Chattanooga Chamber Announces Promotions, New Team Members

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has announced promotions, new team members, and an organization restructuring.

“We are always thinking ahead and seeking to improve how we champion our members and promote regional economic growth,” said Christy Gillenwater, President and CEO, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

“These changes provide us an opportunity to more closely align our skills with the strategic goals that serve our community. We are delighted to welcome our new team members and appreciate the skills and fresh insights they bring,” Gillenwater said.

Cheryl Millsaps, Vice President, Operations, CCE, IOM, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, leads Membership and Finance & Administration teams. The following team members earned promotions:  

Yolonda Hayslett, MBA, SHRM-CP, was promoted to Senior Director, Accounting & HR. Hayslett directs the accounting team and produces financial statements, as well as organizing the Chattanooga Chamber’s finance committee and overseeing onboarding, compensation, and benefits of Chamber team members.

Dustin Harris was promoted to Senior Director, IT. Harris researches, procures, and deploys cutting edge technology solutions to enhance Chattanooga Chamber programs and support team member activities.

Meredith Rivers, IOM, was promoted to Senior Director, Member Services. Rivers creates and executes strategic sales, retention, and benefits plans to drive revenue, boost membership value proposition, promote volunteer engagement and improve business support.

Ben Cairns was promoted to Director, Member and Investor Relations. Cairns is responsible for generating income through membership dues, sponsorships and economic development investment to ensure funding is in place to support the Chamber membership organization and the economic development efforts of the Chamber Foundation. 

Charlye White moved from Talent Coordinator, Talent Development, to Coordinator, Member Services. White supports the membership team through sales plan execution, new member onboarding, fulfilling information requests and engaging members in Chattanooga Chamber activities to promote retention and boost member capture of available benefits.

Brenda Harrison transitions from Administrative Assistant, Membership, to Administrative Assistant, Operations. Harrison provides administrative support and customer service including fulfilment of member benefits and organization of member information and she serves as a liaison for visitors, members, and stakeholders.

Ann Riley transitions from Administrative Assistant, Membership, to Administrative Assistant, Operations. Riley provides administrative support and customer service including fulfilment of member benefits and organization of member information. Riley serves as a liaison for visitors, members, and stakeholders.

Charles Wood, CEcD, Vice President, Economic & Talent Development, leads economic and talent development, as well as management of the INCubator in the Hamilton County Business Development Center on Northshore.

Lindsay Hiatt, TCECD, was promoted to Director, Economic Development in the Economic and Talent Development team. Hiatt is responsible for managing recruitment projects, regional support, product development and economic development marketing.

Sybil Topel, MFA, IOM, Vice President, Marketing & Engagement, leads Marketing Communications, Leadership Development, and Events. Marketing & Engagement team members receiving promotions:

Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez, MFA, was promoted to Senior Manager, Creative. Vallejo-Lopez is responsible for managing the creative team. He oversees creative development and execution of the Chattanooga Chamber’s communication, marketing, and design projects, advancing both Chattanooga Chamber and Chattanooga Chamber Foundation strategic goals.

Kerry Beth Carico, IOM, was promoted to Director, Member-Investor Engagement. Carico leads and directs programs and initiatives designed to deliver superior benefits and services to top investors, including top investor engagement and relationship-building. She also directs Chattanooga Chamber Signature Event Sponsorships, as well as sponsorship growth across all teams.

Melissa Martin was promoted to Coordinator II, Events. Martin supports all programs and initiatives designed to deliver superior benefits and services to top investors, including planning and implementation of Chamber Signature Events.

Lori Slatton, Executive Assistant, transfers to the Marketing & Engagement team, where she will continue to assist with CEO Roundtable programs, High Growth CEO programs, and updates on Chattanooga Climbs, which is the name of both the organization’s capital campaign and its economic and talent development work and results.

Justin Groenert, CCE, IOM, Vice President, Public Policy, leads Public Policy and Community Outreach. In his area of responsibility reorganization changes include:

Ross Katayama transitions from his role as Community Outreach Coordinator, Membership, into a new role as Coordinator, Councils, Public Policy. Katayama manages 12 area Chattanooga Chamber councils and coordinates community functions to improve business and civic climates within specific geographical areas.

Cathy Humble transitions from her role as Coordinator II, Talent Development, into a new role as Coordinator II, Public Policy. Humble supports Public Policy efforts by managing calendar and assisting with events. Humble also assists with area Chattanooga Chamber councils to improve business and civic climates within specific geographical areas.

Joining the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce are:

Antonio DeVaughn joined as Accountant, Operations. DeVaughn is responsible for accounts payable processing, cash control and handling duties, daily sales processing, monthly closing activities and providing reports to management to assist in budgeting and financial decision-making.

Randie Nichole Gates, MBA, joined as Executive Assistant to the CEO, a critical part of the executive team. Gates provides professional administrative and organization support to the CEO, executive team, and volunteer leadership, serving as gateway to the C-Suite and building critical relationships with peers across all member industry sectors.

Christina Henderson, SHRM-CP, joined as Director, Talent Development, part of the Economic and Talent Development team. Henderson develops and maintains partnerships with Hamilton County Schools and other workforce partners focused on workforce training, youth apprenticeships and work-based learning in support of the Chattanooga Chamber Foundation’s target industry sectors.

DonTée Merriwether joined as Manager, Facility Operations. Merriwether maintains physical structure and mechanical systems of the Chattanooga Chamber’s 811 Broad St. building through preventive maintenance and system repairs – interacting with vendors, clients, and tenants to support optimal facility operation.

Yasmin Rubayo joined as Specialist, Social Media & Public Relations. Rubayo is responsible for researching and developing digital, social, and paid media content to amplify engagement on social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as providing public relations support.

Caleb Stambaugh joined as Designer, Interactive Content, with the Marketing & Engagement team. Stambaugh creates, develops and curates multimedia content for audiovisual storytelling projects such as marketing and event videos, member stories, recruitment videos and podcasts.

Previously announced was Keri Randolph, who has joined as Executive Director, Chattanooga 2.0. Randolph leads organizational efforts toward ensuring all children and youth receive a quality education and career opportunities.

In mid-July the Chattanooga Chamber plans to announce its Director for Leadership Development, who is responsible for five programs, including

  • Leadership Chattanooga
  • Young Professionals of Chattanooga
  • Protégé Chattanooga
  • Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association, and
  • ChattaNewbies

Responsibilities include aligning the talent engagement system for greater Chattanooga by focusing on the professional development of early career, mid-career, and established professionals through those programs.

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