Mentors

Ali Harnell


Senior Vice President/AEG Presents



Ali Harnell, has managed the Southeast region from its Nashville headquarters since 2004, overseeing all aspects of bookings and operations, as well as AEG-promoted national touring activity for Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Hunter Hayes, Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris and others. She is co-creator and talent curator for U.K. based country music festival, Country2Country (C2C). Harnell was named IEBA’s 2014 Promoter of the Year, included on Billboard's prestigious Top 50 Women in Music annual lists in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as one of Nashville Business Journals Women in Music City 2014, 2015 & 2016. In 2015 she was nominated CMA Promoter of the Year as well as ACM’s Promoter of the Year in 2015 and 2017. She was Venue Today’s Woman of Influence in 2016 and has been listed as a 2015, 2016 and 2017 Billboard Nashville Power Player. In addition to her position at AEG Live, she is artist co-manager for The Shadowboxers. She is an active fundraiser for TJ Martell, raised over $500,000 for Magdalene/Thistle Farms, and has produced Keith Urban’s annual All For The Hall benefit concerts in Nashville since 2009, among many other philanthropic endeavors. She is a proud and happy mother to 17-year-old son Eli.

 

Carla Denham


Brand Campaign Producer and Marketing Strategist



Carla Denham’s passion as a Brand Campaign Producer and Marketing Strategist is showcased in three decades of achievement with major product, service, and publishing companies.  She’s a “think big” creative with a solid mind for research, strategy, brand development, thought leadership, publishing, digital marketing, cause partnerships, public relations, and communications, with a successful background in global consumer product, business-to-business, and non-profit campaigns.

Since launching InsideOut Marketing & Consulting, Carla has developed business, branding, and marketing strategies for non-profit ministries and major Christian publishers including Soles4Souls, Awana, B&H Publishing, Howard Books, Worthy Publishing, and Thomas Nelson. She also serves in an advisory role with businesses, agencies, and entrepreneurs to develop comprehensive multi-year branding and image campaigns, marketing strategies, growth and diversification initiatives, product development, and internal and external communications programs. 

David Fox


Managing Partner, McNeely Pigott & Fox



David Fox joined McNeely Pigott & Fox as a partner in 1990, after several career stops as a journalist, political campaign operative, author and PR executive. As managing partner at MP&F, David has led teams working with clients in the fields of automotive, health care, hospitality, government and urban affairs. He specializes in strategic planning and media relations. 

Over the years, David has managed some memorable moments for his clients: He coordinated a positive interview for one client with Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” and managed a national campaign for another that culminated with a press conference at the National Press Club, resulting in a Page 1 article in USA Today; he ran media relations for a weeklong sale of A.J. Foyt’s memorabilia at the Indy 500 Motor Speedway and worked with “Good Morning America” on a feature story about a Mississippi blues band. He has also played a role in shaping the public dialogue in Nashville through his work with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Mike Kopp


Co-Founder, All Good Factory



Mike Kopp brings to all projects and ventures he touches more than 30 years of strategic and communications expertise honed on the front lines of numerous creative, corporate and political initiatives.

Mike’s been hired by leaders of public and private companies, ventures and institutions who seek his counsel on a wide spectrum of challenges – from branding development to long-term strategic planning.  

Prior to co-founding the All Good Factory with Sharon Corbitt, he had served for nearly 25 years as a Principal/Partner at two different agencies that handled marketing strategy and execution for major corporate and organizational enterprises.  He currently manages multi-platinum-selling/singer/composer/producer Ben Folds.

Ralph Schulz, Jr.


President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce



Ralph Schulz was named president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce by the Chamber’s board of directors in November 2006, following a 30-year career in nonprofit management, marketing and fundraising. In taking the position, he accepted a leadership role at one of Middle Tennessee’s oldest and largest business federations, an organization dating back to its founding in 1847.

