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.
The Board At Harmony
At the heart of this non profit is a group of people who’s heart and passion is to help others.
Christi joined the Board in 2010. Christi served for 12 years on the Maryville City School System Board of Education and currently serves on the United Way Board of Directors and as an active volunteer in Blount County Young Life. Christi’s civic involvement has been an asset to raise awareness about Harmony Family Center in the community. Christi served as Board Secretary/Treasurer from 10/10 to 12/12 and was elected Board Vice President 01/13.
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.
Tammi Ford serves as the Vice President of the Blount Partnership, a role she stepped up to in May 2011. Prior to that, Ford was the Executive Vice President of Communications from 1998-2011. She began her career as the Chamber’s Communications Director in 1990. Ford currently works with membership retention and recruitment while overseeing the operating budget of the Chamber.
A 1998 Magna Cum Laude graduate from Tusculum College with a degree in organization management, Ford graduated from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management at the University of Georgia in 1997. She is also a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and part of the Leadership Blount class of 2003.
In addition, Ford is a current board member for the United Way of Blount County. She is also a past board member of the Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center, Kingdom Design Ministries and past president of the Knoxville Regional Celiac Support Group.
An active community volunteer, she has dedicated her time to assisting the United Way of Blount County by participating in Loaned Executive, Day of Chairing Chair, Pacesetters Campaign, Allocations Panel and the Marketing Committee. She is also a Tennessee Achieves mentor and a member of the East Tennessee Regional Leadership Class of 2017.
Tammi has one son, Cole.
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.
Jim joined the board in 2014. Jimmy Hawkins is the President 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.
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 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 former student-athlete at the University of Tennessee.
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.
Karen Pershing serves as the Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition in Knoxville, Tennessee. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee. After working for many years in public health, Karen received her Master’s Degree from UTK in Public Health. Ms. Pershing has provided numerous trainings throughout her career on health-related topics. Other credentials include: Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute Class of 2013 (A National program through SAMHSA), Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013, Tennessee Department of Health recognition for work in prescription drug abuse prevention, member of the Tennessee Public Health Association, Executive Women’s Association, and UT Chancellor’s Associates program. She is a Certified Prevention Specialist II and a 2014 graduate of the UT Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness. Karen was the 2016 recipient of the Partners and Leadership Award from the Tennessee Public Health Association as well the recipient of the 2017 FBI Community Director’s Leadership Award, representing the Knoxville Field Office and a 2018 recipient of the Knox Biz (formerly Knoxville Business Journal) Healthcare Heroes Award for her work in addiction and recovery. Other Boards she serves on are: Harmony Family Centers, Family Justice Center, Tennessee Recovery Coalition, Leadership Knoxville, and the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee.
We are pleased to have had Kathy on the Board since 2009. Kathy holds a master’s 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 Adoptions through participating in the Adoption Tour, a 433.9 mile bicycle ride across the state to advocate adoption.
Karen M. Sowers, Ph.D. is Dean Emerita and Professor Emerita from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Social Work. She was appointed the Beaman Professor and Dean of the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in August 1997 and retired from that position in August 2017. She 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 has served on numerous local, national and international boards. She is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award from the Florida State University and the Mental Health of America’s 2016 George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award. She is a scholar fellow with the National Academies of Practice. 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. She has authored or co-authored numerous books, book chapters and refereed journal articles. She has served as a founding editorial board member of the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice and founding co-editor of Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal. She continues to serve on numerous editorial boards and state and national social service boards.
Ms. Wilburn has been the Vice President of Human Resources of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital since September of 2009. In this role, she is also responsible for Employee Health, Wellness, and Organizational Development, and Learning. Prior to Children’s, she spent 11 years at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio serving in multiple leadership positions in Human Resources. Prior to entering the health care industry, Ms. Wilburn’s career while always being in Human Resources, was in for profit manufacturing.
Ms. Wilburn holds an undergraduate degree and Masters from The Ohio State University. Ms. Wilburn completed her Master’s degree in Liberal Arts, with an emphasis in Human Resources Management, Organizational Communication and Public Relations.
As a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Knoxville class, Ms. Wilburn has invested her time in giving back to the community and the region. Ms. Wilburn has served on several local and state boards since relocating to Knoxville, including Work Connections, an agency focused on employment opportunities under an agreement with the TN Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, THA Council on Diversity, LMU Advisory Board for their school of business, and in November of 2018 will join the Board of Harmony Family Center. She was drawn to the center due to its emphasis on children, mental and family health and the interventions of animal in their recovery. Sue is the guardian of Children’s Hospital’s first facility dog, Farley Grace.
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.
Pam founded Harmony in 1996 after the adoption of her daughter from China. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Pam also holds a Master of Science 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 an alumni of the Leadership Blount Class of 2010, Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013, and has been a volunteer coordinator for the 4-H horse program in Blount County. She is currently on the board of GirlTalk, Voice for Adoption, and the Advisory Board of AIMHiTN.