MURFREESBORO, Tennessee. - RUTHERFORD Cable, founding sponsor of the ATHENA International Leadership Award for Rutherford County, announces the 2021 nominees for this year’s award; 15 area women representing 15 Rutherford County organizations have been nominated, along with 12 young professional women (see page 2 and beyond for a complete listing and bio of each nominee). The nominees were introduced at RUTHERFORD Cable’s April 13 breakfast meeting.
The community-wide celebration of this year’s nominees is open to the public and will be held Thursday, June 3, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1200 Conference Center Boulevard. The luncheon event begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $65 per person or $600 for a table of ten. To reserve a seat at the luncheon, please go to rutherfordcable.org/Athena to register.
In addition to honoring the accomplishments and contributions of Rutherford County women, the Rutherford ATHENA Awards also provides a $3,000 educational scholarship to a Rutherford County non-traditional female student who has been out of high school for at least five years. The local program is part of ATHENA International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders. Since its founding in 1982, more than 8,000 ATHENA awards have been presented in eight countries.
“We are excited to introduce the 2021 Rutherford ATHENA nominees as well as our young professional nominees to the community. The ATHENA program showcases the caliber of professional, committed leaders we are fortunate to have here in our community,” said Julie Lewis, 2021 Rutherford ATHENA chair. “These nominees excel in their careers, volunteer and take on leadership roles throughout Rutherford County. They make our community a better place to live, and we are proud to share their stories."
“RUTHERFORD Cable is proud once again to present this important program,” said Lori Williams, RUTHERFORD Cable President. “With the growth of Rutherford County, we want to honor leaders who are stepping up to make a difference right here at home. The scholarship component of ATHENA is an investment in our collective future. I especially want to thank all the sponsoring organizations who are visionary and see the value in highlighting exemplary leadership.”
The 2021 ATHENA Award nominees
Kenya Adams is a director for an IT healthcare company and has more than 20 years of health care administration experience. She holds two master’s degrees and is an advocate for women’s issues. Adams is passionate about entrepreneurship and is the CEO of PantyBuddy LLC, which distributes her invention, the PantyBuddy. PantyBuddy is a wristlet designed to protect women’s panties from the germs lurking in public restrooms. Adams has a heart for giving back to the community, and she serves on the board of the Pyramid Foundation of TN and the Forming Innovative Leaders and Scholars Foundation. She is married and has three sons.
Dr. Gloria Bonner
Dr. Gloria Bonner has lived the life of a trailblazer. Throughout her personal and professional career, she strives to raise the bar by setting a high standard of excellence. She dedicated 45 years of her life to a career in education and being a community stakeholder. Her perseverance and tenacity led her from being born and educated in a segregated society to the ivory towers of Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Harvard University, and the Oxford Roundtable for Women in Oxford, England. She is the first and only black Chief Academic Officer in MTSU’s 110-year history.
Lee Anne Carmack
Lee Anne Carmack advocates for justice and the arts. She serves as Public Policy Chair for AAUW-TN where she organizes voter registration events, teaches salary negotiating workshops, and lobbies for eliminating the salary history question on job applications statewide. She elevates arts appreciation in her roles as board member and dance interest (leader) for Rutherford Arts Alliance. She is co-founder and an advisory board member of Blue Moves Modern Dance. As an early member of Rutherford Cable, she served on the Networking and Programs (chair) Committees and the 2011 Executive Board, which brought the Athena Awards to Rutherford County.
Executive Director of AdamsPlace Residential Living Terri Deal has worked in senior living in Murfreesboro since 2011. A native to Middle Tennessee, Deal received a bachelor's degree from The University of Tennessee at Martin and master's degree in business administration from The University of Phoenix. Deal says serving seniors is her calling, she works knowing she is making a difference in the life of seniors and the family who supports them. She enjoys educating and building relationships with any who will listen to the benefits of community and socialization as we age.
Beth Goodner is currently the chief executive officer for TrustPoint Hospital and interim market CEO for Acadia. Beth has 30 years of experience in the social work and psychiatry field. Her experience has ranged from work in group homes, emergency shelters, hospitals, and she also owned and operated a private counseling practice.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Cynthia L. Harris has had a successful career in Human Resources for more than 15 years and runs her own business where she provides career development and employment resources. Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in Office Systems Technology from Northern Kentucky University and two master’s degrees from Strayer University and University of Phoenix. Harris radiates a sincere passion for delivering value and benefits to anyone she makes contact. She serves the Rutherford County community through Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Iota Phi Lambda Business Sorority and Murfreesboro Branch of the NAACP.
An educator of profession and heart, April Holland feels teaching is not just a job, but her ministry. Whether in a classroom, a boardroom, or committee meeting, she values the process of educating, leading, and loving other people, especially women. This can be seen in her work with Junior League of Murfreesboro. Through Junior League, Holland has gathered valuable training, education, and friendships. She is a graduate of MTSU, where she received her degree in Early Childhood Education. A loving wife of almost 20 years to Dean Holland, together they raise two beautiful young ladies, Maggie and Annie Jane.
