Chatter 20 under 40: Scenic City superheroes

Chatter 20 under 40: Scenic City superheroes

June 2nd, 2017 by Compiled by Jennifer Bardoner in Chatter

In a city that has already vanquished many of its enemies through the superpower of teamwork, a special team of avengers seeks to protect that progress so that Smog, The Disengaged and Stagnance may never return, even as they help the city battle a new host of villains.

 

 

Fred Holder

Fred Holder

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Fred Holder, 34

President, CEO and co-founder of GreenForm

What would you say your superpower is?

Surfing against the tide. I rip it.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Captain Planet. Fighting for the environment.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals? Justice League.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Trust the best, forget the rest.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Superman, because he can do anything.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Clowns to right of me, jokers to the left.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Jokers and pollution.

What gives you strength?

Family.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Help Chattanooga continue to grow and be safe.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Being selfless and fighting for the greater good.

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Alex Tainsh

Alex Tainsh

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Alex Tainsh, 29

Marketing and promotions manager for Chattanooga Lookouts

What would you say your superpower is?

Always getting the job done and having fun when I do. I may not always know what to do or feel like I have enough time to do it, but I will always give everything I have to make everything I do the best it can be and have as much fun as possible when I'm doing it.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

As a kid, my only real athletic strength was running fast, so I was always a big fan of The Flash, because running super-fast is really cool and he used his gift to help as many people as possible.

As an adult, I have become a big fan Iron Man because he is super-cool, smart and may seem to be self-centered and egotistical, but at the end of the day he wants to help make people's lives better, and that's what really counts. Plus, his gadgets are really cool and I've become partial to self-made superheroes who weren't born with a special power.

And in real life my nana would probably be my hero, because she is the best.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

I have an incredible team both at work and personally that help me every step of the way.

At work I have an incredible promotions team that helps me bring the FUN to AT&T Field. They are behind the scenes doing all the little things to make all our promotions and in-game entertainment happen. The people I work with daily on the Lookouts staff are an incredible group of people that I consider to be my Chattanooga family, and I hope they do too. It takes all of us working together to bring Lookouts baseball to life.

In life, my parents and my family could not possibly have been more supportive in everything I have done. When I moved 2,400 miles away from home to start my career in sports, they were the first people to share my excitement, and they were out there in Albuquerque every season cheering us on, and my dad and I had a great father-son road trip out to Albuquerque when I first moved there. They have always been willing to help me and my brothers any possible way they can so we can achieve our goals. I also have an amazing boyfriend who is awesome and makes everything that was once good, great.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Rain on game days. But seriously, the unknown can be quite the nemesis. Things can come up all the time and those out-of-the-blue situations can often cause the biggest problems since you have so little time to plan a solution, and that can lead to negative thinking. And like anyone, my biggest arch-nemesis is often myself, and it is unplanned situations that can bring my own negativity to the forefront. But it's times with unexpected problems that I try to push out negative thoughts and only focus on positive solutions to whatever issue has come up. If you just move forward step by step, it will all work out.

What gives you strength?

Right or wrong, I find strength in not wanting to let other people down, and that drives me to try to do the very best I can in everything I do.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Considering how much time I spent dreaming of being a superhero as a kid, I should probably have a better answer to this question. I guess it would be cool to be called The Helping Hand, because I would just want to help make people's day better. No problem would be too small. Need help taking out the trash? The Helping Hand is on the way and he'll try to make you laugh while he helps.

It also sounds like a cool name for an app that connects workers with customers, but for now I'll keep it for my superhero name.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

My biggest villain would definitely be negative internal thoughts and not always being confident in who I was. Once I started being confident in myself, I became a much happier, more productive and hopefully better person.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Trying to do the best job you can to give everyone you interact with the best experience possible. You can affect people in so many little ways, and I always try to be a positive spot in someone's day rather than a negative.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

I moved to Chattanooga to work for the Lookouts and I didn't really know what to expect from Chattanooga. What I found was a great town filled with nice people, beautiful scenery and lots of great things to do. I have found a great home here, so it's hard to think of what to change, but I guess I would say continuing to keep a positive community where everyone is working together to make Chattanooga the best it can be.

And direct flights from Chattanooga to Providence would make my family pretty happy, so that would be cool.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Do the best you can.

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Bart Rolen

Bart Rolen

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Bart Rolen, 37

Executive vice president and head of private client services with Atlantic Capital Bank; Managing director of Southeastern Trust Company

What would you say your superpower is?

I'm a pretty good negotiator; ask my wife. She'll tell you I can make my way sound like it's good for everyone.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

The Work in Progress. I've been told on a couple of occasions, "Bart, you've come a long way but you've got a long way to go."

