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  • Institute of Leadership Excellence
    a Paul W. Martin Sr. Distinguished Program
  • ILE is housed in MTSU's
    University Honors College

Past Speakers

Past Institute Photos

Cristina Allen

Cristina O. Allen

Caliente Consulting was established in 1999 by Cristina Allen, a marketing and communications professional, with more than 20+ years working with corporations, local and state governments, small and mid-sized busiesses, non-profit organizations, and education institutions to successfully achieve their marketing and multi-cultural strategies. Cristina currently works as a consultant for the State of Tennessee Economic & Community Development as an International Export Specialist to Mexico, Latin and South America. Her company, Caliente Consulting, focuses on global strategies for companies wanting to achieve a global mindset for economic growth. Her professional experience includes positions with Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Genesco Inc., Moore Entertainment, and Ajax Turner Company/Budweiser. She has held numerous leadership positions with leading professional and community organizations. Cristina is the host of WTVF Newschannel 5+ television program, Que Pasa Nashville, a program that educates viewers on the opportunities and challenges Latino's bring to Middle Tennessee. She also combines a quarterly program highlighting Nashville's global business and international community. Cristina was born in Taos, New Mexico and raised in Las Cruces, NM to Mexican-American parents. She graduated from New Mexico with Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication and earned a Master of Arts in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb University.

Kathy Atkins

Kathy Atkins

Kathy Atkins is the Tennessee Coordinator for the American Indian Center of Arkansas/Tennessee, Employment and Training Center. She also serves as the national secretary for the National Indian and Native American Employment and Training Conference sponsored in partnership with the Division of Indian and Native American Programs in Washington, D.C. She attended Tuscarora Indian School and received an A.S. in Business Management from Niagara County Community College. She is a member of the Trail of Tears National Association and has received a governmental award for outstanding leadership in the Native American community from the National Community Justice Program. She is a Leadership Middle Tennessee alumna. She was featured in the Tennessean's "Women's Weekly" Sunday edition, sits on five Workforce Development boards in Tennessee, is an Advisory Board member for MDHS, and is a panel member for the Davidson County Metro Police Academy. Kathy has received numerous awards including Who's Who in Women's Business Leadership. She enjoys riding her 1200 custom Harley Sportster, Native American arts and crafts, sewing, quilting, and reading, as well as all outdoor sports and organizing cultural events and workshops. She hopes to further educate the general public on the need of Native American Programs related to education, training, and cultural sensitivity. She is currently working on writing and illustrating Native American children storybooks.

Lieutenant General (Retired) Keith Huber 

Lieutenant General (R) Keith Huber's 38 years of commissioned service in the U.S. Army have spanned conventional, unconventional, and combined joint duty assignments. His conventional duty assignments include platoon leader in the 7th Infantry Division, and company commander, battalion operations officer, brigade and division operations officer, battalion commander and director of civil-military affairs, all with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He served as Assistant Division Commander of the 10th Mountain Division, Deputy Commanding General  of 1st Army, and Commanding General of U.S. Army South. Lieutenant General (R) Huber's unconventional assignments include Special Forces Operational Detachment team leader in Panama with 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Special Forces Field Advisor tours in Nicaragua and El Savador. His combined joint duty assignments include Chief of Operations, UN Mission Haiti; Commander Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras; Executive Officer to the Commander and Director of Operations of U.S. Southern Command; Commanding General, Multinational Brigade (East) in Kosovo; Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board; Director of the Inter-American Defense College; Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Joint Forces Command, and for the last two years the Commanding General, in Afghanistan, of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, responsible for all U.S. Law of Armed Conflict Detentions. 

A native of Springfield, Ohio, Lieutenant General (R) Huber graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned in the infantry. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Armor Officer Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Army War College. He received a Masters in Public Administration degree from Golden Gate University in 1984. He has earned the Combat Infantryman, Expert Infantryman, Master Parachutist, Combat Diver, Special Operations Diving Supervisor, Air Assault, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification badges, and is Special Forces and Ranger qualified. Lieutenant General (R) Huber is married to the former Shelly Wilcox of Watertown, NY. They have one son Jason, one daughter Alexis, and two grandsons Dylan and Austin. 

Tony Jennings

Tony Jennings

Tony Jennings is the Managing Director, Specialty Service Centers North America, Ford Motor Credit Company, accountable for Premiere brands, recovery of charged-off receivables, national bankruptcies, customer service, and PRIMUS customer handling throughout North America. Tony received his B.S. from Long Island University, M.G.A. from the University of Maryland, and his Ed.D. from George Washington University. His civic activities include chairing Walk to Cure Diabetes 2001 and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Board.

