Hank Dye retired from the University of Tennessee in July, 2012. He joined the University April 1, 2005 as Vice President for Public and Government Relations. In that role, he had responsibility for overall communications, marketing and branding activity, and for government relations at both the state and federal levels.
His UT involvements include being a past member of the Athletics Board, the Development Council, the National Alumni Board of Governors, the Public Affairs Committee and the College of Communications Board of Visitors.
In 1980 he was one of three founding partners who started the Nashville public relations agency Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence. The agency is among the 10 largest public relations agencies in the Southeast.
He is past Chairman of the Nashville Sports Council and has previously served on the executive committee of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Board, the Board of the Music City Bowl, the Advisory Board of Nashville YWCA, the board of Leadership Nashville Alumni and the executive committee of the board of Nashville Alliance for Public Education. He served as an elder at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. He is a Nashville Advertising Federation Silver Medalist.
A native of Portland, Tennessee and a 1963 graduate of UT, Hank is married to the former Margaret Strom and has two sons—Clay and Andrew—and six grandchildren.
Shannon is Vice President of Harper Auto Square in Knoxville. Shannon started at the dealerships washing cars and has worked in every possible position in the dealerships. He has the same commitment to creating long term enthusiastic customers as his father, Tom. Shannon is very active in the community as a member of Nucleus Knoxville, involved with East TN Boys and Girls Club and United Way, and on the board of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee and the Dogwood Arts Festival. Harper is a proud sponsor of Ruthie’s Fund, Knoxville Opera, and the Great Smoky Mountains Tremont Foundation. He has also received an Automotive News 40 under 40 award and is an Introduction Knoxville alumnus.
Connie French, Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager at Mountain Commerce Bank. Connie has served as a Private Banker for a large portfolio of consumer and commercial loans assets in the Knoxville area for the past 25 years. She has held several positions and leadership roles in humanitarian areas and community boards of directors. Most recently, Connie has served on the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society and Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. Connie holds a finance degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and running.
Joseph “Joe” Emert is a 7th generation East Tennessean who grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, and whose family were early settlers of Tennessee. He was raised on family stories of the area while spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, especially the Townsend, Tremont and Cades Cove areas. He and Cindy, his wife of 43 years, have visited, hiked, and backpacked national parks across the country. They were early supporters of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, the Appalachian Bear Rescue and Co-Chaired the group that built the Sam Houston Statue, “You Shall Hear of Me,” in Maryville. He serves on the East Tennessee Historical Society Board of Directors as Past President and on the Board of Directors for the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. In 2018 he was appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board, where he serves as Chairman of the National Historic Landmarks Committee. Emert is a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and served on the Board of Advisors for the College of Nursing. A former Chancellor’s Associate for the University, he has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni and Accomplished Alumni of the University of Tennessee. Upon his retirement from the medical device industry, he was awarded the Medtronic Lifetime Achievement Award for his career. He is a member of the First Families of Tennessee, the Sons of the Republic of Texas and the Sons of the American Revolution. Joe and Cindy are the parents of two grown sons.
James A. Haslam II
When Haslam founded Pilot Corporation in 1958, it was a family- owned business with one gas station. The company has grown to become the nation’s largest operator of travel centers and largest seller of over-the-road diesel fuel. Pilot Flying J operates a network of more than 650 travel centers and travel plazas across North America. In 2013, Haslam received the Hall of Fame award from NATSO, the trade association representing the truckstop and travel plaza industry.
Haslam serves on the boards of the George W. Bush Library Foundation, the National Football Foundation, the Trust Company of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Health System. He is chairman of the board of the Baker Center at the University of Tennessee.
Haslam has been a director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, First American Bank, AmSouth Bank, and Appalachian Life Insurance Company. He was a trustee for the University of Tennessee for 27 years and was both vice chairman and chairman of the Executive Committee. He has been the chairman of the board of the Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Knoxville, Webb School of Knoxville, the Public Building Authority and United Way of Greater Knoxville. He also served as the campaign chairman for United Way and was the founder and remains the chairman of the local Alexis de Tocqueville Society.
