some text
Damali Curry

BlueCross selects Curry as chief learning officer

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has chosen Damali Curry as the company's first chief learning officer.

This newly-created director-level role supports BlueCross training across all levels of the company, from the first day an employee joins the organization and throughout each person's career experience.

"Our goal is to enhance training and development so that everyone has ample opportunities to add to their skill base and prepare themselves for greater responsibilities or different roles," said Roy Vaughn, senior vice president and chief human resources officer. "We are excited to have Damali in this new role, helping employees to optimize their skills and performance on behalf of our members."

Curry has more than 20 years of experience in improving organizational productivity and partnering with business leaders and teams to achieve strategic talent acquisition, management and development results. Since joining BlueCross in 2018, she has helped launch and lead management training programs and career mapping initiatives, as well as instituting new performance measures across all occupational levels at BlueCross.

Curry is a graduate of Clemson University's Master of Human Resource Development program, and she earned her Society of Human Resources Management certificate from Northwestern University.


Children's Hospital earns Leapfrog award for quality

Children's Hospital at Erlanger was named a Top Children's Hospital nationally by The Leapfrog Group for the second time. The award is bestowed by The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers recognized as the toughest standard-setters for health care safety and quality.

"We are thrilled to again be named a Top Children's Hospital by The Leapfrog Group further highlighting the quality and compassionate care delivered each and every day by our outstanding team," said Dr. Charles Woods, CEO of Children's Hospital at Erlanger.

Over 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award. Among those, Children's Hospital at Erlanger received a Top Children's distinction. A total of 149 top hospitals nationwide were selected as Top Hospitals.

Children's Hospital at Erlanger received this designation for the first time in 2019.


Thompson heads compliance at Chattanooga's Siskin hospital

Siskin Hospital has named Jodie Thompson, MSN, RN, CRRN, as its director of quality and compliance.

Thompson has more than 30 years of healthcare experience including critical care, administration, education and oversight of multiple departments and services. In her new role, she will assist the vice president of quality and compliance in providing functional oversight and analysis of the hospital's quality and performance improvement, risk management, patient experience, medical staff, accreditation, and regulatory and corporate compliance programs. She will also assume the role of medical staff coordinator.

"Jodie is a great clinical resource to our department as we strive to improve the quality of our services while meeting all regulatory requirements," said Curtis Powell, vice president of quality and compliance.

Thompson was formerly nurse manager of Siskin Hospital's stroke and brain injury units as well as director of nursing education. She earned both bachelor and master's degrees in nursing from East Tennessee State University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse, a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, and an AHA Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support Instructor.


some text
Carmen Hutson

Hutson to head Partnership's Victim Support Services

Carmen Quezada Hutson has returned to the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults (Partnership) to take the role of director of Victim Support Services.

Hutson was with the Partnership from 2010 until 2018, at which time she was clinical director of stability services. Hutson returns to the Partnership from United Way of Greater Chattanooga, where she served as director of community programs.

"We are thrilled to welcome Carmen back to the Partnership," said Pam Ladd, the Partnership's chief executive officer, who lauded Hutson's extensive experience working with trauma survivors and program development, along with her ability to manage grants and budgets and collaborate with funders. "Just as important, Carmen has demonstrated excellence in leadership and management,."

Hutson, a licensed clinical social worker, earned her master's degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia. She moved from the Partnership to United Way in 2018 because the United Way position offered a comprehensive look at social work.


some text
Caroline Von Kessler

Community Foundation names Kessler as VP

Caroline Von Kessler has joined the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga (CFGC) as the organization's first vice president of philanthropy.

Von Kessler, a Chattanoogan since 2001, brings nearly 20 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit administration to this role. Most recently, she was the director of development for the College of Health, Education and Professional Studies and director of corporate and foundation relations for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

As vice president of philanthropy, Von Kessler will report to the Foundation's president & CEO, Maeghan Jones. She will focus on building relationships with individuals and families who wish to make a more meaningful impact through Donor-Advised Funds and other vehicles, as well as stewarding existing donor relationships.