Susan L. KaySusan Kay

Susan Kay serves as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at  Vanderbilt Law School. She has headed the law school's clinical and experiential legal education program since 2001, having joined the clinical faculty in 1980. In addition to teaching in the Criminal Practice Clinic, Dean Kay supervises the Trial Advocacy courses and student externships, and teaches courses on Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law and Evidence. She is active in many professional and service activities and has served as president of the Clinical Legal Education Association, a national association that represents more than 600 law faculty, and as president of the board of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and  the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. She currently chairs the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. Dean Kay is a member of the Standards Review Committee of the ABA's Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. Within the clinic, she has conducted major public law litigation concerning jail overcrowding, inmates’ rights and juvenile justice. In 2007, she completed an assignment as a court-appointed monitor in federal litigation challenging the state’s compliance with its responsibilities to children enrolled in the TennCare program. In 2005, Dean Kay was co-reporter with on the Tennessee Bar Association Criminal Justice Section's study of effectiveness of counsel in death penalty cases.

Zach Liff

Zach Liff

Zach Liff is the President of National Building Corporation. He received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.S. from Wharton School of Business, and a Post Bachelor's Degree from Indiana University. His activities include Advisory Board Member, ZOI Interactive Technologies; Partner, Air Doctors;  Board Member, Nashville Opera; and Development Committee, Nashville Downtown Partnership. He enjoys playing and writing music and traveling. 

Tara MacDougall 

Since June 2012 Tara has served as the CEO of the Discovery Center, a 32,000 square-foot children's museum and science center adjacent to 20 acres of wetlands in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Tara's numerous volunteer activities were recognized by the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce when she was awarded the 2002 Pinnacle Award. Her leadership role with the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring was singled-out by the Center of Nonprofit Management in Nashville when she was named the 2007 Board Member of the Year for Middle Tennessee. In the same year, she was presented with the Northwestern Mutual Corporate Community Volunteer Award in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Tara is currently President of Rutherford CABLE, board member of the Business Education Partnership, board member of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and board member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. She serves on the advisory board with Fifty Foward, the community board for Nashville Pubic Television, and is past-President of Nashville Women's Breakfast Club. In 2013 she graduated from Leadership Middle Tennessee. Tara was most recently recognized as an ATHENA nominee and given a Women in Business Award.

Dr. H. Lee Martin

Dr. H. Lee Martin

Dr. Martin is a Managing Member of Clarity Resources, LLC, a mentor capitalist group specializing in business architecture. He is the former Director of the Tennessee Technopreneurial Leadership Center which he started at the University of Tennessee in Fall 2000 to explore the possibility of the TLC's theme: Come for a degree - leave with a company! In this position, he served an organization dedicated to growing technology businesses in the state of Tennessee. Dr. Martin holds engineering degrees from the University of Tennessee and Purdue University. He has extensive experience in taking ideas from concept to marketplace. His technical efforts have received twenty U.S. Patents, two Research and Development Magazine R&D 100 Awards and the NASA SBIR Technology of the Year Award in 1994. He has been recognized as the National Young Engineer of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers. After six years as a development engineer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he founded TeleRobotics International, Inc., in 1986 to develop robots for hazardous environments. The company developed, patented, and introduced to the market an immersive interactive imaging method named iPIX that is now used worldwide via the Internet to remotely display real estate, automobiles, vacation spots, and current events. While CEO, his efforts provided funding for the company through the SBIR program and led to major corporate equity investments from Motorola Corp. and the Discovery Channel.

The Honorable Carol L. McCoy

The Honorable Carol L. McCoy

The Honorable Carol McCoy has been Chancellor of the Davidson County Chancery Court, Part II, since 1996. She served as Presiding Judge for the trial courts from 1999 to 2001. Chancellor McCoy is a member of the TBA, NBA, LAW, NBF, FBA, NAWJ, ABA, AJS, Nashville Foreign Relations Committee, and Harry Phillips Inns of Court. She serves on the boards of Senior Citizens, Inc.; the Arthritis Foundation, Middle TN Chapter; and the Lawyers Association for Women and was co-founder of the Vanderbilt Women Law Students' Association in 1972, CABLE in 1979, and was a Founding Member of LAW. Chancellor McCoy received the ATHENA Award in 1999, the CABLE Leadership Award in 1998, and was elected Woman of the Year in 1982 by BPW and again in 1996 by the Davidson County Democratic Women. She resides in Nashville and is the mother of two sons.

