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VOL. 45 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 4, 2021

UT law students earn judicial clerkships

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Seven University of Tennessee College of Law students have been selected to fulfill judicial clerk positions across the country throughout the coming year.

The students are:

• Kaleb Byars, who will clerk for Judge Thomas Varlan, United States District Court in Knoxville throughout the coming year and for Judge Ralph Erickson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Fargo, North Dakota, beginning summer of 2022

• Johnny Cerisano, who will clerk for Judge Thomas Anderson of the United States District Court in Jackson

• Landon Foody, who will clerk for Judge Ernest Robles, United States Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles

• Joseph Kerstiens, who will clerk for Judge Kristi Johnson, United States District Court in Jackson, Mississippi

• Rob Meyer, who will clerk for Judge Martin Reidinger, United States District Court in Asheville, North Carolina

• Mason Rush, who will clerk for Chancellors Jeffrey Atherton and Pamela Fleenor, Tennessee Chancery Court in Chattanooga

• Mason Shelton who will clerk for Judge Gregory Taddonio, United States Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh

Graduating students who participated in UT Pro Bono throughout the academic year had opportunities to complete work in the Knoxville area and beyond through virtual connections.

The class of 2021 completed more than 4,200 hours of pro bono service during their years at the College of Law. Students with the most hours accumulated are:

• Natalie Loless Linck with 501.5 hours

• Gordon Pera with 472 hours

• Abena Tawiah with 306 hours.

In addition, third-year students Matt Arent, McKay DeVault, Halle Hammond, Mark Kelly, Gordon Pera and Brandon Townsend were recognized for their outstanding commitment to the Virtual Legal Advice Clinic.

Second-year students Jodie Bush, Katherine Sands and Jordan Franklin served 464, 452 and 302.5 hours respectively, while first-year students Meghan Denniston, Georgia Miller and Molly Green completed 27, 20 and 16 hours of service.

Abelt hired as production supervisor

The Tranzonic Companies has hired Joshua Abelt as second shift production supervisor for the national manufacturing firm’s West Knoxville facility.

Abelt is responsible for overseeing production flow and quality standards, managing team members and ensuring all safety rules and practices are followed.

“Josh has a strong background in management and production,” says Brian Rhoades, executive vice president of operations for Tranzonic. “His desire to grow in his career combined with his experience make him a great fit for Tranzonic, and we welcome him to our Knoxville team.”

Abelt previously served as shipping traffic manager and production supervisor at Fred Usinger Inc. in Milwaukee. He has worked as a security officer, mechanic and supervisor, including as a member of the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve. He holds certificates of completion from the Noncommissioned Officer Academy in Fort Drum, New York, and from Milwaukee Area Technical College’s law enforcement basic training academy. He also studied criminal justice at MATC.

Abelt is certified as a first responder in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hazard analysis and critical control points and as a forklift driver and trainer.

He recently relocated from Milwaukee and resides in Kodak.

Priority Ambulance names Merritt director

Liz Merritt has been named director of investor relations for Knoxville-based Priority Ambulance.

Merritt joined the Priority Ambulance corporate team in 2018 and has previously served the company as project manager for mergers and acquisitions, as well as communications and marketing manager.

“Liz brings tremendous experience as an investor communications expert within the medical transportation industry,” says Kristi Ponczak, chief financial officer. “Having worked in investor relations for most of her EMS career, she is skilled at articulating industry dynamics and trends and has demonstrated a strong ability to communicate our distinct business model and vision to financial stakeholders and the public.’’

Merritt has worked nearly 20 years in the EMS industry. Before joining Priority Ambulance, she served as senior director of investor relations and corporate communications for Rural/Metro Corporation, where she managed investor relations, public relations and corporate communications strategies and initiatives for the then-publicly traded company. She also worked in the oil and gas industry for several years as vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Nuverra Environmental Solutions, a NYSE-listed company.

In addition to investor communication strategies that reinforce Priority’s overall business objectives, Merritt supports corporate acquisition activities.

Girl Scouts pick Blalock as director

The Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians has hired Sandi Blalock as director of the Appalachian Highlands Region in the Tri-Cities.

Blalock, a lifelong volunteer with the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, previously served as a troop leader, service unit manager and longstanding board member.