"This is a crucial new position for the Community Foundation and Caroline is the perfect person for it," said Jones. "Her skills as a fundraiser and communicator are peerless, as is her understanding of the many ways that the Community Foundation and our nonprofit partners can drive sustainable impact."


some text
Stephanie Watkins

Walker County names Watkins to heads economic development

Stephanie Watkins has been hired as Walker County's director of economic development.

Watkinsm previously coordinated regional economic development projects across 22 counties for the Southeast Industrial Development Association (SEIDA), helping industry navigate local, state and private considerations for site development.

In her new role, Watkins will lead Walker County's efforts to improve employment opportunities in the county by recruiting new businesses, servicing existing industry and redeveloping brownfield sites.

"I am looking forward to serving Walker County, working to facilitate capital investment and job creation that will provide economic opportunities for our citizens," said Watkins.

Watkins assisted with the recent expansions of Lodge Manufacturing, Colonial Chemical and Valmont Utility in Marion County, Tennessee. Growth at the three existing companies will add nearly 350 jobs. She also helped recruit automotive companies Mann + Hummel USA, Inc. to Dunlap, Tennessee and HP Pelzer (Adler Pelzer) to Athens, Tennessee, resulting in a combined $43 million in capital investment and the creation of 350 jobs.

"This is a big moment for Walker County," Walker County Chairman Shannon Whitfield said. "We currently have a diverse group of companies exploring development opportunities in this region. Stephanie's project management experience and business recruitment skills will be essential to ensuring these and other opportunities will be a good match for our community."


some text
Caroline McWhorter

McWhorter named president of Stadium Development Corp.

Caroline McWhorter, previously director of human resources with the Chattanooga Red Wolves, has been named president of the Stadium Development Corp., in East Ridge. McWhorter will utilize more than 20 years of experience in travel, event and hospitality management as she oversees CHI Memorial Stadium – the home of the Chattanooga Red Wolves.

"Caroline has been a huge part of our team and has done an incredible job as director of human resources," said Bob Martino, chairman and owner of the Chattanooga Red Wolves. "As she works to bring the stadium to its fullest potential, Caroline will be an asset to the development and our entire region."

McWhorter will lead all CHI Memorial Stadium operations including special events, budgets, sponsorships, maintenance, personnel management, game-day activities, management of the stadium's executive club and suites and recruitment of new opportunities, including sporting events and music festivals, to the area.


Osborne and Latta join Austin Hatcher Foundation

Two new staff members have joined the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer team.

Emily Osborne has joined the team as the foundation's patient navigator, where she will greet families as they enter the foundation's Education Advancement Center as well as conduct purposeful play and interact with patients.

Osborne graduated from Lee University with a B.S. in Healthcare Administration. During her time at Lee, she also played for the university's Women's Lacrosse team.

"I am so excited to be a part of such a great team at AHF," Osborne said. "I look forward to playing a part in the amazing work that is done here each day for families."

Susan Latta, LMFT, FT also joined the foundation as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Latta also has a Fellow in Thanatology, the study of death and dying.

Latta received her B.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and her M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary. She also brings with her 35 years of experience counseling individuals, children, and families through the many challenges that can occur when a child is diagnosed with cancer. She uses a variety of therapeutic modalities in working with individuals and families, and she believes in empowering families to find the tools to help them in their journey.

"When I first walked into this space, it felt like I had come home," said Susan Latta, LMFT, FT. "The mission of the Austin Hatcher Foundation is very dear to my heart, and I look forward to working with the families as they continue to navigate their lives around the diagnosis of childhood cancer."


some text
Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Text Request Founder's Brian Elrod and Jamey Elrod, left, sit and talk with company CTO Rob Reagan during an Edge interiew at the Text Request World Headquarters on Gulf Street in Chattanooga.

