Founder & Executive Chairman
Radio Systems Corporation
Randy was born in South Knoxville and graduated from Doyle High School. To pay his way through college he worked nights running injection molding machines at his dad’s business. At age 19, he was the first in his family to graduate from college. He is a proud UT alum and a Vol for Life.
Randy started his first business at 23, which he quickly sold and then a second business, Saco Distributing, the following year. With Saco, he sold electric fencing out of the back of his Dodge van to small farm stores throughout the southeast, staying in the best motel room he could find for under $18 dollars a night. At the age of 31 with his wife Jenny working as a court reporter and a two year old at home, he sunk his entire life savings of $26,000 into the design of a new product, the Invisible Fence. That bet paid off. Twenty-five years later his company, Radio Systems Corporation, is known worldwide by the brand names Invisible Fence, PetSafe and SportDOG, producing over 4,000 pet related products. Today RSC is ranked as a top workplace by Forbes magazine, employing more than 700. Read more here...
Dr. Rebecca Corbin
President & CEO
National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship
NACCE is a leading non-profit membership organization dedicated to increasing entrepreneurship offerings and thinking at over 300 community colleges across the country. Prior to NACCE, Rebecca served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the BCC Foundation at Burlington County College (BCC). With her leadership, a new workforce development initiative at BCC was successfully launched that combined grants, philanthropy, business incubation, the corporate college, workforce development, and the Foundation under one umbrella on the college campus. Rebecca understands higher education, nonprofit finance, and business development. She has presented on the topic of entrepreneurship education at national, state and regional conferences with an applied focus on student success, STEM education, storytelling, and succession planning. In August of 2015, she participated in the firstever Demo Day at the White House. In 2016, NACCE accepted an invitation from the White House to be a partner in the Tech Hire initiative.
Gene Coulson Ed.D.
EntreEd, the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education
Dr. Coulson has been the Executive Director of EntreEd for 3 years. He retired as Executive Director of Career and Technical Innovation in the West Virginia Department of Education after 35 years in education. During his years at the WVDE, Dr. Coulson supported initiatives in Entrepreneurship Education, business, marketing and project-based STEM programming among other duties. He lives in Charleston, WV with his wife and 3 Keeshonden.
Co-Founder and CEO
Tree of Life Beauty LLC
James Davis is a published author, speaker, and serial entrepreneur, and is currently the co-founder and CEO of the international brand Tree of Life Beauty, LLC. James' passion and focus revolve largely around online retail, and his companies alternate the "best seller" labels in their niches with their products on mega platforms such as WalMart.com, Amazon.com, Ebay.com, and Jet.com. With the continuing expansion of online mega-platforms he sees a bright future for any business wishing to enter the online realms both at home or overseas. A native of Knoxville who moved to Crossville, TN and attended Roane State Community College, James is very pleased to be able to take part in helping his local communities grow.
Manager of Marketing & Communications
National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship
Leah has been with the organization for almost two years and is passionate about creating economic vitality through entrepreneurship. She manages NACCE's partnership with the HP Foundation and is excited to share the opportunities that HP LIFE can create for students in the Appalachian region of the United States.
Small Business Sector Navigator
California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program
As the Small Business Sector Navigator for the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program under the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Initiative, Mr. Eason coordinates the small business programs at the 113 community colleges across the state. He has also held previous statewide leadership positions as the Associate Director of the California Community Colleges Statewide Economic Development Network and former chair of the Small Business Programs committee.
In his positions as a Small Business Development Center Director, Business Incubator Manager, and Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Specialist with the Tech Futures Group, Mr. Eason has provided training and counseling to thousands entrepreneurs over the past twenty years. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Eason’s business ventures have included a real estate development company, chain of gourmet coffee houses, business brokerage, and a tech startup that developed a rapid prototyping technology with funding through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant. Mr. Eason also worked in the aerospace industry as a systems engineer for TRW’s Ballistic Missile Program. Mr. Eason earned a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from California State University, San Bernardino.