“While Sandi is a new staff member, she is no stranger to our Girl Scout family,” says Lynne Fugate, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. “She has dedicated years of service in various volunteer positions. We are fortunate to have someone so knowledgeable and passionate to lead the Appalachian Highlands Region in East Tennessee.”

Blalock became connected to the organization when her daughter joined the Girl Scout Daisies as a kindergartner and the troop needed a leader. She spent 13 years as a troop leader and three years as a service unit manager. In 2015, Blalock became a board member for the nonprofit and has since served three terms.

“I have been a part of the Girl Scout mission for more than 15 years witnessing many young girls, including my daughter, develop into confident leaders,” Blalock says. “It is one of my goals as the new director to ensure that volunteers are trained well and appreciated, so that they can have the same fulfilling experience that I had.”

Blalock most recently spent more than five years as an advertising account manager for The Greeneville Sun. As director of the Appalachian Highlands Region, she will work out of the organization’s Tri-Cities office, located in Johnson City.

Corbett to join Johnson Architecture

Johnson Architecture has named Jeremiah Corbett a project architect following successful completion of the Architect Registration Examination.

Corbett has contributed to several successful projects since joining the firm in 2018 as an intern architect, including the University of Tennessee-Knoxville West Campus Redevelopment Dining Hall, Knoxville Catholic High School auditorium, OTICS USA Kodak plant expansion, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation’s Austin Homes redevelopment, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Big Cove master plan and community building, and Adrian Burnett Elementary School.

“Jeremiah is a great collaborator and problem solver who strives to create spaces that foster social interaction and community,” says Daryl Johnson, founder and president of Johnson Architecture. “We are glad to add him to our growing staff of licensed architects.”

Corbett earned a degree in Architecture in 2018 from the University of Tennessee. His technical expertise includes Building Information Modeling and Revit computer modeling.

Corbett serves on the design awards and programming committees for the East Tennessee Chapter of American Institute of Architects and on the design awards committee for AIA Tennessee.

Oak Ridge city manager Watson named fellow

Oak Ridge City Manager Dr. Mark Watson was recognized this month and inducted as a University of Tennessee Masters in Public Policy and Administration Fellow in Professional Practice.

Watson received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Tennessee in May 2019.

The purpose of the “UT MPPA Fellows in Professional Practice” award is to recognize in a more formal, public way, the tremendous contributions that distinguished practitioners make to the advanced professional education and training of UT MPPA students.

“The UT faculty recently surprised me and honored me with the Fellow in Professional Practice award,’’ Watson says. “As I go about the business of Oak Ridge, it sometimes takes others to bring attention to the impacts you are having. I enjoy the aspects of coaching new students on the merits of public service. The ability to use their talents for the City of Oak Ridge is something that benefits everyone including the students, graduates, University of Tennessee, the City of Oak Ridge and myself personally.’’

Watson was recognized at the 2021 MPPA Hooding & Awards Ceremony that included Fall 2019 graduates. Among those graduates was assistant to the city manager Eric Ault who received his master’s degree in public policy and administration. He joined the Oak Ridge staff in February 2020.

Duckworth wins Battelle Scholarship

L&N STEM Academy senior Tyler Duckworth has been named recipient of the 2021 UT-Battelle Scholarship to attend the University of Tennessee.

The competitive scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior planning to study science, mathematics or engineering at UT and who has a parent employed by UT-Battelle, managing contractor of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years and is worth a total of $20,000.

Duckworth is the son of Robert and Jamie Duckworth of Knoxville. Robert works in ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division.

Duckworth’s high school achievements include serving as team captain of the L&N STEMpunks Robotics Team and participating on the team since 2016. He has also taught fellow students about computer science and how to program robots using Java and Python.

From 2017 to 2018, Duckworth assisted in the planning of the Simple Summit demonstration unit, a result of a collaboration between a team from the L&N STEM Academy and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility. Simple Summit demonstrates the power of parallel computing. He helped design custom pieces the unit needed to function.

Duckworth’s experience with STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – curricula has inspired his academic and career ambitions.

“I plan to use my career in computer science to help expand the role that technology plays in community schools by making available low-cost options of reading, providing opportunities to learn about STEM through community outreach, and creating a platform to synthesize information on many topics into streamlined pathways,” he wrote in his application essay.

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