Past Guest Lecturers

Cristina Allen is the president/owner of Caliente Consulting, a multicultural marketing firm specializing in the Hispanic community/consumer. She has a BA in advertising and public relations from New Mexico State University. Cristina is a board member for Girl Scouts, Catholic Charities, Second Harvest, and Community Foundation and is active on the Leadership Nashville Committee. She is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee. She and her husband, Rick, have three children, Gabriela, Olivia, and Carina. She enjoys being an advocate for the Hispanic community, traveling, sports, and Mexican food.

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.

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.

 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. 

Dr. H. Lee 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 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.

Veteran journalist 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.

Dr. Deana Raffo earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Tennessee State University and currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech and Theatre at Middle Tennessee State University. Prior to her full-time teaching assignment, she served as Director of Leadership Development in Student Affairs where she spearheaded an effort to develop an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies, now in its fifth year. She teaches the core course in the minor including Leadership Theories and Practices and the service-learning-based Leadership Studies Practicum. Her current professional interests focus on leadership and personal development, experiential learning, and leadership and spirit.

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. 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, 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 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 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.

Louis Upkins is founder, CEO, and president of Designhouse, a full service marketing and apparel design and manufacturing company. The company brands and designs unique apparel lines and related merchandise for a national client list that includes Fortune 500 companies such as UPS, Fleetguard, Cracker Barrel, Starbucks, and Cummins, Inc.; mega-ministries such as T.D. Jakes, Paula White Ministries, and Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church; and recording artists and a host of celebrities. In 2001 he debuted his own Christian apparel line, TEAM 316. He also extends to marketing, product, and promotions with projects including the development and oversight of the production for the opening and closing theme song of the Oprah Winfrey Show. He attended Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. His community involvement includes 100 Black Men of America, Fortress of Hope, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, New Hope Academy, and the Adventure Science Center. He is Chairman of the Trustee Board at Born Again Church. He is an alumnus of Leadership Nashville and Leadership Middle Tennessee. Louis and his wife, Charita, have two children, Caleb and Zoe. He enjoys swimming, music, drawing, church, and "people."

Connie Linsler Valentine 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.

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.