Become an Ambassador

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

Ambassador Program Purpose

To increase the retention rate of existing members by conducting an on-going program of goodwill calls and networking opportunities with our members, reinforcing the benefits of making an investment in the Chamber, increasing the member’s knowledge of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, soliciting members’ input on Chamber programs, and opening more channels of communication between Chamber leadership and members.

Ambassador Program Benefits

  • Development of business contacts through relationships established as a Chamber Ambassador
  • Development of relationships with other Ambassadors
  • Recognition for the volunteer at events, in the Chamber’s newsletter and on the Chamber’s website
  • Keeps you informed on what is going on in the Business Community

Ambassador Program Qualities

  • Highly motivated
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong marketing and customer service skills
  • Knowledge of Chamber programs and activities, and the willingness to promote them
  • Professional demeanor with a strong positive attitude

Ambassador Program Job Description

Ambassadors are Chamber members in good standing. Ambassadors are the connection between the Chamber Board and staff to Chamber Members. Ambassadors shall be well versed on the Chamber and Blount Partnership by attending at least one How to Maximize session with staff. Ambassadors will regularly contact existing members and share the news of the Chamber and the business community. Ambassadors will provide feedback to staff on the members behalf. Feedback to include needs, challenges, good news, contact information changes etc. Ambassadors are also responsible for welcoming new Chamber members and identify potential new members. Ambassadors are to introduce themselves first as a “Chamber Ambassador” and second “as their business representative”. Each call is a Chamber call only. Follow up calls representing the business only comes after a relationship has been established. Ambassadors are asked to up-lift our members via social media. Ambassadors are asked to attend Chamber functions and serve in a voluntary capacity i.e. grand opening, ribbon cuttings, networking events, Small Business Saturday, Hops in the Hills, Townsend Spring & Fall Festivals, Grains & Grits, Hot Air Balloon Festival, Holiday Open house etc.

Ambassador of the Month

  • January: Dale Trezise, TN Bank
  • February: Caroline Fontinell, Epic Nine Marketing Outfitters
  • March: Caroline Fontinell, Epic Nine Marketing Outfitters
  • April: Caroline Fontinell, Epic Nine Marketing Outfitters

Ambassador of the Year

  • 2022: Jessica Hannah
  • 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

Donnelle Curran, Co-Chair

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."

Jeremy Johnson, Co-Chair

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."

Kelley Bell

Name: Kelley Bell
Company: SAXON
Title: Group Benefits Consultant

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Prior to joining SAXON, I had 25 years in the banking industry. The last 3 years in banking, I was a Program Manager for a bank, partnering with numerous health insurance Brokers, educating employees on the Health Savings Bank Account when they were offered the HSA health plan. I enjoyed attending those employee meetings with the Brokers and had an interest in becoming a Group Benefits Consultant. I chose SAXON over several offers from other Brokers I partnered with because of our unique service model and focus on small businesses."

What's one interesting fact about you? "Love volunteering. Hospitality is the gift God has given me. I am happiest when I am serving others. I have gone on 9 mission trips and served on committees, Boards with numerous chambers of commerce, non-profits and chariites."

Jason Breland

Name: Jason Breland
Company: Jason Breland State Farm
Title: Owner

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I owned a landscaping business for 12 years before being recruited to become an agent with State Farm. I had been looking for a change, and this was the perfect opportunity! I am passionate about my customers...Servicing their needs, helping to mitigate risk, and positioning them for success going forward into the future. This agency is a blessing straight from the Lord, and I thank him every day for the opportunity to serve Maryville in a meaningful way!"

What's one interesting fact about you? " I was in 3 different bands, travelled all over the Southeast touring and playing, and got to open up for many top tier bands of the day. These days I still greatly enjoy playing music and singing in my church worship band."

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!"

Sarah Calkin

Name: Sarah Calkin
Company: Express Strategic Services
Title: Business Development Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Over the past 15 years, I have been in a sales/marketing role for several companies. Almost 6 years ago, 2 partners and I formed Express Strategic Services, a business and marketing consulting company. Our expertise in business and marketing strategies enables us to partner with companies who want to make a big impact. My role as Business Development Manager gives me the opportunity to interact and work with people across all industries. I have been involved with the Blount Chamber for many years in some capacity, and the opportunities they provide people and businesses are endless."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a mom of four, including b/g twins!"

Hazen Carleton

Name: Hazen Carleton
Company: Forty-Second Street, Inc.
Title: Account Manager/Brand Ambassador

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Growing up, I have always been around Forty-Second Street (Family Company). When it came time to go to college about a year in, I was given an excellent opportunity to learn the business, and I jumped on it."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I have always loved contact sports! I used to play football and now rugby."

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!"

