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, and senior students. Undergraduates 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. Mentors rotate every semester.

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

Melissa Crane

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - Senior Service Manager, Transmission Solutions, Information Technology

Melissa Crane is the Senior Service Manager of Transmission Solutions within the Information Technology organization at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  In her role, she is responsible for providing Information Technology solutions and support for her business partner, Transmission Power Supply.  Melissa and her team regularly interact with all levels of the business to provide real-time support of applications that allow Transmission Power Supply to provide reliable services to local power providers and directly served customers across the valley. 

Melissa has worked for TVA for over 14 years, starting in their intern program.  Melissa previously served in multiple leadership roles for the agency, leading successful cross organizational teams.  As Senior Manager of Enterprise Services, she was responsible for services supporting the enterprise including enterprise information management and solutions, software architecture and data integration, enterprise content management, and enterprise collaboration solutions.   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 sixth half-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.


 Jeff Olingy

Atlantic Capital Bank - Senior Vice President for Community Development

In his present capacity, Jeff is responsible for coordinating corporate efforts toward serving the financial needs of all the citizens of the communities the bank operates within; from Atlanta to Chattanooga to Knoxville. Before assuming this role, Jeff was the Chief Marketing Officer for FSG Bank (prior to its purchase by ACB), from 2013 to 2015.

Jeff’s professional career spans over 40 years, and includes employment in banking, insurance, politics, nonprofits, and higher education, from South Carolina, to Washington, D.C., to Boston, and finally to Chattanooga 20 years ago.

While living in Chattanooga with his wife, Julie, Jeff has held leadership positions in the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, The Bethlehem Center, Volunteers in Medicine, United Way, Launch, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Work Philosophy: Live a balanced life, you’re a better professional when you have a rewarding personal life, and you’re a more successful spouse, parent, or citizen when your professional life is prospering.

Best Advice for Students: Work hard to develop your transferable skills; communication, leadership, strategic thinking, and organizational, among many. You’ll find that they’re in demand in all industries, at all levels.

The type of student I hope to mentor: Confused, uncertain, but confident and willing to work hard and smart to achieve both personal and professional goals.


Camille Daniel

First Tennessee Bank - Senior Vice President Commercial Banking/ Team Lead

Camille currently serves as the Commercial Banking Team Leader at First Tennessee Bank for the Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia markets.  She has 20+ years of industry experience in Commercial Banking. Camille started her career in 1995 after graduating from Rhodes College with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration.  In 2002 Camille earned her MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga while working at SunTrust Bank.  While at SunTrust, Camille completed the bank’s extensive 12-month management training program and held various commercial banking positions including Commercial Credit Analyst and Commercial Relationship Manager.  Camille spent five years at AmSouth Bank in a Relationship Management role until moving to First Tennessee Bank.  Camille is actively involved in the community and currently serves on the board of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga.  In 2013, she graduated from Leadership Chattanooga and served as the Co-Chair of the Creative Discovery Museum’s Annual Fundraiser, Amuseum and is a sustaining member of the Jr. League of Chattanooga. 

Work Philosophy: Keep the big strategic picture top of mind and prioritize accordingly. 

Best Advice for Students: Relationship building is an investment that is important to your future whether it be with friends, colleagues, mentors, employees or clients. 

The type of student I hope to mentor: I am open to mentoring any student who is eager to learn and prepare for his or her entrance into the business community. 


Tanner Goodrich

Erlanger Health System - Vice President of Operations

Tanner J. Goodrich, FACHE, serves as Vice President of Operations for Erlanger Health System, and CEO of the North Georgia Market.  Mr. Goodrich is board certified in healthcare management and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  He obtained his Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Memphis.

Mr. Goodrich joined Erlanger Health System as the Administrator of Oncology Services in June of 2013, after serving in the same role at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, IA. Prior to his role in Iowa City, Mr. Goodrich was the Manager of Operations for the Cancer Center and Brain and Spine Institute at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, the major teaching campus of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Mr. Goodrich has a passion for education, and improving the health of our children through youth sports programs.  He serves on the Board of the Signal Mountain Youth Baseball Association, and coaches several youth sports teams.  Tanner is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, and a member of the programs distinguished Alumni Association. 

