The Board at Harmony
Great work comes from being surrounded and supported by great people. Our Board Members are some of those people.
Julie S. Elder
Board President and Community Volunteer
Leigh Ann Garrett
Board Secretary/Treasurer Director of Sales & Marketing, Garrett Construction, Inc.
Melissa K. Ballard
Director of Financial Planning Services at PYA Waltman Capital, LLC
Vice President, Blount Partnership
James H. Hawkins, IV
President, Leon Williams Contractors, LLC,
Women's Basketball Associate Head Coach, University of Kentucky,
Karen D. Pershing
Executive Director of the Knoxville Metropolitan Drug Commission, Knoxville, TN
Principal, KNS Consulting, LLC, Richmond, VA
Vice President, Human Resources of East Tennessee Children's Hospital
Director of Marketing Insights, Bush Brothers & Company
Clinical Director of School Services, Cherokee Health Systems
President, Pellissippi State Community College
CEO, Harmony Family Center
Board Consultant and Acting CFO Parker Business Consulting & Accounting, Knoxville, TN
Julie joined the board in 2014. After over a decade of pharmaceutical sales experience, Julie is now staying at home and enjoying dedicating her spare time to several non-profit boards and community causes. Julie was drawn to Harmony Family Center because both she and her brother were adopted. She lives in Maryville with her husband, John, and their two children. She received her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Tennessee Tech University.
Leigh Ann joined the board in 2014. Leigh Ann graduated with a nursing degree from University of Tennessee and spent twenty-three years of her nursing career in the administrative side of the senior care industry. She served in both operational roles as well as sales and marketing roles. Leigh and husband Matt adopted their daughter Abby with the help of Harmony and are among Harmony’s most committed friends and volunteers.
Melissa joined the board in 2019. Melissa is the Director of Financial Planning Services at PYA Waltman Capital, LLC. Her focus each day is to help the firm’s clients connect their money to their lives, with the ultimate goal of helping them live more fulfilling lives. Melissa earned her Business Administration degree from Queens University of Charlotte and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. She was born and raised in Knoxville where she currently lives with her husband. She has served as a volunteer with Harmony’s Equine Therapy program since 2017. She was drawn in by Harmony’s mission and the organization’s targeted and impactful programs.
Tammi Ford serves as the Vice President of the Blount Partnership, a role she stepped up to in May 2011. Prior to that, Ford was the Executive Vice President of Communications from 1998-2011. She began her career as the Chamber's Communications Director in 1990. Ford currently works with membership retention and recruitment while overseeing the operating budget of the Chamber. A 1998 Magna Cum Laude graduate from Tusculum College with a degree in organization management, Ford graduated from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management at the University of Georgia in 1997. She is also a member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and part of the Leadership Blount class of 2003. In addition, Ford is a current board member for the United Way of Blount County. She is also a past board member of the Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center, Kingdom Design Ministries and past president of the Knoxville Regional Celiac Support Group. An active community volunteer, she has dedicated her time to assisting the United Way of Blount County by participating in Loaned Executive, Day of Chairing Chair, Pacesetters Campaign, Allocations Panel and the Marketing Committee. She is also a Tennessee Achieves mentor and a member of the East Tennessee Regional Leadership Class of 2017.Tammi has one son, Cole.
Jim joined the board in 2014. Jimmy Hawkins is the President of Leon Williams Contractors, LLC, a Maryville based commercial construction company serving all of East Tennessee. Jim was drawn to Harmony Family Center because of his personal experience with adoption; his parents adopted his two sisters from Russia. He lives in Maryville with his wife and two children. He is a Graduate of the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He is also active in Foothills Church located in Maryville TN.
Kyra is the Associate Head Coach of the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team. Prior to moving to Lexington, she was the Associate Head Coach at the University of Tennessee. Along with her time at UK and UT, Kyra’s coaching career has landed her at the University of Kansas, Western Kentucky University and Virginia Tech University. Kyra works closely with The Pat Summitt Foundation as her and her husband started the SEC WIN CHALLENGE in 2012 to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. Together the couple has helped raise over $120,000 to date for the foundation. Kyra also volunteers her time with the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity and Operation Christmas Child. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in cultural studies in education from the University of Tennessee. As a student-athlete, Kyra played under legendary Coach Pat Summitt and had a successful career on and off the court. On top of being named to the 2000 and 2001 SEC All-Academic Team, she earned distinction during her playing career by becoming the first Tennessee Lady Vol player to earn her master's degree while still playing. Kyra was a member of two national championship teams (1997 and 1998) and a national runner-up squad (2000). Kyra became just the fifth freshman in Tennessee history to start her first game as a Lady Vol when she started at guard in the 1996-97 season opener. In 2013, Kyra was named an SEC Legend. Kyra is also a member of the KHSAA & Kentucky Sports HOF.
Kyra married Dexter Lander in August 2012 and the couple have one son Jackson, who was born in 2016.
Karen Pershing serves as the Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition in Knoxville, Tennessee. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee. After working for many years in public health, Karen received her Master’s Degree from UTK in Public Health. Ms. Pershing has provided numerous trainings throughout her career on health-related topics. Other credentials include: Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute Class of 2014 (A National program through SAMHSA), Leadership Knoxville Class of 2013, Tennessee Department of Health recognition for work in prescription drug abuse prevention, member of the Tennessee Public Health Association, Executive Women’s Association, and former member of the UT Chancellor’s Associates program. She is a Certified Prevention Specialist II and a 2014 graduate of the UT Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness. Karen was the 2016 recipient of the Partners and Leadership Award from the Tennessee Public Health Association as well the recipient of the 2017 FBI Community Director’s Leadership Award, representing the Knoxville Field Office and a 2018 recipient of the Knox Biz (formerly Knoxville Business Journal) Healthcare Heroes Award for her work in addiction and recovery. Other Boards she serves on are: Harmony Family Centers, the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, and The Sycamore Institute.