Patricia Brown James
Over three decades in three global corporations, Patricia James led successful strategies for human resources. As a leader, coach, and mentor, James inspires with fierce advocacy and her collaborative style in business and the community. Her career began with Shell Oil, then with Schlumberger, before joining Bridgestone Americas from 1992-2013. Subsequently, James led Leadership Middle Tennessee and now operates PB&J Consulting which focuses on career coaching and development. James holds a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb University. She is active in the community and mentors in various programs throughout the country.
Kara J. Kemp fosters collaboration and connection through her storytelling, coaching and community involvement, impromptu song breakouts, hostess skills and off-the-chart organizational tools. She is the owner of KJ Kemp Coaching and General Manager at Tangerine Salon and Spa. A champion of people and their stories, she is co-creator of the Bloom Stage, a multi-genre art series, and the national award-winning storytelling event, United We Style. A Murfreesboro native with an eclectic career in management and creative arts, she serves as a member to Locally Owned Murfreesboro, Murfreesboro Little Theatre and Rutherford Arts Alliance. (She also crafts delicious cocktails and is a champion of dance-offs in her kitchen, but her husband won't concede to her title!)
Andrea J. Loughry
Andrea Loughry serves solely in the nonprofit arena after a 30-year career as an owner of a full-service independent insurance agency. Appointed by then Gov. Bill Haslam to serve on the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2014, she is a former vice chairwoman of The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees. Notably, Loughry served as the first female chairperson of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce where she connected local women leaders. Loughry was one of the female leaders from the Chamber who negotiated the founding of the local CABLE organization. A visionary, she is a founder of the Rutherford Arts Alliance.
LaTonya Martin is the CEO & Managing broker of Grande Style Homes in Nashville. She has worked her way up to becoming one of the Top Real Estate Brokers in Middle Tennessee. Martin continues to serve the community by offering homebuyer classes and workshops, as well as a training and mentoring Realtors. She has helped countless people be more secure and experience the American dream, her greatest driving force can be summed up in a few simple words, "helping others achieve their goals." Her commitment to success and her advice to others is that "failure is never an option."
Dr. Lucy Matthews
Dr. Lucy M. Matthews is an assistant professor of Marketing at Middle Tennessee State University. Matthews was instrumental in the development of the Professional Selling Concentration in Marketing at MTSU. Beyond teaching, Matthews is an active researcher, honored with the 2018-2019 E.W. “Wink” Midgett Distinguished Research Award by the Jones College of Business. In addition to her involvement at MTSU, Lucy volunteers in the community and marketing academic organizations. She is currently the Vice Chairman of the board for Ascend Federal Credit Union, the President of Atlantic Marketing Association, and the Executive Director for Society for Marketing Advances.
Jody Powers is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Amelia’s Closet. Powers is also leading the start-up of its social enterprise, Liberty’s Station, which will provide job-training internships in multiple employment streams for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other employment barriers. Before entering the nonprofit sphere, Powers had a long career in graphic design, taught high school photojournalism, and coached fast-pitch softball. After resigning from these roles, she was inspired to be a comfort-zone defector and venture into nonprofit leadership, assisting women recovering from hardship situations and individuals with IDD in attaining life-enriching employment with dignity and purpose.
Jolene Radnoti is the executive director of Read To Succeed, a nonprofit that offers free literacy programs and events for children and adults. Previously, Radnoti worked with Murfreesboro City Schools as the Family and Community Outreach Coordinator for the district. She also worked in the Knox County Schools as a Computer Lab Instructor prior to moving to Murfreesboro in 2010. Haling from Valparaiso, Indiana, Radnoti has been married to her husband, David, for 28 years. They have two children. Their son, Joshua, is a senior at MTSU and their daughter, Ashley, is a junior at UT-Martin.
Now a retired from State Farm Insurance, Deborah Thompson began her career as an agent in Chesapeake, Virginia, before working through a succession of roles to become vice president of agency and sales in 2009. She has served on numerous boards including, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, United Way, MTSU Foundation Board and Nourish Food Bank. Thompson has received numerous awards, including Cable Spirit of Leadership, Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise and Business Person of the year from Rutherford Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband, Roy, reside in Murfreesboro and have three children, Ryan, Patrick and Brennan.
The 2021 ATHENA Young Professional Nominees
Courtney Chavez is Senior Vice President at Pinnacle Financial Partners and currently leads its Medical Center Office. She has 15 years’ experience in consumer and small business banking, and a heart for developing others. A servant leader, Chavez has given back to the community in her active volunteerism with several organizations, most notably United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. She currently serves on the United Way board and has held leadership roles in its Annual Baby Shower, Young Leaders Society, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. Chavez earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Middle Tennessee State University.