A strong believer in giving back to the community, Haslam founded the Haslam Family Foundation, which has contributed millions of dollars to charitable organizations over the years.
Haslam is married to Natalie Leach Haslam. They have six adult children, 18 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Ed Pershing is President and co-founder of Pershing Yoakley & Associates (PYA), a management consulting and accounting firm headquartered in Knoxville with offices in Atlanta, Kansas, Knoxville, Nashville and Tampa Bay. Ed has led the firm’s growth since its founding in 1983 with three employees to its position today as one of the leading healthcare accounting and consulting firms in the United States. PYA serves healthcare clients in 48 states and the Virgin Islands. PYA was recently recognized byModern Healthcare as one of the Top-20 Healthcare Consulting Firms in the nation.
Ed has 35+ years of experience in healthcare. In 1977, Ed was one of 18 individuals in the U.S. and Great Britain selected to participate in a one-year education and internship work-study program in serving the healthcare industry developed at the direction of the Chairman of Ernst & Ernst.
For twenty-seven years, Bill Cobble was the CEO and owner of Cobble Staffing Companies, a temporary and permanent placement company with 15 offices, 100 permanent employees and 10,000 temporary employees/year. In 1995, the company was sold to Staffing Solutions, and Mr. Cobble was inducted into the East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame.
Shortly after, Mr. Cobble and his wife Donna purchased and began managing the family-owned farm that they reside on today. Marblegate Farm is set on a stunning 250 acres and is a short drive from Knoxville, TN.
Mr. Cobble was the founding President of Tremont’s board of directors and to this day serves on the board. His other organizational affiliations include East Tennessee Historical Society, Foothills Land Conservancy, Boy Scouts of America, Cherokee Country Club and Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.
Kimberly R. Friar
Kimberly R. Friar, Chief Executive Officer of the University Physicians’ Association, Inc. The UPA is an independent physician association with over 1000 physicians and mid-level providers in the East Tennessee area. The UPA also provides services to physicians and their practices including billing, team member leasing, compliance and practice management. The UPA currently employees over 850 team members making them one of the largest IPA’s in this area.
Kim began her healthcare career in 1991 and joined the UPA in 1998. She oversees all aspects of the various business lines within the UPA. She is also maintains relationships with some of UPA’s largest clients. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Childhelp in Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.
William Young Carroll, Jr. (Billy) is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SmartBank. Mr. Carroll, also a founding Director of SmartBank, has held the position since the Bank’s organization. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1990. Following his graduation, Mr. Carroll worked for Kraft CPAs in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked primarily in the areas of audit and tax.
Mr. Carroll joined Sevierville, Tennessee, based Citizens National Bank in 1992 where he held various management positions including Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He also served on the Bank’s Board of Directors, as well as Loan Committee and Asset Liability Committee and was responsible for all operational areas of the Bank, including brokerage and insurance subsidiaries.
Mr. Carroll began organizing SmartBank in 2006 with the help of several community leaders. Their goal was to create a new, exciting banking environment focused on building a dynamic culture and recruiting outstanding associates. The organization is becoming one of the regions strongest and fastest growing new banking concepts with assets over $300 million.
During Mr. Carroll’s professional career, he has served as president of the Sevier County High School Foundation, member of the Sevierville Planning Commission, president of the Sevier County’s University of the Tennessee Alumni chapter, Board member of the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, Board member of Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, member of the Sevier County Economic Development Council, president of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the United Way of Sevier County. He is active in numerous other local organizations including Leadership Sevier and Leadership Knoxville, and has been inducted into Junior Achievement’s East Tennessee Business Hall of Fame.
Mr. Carroll currently serves on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank, Nashville Branch.
