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2017 Speakers

Speakers and moderators from the 2017 WomEngineers Day conference included leaders of industry, researchers from national labs, university faculty, and students.

Aaron Anderson-Walker

Master’s Candidate

Mr. Aaron Anderson-Walker has been a student of the University of Tennessee since the fall of 2015, and is currently a Master’s Candidate in the department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering. Aaron earned his Bachelor of Science in Composite Materials Engineering from Winona State University in the spring of 2015, and he is originally from St. Paul, MN. Aaron is in his final semester of graduate school and is currently pursuing employment in various industries.

Pat Ball

Senior Vice President, Strategic Resources Group

As senior vice president of the strategic resources group, Patricia “Pat” Ball leads TeamHealth’s strategic marketing and operations interface, select provider recruitment initiatives, communications support for internal departments that are related to hospital clients or industry relations and external communication efforts. With more than 30 years of senior healthcare executive experience, Pat offers expertise in marketing, communications, business development and strategic planning.

Elizabeth Barker

Lecturer in the Department Of Mechanical, Aerospace, And Biomedical Engineering

Elizabeth Barker has an adjunct appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. She received a BS in Biomedical Engineering, an MS in Polymer Engineering, and a PhD in Molecular Therapeutics and Cell Signaling. Her research leverages interdisciplinary scientific knowledge of device design, biomaterials engineering, and polymer characterization to develop novel polymer materials for implant devices and drug delivery with the intent to commercialize her laboratory findings for use in the clinical setting. Barker’s goal is to be a link between engineering and medicine and to contribute to the care of others as a research scientist dedicated to the development of medical devices that physicians can use to improve the lives of their patients.

Ashley Barnes

Transmission Line Design Engineer, Southern Company

Ashley Barnes is a Transmission Line Design Engineer at Southern Company. She is responsible for providing engineering support to both transmission construction and transmission maintenance centers by producing line design packages to construct new or modify existing transmission lines. Construction has always been a passion of hers. Before moving into her current position, she spent time as a Transmission Construction Engineer at Alabama Power Company, and gained experience as a project estimator, field engineer, and project manager as a co-op student working at Robins & Morton.

Fatmata Barrie, PhD

Boeing Metals Additive Manufacturing On-Site Lead at ORNL

Fatmata Barrie is the Boeing Metals Additive Manufacturing On-site Lead at ORNL. In this role, she oversees Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T) research programs at ORNL. She started her career with Boeing 1.5 years ago as a part of the Metals and Ceramics Group, also within BR&T, in Huntsville, Alabama. Fatmata earned a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and Texas A&M University, respectively. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Materials Science and Engineering. After completing her Ph.D. she conducted research on bamboo reinforced concrete at the Institute of Technology Bandung in Bandung, Indonesia as a Student Fulbright Research Scholar.

Kelsa Benensky

PhD Candidate

Kelsa Benensky is a third year graduate student pursuing a PhD in nuclear engineering at UT. Kelsa is a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow and her current research focuses on the testing and characterization of advanced fuel forms for space nuclear thermal propulsion which is done in collaboration with NASA, ORNL, and private industry partners.

Barbie Bigelow

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Jacobs Engineering

Barbie is Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Jacobs Engineering, one of the world’s largest engineering, architecture, construction, operations, and maintenance firms. As Jacobs’ CIO, Barbie drives innovation across the company and oversees all aspects of the global Information Technology organization. With more than 30 years of experience, leading business operations, driving innovation and building high performance teams, Barbie leads a global team that delivers innovative solutions and optimal IT support for global IT operations. Barbie earned her Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee and was raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Angie Cannon

CEO, Cannon & Cannon, Inc.

As Principal Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cannon & Cannon, Inc., Ms. Cannon has 22 years of experience in Engineering Consulting and Industrial Plant Project Management. Before starting in 1996, she worked as a Process Engineer as well as a Research and Development Engineer at an Elemental Phosphorus Plant for a major chemical company. Ms. Cannon is also a skilled Business Manager and Administrator. She has won numerous awards including the prestigious Knoxville Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Award for Woman Owned Business of the year in 2015. Ms. Cannon is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville Class of 2016. She feels it is both an honor and an obligation to give back to the community and she serves on numerous national, state, and local boards and committees including the City of Knoxville Diversity Business Advisory Committee, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Board, the Knoxville Fellows Board, Young Life Africa National Board, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the Chamber, and the Engineering Excellence Award committee. She is also a mentor in the Knoxville Chamber’s Mentor/Protege Program for another small woman owned business. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel and usually leads an annual mission trip with her church to Mozambique, Africa where she has been active for many years.

