
  • Enhance professional development
  • Open doors of opportunity for future internships, jobs  and career success

Business Mentor Bench

Kristina Montague

The JumpFund - Managing Partner 

Kristina Montague is managing partner of the JumpFund, an angel investment fund comprised of women investors focused on providing start-up and growth capital to women entrepreneurs.  With $2.5million under management, the JumpFund is building a portfolio of scalable, women-led companies from across the Southeast.

Previously, Kristina served as Assistant Dean of External Affairs at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s College of Business, where she developed her passion for supporting and encouraging women as business leaders.

A native of Seattle, WA, Kristina received her B.A. from Vassar College and served as a Teach for America corps member in rural Louisiana before pursuing her Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Washington. Her passion for education reform led her to serve as program associate at the Public Education Foundation and later in several leadership roles at Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga, TN. 

As a volunteer, Kristina focuses her philanthropic and non-profit work in the arenas of education, entrepreneurship, and social equity.  Kristina is the current chair of the Young Women’s Leadership Foundation, vice chair of Launch Chattanooga, past chair of the Creative Discovery Museum, and serves on the board of the Enterprise Center, Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Normal Park Education Fund, and the Footprint Foundation.  She is also an active member of the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute and Chattanooga Downtown Rotary and was recognized as a 2013 Woman of Distinction by the American Lung Association.  Kristina lives in downtown Chattanooga with her two children and husband, Tom. 

Areas of expertise:

  • Strategic Planning and Development
  • Early stage company investing and entrepreneurship
  • Networking and partnership creation
  • Leadership and project management
  • Public Speaking and theater

Work Philosophy:

  • Enjoy what you do!
  • Collaboration and building networks are keys to success
  • It's never too late to learn something new

Type of Student I hope to mentor:

I enjoy working with students that are self-motivated and eager to build their networks both within and outside their chosen field.  You never know who can open a door for you! Students interested in entrepreneurship or finance would be most interested in the work I am doing with the JumpFund, but I also have a lot to share with any student interested in non-profit management, marketing, or women in business. 

Advice for Students:

Keep your resume to one page and have it looked at by every professional you meet for feedback.  Utilize your professors, mentors, coaches, classmates and anyone else you meet professionally to build your network.  You never know where your next introduction might take you!  And be ready with a 30 second personal pitch about who you are and what you want to do/achieve.  

Adam Vazquez

VaynerMedia - Account Supervisor, Digital Marketing Strategies

Adam Vazquez is the Account Supervisor at VaynerMedia, a digital marketing agency based in NYC that advises Fortune 500 brands on how to tell their stories, drive sales, and capture consumer attention in 2016. Adam oversees a team of digital marketers working in the Chattanooga office and is tasked with managing the work done for a  portfolio of brands from creative concepting, to paid media budgets and timelines.

Adam graduated from Bob Jones University in 2011 with a degree in Communication and Psychology. That foundation has served him well as he's gone on to lead teams at a number of agencies, and worked on iconic brands such as North Face, L'Oreal, Kevin Murphy, Mastercard, Allegra, and many others. Adam is a regular guest lecturer at New York University and Bob Jones University, and has been a featured speaker at UTC, CoLab, and The Iron Yard (an accelerator in South Carolina). He's been published on several websites and blogs, and is currently serving as a mentor for the CoLab summer cohort in Chattanooga.

Work Philosophy: Work incredibly hard and treat others better than you expect to be treated. Go out of your way to help other people become better versions of themselves. People will forget what you did and how much you earned, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.

Best Advice for Students and Pending Graduates: Don't be afraid to jump into something only to find out you hate it or want to try something new. Especially as you're finishing school and graduating - now is the time to fail early, fail often, and correct your course based on your new experiences. Don't become such a generalist because you're afraid to make a decision. Instead, dive in and learn then react and improve for next time.

Student Mentee Preference: I can offer the most value to students interested in marketing, advertising, sales, public speaking, and the technology industry. If you're unsure if you're interested in advertising, or are creatively driven in any capacity - we'll get along great.

Kristin Coyne
Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee - Talent Acquisition Consultant

Kristin grew up a few miles south of the Mason-Dixon line and earned a BA in Psychology from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She moved to Chattanooga in 2010 from Denver where she had lived for 11 years.  Tennessee is the 5th state Kristin has called home since graduating from college so it is no surprise to learn that she enjoys adventuring with family and friends – whether traveling to a new destination or going to concerts.

Kristin's first career after college was in social work.  She cared for people with memory disorders, worked with adults to improve their independence, and advocated on behalf of children who were at risk for abuse and neglect.  These experiences gave Kristin invaluable perspective along with the chance to facilitate, partner, and problem solve with people from all walks of life.

