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Gary Hathaway

Gary Hathaway named Member of Million Dollar Round Table

Gary L Hathaway, an agent for New York Life in Chattanooga, has earned membership in the Million Dollar Round Table for 2021.

MDRT membership represents the top life insurance and financial service professionals worldwide. MDRT is an international, independent association of the world's best life insurance and financial services professionals. In addition, this is the 64th consecutive year that New York Life has dominated the MDRT in the United States.

Hathaway has been a New York Life agent since 1987 and is associated with New York Life's Knoxville general office. Hathaway earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing from Elizabeth City State University. He holds the chartered life underwriter designation from the American College.


La Paz Chattanooga adds 3 new staffers

In preparation for the move into Chattanooga's first Latino community center at 809 S. Willow St., La Paz Chattanooga has welcomed three new team members to its growing staff.

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Marco Perez

Marco Perez, Hamilton County Board of Education representative for District 2, joins the organization as director of operations and finance. Perez previously held a position on La Paz's board from the years 2013-19 and served as board chair in 2019. Perez was previously vice president of operations at LAUNCH Chattanooga.

"For 10 years I have been honored to be associated with La Paz and its mission to ensure that the Latino community is welcomed in Chattanooga," said Perez. "As the Latino community continues to grow in numbers and influence, I believe that the passion and commitment of this team will help our city even further. It's a wonderful time to join!"

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Ashley Valencia

In addition to Perez, Ashley Valencia and Diana Silva join the organization as the newest case managers under the social impact department. Valencia is new to the Chattanooga area, having previously worked in bilingual administration for Greater Chattanooga Orthodontics.

"I come from an immigrant family, so I personally understand the challenges of moving to a new country," said Valencia. "I'm grateful I can use my skills at La Paz to be a bridge for new and settled Latino families in our city."

Silva holds a bachelor's degree from Dalton State College and a master's from Barry University and comes to La Paz from Compassion House in Dalton, where she served as an LMSW counselor.

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Diana Silva

"As a La Paz case manager, I would love to help the Latino community in the Chattanooga area. As a Latina, I feel so much pride in representing my roots. I love being part of La Paz because they are focused on helping to empower Latinos in Chattanooga," said Silva.

"The pandemic as well as the construction of our new building have really helped us refocus on the needs we address at La Paz," said executive director Stacy Johnson.


Community Options names Mercedes Owens to lead operations in Chattanooga

Community Options Inc. is appointing Mercedes Owens as executive director in Chattanooga where she will oversee operations.

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Mercedes Owens

Community Options is a national nonprofit that provides housing and employment support to more than 4,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Chattanooga, Community Options operates 11 homes and supports more than 40 people.

"I am thrilled to announce Mercedes' promotion to executive director," said Robert Stack, president and CEO of Community Options. "Mercedes joined us three years ago in direct care and was quickly identified as a great advocate and a future leader in the organization. I know under her management the Chattanooga region will continue to grow."

Owens joined Community Options in 2018 as a lead direct support professional. She has since been promoted to program manager and director of residential services. As executive director, she will manage operations, development and relationships with state agencies and managed care organizations.

"Community Options has given me great opportunities to grow professionally, and I look forward to continuing to provide quality and meaningful supports to people with disabilities.," Owens.

Community Options programs in Chattanooga are funded by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and through managed care organizations. The region is supported by the Community Options Business Advisory Council.


Commercial banker Chris Rutledge joins local Pinnacle Bank

Pinnacle Financial Partners welcomed longtime SunTrust Bank (now Truist) commercial banker Chris Rutledge to the Chattanooga team. He is located at the South Broad Street office.

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Chris Rutledge

"Chris' local experience totals 26 years, and in that time he has gained the kind of wisdom and acumen that is typical of Pinnacle's advisors," said regional president Kenny Dyer. "Our clients expect advice from someone who has built their career in financial services and is a steady presence under all economic conditions. We're glad he picked Pinnacle."

Rutledge served as a portfolio manager, commercial banker and senior credit officer. He also covered specialty sectors including nonprofit, government, healthcare, schools and universities and senior housing. Rutledge earned a bachelor's degree in economics from University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and graduated from the Southeastern School of Banking at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School. He also completed the graduate leadership program at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

— Compiled by Brandi Dixon

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