Work Philosophy:

  • I believe in complete transparency in an organization and with my direct reports. I believe this empowers my leaders to make the best decisions for the organization.
  • I believe that we, as leaders, cannot be successful operating in silos, so collaboration and the ability to work in teams is critical to success.
  • I believe in rewarding risk-taking. Pushing the envelope brings new ideas.  Also, failure teaches us some of our greatest lessons.

Best Advice for Students: Learn the art of networking.  It is critical to meet and learn from those in your industry.  Get involved in the community where you work and live. Actively pursue a mentor. 

The type of student I hope to mentor: I’d like to mentor a student with big ideas and big goals, and an interest in the healthcare delivery system, or service industry. 


Larissa Huskey

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee - Director Market Strategy

Larissa was born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and she moved to the U.S. after earning a scholarship to attend college. Larissa studied Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (yes, it was her first winter ever!) 

After graduating, Larissa went back to Honduras and worked at BBDO Honduras. She quickly became passionate about research, marketing and advertising and has stayed in those areas ever since. Larissa later managed a research team for a Honduran consumer product company (later acquired by Unilever) and worked independently as a marketing consultant for many years. She also earned her MBA and taught Marketing classes in Honduras.

Larissa came back to the U.S. to earn a Master in Arts, focusing on Spanish and Hispanic culture. She worked as a T.A., taught Spanish in Atlanta, and continued consulting independently. Her intention was to go back to Honduras, but then met her current husband before it could happen. 

Larissa and her husband moved to Chattanooga in 2010 so she could launch her career at BlueCross, where she currently leads the Strategy Division (media, research, consumer experience and planning).

Larissa's  background is very diverse, which has allowed her to see the big pictures and the day-to-day details to succeed.

Work Philosophy:My work philosophy is simple - Do the right thing and do it the best you can.

Best Advice for Students: Life is all about balance, whatever you decide to do will impact something else. So keep this in mind as you prioritize everything in life.

The type of student I hope to mentor:  I'm open, but would love someone in marketing, advertising or analytics. It’d be great to mentor someone with Hispanic background or at the very least someone who is interested in different cultures.


Emmanuel Escobar

EPB - Recruiter

Emmanuel has been a recruiter for EPB since 2015 and in his words, "I love it! There is nothing like the thrill of finding the perfect person for the job and knowing that they would be a great fit for the company."  Beyond recruiting, Emmanuel has a variety of experience ranging from Human Resources, Social Work, Management, Graphic Design and Video Production. 

Emmanuel is the type of person who jumps first and asks questions on the way down - if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing with full commitment. He is a firm believer that although chasing your passions is a good idea, bringing your passion with you, regardless of where you end up, is even better.

Originally from Mexico, Emmanuel is bilingual, and enjoys bringing a different perspective to organizations that can often deliver fresh ideas and solutions. He lives in Chattanooga, TN with his wife and son, and enjoys spending time outdoors or at comic book stores.

Work Philosophy: I firmly believe that we are better together. There is no task that is not made easier with many hands working on it. With that said, I highly value trust and the fostering of relationships. After all, these are the pillars that differentiate great teams from simple working groups. Before starting a task let’s spend time together, learn our strengths and find what tasks are better done by whom.

Best Advice for Students: Be passionate - regardless if your first shot in the professional world is what you always dreamed of or not. Being passionate about your work makes you shine like a beacon to management and opens the door to start relationships that will help you get closer to your goals. Passionate people are magnetic, so be someone other people want to be around. You never know when one of those people might offer you your "dream" job.

The type of student I hope to mentor: An individual who is humble, driven and wants to be motivated to become a risk taker. Thinking your moves out is of absolute importance, but few things are as heart-breaking as people who are fully capable but are simply too scared to act. One of my passions is pushing people off metaphorical cliffs. If you want to fly, I want to talk to you.


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 for Students: 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.

The type of student I hope to mentor: A motivated and ambitious business student that aims to try and achieve both workplace success and to achieve an excellent work/life balance.