Kristin then discovered her second career, Human Resources, while working in business operations at a technology company.  Sixteen years later - her expertise spans a range of functional areas such as HR business partnering, talent management, global compensation, program/ policy management, and recruiting.  Kristin has come to recognize that there are always opportunities to grow and be challenged as an HR professional which is exactly why the field continues to be a great fit for Kristin and others around the world.

Work Philosophy & Best Advice for Students: My work philosophy and best piece of advice for students are one and the same - approach your career as a lattice rather than a ladder.  Think about how many more options there are for a plant to grow on a lattice as compared to a ladder.  The same applies to your career.  Focus on developing your employability by growing in-demand capabilities such as project management, data analytics, technology/ system knowledge, communication skills, and business acumen.  All professions value these competencies – including Human Resources.

The Type of Student Mentee Sought: As your mentor, I’ll help you bring your professional aspirations into focus and work with you to develop a career strategy.  I’m comfortable working with students at any stage of the readiness continuum from “I know exactly what I want to do” to “I don’t know where to begin.”  I’m looking forward to meeting you and getting started! Thank you for reading my bio!

Melissa Crane

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - Senior Manager of Enterprise Services, Information Technology

Melissa Crane is the Senior Manager of Enterprise Services within the Information Technology organization at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  In her role, she is responsible for services supporting the enterprise including enterprise information management and solutions, software architecture and data integration, enterprise content management, and enterprise collaboration solutions. 

 She has worked for TVA for over 13 years, starting in their intern program.  Melissa previously served in multiple leadership roles for the agency, leading successful cross organizational teams.  As Senior Program Manager for the Office of the CIO, she provided expert advice and strategic direction to the CIO and IT senior leadership on a wide variety of business, technical, and organizational effectiveness matters.  Melissa has also served as Manager of Business Analysis in Enterprise Solutions Delivery where she built a team of IT business analysts to support development and documentation of business requirements for IT projects, and established consistent management approaches for the entire TVA business applications portfolio.  Under Melissa’s leadership, increased demand from business partners led to the team growing ten-fold. 

Melissa was raised in Chattanooga and graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga with a BS in Marketing and MBA.  She enjoys spending her free time travelling to Disney with her two children and husband.  Melissa also enjoys ballet and running and is training for her second marathon.

Work Philosophy:  Don’t spend all your time worrying about that next step in your career, that next big opportunity, and lose focus on your current role.  Of course have thought around your future plans, but do your best in your current role.  Give your current role focus, time, and energy and the opportunities will come.

Advice for Students:  Don’t allow your degree to confine you.  You’re not limited to a specific profession just because you may have a major in a certain business area.  Think creatively and be open to new opportunities as you start your career.

The type of student I hope to mentor: I'd like a student who is a self-starter and goal driven, enjoys talking, and is headed for the corporate world. 

Jeremy Boudinet, JD

Ambition - Director of Marketing 

Jeremy Boudinet is the Director of Marketing at Ambition, a software startup based out of Chattanooga that’s seeking to change how businesses manage and drive employee performance. Jeremy was Ambition’s first business team hire, coming on right after the company completed its stint at the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program in Silicon Valley. With no marketing background, no tech experience and no clue what was expected of him, Jeremy leapt into the world of startup marketing in May 2014 and has spent the last 2+ years running all aspects of Ambition’s marketing operations while becoming intimately familiar with the cutthroat, hyper-competitive world of SaaS, startups and digital marketing. Since joining Ambition, Jeremy has been published in Time, Inc., Entrepreneur, the Daily Muse and the American Marketing Association. He’s helped Ambition land feature articles in USA Today, Business Insider, Inc. and dozens of other publications. He’s also helped the company grow its monthly site traffic by 800% while driving thousands of inbound leads to Ambition’s sales team. His ultimate goal is to build a scalable marketing machine that drives Ambition’s conquest to take over the world.

A 2009 graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Jeremy obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2012, where he distinguished himself with his raw lack of enthusiasm for his coursework, his peers and the suffocating, soul-crushing nature of the legal profession. His attitude towards marketing - especially in a startup environment - couldn’t be more opposite.

Work Philosophy: 

The best way to approach work is with the following 5 traits: 1) Unshakeable confidence. 2) Goal-driven mentality. 3) Gritty resourcefulness. 4) Awareness that your competitors are trying to kill you. 5) Belief that nothing is owed to you.

