Welcome to the Sweat Tea & Strategy podcast produced by Ackermann Marketing & PR. We speak with business and community leaders about challenges in their industry and communication strategies to take on those challenges over a glass of sweet tea.

8. President and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium, Keith Sanford

Financier turned non-profit leader, Keith Sanford is the President and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium. Sanford is well-known throughout Chattanooga, as he was the Market President of First Tennessee Bank and was named Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year in 2014. After 36 years in the banking industry, Sanford felt it was time for a change.

“I was on the board and on the search committee and found a job that I didn’t know I was going to apply for, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

The Tennessee Aquarium is more than just a tourist attraction, it focuses largely on the conservation of different wildlife throughout Tennessee and across the United States.

“15 years ago, Lake Sturgeon who used to be plentiful in the Tennessee river were extinct and we have put 220,000 sturgeon back in the system and we go test the waters, see how big they are. And then secondly, we are now native Brook trout. And back in the 20s, in the streams coming out of the Appalachian Mountains, they actually took out the native Brook trout and brought in a Western trout and Rainbow. And so, the Brook trout were kind of competing for food and didn't do so well. So, we are growing trout and putting them back into the Headland streams and working with Tennessee wildlife and the U.S. Forest service,” explained Sanford.

To hear more about all the good things the Tennessee Aquarium is up to and to find out where you can grab the best sweet tea in Chattanooga, listen to the whole episode below!

7. Executive Director of Legacy Parks Foundation, Carol Evans

On this week’s episode of Sweet Tea & Strategy, we sat down with Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks Foundation here in Knoxville. Evans’ mission with Legacy Parks is to enhance local parks and provide greenways, trails and any outdoor space needed for the community. An advocate for outdoor recreation, Evans explained to us just how important accessibility is for outdoor spaces.

“So now you can get in it and on it a little bit easier. And so, if you wanted to do a bike ride or a hike or a paddle on your way home from work on a Saturday morning, you can do that very easily. And I do think people appreciate that. They appreciate having something in their neighborhood or close to their neighborhood.”

Legacy Parks works to conserve our natural assets, create public places and connect communities. The Foundation has raised over $6 million for parks and trails, created over 50 miles of urban trails and added over 500 acres of parkland in Knox County. Evans recognizes that Legacy Parks is not only essential for community recreation, it is also an economic driver.

“Simple things like people will pay $9,000 more for a house near a park, your home is worth 25 percent more within a mile [of a park]. Geenways are one of the top three requested amenities when someone’s looking for a home,” said Evans. “Parks make a difference in where people choose to locate themselves now.”

Evans also has over 25 years of marketing experience, including leading marketing and communications efforts for the Scripps Networks, Knoxville Chamber and the UT Lady Vols. She holds a bachelor’s in communications from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Tennessee. Click below to hear the full episode.

6. Chief Marketing Officer at New York Public Radio, Lisa Baird

Lisa Baird is the Chief Marketing Officer for New York Public Radio. She has been working hard over the last year to increase audience size, cultivate loyalty and amplify digital membership.

NYPR is a mission-based organization, and Baird says that’s one part of why this work is so appealing to her. She also has a great respect for the citizens of New York and really cares about NYPR’s listeners and their opinions.

“We have direct relationships with our members, and we engage them in dialogue. We’re actively soliciting their input.”

Baird also served as the CMO for the United States Olympic Committee (USCO) for almost 10 years, where she was instrumental in the launch of the Team USA brand. She told us her thinking behind of the most successful launches of her career.

“I saw the opportunity for a more accessible brand, a broader brand that not only encompassed the Olympic teams but also the national teams and allowed us to tell, to converse and communicate with Americans as they watched not only athletes on the stage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also compete and make their way towards that.”

Earlier in her career, Baird was the Senior Vice President, Marketing and Consumer Products, for the National Football League (NFL). She has also previously worked with brands IBM, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson and Procter and Gamble Company.

Listen below to hear more from branding expert, audio enthusiast and sports lover, Lisa Baird.

5. President and CEO of SmartBank, Billy Carroll

Billy Carroll is the President and CEO of SmartBank and has been with the bank since its beginning. Billy is a graduate of UT and served on the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta, so he is no stranger to what it takes to be successful in our market. SmartBank is constantly recognized for its successes and this year received a 1st place mid-size business award. But for Billy, the culture of SmartBank is just as important as the deals.