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

My own selfish desires. What I want is not always what's best for me. Thankfully, God's providence prevails.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

My wife. She knows me better than anyone and yet still supports me in everything I do — which sometimes means holding me back when I have crazy ideas. She balances me out perfectly.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Helping others uncover, develop and fulfill who God created them to be.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Reconciliation of the "two" Chattanoogas. On the one hand, Chattanooga is a beautiful city with wonderful natural assets and economic growth, while on the other hand, violence is rampant, schools are failing and hope is absent.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

My dad. He is the most generous person I know, with both his money and his time. He always puts others first. And I have yet to encounter anyone with a better work ethic. He was a great example to me growing up on how to balance work and family.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Pride. It can take you to some bad places and help you rationalize bad decisions.

What gives you strength?

My family and my faith in Jesus. They both remind me what's most important in this life.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Serve to lead.

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Peter Woolcock

Peter Woolcock

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Peter Woolcock, 31

Director of Chattanooga Football Club Foundation's Operation Get Active; Co-host of CFC Radio

What would you say your superpower is?

My good nature. Living all over the world — Australia, Namibia, China, the UK, India — has taught me to get along with all sorts of people, to always have a good attitude, and to adapt to change quickly.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

"Chalo!" It's a Hindi catch-all term basically meaning "Let's go!" uttered all the time in India, and it reminds me to be open to opportunities and to live life like I mean it.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Anyone who downplays sport's ability to have real, meaningful impact. The field I'm in (sport for development) is fairly new in the States, but I've worked on sport development projects all over the world and am always blown away by the simple power of sport to transform lives.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

Quite literally, my water polo team in university. It's what got me through college, what taught me the power of sport, and what set me on my career path of using sport as a tool for positive change in communities around the world.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Bananaman (he's a 1980s British superhero that might require some research), because he has a healthy message. And I love bananas.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

I'd keep on doing what I'm doing: using soccer to encourage Chattanooga's youth to live active, healthy lifestyles while developing teamwork and leadership. These are the real powers that will better Chattanooga, and I hope I can help inspire the next generation of our city's leaders.

What gives you strength?

My wife, Stephanie, and my family. It's tough to always be so far away from my parents and sister in England, but I'm lucky to live one block away from the greatest in-laws in the world who also support me immensely. And also, the Volkswagen Workers Foundation, which has very generously supported Operation Get Active from the beginning, in addition to other local foundations.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Well, I'm British, so facing Americans' resistance to using u's in words like colour and neighbour has been tough. That and the fact that they call football "soccer." But in all seriousness, my dyslexia has challenged me to solve problems creatively to get to where I am today.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Not being afraid to take risks when you feel strongly about something.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Squirrel Nutkins. It's a long-running family joke that is pretty nonsensical, but I imagine it would make for a pretty funny superhero character.

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Katie Morgan

Katie Morgan

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Katie Morgan, 26

Employee relations/special projects with Chattanooga Housing Authority

What would you say your superpower is?

Dependability. I like to think that I show up, no matter what, for the people that I care about in my life. If there's a crisis or a problem that needs to be solved, I'll be there to help you figure it out.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

I've come face-to-face with people that haven't wanted to see others succeed. I think everyone comes across these "villains," and you defeat them by keeping a good team by your side to support you and stand up for you.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Negative people (and carbs). There's nothing worse than when you're working on a project and there's a big negative nugget in the group disputing everyone's ideas and bringing the team down. Negative people simply drain my spirit and suck the joy out of me.

What gives you strength?

Coffee. Lots of coffee. Also, positive people who genuinely have my best interests at heart. My family, friends and co-workers continuously motivate me to push harder to accomplish my goals.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Through my work at the CHA and volunteering for the Grateful Gobbler Walk, which supports the Maclellan Shelter for Homeless Families, I've seen families struggle to find a safe place to go when they come across hard times. Homeless families have to grapple with the choice of sleeping on the streets or in their car with their small children so they don't have to separate to go to a shelter. Some families don't have the simple luxury of having a roof over their head, and I wish I could change that.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

I'll have to admit that without googling mythical superheroes, I don't know much about them. I have, on the other hand, met lots of real-life superheroes who "come to the rescue" for people all the time. My superhero-of-a-boss, Betsy McCright, helps people without being asked, she tends to save the day when something goes wrong, and does it while having a lot of fun. Since I arrived in Chatt Town almost four years ago, she has shown me kindness and has been a role model. She is a real-life superhero to many people around her.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Captain Friendly. I believe that if you are kind to people you can get a whole lot more accomplished, and it's proven true in my experience.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Helping someone when they really need it. Superheroes offer kindness and support to others in both dramatic ways and small gestures.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Work hard and be nice to people.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

Just like any basic superhero's work, working for the CHA is unpredictable and challenging; the only difference is superheroes combat scary monsters and I deal with people (sometimes those are two in the same). I couldn't survive a day without my colleagues who support me and drop whatever they're doing to lend a hand when I need backup. My CHA team is the best part of my job and I'm lucky for the opportunity to work toward an important mission with such smart, passionate and all-around wonderful people.

