Become an Ambassador

If you are interested in learning more about the Ambassador group, please contact Amy Lawson at 983-2241.

Ambassador Program

  •     To assist in retaining members
  •     To help members maximize their membership benefits
  •     To create lasting connections between members

Ambassador Benefits

  •     Expand your personal network
  •     Increase your company's visibility
  •     Recognition for Ambassador Top Producer and Ambassador of the year

Ambassador of the Month

  • January: Janie Wallace, CASA of the Tennessee Heartland
  • February: Janie Wallace, CASA of the Tennessee Heartland
  • March: Janie Wallace, CASA of the Tennessee Heartland
  • April: Janie Wallace, CASA of the Tennessee Heartland
  • May: Renee Poole, Kingdom Design Ministries
  • June: Renee Poole, Kingdom Design Ministries
  • July: Janie Wallace, CASA of the Tennessee Heartland
  • August: Janie Wallace
  • September: Laura Beth Denton, Allevia Technology
  • October: Laura Beth Denton, Allevia Technology
  • November: Lindsey Plyer, State Farm Insurance

Ambassador of the Year

  • 2021: Janie Wallace
  • 2020: Tonia Latham
  • 2019: Aaron Killian
  • 2018: Ann Drake
  • 2017: Rick Hudolin
  • 2016: Kevin Ross
  • 2015: Tom Davis
  • 2014: Bill Kilgore
  • 2013: Laura Caves
  • 2012: Chris Mahler
  • 2011: Melissa Gambino

Ambassadors Profiles

Tonia Latham, Chamber Ambassador Chair

Name: Tonia Latham
Company: Epic Nine
Title: Marketing Consultant and Social Media Extraordinaire

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "After 18 years working with local nonprofits, Tonia Latham stepped back into the for-profit business world in 2018. Throughout that year, she also established her own marketing firm to help small businesses and solopreneurs with their marketing journey. In spring 2019, she joined the Epic Nine marketing team, where she empowers businesses of all sizes to tell their stories in ways that set them apart in the digital marketing world."

What's one interesting fact about you? "Tonia was a Navy Baby -- born at Naval Air Station Pensacola! She is very proud of her Veteran father, who faithfully served in the United States Navy."

Shannon Bryant

Name: Shannon Bryant
Company: Sky City Entrepreneur Center
Title: Community Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I'm a Maryville College alum, and I started my career as a reporter with Shopper-News community newspaper in Halls Crossroads, TN. There, I developed a love of community involvement and small business in particular, working as sales manager and finally general manager. I ran my own freelance writing business for two years before a combination of mayhem and serendipity brought me to a Maryville. I was commuting from Halls to Maryville and back for an job at a marketing agency. I fell in love with this community and moved myself and my son here in 2019. Becoming the Community Manger at Sky City Entrepreneur Center seemed like a great fit for me, with community involvement and engagement with local businesses like I missed from my Shopper-News days. I love coming to work with our amazing and diverse members every day!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I do medieval and Renaissance re-enactment with the Society for Creative Anachronism as a hobby. My specialty is traditional archery and thrown weapons!"

Maddy Carruthers

Name: Maddy Carruthers
Company: PYA, P.C.
Title: Audit & Assurance Staff

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. While earning my undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, I found myself at a crossroads and had to pick a major. Though I had dreamed of becoming a teacher as a little girl, I had already ruled out teaching for various reasons. I had just completed the introductory Accounting class for all business Majors, and I actually loved it. I graduated in Accounting and, thereafter, I earned my Masters of Accountancy at UTK and my CPA license in the state of Tennessee. I love the fast-paced environment and ability to work on and learn about different types of clients across various industries within public accounting. I am originally from the Knoxville, TN area and so enjoy serving the East TN community through my role at PYA.

What's one interesting fact about you? "I love baking! I could bake goodies (especially gooey, homemade chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt) all day long!"

Misty Castiglia

Name: Misty Castiglia
Company: Misty Castiglia State Farm
Title: Agent

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "My drive to help others made State Farm a perfect fit for me. Being involved in the community, educating my customers about their risk and how to get the right protection in place is both rewarding and personally fulfilling."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I enjoy hiking in the mountains and spending time under the water scuba diving."

Charlotte Chance

Name: Charlotte Chance
Company: Charlotte Chance Agency, Farmers Insurance
Title: Owner

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position.
"I have been in the Insurance and Financial Service industry since 1997, and started the agency in 2011 I have been a resident of Blount County since 1990 and enjoy all that East TN has to offer. Everyone has a unique need, so understanding that and finding options for them is what I enjoy most." 

What's one interesting fact about you? 
"I am a Beginner Knitter!"