Best Advice for Students and Pending Graduates: 

Take ownership over your career and do what you truly want to do, or at least think you want to do, right off the bat. Make your decision using only your gut and intuition about what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at and what your ideal day-to-day professional life would look like. Don’t let family pressure, the current economic climate/job market, arbitrary social obligations or your peers influence your direction. Do what you love and are passionate about. Don’t choose a career because it’s the rational, safe choice. That’s not practical, that’s foolish. If you love your profession and are passionate about your work, you’ll take personal stock in your performance. You’ll be naturally motivated. Eventually, you will excel. You’ll become a commodity to someone, somewhere who will pay you good money to do what you love. When you follow your passion, you give yourself the highest ceiling in terms of potential career growth. Don’t make the same initial mistake I did when I chose law school (because it was the rational, safe choice). Go where your passion and talent is. The rewards will follow.

Student Mentee Preference:

I can offer the most value to students interested in entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, sales, and the technology industry. The more your interests align with those topics, the better our conversations will be. I’m also a great resource for those who are considering attending law school.

Jack Studer
The Company Lab - Manager, Executive Director

Jack is a Chattanooga native, and attended Baylor School before making his way to Princeton. His career began on Wall St. at Credit Suisse, where he found success working on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions with major players such as Google, Oracle, Omniture, and YouTube. After catching the entrepreneurial bug, he founded a software company DraftSpace, which was acquired and is now part of Moody’s Investors Service.

Jack returned to Chattanooga with intent to bolster the economic growth of the city by promoting local entrepreneurship. He co-founded the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, an angel investment fund for southeastern entrepreneurs. He then co-founded Lamp Post Group in 2010, a venture capital incubator which has created over 100 jobs and tens of millions of dollars in local economic impact. Most recently, he co-founded Torch; a local company that has created a WiFi router with built in parental controls.

When he’s not promoting new entrepreneurial ventures Jack dedicates his time to promoting innovative healthcare, serving as Chairman of Erlanger’s Board of Directors. Jack is a master of numbers and loves books, gadgets, and spending time with his amazing wife, Caitlin, and two beautiful daughters, Kate and Maggie.

Deb Kearnaghan
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - Accounting and Human Resources

Deb is currently a member of the TVA Compensation Staff at TVA where they provide governance and oversight of the TVA Compensation programs. 

Deb has 30 years of accounting and HR experience in the Federal Government/Utility industry. This includes 25 years of serving in various accounting roles both at corporate and operations level.  Some positions she has held include Controller for both the Hydro and Nuclear programs at TVA.  In addition, Deb is the former Manager, Talent Acquisition and On-Boarding for TVA.   She also spent time as a financial analyst at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. 

Deb holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting from East Tennessee State University.  She is also a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR).

When not working, Deb is spending time with her two boys and traveling.   Her goal is to visit each state in the US (only five to go!) and to see as much of the world as possible.

Philosophy of work:
Do your very best in all assignments – each job and how you complete it is a reflection of you!  It is true that every encounter you have is an interview. 

Advice for pending graduates:
Be passionate about your work and your life.   If you are not happy in what you choose to do as your life’s work you cannot be truly successful.   This is true for your chosen profession as well as your personal life.   Life is way too short not to enjoy yourself.

Type of student sought:
Any student who wants to take advantage of this program to make the most of their opportunities.   And who wants to have some fun along the way.

Brandon Abney

JPMorgan Chase - Senior Underwriter

Brandon Abney is a Senior Underwriter for JP Morgan Chase Bank working to support Middle Market companies in East Tennessee.  Middle Market commercial banking is a segment of the Chase Commercial Bank that serves clients with revenues ranging mostly between $20 million to $500 million.    Previously, Brandon served as a Portfolio Manager in the Corporate Banking group at First Tennessee Bank.

A life long resident of Chattanooga and proud Moc, Brandon received his BA in Economics-Pre Law from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2002.  While at UTC, Brandon developed a passion for business and more specifically banking.  He also served in many leadership positions on campus and was a member of a Southern Conference winning tennis team.    After a few years of working and desire to expand in the banking profession, Brandon went back to UTC and received his MBA in 2007. 

As a volunteer, Brandon focuses his attention mostly at his church in East Brainerd as well as UTC where he currently serves as Vice President of the Alumni Board.  Other activities include being a United Way Emerging Leader Advisory Board member, a TNachieves mentor, and Chattanooga Leadership.   Brandon lives in Ooltewah with his wife Cortney (also a Moc) and two beautiful little girls.

Areas of expertise:

  • Commercial Banking
  • Credit / Analytical Skills
  • Financial Analysis
  • Leadership

Work Philosophy:

Have fun, enjoy what you do, and always be a Team Player!

