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Council Initiatives


Executive Committee Members

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Yvonne WoodYvonne Wood, M.Ed., Chair, represents the Greater Nashville Development District on the Council and was elected in January 2012 to serve as Council Chair. She also serves as Chair of the Boards & Commissions Initiative and is the Director of the annual Economic Summit for Women. She owns Wood Conference & Event Planning.  She is a past Chair of the ATHENA Foundation, International, honoring and advancing women in leadership around the world. She represents Tennessee on the Southern Regional Educational Board, a compact of sixteen states. She also represents Tennessee as a delegate to Vision2020  a national initiative convening allies and women leaders from across the country with the purpose to advance gender equality by the year 2020. Her lifelong work as an advocate for women has been recognized by the Tennessee General Assembly and the Nashville Metro Council.

Dena WiseDr. Dena Wise, PhD., is a Professor and Extension Specialist with the University of Tennessee focusing on Family Economics. She works with county extension agents and partners across the state to reach more than 3 million Tennesseans each year with information about money management, consumer education and fraud prevention. Dr. Wise is state coordinator of Tennessee Saves and gives statewide leadership to Extension's bankruptcy educator program and support to homebuyer education. She is principle author and project coordinator of On My Own, a financial education simulation conducted with 20,000 junior high and high school youth across Tennessee each year and coordinates a multi-state project funded by the FINRA Foundation to reach young adults with financial and investor education. Dr. Wise represents East Tennessee on the Executive Committee.

Janet Smith Dr. Janet F. Smith became the fifth president of Columbia State Community College on February 18, 2008. Prior to joining Columbia State, Dr. Smith served in various administrative roles at several institutions of higher education across the country, including her time as President of Rich Mountain Community College in Mena, Arkansas. She has been honored for her leadership in community colleges by the Governor of Arkansas and the Kentucky Legislature. Dr. Smith has a rich history of involvement in her community and profession.  She serves on the Workforce Investment Board, Maury Alliance Board of Directors (Executive Committee and Chamber Council Chair 2009-2011), and the Maury Advisory Board to First Farmers Bank, Nashville Symphony Advisory Council and the Family Support Center Board. She was also the founder of the Arkansas Association of Women in Community Colleges and has served as chair of the Community College Association. Dr. Smith is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee and has served on the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is Past President of the Tennessee College Association and a member of the national advisory board for the Higher Education Research and Development Institute; she has presented at area and state conferences, clubs, organizations and events.

Karen CamperRepresentative Karen Camper has been a member of the 105th through 107th General Assemblies representing the 87th Representative District in Shelby County. Camper is retired from the U.S. Army and owner of Key II Entertainment. In the General Assembly, Camper is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Children and Family Committee, and the House Government Operations Committee. She is also a member of the Shelby County Delegation, the Women's Legislative Caucus, and the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus. In the community Camper serves on the International Business Council Advisory Board and as a substitute teacher in the Memphis City Schools. Camper is Executive Director of The Humble Hearts Foundation, Inc. She is Chairperson/CEO of Joint Services Black Heritage Committee and is a Charter Member of Women in Military Service for America. She serves as Treasurer of the Order of the Eastern Star and of the Harambee Social Club. Camper is a member of the NAACP, serves on the Maryland Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner Committee and is a Lifetime Member of Black in Government. She represents the Women's Legislative Caucus on the Economic Council.

Kathleen WalkerKathleen Armour Walker, Secretary, is President of Tennessee Pewter Company, in Somerville, TN. The company manufactures pewter tableware, giftware and jewelry.  She represents the Southwest Tennessee Development District.  She has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and on public television sharing the beauty of pewter and introducing a new generation to the joy of entertaining and celebrating the finer things in life.  She is a top authority on fine, hand-made pewter and her eye for beauty and detail has earned her rave reviews as she has helped to set some of the finest tables in the South and beyond. Kathleen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Delta State University and a Master of Science in Agriculture from Mississippi State University.  She is a graduate of the WestStar Leadership program at University of Tennessee at Martin. Kathleen Armour Walker lives in Brownsville, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. They are the proud parents of two Golden Pyrenees and a Schnoodle, all of which were rescued.