We are pleased to have had Kathy on the Board since 2009. Kathy retired from the international law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP after thirty-three years in management and human resources roles. She now consults with law firms and private services firms in the areas of disaster preparedness, business continuity and risk management and is a frequent speaker on these topics. Kathy holds a master’s degree in Business. Her past board experience includes the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), Trustee of the Foundation of ALA, and the Knoxville YMCA. She currently is the Chair of the International Relations Committee of ALA. Kathy shares her experience in human resources, leadership roles in the community, and her commitment to support Harmony’s mission. As an adoptive parent of two children, Kathy became involved with Harmony through participating in the Adoption Tour, a 433.9-mile bicycle ride across the state to advocate adoption.
Ms. Wilburn was the Vice President of Human Resources of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to January, 2021. In this role, she was responsible for Employee Health, Wellness, and Organizational Development, and Learning. Prior to Children’s, she spent 11 years at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio serving in multiple leadership positions in Human Resources. Prior to entering the health care industry, Ms. Wilburn’s career while always being in Human Resources, was in for profit manufacturing. Ms. Wilburn holds an undergraduate degree and Masters from The Ohio State University. Ms. Wilburn completed her Masters degree in Liberal Arts, with an emphasis in Human Resources Management, Organizational Communication and Public Relations. As a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Knoxville class, Ms. Wilburn has invested her time in giving back to the community and the region. Ms. Wilburn has served on several local and state boards since relocating to Knoxville, including Work Connections, an agency focused on employment opportunities under an agreement with the TN Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, THA Council on Diversity, LMU Advisory Board for their school of business, and in November of 2018 joined the Board of Harmony Family Center. She was drawn to the center due to its emphasis on children, mental and family health and the interventions of animals in their recovery. Sue was the guardian of Children’s Hospital’s first facility dog, Farley Grace and a HABIT volunteer.
Emily leads consumer research for Bush Brothers & Company, reflecting a career-long interest in how culture and experience guide human behavior. She was drawn to Harmony Family Center because her son Thomas is adopted, and she is interested in helping other adoptive and foster families have a positive and impactful experience. She lives in Knoxville with her husband Rich and their two sons.
Emily received her Master’s in Marketing Research from the University of Georgia
and a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology
from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Dr. Anna Taubenheim is the Clinical Director of School Services and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Cherokee Health Systems. She is an East Tennessee native, graduated from Oak Ridge High School, and now lives in the area with her husband and four young sons. Dr. Taubenheim has been with Cherokee since 2013 and, through her commitment to integrated care, has worked as a Behavioral Health Consultant/Clinical Psychologist in multiple family practice and pediatric clinics across the organization. She also has worked as a school-based therapist and currently oversees the clinical operations of Cherokee’s School Programs. Dr. Taubenheim has been involved with training other Behavioral Health Consultants across the nation through Cherokee’s Integrated Health Training Academy. Additionally, she serves as a faculty member for Cherokee’s Clinical and Health Psychology Postdoctoral Program and provides clinical supervision for postdoctoral fellows and masters and doctoral level practicum students. She was drawn to Harmony due to her clinical background relating to the treatment of childhood trauma and because of Harmony’s emphasis on children, families, and mental health.
Anthony Wise has been president of Pellissippi State Community College since 2011, overseeing the College’s participation in KnoxAchieves, tnAchieves and now Tennessee Promise and Reconnect. When he was a faculty member, Wise was instrumental in the development of the College’s Foundations of Excellence initiative, which outlined strategies for student success. Today, he continues to encourage student engagement through high-impact practices like service-learning, study abroad and experiential learning. Wise earned a Ph.D. in history in 1997 from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in United States history in 1993 from Wake Forest University and a bachelor’s degree in history and business economics in 1990 from Wofford College. He is a graduate of Leadership Blount,
Leadership Knoxville, East Tennessee Regional Leadership, and
Nicole Coning has over 23 years of experience in the child welfare field - specifically in the area of pre and post adoption support, family preparation for prospective foster and adoptive parents, and therapeutic foster care services. Currently, Nicole serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Harmony Family Center. She also provides leadership as the Tennessee Site Implementation Manager for the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support (QIC-AG), a five-year cooperative agreement sponsored by the Children’s Bureau. Nicole is a member of Harmony’s Executive Team; she has been with the agency since 2008. Most recently, Nicole served as the Director for the 2017 National Permanency Conference after previously leading the preparation and planning for the 2015 ASAP National Post-Adopt Conference.
As President of Parker Business Consulting & Accounting, PC, Bob has used his experience to help many closely-held and large corporations, professional practices, and family businesses to achieve their business goals. His valuation skills have been used to affect numerous transactions, including acquisitions, mergers, and settling ownership disputes. Bob has served in numerous leadership positions with both large and closely-held companies to include chief financial officer and treasurer. His work has involved leading strategic planning, developing new financial measurement and reporting systems, integrating business operations, and implementing successful profit improvement programs. After serving as a US Army Ranger, Bob earned his MBA from Tennessee Technological University. He also holds a Master of Science in Taxation from William Howard Taft University. He has earned numerous professional certifications and has completed advanced business training programs at Indiana University and the Center for Creative Leadership.