SEEC 2020: Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers 

Saturday Morning Keynote

Rachel HansonRachel Hanson, Officely, LLC

Rachel Hanson is the Founder and Owner of Officely, LLC, and the current Executive and Operations Assistant for Kelly Cars. She graduated from UTC in 2013.

For the past seven years, Rachel built her professional experience on the foundation of executive, HR, and operational assistance. In 2013, she was the EA to the CEO of Access America Transport, a third party logistics company, and Lamp Post Group, a venture capital incubator in downtown Chattanooga. In 2014, while remaining the Executive Assistant, she became the Community Manager for Lamp Post Group, and scaled to Director of Operations in 2015.

In 2016, Rachel helped found and build the Dynamo Accelerator, a logistics accelerator program at Lamp Post Group, as the Associate Director. After two years with the accelerator program, 5 years at Lamp Post Group, and a slew of experience in operations, HR, startups, and executive assistance, Rachel founded Officely, LLC.

Officely is the back office and white glove service for startups, boards and executives - Rachel focuses on high level operations, executive assistance, and conflict management in companies and workplace culture. At the end of 2019, Rachel signed on full time with Kelly Cars/Southern Honda supporting back office and executive management.

Rachel and her husband Dan reside in North Chattanooga with their two kids, Haley and Cole, and two dogs.



Breakout Session 1A "CBD Business Panel - Starting a CBD-based Business"

Mary FortuneMary Fortune, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Mary Fortune covers business news for the Chattanooga Times Free Press and is editor of Edge magazine. She began her career at the newspaper in 1997, covering topics including immigration, health care, the military, courts, and public housing. She also worked as a personal columnist and news editor. In 2008, Fortune left the newspaper for a role in corporate communications, working in media relations, internal communications, and social media for more than 11 years. She returned to the Times Free Press newsroom in 2019. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and has taught media writing as an adjunct at the university.





Elisha MillanElisha Millan, Grass Roots Health

Elisha Millan is a Chattanooga native, and a graduate of Central High School and Tennessee Wesleyan University. Elisha opened Grass Roots Health in June 2017 as Tennessee's first hemp dispensary. Since then, she expanded into multi-state operations with a location in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, added a charitable arm with Fund 129, and founded Southern Cannabis Consulting. As the organization continues to grow, Elisha most recently opened Henry's Wholesale Dispensary Supply.






James DawsonJames Dawson, Landrace Bioscience

Over the last decade, James has served as a sales and marketing strategist for multiple startups in Chattanooga, TN. Cutting his teeth in the field of technology, he helped launch Text Request in 2014. In the years that followed, he has worked with the disruptive E-commerce company, PriceWaiter, and low-code product development leader, Skuid. Most recently, he joined the founding team of Landrace Bioscience, an industry leader in hemp and cannabinoid ingredient technology. He lives in Highland Park with his wonderful wife, Danika, and son Titus.



Jaye BrewerJaye Brewer, Hill City Hemp Company

Jaye Brewer is the founder and COO of Hill City Hemp Company and the COO of HCH Skincare. He runs day to day operations, inventory management, strategic sourcing and all vendor relationships.

Jaye spent 13 years in sales and marketing within the Chattanooga market. During his tenure, he helped others brand and market their business and positioned them for growth. He has worked for fortune 500 companies to small non-profits. He believed all of them had one common framework, they were at the top of their respective industries and they offered the best products and services at the best price. This is the framework brought to Hill City Hemp and HCH Skincare, they strive to offer the best products at the best price.

Jaye enjoys spending time with his wife and his two daughters. He enjoys research, reading and finding the most efficient way to get stuff done.


John KernsJohn Kerns, New Bloom Labs

John Kerns is the Co-Founder and CEO of New Bloom Labs, a DEA Certified hemp testing lab in Chattanooga, TN. He also founded and has been the president of Preferred Care at Home for ten years. John is active in the civic life of Chattanooga, including as the immediate past chair of Welcome Home of Chattanooga, a home for those that have nowhere to go for end of life care. He lives on Missionary Ridge with his wife Sara, and dog Banjo.







Breakout Session 1B "Social Mission Ventures Panel"

Philip RoundyDr. Philip Roundy, Gary W. Rollins College of Business

Dr. Philip T. Roundy (the other “Dr. Phil”) is the UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Prior to coming to UTC, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Corporate Strategy from UT: Austin. His research focuses on understanding how entrepreneurship can be used as a tool for economic and community revitalization. He is particularly interested in entrepreneurs operating in struggling cities and "dying" industries. Through his research and consulting, he has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors across North America. He has published over 40 articles focused on how entrepreneurship and the marketplace can be used to improve society and serves on multiple editorial and nonprofit boards.


Marco PerezMarco Perez, Relife Strategies, TrailDrops

Marco Perez is an independent small business consultant through Relife Strategies and a Co-Owner of TrailDrops, delicious and nutritious food for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Prior to these roles he invested the last five years focusing on microbusiness training and coaching of underrepresented communities in entrepreneurship, primarily minorities, women, and people in low-wealth areas. A native Costa Rican, Marco moved to Chattanooga with his wife and three daughters in 2011 after one year of living in Austin where he saw the impact that an entrepreneurial ecosystem can have in a city. He has always been excited to be a part of that energy in Chattanooga especially in bringing all communities to the table.