Brittany Fulmer Ennen

Erlanger Health System & RSS Insurance - Business Development

After moving from her home town of Maryville, TN to Chattanooga 4 years ago- Brittany Fulmer Ennen has focused on family and business.  She has flourished in the sales atmosphere for 10 years now.  Brittany started her career in membership sales.  After gaining experience, she moved to the medical device industry for 7 years.  Currently, she is in the business development role for multiple companies.  After graduating as a student- athlete, Brittany advanced with her Masters in Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.   While obtaining her Masters, she enjoyed teaching public speaking, and has continued mentoring students throughout her career.   Professionally her passions include teaching individuals how to be a resource in a sales atmosphere through networking and building quality relationships.  Brittany currently lives on Signal Mountain with her husband and two children. 

Work Philosophy: Respect yourself and others, Learn to be a Great Communicator, Don’t just work Hard, Work Smart. 

Best Advice for Students: Understand the industry:  the positives and negatives, how to advance, and what your competition is doing before you get the job.

The type of student I hope to mentor: I look forward to working with any student who is motivated and driven.  I remember not being sure of what I wanted to do.  If you are willing to network, and ask the right questions we will get you on the right path.  


Cheryl Millsaps

Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce - Vice President of Finance & Administration

Cheryl is responsible for managing the financial, human, information, and property assets of the Chamber, as well as providing ancillary strategic direction to collaborative initiatives such as Chatt 2.0, the Principal Leadership Academy and Thrive 2055.  Her team includes accounting, HR, IT and the management of the downtown office building the Chamber owns. She has been in her current role since 2005, and was previously the Director of Accounting for the Chamber.

Prior to the Chamber, Cheryl worked more than 20 years in a public utility, with positions ranging from commercial operations to financial analysis, and served as a functional expert in database operations, shepherding the migration of financial services to a shared services center.  She served as a bargaining unit shop steward and elected union official, participating in negotiating two contracts between the bargaining unit and company management.

Cheryl is a native of East Tennessee, who originally moved to Chattanooga to attend UTC. After spending time as a trailing spouse in Texas and Mississippi, she returned to her adopted home, where she completed her BS in Business Administration at Bryan College. She’s earned a Six Sigma credential in statistical process control, is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM-SCP), a graduate of the Institute of Organization Management (IOM) from Southeast Institute at UGA, and was recently recognized as a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, a credential held by fewer than 300 executives nationwide. 

Work Philosophy:  Work hard, play hard.  Pursue excellence, not perfection. Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s always about people. People do business with people they know and trust.  

Best Advice for Students: You’ll never again be as free to experience the world as you are right now.  Take courses outside your major. Work in unconventional jobs. Travel. Experience other cultures. There is a high likelihood life after college won’t go exactly as planned. Prepare for life, not a career.

The type of student I hope to mentor:  I hope to mentor a student who has overcome some challenges and shows the grit and determination to succeed in life.


Adam Vazquez

Strafire Media - Partner

Adam is an entrepreneur and veteran of the media industry having spent the last 7 years working in and around the advertising agency world.

After working with a handful of tech startups early in his career, Adam moved into the agency world and created campaigns for brands like The North Face, XYZAL, Retro Fitness, L’Oreal, Stainmaster, & others. He has had work featured in industry publications and is a Cannes-Lion nominated writer while working as an Account Supervisor at VaynerMedia.

Today, Adam runs Strafire Media in Chattanooga, TN. He believes in doing good work that ladders back to your vision for life and is more concerned with helping companies (and students) earn profit rather than notoriety. Adam would work best with a hungry student who is interested in learning how to craft brand messages, tell powerful stories, and work extremely hard to pursue their dreams.

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: 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.

The type of student I hope to mentor: 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.


Ed Lawrence

DEAL Properties, LLC – Owner

Currently, Ed is Co-Owner (with his wife, Donna) of a real estate investment company, where he owns and leases multiple commercial business centers and residential and resort properties.  Prior to his real estate investments he owned and operated multiple commercial printing companies for approximately 25 years. He and his business partner (and lifelong friend) took a small, mom and pop company with 5 employees and grew it to multiple locations with approximately 50 employees.  He sold his printing company interest in 2015 and now focuses on real estate opportunities.

His career has taken many turns since he graduated from UTC with a business degree (Marketing) in 1983.  Ed began his professional career in Marketing with First Tennessee Bank and quickly moved into the high tech business of consulting and selling mainframe computers.  He has experience working with small entrepreneur startup companies as well as Fortune 100 companies such as Xerox prior to his career in commercial printing.