Outside of my work life, I am constantly surrounded by family and friends that cheer me on at everything I do. Without them, I could not accomplish anything. They don't mind me forcing them to wear a crazy turkey suit for a good cause. If I am in charge of an event, they are there at the crack of dawn to help me set up. They clap for me when I succeed. My life is great because of them.

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Reginald F. Smith II

Reginald F. Smith II

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Reginald F. Smith II, 31

Executive director of The United Methodist Neighborhood Centers Inc. (The Bethlehem Center)

What would you say your superpower is?

Superhuman perception that's only second to precognition and a strong sense of manhood.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Personally, the pressure to perform in a competitive world while balancing my passion for helping people. By far the biggest villain I face is helping people overcoming uncertainty, doubt, fear, poverty, educational attainment and faithlessness in urban communities.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

FFF: Family, friends and fraternity. All have contributed to my understanding my responsibility and duty to uplift humanity and be a blessing to others.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Vibe. My powers would allow me to "vibe" and sense and tap into the energy of everything I come into contact with.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Defending those who can't defend themselves — even if the odds seem insurmountable, even if you're not sure you're strong enough to win — because it's the right thing to do.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

I have two; they sometime work as a team: The Status Quo and Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the arch-nemesis that never believes it's the bad guy and supports The Status Quo.

What gives you strength?

My faith. A hero's real power always comes from within, and from God.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

I'd be able to share my power of perception with others. They'd be able to temporarily see and feel what others see and feel, the way others see and feel it. This would open the eyes of many to the large number of people who are unseen and whose voices are not heard. Our community is a strong one, and with more empathy from people who just don't know or understand the plight of others, we could be the best city ever.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

My father, Reginald F. Smith Sr. It was he who taught me the ideal of manhood, the need for scholarship, the sacrifice of perseverance, and gave me the responsibility to uplift those in need. He is also a member of my fraternity, which further reinforces these very ideals and principles.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Only good vibes.

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Melissa Harrington

Melissa Harrington

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Melissa Harrington, 32

Doctor of physical therapy and director of rehabilitation services with CHI Memorial; President of Chattanooga Chi Omega House Corporation Board; Vice president of membership for Junior League of Chattanooga; Member and past president of Chattanooga Area Alumnae Association of Chi Omega; Fiancee to Eric

What would you say your superpower is?

Making people smile and passing along a cheerful attitude.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Going above and beyond what may be expected of you, pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do, overcoming challenges and daring to make a positive difference in others' lives in some way.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

I've always respected and looked up to Mother Teresa and her work. She was never afraid of a challenge. She saw a need, rose to meet it and inspired others to do the same.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

If you don't do it, who will? If not now, when?

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

At times I have to be told I am not Wonder Woman — compassion can be both a strength and a weakness. We all need to be reminded that if we don't take care of ourselves first, we won't be of much help to anyone else.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Losing my father at a young age presented some challenges for me and my family, but we didn't let that stop us from supporting and loving each other through the hard times into better, brighter days. Learning to balance a social life, philanthropy, work and a rigorous graduate course-load may have had me scheduling time to take a shower, clean my room and get groceries, but it taught me how to prioritize and make time for the things and people that are important to me.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Apathy. I am passionate and invested in the tasks I give my time and energy to, and often have those [whom] I must "rescue" and bring over to my side to accomplish my goals.

What gives you strength?

Knowing I have the support and love of friends and family and knowing each challenge I face leaves me stronger and more prepared for the future.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

I believe in treating others as I would want to be treated or how I would want my family treated. Spreading more love, acceptance and respect for each other would impact one person at a time and would make a tremendous difference in our community.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

My friends and family have always been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. They give me the push I need to get the job done and to get the job done right, and lend a hand even when I don't always ask for it.

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Madyson Sloane Foster

Madyson Sloane Foster

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Madyson Sloane Foster, 25

Executive assistant/marketing manager at Capital Square LLC; Dance instructor/choreographer with Tennessee Youth Ballet; Co-chair of Red Shoe Society

What would you say your superpower is?