Christopher Carlson

Director Of Talent Acquisitions, TVA

Based in Chattanooga, Christopher is the Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He leads a team of professionals focused on delivering best-in-class recruitment and diversity solutions. Prior to TVA, he was Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition for Booz Allen Hamilton where for over ten years he oversaw a variety of talent acquisition programs including university, diversity, military, employee referral programs. Based in Chattanooga, Christopher is the Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He leads a team of professionals focused on delivering best-in-class recruitment and diversity solutions. Prior to TVA, he was Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition for Booz Allen Hamilton where for over ten years he oversaw a variety of talent acquisition programs including university, diversity, military, employee referral programs.

Beth Conerty

Program Manager For Entrepreneurship, ORNL

Beth Conerty is a recent graduate from UTK’s Bredesen Center. She is currently the Program Manager for Entrepreneurship in ORNL’s office of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development. In her role, she works to expand the entrepreneurial component within the Bredesen Center and helps run the new Innovation Crossroads program at ORNL. Additionally, she is Vice President of Business Development for the technology startup company Nano Elements Source, LLC. Nano Elements is working with an ORNL licensed technology to produce semi-conducting nanoparticles through a biological fermentation process.

Bennett Croswell

President, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines

Bennett Croswell is president of Pratt & Whitney’s Military Engines business, where he oversees development, production and support of the company’s military offerings including the 5th generation F119 and F135 engines for the F-22 and F-35 fighters, the F100 for the F-15/F-16, the F117 for the C-17, the PW4062 for the KC-46A, as well as the Small Military Engine and Advanced Engine Program sectors. Bennett joined Pratt & Whitney in 1979 and has been part of three Collier Trophy Award winning teams since. Previous leadership roles include director, F119 program; vice president, F119 program; vice president, Military Development Programs; and vice president Advanced Programs & Technology. Bennett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He also graduated from the Defense Systems Management College in Fort Belvoir, Va.Bennett has authored several papers published by technical societies. He is also a member of the University Of Tennessee College Of Engineering Advisory Board, the Air Force Association, the Association of the United States Army, the Army Aviation Association of America and the Navy League.

Jeff Eker

CEO And Founder, CultureCloud

Jeff absolutely loves travel. He has traveled around the world in eight days, visited fifteen countries outside of the US, and looks forward to visiting many more! Jeff is heavily involved with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), representing Young Professionals in the mid-Atlantic region of the US on the local and international level. Meeting people from around the world is always Jeff’s favorite part of travel, and who he is today has been shaped in a huge way by the opportunities he’s had to embrace local cultures. In addition to his work as a technology consultant, Jeff is the CEO and founder of CultureCloud – initially founded for travelers, the CultureCloud platform allows any organization for form a social enviornment for their members. Jeff and his team launched CultureCloud last year at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Learn more at

Dianne Ezell

R&D Staff Member, Electro-Mechanical Systems Group, Electrical And Electronics Systems Research Division, ORNL

N. Dianne Bull Ezell is a R&D Staff member in the Electro-Mechanical Systems Group, within the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division at ORNL. She recently completed a Ph.D. focusing on signal processing of EMI rejection for Johnson Noise Thermometry measurements in 2016, from the University of Tennessee. Her research interests are system architecture and integration as well as low-power mixed-signal electronic design for nuclear instrumentation. A few of her on-going projects at ORNL are systems engineer for A Large Ion Collider (ALICE) at CERN, non-destructive evaluation (NDE) with the University of Tennessee, controls for ITER sub systems, and system engineer of nuclear instruments design for advanced reactors. She received a BS in Electrical Engineering in 2007 and an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee with research focused on Integrated Circuit design for hybrid electric vehicles, medical sensors, and lithography.