Patrick MilesPatrick Miles, United Way Social Innovation

Patrick Miles is the United Way of Greater Chattanooga's Director of Social Innovation. As part of United Way's effort to accelerate community impact, Patrick helps to convene cross-sector project teams and in order to support and collaborate on opportunities across the greater Chattanooga region.

Patrick's main responsibility is to direct the human centered design and innovation aspects related to United Way's community impact work. As part of this work, he engages members of the community by providing guidance and facilitation on the development of new innovative strategies to help the community overcome some of the region's largest social challenges.




Michael WeissMichael Weiss, MSW Innovative

Michael Weiss is Founder and "Chief Disruptor" of MSW Innovative - a consultancy focused on innovation, design thinking, organizational transformation, and emerging technology. He has worked for big and small companies in various IT and Leadership roles, including Director of Innovation for a Fortune 500 company. He now works as a consultant and coach helping organizations solve problems and achieve their goals.

Michael is orginally from Philadelphia and has lived many places but is very pleased to have called Chattanooga home since 2015. He loves travel, hiking, and the theater. He believes strongly in the power of innovation to change lives and operates under the principle of "always assume good intent".





Breakout Session 2A "I Want to Start Something, But What? Leveraging Your Gifts and Passions"

Shelley PrevostDr. Shelley Prevost, Big Self, JumpFund

Dr. Shelley Prevost is an educational psychologist and leadership coach with a diverse professional background. In 2019, she launched Big Self - a learning community that equips people with the psychological tools and skills to thrive in their work and life. In addition to coaching and teaching, Shelley is also co-founder and active investor with the JumpFund, an angel fund investing in women-led high-growth startups in the Southeast. Shelley was the Director of Happiness and remains a partner at Chattanooga-based VC firm, Lamp Post Group. She also has executive experience as a startup CEO and has worked as a performance consultant with peak performers around the U.S. She has written about her work on purpose, relationships, workplace culture, and leadership in columns for Inc. and The Huffington Post. Her work has also appeared in TIME, Yahoo Business, Fast Company, LifeHacker, and Business Insider. Passionate about helping women develop authentic leadership, Shelley gave a 2015 TEDx talk entitled "Lead Like a Girl".





Breakout Session 2B "Launch and Iterate: How to succeed as an early stage startup"

Pedro TeixeiraDr. Pedro Teixeira, Prediction Health

Pedro Teixeira, MD, PhD received his degrees from Vanderbilt University and completed his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Josh Denny in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. There he applied machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) methods to extract phenotype information from electronic health records (EHR) and identify associations with genetic variants.

Pedro and two fellow classmates began a leave of absence in January 2017 to launch Prediction Health, a startup dedicated to helping doctors work seamlessly with machine learning to ensure every patient gets the best care every time. Their service currently combines machine learning, natural language processing, and remote human scribes to convert the audio from patient-doctor conversations into the documentation doctors are required to generate for every visit.

He has also presented his work broadly and won several awards, including first place in IBM's The Great Mind Challenge (Watson Technical Edition 2013).



Saturday Lunch Keynote

Kevin ZhangKevin Zhang, Kreator eCommerce 

Age 23, Kevin Zhang is a serial eCommerce entrepreneur and the CEO of Kreator eCommerce, a global eCommerce organization employing over 60 team members with facilities in 3 countries. Kevin achieved acclaim in the digital strategy and eCommerce community for generating $20M in sales in his first year as an entrepreneur. He was proclaimed the "eCommerce Rookie of the Year" by Affiliate World and became the youngest member of the Forbes Business Council.

Aside from managing his business, Kevin is an active advocate for eCommerce education and has provided mentorship to thousands of students around the world. Kevin is determined to empower and inspire future generations of entrepreneurs.






Roundtable Discussions

Jenny Whitener, Bridge Innovate

Jenny is the founder and CEO of Bridge Innovate. For more than 25 years, she has teamed with senior executives around the world to build leadership, innovate business, and mobilize change using the best of design, innovation, and management consulting methods.

Recent projects include leading the United Way's Hub for Social Innovation launch, the Thriving Infrastructure Collaborative for Thrive Regional Partnership, a General Education Design and Change initiative for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and a multi-year innovation capability launch for a 5-billion-dollar manufacturing company.

Consistent with her passion for social responsibility and using innovation for good, Jenny founded Bright Spark, a Bridge Innovate initiative to build creative confidence with students and educators through design thinking.


Sunday Morning Keynote

Andrew ByrumAndrew Byrum, Get Seated 

Andrew Byrum started Get Seated, a mobile app that shows restaurant wait times and specials, while in college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He attained a degree in Entrepreneurship and Marketing with a minor in Computer Science. He and his team, all students, were self funded and built the entire platform from the ground up. Get Seated was recently acquired at the end of 2019 by another restaurant app, Seated, based out of New York City. Andrew moved to Knoxville, TN in 2019 and enjoys learning new techniques in photo, video, and creative design in his free time. Even though his last business was acquired, he couldn't stay away from entrepreneurship long. He has since moved on to another mobile app startup, Slot, and currently serves as their Chief Marketing Officer.