Healing. It's in my nature to resolve issues and to help others when they need it most.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

My team that I always can count on is my family. I have a smaller family that shows love toward me and others in our community. When I feel defeated, they always seem to show me the light at the end of the tunnel, while still being realistic. They know what makes me tick and how to make me laugh when I never thought I could smile again. They keep my head on straight.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Villains and negativity are everywhere in this world. Growing up in the pre-professional dance world, there is constant competition, [both] friendly and aggressive. I had to mature quickly and learn to brush off any hateful words that were slung my way. Thanks to these "villains," I could always treat others the way I wanted to be treated: with kindness and respect.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

My arch-nemesis is myself. I am a perfectionist that is regularly keeping tabs on everything I do. I beat myself up when I feel I could have done better or done something differently. As I've gotten older, I've used my perfectionism as a strength instead of a weakness, but I occasionally must tell myself to stop the self-doubt; I'm doing OK!

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

The definition of Madyson is "strong fighter," and Sloane is "warrior." That is incredibly accurate! I call myself the Prima Warrior, "prima" being the leading lady. Women are breaking barriers in society constantly [that] have proven to be tough. Why I consider myself a fighter is because I have never given up without putting up a fight. My favorite quote [is], "Fall down seven times, get up eight."

What gives you strength?

I have loved watching my little brother grow into the young man he is today. Kind of an ironic statement to look up to my younger brother, but [I do so] with great reason. His childhood differed from mine, unfortunately, and because of that he had to become the man of the house. His unconditional kindness for everyone he meets and unwavering strength is what gives me strength on the days I want to throw in the towel.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Chattanooga is constantly improving and I love my city! We once were considered dirty and average. Now, Chattanooga is one of the prettiest and [most] thriving cities in the U.S. But if I could change anything in our city it would be to leave no child behind. All of our schools deserve the same treatment to give our children the opportunities and tools to succeed. This change is far-fetched for one person to achieve, but our community is growing together and we could flourish and be invincible. Our future begins with our youth.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

I have loved Wonder Woman since an early age. When I was growing up, I saw a beautiful woman that had brains but could also kick some tail. She was an inspiration to me as a little girl watching her and reading her comic books. She never took "no" for an answer and absolutely, under no circumstances, ever gave up. To this day I've remembered how I felt watching her, and applied her characteristics to my life.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Being that one person someone can count on and look up to. I use my "powers" to uplift my dance students every day and give them the power to see the greatness in themselves, especially when they don't see it yet. Showing others that I believe in them, even when they don't believe in themselves, is what I want to achieve in being a superhero.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder.

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Rob Hatchett

Rob Hatchett

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Rob Hatchett, 35

Vice president of communications and recruiting for Covenant Transport

What would you say your superpower is?

Passion detection. I firmly believe that if you can help people find their passion and purpose in life and encourage them to pursue it, they will be a more fulfilled employee — even if they find their passion outside of work.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Having the ability to empower others to succeed. One person can only do so much, but one person that can encourage and motivate those around him can accomplish far more.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Bad discernment. When you are wired the way I am and you are driven to have new ideas and to do things new ways and have fun, you are oftentimes asking other people to change. And that's something I've got to be careful about. I have to be able to discern if they will accept it the way I'm hoping they will, or I can end up causing issues. I've said enough times, "That didn't exactly go the way I planned," but instead of letting that stop me, I just try to discern better going forward.

What gives you strength?

Just being able to help someone and make their day a little easier. Luckily there are many opportunities around us all each day to do this.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The DigiTruckers. Our current drivers and potential drivers are crossing America every day and never stay in one location for very long. They get paid to move! So having my team stay on top of all avenues of digital communication is a necessity to recruiting and retaining professional drivers.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Jimmy Neutron. Obviously he's got great hair that I've attempted to duplicate, but also, he's always looking for solutions to problems through inventing new ideas. I tell people all the time that my goal is to have five ideas a week. Four of those won't be the greatest, but one of them will be a home run. We can't ever stop having ideas.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Big Kid. Adult life can be tough and I see a lot of adults that just don't seem to know how to have fun anymore. And for many, work isn't a place they go to expecting to have fun. "Big Kid" shows people that you can have all kinds of "kid" fun while living in an "adult" world. Bringing that type of joy and laughter back into people's life can really spark something that changes them.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Hopping industries. I switched about five years ago to trucking, and even though my "specialty" remained the same, you immediately walk into the new place knowing you know less about the company and the industry than anyone in the building. But you have to dig in and just play the "new guy" card for six months and power through the change.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Obviously the answer is no more ridge-cut traffic.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Never a dull moment!

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Ashia Carpenter

Ashia Carpenter

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Ashia Carpenter, 26

Owner of Divine Dance Studio and Creative Learning Academy performing arts preschool

What would you say your superpower is?

Helping children gain confidence and other important characteristics while mentoring them through the art of dance.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Star, because I have the ability to create amazing dancers and students, or "stars."