Jim K. Flood

Vice President, Arctic and Eastern Canada, ExxonMobil Development Company

Jim Flood joined ExxonMobil Development Company in 1980 following his graduation from the University of Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. He has a wide range of experience in the Upstream sector, with 20 years of work on major projects such Lena Deepwater and Mobile Bay Project in the Gulf of Mexico, Block 15 offshore Angola, Chad, Sakhalin I in Russia, Western Canada oil sands, and Hebron and Point Thomson in Canada. He also worked for 12 years in Production Operations, including assignments as Senior Field Superintendent in Louisiana, Operations Superintendent in Midland, Texas, and Operations Manager in LaBarge, Wyoming. Jim assumed his current role as Vice President of Arctic and Eastern Canada for ExxonMobil Development Company in 2010, with responsibility for the company’s projects in those regions. Jim is married with three daughters. He enjoys exercising, reading, and outdoor activities.

Janet S. Hayes

Attorney, Lewis Thomason

Janet Hayes, a shareholder in the Knoxville Lewis Thomason office, is an advocate for employers and businesses across the state. Ms. Hayes has successfully defended employment claims including sexual harassment, retaliatory discharge, discrimination, workers’ compensation, invasion of privacy and denial of benefits. With her practice, she also develops successful human resource strategies as well as litigation-avoidance tactics for clients, and she assists employers by conducting and preparing comprehensive reports for internal investigations of employee complaints. In addition to her employment law practice, Ms. Hayes is actively involved in complex litigation, including class action and collective action defense. She has written multiple appellate briefs in a variety of topics and has argued before the Tennessee Court of Appeals and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Hayes received her BA from Carson-Newman College and her J.D. from the University of Tennessee.

Abby Henson

Customer Service Engineer, TVA

Abby has served as a Customer Service Engineer for TVA since graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2011. In this role, she is a primary information resource for TVA to twelve of TVA’s local power companies (LPCs). She manages these long-term customer relationships by providing customer service pertaining to TVA’s rate and pricing products, regulatory requirements, and renewable energy program delivery. She is responsible for initiation, coordination, and delivery of contracts between TVA, LPCs, and large industrial customers. She works with TVA’s billing departments to ensure accuracy of metering and billing LPCs and large industrial customers. She also serves as a technical resource on power supply arrangements and NERC compliance projects.

Peter Hoffman

Vice President of Intellectual Property Management, The Boeing Company

Peter Hoffman is vice president of Intellectual Property Management for The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company. Hoffman is responsible for strategies that protect and generate the highest possible value from this significant corporate asset. Hoffman specifically manages the company’s patent portfolio; protection of trade secrets; and licensing of technical data, images, consumer products, trademarks, and patents. In addition to managing Boeing intellectual property, Hoffman also serves as executive sponsor of the Diversity & Inclusion Council for Engineering, Operations & Technology. Hoffman earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering technology and a master’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, a master’s of manufacturing engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master’s of international business from St. Louis University. Hoffman is a board member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center Group at the University of Sheffield in the UK, an Advisory Board member at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Lisa Marshall

Director of Outreach, Retention & Engagement, NCSU Department Of Nuclear Engineering

Lisa Marshall is the Director of Outreach, Retention & Engagement for North Carolina State University’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. She is also the educational outreach director for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)-funded Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC). She is responsible for pre-college outreach; undergraduate and graduate recruitment & retention; and, teaches an introductory course section in engineering & problem solving. Her world revolves around engineering education, energy geography and STEM diversity.

Misty Mayes

President and Founder, Management Solutions, LLC

Misty Mayes, PMP, is the president and founder of Management Solutions, LLC (MSLLC), an award-winning, comprehensive project management services company based in Knoxville, Tenn. Mayes started MSLLC in 2002 and has established MSLLC’s reputation as a provider of “best value services” in the areas of project controls/project management, forensic schedule analysis and project management training. Mayes has more than 26 years of executive leadership experience and has managed programs/projects to provide project management and controls services to a variety of clients. She has worked extensively with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) providing project management/control services, including EVMS certification, project controls, cost estimating, and risk management services. MSLLC clients and projects have included the DOE, Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), UT-Battelle, Y-12 National Security Complex, ALCOA, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and TeamHealth among others. Mayes supports the greater Knoxville community throughout the year and serves on several boards, including the University of Tennessee College of Engineering Board of Advisors. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1988.