Ed and his family have long linage of UC and UTC Alum, spanning 3 generations.  His wife, Donna is currently serving as the UTC Alumni President.  Both of his daughters (Anne Widener & Ashley Stembridge) have degrees from UTC and are active supporters of the school.  Anne recently served as President of the UTC Alumni Gold Council.  He is active in the community and church, having served on the boards of Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts of America and Hamilton Place Rotary Club.  He has been a past President Elect of the Rotary Club and is currently serving on its board.  He is also serving in several areas at his church.

Work Philosophy:  The 5% rule.  All you need to do is 5% ……. 5% more than is expected.  If you are willing to do the things that others are not willing to do, you will get to enjoy the things that others are unable to do.  Bring enthusiasm with you every day.  If you are in a situation where everything is even, your enthusiasm will make you the winner.

Best Advice for Students: Find a mentor.  Someone that has achieved success, and meet with them as often as you can.  Often times, the difference between where you are today and where you will be tomorrow are the people you meet and the books you have read.  Always be networking and stay well-read so you can communicate with nearly everyone you meet.

The type of student I hope to mentor: One that wants to succeed, is focused and is willing to invest in themselves to be successful. 


Shelley Swinney

Unum - Manager, Short Term Disability Benefits

            &

Samantha Vanatta

Unum - ADA Specialist

Shelley and Samantha are going to offer a unique mentoring opportunity - paired mentoring. They will act together to mentor a single student.

 

About Ms. Swinney: 

Shelley Swinney is a Short Term Disability Benefits Manager within the Unum US Benefits Operations Organization at Unum.  She is responsible for managing a team of front-line employees who evaluate and manage Short Term Disability claims to assist claimants who are unable to work due to a sickness or injury.

Shelley has worked for Unum for over 17 years, beginning as a Short Term Disability Benefits Specialist Trainee.  During her time at Unum, she has served in several varying roles within both the Short Term and Long Term Disability Departments.  The team she currently manages is piloting an agile workspace that is co-located with specialists who all service one customer administering Short Term Disability Claims, Long Term Disability Claims, Voluntary Benefits Claims, Family Medical Leaves and Americans with Disability Act Leaves.

She was born and raised in Chattanooga and graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga with a BA in Communications and a minor in Psychology.  Shelley has two children, one boy and one girl.  Her son plays select baseball, so most of her free time is spent traveling to tournaments to watch him play.  Her daughter has not yet quite come into her own, but it seems cheerleading will be part of her future.  Shelley also enjoys boating and being with family and friends.

Work Philosophy: 

  • Work hard, but make time to have fun because work-life balance is a must.
  • Respect is earned; it’s not automatic. When you do your best, respect others and remain humble, the rest will follow.
  • Go with your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  • Chase your dreams; don’t chase titles.

Best Advice for Students:  Remember that your co-worker today very well could be your boss tomorrow, and they won’t forget the way you previously treated them.  On the flip side, should you become the boss to a peer or co-worker, be humble, kind and fair—keeping in mind that the career ladder has two directions you might go at any given time.

The type of student I hope to mentor:  Someone who is eager to learn and excited about their future.  Someone who is not afraid to take risks and learns from mistakes in order to become a better person—both personally and professionally.

 

About Ms. Vanatta: 

Samantha has worked for Unum for over 15 years, starting in the Short Term Disability department as a Benefits Specialist. During her tenure in Short Term Disability she was promoted to Senior Disability Specialist and Lead Disability Specialist, managing and mentoring a team of 12 benefits specialists. She moved to the ADA department in May 2016 and has worked with mentoring other ADA Specialists, heading special projects, and engaging employers/employees in the ADA interactive process.

Samantha moved to Chattanooga in 1991 after she graduated from DeKalb County High School.  She enjoys spending her free time outdoors, boating and being with her family.  Samantha also enjoys to volunteer and give back to the community.

Work Philosophy: Work hard, make achievable goals, put forth 100% effort

Best Advice for Students: Picture yourself in the career you wish to be in and make achievable goals that propel you toward that career

The type of student I hope to mentor: A student who is motivated, willing to learn and wants to succeed in life.