Margaret Jane PowersMargaret Jane Powers, J.D., Treasurer, of Crossville, serves as Upper Cumberland Development District Representative to the Economic Council on Women and chairs its Legislation and Policy Committee. Founder of the successful Powers Law Firm focusing on litigation of gender employment fairness issues, bankruptcy, criminal defense and workers compensation, Ms. Powers also serves as the President of the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women and as Speaker of the Tennessee Bar Association’s House of Delegates. She is also a Member of the Tennessee Bar Foundation.

Carol DanehowerCarol Danehower, PhD., Immediate Past Chair, of Memphis, is Associate Professor of Management in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at The University of Memphis. She received her doctorate in Management from the University of Kentucky and MA in Economics from the University of Arkansas.   Dr. Danehower teaches both online and on campus and conducts research on women in business as well as on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.  She is also an active member of SHRM-Memphis.  She represents the Tennessee Board of Regents on the Council.

Council Members

Ann Ayres-ColvinAnn Ayers-Colvin has served as Administrator of Elections for the Campbell County Elections Commission since October 2011.  She has previously served as a Deputy Mayor in Campbell County and has extensive experience working in both state and county government. Ann has degrees from the Tennessee Technological Institute, Roane State Community College and the Tennessee Technology Center.  She is active in numerous community organizations and has served on the board of directors for the Greater Smokey Mountain Council of The Boy Scouts of America, the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce, and Drug Free Tennessee.  She has also served as Chairman for Campbell County Toys for Tots and for the Campbell County Republican Party.


Mimi Barnard Dr. Mimi Barnard serves as Assistant Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education at Belmont University. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing Belmont's interdisciplinary and adult degree programs; global education and partnerships, including PeaceJam, a collaboration with STARS that brings a Nobel Peace Laureate to campus annually; and international student programming.


Mae BeaversSenator Mae Beavers has represented the 17th Senate District in the Tennessee General Assembly since 2002. Before that she served 4 years on the Wilson County Commission and eight years in the State House of Representatives. Sen. Beavers serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Senate Commerce, Labor & Agriculture Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Trevecca Nazarene University from the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities. Senator Beavers has also been the recipient of the Patrick Henry Award from the Rights Education Fund for her support of our Second Amendment Rights; she is a member of the NRA and a lifetime member of the Tennessee Firearms Association. She also received an award from the Eagle Forum for her leadership for God, family and country. Senator Beavers is a member of the Mt. Juliet and Lebanon Chambers of Commerce and is a Charter Member of Mt. Juliet Noon Rotary Club. She lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband of 49 years, Jerry Beavers, where she attends Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene.  Senator Beavers was appointed to the Economic Council on Women in 2011 to represent the Tennessee Senate.

Maleia EvansMaleia Evans, Northwest TN Development District. Director of the TSBDC of Dyersburg State Community College.



Veronica Marable-JohnsonVeronica Marable Johnson is currently employed as the Director of Programs and Operations for the Center for Women's Health Research @ Meharry Medical College.  Veronica oversees the Center's Fiscal responsibilities, Programs, Fund Development and Community Outreach Initiatives.  
After graduating from Austin Peay, she began her professional career with First American National Bank.  Veronica rose thru the ranks to Senior Vice President and Corporate Director of Diversity prior to the bank's acquisition.  Following a 13 year banking career, Veronica became the first African American female to manage a multi-million dollar sales portfolio in the Middle Tennessee Region for one of the world's largest transportation corporations.
Active on various community boards and organizations, including the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Metro Nashville Chapter President, TN Economic Council on Women, Girl Scouts, Leadership Nashville, CABLE, TN Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, Hendersonville Links, American Heart Association – Go Red for Women Society, Habitat for Humanity, and Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church – where she is the Associate Youth Director and Sunday School teacher.
Previous community involvement: Immediate Past President of the Urban League Guild and Board of Directors, YWCA, Jr. Chamber, Junior League, Harding Place YMCA and numerous others.