Steve has over 35 years of experience working with a broad cross-section of industries and management teams in his practice areas of Employment and Labor, Corporate and Transactional and Sports Law. He provides sound and practical legal advice to his clients and proactively interacts with management teams in some of the most critical aspects of their businesses. He has provided numerous management training and civic group presentations on employment and sports law issues. He also serves as a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator and a AAA Arbitrator.
Tim A. Topham
Tim graduated from Maryville College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and has over 30 years of experience in areas of commercial and real estate lending, branch supervision, Trust and Investments, and Financial Planning. He currently serves as Executive Vice President and Area President at Mountain Commerce Bank in Knoxville. Tim holds a Principal’s License, and is a registered representative with a Series 7, 66, and life and health insurance license.
Topham is devoted to the community where he serves on the Board of Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. He served on the Board of Maryville College, is former President of the Alumni Association, and the Board of Goodwill Industries. He and his wife Traci have one daughter; they are members of First United Methodist Church of Maryville.
Mack Gentry founded GT&M law firm in 1976. He is a native of Knoxville and a 1966 graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he played and coached football for the Volunteers and was an Academic All-American. Mr. Gentry graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1968 and later served as an officer in the United States Army. He holds an advanced LL.M. degree in Taxation from New York University and is a John Lyons Certified Horse Trainer.
Bill Varner (ex officio)
L. W. (Bill) Varner, Jr. is currently the CEO of United Subcontractors, Inc., the second largest insulation services provider in the United States. Prior to this, Bill served for seven and a half years as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Aquilex Corporation, a leading provider of specialty services to the energy sector with its headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bill has led various businesses for domestic and foreign global technology service and engineering companies such as ABB/ Flakt AB, Zellweger Uster, and Invensys PLC. Bill’s background includes turnarounds, significant growth initiatives, acquisitions and divestitures.
Bill is a graduate of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina and has served on various philanthropic, industry and community boards. He currently sits on the board of directors for USI, Bartlett Holdings as well as The Identity Group.
He has resided in Knoxville, Tennessee since 1991 and is married to Susan Burgess Varner. Together they have 3 daughters and seven grandchildren.
Cathy has become synonymous with the best in public relations and marketing strategy in the East Tennessee region. She lives it, breathes it, and has a tenacious determination to advance the business goals of the firm’s clients. It’s the reason she’s been able to build a successful agency from the ground up over the last 30 years. When she’s not delivering high-level consultation and strategy to a wide array of organizations, Cathy spends time traveling and bicycling with her husband, hosting friends at her mountain cabin, or tending to her (very spoiled) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Daniel is a proud Knoxville native and graduate from The University of Tennessee where he earned his BA in finance. Daniel joined UBS from New York City where he worked with Lord Abbett, Private Wealth Group. He worked with and supported many of our industries top wealth advisors throughout the country. Daniel spent several years gaining great insight and knowledge into markets, investments, and strategies all of which he brings to our team/clients. In 2015, Daniel was asked to serve as Treasurer of Wesley Neighbors HOA Board. West Hills Neighborhood has a strong presence in the community of Knoxville and consists of over 1200 homes in west Knoxville. As a graduate of NYC’s Dale Carnegie Training Community, one of his favorite parts of his job is building strong relationship’s with clients. Daniel and his wife Sissy currently reside at their home in West Hills with their two children Henry and Archie.
Elizabeth Estill retired from the US Forest Service as its Deputy Chief. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Harvard University she began her career as an ecologist with TVA. She later became TVA’s District Administrator in Nashville, and the Director of Land Between The Lakes.
Elizabeth joined the US Forest Service as its National Director of Recreation, Cultural Resources and Wilderness Management. In 1992 she became the first female Regional Forester (field general) in the agency’s history. She led the Rocky Mountain Region (2.2 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands) as well as the 13 state Southeastern Region prior to becoming the Deputy Chief in Washington D.C.