Type of Student I hope to mentor:

A student that is passionate about business and one that is interested in banking/finance. 

Advise for Students:

Be Confident but Be Humble! You do not know everything!  Once I got over my ego and started listening and engaging with others, I discovered that I can learn something new from everyone (no matter their age or experience).   If you are not constantly learning and growing in life (personally and professionally), you are falling behind.   

 Merri Mai Williamson, SPHR

Application Researchers - Founder & Chair

Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.”  Merri Mai Williamson took Uncle Miltie’s advice in 1993 when she began working on a business plan after flattening her nose on the proverbial glass ceiling.  Equipped with a talent for screening employment applications, a knowledge of human resources, and a where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way attitude, she introduced her business to the Chattanooga market in 1994.

Merri Mai, a native Chattanoogan, began her career in human resources twenty-five years ago.  Recognizing the necessity for eliminating attrition while obtaining quality personnel, she developed screening procedures which she incorporated into her hiring process... and her attrition dropped 50%, which led to the formation of her company.  As a licensed private investigative agency, Application Researchers® provides everything from criminal histories to health screenings for over 1300 clients.

Now, twenty years later, Merri Mai has a thriving business… being named Small Business of the Year in 2001 by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and having received the Athena Award and the Jane Cozby Henderson Award for the success she has achieved in her industry, as well as being honored with two awards for excellence in ethics and a designation of Woman of Distinction.  Merri Mai holds the distinction of Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), which is designated by the Human Resource Certification Institute for completing credentialing programs that validate mastery in the field of human resource management and the promotion of organizational effectiveness. 

As an entrepreneur and business owner, Merri Mai is accustomed to a work week stretching beyond 70 hours and firmly believes that true success is a result of hard work.  Each generation has its own characteristics where work ethic is concerned, and Millennials certainly strike the most balance between professional and personal time.  Although Merri Mai believes that the other three generations in the workplace can learn from this youngest generation, she would encourage Millennials to recognize and respect an employer’s culture, as well as co-workers’ generational differences.

Type of Student I Hope to Mentor:  human resources, entrepreneurship majors

Kim Perry, CPA

Elliott Davis Decosimo - Senior Manager 

Services: Assurance | Industries/Specializations: Manufacturing and Distribution, Consumer Finance

Kim serves manufacturing and distribution clients with annual revenues of approximately $1.4 billion. Her experience with public clients subject to the Sarbanes Oxley Section 404 requirements allows her to provide specific internal control recommendations for companies in the baked foods, industrial packaging and delicatessen meats industries. She manages one of the largest privately-held, pay-day advance and consumer finance companies with centers in more than 30 states. Well versed in the strict state and federal regulations that apply to the consumer finance industry, Kim assists clients with financial reporting and disclosure requirements as well as communicating the impact and implications of new accounting standards. Her ability to maintain a current knowledge of compliance regulations, as well as financial reporting requirements, is an invaluable asset to the clients she serves.

Education, Credentials and Special Training

Certified Public Accountant

B.S., Business Administration, cum laude, East Tennessee State University

Professional Affiliations

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants

Civic and Community Activities

Board Member, Chattanooga Chapter of American Red Cross

Graduate, Leadership Chattanooga 

What is your philosophy on work?

I believe my philosophy towards work is simply a reflection of me.  My philosophy is to approach each day with passion, commitment and enthusiasm.  While that may not happen on a daily basis, my goal is to serve my clients, my firm, and my team with the highest level of excellence.  In return, I feel a rewarding sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

What is your best advice for students?

My screen saver is “Blend in for WHAT?”  I take that very seriously!  My best advice for students is just to get out of your own way.  You’ll never reach perfection but the reward is the journey to perfection.  Keep that circle of family and friends close as they will support you during the difficult moments along the journey. 

What type of student do you hope to mentor through this program?

I would like to mentor an African-American accounting/finance student who is focused and highly motivated.  My ideal student will actively participate in the mentor/mentee relationship in order to make the match a success.  My objectives are to listen, share my experiences and provide guidance as needed.  I also want this person to know that they are not alone even if they walk into a room and no one looks like them.

Zach Hutcherson, CPA, MBA

HHM Certified Public Accountants - Manager, Assurance Department

Zach Hutcherson was born and raised in Chattanooga, and, aside from his time in graduate school, has remained here his entire life. He received his undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga in 2009, and received an academic scholarship to Samford University’s Brock School of Business, where he earned master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Accountancy. Upon graduation, Zach joined Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough as a staff accountant in January 2011. Over the past 5 years, he has developed specialties dealing with businesses within a broad range of industries such as manufacturing, nonprofit, and automotive dealerships. As of July, 2016, he was promoted to manager in the company’s assurance department.

