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Contributed photography / Marlena Palmer

Marlena Palmer is the new director of development for the Chattanooga Women's Leadership Institute. Palmer returns to CWLI in a new role after having served previously as programs manager. Palmer graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, and moved to Chattanooga to begin her career in the sales department with the Read House hotel. She has held multiple positions in operations and administrative roles over the course of her career. Over the last two years, she pursued the entrepreneurial path, working as a personal project manager, assisting individuals and small businesses with administrative structure, systems and strategy so that they could be more productive and efficient. Palmer serves on the boards of The House Campus Ministries and GirlStance, as well as the committee chair for Game ChangeHer, CWLI's mentoring program.

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Contributed photography / Nasir Khan

Nasir Khan joins BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee as senior vice president and chief information officer. In this role, Khan leads the employee teams responsible for securing and protecting the integrity and performance of BlueCross technical support functions including cybersecurity, application development, and infrastructure and operations. He supports development and delivery of business-focused technologies and provide strategic counsel. Khan comes to BlueCross from a post as SVP and CIO at Maryland-based Consortium Health Plans. His prior experience also includes more than 15 years in tech roles at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, where he ultimately rose to the position of VP and chief technology officer.

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Contributed photography / Mandy Cowley

Mandy Cowley is named executive director for A Step Ahead Chattanooga (ASAC). Cowley was selected following a national search for a new leader to replace Susan Vandergriff, who announced earlier this year that she would be leaving the non-profit sector to pursue professional entrepreneurial goals. Cowley is experienced in the non-profit sector, having served as an associate executive director with the IRIS Domestic Violence Center in Baton Rouge, La., overseeing operations of one of the oldest and largest domestic violence agencies in the state of Louisiana that served a seven-parish region. Most recently, she has worked as an administrator for the Unitarian Universalist church in Chattanooga. Cowley earned an M.A. in sociology from Louisiana State University, and a B.A. in psychology at Centenary College of Louisiana.

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Contributed photography / Anthony Whitney

Anthony Whitney, MD, family medicine physician, joins CHI Memorial Primary Care Associates – Cleveland. Dr. Whitney earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He completed a basic surgery internship at San Diego Naval Hospital and US flight surgeon training at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Whitney then completed residency training in family medicine at Phoenix Baptist Hospital in Phoenix,Arizona. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He joins Lynn Grotefendt, FNP, and a highly qualified clinical staff of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and medical assistants who work diligently to provide high quality care for individuals ages 11 and older in a warm, friendly atmosphere.

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Contributed photography / Mercedes Owens

Mercedes Owens joins Community Options Inc. as executive director in Chattanooga where she oversees operations. 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. 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 manages operations, development and relationships with state agencies and managed care organizations.

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Contributed photography / Chris Rutledge

Chris Rutledge joins the Chattanooga team with Pinnacle Financial Partners. He is located at the South Broad Street office. 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.

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Contributed photography / Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell, senior director of project management office (PMO) and administration for Life Care Centers of America, promots to vice president of information technology and PMO. In this role, Powell works closely with Gene Chastain, vice president of information technology and cybersecurity, to oversee the company's application support teams. Originally from New Milford, Connecticut, Powell has lived in Bradley County most of her life. She earned bachelor's degrees in business administration and computer information systems from Lee University in Cleveland.

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Contributed photography / Kathryn Briggs

Kathryn Briggs joins LifeSpring Community as the new development director. Briggs has been tasked with equipping the local pediatric ministry to serve more children and families in Greater Chattanooga with exemplary, holistic care and services. Briggs earned her bachelor's degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and she brings eight years of financial services, consulting, and fundraising experience to LifeSpring. A native of Chattanooga, she and her husband Michael have three children and reside in Lookout Mountain, Ga.

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Contributed photography / Ronelle Sellers

Ronelle Sellers is named market director of marketing and communications at CHI Memorial hospital in Chattanooga. Sellers succeeds Lisa McCluskey, who recently retired as the Memorial's vice president for marketing and communications. Sellers brings 30 years of experience in the marketing field across multiple industries, including healthcare. Most recently, she served as the director of marketing for Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough accounting firm in Chattanooga, where she led the marketing and communication strategies for 20 years. Sellers received her bachelor's in business administration and marketing from the University of Tennessee.

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Contributed photography / Marco Perez

Marco Perez, Hamilton County Board of Education representative for District 2, joins La Paz Chattanooga 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 he has been associated with La Paz and its mission to ensure that the Latino community is welcomed in Chattanooga. As the Latino community continues to grow in numbers and influence, he works to build the passion and commitment of the team to help the city even further.

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