Vickie Coleman

Name: Vickie L Coleman, IIDA, NCIDQ
Company: WorkSpace Interiors
Title: Director of New Business Development

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "After getting my BS in Interior Design from UTK, I worked in residential design at Law's Interiors and then moved into commercial interior design and furniture for 14 years. Steelcase offered me a position in 1999 and I spent the next 21 years promoting Steelcase products in the East TN, Alabama and Mississippi markets until retiring in September 2020. WorkSpace Interiors recruited me to join their team as Director of New Business Development in March 2021 so have been with WSI for almost 1 year. My how time flies!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "Although I'm an East TN girl, I was born in Havre, Montana"

Leigh Cowden

Name: Leigh Cowden
Company: Law Offices of Leigh Cowden
Title: Attorney

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I've been a licensed attorney since 2007, beginning first in Florida before moving my practice to Tennessee. I am licensed in Tennessee, Florida, and New York. I focus on Estate Planning and Business Law. I'm the principal attorney at the Law Offices of Leigh Cowden, located in Maryville. I have served in the US Air Force as an air traffic controller and held executive positions in several businesses in many industries, and I love working with business owners in achieving their goals. In addition to practicing law, I also provide business coaching services."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I'm a New York Times bestselling author of over 40 fiction novels under a pen name that is not my given name."

Javon Crane

Name: Javon Crane
Company: Northwestern Mutual
Title: Financial Representative

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I started my Financial Practice here in Maryville. I joined the chamber and it has been the best decision I've made. I have made so many connections and relationships, that are priceless. I help people plan for the future! I specialize in financial planning meaning that me and my team spend a lot of time walking through cash flow management, tax mitigation/funding strategies, and making sure that once you are prepared to exit your career on your terms. If you have a business that we have the proper amount of assets in suitable locations to alleviate any stressor the company's might put on your financial plan."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am from Memphis and played basketball at Maryville College"

Melissa Edmonds

Name: Melissa Edmonds
Company: United Services, Inc.
Title: Corporate Secretary/Office Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I began my career in the restaurant business. I have a passion for hospitality and being a waitress for several years then transitioning into a management roll helped grow my customer service skills. After many years I was given the opportunity to use my skills on the administrative side of the food and beverage industry. During that time I received training in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, and several administrative duties that go into a business office and make the day to day operations run smoothly. I met Shane, who is the business owner of United Services and now my amazing husband, who just so happen to be looking for administrative help. I came to work at United Services in 2007 and set the tone for a successful office atmosphere and have not looked back. I am now the Corporate Secretary and Office Manager at United Services, Inc. During my tenure the company has almost doubled in size from 50 team members to now 125. I am forever grateful for where I once was and where I am now, and will never forget those who have poured into me along the way!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "My dad's career path led us all over the United States, the longest I lived anywhere growing up was 4 years."

Maelea Galyon

Name: Maelea Galyon
Company: Turn It Up Consulting
Title: Mastermind Guru

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "During her 25-year career in Tennessee public education, Maelea Galyon found herself in the role of change agent over and over again. Leading change, building consensus, managing & resolving conflict, and creating buy-in all require finely tuned facilitation and collaboration skills. Since 2019, Maelea has brought those skills into the business space, helping business leaders and entrepreneurs collaboration to grow their businesses and amplify their impact."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I sing with a cover band here in Blount County. We are The Backseat Delilahs, and we have been singing together for about 30 years!"

Jessica Hannah

Name: Jessica Hannah
Company: Vienna Coffee Company
Title: Sales Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "In 2018 I transitioned from being the Operations Manager at Wild Laurel Golf Course to returning to college to complete my degree. I saw an open part time position at Vienna Coffee Company as a delivery driver and decided to take the opportunity as it would allow for my school schedule. I met with John Clark and we decided I would take the Sales Manager Position once our current Sales Manager moved to Greece. I strongly believe stepping into the delivery position helped me to better know my customers and their needs. I have a passion for our community and for non-profits. I am big on promoting local businesses and believe we have one of the best chambers in the nation. I desire to be a professional public speaker one day! I absolutely love meeting new people and helping others become successful. I feel the chamber has helped me to excel in my mission to love others and help promote them in their business and life endeavors."

What's one interesting fact about you? "Scuba Certified AASI Level 1 Certified Snowboard Instructor Leadership Blount Alumni Class of 2020 I love culture, adventure, exploring and trying new things."

Novella Jones

Name: Novella Jones
Company: CBBC Bank
Title: Senior Vice President

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I started with the bank as a teller in 1977 and have worked my way up to my current position. I served in different capacities including HR, Branch Manager, Executive Assistant, and have been a lender for 30 years."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I attended Girl State when I was a senior in high school."

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."

