Key executive roles chosen at Partnership for Families, Children and Adults and more Chattanooga-area career moves

LeVan and Wilkerson named to key roles at Partnership for Families, Children and Adults

Lynda LeVan and Sarah Wilkerson have been named to key executive roles with the local nonprofit Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. LeVan is joining the agency as the new director of grant strategy and compliance while Wilkerson has been promoted to director of human resources.

A Tennessee native, LeVan holds a degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee. With more than 25 years of nonprofit experience, LeVan most recently served as the executive director of SoLit, a local literary arts nonprofit organization, where she oversaw and improved its funding base, daily programming and administration. As director of grant strategy and compliance, LeVan develops and strengthens Partnership's government grant funding strategy, trains programming staff on grant best practices and ensures grant compliance to sustain Partnership's service delivery.

Graduating magna cum laude from the University of the South, Wilkerson joined Partnership in 2018. She previously served as human resources manager. In her new role, Wilkerson will work on hiring, recruiting and retaining staff. She also serves as a key information and support resource for Partnership staff.

"Partnership is on a strategic journey of increased community impact," Partnership CEO Kevin Hyde said. "It is critical that we have leaders who not only bring the right professional experience but also share in our vision to grow Partnership's mission and impact. Lynda and Sarah are certainly those leaders."

Exum listed as Rule 31 mediator at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel

Litigation attorney Jim Exum has earned his listing as a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator for the Chattanooga law firm of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel P.C.

"This opportunity will allow me to step out of my normal role as a litigator and take on one of a neutral facilitator," Exum said in an announcement of his new designation. "I hope to strengthen the depth of my practice by accepting this responsibility of bringing about peaceful resolution."

  photo  Jim Exum

The role of a Rule 31 Mediator is to act as an impartial aid for those in a dispute, managing the mediation session and ultimately assisting in the resolution.

Exum is a member of Chambliss' litigation and risk management group. Best Lawyers in America recently recognized Exum for insurance law, and he was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award by Legal Aid of East Tennessee in 2022 for assisting more than 50 clients in phone clinics and individual representation. He served on the board of directors for the Building Owners and Managers Association from 2017-2022 and is a certified Municipal Technical Advisory Service administrative hearing officer.

Exum earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga prior to graduating from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

La Paz Chattanooga names Celis, Lopez to key roles and adds three board directors

Jasmin Celis has been named operations and administration coordinator, and Jesus Lopez has been appointed office coordinator for La Paz Chattanooga, the longest-serving non-profit organization working directly with the Chattanooga area's rapidly growing Latino population.

  photo  Jasmin Celis

In his new role, Celis will work with the executive director to provide administrative support with human resources, donor cultivation, volunteer engagement and special events. Lopez will work to support the team with logistics, administrative duties and early client engagement.

The La Paz staff additions continue a growth trend started in the second half of 2022. Since August of last year, the La Paz team has doubled in size.

  photo  Jesus Lopez

At the same time, La Paz announced the addition of three directors to its board -- Melanie Walker, shareholder of Baker Donelson; Moises Cardenas, owner of Sentri Roofing, and Forrest Simmons, a retired financial advisor.

"The Latino population in our area is getting bigger and more diverse by the day, and to match the needs -- and to capitalize on the opportunities -- that come with such unrelenting growth, we're building our team to proactively work toward a healthy and engaged community," La Paz Executive Director Stacy Johnson said in a statement.

Chattanooga FastSigns wins top sales award

FastSigns of Chattanooga, a custom sign maker, was recognized as a top-performing center in the the company's network out of more than 760 locations worldwide at the 2023 FastSigns International Convention in Las Vegas.

Owned by Phil and Cindy Bacon, Fastsigns of Chattanooga was presented with an award that recognizes the U.S. centers that received the highest total sales between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022.

FastSigns of Chattanooga was also recognized with the CEO Circle Award, which recognizes 25 U.S. centers with the highest total sale. David Murphy, an outside sales professional at FastSigns of Chattanooga, was awarded the national Outside Sales Award, which is given to an individual in recognition of the highest total sales in the network last year.

"These awards reflect our entire team's hard work and dedication to helping businesses and organizations solve their visual communications challenges in our community every day," Phil Bacon said in an announcement of the awards.

Lee early childhood instructor earns doctorate from UT-Knoxville

Lee University's Alex Sandoval recently earned his Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration in special education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Sandoval's dissertation was titled, "Peer-Mediated Interventions to Improve the Transition Behavior of Children and Young Adolescents with Disabilities: A Systematic Review of 50 Years of Literature," which explored the literature available on how school-aged children with intellectual and developmental disabilities have benefited from peer support in developing improved transitions in classroom settings.

  photo  contributed photo / Alex Sandoval

"Knowing that I am able to contribute to the development of future teachers, and through this, the lives of children and individuals with disabilities, made the hard work and sacrifices worth it," Sandoval said.

Sandoval joined the Helen DeVos College of Education in 2010, where he currently serves as the interim chair of Lee's Department of Early Childhood, Elementary and Special Education and an associate professor. Prior to Lee, he taught in the Georgia public school system for nine years as a special education teacher and autism consultant.

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