Gene Policinski

Veteran Gene Policinskijournalist Gene Policinski began his career in 1969 in Indiana, where he worked as a newspaper reporter and later as state bureau chief for Gannett News Service. In 1980, he became a correspondent in the GNS Washington bureau, reporting on Congress, politics, and other issues. Policinski edited at USA TODAY (1982-1985); founded USA TODAY Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly); hosted three news, sports, and information programs on USA TODAY Sky Radio (1991-1993); joined the Freedom Forum in 1996 and held a number of executive roles including editor for the First Amendment Center's web site and executive director (2004); hosted and wrote for Newseum Radio (a one-hour program that aired on National Public Radio Worldwide from 1997 to 2001); and produced "Speaking Freely" (a weekly interview program which aired nationwide on public television from 2001 to 2005). Policinski serves as a member of the selection committee for the Diversity Institute, a program of the Freedom Forum that aims to increase the number of minority journalists in reporting and management positions in American newspapers. A lecturer and consultant on journalism issues ranging from newsroom ethics to new media, Policinski is on the board of trustees of the United States Sports Academy in Mobile, AL; the board of advisers of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, Boston; and the board of governors of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Mid-South chapter. He is an adjunct professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina and a member of the journalism alumni board at Ball State University in Indiana. Policinski was born in South Bend, Ind., is married to educator Kathleen B. Powell, and has two sons.

Mario Ramos 

Mario Ramos is an attorney and provides legal services to immigrants and new Americans. He is licensed to practice in all U.S. immigration courts, Tennessee Courts, and U.S. District Court in Tennessee and Florida. He is a member of the Tennessee and Florida Bar Associations. He received his LLM from the London School of Economics, J.D. from California Western School of Law, Diplomas from the Universidad Complutende de Madrid, Hague Academy of International Law, the Hague, the Netherlands, and B.A. from University of Tennessee. He is a leader in the Coalition for a Safer Tennessee, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens, and a board member of the Hispanic Resource Center. He is a member of New American Committee; Bredesen campaign and advisory group; and he served on Mayor Purcell's transition team. In addition to his service on several boards and committees, he is a graduate of Leadership Nashville and Leadership Middle Tennessee. He is married to Iris Ramos, and they have two sons, Maximiliano and Alexandro. His interests include politics, coalition building, and leadership training.

Dan Ryan 

Dan Ryan is a Senior Consultant with the Human Capital Group. In this role he provides retained executive search and a wide variety of Human Resource consulting services to clients in a number of market segments. Prior to joining the Human Capital Group Dan served in senior level HR roles with Smith Seckman Reid and the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. He also held roles in operations and quality management in the manufacturing industry. Dan is a graduate of Peabody College at Vanderbilt, TSU, and Murray State. He has been married to Gena for almost 24 years and they have two sons, Daniel and Matthew. When not working with others in the workplace he can be found working in our region with Leadership Middle Tennessee, his scout troop, or the YMCA.

Ralph Schulz, Jr.

Ralph Schulz Jr. 

Ralph Schulz Jr. is president and CEO of the Adventure Science Center. He has had more than 28 years of leadership experience as an international nonprofit executive vice president, local nonprofit CEO, entrepreneur, consulting partner, and community leader. Prior to 1999, he was an executive with the National Federation of Independent Businesses and national headquarters executive vice president for Junior Achievement, Inc. He received his B.A. in 1976 from the University of Tennessee. He is Vice President for Regional Partnerships with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and is a graduate of Leadership Nashville, class of 2001 and Leadership Middle Tennessee, class of 2004. Other organizations he is involved in include Association of Nonprofit Executives, Domestic Violence Intervention Center, Alliance for Public Education, Mayor's Workgroup on Tourism, Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, Rotary Club of Nashville and the Rotary Partners program, Travelers Rest, Project Return, Homeless Coalition, and the Nashville Youth Leadership program. He was Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for the Nashville Chamber and he received the Marvin Runyon Leadership Award.