Program Grant Manager, Basic Skills & Student Transformation
College of the Siskiyous
Specializing in small business and entrepreneurship for 25+ years, Lorinda has served the Central Valley and Mother Lode Region as the Small Business Deputy Sector Navigator for the Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy framework out of the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development department. Recently, Lorinda and her husband moved to northern California and Lorinda accepted a position at College of the Siskiyous as the Basic Skills Student Outcomes Transformation grant manager. In this role, much like in a start-up, Lorinda is tasked with managing a $1.3M grant to remodel and transform the Academic Success Center on campus as well ad revamp a variety of student success programs.
Dr. Angeline Godwin
Patrick Henry Community College
Dr. Godwin became the third president of Patrick Henry Community College on July 1, 2012. Dr. Godwin holds an Associate's degree from Gulf Coast Community College in Florida, a Bachelor's degree from Troy State University in Alabama, a Master's degree in English from The University of Alabama, a master's degree in English Education as well as a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University and a doctorate of jurisprudence from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan.
A serial entrepreneur, Dr. Godwin has started, owned and operated a number of retail, technology and service companies. Read more here...
Earl F. Gohl
Appalachian Regional Commission
Earl F. Gohl was confirmed as the eleventh federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) by the U.S. Senate in March 2010. As federal co-chair, Gohl oversees hundreds of ARC investments in community-based projects contributing to the economic growth of the Region.
Gohl has an extensive background in public policy and community-based economic development. Before coming to ARC, he served as the director of government relations/deputy director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration from 2001 to 2009, where he developed community-based solutions to a range of public policy challenges. From 1996 to 2001, Gohl served as a special assistant and then as an associate assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor, developing and implementing a broad legislative agenda. He also has 20 years of experience in Pennsylvania state and local government, both as an appointed and as an elected official, including serving as the executive assistant to the mayor of Harrisburg; elected member of the Harrisburg City Council; deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs; and director of the Pennsylvania governor's Washington office.
In his Senate confirmation hearing, Gohl stated that his objective as ARC federal co-chair would be to ensure that each federal dollar expended by the Commission was "an investment in the economic future of Appalachian families that will generate a return for American taxpayers."
Gohl holds a bachelor of arts degree from Rider College (now Rider University) in New Jersey and a master of public administration degree from Pennsylvania State University.
Director of the Cumberland Business Incubator
Roane State Community College
Holly has worked in the Aerospace, Machine Tool and Cutting Tool industries holding positions of Manager of Purchasing, Manager of Project Management, Manager of IT, Engineering Manager, Automotive Business Unit Manager and President of Ingersoll GmbH, an international division of Ingersoll International.
Holly is one of the founders of the EIGERlab, a manufacturing and technology based incubator, and served as Executive Director of the SBA funded Women’s Business Center EDGE within the EIGERlab. She served as Interim SBDC Director and Business and Professional Institute Director with Rock Valley College.
Holly is a serial entrepreneur having started 11 successful businesses. She is a Licensed Professional Business Coach, Certified Executive Coach and Certified Retirement Coach. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master of Science in Management; Lean Manufacturing certificate, Series 7 and Series 63 designations.
Founder and CEO
Tomboy Organic Skincare Co.
Tomboy Organic Skincare Co., an organic skin care company that formulates plant salves, skin care and makeup using herbs and roots from the native deciduous forests of the southeast.
In 2016, Tomboy won the American Choice Best Brand Award. That same year Tomboy’s War Woman Scar Oil Salve won Trailblazer Girl’s Top Skin Care Products of 2016. Melissa is also the editor and freelance writer for the new magazine, Healthy Living in the Cumberlands.
Melissa has a B.S. in Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries from the University of Tennessee @ Knoxville. She completed the FDA’s Compliance Training & Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for natural products and cosmetics at the Bio Network Center at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Asheville, NC. She is trained in FairWild Standards and follows the World Health Organization Guidelines for Collection of Medicinal Plants.
Melissa is manufacturing in her hometown of Deer Lodge, TN on the Cumberland Plateau where she is making plans to revitalize her hometown and champion rural entrepreneurship in the area. She has a passion for whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and medicinal plant chemistry.