Meagan Flippin serves as the president and CEO of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. She is the immediate past president of RUTHERFORD Cable and a past president of the Junior League of Murfreesboro, Murfreesboro Young Professionals, and the Blue Raider Athletic Association. She is active with the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary, Charity Circle of Murfreesboro, and Leadership Middle Tennessee. Flippin serves on United Way’s state association board and the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation Philanthropy Committee. Meagan earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a master’s degree in strategic leadership from MTSU and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Katie Schroder Hall
Katie Schroder Hall is a passionate storyteller. A proud women’s college graduate, she received her degree in English literature & creative writing from Agnes Scott College. She spent nearly 15 years in book publicity and marketing at Random House and HarperCollins, helping authors to connect with readers. Hall transitioned to the nonprofit sector in 2015. She currently serves as director of development for Renewed Life Ministries Outreach, and helped found the local chapter of 100+ Women Who Care. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Hall and her husband Wes live with their family in Murfreesboro.
Jamie Morgan Harrington
Jamie Harrington is a financial advisor and senior vice president at Pinnacle Financial Partners, where she specializes in commercial, consumer, agricultural, and real estate lending. Harrington brings her passion for heart-led leadership to banking and the Rutherford County community in her active volunteerism with several organizations, including Murfreesboro Young Professionals, Rutherford Cable, Junior League of Murfreesboro, and The Journey Home. A graduate of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural resources and economics, she is enrolled in the prestigious Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University, from which she will graduate in 2021.
Aleece McKnight, Esq., is the founder of the Law Office of Aleece McKnight, a virtual law firm for creative entrepreneurs focusing on entity formation, trademarks, and copyrights. She hosts webinars for entrepreneurs across the U.S. to teach business and brand ownership. McKnight graduated with honors from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. She serves on a nonprofit board and volunteers her time in multiple organizations across Middle Tennessee. Finding joy in new experiences, McKnight thoroughly enjoys traveling to immerse herself in different cultures while giving back to communities abroad.
Dr. Adelle Monteblanco
A sociologist, teacher, and writer, Dr. Adelle Dora Monteblanco is an assistant professor of sociology at Middle Tennessee State University. An accomplished junior scholar, Monteblanco studies reproductive environmental health with the aim to improve birth outcomes and nurture healthy communities. Because the climate crisis will exacerbate extreme heat exposure to a large portion of the global population and there is growing evidence that extreme heat exposure can increase the risk of adverse birth outcomes (e.g., preterm birth), Monteblanco’s research advocates for the expertise of maternal health workers and the safety of pregnant people.
Tosha Price serves as a Strategic Partnership Specialist for Ascend Federal Credit Union. Price currently serves as director of Murfreesboro Young Professionals’ membership, diplomat for Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Nashville Chamber New Member Advisory Council, member of the TJ Martell Foundation board of governors and mentor for tnAchieves. She holds a bachelor of business administration degree with a minor in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University. She lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with her husband Randy and their daughter Irie.
Francela Salas currently works Redstone Federal Credit Union as a community and business relations specialist. Prior to her current position, Salas had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mother to her first child Sloane. Francela and her husband Chase recently welcomed their second child Alexander. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2017 with a bachelors of science degree.
Alicia Stachura is an integrated marketer and community activist who lends her talents to local nonprofit organizations. Holding a bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a master's degree from West Virginia University, Stachura shares her marketing skills in the nonprofit sector as the social media coordinator for Impact100 Nashville. In Rutherford County, Stachura is a founder of the Rutherford County chapter of 100 Women Who Care and serves on the RUTHERFORD Cable board. For both organizations, she serves as the marketing and communication coordinator. She was honored with the RUTHERFORD Cable Above & Beyond Award in 2020 and the Rising Star Award in 2019.
Tiffany Taylor is an award-winning public relations & marketing practitioner with more than 10 years of experience in communications spearheading national and regional campaigns that increase community engagement among diverse audiences and positive brand awareness. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Taylor is a graduate of the University of Alabama. In 2015, Taylor joined the American Red Cross as an external communications manager, leading biomedical communications for the Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky Blood Services Regions.
Essence Threlkeld studied English literature and magazine journalism at the University of Memphis. Her professional experience ranges from tourism sales, corporate event planning and event marketing. With those skills, she has been able to start and run an event planning and branding firm under the name C. Noelle Design Group. Threlkeld has a true passion to serve her community and enjoys donating her time to organizations such as Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, Junior League of Murfreesboro and TN Craft Midstate. A resident of Murfreesboro, Threlkeld has a wonderful husband, Jamal, and together they have two daughters named Chloe and Olivia.
Loren Walker is a territory sales leader at State Farm Insurance, and leads a team of 43 State Farm agents in the Middle Tennessee area, including Rutherford County. After graduating with a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, she was hired by Emory University, in Atlanta, to be a recreation center directors. While there, she become a third-generation State Farm agent. Now she is responsible for expanding her territory, developing and coaching agents, and expanding the company’s agency force through recruiting and hiring of new agents.