During his tenure, the Chamber has played a key role in helping the region emerge from the 2007 recession to a period of unprecedented growth with a business relocation and expansion strategy known as Partnership 2020. Additionally, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce was the lead organization in the creation of the nationally recognized Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the passage of a public referendum supporting construction of the Music City Center convention facility. Since Schulz has taken on the role of president and CEO, the Chamber has also led the movement to improve public school performance through the creation of the Academies of Nashville, established the Moving Forward initiative to ensure the creation of a regional transportation solution through a cohesive community effort and developed into a respected publisher of data on the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area with the annual publication of the Vital Signs report.

Tod Roadarmel


Hospitality Industry



With a proven track record in strategic sales and marketing initiatives, Tod Roadarmel has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry.  As a visionary leader known for inspiring others, Roadarmel joined Omni Hotels & Resorts as Director of Sales & Marketing in 2011 to launch The Music City Centers flagship hotel, Omni Nashville. Prior to this, Roadarmel was responsible for the overall sales efforts of Gaylord Entertainment, creating and implementing numerous strategies and initiatives during his tenure as Director of Sales, Vice President of Sales, and Senior Vice President of Sales. Roadarmel was also founder of RevSource, a Sales & Marketing firm providing Leisure & Group Sales Initiatives, Internal/External Competitive Set Analysis and Digital Marketing Campaigns. Today, Roadarmel continues to play an integral role in the thriving Nashville hospitality market as a trustworthy connector and valued business partner.

Samar Ali


International Counsel, Bass, Berry & Sims



Samar Ali assists international businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals and nonprofits with cross-border investments, transactions, and private diplomacy. As International Counsel at Bass, Berry & Sims and as a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, she helps clients reach their strategic goals at the intersection of national security and economic development. Samar started her career practicing at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington D.C. before she worked as a White House Fellow. As a Fellow she worked closely with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and gained experience with bi-lateral negotiations on behalf of the U.S. Government. Samar later served as Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. In addition to her legal practice at Bass Berry & Sims, Samar currently serves as a Managing Director of the Lodestone Advisory Group, a consulting firm that specializes in internationalization, investment advisory and strategy, is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law, where she teaches courses on international relations and negotiations and is a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt University in the Political Science Department. Samar also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Honorable Edwin Cameron, now of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. While an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, Samar was elected the school's first Arab-American Student Body President. Samar is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Truman National Security Project. She is a board member of Winrock International, Nashville Public Radio, and the Vanderbilt Law School. 

Mike Schatzlein, MD


Counsel Advisor, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock



Mike Schatzlein, MD, is an of counsel advisor at Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, the principal in the advisory firm Schatzlein Solutions Group, and Chairman of the Center for Medical Interoperability. Until December 2016, he was senior vice president and group operating executive for Ascension Health, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health system, second largest system overall. In 2016, Schatzlein was responsible for 35 Ascension Health hospitals in three states, organized into three integrated care delivery systems with $55 billion in combined net revenues.

Schatzlein has served on the executive committees of the boards of the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville (he is currently the chair) and the Tennessee Hospital Association, and on the board of the Nashville Health Care Council. He has extensive experience in managing the healthcare of populations, and was the founding chair of Tennessee’s leading accountable care organization, MissionPoint Health Partners. In 2014 MissionPoint began a nationwide launch through out Ascension’s 120 hospitals and health systems.   

Nat Harden


Senior Vice President of Tickets, Premium Sales, and Youth Hockey, Nashville Predators



 An “original Predator” who started with the franchise in 1997, Nat Harden is responsible for all tickets sales, premium sales, business analytics, youth hockey Ford Ice Center and soon-to-be constructed One Bellevue Place ice rink for the Nashville Predators. Under his direction, the Nashville Predators enjoyed their most successful sales seasons to date in 2016-17, selling out all 41 home games and setting the single-season franchise attendance record with over 703,000 fans at Bridgestone Arena. The record surpasses last year’s 35 sellouts and 695,828 fans. Additionally, the Predators season-ticket renewal number will surpass 90 percent for the eighth consecutive season. Under Harden’s leadership average attendance for the Nashville Predators have increased from 14,700 to over 17,113 per game.