Amanda Schaap

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - Financial Consultant

Amanda has over sixteen years experience in financial planning and analysis, expense management, internal controls and auditing. Educated at Florida State University (BS - Accounting) and Arizona State (MAIS - Accounting Information Systems), Amanda started her career at the Big Four firm of KPMG in Chicago in the Information Risk Management function and moved into IT auditing for Baxter where she was promoted several times to gain experience in financial analysis and finance management. In 2015, she joined TVA as a Financial Consultant III to provide business decision support and financial reporting for the combustion turbine and combined cycle power plants. As a new Chattanoogan, she is excited to get involved in the community and support UTC students.

Work Philosophy: Get your work done, maintain a positive attitude, and respect and support others.

Best Advice for Students: Volunteer for new projects, tasks, or responsibilities.  One of the best ways to keep learning, developing, and advancing in your career is to get out of your comfort zone and take on something new.  Don’t wait for an invitation to add to your skill set.  Remember that you own your career!

The type of student I hope to mentor: Accounting/Finance majors


Todd Dockery

UTC - Associate Director of Human Resources

Todd provides strategic planning and oversight for UTC's Human Resources Department and develops, designs and implements Human Resources programs that impact the university's 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 several 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, the HR Director for the City of Chattanooga and as a member of the executive Human Resources team for a state wide nonprofit.   Todd is also serving in his third year as an Examiner 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.

Work Philosphy: Work hard, have fun and always be professional.   

Best Advice for Students: 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 I hope to mentor: Any student who wants to learn more about Human Resources, Management / Leadership, or PEZ dispensers. 


Erin Creal

Chattanooga Room in the Inn - Executive Director

Erin was born in Chattanooga and moved with her family to Michigan and Kansas City.  In 1986, she returned to Signal Mountain with her parents. Erin spent one year at the University of Kansas prior to transferring to UTC in 1986.  Her major was Criminal Justice with hopes of joining the FBI.  During college, Erin worked part time at Chattanooga’s Better Business Bureau.

Unfortunately, Erin didn’t meet the physical requirements to join the FBI and became a probation officer with Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency (SETHRA) where she worked with adult and juvenile offenders.  Erin became the Program Manager of Youth Services at SETHRA in 1991 and remained in that position until 1998 when she began work at what is now known as the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.  Meanwhile, Erin returned to UTC and received her MBA in 1999.

At the Partnership, Erin was the Coordinator of Casework Services in the Youth Services Division.  She was responsible for the Caseworkers who worked with children in group and foster homes.  It was during her tenure there that the Partnership had a management contract with Chattanooga Room in the Inn (CRITI).  In 2004, Erin joined CRITI as their Executive Director where she remains today.

Erin has been active with many organizations such as Southeast TN Council on Children and Youth, Red Bank Neighborhood Pride Association, Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition and the Chattanooga Jaycees.  She currently serves on the Mayor’s Council for Women and is a member of Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI).  She completed Leadership Chattanooga, class of 2017.  She also volunteers with the Humane Society in Chattanooga.

Work Philospohy: Money can be a powerful motivator but it won’t give you the same satisfaction as finding your true niche in life.  Life is about serving others, not yourself.

Best Advice for Students: The learning isn’t over in college.  Keep striving to learn new things whether it be for personal or professional reasons.  It helps with seeing the whole picture.  Also, keep a sense of humor.  Sometimes that is what you need to just get through certain days.

Type of student I hope to mentor: Someone who is open minded and willing to try new things.   And possibly teach me a few things, too.


Joel Barnett

Independent Healthcare Properties/Morning Pointe - Data Analyst

Joel Barnett graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2014 with a BS - Accounting degree. Upon graduation he was hired on full time with Independent Healthcare Properties where he had been participating in an internship for six months. Over the last three years with Independent Healthcare Properties, Joel has implemented new software systems to assist in operations of Morning Pointe Senior Living. These programs consist of a new accounting system, marketing CRM program, resident electronic health records, and a payroll/HR system. Implementing and training on these programs has given Joel a well-rounded view of different aspects of their organization. Currently, he focuses on certain areas that ownership and management would like to reevaluate in order to identify efficiency opportunities or uncover unknown trends using the data provided by the systems they’ve implemented.

