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The winners of the inaugural Volunteer 40 under 40 Award

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Office of Alumni Affairs is pleased to present the first-ever recipients of its Volunteer 40 Under 40 Award. The new annual recognition program celebrates UT alumni who are 39 or younger and have excelled personally and professionally since completing their degree.

The 2021 award class includes entrepreneurs, lawyers, media leaders, physicians, nonprofit directors, government officials, engineers, professors, professional athletes, and an elephant keeper. These outstanding alumni come from a range of organizations including Google, the White House, Chick-fil-A, the Pilot Company, Facebook, the PGA Tour, New York–Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the US Air Force, among others.

“I’m excited about our Volunteer 40 Under 40 inaugural class,” said Duane Wiles, associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs. “This unique group is lighting the way for others through leadership and service. We are proud of the positive impact they are making in their communities and across the globe.”

Members of the 2021 class of the Volunteer 40 Under 40 award are:

  • Timothy Ainger (BA ’06, MS ’06), Georgetown, Kentucky—clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor of neurology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine
  • Corey Alexander (BA ’12), Nashville—president, Ross Behavioral Group
  • Erin Anderson (BSN ’18), New York City—registered nurse, New York–Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center
  • Matthew Barnett (BArch ’15)—Wilmington, North Carolina—project architect, LS3P Associates
  • Nikki Burdine (BS ’05), Nashville—morning news anchor, WKRN-TV
  • Szu-Lung Chang (BA ’05), Las Vegas—owner and attorney, Chang Law Group LLC
  • Jennifer Drake-Croft (MS ’15), Nashville—director of child well-being, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth
  • Brooke Drummond (BS ’12), New York City—producer of Today, NBC
  • Shuwanza Goff (BA ’06), Alexandria, Virginia—director of legislative operations and deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, US House of Representatives Office of the Majority Leader
  • Billy Haley (BS ’06), Franklin, Tennessee—partner and financial advisor, Compass Advisory Group
  • Leslie Hamilton (BA ’03, PharmD ’07), Knoxville—associate professor of clinical pharmacy and translation science, UT Health Science Center College of Pharmacy
  • Marquinta Harvey (BS ’05, MA ’11), Murfreesboro, Tennessee—assistant professor of epidemiology, Belmont University
  • R. Reid Harvey (BA ’06, MS ’09, DVM ’10), Morgantown, West Virginia—epidemiologist, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jen Hendrich (BS ’08), Jacksonville, Florida—charitable outreach manager, PGA Tour
  • Cory Hipps (BA ’11, MS ’13, MBA ’13), Houston—procurement global recruiting and training supervisor and culture change manager, ExxonMobil
  • Josh Hopson (BA ’09, MPA ’11), Nashville—assistant vice president for government relations, LifePoint Health
  • Charity Howard (BSFS ’08), Atlanta—account manager–flavors, Firmenich Inc
  • Inky Johnson (BA ’07, MS ’09), Atlanta—motivational speaker
  • Martesha Johnson (JD ’08), Nashville—chief public defender, Nashville Defender’s Office
  • Christopher Jones (BFA ’08), Atlanta—visual communications manager, CHRIS 180
  • Korri Jones (MBA ’16), Atlanta—senior lead machine learning engineer, Chick-fil-A Inc.
  • Kara Lawson (BS ’03), Durham, North Carolina—head women’s basketball coach, Duke University
  • Jamie Lonie (BS ’10), New York City—founder, Amplifi Digital
  • Elizabeth Million (BS ’12, DVM ’16), Atlanta—assistant director of outreach and engagement, IVCA; associate veterinarian, Lap of Love; International Council for Veterinary Assessment
  • Lauren Parks (BA ’06), Memphis—owner and operations manager, forensic scientist, Pharr Forensic Consulting LLC
  • Andrew Parsons (BS ’06), Charlottesville, Virginia—assistant professor of medicine and director of clinical studies, University of Virginia School of Medicine
  • Gadson Perry (JD ’11), Memphis—partner, Butler Snow LLP
  • Jamie Porter (BS ’08, MS ’09, PhD ’12), Ellicott City, Maryland—senior radiation effects engineer, section supervisor, and diversity advisory team chair for the Space Exploration Sector, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Wesley Rich (MBA ’15, JD ’15), Austin, Texas—manager, trust and safety, Global Copyright Operations, Google
  • Ryan Robertson (BS ’04), Brooklyn, New York—global head of marketing, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Restaurant Brands International
  • Todd Skelton (BA ’10, MBA ’14, JD ’14), Knoxville—chief legal counsel, Strategic Acquisitions Group LLC
  • Ashley Smith (BS ’13), Knoxville—assistant athletics director for player relations and development, UT Knoxville
  • Derek Spear (MS ’14), Fairborn, Ohio—PhD candidate; lieutenant colonel, US Air Force
  • Jordan Spradling (BS ’08), Knoxville—senior director, transportation and logistics, the Pilot Company
  • Wade Stonebrook (BS ’04, MAc ’06), Memphis— senior manager, KPMG LLP
  • Graham Thomas (BA ’08), Nashville—deputy director of partnerships, tnAchieves
  • John Thompson (BA ’10), San Francisco—manager, advertising policy, Facebook Inc.
  • James Trimble (BA ’05, MPA ’08), Knoxville—chief operating officer, EventBooking
  • Jason Witten (BS ’08), Argyle, Texas—head football coach, Liberty Christian, and retired NFL football player
  • Rebecca Wyatt (BS ’13), Omaha, Nebraska—lead elephant keeper, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

The recipients will be honored on Friday, April 30, during a virtual awards ceremony. For more information on the awards and nominations for the 2022 awards, visit the award page.


Mallorie Mendence (865-661-6302,