Sherry JonesRep. Sherry Jones, of Nashville, has been a House member of the 99th through 107th General Assemblies. She is the Vice-Chair of the House Children and Family Affairs Committee. Rep. Jones is a member of the Nashville Women’s Political Caucus and Davidson County Democratic Women. She also volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Prior to her work in the General Assembly, Rep. Jones was a member of the Metro Nashville Council for the 30th District from 1987 to 1995. She has received leadership awards from the Mid-Cumberland Council on Children and Youth, Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, Tennessee AFL-CIO, Tennessee Citizen Action, Tennessee March of Dimes, and Vanderbilt Law School, among others. She was appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Economic Council.

Ruby MillerRuby Miller is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. She received her bachelor's degree in business education from Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC. Following graduation, she was recruited by Union Carbide Corporation to work at the nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Miller held positions of increasing responsibility with Union Carbide and Martin Marietta Energy Systems, including associate director of Public Relations and manager of Small Business and Socioeconomic Programs. In 1990, she resigned from the company to start her own State Farm Insurance Agency which provides insurance products and financial services to individuals and small businesses. She also founded RAM/VITEC, Inc., a specialized business and management support services company, and continues to serve as corporate secretary and majority shareholder. A Board Member Emeritus of the Roane State Community College Foundation, Miller is a founding member of the Committee of 100 Women for Girls Inc. In 2007, Miller was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to a five-year term on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. She was selected by NAIFA-TN as "Agent of the Year" in 2009, and has received numerous other awards and honors.

Robin SmithRobin Smith, Southwest TN Development District. Robin Smith, partner of SmithWaterhouse Strategies of Chattanooga, works daily with companies, campaigns, and causes to craft effective strategies at the local, state and national levels to compete and to excel. Robin Smith is also founder and head of Rivers Edge Alliance, a firm providing project management and consulting with current clients in the sectors of healthcare, energy and nonprofit. Smith has worked on local, state and national political campaigns, including presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and county elections, for more than 25 years. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a Bachelo'rs of Science in nursing and is certified in project management through Stanford University. Among her long list of government relations accomplishments, Smith has served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican party, founded and chaired a statewide council for minority leadership in politics, the Tennessee GOP Development Council, and acted as the Tennessee Human Rights Commissioner. Smith currently serves on a variety of boards and writes a weekly column for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Kristi StanleyKristi Stanley, Memphis Area Association of Governments. Director of External Affairs, Government Affairs at Caissa Public Strategy. Kristi's passion started early in life. She joined the Young Republicans and began working for The City of Germantown in high school, instantly instilling a love for politics and action. Kristi has turned her passion into a career working with staff, decision makers and politicians at the local, state and federal levels. She has served in key positions for numerous local, Congressional and gubernatorial campaigns; worked for the Shelby County Trustee and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn and represented the Memphis Area Home Builders Association on legislative and regulatory issues.

Johnnie TurnerRep. Johnnie Turner represents District 85 (part of Shelby County) in the Tennessee House of Representatives. She is a member of the House Consumer & Employee Affairs Committee and of the House Children & Family Affairs Committee. Rep. Turner sits on the Board of Directors of the NAACP Tennessee State Conference and of the New Memphis Arena Building Authority. She is also active with Leadership Memphis, LeMoyne Owen National Alumni Association, and Memphis Retired Teachers Association. Rep. Turner is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Living Legends Award from the Northeast Region of the NAACP, the Living Legends Award from the Memphis Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Addie G. Owen Racial Justice Award presented by the YWCA of Greater Memphis. On the Council, Rep. Turner represents the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators.

