Julie S. Elder
Community Volunteer, Location
Julie joined the board in 2014. After over a decade of pharmaceutical sales experience, Julie is now staying at home and enjoying dedicating her spare time to several non-profit boards and community causes. Julie was drawn to Harmony Family Center because both she and her brother were adopted. She lives in Maryville with her husband, John, and her two children. She received her master’s in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Tennessee Tech University.
CPA, CEBS, PSHH Retirement Plan Services, LLC, Knoxville, TN
Christi joined the Board in 2010. Christie serves as the Chairman of the Board of Education for the Maryville City School System. As a school board member, she is involved in policy, board/superintendent relations, vision, advocacy, and school finance. Christi’s civic involvement has been an asset to raise awareness about Harmony Adoptions in the community. Christi served as Board Secretary/Treasurer from 10/10 to 12/12. Christi was elected Board Vice President 01/13.
Leigh Ann Garrett
Director of Sales & Marketing, Garrett Construction, Inc., Knoxville, TN
Leigh Ann joined the board in 2014. Leigh Ann graduated with a nursing degree from University of Tennessee and spent twenty-three years of her nursing career in the administrative side of the senior care industry. She served in both operational roles as well as sales and marketing roles. Leigh and husband Matt adopted their daughter Abby with the help of Harmony and are among Harmony’s most committed friends and volunteers.
Melissa K. Ballard
Director of Financial Planning Services at PYA Waltman Capital, LLC
Melissa joined the board in 2019. Melissa is the Director of Financial Planning Services at PYA Waltman Capital, LLC. Her focus each day is to help the firm’s clients connect their money to their lives, with the ultimate goal of helping them live more fulfilling lives. Melissa earned her Business Administration degree from Queens University of Charlotte and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. She was born and raised in Knoxville where she currently lives with her husband. She has served as a volunteer with Harmony’s Equine Therapy program since 2017. She was drawn in by Harmony’s mission and the organization’s targeted and impactful programs.
Women’s Basketball Associate Head Coach, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Kyra is currently the Associate Head Coach at the University of Kentucky. She has a special connection with Harmony because of her personal experience with adoption. Kyra is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Cultural Studies (with an emphasis in sports psychology). Kyra had the honor of playing for the legendary Coach Pat Summitt. She also works closely with the Pat Summitt Foundation to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. Kyra resides in Lexington with her husband, Dexter and son Jackson. Kyra joined Harmony’s Board of Directors in 2016.
James H. Hawkins, IV
Senior Partner, Leon Williams Contractors, LLC, Maryville, TN
Jim joined the board in 2014. Jimmy Hawkins is a senior partner of Leon Williams Contractors, LLC, a Maryville based commercial construction company serving all of East Tennessee. Jim was drawn to Harmony Family Center because of his personal experience with adoption; his parents adopted his two sisters from Russia. He lives in Maryville with his wife and two children. He is a Graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He is also active in Foothills Church located in Maryville TN.
Dean of Scholars, Emerald Academy, Knoxville, TN
Renee Kelly is the dean of scholars at Emerald Academy, Knoxville’s first and only charter school. She was formerly the principal of West Valley Middle School and served as an educator with the Knox County Schools for many years. Renee received her B.S. in Marketing and her M.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In preparation for school administration, she earned her Ed.S. in Instructional Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University prior to serving as a fellow in the first cohort of the Leadership Academy at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Educational Leadership. After a brief career in the sales industry with Proctor and Gamble Distributing Company as a Market Field Representative, Mrs. Kelly decided that she wanted to pursue a career in education where she has committed her life to empowering others through teaching and learning. Prior to assuming her administrative responsibilities, Mrs. Kelly served as a College Support Coach at Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) Knoxville, a non-profit organization charged with increasing the college graduation rate of minority students. Besides serving as an instructional leader at Emerald Academy, Mrs. Kelly serves our community through her church and various other service organizations throughout Knoxville. Renee joined Harmony’s Board of Directors in 2016. She resides in Knoxville with her husband, Todd and their children Clarke, a graduate of and former cheerleader at the University of Alabama, and Todd Jr., a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee.
Karen D. Pershing
Executive Director of the Knoxville Metropolitan Drug Commission, Knoxville, TN
Karen joined the board in 2014. She is responsible for the overall operations of the Metropolitan Drug Commission, including strategic planning, staff supervision, fiscal oversight, board of directors, fund raising, grant writing in order to reduce youth use and adult abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Karen holds a master’s degree in Public Health, Health Planning and Administration and the Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Retired, Manager of Lawyer Services, Hunton & Williams LLP, Richmond, VA
We are pleased to have had Kathy on the Board since 2009. Kathy holds a Masters Degree in Business. Kathy’s past board experience includes the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Administrators and Trustee of the Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators and the Knoxville YMCA. Kathy shares her experience in human resources, leadership roles in the community, and her commitment to support Harmony’s mission. As an adoptive parent of two children, Kathy became involved with Harmony Family Center through participating in the Adoption Tour, a 433.9 mile bicycle ride across the state to advocate adoption.
Karen M. Sowers, Ph.D.
Retired, Dean of the College of Social Work, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Karen M. Sowers, Ph.D. was appointed Professor and Dean of the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in August 1997. She holds the position of Beaman University Professor for Research and Service at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Sowers is a Scholar Fellow with the National Academies of Practice. As dean she oversees four academic programs (BSSW, MSSW, PhD, DSW), several campuses and online programs, the Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center and the Social Work Office for Research and Public Service. Dr. Sowers served as Director of the School of Social Work at Florida International University from June 1994 to August 1997 and as the Undergraduate Program Director of the School of Social Work at Florida International University from 1986 to 1994. She received her baccalaureate degree in Sociology from the University of Central Florida in 1974, the Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida State University in 1977 and the Ph.D. in Social Work from Florida State University in 1986. Dr. Sowers serves on several local, national and international boards. Dr. Sowers is nationally known for her research and scholarship in the areas of international practice, juvenile justice, child welfare, cultural diversity and culturally effective intervention strategies for social work practice, evidence-based social work practice and social work education. Her current research and community interests include evidence-based practice, mental health practice, international social work practice and juvenile justice practice. She has served as a founding editorial board member of the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice, founding co-editor of Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal and is currently serving on numerous editorial boards. Dr. Sowers serves on several international, national, and local boards focusing on social work education, practice and research.
Acting CFO and Consultant, Parker Business Consulting & Accounting, Knoxville, TN
After serving as a US Army Ranger, Bob earned his MBA degree from Tennessee Technological University. Bob has served in numerous leadership positions with both large and closely-held companies. His work has involved leading strategic planning, developing new financial measurement and reporting systems, integrating business operations, and implementing successful profit improvement programs. Bob has assisted Harmony for many years to ensure fiscal stability, and to ensure Harmony maintains a strong financial future
Pamela L. Wolf
Chief Executive Officer, Founder Harmony Family Center, Knoxville, TN
Pam founded Harmony in 1996 after the adoption of her daughter. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Pam also holds a Master of Science Degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. Prior to founding Harmony Adoptions, Pam held positions with the Knoxville Area Urban League, Volunteers of America, Inc., The Parent Refuge, and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Pam is very involved in her community, to mention a few; she is a member of Leadership Blount Class of 2010, Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013, and member of the Blount Hearing and Speech Board.