Elizabeth received the Distinguished Rank Award from President George W. Bush “in recognition of visionary, global leadership in involving corporations, volunteers, and communities in collaborative natural resource management”. She also garnered the government’s highest award for innovation from Vice President Albert Gore for cost savings in the Rocky Mountain Region (over $4 million) and for the Southern Forest Resource Assessment to evaluate sustainability of natural resources and provide a common framework for decision-makers at all levels of government. She has represented the United States at numerous international conferences and negotiations on Forestry, Land Use, Wilderness, and Sustainability issues.
Currently she mentors, lectures and consults on natural resource policy. She enjoys her grandchildren, a good book, painting, and traveling. Elizabeth is married to John Dreves. She has one son, four stepchildren, and nine grandchildren.
Chuck James grew up in Michigan. After finishing high school he moved to Chicago, IL to major in Social Group Work at George Williams College and later in Business at Northwestern University. Chuck worked several summers as a YMCA Camp Counselor while in college. He and his wife Terry have been married for 39 years. Chuck retired from Transonic Systems, a world leader in intraoperative blood flow monitoring, where he served as Vice President of Sales. While in Illinois Chuck served 10 years on the Buehler YMCA Board and is past President.
Twelve years ago Chuck and Terry moved from Inverness, IL to Loudon, TN where he continued to work until retiring in 2009. Chuck fills his retirement time serving on several non-profit Boards. He is a past Board Member of the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and is the current President of the Tennessee Bluebird Society and serves on the Knoxville Opera Board. In their spare time Chuck and Terry enjoy exploring the trails and steams in the GSMNP.
Chuck believes we have made great strides since the 1970’s in environmental education. However, we must now continue to educate the next generation in the importance of conservation. He believes GSMIT opens a child’s eyes and begins a life long journey of learning about the wonders of nature.
Richard E. Ray
Dick Ray began his career with the Aluminum Company of America at Tennessee Operations in 1953. He held metallurgical and management positions at Davenport,
Iowa; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Point Henry, Australia before returning to serve as Operations Manager at Tennessee Operations, a post he held for 15 years. Under his leadership the Tennessee plant was modernized to become the most state of the art aluminum rolling facility in the world.
Ray was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander to the State of TN Board of Education where he served for 26 years, including many years as chairman. He is the past chairman of the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont and has held membership and chairmanship of many other civic groups.
Keith has lived in East TN for most of his life and is a 35 year veteran of the commercial real estate business. Owner and former CEO of Petra’s Chili and Chips, he developed the fast casual concept from the 1982 and 1984 World Fair’s into a 20 store chain. From 2005-2007, Keith was Principal Broker of RM Moore Commercial Real Estate’s Sevier County office, and 2008 he was appointed President of First Commercial Real Estate in Knoxville. In September 2016, he formed SIG Real Estate, LLC and the company has primarily focused its efforts on East TN in general, and Sevier and Blount Counties in particular. Keith had the wonderful privilege to grow up in Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park as the son of a park ranger and has had a love of Tremont throughout his life, with experiences at the original Job Corps Center, living at Tremont for two summers with the Youth Conservation Corps and chaperoning his children’s school trips to the Institute. Keith graduated from the University of TN at Chattanooga in 1982 in the William E. Brock Jr Scholars Program. He is a past Board Member of Junior Achievement of East TN, Leadership Sevier and is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Keith and his wife Melinda have two children and live in Knoxville.
Morton Massey (ex officio)
Morton Massey is a retired software developer from Knoxville. His career included 31 years with QuickPen International, a software company providing software solutions for the HVAC and Mechanical construction industry, the last 5 years of which he served as CEO. The company was sold in 2009 to Trimble Navigation.
He was born in Knoxville, went to high school at Webb School of Knoxville then graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Business. He is married to Senator Becky Duncan Massey and they have two grown daughters and one granddaughter.
Morton has been an active volunteer during his adult life including servings as a youth softball, basketball and soccer coach for 20+ years. Over the last 15 years he has assisted over 100 nonprofit organizations with fund raising auction events. His primary pastime in retirement is continuing his lifelong hobby of birdwatching.