Donnelle Curran

Name: Donnelle Curran
Company: Simmons Bank
Title: Business Development Officer

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Donnelle Curran has been in banking since May 2011 starting as a teller and working her way to Branch Manager. She began with Simmons Bank in January 2015 as Assistant Branch Manager. Donnelle has been in retail banking her whole career and recently decided to switch to the commercial team to learn another side to banking. Donnelle became the Business Development Officer for East TN in June 2021."

Laura Beth Denton

Name: Laura Beth Denton
Company: Allevia Technology
Title: Marketing Trailblazer

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "While attending college in Dahlonega, GA, I fell in love with living in the mountains. After graduation, I quickly found my way to the Smokies and spent the next 4 years working with local nonprofits. While working as the marketing manager for Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, I was also responsible for managing IT for the nonprofit organization. Technology tasks became overwhelming and were outside of my skill set. I love marketing - working with people and finding creative ways to tell stories. With a quick Google search, I found Allevia Technology. I quickly saw the value and passion within the Allevia team. Allevia Technology became Tremont's IT partner and gave me time back to focus on marketing. In the spring of 2019, my husband and I left Tennessee and spent time traveling out west. We honestly didn't plan on coming back to Tennessee. After several months away from home, we realized we missed our Blount County community and the Smokies. When we returned to Tennessee, I reached out to Allevia Technology. I loved working with Allevia as a customer and wondered if they were interested in expanding their team. After meeting with Luke and Stefan, I was offered a full-time position as their marketing trailblazer. I love working for Allevia Technology because of our passion for helping people and being involved in our local community."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I love backpacking and hiking! In 2019, my husband and I hiked 700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in California. For two months, we lived in a tent and traveled from town to town. I love exploring new places and I hope to visit every national park in the country."

Ann Drake

Name: Ann Drake
Company: Realty Executives Associates 
Title: Real Estate Specialist

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position.
"My philosophy is that Relationships Matter and Results Matter. I have over 20 years experience in sales and understand that relationships produce results. After spending several years working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory followed by a career in pharmaceutical sales, I decided to take my passion for working with people and my love of this community and become a realtor. I am very passionate about my career and find such satisfaction in helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs!" 

What's one interesting fact about you? 
"I love to travel and have backpacked many places around the world and my goal is to visit all continents."

Chrystal Fleenor

Name: Chrystal Fleenor
Company: Hampton Inn by Hilton Knoxville-Airport
Title: Sales Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I began my journey in the hotel and hospitality industry in 2014 at a Hampton and have been hooked ever since. I started off as a Front Desk Team Member and quickly realized that this industry was one I wanted to make my career of. I attended Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge and graduated with my Business Management degree in 2017. During college I worked my way up the ladder and landed myself as an Assistant General Manager. I took a leap of faith in January 2018 and landed the Sales Manager position here at the Hampton Inn Knoxville-Airport and it's been the best move I've ever made. Although being new to Maryville and Alcoa area, I quickly learned the area and fit right's like I've been here all my life. I aspire to be a General Manager of my own hotel one day. I love what I do day in and day out. I have met so many people from all walks of life in a short 5 years, but I hope everyone I met I was able to bring a laugh or a smile to them. I love knowing that I get to wake up and make a difference in someone's life!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I collect vinyl records, love to go on road trips, volunteer with whatever I can and I am going to attempt my first time at gardening by myself this year."

Blakely Hughes

Name: Blakely Hughes
Company: Life Care Center of Blount County
Title: Director of Business Development

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. My passion in life first began when I understood the need and desire I had to serve our geriatric community. With that passion, I enrolled in The Recreational Therapy program at The University of Tennessee where I soon graduated and became the Director of Recreational Services at NHC Oak Ridge. While there, I used programs to help our residents improve their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. One of the greatest pleasures of that job was knowing I had an impact on our senior community, as well as enriching lives. After NHC Oak Ridge, I accepted the position as the Director of Recreational Services at Life Care Center of Blount County. While being our Director of Recreational Services for 4.5 years, I accepted the new position as our facility’s Director of Business Development. I am so grateful to receive the opportunity to serve our senior community every day.

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am my happiest self when i'm in the garden. I love being outdoors in the sunshine with my hands in the dirt! I have a few raised garden beds where I plant cutting flowers and love to pass them out to others."

Jeremy Johnson

Name: Jeremy Johnson
Company: Farmers Insurance
Title: Insurance producer

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. I have always been in a customer oriented business as I did restaurant for 20 years. I have now been with the Drew Miles Agency for 7 years. Drew and I crossed paths many years ago during our restaurant days. Our paths crossed again in 2014 as I joined him in the insurance industry. I work with families and business owners to give them advice and guidance on their insurance needs. I always enjoy meeting new people within our community.

