Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 10, 2021

Newsmakers: Kelly makes new appointment to staff

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly has tapped Joda Thongnopnua to be his chief of staff. Thongnopnua served as an adviser during Kelly’s campaign for elected office and has been serving as the city’s chief policy officer since the current mayoral term began in April.

In addition, Kelly has appointment Chris Sands, educator and leader in Chattanooga’s faith community, as the city’s director of community engagement. Sands will start with the city Dec. 17.

As chief policy officer, Thongnopnua helped the mayor develop his One Chattanooga strategic plan, which included adopting a new budget for fiscal year 2021-2022, launching the hiring process for multiple new city administrators and the chief of police and overseeing the dispensation of American Rescue Plan dollars throughout the community.

Previously, Thongnopnua served as the director of strategic initiatives and communications for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

He also served as executive director for the Metro Ideas Project, a nonprofit policy research startup.

Thongnopnua’s experience also includes communications work at Lamp Post Group, a Chattanooga-based venture capital firm.

Sands serves as youth pastor and first assistant to Bishop Kevin Adams at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

He has worked for over a decade in program design, team building and community coalition building throughout the nonprofit, faith and private sectors.

As director of community engagement, Sands will work with the chief equity officer to ensure City of Chattanooga initiatives are reaching every resident.

First Horizon picks Red Bank manager

First Horizon Bank recently named Luchie Wootten manager of the First Horizon banking center in Red Bank.

Wootten joined First Horizon in Red Bank in 2017 as a financial service representative. In 2020, the bank promoted her to operations manager.

Wootten is responsible for developing new business and expanding on existing client relationships.

Wootten studied business management at the University of Mindanao in the Philippines. When she moved to the U.S., she enrolled in classes at Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville, Alabama, where she received her associate degree in business management.

Wooten has lived in the Chattanooga area for over eight years and currently resides in Trenton, Georgia.

Qualls joins board 0f Urban League

New to the board of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga is Dalya Qualls, senior vice president and chief communications officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Qualls is a longtime communications professional. She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2000 and earned a master’s degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Qualls worked for Keene State College, Clark University, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and HCA Healthcare before continuing her career with BlueCross.

Caroline von Kessler has joined the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga as the organization’s first vice president of philanthropy.

A Chattanoogan since 2001, Von Kessler brings nearly 20 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit administration to the 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 and CEO, Maeghan Jones. She will focus on building relationships with individuals and families who wish to make an impact through donor-advised funds and other vehicles, as well as stewarding existing donor relationships.

The Foundation now manages over $240 million in assets -- an increase of more than 100% in the last five years. Its board unanimously passed a new strategic plan at the beginning of 2021 that calls for investment in racial equity and economic mobility.

Stadium corporation selects McWhorter

The Stadium Development Corporation in East Ridge has named Caroline McWhorter, the previous director of human resources with the Chattanooga Red Wolves, president of the company.

McWhorter will utilize over 20 years of experience in travel, event and hospitality management as she oversees CHI Memorial Stadium.

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.

Austin Hatcher adds two staff members

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

Emily Osborne has joined the foundation as its patient navigator. In this role, she will greet families as they enter the foundation’s Education Advancement Center as well as interact with patients.

Osborne graduated from Lee University with a degree in health care administration.

Susan Latta has joined the foundation as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Latta also has a fellow in thanatology, the study of death and dying.

Latta earned a degree from California Polytechnic State University and a master’s from Fuller Theological Seminary. She brings 35 years of experience counseling individuals, children and families through the challenges that can occur when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

First Horizon appoints 2 to advisory board

First Horizon Bank has appointed See Rock City President and CEO Susan Harris and businesswoman Robin Derryberry to its Chattanooga Advisory Board.

A native Chattanoogan, Harris joined the executive staff at See Rock City as the director of human resources and organizational development in 2008 and was promoted to president in 2013, chief operating officer in 2016 and CEO in 2020. She is the first female and the first person outside the founding family to hold the position of chief executive officer.

Harris serves on the board of directors of the Chattanooga Tourism Company and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. She 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.

Harris is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and a current member of the downtown Chattanooga Rotary Club.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Berry College and her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

A native Chattanoogan and seventh-generation Tennessean, Derryberry is president of Derryberry Public Relations.

She served as deputy chief of staff for a member of congress and partner in a statewide public affairs firm before opening Derryberry PR in 2006.

In 2015, former Speaker of the House Beth Harwell appointed Derryberry to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, where she has served as chair of the board since 2019.

Derryberry also serves as a commissioner of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court and is an active member of the Chattanooga Rotary Club.

Derryberry earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.