Text Request Named to Inc.'s 2021 Best in Business List

Text Request, a Chattanooga-based software company, has been named to the Inc. 2021 Best in Business list in the Telecom category. Inc.'s Best in Business Awards honor companies that have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact.

The list, which includes only two Tennessee businesses, recognizes small- and medium-size privately held American businesses that have had an outstanding influence on their communities, their industries, the environment, or society as a whole.

"We truly put an emphasis on purpose before profit," said Text Request CEO, Brian Elrod. Because of that focus, we've been able to achieve so much, and I'm proud to have a team that shares that worldview. Because of it, we're winning together."

Earlier this year, the business was locally recognized as a back-to-back Best Place to Work, it debuted on the Inc. 5000 list at #335, and landed at #108 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 among other distinctions.


some text
Jessica Elsmore

Elsmore Receives Certified Law Enforcement Analyst Certification

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office announces that Crime and Intelligence Analyst Jessica Elsmore has received the prestigious Certified Law Enforcement Analyst certification from the International Association of Crime Analysts.

The International Association of Crime Analyst was founded in 1990 to help crime analysts around the world improve their skills and make valuable contacts and to help law enforcement agencies make the best use of their crime analysts.

"This is a major personal and professional accomplishment that will greatly benefit the HCSO as we are committed to incorporating technology and statistical analysis in addressing crime in Hamilton County," said Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.

Elsmore is officially the 100th analyst to be certified nationally and is the first to be certified in the state of Tennessee. Mrs. Elsmore holds a bachelor's in Criminal Justice & Forensic Science and a Master's in Criminal Justice & Homeland Security.


some text
Susan Harris

Harris, Derryberry join local First Horizon advisory board

Chattanooga Market President Jay Dale announced the appointment of See Rock City President and CEO Susan Harris and businesswoman Robin Derryberry to First Horizon Bank's Chattanooga Advisory Board.

First Horizon's Chattanooga Advisory Board supports the bank by offering advice and insight, and advocating for the community.

Harris joined the executive staff at See Rock City, Inc. as the director of human resources in June 2008, and was promoted to president in February 2013, COO in 2016 and CEO in 2020. She holds current certifications as an HRCI certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Harris currently serves on the boards of the Chattanooga Tourism Company and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Harris was co-chair for the Business & Industry Action Team of the Mayor's Council Against Hate and served as a mentor for the 10 Project and the Principal Leadership Academy. She is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and a current member of the downtown Chattanooga Rotary Club.

some text
Robin Derryberry

A native Chattanoogan and seventh-generation Tennessean, Robin Derryberry is the president of Derryberry Public Relations, a full-service public relations, government relations, and media relations firm.

Derryberry served as deputy chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and was a partner in a statewide public affairs firm before opening the doors to Derryberry PR in January 2006. Derryberry was appointed to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) in 2015 by former Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and has served as chair of the board since 2019. She also serves as a commissioner of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court and is an active member of the Chattanooga Rotary Club where she also serves as Secretary of the Board.


Erlanger honors Coppinger, Alverez, Adkins and Barker

Drs. Richard Alvarez, Frank Adkins, Donald Barker, and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger will be honored at Erlanger Health System Foundation's 18th Annual Dinner of Distinction on Jan. 14 in the Westin Hotel Ballroom.

Drs. Alvarez, Adkins, and Barker were selected by previous "Distinguished Physician Award" honorees to be recognized for their enduring commitment to improving the health of the community, as well as demonstrating unquestionable character and human compassion. Additional criteria used to choose honorees include: a person who has contributed a lifetime of medical benefit to the community and a person committed to the healing mission and values of Erlanger.

Erlanger Foundation will also honor Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger with the "Gordon Street Distinguished Community Leadership Award." This annual award is presented to community leaders who have championed the advancement of healthcare in the Chattanooga region, are committed to improving the health of people throughout our community, and are dedicated to the healing mission and values of Erlanger.

— Compiled by Brandi Dixon

Information about new hires, promotions and business awards should be sent to