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Work hard or get left behind!

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

My team of fantastic dance and preschool teachers.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Finding your strengths and using them for the greater good.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Self-doubt.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Time, because it moves too quickly.

What gives you strength?

Seeing excitement on children's faces when they learn new things and gain confidence.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

[Offer] more opportunities for creative outlets for artists.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

My parents, because they are so hardworking and made it a point to instill that same characteristic in me.

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Will Clegg

Will Clegg

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Will Clegg, 32

Tax manager with HHM Certified Public Accountants

What would you say your superpower is?

There are only so many hours in the day. I'd like the ability to clone myself. It offers endless possibilities to make connections, go the extra mile for my clients, and maybe even play golf at the same time.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

The Ever-changing Tax Code!

What gives you strength?

The drive to get the most out of each day. I once had a mentor tell me, "If you are bored, you aren't maximizing your talents and ability." I try to tackle each day passionately; that way I'm never bored.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Sorry, Ben Affleck, but I think I would call myself The Accountant. Other than the obvious job connection, in the movie, Ben Affleck defines "normal" as being capable of things much greater than what others expect of you. I hope to be that for my clients and co-workers every day.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful team behind me. First and foremost, my family and friends support me through all my endeavors. Without our wonderful team at HHM, I wouldn't be able to beat those tax and audit villains. Finally, my referral network is a group of folks I can always rely on for sound professional advice.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Laird Hamilton once said, "Make sure your biggest enemy doesn't live between your own two ears." But, as a tough critic, I think the biggest villain I've had to face to date would be myself. I always strive to be the very best version of myself for my clients, my friends and my family.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

I do not consider myself a superhero. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful team around me that does an amazing job. Through their efforts, we have been able to accomplish a lot, both professionally and in the nonprofit world. So, I guess being a superhero means helping others and giving credit where credit is due. My team wears the cape, I just drive the Batmobile.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Bruce Wayne/Batman, because who doesn't want to be Batman?!

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

You miss 100 percent of the chances you don't take.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Chattanooga has so many wonderful educators. I think as a community we could do a better job of supporting our public education school system. The system needs both time and resources. I would change the overall support we give as a community. At the end of the day, the kids in our school system are the future of Chattanooga. If we don't acknowledge that, both jobs and talented students will go elsewhere.

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Emily Ahlquist O'Donnell

Emily Ahlquist O'Donnell

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Emily Ahlquist O'Donnell, 38

Vice president of Public Education Foundation, External Relations; Board chair of Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga

What would you say your superpower is?

I've always had a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. It's not the most lucrative superpower, but I AM lucky!

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Wonk Woman. I love the study of law and finding ways to build a better and more just society with good policy.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Alzheimer's disease. My mother was diagnosed in her early 50s and I spent much of my 20s feeling sad, angry and lost. The slow decline is agonizing. There were times that I was overwhelmed with grief, but now I have a full and joyful life. I named my first daughter after my mom and I honor her love of public education (she was a teacher!) with my work at PEF.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

A gaggle of gal pals. I have a huge network of girlfriends that I've collected over my life, dating back to elementary school. They are my counselors, my brain trust and my dance partners. I often hear that women are barriers to each other's success, but I've found the opposite to be true. My women friends have always encouraged my growth and success and I look for opportunities to do the same for them.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

To make Chattanooga's public schools the best in the world, where all children reach their full potential.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Inequity.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Ruth Holmberg. She was instrumental in creating the two nonprofits in Chattanooga that I love most: PEF and the Women's Fund. Ruth was a generous philanthropist, but more importantly, a hard worker who lived her values.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

I think we're all superheroes because we all have different gifts and perspectives to offer.

What gives you strength?

My family. I have an awesome husband, Johnny, and two daughters, Molly, 5, and Ellie, 2.

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Mathew William McClanahan

Mathew William McClanahan

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Matthew William McClanahan, 36

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine board-certified in family medicine and neuromusculoskeletal medicine with a Master of Arts in exercise physiology

What would you say your superpower is?

Relentlessness.

What gives you strength?

People discovering their own strength, including myself.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

The Terrier, since I've been (accurately) told (and embraced) that my spirit animal is probably a Jack Russell Terrier: dedicated, hardworking, more bark than bite, some impatient energy, and a bit too meticulous and unwilling to let go.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

The status quo. Greed. Laziness. Ignorance. Fear. And since true advancement or paradigm shifts occur one funeral at a time, I suppose I'm facing the woefully advanced state of pharmaceuticals, which keeps old men alive and in power and the world from growing and maturing far too long.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

I would empower people to accurately see that fear is behind the many ways we're "stuck" and unhealthy, but that we always have the ability to internally choose how to respond to what's happening inside or outside of us — which is inherently empowering, the opposite of fear, and is the foundation of resiliency and balance (aka "health").