Membership and Development Director
Jason's work includes coordinating SSTI’s member network and cultivating partnership opportunities, as well as actively supporting policy and research. Jason previously led and supported research projects for the Council of Development Finance Agencies, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the Cline Center for Democracy. He is a co-author of News on the Internet: Information and Citizenship in the 21st Century. He holds a B.S. from Ohio University and an M.A. from the University of Illinois.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Parts Life, Inc.
From the time he was a youth, Mr. Thevanayagam displayed an entrepreneurial spirit. After working many years in the automotive aftermarket for other companies, reaching as high a position as VP, Sam saw the opportunity to start his own business. He quickly became the entrepreneur he was always meant to be. Realizing his vision, Sam started Parts Life, Inc. in 2007. Parts Life, Inc. is an innovative company focused on providing customized parts and solutions to support the Defense, Aerospace, Heavy Duty, and Automotive industries.
Dr. Ron Thomas
Retired President of Dakota County Technical College & Presidential Liason, EntreEd Power Grant - ARC Region
Dr. Ron Thomas served as a two-year college president for 18 years, 14 years at Dakota County Technical College in Minnesota and 4 years at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. His professional career includes the following roles: public school teacher, counselor, administrator, adjunct university instructor, consultant, speaker and entrepreneur. Ron has also served two terms as the chair of the NACCE board of directors. He received his PhD from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Dr. Michael Torrence
Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs
Volunteer State Community College
For 24 years, Dr. Michael Torrence has successfully collaborated with industry and educational organizations on the behalf of students and communities. His role spans the needs of Vol State with a focus on academics and community engagement.
Dr. Chris Whaley
Roane State Community College
Dr. Whaley has a personal understanding of the college’s value to its communities. Dr. Whaley’s father, Lowell, worked at Roane State from the college’s early days, and Dr. Whaley began his college education at Roane State. He earned Roane State’s highest student award, continued his education at Middle Tennessee State University and earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee. After three years in private practice as an attorney, Dr. Whaley returned to the college in 1997 as program director of the A.A.S. Paralegal Studies program, a position he held until 2010. Since then he has served in positions of successively greater administrative responsibility at the college. He was named dean of social science, business and education in 2002, and in 2010 was promoted to vice president of student learning/chief academic officer. Dr. Whaley became Roane State’s fifth president on November 1, 2012. Read more here…
Ted Wampler, Jr., is President and COO of Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Tennessee Tech University, 1980. Ted, Jr. serves on the Tennessee Advisory Board of Directors of United Community Bank. Ted, Jr. was, in 2012, the first recipient of the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Person of the Year Award which recognized the efforts made toward using more sustainable energy alternatives at the company. Wampler’s Farm Sausage won the TennSEISA Solar Champion Award for 2012. The company won the “Innovator Award” at the 2013 Pinnacle Business Awards Gala. Ted, Jr. won the 2013 “Green Leader Award” from the United States Green Building Council, Tennessee Chapter.
The company has many awards in the food industry. The Knoxville Zoo ‘s (ARiES Energy / Wampler’s Farm Sausage / Cades Cove BBQ and Elm Hill Hot Dogs) Solar Project reached the final five in the “Best Solar Collaboration Award” at the Solar Power Generation USA Congress, February 4-5, 2014, in San Diego, CA. In June 2014 the company won the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award. Currently, the company is installing the first commercial Proton Power CHyP (Cellulose Hydrogen Power) System in the world. The Proton System will power the “net zero grid connected” company with hydrogen made from biomass. The Proton Power CHyP System, being launched from Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company has the potential to change the world! He is married to Sherri, and has four children, Andrew Allen, Martha Wampler Behm, Kristen Allen Gentry, and Ted (Trae) Wampler, III.
Dr. L. Anthony Wise Jr.
Pellissippi State Community College
To Dr. L. Anthony Wise Jr., encouraging student success is the most important part of his job.Wise has been president of Pellissippi State Community College since 2011, overseeing the College’s participation in KnoxAchieves, tnAchieves and now Tennessee Promise. He welcomed President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden to campus in January 2015 for the unveiling of America’s College Promise. Wise’s tenure has been marked by his devotion to students, and for good reason. From 2007 to 2011, he served as vice president of the College’s Learning Division, after three years as the department head of Liberal Arts and nine teaching history. Read more here…