Joy LaForce

Name: Joy LaForce
Company: LaForce Insurance Agency
Title: Agent/Owner

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "My Dad, David Borden, hired me to work temporarily in his Allstate office in 2009. At the time, I had no idea this would be my career. Upon David's retirement in December 2018, I was able to purchase the agency. Since I purchased the agency, I have also been able to spend more time supporting our community."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a farm girl at heart. Love to garden and love my flock of chickens."

Gray LaRose

Name: Gray LaRose
Company: Charlotte Chance Agency, Farmers Insurance
Title: Insurance Producer

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I started by career in Blount County as a Business Development Manager at SERVPRO of Blount County. After working so closely with other insurance agents across the county for nearly 2 years, I decided to make the swap to the other side. Bringing my customer service and sales expertise to help the families and business owners of East Tennessee understand their insurance needs and protect their assets."

What's one interesting fact about you? "One of my passions outside of my job is coaching youth soccer at Blount United Soccer Club here in Maryville."

Elizabeth Martin

Name: Elizabeth Martin
Company: Pineywoods Benefits
Title: Director of Client Experience

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "20 years ago, I created and led a division for a nationwide insurance company focused on design and communication. I began to understand the vast opportunity to educate employers and employees on their benefits - and perks no one seems to know exist. After 5 years, I launched specialty services for select large clients. I truly wanted all clients to have the same resources my clients were receiving. Fortunately, I found a company with the same desire in 2021. Pineywoods Benefits offers the same (and even more) specialty services to ALL of our clients! As if that wasn't exciting enough - there is NO cost for our services - and there are many resources we pay for on behalf of our clients!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I make my own wine - and often from very unexpected resources."

Deborah Oberhausen

Name: Deborah Oberhausen
Company: Rocky Top Restoration, LLC
Title: Marketing and Business Development Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I have been in the restoration business for almost 10 years. I enjoy helping businesses grow and love that I get to help people! We get to help people at some of the worst times in their lives and bring their homes or place of business back to normalize as quickly and smoothly as possible. I decided after helping two restoration companies grow in northwest Florida, I needed a change and decided to move to east Tennessee. I applied for the job and got it!"

Kyle Perkins

Name: Kyle Perkins
Company: RoseWood Virtual Tours
Title: Founder

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I began my career with a B.S.E.E. from Tennessee Technological University working as an Automation/Controls Engineer for Denso Mfg. in Maryville, TN. I spent almost 10 years supporting Manufacturing Automation across North America and locally in Maryville. After my daughter was born in 2020 I was inspired to own a business of my own. In October of 2021 I founded RoseWood Virtual Tours and transitioned to a fully self-employed business owner. "

What's one interesting fact about you? "I believe almost every skill, trade or technology is worth learning something about. Therefore, I enjoy finding what people are good at and passionate about and connecting them with others who they can collaborate with. Also, I now have too many hobbies."

Renee Poole

Name: Renee Poole
Company: Blount County Education Foundation
Title: Executive Director

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I have worked in nonprofit for more than 10 years. I am very passionate about education and resource based services, which has served me well in my career. Since moving to Blount County in 2015, I have also discovered my passion for community. I love connecting and collaborating with people and finding new opportunities to make Blount County a better place for its residents. We truly live in a great place!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am a huge bookworm and read over 100 books last year."

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."

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 began my banking career in 2000 working as an Assistant Branch Manager. I began working for CBBC Bank in 2016 and I'm currently Vice President and Branch Manager of the CBBC Bank Midland location. Currently, I am the Business Development Officer for the Midland Branch in Alcoa, TN and I assist clients with their Consumer and Commercial banking and lending needs."

Mandy Rodriguez

Name: Mandy Rodriguez
Company: Carico Construction, Inc.
Title: Office Manager

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. " I worked in hospitality for over 20 years and worked for the same company for 15 years. I started out as a housekeeper for a timeshare company. I worked my way up the ladder eventually moving to Association Governance Specialist position. The admin position was something I enjoyed doing as there was nothing ever the same every day. I am now an office manager for the company I am currently with and I love it! I will soon be taking online classes to be a certified bookkeeper."

What's one interesting fact about you? "I am an Irish Twin!"

Dale Trezise

Name: Dale Trezise
Company: TNBANK
Title: Commercial Lender

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "I began my career in banking as a college student working for an "in-store" bank and worked my way up through the ranks after graduation. 25 years later, I've changed banks a couple of times but the job remains the same... lending money to the people that need it."

Lyndi Vaughn

Name: Lyndi Vaughn
Company: Workspace Interiors
Title: Sales Executive

Briefly describe your career path and how you got to your current position. "Upon graduating from East Tennessee State University in May of 2021 I started my career as an intern for Workspace Interiors in our Kingsport office. Once I graduated from ETSU I moved back home to Knoxville and started full time at Workspace Interiors and served as a sales and marketing coordinator, and after about a year I was promoted to a sales executive!"

What's one interesting fact about you? "I coach a mini jazz team in my spare time!"

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