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The Pain Team. Most frequently and efficaciously I use physical therapist Jason Therrien, DPT, "the soldier"; psychotherapist Tyler Orr, LPC, "military intelligence"; mindfulness and yoga teacher Janka Livancova, "deep covert CIA"; and self-described soft-tissue therapist Tim Russell, LMT, "special ops." I suppose I'd be the team leader or something, but headquarters might be the Center for Mindful Living, with Elizabeth Kabalka, the executive director there, serving as mission control.

My biggest teachers in recent years: mind/body medicine specialist Howard Schubiner, MD, and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, OFM.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

On my better days, not that much; it's just a job. When I can begin to accept myself, my life and others as they are, I can sometimes find a bit of balance between embracing and inhabiting the necessary parts of power and leadership and denying those parts that lead me to scapegoat or feel self-righteous. It means trying to be the best husband, son, brother, physician, "yard guy", cyclist, etc., I can reasonably be; doing what I can to embrace the freedom we're all offered and capable of inside ourselves so I don't make things any worse for myself or anyone else.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

I guess I tend toward the Marvel Multiverse in answer to that. Perhaps a few years ago I'd have said Iron Man. He's smart, funny, charismatic, skilled, relatively brave, but not particularly gifted with a specific power, so he's done his best with what he's been given. Yet his hubris and running from his ghosts of Christmas past and future keep causing trouble, as it has [for] me. However, I think Professor X increasingly resonates with where I see my life heading. He's suffered and it's changed him and moved him to something beyond himself: using his gifts to empower others to see what's already inside themselves. On good days, I can see that and get a piece of it.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

The Iron Man in me would say something like, "It's a choice to respond without fear." The Professor X that I'm hopefully growing into would say, "Either way, it's going to be OK," or "Try not caring so much about what happens."

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Like most superheroes, my greatest enemy is myself and falling into my own patterns of blindness and getting internally stuck. Externally, it's the consortium of wealthy old men in high castles and their armies of shortsighted number-crunchers who judge the "health" of all physicians and patients on volume-based metrics instead of the input of value to our suffering and thriving.

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Brianne Lalor

Brianne Lalor

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Brianne Lalor, 32

Chief development officer for Northside Neighborhood House

What would you say your superpower is?

Storytelling. Through my profession, I get to share people's success stories in grant writing and testimonials. It's incredible to hear such stories of resilience and know you work for an organization that played a part in helping others persevere and succeed.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

This is a tough one because I see firsthand the many struggles community members face. I think affordable housing is a huge issue, so I would harvest my powers to change that by building affordable housing for all.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

I'm super-competitive in everything I do and extremely goal oriented. Fear of failure used to really hold me back. As I've gotten older, I've adopted the attitude of "It's better to try and fail than never try at all." It's when you really put yourself out there that the best things start happening.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

I know too many real superheroes to name, so I'll stick with a mythical one. I would say Jean Gray. She is really caring but has cool abilities like telepathy and telekinesis.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Can I be cheesy for a minute? I think every person is a superhero in their own way because everyone has their own unique gift(s). I just wish everyone would use their "powers" for good.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Adventure Girl, and my power would be teleportation. I love to travel, and teleportation would allow me to go anywhere without the hassle of airport security or jet lag. I could have breakfast in Patagonia and then dinner in Paris, all without the stress of actual travel logistics. And it would be free!

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Time. There never seems to be enough of it in any given day. Actually, maybe I would want my superpower to be the ability to make clones of myself so they could just handle everything I need to get done and I could spend the day hiking.

What gives you strength?

The way this community supports its neighbors in need. I've had the privilege of working with some of the most inspiring people who devote their lives to making sure Chattanooga is a great city for all. Whether it's caring for homeless who are in need of end-of-life care or providing food boxes for hungry families, there are people doing amazing work every day in this city.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The Sisterhood. I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of my two sisters. They're my sounding board and biggest cheerleaders.

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David Martin

David Martin

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

David Martin, 37

Communications director for Briteside Holdings; Contributing opinion columnist for the Times Free Press

What would you say your superpower is?

Message-crafting and spotlight-shining.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Using gifts selflessly.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Urgency gremlins and echo chambers.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The Martin Squad (fam)

What gives you strength?

My wife — the more impressive Martin by far. I routinely play Robin to her Batman.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Dr. ADD.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Samson. [He was] super-strong and had great hair.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Give more acknowledgement to the heroes who are actually in the trenches fighting daily to make this city stronger and more connected.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Truth, Justice, and the Chattanooga Way.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Hype Man. I'm going to get you fired up or die trying.