Sam Mayes, PE

Vice President and Co-Founder, Management Solutions, LLC

Sam Mayes, PE, is the vice-president and co-founder of Management Solutions, LLC (MSLLC), an award-winning, comprehensive project management services company based in Knoxville, Tenn. For more than 30 years, Mayes has managed design and construction projects ranging from a wide variety of civil/environmental design efforts to the construction of large Department of Transportation (DOT) highway and Superfund projects. He has significant management experience within both the design and construction arenas. He has performed as both an operations manager and project manager on various groups and/or projects. Mayes also has responsibilities for the continued growth of MSLLC through the financial management and operations of MSLLC as well as many areas of human resources. Mayes supports the greater Knoxville community throughout the year and serves as the Past-President for the American Society of Civil Engineers and through the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1985 and a Master Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1997.

Zach Mayes

Industrial Engineer, Boeing Commercial Airlines

Zach is an Industrial Engineer for Boeing Commercial Airlines in Everett, Washington on the 777 program. As a Boeing production engineer, Zach works to create safer, more efficient wings for the Boeing 777. This includes creating work packages for mechanics, using statistical analysis to create higher quality products and data science to optimize production systems. Zach is also the Everett Lead for REACH Boeing, Boeing’s zero to five year professional development organization. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering in May of 2016.

Cavanaugh Mims

President, Visionary Solutions & VS Group

Over the past 30 years, Cavanaugh Mims has established himself as a leader in business and program management. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in nuclear engineering, he began his career as a station nuclear engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority and advanced to senior program/project manager for the Department of Energy providing expertise in the environmental remediation and waste management field before creating Visionary Solutions, LLC (VS) – In 2000, Mr. Mims founded VS to provide transportation and logistics services for Governmental and commercial nuclear clients both nationally and internationally. Today, VS has grown into VS Group, a family of five companies that provide high quality solutions to a variety of complex technical challenges including transportation and logistics, nuclear material disposition, additive manufacturing, and material recycling. Mr. Mims is an avid supporter of higher education and currently serves on the following at the University of Tennessee: Alumni Board of Directors; College of Engineering Advisory Board, Under Graduate Admissions Advisory Board; and he is also a Chancellor’s Associate. Mr. Mims and his wife Telicia have 2 children.

Latoya Myles, PhD

Deputy Director, NOAA Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division

LaToya Myles coordinates and supports research and development programs as deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division in Oak Ridge. She also conducts scientific studies to improve understanding of the emission, transformation, transport, and fate of atmospheric pollutants known to have an impact on human health and/or the environment. The Mississippi native is a magna cum laude graduate of Alcorn State University with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in biology and has a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from Florida A&M University. Through numerous professional and community organizations, she advocates for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and mentors students who represent the next generation of scientists. Dr. Myles and her husband, Gerald, have two children.

James B. Porter, Jr.

Founder and President Of Operations Solutions, LLC

Jim received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1965. He went to work for the DuPont Company where his career spanned more than 42 years. When he retired in 2008, he was the Chief Engineer and Vice President of Engineering and Operations. Jim served as the Chair of UT’s College of Engineering Board of Advisors for several years. He was the 2015 recipient of the Nathan W. Dougherty Award and was inducted into the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Hall of Fame in 2017. He is a Fellow of AIChE and a member of the National Academy of Construction.

Katherine Prewitt

Vice President, Southern Company Transmission

As vice president of Southern Company Services Transmission, Katherine oversees transmission design and maintenance support (D&MS) and transmission planning in support of Southern Company’s operating companies and the southeastern bulk electric system. Prior to joining Southern Company, Katherine held positions at Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Entergy. She has served in various leadership roles in multiple civic and utility industry organizations. Katherine holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas.

Claudia Rawn, PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Material Science And Engineering

Claudia Rawn is an Associate Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also the Director of the Center for Materials Processing. Prior to joining the University of Tennessee full time she was a Senior Research Staff Member in the Diffraction and Thermophysical Properties Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a Joint Faculty Member in the University of Tennessee’s Materials Science and Engineering Department. Her research interests include investigations of crystal structures, phase transitions, and thermophysical properties of materials using in-situ x-ray and neutron diffraction.