What's one interesting fact about you? "In 2010, I was able to visit Ketchikan Alaska and had the opportunity to ride on the Aleutian Ballad crab boat from the TV series the Deadliest Catch. They toured us around the Bering Sea and hauled in several crab pots and see many different types of marine life."

Krista Jones

Name: Krista Jones
Company: M Force Staffing
Title: Sr. Account Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I have 20+ years of Recruiting in all areas of professional placement and within many industries. I began my career in recruiting while living in Fort Worth, Texas and then relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee where I have been for the last 19 years. I am a "relationship builder"​ - someone who cares about the companies that I work with. I enjoy partnering with businesses to determine their hiring needs and support them by providing placement solutions. I have a true passion for what I do!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I grew up in Oklahoma "way out in the country" on a cattle ranch where we kept 350+ head of cattle at a time. In this country town I attended a K-12 school and had 12 people in my entire 4th grade class!"

Aaron Killian

Name: Aaron Killian
Company: Visual Voice
Title: Client Relations Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I love helping people, specifically small business owners. Over the course of my career, I have helped well over 100 clients grow their businesses through marketing and advertising strategies. As the Client Relations Manager of Visual Voice, I am blessed to be working with the oldest and most awarded marketing and graphic design firm in Blount County, and I continue to help clients focus on their business while we focus on the marketing and advertising. At Visual Voice, we know you well; we make you well known"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a walking recessive trait. I'm a redhead with attached earlobes and can wiggle my nose and my ears."

Kate Kiser

Name: Kate Kiser
Company: Faith Promise Church
Title: Blount Campus Administrative Assistant

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. For several years I worked in the HR and Payroll industry with a passion for seeing small business owners succeed in reaching their goals, but in 2020 God revealed a new path for my life. I sold my company and joined the team at Faith Promise Church. Now my focus is on how we can help serve Blount County with our service, resources, and love. We want to be a great community partner.

What's one interesting fact about you? "I love to meet small business owners, entrepreneurs, and people with a passion for their community. Love Local! Having owned my own business I understand the importance of community support and great partnerships."

Tina Lewis

Name: Tina Lewis
Company: TnBank
Title: Vice President Retail Blount County

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. I started as a teller, and then became a senior teller. I went from senior teller to supervisor. From Supervisor I became Vice President Retail Blount County. I love working with my customer and helping them in any way I can.

What's one interesting fact about you? "I love fishing and riding my motorcycle."

Adam McCall

Name: Adam McCall
Company: Regions Finance
Title: Financial Relationship Consultant

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I started my career in finance a little different than most. I was coming home from 4 years of Naval aviation only knowing that I was interested in helping people. Working everyday in banking affords me the opportunity to help our clients better their lives and make smart financial choices about their future."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I have a passion for farming and horses and have rode professionally for over 20 years."

Natalie Meadows

Name: Natalie Meadows
Company: BGT Staffing
Title: Owner

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. Natalie graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Communications and started her career in marketing and account management. Natalie had her start in the staffing industry in Knoxville in 2005, at that time joining EmployBridge as an Outside Sales Representative. In 2011, Natalie joined Express Employment Professionals as an Outside Sales Representative and later progressed within the organization to the role of Branch Manager for Knoxville operations. As Branch Manager, Natalie was responsible for overseeing client relationships, candidate recruiting and placement efforts as well as management of the outside sales team ensuring year-over-year profitability and growth. Natalie’s staffing experience has been focused on temporary and temp-to-hire roles primarily within administrative and manufacturing. Natalie has extensive experience working with client companies of all sizes within many industries. Natalie and Jill met through the Knoxville Chamber Ambassador Program in 2005. Since that time, Natalie has worked closely with Jill and Christine as a local temporary and temp-to-hire staffing resource for BGT Recruiting & Consulting’s clients and candidates. Natalie has been a trusted colleague of Jill and Christine’s, and the three made the decision to open BGT Staffing LLC in February 2020. Natalie and her teenage twins live in Fountain City with their beloved Babydog.

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a mother of twins!"

Lindsey Plyler

Name: Lindsey Plyler
Company: Lindsey Plyler State Farm Insurance
Title: Owner/Agent

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I knew early on that I was passionate about helping others, and working in insurance has allowed me to bring that passion to life every day. My insurance career started shortly after high school when I worked for a State Farm agent in SC. My dream was to grow with the company and one day open my own office. That dream became a reality when we found Maryville, TN and I opened my own State Farm Agency. I'm now over 14 years into my insurance career and look forward to continuing my passion of helping others and our community for years to come."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I earned a degree in Graphic Design before I changed my career path and also earned my Business degree."