During his time outside the firm, Zach has a variety of hobbies. During college, he trained in boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Additionally, he is an avid chef, enjoying cooking traditional southern BBQ dishes like ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. An avid guitar player, Zach once considered a career as a professional musician, and has played in a wide range of different musical styles, from his time in a jazz  ensemble to several shows with a heavy metal band.

Zach is very active in the community. He is a member of the TSCPA, the former president of YPAC, a member of the Emerging Leaders Committee at United Way, and the Treasurer of Choose Chattanooga. He is also a graduate of Protégé Chattanooga.

Work Philosophy:  Obviously, in order to achieve success you have to work hard, but simply deciding to put in long hours at the office misses the point of what most people are hoping to accomplish.  Work should be engaging, challenging, and motivating.  You spend a tremendous portion of your life at work, so it needs to be something that you find fulfilling.  If you put yourself on a career path that you find engaging and fulfilling, the hard work will come naturally as you work to progress and develop your skillset.

Best Advice: The most important, and also underrated, skill that you can have when coming out of college and entering your profession is to develop your interpersonal skills.  Employers, especially small to mid-sized businesses, continue to place a greater emphasis on these soft skills, and they will get you as far in your career as anything else.  Begin developing those early, and you will go far.

Type of Student Mentee: A motivated and ambitious business student that aims to try and achieve both workplace success and to achieve an excellent work/life balance.

Sarah Oakman, CPA

LBMC - Tax Manager

Sarah is a certified public accountant and a tax manager at LBMC. She recently joined LBMC, but has twelve years of public accounting experience. She started at G. R. Rush & Company right out of college and spent seven years there doing everything from monthly bookkeeping to auditing financial statements. She began specializing in taxes when she went to work for Decosimo in 2011. She was there for four years before joining LBMC in November. 2015. She works with clients in a variety of industries that have operations across multiple states and in foreign countries.

When Sarah is not doing taxes, she's on the lake, at a concert, or spending time with herkids.

Education: Tennessee Technological University, Bachelor of Science, Accounting, 2000-2004

Work Philosophy: I believe in working hard and smart. Work until you get the job done, but do it as efficiently as possible so you have time to play later! You also have to be invested in what you’re doing. You have to be excited about it and feel like you’re a part of something.

Best Advice for Students: Take an internship in an area you think you want to work in and see if you truly do enjoy that type of work.

Type of Student I Hope to Mentor: Any student interested in business or who might need help with the transition from college student to professional. It took me a long time to make that transition, so I have lots of good advice. Most of which I learned the hard way!

Todd Dockery

City of Chattanooga - Director of Human Resources

Todd is the Director of Human Resources for the City of Chattanooga where he provides strategic planning and oversight for the City’s Human Resources Department and develops, designs and implements Human Resources programs that impact the City’s 2,700 employee workforce.

Todd holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a double concentration in General Management and Human Resource Management and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Todd is also a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS), Professional in Human Resources (PHR), SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), Group Benefits Associate (GBA), Compensation Management Specialist (CMS) and a Rule 31 Listed Mediator (General Civil) with the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Todd has over 15 years of progressive HR and business leadership experience.  This includes serving as a Personnel Administration Sergeant in the United States Army, a Human Resources leader for a long term acute care hospital, a compensation and benefits manager for two large, multi-state transportation companies and as a member of the executive Human Resources team for a state wide nonprofit.  Todd currently teaches as an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business and was previously an instructor for the UTC Continuing Education Department for the PHR / SPHR Preparation Class.  For two years, Todd also served on the volunteer Board of Examiners for the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). 

In his free time, Todd spends as much time as possible with his family.  He is an Elvis fan, collects PEZ dispensers and enjoys riding in his 1963 Imperial Convertible.

Philosophy of work:
Work hard, have fun and always be professional.   

Advice for pending graduates:
Always look at life as an opportunity to learn more.  Your education does not end when you graduate from college - that’s when it truly begins.  Volunteer and get involved with your community.  Find things that you are passionate about.

Type of student sought:
Any student who wants to learn more about Human Resources, Management / Leadership or PEZ dispensers. 

Morgen Rose

EPB - Corporate Accountant

Morgen Rose is originally from Chattanooga and has both her Bachelors and Masters in Accounting from UTC.  She has worked in Financial Accounting and Internal Audit for 10 years, first at Life Care Centers of America in Cleveland, followed by Covenant Transport in Lookout Valley, and now at EPB. Currently she works mainly with the purchased power and billed revenue for the Electric side of EPB, dealing with TVA as well as internal customers on a daily basis. 