Mary Jane Sill

Senior Project Manager, F.M.A Management Solutions, LLC

Mary Jane Sill is an industrial engineer and senior project manager with over 25 years’ experience in manufacturing, process improvement, business development, construction and strategic planning. She is currently the Program Manager for the ORNL Modernization Project Office. Sill also performs strategic analysis for clients and leads workshops in process improvement and team building, and enjoys mentoring interns and new employees.

Shara Shoup

Chief Operating Officer, Emerald Youth Foundation

Shara Shoup is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Emerald Youth Foundation, a faith-based non-profit in Knoxville. She started her professional career, however, as a scientist, earning her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry with a specialty in Nuclear Chemistry from the University of Tennessee in 1995. She completed her doctoral research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and remained there for a post-doctoral position. Shara then moved to Atlanta for a research scientist position with MicroCoating Technologies, a start-up company out of Georgia Tech. During her time there, she worked on several Department of Energy projects as well as private company customer projects in the areas of thin film resistors and barrier layers for high-temperature superconductors and beverage packaging and finished there as a Business Unit Manager. During her science tenure, Shara authored several papers and received 9 patents. She returned to Knoxville in 2004 and uses her operational and data analysis skills to serve city young people and their families. She is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville and currently a member of UT’s Chancellor’s Associates.

Erica Greene Smith

Human Resource Manager, Management Solutions, LLC

Erica Greene Smith joined Management Solutions, LLC in 2009 and is the Human Resources Manager. She has over 13 years of experience in business and human resources roles. She has been instrumental in helping Management Solutions, LLC build a team of highly qualified professionals. Her experience includes developing HR processes and policies, compliance, employee relations, performance management, recruiting, employee engagement, benefits, compensation and training.

Summer Smith

Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual

After working as an Engineer and Project Manager at Southern Company for 11 years, Summer decided 4 years ago to pursue the calling on her life to serve others. As a financial advisor, Summer works with individuals and families to help them plan for their financial future and to protect the people they love most. In addition to graduating from Auburn University with a B.S in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Summer also has a Juris Doctor from Birmingham School of Law. Summer has a diverse background including power plant maintenance and construction, compliance and contracts, and now financial planning. Proof that engineers can do anything!

Anne Turner

PhD Candidate

Anne Turner is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee in civil engineering researching numerical methods for solving geotechnical engineering problems, expecting to graduate in August 2017. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked for five years as a professional structural engineer at the consulting firm, Simpson, Gumpertz, & Heger, in Boston, Massachusetts. Anne is pursuing a tenure-track faculty position in engineering after graduation.

Ann Weaver

Director of Facilities Management Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ann Weaver is Director of Facilities Management Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. In her position, Ann is responsible for the safe and efficient management of 5 million square feet of laboratory and office space, and manages a staff of more than 300. She has a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee.

Jacinda Woodward

Senior Vice President Of Resources & River Management, Tennessee Valley Authority

Jacinda joined TVA in 1984 and has worked in various business units throughout her career. Jacinda is currently Senior Vice President of Resources & River Management, which is responsible for personnel and public safety, evironmental operations and compliance, TVA building facilities maintenance, and management of the 5th largest river system in the country and stweardship of the 293,000 acres of public lands for which TVA is responsible. Prior to her current assignment, Jacinda has also served as Senior Vice President of Transmission & Power Supply, as well as, the Vice President of Transmission Reliability & Operations, and the Vice President of Power Control Systems within TVA. Jacinda earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University in 1988 and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Tennessee. She is married and has two daughters, ages 20 and 13.

Eric Zeanah

President, American Accessories International, LLC – TCE Board Chair

After a three month internship, Mr. Zeanah chose to join American Accessories International, a world-wide product development and manufacturing execution company. Mr. Zeanah has since developed a thirty-two year career expanding into all aspects of business management including; Program Design, Manufacturing Controls, Marketing Procurement, as well as, Administration and Finance. After assuming ownership of American Accessories International in 1995, Mr. Zeanah has led his company into core supply roles for many corporate entities such as Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Kodak and Altria. Mr. Zeanah received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1984.