Work/life balance is very important to Joel and believes it helps him to perform better when he’s in the workplace. Golf, hiking, sports events, and travel are some of his favorite ways to spend time outside of the office. He also enjoys politics, and since moving to Chattanooga in 2010 has created a healthy relationship with several City, County, and State leaders. Thanks to his extraverted personality creating new relationships, connecting others, and engaging in conversation energizes him.

Joel is a native to Wayne County in Middle Tennessee. Although he didn’t know anyone in Chattanooga he moved there in 2010 to attend UTC. One of his favorite stories of his first day at UTC was seeing a banner with a map of all the counties of Tennessee and the number of UTC students from each county. Across the top it read “10,526 students! Where do they all come from?” Wayne County showed with just one. That was his motivation to meet as many new people as possible. While so many people have played a positive role in Joel’s life he hopes to return that favor to others.

Work Philosophy: Work smarter, not harder. There’s no need to put in 60 hour work weeks all the time; if you’re consistently spending that much time doing a job something isn’t working correctly. Find ways to innovate what you do. Empower others around you so that they can do their job more effectively and enjoy it.

Best Advice for Students: Prioritize your responsibilities and create relationships. Create a schedule and stick to it! Study time is very important and needs to be at a set time that you commit to. Don’t procrastinate and throw in multiple all-nighters before an exam. Be proactive so you have time to spend with friends and create memories during this pivotal time of your life.

Type of student I hope to mentor: I hope to mentor a business student that values relationships and the quality of life for everyone. With a strong heart and the will to see the positive in everyone, they can make a difference.


Kay Swartout

McKee Foods Corporation - Human Resources Business Partner, Corporate Offices

In her role as HR Business Partner for McKee Foods Corporation, Kay is responsible for being a resource to corporate department leadership as well as employees at all levels for all matters related to Human Resources. Her daily activities vary from working with managers to plan workforce needs relative to strategic direction, to implementing HR programs, and answering questions related to company policy.  Through working closely with the corporate departments, Kay has developed a broad knowledge of business particularly within Marketing and Sales, Accounting, Information Systems, Engineering, Human Resources, Research & Development.

Prior to becoming a HR Business Partner, Kay worked in McKee’s Organizational Development Department as the Organizational Analyst Specialist. That role had two primary functions: HR metrics/ad hoc reporting, and design and delivery of classes and programs to enhance leadership capabilities and employee engagement. Previous employment experience encompasses Clinical Analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, and positions at Erlanger Medical Center including Quality Improvement Consultant, Clinical Information Analyst and Senior Management Engineer.

Kay received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management & Economics and a MBA from UTC.  She holds certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and a Senior Certified Professional with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM-SCP). Kay and her husband are lifelong residents of Chattanooga, and their son is a senior at UTC.

Work Philosophy: Be a team player. Being good at what you do is not enough; the key is how you do it. Building relationships, taking responsibility, and being willing to help where needed demonstrates your commitment to the success of your team and organization.

Best Advice for Students: When starting your career, find ways to distinguish yourself. Whether you excel at academics, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, or work experiences, being able to set yourself apart from other recent hires will get you noticed over the competition for jobs.

Type of student I hope to mentor: Any student who has a desire to excel coupled with an open mind for unlimited possibilities.


Bryce Thomas

Northwestern Mutual -  Managing Director (Chattanooga)

Bryce joined Northwestern Mutual as a financial advisor in 2006. He played baseball and graduated magna cum laude from Carson Newman college with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Political Science. As a financial advisor, he helps clients accomplish their short, mid, and long term financial goals. In 2011, he was appointed Managing Director. The managing director role is designed to be a “player-coach”. He continues to help his clients achieve their goals and also attracts and mentors new advisors in Chattanooga and surrounding cities. He owes his success to God, parents that had high expectations of him, an amazing wife, and a great team.

Work philosophy: Most people determine their success by how they are doing compared to their past and compared to their peers. What if we approached life based on our potential?

Best advice for Students: Every class you have, every relationship you have, all experiences you have, good or bad, are preparing you for your future.

Type of student I hope to mentor: Motivated, committed, and eager to grow.