Morgen is a Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Utility Accountant designation through TVPPA.  She has recently been appointed as Vice President of the Chattanooga chapter of the Accounting and Finance Women’s Association (AFWA) and looks forward to getting more students involved through job shadow opportunities and social events.

She enjoys the “people” part of accounting and internal audit, translating numbers into useful information for management and improving processes.  Accounting has always felt like organization more than math, and new office supplies are a constant source of excitement.

In her spare time, Morgen does crossfit, goes hiking with friends, and participates with the Chattahooligans for the Chattanooga Football Club every summer.

Work Philosophy:  You spend more time at your job than you do during the rest of your day anywhere else, so make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, the people you work with, and the company you represent. If you don’t, decide what needs to change, and take the steps to make those changes.

Advice for Students:  Take every opportunity you can – participate in clubs, go on job shadows, apply for internships, work a part time job, go to speakers and ask questions. Any information you can piece together about the world you’re about to enter with your degree will help you to decide what will and will not work for you. Sometimes you learn the most about yourself when you figure out what you do NOT want to do.

Type of Student Sought: Proactive student who takes ownership and makes an effort to get involved

Shannon York

Siskin Children's Institute - Marketing and Communications Manager

Shannon began his career as a newspaper production artist in 2002 and has since excelled through all aspects of media design and strategy making him a perfect fit for the ever changing newspaper market and the high paced innovation of the Chattanooga Times Free Press(CTFP). He ended his career at the CTFP as Creative Services Director where he oversaw the design direction, production, and implementation for brand, advertising, and marketing, including digital, print and mixed media campaigns, serving traditional newspaper and non-traditional newspaper clients for the Chattanooga Times Free Press and other nonprofit organizations in the Chattanooga area.

Shannon now manages all marketing and communication strategies for the local nonprofit, Siskin Children’s Institute(SCI). At SCI Shannon collaborates with a develop­ment and communication team to leverage digital, social, and traditional marketing channels to brand and generate awareness for the Institute and its multiple children and family services. Management includes but is no limited to digital media and com­munications, press releases, app design and deployment, traditional print and direct mail campaigns, event planning and implementation, media relations, budget manage­ment, sponsorship communications, creative strategy, and brand management.

In his free time Shannon has been very active in the community serving on many local boards and committees and recently served as President of the American Advertising Federation of Chattanooga overseeing the activities of the 100+ member chapter including membership, government relations, budgeting, scholarships, monthly programs, and event planning for ADDY® Awards, Media Auction, Silver Medal Awards, and other networking, fundraising and community events.

Shannon has also organized many local and regional creative advertising competitions including the American Advertising Federation of Chattanooga's ADDY Awards and enjoys working with local nonprofit organizations throughout the Chattanooga community.

Community Involvement:

  • Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Council Member
  • American Advertising Federation (AAF) of Chattanooga Board,
  • President - American Advertising Federation of Chattanooga,
  • AAF District 7 Board of Directors,
  • AAF ADDY Awards Chair,
  • Holmberg Steering Committee,
  • Imagine Chattanooga 2020,
  • Jordan Thomas Foundation Board,
  • Chattanooga State Advisory Board,
  • ITT Tech Advisory Board,
  • Jefferson Awards Board & Judge,
  • Tennessee Press Association Design Judge,
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Design Competition, Judging Coordinator

In his personal time Shannon enjoys active, outdoor activities and credits most of his success to his loving, supportive and very patient wife, Jaclyn.

Advice for pending graduates:

“Marketing opportunities can vary based on the communication goals of a company. You have to be agile in today’s ever changing market”

Type of student I Hope to Mentor:

“One that is personally driven … willing to sacrifice some personal  time to get noticed.”

Jeana Lee

Unum - Community Relations

Jeana Lee works in community relations at Unum, a Fortune 500 financial protection benefits provider.  In her community relations role she manages Unum’s community partnerships, plans corporate events, writes communications for internal and external partners, helps with the management of charitable giving, connects employees to organizations that line up with their personal passions, and ensures that Unum remains an effective, engaged corporate citizen. She’s passionate about the work she does and is an avid believer in supporting education initiatives.

A native of Chattanooga, Jeana received her B.S. in Organizational Management from Bryan College in 2012.

Jeana lends her expertise in community engagement efforts to both civic and community organizations in Chattanooga. She currently serves on boards with Y-CAP, Emerging Leaders and the Downtown Council for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. Jeana is the 2016-2017 Community Campaign Chair for Y-CAP. She is also a big sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring program, and is a proud member of the 2016-2017 Leadership Chattanooga class.