Renee Poole

Name: Renee Poole
Company: Kingdom Design Ministries
Title: Development Director

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I spent several years in Oregon volunteering and cultivating my love of people and the nonprofit world. Moving to Tennessee, I discovered a beautiful, giving community that truly values it’s members. I love being able to talk to people about the many amazing nonprofits in Blount County, share about KDM’s mission, and immerse myself in our rich local culture. The Ambassador Program is another opportunity for me to connect with our community in a meaningful way."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I have a strong aversion to butterflies. I once walked backwards through a 4 story aquarium to avoid room full of them."

Andrea Pope

Name: Andrea Pope
Company: SERVPRO of Blount County
Title: Co-Owner

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "This is really what I consider my third act. I graduated from college, worked in marketing and insurance and then went part-time while my kids were young. I had recently made the decision to go back to school for esthetics and get my license. I then landed a great job in that field, the kids were grown and my husband, who had worked in my family's restoration business for 25+ years, came home and said, let's buy this business and start all over! So here we are, loving life and truly living a dream in Blount County."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I'm a licensed esthetician and a skin care junkie!"

Perry Roberts

Name: Perry Roberts
Company: CBBC Bank
Title: Vice President

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I have lived in Blount County community my entire life. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, I worked for 2 regional banks before accepting my current position with CBBC Bank. I enjoy my current position very much, and I enjoy advising and assisting commercial and consumer clients with their financial needs."

Theresa Trentham-Hutton

Name: Theresa Trentham-Hutton
Company: Comcast Spotlight
Title: Account Executive

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position.
"I began my career in the cable industry in 1988 before transitioning over to the advertising side in 2000. I have enjoyed building lasting relationships with my clients and helping them reach their business goals through successful Advertising and Marketing." 

What's one interesting fact about you? 
"We vacationed in TN as a family when I was very young - I always told my parents when I was old enough I was moving here. The day after I turned 19, I put my clothes and my dog in my car and drove to TN!"

Abraham Ullrich

Name: Abraham Ullrich
Company: Ullrich Print Plus
Title: Sales

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I have always liked working for may dad, so we decided that I could take on an expanded role with the company."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a pretty decent golfer."

Shara White

Name: Shara White
Company: Edward Jones Investments
Title: Financial Advisor

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "My journey with Edward Jones started when an Edward Jones advisor was introducing himself to my neighborhood. I still remember seeing a well-dressed gentleman go door to door, and when he started up my driveway, I went ahead and stepped out on the front porch to meet him, not even giving him a chance to knock! He explained he was opening an office in town, and my immediate question was, "Are you hiring?" When he responded he'd be looking for a Branch Office Administrator in the next few months, I insisted he come inside so I could get my resume. That poor advisor... here he's trying to tell me about the wonders of saving, and I'm trying to convince him to hire me! I started as the BOA in the Madisonville branch on March 31st, 2008. For ten years, I helped my financial advisor grow the business. I learned the ins-and-outs and the ups-and-downs of being an Edward Jones financial advisor. It took me ten years of helping people, focusing on their goals and their needs, to make me realize I wanted to do the very same thing as my advisor, so I joined Edward Jones as a financial advisor in 2018, and came home to Blount County. I may have pounced on the opportunity to get a job when I was first introduced to the firm back in 2008, but what's kept me here, what's encouraged me to go further in my career my becoming an advisor, is the ability to help others realize their goals, their dreams, and their legacies."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I've trained miniature horses, sang opera, and when I'm not focusing on finance or curled up with a good book, I'm writing a novel of my own."

Jessica Williamson

Name: Jessica Williamson
Company: ParkMed Urgent Care - TeamHealth
Title: Community Relations Manager & National Website Specialist

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, Human Development and Family Studies, I pursued a career is non-profit. I started at the YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley when I first moved to Knoxville in 2015. I was promoted to Violence Prevention Project Coordinator in June of 2016. I was responsible for the leadership and implementation of all areas related to the delivery of the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women grant including but not limited to; collaborative work with community partners, marketing, research, reporting, participant recruiting and project planning. My desire for a career focused on marketing and community relations became evident and I started working for TeamHealth in August of 2017."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I love cooking & baking, trying new foods and recipes!"

Tim Wirtz

Name: Tim Wirtz
Company: PKA Marketing
Title: Director of Marketing Communications and Business Intelligence

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "What a road it has been. I moved to Knoxville just over 10 years ago and have been a part of this amazing Chamber for seven of them. I am a PR/Marketing and Business Development specialist and I love giving of my time when I can. I am a Chamber Ambassador, I am the Chair of the Branding and Messaging Committee at UWGK, I am on the Board of Keep Blount Beautiful and I have been a member of the Hops in the Hills Committee since its inception. I live here in Blount County and I could not imagine a better place to live in and serve."

What's one interesting fact about you? "Some of you already know this, but I was a lead singer in a band for more than 10 years."

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