Christian Von Allmen


National Sales Director, Jackson National Life Distributors LLC



As National Sales Director for investment-only and advisory variable annuities for Jackson National Life Distributors LLC (JNLD), the marketing and distribution arm of Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®), Christian is responsible for leading the distribution effort for these variable annuity products. Since joining Jackson in 1999, Christian has held various positions within the Company, including Internal Wholesaler, External Wholesaler, and Regional Director. Accordingly, he brings a wealth of experience and a comprehensive knowledge of today’s nancial products and industry trends with him to his new role as National Sales Director for investment-only and advisory variable annuities. Christian is an intuitive coach, skilled at developing and training our Wholesalers to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with advisors. His passion and enthusiasm will be used to grow Jackson’s Investment- only and Advisory product lines. 

Rodger Dinwiddie


Chief Executive Officer, Stars



Rodger Dinwiddie has been the CEO of Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS-Nashville), an evidenced-based Student Assistance Program as recognized by the National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices, since 1986.  Prior to joining STARS, Rodger served as the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization working with juvenile court referrals.  He also was a classroom teacher in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for 7 years.  Rodger is also a Certified Prevention Specialist – Level II. He is a certified trainer and Olweus Technical Assistance Consultant for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and Safe Dates Program, and he serves as the Tennessee State Olweus Coordinator in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, Clemson University, and Hazelden Educational Publishing, where he currently provides consultation in the areas of best practices in bullying prevention and intervention, school climate improvement, and the development of social emotional competencies. In addition, he provides consultation to both businesses and school districts to assist leaders in building strong(er) relationships in the workplace. Rodger is also the Immediate Past-President of the International Bullying Prevention Association.

Cynthia Whetstone


Chief Financial Officer, STARS



Cynthia Whetstone is a seasoned financial professional who has served as the CFO of STARS for 19 years and through a shared service agreement has overseen Finance and Administration for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee for the past six years. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Trevecca University with dual majors in Accounting and Business Administration, and is a licensed CPA. In addition to her experience with STARS, she has three years of public accounting experience and nine years of corporate accounting experience with a Fortune 250 company. She was recently awarded the Center for Non Profit’s Sun Trust CFO of the year and was previously a finalist for the Nashville Business Journal CFO award. She is married to Dale and has two adult children.

Charlie McCarter


Sr. Director of Customer Success and Inside Sales, ServiceSource Nashville



Charlie is the Sr. Director of Customer Success and Inside Sales, as well as the Nashville Site Director at ServiceSource Nashville. He previously led a national sales org for Dell Technologies & was the Site Director for Dell's Nashville campus (1,600 people), toured the country as a professional musician, while managing his band, and also running a small chain of record stores, which broke the normal retail approach by letting customers listen to any album in the store before buying and offering a 30-day return policy.

Charlie is serious about giving back to the community and serves on the boards at Nashville Public Television and JDRF Middle Tennessee. He plays a concert occasionally and released an album in 2013. Music provides a creative release when the tech business isn’t enough. He is married with two children and is simply a happy guy with glasses who likes music, books, hiking, and beers.

Rita McDonald


Vice President of Member Relations, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce



Rita McDonald is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. She has been employed on the team at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for 27 years and currently serves as vice president of member relations. She also serves on the board of STARS; past executive board member of Operation Andrew; past Chairman of the Board for the Northwest Family YMCA and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Northwest Family YMCA. She volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America and Metro Schools. She serves on the volunteer committee for the organization Fifty Forward (formally known as Senior Citizen). She is a member of Corinthian Baptist Church, Reverend Enoch Fuzz is her pastor and she serves as church clerk, trustee & Sunday School teacher. 

Tiffanie Elliott


Owner, Planner, Designer, Elliott Events



With a flair for the fabulous, Tiffanie Elliott lives her dream by combining her eye for beauty and unparalleled creativity with her passion for entertaining. Her attention to detail and trademark love for statement items make her events unique and dramatic. With every wedding she undertakes, her goal is to make guests gasp with delight. Her drive to create an atmosphere for each event that reflects the client’s vision and personality is what makes her work truly exceptional. Her weddings have been published nationally in print and online and her clientele has included everyone from professional athletes, the Nashville elite and most importantly everyday people. 