Areas of expertise:

  • Marketing and Communications
  • Public and Employee Relations
  • Event Planning and Management
  • Not-for-profit Board Training and Development
  • Leadership and Project management
  • Public Speaking

Work Philosophy: Choose a career that aligns with your personal passions and strengths, remain honest and ethical in all that you do, always remain humble, be your own personal best – each and every day, and never be afraid to admit you were wrong.

Type of Student I hope to mentor: Any student who is interested in leadership development, community/civic organizations, marketing or public relations.

Advice for Students: Always be flexible. The business landscape is continuously evolving, and so might your career – be ready to adapt! Always be positive. Employers appreciate positive employees.  View every negative circumstance as an opportunity to make a positive impact on your organization. Always have a mentor. It doesn’t matter how far your career progresses, there are always things to be learned from others. Get involved in your community. Being involved in the community helps you to network with people outside your department or organization, provides personal and professional development, and helps you to connect to the place you live and work.  Have a prepared elevator speech. You never know when you could be talking to a potential employer!

Katie Gillman, SHRM-CP

Enterprise Holdings - Talent Acquisition Manager

Katie began her journey at Enterprise Holdings in May 2004 as an Intern. She was promoted to a Management Trainee upon graduating with aBachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Supply Chain Management from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  She quickly moved up to Management Assistant, Assistant Manager and then managed 5 different locations before apromotion to Talent Acquisition Specialist in 2011.  She was promoted to Regional Talent Acquisition Manager in 2013 and now manages the recruiting department over East TN and Northern GA.

Enterprise is very much an entrepreneur company.  As a manager, she oversaw all the office operations and supervised my team.  She developed sales/marketing strategies, proactively sought process improvements to ensure high quality customer service, reviewed and analyzed financial statements and reports, and created a fleet strategy.  Above all else, she trained, challenged and mentored herteam.

In the Talent Acquisition department she manages external hiring needs and internal promotions for all 3 brands under Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car). She develops and implements recruiting strategies, leads employee trainings, created/manages the Career Coach program and partners with upper management. She is an Internal Formal Mentor as well as co-founder of the Women in Life and Leadership Program.

Katie is a board member of 2 Universities in East TN, a presenter at the Clifton M. Jones Leadership Conference since 2012 and VP of Employers for the Tennessee Association of Colleges and Employers.

Work philosophy: If opportunity does not knock, create a door and be the one to make it happen.

Advice for students: Work as many internships as possible during college.  No matter what your major is, there are so many careers that you can pursue so internships help you find your niche and your passion.

Mike Caffrey

InfoSystems - Chief Strategist

Mike's career in Information Technology has now spanned 32 years.  It has offered lots of opportunities to work with software developers, CEO’s, and  community leaders… mostly solving problems with technology but many times, just solving problems.

Mike started as a shift worker in a data center in Lincoln, NE. It took 4 years to be considered for his next position, but the experience became a springboard for the promotions that followed.  He has worked for large corporations like State Farm Insurance and IBM.  He has also worked for tiny companies with revenues of less than $2M. Mike has been a consultant to companies like GM and McDonalds.  He has even owned hisown company.  He has donated hundreds of hours to charitable organizations and has worked on some pretty cool projects.

Within the last 5 years, he has found a love for analytics and its many applications.

My work philosophy:  Say “No” a lot less.  Say “Yes” to extra work, special assignments, outside projects, volunteer work, writing/blogging…  etc.  Consider the last time you said “No” – then consider that someone else said “Yes”.  Say “Yes” to random connections.  Say “Yes” to using social media, new people, and new ideas.

My work and my passion found a common ground, the moment I said “yes” to something I didn’t fully understand, that was offered by people much more experienced than I.

Best piece of advice for students:  Find your passion! (and don’t think about money) If you are passionate about what you do, you can’t really call what you do “work”.  If you haven’t found your passion yet – keep looking.  Don’t give up.  You’ll find it eventually… with an open mind and a willingness to try, it will happen.

Type of student I’d like to mentor: A high energy student with a solid aptitude for business but a creative mind – not intimidated by technology or better, things he/she doesn’t yet fully understand.  I don’t care what the major is.  I feel I offer more to a student that doesn’t know what they want but willing to prepare themselves for what may come.

Tara Camp

Propex Operating Company - Senior Cost Analyst

Tara Camp has been an accountant for almost twenty years, heavily in the floor covering industry, but had some detours along with the way in public utilities and hospitality. Her earlier accounting positions were more general, but had she been directed more on her talents, she probably would have gone the cost route much sooner.