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Kyle Barels

Kyle Barels

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Kyle Barels, 30

Affiliate Broker with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Brokers; Co-owner/artistic director of Dance Tonight Chattanooga

What would you say your superpower is?

Inspiration. Whether someone is wanting to reach real estate goals, become a better dancer or become the best version of themselves, I pride myself in being able to help them achieve their desire.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Seize every moment!

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

Without a doubt, Batman is my favorite superhero. He is real, human, and not overpowered. He faces his personal demons every day — as do we all — and he puts the needs of others and his city above his own.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

The Phoenix. Firstly, because I could randomly engulf myself in flames, which would be awesome. Secondly, because I live each day as a new beginning to seize every opportunity and help others.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Self-doubt, procrastination, judgment and a desire to please everyone.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Myself. I am a firm believer that if I can control my thoughts, then I can control my reality (within reason). Challenges and struggles are stepping stones to success. If you're able to maintain a positive mindset through the good times and the bad, even your failures will be successes.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The dream team that I rely on is a combination of my Signature Brokers and Dance Tonight allies who give me constant support and motivation. Also my family and friends, whose loyalty and love are unwavering.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

[Having] an unbreakable commitment to a cause greater than oneself.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

To show how helping others truly is the key to happiness. This city has such a huge heart for nonprofits and helping those in need. If more people would get involved in the many opportunities this great city provides to help others, every Chattanoogan would experience and know that giving is living.

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Lakweshia J. Ewing

Lakweshia J. Ewing

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Lakweshia J Ewing, 37

CEO/founder of Unlearn Everything & Live; Co-owner of Biz Boom App LLC

What would you say your superpower is?

The ability to possess an abundant amount of faith-driven vision.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Being able to possess extraordinary abilities, courage and integrity to serve, impact and improve all of mankind. Being a superhero was never about the person who embodied these traits, but about his or her ability to sacrifice themselves for others.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

The 1985 heroine She-Ra. I loved She-Ra because she is largely non-violent and usually only resorted to combat as a last resort. She often used her wits to outsmart her adversaries. I believe She-Ra may have been the impetus that spurred my "mind over matter" attitude toward life.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Kaleidoscope, simply because I work to be an instrument who reflects multiple facets of what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century. I aspire to mirror the many traits and qualities of dedicated wives, mothers and businesswomen who have come before me. Much like the design in the construction of a real kaleidoscope, the mirror plays a key role in what one sees and reflects. So it is imperative to take time to do the work on ourselves first to strengthen our power and ability to cause movements in our communities resulting in an ever-changing life design for all of humanity.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

There are so many villains that I have to address as I dawn the labels "Christian," "African-American," "female professional from the South," however I will only address my top two.

The first villain that I had to face is that of social stereotyping and expectations. In order to get to a place of success, I had to realize that no matter what, I have to be myself and have confidence in who I was created to be. I have made it to where I am through hard work and perseverance and the sacrifices of so many who have gone before me, but most importantly, I AM HERE and I will not conform myself to anyone's idea of what I can do or who I should be.

The second villain that I had to face was the villain of coping with failure. I had to realize that I needed to have massive failure if I ever hoped to experience massive success. In the world of business, I needed to be willing to get 1,000 "no's" just to get that one "yes." I had to stop worrying if people would treat me differently in business because of my race, age or gender and stop comparing myself to others. The bottom line is, if I can be successful, I could provide another example for the next generation to see. After all, success is success.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Doubt. Doubt does not stem from a lack of evidence, but from what we believe about who we are, what we can do and what we can have in life. Many people say "If I just saw it or if I had a direct word from God, I would believe," but it doesn't work that way. Doubt is only present when we don't believe in who we are created to be in this world. As a woman of faith, I completely despise doubt.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

Everyone needs a team, and I am fortunate enough to have two.

My first team I like to call my Board of Directors. The individuals on this team are individuals both living and deceased who at some point along my life's journey have poured consistent wisdom and guidance into my life: my grandparents, the Rev. and Mrs. Thomas W. Harris (deceased), who taught me the power of process, patience and prayer; and my professional/spiritual mentors Raymond Swoffard, Shula Yelliott, Bishop James M. Scott Sr., Rhonda Rippy, David Shands and Bryan S. Harris, who all continue to provide me valuable growth and development support.

My second team is my stealth weapon that I affectionately call my Kitchen Cabinet, a small yet powerful group [of people] who are the forces behind every decision I make. This team is comprised of my wonderful husband, Julian Ewing, who continues to teach me the beauty of loving and being loved in total authenticity; my parents, James and Maryland Massie, who provide a continuous example of what it means to make your life count by serving others; and my one and only sister, Shemeka Tibbs, who through her spirit of resilience and perseverance continues to show me the strength in pressing forward in the face of any obstacle.