Susan WhitakerCommissioner Susan Whitaker, a veteran tourism marketing executive, was appointed in January 2011 to the cabinet of Governor Bill Haslam as Commissioner of Tourist Development. Whitaker was initially appointed to the position in 2003 by Governor Phil Bredesen and reappointed under his administration in 2007. Whitaker was named the 2013 National Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Travel Directors.
As Commissioner, Whitaker is responsible for marketing Tennessee’s tourism industry domestically and internationally. Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries with a $16.16 billion direct economic impact in 2012, a 5.2 percent increase over 2011. State and local tax collections reached a new high of $1.24 billion for tourism related businesses in 2012, which is the seventh consecutive year above $1 billion. Whitaker oversees the development and implementation of the state’s comprehensive marketing, public relations and promotions campaigns designed to stimulate growth of tourism in Tennessee.
Whitaker serves as the Secretary of the U.S. Travel Association's Board of Directors. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of State Travel Directors, Travel South USA Board of Directors, the University of Tennessee's Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board, and the Governor’s International Advisory Council. She serves as the co-chair of Tennessee's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission as well as the Tennessee State Fair Commission and is a member of the Smoky Mountains Park Commission. In September 2013, Whitaker was appointed to the Civil War Trust Board of Trustees.
Whitaker is a Chicago native and a direct descendent of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Prior to her state cabinet post, Whitaker served as vice president of marketing for Dollywood, Tennessee's most visited manmade attraction.

Dawn WhiteRepresentative Dawn White represents the 37th District (part of Rutherford County) in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Rep. White is a member of the House Business & Utilities Committee and of the House Education Committee and Subcommittee. Growing up in Eagleville, Dawn learned the importance of faith, family, and giving back to her community. Dawn attended Rutherford County Schools and is a proud graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, and Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision degrees.
Dawn's love of community service led her to become involved with organizations whose work addresses some of our community's greatest needs.  Recognizing that the government cannot solve all of society's problems, she has spent years volunteering with organizations across Rutherford County in an effort to improve the lives of people in our community. In 2005, Dawn felt the call of entrepreneurship. She became an owner of and eventually started, which are online retailers of vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, and related parts and supplies. Through hard work, Dawn tripled the size of her business and has provided both full-time and part-time jobs for numerous people in Rutherford County.  Her office and warehouse space are located in Smyrna, TN.

Ken YagerSenator Ken Yager has committed his life to public service as an educator, government official and community leader. In 2006, Yager completed 24 years of service to Roane County as its County Executive. Elected to six terms, he stepped down, choosing not to seek re-election.  Two years later, he was elected to the State Senate representing District 12 consisting of Roane, Rhea, Campbell, Morgan, Fentress and Scott Counties. Yager serves as Chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and was elected to the Joint Fiscal Review.  He also serves on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.  He began his lifetime of service as a teacher in the Roane County public school system. He then served as County Attorney from 1978 to 1982, before being elected County Executive in 1982.   He has since returned to the field of education as an administrator and assistant professor at Roane State Community College. Yager is active in the life of his community. He has served as PTO President, Boy Scout Committee member, school volunteer, and serves on many non profit boards including the Mid East Community Action Agency for 25 years. Yager’s ability was recognized on the state level by his appointment to the State Workforce Board and the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. He is also a member of the National Rifle Association.


Phyllis Qualls-BrooksPhyllis Qualls-Brooks was named Executive Director of The Tennessee Economic Council in 2012. Phyllis has extensive experience in both state and federal government, education and communications. She holds a doctorate in higher education from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University and a master's degree in English from Tennessee State University. She recently served as a Congressional Affairs Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Special Projects Coordinator with the Office of the Treasurer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She formerly served as Assistant Commissioner in the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Director of Public Relations at Tennessee State University.

Bill ArthBill Arth joined the Economic Council on Women as Senior Research Manager in 2012. A transplant from Columbus, Ohio, Bill brings with him over eight years of experience in the Ohio General Assembly, where he worked in both chambers, including as a researcher and policy analyst for the Speaker of the Ohio House. Prior to his work in the Statehouse, Bill earned his bachelor's degree in political science and economics at Ohio State University. Bill's passion for public policy extends beyond the workplace, where he is drawn to community efforts pertaining to social justice, public transportation and urban affairs.

Tracey RobertsTracey Roberts joined the Tennessee Economic Council on Women in February 2008 as the Administrative Assistant. Today, Tracey stands at the helm in a dual role of Office Manager and Administrative Assistant. Tracey has recently earned her Associate's degree in Business and is planning to return to college in spring 2012 to continue her Bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management. Prior to joining the Council, Tracey worked in electronics warehousing as Quality Control Lead. Tracey enjoys the outdoors and scrapbooking in her spare time along with spending time with her Family and Grandson.