“The culture that we’re building is probably the thing I’m most proud of that we’ve built in this company. We have a culture team that meets on a monthly basis and we talk about how you continue to build the culture as we grow.”

4. UT Medical Center CEO, Joe Landsman

Since 2005, Joe Landsman has served as the President and CEO of The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) and University Health System (UHS), Inc. Having been with UHS since 1999, prior to being named CEO, Landsman served as the system’s Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President. As the region’s only academic medical center, Magnet® recognized hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center, UTMC serves as a major referral center for East Tennessee, Southeast Kentucky and Western North Carolina. UTMC has a three-fold mission of healing, education and discovery. Under Landsman’s leadership, UTMC has earned recognitions and awards nationwide – including honors from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Joint Commission, Becker’s Hospital Review, Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, and BlueCross BlueShield, among others – for its commitment to excellence and medical care. Landsman credits UTMC’s physicians and team members for their commitment in collaboratively providing excellent patient-centric care and remaining at the forefront of research, technology and treatments. “Being a healthcare provider…it’s a hard lifestyle and it’s a commitment to serve,” explains Landsman. “I could not value our team members more than I do, and our physicians. They really are a group of individuals that collectively care about the work they do.”

3. CEO of Avertium, Jeff Schmidt

Jeff Schmidt is the newly appointed CEO for Avertium- a new cybersecurity company here in Knoxville that focuses on supporting mid-to-large enterprises security efforts. Jeff has over 30 years of experience, and has worked with some noteworthy clients like Cisco, Paramount Pictures and BT Counterpane. Tommy Smith, Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Ackermann, sat down with Jeff to talk about the importance of cybersecurity. “Security isn’t as spooky as everyone thinks it is,” said Jeff. “Whatever you do in your physical life to protect yourself, whether it be how you protect your valuables in your home, your family, these things are really important, do the same thing in business.” When most people think of cybersecurity, they that its complex or even confusing at times; but Avertium has the ability to manage businesses cybersecurity in a simple way that provides all around protection. At its core, Avertium is a customer-centric company that wants businesses of every kind to feel protected. “We want to make our customers world safer,” said Jeff. “And that’s our mission. We want a team that’s passionate about cybersecurity. We live and breathe this.” Jeff is just as passionate about cybersecurity as he is about Chick-fil-A sweet tea. Listen below.

2. Interim President of the University of Tennessee, Randy Boyd

This week, Cathy Ackermann, President and CEO of Ackermann Marketing and PR, sat down with Interim President of the University of Tennessee System Randy Boyd, to talk about his journey to becoming Interim President and the challenges he faces in that role. The native Knoxvillian knew it was his time to step up. “For me, it was about giving back to my alma mater,” said Boyd. “This university has given so much to me and my family and my community and if I have the opportunity to give back to that then this was my opportunity to do so.” Before stepping into his role of Interim President, Boyd ran for Governor of Tennessee in 2018. He is the founder of Radio System’s Corporation and owner of Boyd’s Sports LLC, which owns or operates the Tennessee Smokies, Johnson City Cardinals, Greeneville Reds and Elizabethton Twins. Randy Boyd learned the ins and outs of business at a young age, and with hard work and hustle, he has become one of the best leaders in Tennessee. Listen below for some of his insights.

1. President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber, Mike Odom

Former President and CEO of the Round Rock, TX. Chamber, Mike Odom, has moved to Knoxville to take over as the new President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. Earning the Chamber of the Year Award for 2018 in Round Rock, Mike is no stranger to successful organizational management and community partnerships. His fresh perspective is sure to drive our city’s economic growth. “Our future is extremely bright,” said Mike. “Our mission is to drive regional economic prosperity, for the entire region. We have to make sure that we are communicating effectively, and that we are doing a lot of listening because communication is not a one-way street.” Mike has already started meeting with Knoxville leaders, including Interim President of the UT System Randy Boyd and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia, to talk about Knoxville’s economic growth. They all agree that now is Knoxville’s time to reach its full potential. Oh, and he knows a little about good jambalaya and donuts the size of your head. Listen below.

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