Attorney Thatcher M. Smith joins the law firm of Warren and Griffin, P.C. He attended the Duncan School of Law in Knoxville where he obtained his Doctorate of Jurisprudence, graduating first in his class with highest honors, while accumulating 16 CALI Excellence for the Future Awards which are given in recognition for the highest grade achieved in an individual class. Smith is a Chattanooga native that, prior to law school, graduated from Boyd Buchanan High school and later attended the University of Tennessee for his undergraduate education before starting law school.
Ashley Ward is the new director of Medicare Advantage provider network innovation for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. This is a new role for the organization. In this position, Ward will develop and drive initiatives that strengthen provider partnerships and improve health outcomes for BlueCross members with a Medicare Advantage plan. Ward has more than 25 years of experience in health care, most recently serving as manager of provider engagement and outreach in the company's senior care division. Before joining BlueCross in 2016, she led operations with direct involvement in managed care activities for a large physician group in East Tennessee. Ward earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from East Tennessee State University.
Ashley Evans joins as the director of major and planned giving for Erlanger. Evans, who grew up on Signal Mountain, earned a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining Erlanger, Evans was the executive director for Volunteers in Medicine, Chattanooga, where she helped raise more than $3 million in private funds for the general operations of a free primary care clinic for uninsured adults. She is particularly proud of a project funded that resulted in excellent outcomes for participating diabetic or hypertension patients who were introduced to vegan lifestyles and health classes.
Jennifer Thomas is promoted to vice president and regional operations manager at Southern Heritage Bank. Thomas has worked in banking since 2006. Thomas joined Southern Heritage in 2014 and served as teller operations manager until October 2016 when she became AVP & Professional Learning Specialist. In January 2017, she also added the branch manager responsibilities at the Georgetown office until October 2017, when she was named assistant vice president and technical training specialist.
Sonal Modi is promoted to finance manager for the state at Tennessee American Water. In this position, Modi oversees the company's budgeting process and financial reporting. Modi will continue to report to Brian Queen, chief financial officer of Southeastern States for American Water. Modi first joined Tennessee American Water as a financial analyst and served in that capacity for three years before moving into the position of business performance manager. In that role, she worked closely with the operations side of the business. After two years, she returned to the financial analyst role, supporting the budgeting and internal reporting services function. In this capacity, she supported multiple states on budgeting and internal reporting. Most recently, she has served as an analyst for the American Water Southeast States finance team.
Dr. Alexandria Cooke joins Erlanger Health System. Cooke is a board-certified, fellowship-trained family medicine physician with UT Family Practice. Though she is a Georgia native, Dr. Cooke has spent the majority of her adult life in Tennessee. She received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Southern Adventist University in nearby Collegedale. Cooke spent several months working as an overseas missionary before attending medical school at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Following her medical education, Cooke moved to Chattanooga and completed a family medicine residency with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga (UTCOMC) at Erlanger, followed by a family medicine surgical obstetrics fellowship at Clínica Médicos.
Spencer Mercer is the newest member at KraftCPAs PLLC, where he joins a team of 17 other partners at the 63-year-old certified public accounting firm. Mercer, a Greeneville, Tenn., native, began his accounting career at Kraft's Nashville location in 2009, shortly after receiving his master's degree in accounting at the University of Tennessee. He relocated to join the firm's Chattanooga team in early 2021 following its acquisition of Matheney Stees & Associates in 2020; MSA served the Chattanooga region for more than two decades, particularly in the healthcare and construction industries. Mercer works extensively in the construction and manufacturing/wholesale/distribution industries with a focus on tax planning, consulting, and compliance.
Jeremy Haley moves to manager of First Horizon banking center in Ringgold, Georgia. Haley began his career as an insurance consultant, then transitioned over to banking as a financial relationship consultant. He worked his way up to hsenior financial consultant before joining First Horizon Bank. Jay Dale, Chattanooga market president said He will be a great fit and they very pleased to have him as a member of the First Horizon team. Haley attended Bryan College, where he played on the men's basketball team.
Jason Daniels is promoted to director of shared services for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. In this role, Daniels has oversight of business solutions processes and enterprise document management. He'll lead the teams responsible for performance improvement and technology solutions, operations database development, automation initiatives, and claims systems testing. He'll also coordinate vendor solutions and vendor contract management. Daniels has been with BlueCross for more than 20 years. He most recently served as manager of business strategy in member benefits administration with responsibility for operations strategy and technology support.
Jenny Richards joins the commercial lending department as vice president and commercial loan officer for Lee Stewart, east region president for Southern Heritage Bank. Richards attended Central High School and Chattanooga State Community College. She has also completed various banking schools and has fifteen years of banking experience. Richards is a member of the Ocoee Region Homebuilders Association, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer and supporter of Project Free 2 Fly.
— Compiled Brandi Dixon