Gary Kraen


VP of Programming & Operations, Tuned In Broadcasting, Inc.



Gary is the VP of Programming & Operations, Producer, Live On The Green Music Festival, and CFO for Tuned In Broadcasting, Inc. (WRLT-FM, Lightning 100, Nashville’s Independent Radio). His responsibilities include managing or co-managing all properties under the TIB umbrella in addition to creation and implementation of programming strategies for our Lightning 100 “lifestyle” brand including on-air and on-line product (music, video, imaging, and presentation as well as specialty show production). He also handles concert and events talent booking/production/promotion including “Live on the Green Music Festival,” “Nashville Sunday Night” (21st year of weekly live broadcast), and numerous “Exclusive Artist Secret Shows”. Gary is responsible for community and audience engagement initiatives (from non-profit partnership development to local event creation, production, and activations), FCC compliance; and all financial reporting and tax compliance. 

Ronald Samuels


Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Avenue Bank



Ron Samuels is an experienced leader, executive and marketer and has been a banker in Nashville for 40 years. He was a Founder, Chairman and CEO of Avenue Bank, which merged with Pinnacle Financial Partners in July 2016. Avenue grew to $1.2 billion in assets and in February 2015 began trading on the NASDAQ as AVNU. Mr. Samuels is recognized as one of Nashville’s most experienced and well-respected bankers, and has been named every year by Nashville Post to their “Best In Banking” list since it began in 2011. He was named a “Leader In Banking Excellence” by the Tennessee Bankers Assoc. in 2009, and served on the TBA Board of Directors 2011 - 2014. In 2015, he joined the TBA’s Government Relations Committee, as well as the Nashville Health Care Council’s Board of Directors. 

Louis Upkins


Author, Treat Me Like a Customer



Louis Upkins works to move people from idea creation to innovation and manifestation ? living intentionally in a nutshell.  His life’s mission is to help all people find the purpose that is so instrumental in making individuals and companies successful, and then put that purpose into a tangible plan of action. Upkins is a leader to leaders, and author of Treat Me Like A Customer, Upkins is an entrepreneur having spent most of his career in branding and marketing. Today he is a strategic advisor to many and utilizes his gifts through coaching companies, executives and their families to live completely. Upkins is the founder of Leadership Sports, which marries the worlds of the professional athletes to the corporate space, is on the NASBA Center for Public Trust, Friends of Warner Parks Board, Best Buddies and YMCA Executive Board, Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation and has served on the advisory boards of the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, Leadership Middle Tennessee, New Hope Academy, Bridges Academy, Adventure Science and the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Foundation.

Neil McCormick


Sales and Marketing Manager, Yazoo Brewing Company



Neil McCormick graduated with a class of 19 people in the rural town of Altus, Ark., where wine making is an art. He moved to Middle Tennessee in 1998, and began his career in the beverage business with Lipman Brothers in 2001. Now the Sales and Marketing manager at Yazoo Brewing Company, McCormick's proudest accomplishments include being a board member for the Music City Hot Chicken Festival, starting Nashville's first marching Krewe, having a beer with two previous mayors of Nashville and training for and running a marathon without losing a single pound. Neil continues to live in Middle Tennessse with his partner, Leah, daughter Evaline and son Archie. 

Nicole (Nikki) Gibson


HR Compliance Consultant, Dell



Nikki Gibson began her career at Dell in 1999 and has held positions in Legal, Ethics and HR.  In her current role as an HR Compliance Consultant, Nikki is responsible for proactive auditing and strategy for all HR functions. Prior to joining the compliance team, Nikki served as the HR site lead for the Southeast Region. In her site lead role, Nikki provided support and guidance to ensure end to end HR thinking, solutions and practices. In 2006, Nikki helped to create Pride, the Tennessee chapter for Dell’s LGBT Employee Resource Group and currently leads North America Pride at Dell.