Tara is a native of Chattanooga – attending Notre Dame High School and graduating with a Bachelor’s from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  While at UTC, she served as a work-study in the Fletcher Hall computer lab and became a coop student with TVA.  In 2007, she completed her MACC through Kaplan University online.  Currently, she is pursuing her CMA, which is more pertinent to her job than a CPA. 

Tara is highly involved in Chattanooga. She serves on the UTC Alumni Board and also as the Chapter Development chair for the AFWA, Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance. She is also a tribe leader at Silverdale Baptist. She lives in the Ooltewah area, with her husband and children and is expecting a new addition in March 2017.

Best Advice for Pending Grads: Tara enjoys what she does now, but that hasn’t always been the case. She confesses to making some hasty decisions in the past that led to accepting jobs for the wrong reasons, glass ceilings, being overqualified, or just being in a bad situation.  What she wishes to contribute most to the mentoring experience is to help someone coming into the workforce in making more informed decisions that benefit the mentee’s talents and asking the right questions before getting into a bad situation.  However, nothing is foolproof, and it’s ok to fail – unfortunately, that’s how some lessons are learned.

Type of Student I Hope to Mentor: Tara hopes to mentor a student that is self-motivated, believes in building connections, and isn’t afraid to step out of the box to learn.  In today’s business world, you are expected to wear many different hats, regardless of your job title – the more flexible and adaptable you are, the more likely you are going to stick around. 

Three workforce philosophies – (1) Volunteer to learn new things – if you aren't learning, you aren’t growing. (2) Biggest pet peeve – “Well we’ve always done it that way” – doesn’t mean it is right or best! (3) Be horizontally integrated – learn as much about each department’s contribution as you can to get the best perspective possible and be able to explain information clearly to any audience.

Bill Copeland

EPB - Director of Business Intelligence, Strategic Research Division

Bill was born and raised in Chattanooga, where he continues to reside, enjoying all of the unique aspects of life and outdoor activities that Chattanooga has to offer.  He is the Director of Business Intelligence within EPB’s Strategic Research division.  In his role, Bill is responsible for providing and directing analysis for new areas of business at EPB that are in alignment with the strategic vision of creating the “utility of the future”.  Functions of Bill’s role lead to almost limitless research and feasibility analysis for any and all technologies that affect the energy and communications industries.  Of particular interest for Bill is the ability to transform and integrate disparate datasets into meaningful visual analysis that can be used to guide strategic decision making within EPB.

After graduation from Hixson High School, Bill went on to UTC to study Economics where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1999.  He then went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Business with a concentration in the Management of Information Systems at Tennessee Tech.  During his collegiate career he participated in the Walt Disney World College program where he both worked and studied business philosophies of Walt Disney. Bill is proud to call himself an alumnus of Hixson High, UTC and Tennessee Tech and continues to be engaged in those communities.

After graduation, Bill went on to work at TVA, first as an intern, then as a Database Administrator for 5 years, then was offered a position as an energy market analyst on TVA’s trading floor. In 2014 Bill left TVA and joined EPB in his current role that continues to build upon his background in the Information Systems/Technology and Energy industries. In 2014 Bill was asked to teach Management of Information Systems and Business Statistics at UTC in an adjunct capacity, and currently still enjoys teaching.  Bill is passionate about data visualization and analytics and gets excited about the meaningful insights it can bring to organizations of all types and sizes.

During his time at TVA and EPB, Bill has been highly engaged with Chattanooga Robotics, where he assists in managing an annual golf tournament that has raised over $3M+ and serves as a board member.  Proceeds from the tournament are managed by the Chattanooga Community Foundation and support a college scholarship program for seniors at Howard High school and fund robotics programs at 50+ Chattanooga elementary, middle and high schools.  Bill enjoys being active in managing various aspects of both these programs.  Bill is also active at his church where he and his family serve and worship.  Bill believes in being an active participant in the community and looks forward to opportunities to help shape the future of Chattanooga.  He believes in being a supporter, a “doer” and working for causes bigger than himself that benefit all residents of our city, not segmented populations.  He is passionate about Chattanooga’s unique mix of natural beauty, activities, culture and growth potential in the coming years. 

Bill is married to his wonderful wife of 4 years, Cindy. She is employed by Memorial Hospital as a nurse. They have two beautiful daughters and enjoy spending family time at all of the wonderful events and features our city has to offer!

Work Philosophy:  Enjoy it, and always do your best – for yourself and those you serve.  Work hard, but find balance – it’s the only way to sustain your momentum.

Advice for Students: Work hard, and realize what a gift the opportunity of an education is.  Above all, don’t limit yourself!  This is one of the most exciting times of your life, take it with both hands and go wherever you want to!