What gives you strength?

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

To help Chattanooga to cultivate an accurate vision by which it could understand itself in the dualistic manner that currently exists for the many citizens who live here. This strong and relevant vision would allow citizens to appropriately connect all of their passions, talents and potentials to build a truly inclusive community. Regardless of what is going on in the world or challenges that present themselves, a vision of this magnitude would allow for all of us to know what and why we are doing the things we are doing, and more importantly, that these things impact so many other lives beyond our own.

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Kacie Yates

Kacie Yates

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Kacie Yates, 35

Art director with Southside Creative

What would you say your superpower is?

Pulling an idea out of a client's mind and turning it into something real. It's challenging, to say the least, but I'd like to say I'm pretty intuitive, especially when it comes to knowing what clients want. Maybe I can read their mind, or maybe I've just been doing this for so long I've perfected the art.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

Didone — smart but stylish, influential with its curves, deceptive in weight. (Bad typography joke for all my design nerds out there. I'm a total typography guru.) [The Didone font] offers a brand the ability to assume a new fresh identity as its own.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

I have the best team behind me — my friends and family, of course; my co-workers, who make every day better; and designers who have paved the way and offered inspiring advice that lasts a lifetime.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

I'd say a daily villain most designers fight is striving to find new ways to stay inspired. That may sound silly, but ideas get old and trends grow stale. I'm always fighting to have top-notch ideas for my clients. Those are the people I want to be the proudest of my work.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Monday mornings. And humidity.

What gives you strength?

That's easy. I get strength from seeing my clients get strength. I love to watch my creative work in action. If it helps them grow their business, get clients, even if it just makes them smile because they love my ideas, at the end of the day that's all I need.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

To put it simply, I think being a superhero means helping others in need and asking for no recognition in return. I can't help but think back to an article I read in Time that featured kids in some of the toughest places on earth describe their heroes, who were aid workers bringing relief from hunger and disease. To me, real heroes don't wear tights, but they do possess the power to change something. In fact, we all do.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

Chattanooga is growing at a rapid speed. It is a prime location for new businesses to settle. I think if I could, I'd like to help Chattanooga capitalize on its location and maximize on different cultures. I'd like to bring in more restaurants, more shopping, more music and concerts; things like that. Chattanooga is only getting better and better. I'd like to help the city continue to inspire people.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

My mom will forever be my favorite superhero. She's worked so hard to overcome countless obstacles, and I hope one day I can be even half the woman she is. In fact, I think all moms are superheroes. They have the hardest job on the planet and they wear a number of different capes.

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Stefanie Mansueto

Stefanie Mansueto

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Stefanie Mansueto, 37

Relationship executive with Chase Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries

What would you say your superpower is?

A sense of urgency.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Intimidation and fear.

Who/what do you consider your arch-nemesis?

Sleep.

If you could use your powers to change one thing about Chattanooga, what would it be?

My issue I would like to change is not Chattanooga-specific, but could certainly help in the efforts of Chattanooga 2.0. I would like to enhance the earning potential of our public and private K-12 educators. Many educators are intrinsically motivated. However, I believe the people responsible for molding our children should be compensated fairly for the time, energy, dedication and importance of their role.

What gives you strength?

Children smiling, plenty of exercise and family time.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

My husband, parents and siblings are my team. They allow me to pursue my career, dedicate time to public service and surround my children with love and family.

Who is your favorite superhero — real or mythical — and why?

My grandmother. She is almost 90 years old, has five children, 24 grandchildren, is absolutely beautiful, never complains, always smiles and loves unconditionally.

What does being a superhero mean to you?

Transforming yourself over time into your best self.

Superhero tagline, like "Knowing is half the battle"?

Be present.

If you were to assume the mantle of an actual superhero, what would you call yourself and why?

An accomplished ballet dancer, Black Widow has amazing strength and the superpower of persuasion.

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Amanda Jelks

Amanda Jelks

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Amanda Jelks, 31

Founder of Jelks Law PLLC; Co-founder and CEO of Women's Law Collective PLLC

What would you say your superpower is?

Problem prevention and problem solving. I'm pretty good at taking a 50,000-foot view of situations to prevent problems from occurring. It's what I do for a living! And when they do occur, which is sometimes inevitable, I'm pretty good at finding effective resolutions.

Batman has the Justice League. Ironman has the Avengers. What team have you had to rely on to face your villains or accomplish your goals?

The Directors. I have always had someone, be it a teacher, family member or friend, who helps me stay focused during challenging times.

What "villains" have you had to face to get where you are today?

Too many to count. Poverty, single-parent household, a