Cause for celebrations

United Way says thanks for successful campaign, goodbye to CEO and hello to new leader

United Way of Blount County celebrated the end of an era and the dawning of a new age at its annual meeting and awards luncheon Jan. 17 at the Airport Hilton.

Incoming president and CEO Michelle Hankes was officially voted onto the United Way of Blount County Board of Directors to replace retiring president and CEO Sandra Davis.

Davis has served as president and CEO for United Way of Blount County for 17 years. Hankes comes to United Way of Blount County from the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.

The meeting was an opportunity to highlight Davis’ service to the community as well as thank those who made this year’s annual campaign successful.

Assistant County Mayor Dave Bennett, the 2007 campaign chair, took the time while he was in front of the audience to recognize Davis’ accomplishments.

“I’m not going to get the chance to say this again. Spending the last year as United Way campaign chair, I learned a great deal about what it takes to be a public servant. Sandra, we love you and thank you for your years and years of hard work on behalf of this community,” he said.

Ben Landers, president of the United Way of Greater Knoxville, said Davis has been vigilant watching over her territory. “I enjoy fishing in the mountains. When I come to Blount County to fish, I call Sandra to tell her I’m in town, fishing,” he joked. “She’ll say, ‘You make sure that’s all you do. Just don’t bring any pledge cards.’”

Outgoing board chair Joy Bishop said the “idea” of United Way remains needful and necessary, and she spoke of the success the Blount County campaign had compared with those across the state. “Blount County was recognized as the first agency to meet their goal and exceed it in the state of Tennessee,” she said.

Bennett thanked all those who helped raise money for programs to help area residents. “I want to thank you for what you did. We raised $2.2 million. I often say we’re No. 1. It’s because of the generosity of you and 118,000 residents. We truly believe we should take care of one another,” he said. “I truly believe in Blount County. If there’s a need, there won’t be a need long because they’ll take care of it.”

Bennett thanked the campaign division chairs for their work.

The Pacesetters committee was chaired by Denny and Cindy Mayes and helped kick off the campaign. “We wouldn’t have made goal if not for the Pace Setters,” Bennett said.

The Pillar Society was chaired by Fred and Carolyn Forster. Kevin Clayton led the Alexis de Toqueville Society, John Hinkle chaired Major Firms, Joe Huff led the Public Service Division, Joe Dawson chaired the Professional Division, Brenda Pilson chaired the Residential and Special Gifts Division.

Bennett also recognized special events, such as Gas Day and the Hamburger Luncheon. Gas Day was led by Lee Ann Law and Boyce Smith.

“It was the most successful Gas Day Blount County has ever had,” Bennett said.

New Business Development was chaired by Boyce Smith and David Connor led the Commerce Division.

Bryan Daniels, executive vice president with the Blount County Economic Development Board, chaired the Industrial and Building Trades Committee. He dressed up like a cheerleader for the humorous video Bennett used to kick off the campaign. “Brian Daniels did a terrific job, but have you ever seen an uglier cheerleader?”

Maryville City councilman Andy White chaired the General Business Division. “Andy, you did a terrific job and raised the bar in business,” Bennett said.

The Golf Tournament was chaired by Mike Lewis. “Our golf tournament was more successful than ever,” Bennett said.

Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher chaired the Hamburger Luncheon. “It was the largest event we’ve ever had. We added deep fried Twinkies, and I’ll never live it down,” Bennett said.

Bennett thanked Cathy Cate for her work in leading the loaned executives program and also recognized the 2007 Day of Caring, which gives volunteers the chance to work with organizations for a day and do clean up or minor improvements at those facilities. “We had over 200 volunteers this year make that effort possible. It really makes a difference in the community,” Bennett said.

Bennett praised the United Way staff for their professionalism. “None of this would have been possible without the United Way staff,” he said.

Bishop echoed that thought. “I stand in awe of their commitment and expertise,” she said of the United Way staff.

Bishop recognized the 2007 Board of Directors and retiring members of the United Way board, including Larry Aldridge, Melissa Copelan, Mark Johnson, Gaynell Lawson, Greg McClain, and Rick Shepard.

Bishop thanked everyone for the chance to serve as chair of the board and then introduced the incoming chair, Mike Lewis. “We have been blessed with you for the year, and we appreciate everything you do,” Lewis told Bishop. “We have a lot to celebrate in 2008. We have benefited the last 17 years to have Sandra Davis.”

Lewis praised Michele Hankes, “We can’t wait to get to work with you.”

Lewis said the goal of United Way’s efforts will be to eliminate the root causes that create need. “If we can eliminate those root causes, we start to eliminate the needs people have,” he said.

Nominating Committee Chairman Rick Shepard announced the committee’s recommendations to serve as officers of the board. Those elected to serve as officers of the board include: Mike Lewis, chairman; Dr. Bill Seymour, chairman-elect; Joy Bishop, immediate past chair; Kevin Painter, secretary/treasurer; Denny Mayes, general campaign co-chairman; Dave Bennett and Lea Anne Law, directors at large.

Newly-elected members of the Board of Directors to serve a three-year term include Tony Crisp, Max Crotser, Kathy Johnson, Denia Lash, Brenda Sellers, and Melissa Thompson.

Also new on the Board of Directors is Brett McBrayer who was elected to serve a one-year term.

Current members on the board elected to serve another three-year term include Joy Bishop, Tab Burkhalter, Roy Gallaher, Denny Mayes, and Greg Wilson.

For more information about United Way of Blount County visit or call 865-982-2251.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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