Rhea Seddon, MD

Rhea Seddon, MD

Rhea Seddon, MD, is a popular speaker and a consultant on patient safety, teamwork and communication in healthcare and is a partner in LifeWings Partners LLC. She served as the Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group and was Assistant Professor for Medical Education and Administration at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine from 1996 until 2007. She was the co-leader of Vanderbilt's effort to use aviation-based Crew Resource Management to improve patient safety and quality of care. Co-author of the book "Crew Resource Management: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety", Dr. Seddon has provided coaching for the leadership teams of hospitals and healthcare systems nationwide as they implement patient safety programs. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, she trained in General Surgery and practiced Emergency Medicine. Selected as one of NASA's first women astronauts in 1978, Dr. Seddon is a three flight Space Shuttle veteran. She flew aboard Discovery in 1985 and on Columbia in 1991 and 1993 as part of the dedicated life science missions, Spacelab Life Sciences 1 and 2, for a total of 30 days in space. She is an expert in applying the "systems-thinking" of spaceflight to process improvement in healthcare.

Chantho Souirinho

Chantho Chantho SouirinhoSouirinho is a native of Laos. He is a school counselor with the Rutherford County School system and was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to serve on the board of the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute in Nashville. He has also served on the boards of the Linebaugh Library, Domestic Violence program, and the Rutherford County Red Cross Chapter. He was the first Laotian to attend Middle Tennessee State University, and to seek political asylum after the fall of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the seventies. Other boards and memberships that he has served on include the board for Southeast Asians in Washington, D.C., president of the Lao-Americas Association, the Buddhist temple, and Police Citizen's Academies for Murfreesboro, LaVergne, and Rutherford County.

Jack Turner

Jack Turner is president of Jack B. Turner & Associates. He is a member of numerous insurance associations and has received many honors. He is a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table. Jack serves on the Tennessee Board for Economic Growth, the boards of the Middle Tennessee Council-Boy Scouts of America, the Middle Tennessee Community Foundation, Austin Peay State University Foundation, First Union Bank of Tennessee, and is active in other organizations. He was the founding president and is currently on the executive committee of Leadership Clarksville. He is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee, class of 2001, and currently serves as the chairman of the board. Jack is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He is married to Margie, and they are the parents of four children and 10 grandchildren.

Connie Linsler Valentine

Connie Linsler Valentine

Connie is the recently appointed president and CEO of the Arts and Business Council for Greater Nashville. Prior to this she was the Executive Director for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. She received her BS from State University of NY at Oswego. Her activities include the Music Association Task Force of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and Rotarian-Downtown Nashville. She is a graduate of the Leadership Middle Tennessee class of 2008. She loves to walk, read, travel, and listen to music. She is married to Alan Valentine, president of the Nashville Symphony.

Kenneth Weaver

Kenneth Weaver was appointed as President, U.S. and Canada Commercial Tire Sales, BATO and Executive Vice President, BSAM in September 2011. Prior to this promotion, Weaver served as Chief Financial Officer for Bridgestone Americas. From 2009 to 2011, he served as Chairman, CEO and President of Firestone Diversified Products, LLC (FSDP). In 1982, Ken became Manager, Financial Systems, Firestone Credit Card. Then in 1982, he moved to the GCR Group where he held various positions, including Information Systems Director, Controller and Assistant National Manager. In 1997, he moved to Firestone Agricultural Tire to serve as Director of Finance. Later he became their National Sales Manager, and in 2001 he was promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing. In 2004, Ken became Controller of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. A year later he assumed the position of Vice President of Finance, BFNT. In 2007, Ken was promoted to the position of Corporate Controller, Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. where he supported senior management through accurate and timely reporting of financial results, analyzed proposed investments, provided sound financial and strategic advice and ensured sustainable company finances through asset and debt management. He is now retired from Bridgestone. 

He also serves on the Boards of Directors of Bridgestone Bandag, LLC, BFS Mercantile, Inc., Bridgestone Finance (Nevada), Inc. and BSA Sourcing, LLC. Ken earned both his bachelor's degree in business and his Master of Business Administration degree from Pennsylvania State University. 

Jay West

Jay West

Jay West is a partner in Farris Mathews Bobango Public Strategies, LLC, a position he has held for a little over a year. Prior to that he was director of government relations for Bone McAllester Norton Law Firm. Jay's political career began by becoming a Legislative Assistant for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington. In 1983, he was elected Councilman at Large in Nashville. In 1995, he was elected Vice Mayor for Nashville. His professional career includes being Executive VP of the Home Builders Association of Tennessee. Additionally, he was Executive VP of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers and Consulting Engineers of Tennessee. His involvements include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, past President of the Tennessee Society of Association Executives, and Leadership Nashville. Jay received his B.S. from Belmont University and J.D. from Nashville School of Law. He and his wife, Diane, have one daughter, Andrea. His hobbies include bass fishing, boating, and golfing. 


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