- Forrest Allard
Mr. Forrest Allard
Student, Accounting and Economics
Mr. Forrest Allard is a junior Honors student double-majoring in accounting and economics from Monterey, Tennessee. He serves as the student trustee.
Mr. Allard began with the College of Business Student Ambassador group in February 2016, and currently serves as the student organization’s secretary. In his role with the student ambassadors, he acts as a representative of the college, assists in the student recruitment process, and serves as a project manager.
Along with the college-wide student ambassadors, he serves as a Becker Professional Education Student Ambassador. He is also the director and vice president of professional affairs for the college’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter.
Previously, he served as a senator for the College of Business in Tech’s Student Government Association. He also served as the president of the Business Information Technology Scholars.
Mr. Allard is a member of the Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Society for the Advancement of Finance and Economics, TSCPA, AICPA, and the Associated Scholars Guild.
- Melissa Geist
Dr. Melissa Geist, Ed.D., M.S.N.
Professor, Whitson-Hester School of Nursing
Dr. Melissa Geist is a professor in the Tennessee Tech Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, but her impact on the university is cross-disciplinary. Along with teaching, she has collaborated with fellow faculty members in all colleges at Tech, including the colleges of Education, Engineering, Interdisciplinary Studies; and the Honors Program.
Dr. Geist has served as the assistant dean for the College of Agricultural and Human Sciences from 2010-2013, and as the interim dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2013-2016.
In 2015, she collaborated with other Tech faculty to launch an undergraduate Entrepreneurship & Innovation Certificate. This campus-wide program will allow students to graduate with entrepreneurship/innovation experience.
Dr. Geist is a member of the Tech Faculty Senate as an elected representative of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. She served on group that developed “Flight Plan,” the university’s strategic planning process.
Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork between nursing and engineering to improve health outcomes, problem-based learning to engage students in the process of developing critical thinking skills, and instructional design.
She has 20 years of experience as an emergency department/urgent care nurse practitioner.
Prior to joining Tech, Dr. Geist was a post-doctoral fellow at the Vanderbilt University Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has also served as a high school chemistry and physics teacher at the University School in Nashville.
She holds a doctorate in science education and a master’s in nursing from Vanderbilt, a master’s in science education from Belmont University, and a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Dayton.
She serves on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.
- Trudy Harper
Ms. Trudy Harper, Vice Chair
Founder and former president of Tenaska Power Services Company
Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
Tech Alumna: Electrical Engineering, B.S. ’83, M.S. ’84
Ms. Trudy Harper had an illustrious career with the Texas Utilities Electric Company and Tenaska, founding and serving as president of Tenaska Power Services Company, the power marketing affiliate of Tenaska.
Ms. Harper is an independent director of the InfraREIT Board of Directors, and serves as consultant and a member of the Board of Stakeholders at Tenaska Inc. She served as the president of Tenaska Power Services Co. from 2001 and 2012.
She was General Manager of business development for Tenaska’s independent power plant development efforts. Before joining Tenaska in 1992, Ms. Harper held various transmission and generation planning and state and federal regulatory affairs positions with Texas Utilities Electric Co. (TXU) in Dallas. In her various roles at TXU she was responsible for licensing new generation and transmission facilities and developing their policies on transmission access and pricing.
She has served as chairman of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Stakeholders Committee.
A member and previous co-chair of the Tennessee Tech College of Engineering Industry Advisory Board, Ms. Harper also is a member of the university’s Academy for Renaissance Engineering.
She was the 2010 recipient of the Gulf Coast Power Association’s Pat Wood Power Star Award for her contributions to the deregulation of the Texas power market, and was honored as an Engineer of Distinction in 2014 by Tech’s College of Engineering.
Ms. Harper also holds an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University.
She serves on the Executive Committee.
- Tom Jones
Mr. Tom Jones, Chair
Co-owner and General Manager, Research Electronics International
Tech Alumnus: Electrical Engineering, B.S. ’86
Mr. Tom Jones is co-owner and General Manager of Research Electronics International, one of the leading designers, developers, and manufacturers of counter surveillance equipment.
Mr. Jones served in the U.S. Navy, later serving as an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida, teaching math and electrical engineering. He also has worked as a defense contractor supporting the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
He serves on the Advisory Board for Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and in 2003 was a panelist at an open forum on homeland security held on campus.
Mr. Jones graduated from Tech in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering, and holds a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Central Florida.
He serves as Chair of the Executive Committee and Interim Chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.
- Rhedona Rose
Ms. Rhedona Rose
Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President, Tennessee Farm Bureau
Tech Alumna: Agriculture, B.S. '84
Ms. Rhedona Rose is the chief administrative officer and executive vice president of Tennessee Farm Bureau, the largest farm bureau in the United States.
The first female executive to lead the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, Ms. Rose began working at Tennessee Farm Bureau in 1986 and became director of public policy and chief lobbyist in 1995. She served in that capacity until she was named executive vice president in December 2010, being named chief administrative officer in 2017.
In 1984, Ms. Rose graduated from Tennessee Tech with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. She also holds a master’s degree from Texas A&M.
She serves on the Audit and Business Committee.
- Purna Saggurti
Mr. Purna Saggurti
Chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
New York, New York
Tech Alumnus: Chemical Engineering, M.S. ’82
Mr. Purna Saggurti is a managing director and chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York. The Global Corporate and Investment Banking business had $11.7 Billion in revenue in 2015 and the Investment Bank was ranked #3 globally. Prior to being named to his current role, Mr. Saggurti served as the co-head of Global Corporate & Investment Banking.
Mr. Saggurti is a member of the operating committee of Bank of America. He is on the board of the Bank of America Environmental, Social and Governance Committee and is Vice Chairman of the Banks Global Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Prior to Bank of America acquiring Merrill Lynch, Mr. Saggurti was head of Americas Origination at Merrill Lynch, which included all Investment Banking coverage, Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets Origination in the U.S, Canada and Latin America.
In the last twenty-nine years, Mr. Saggurti has advised clients around the globe and has worked on landmark transactions for a number of clients including Dow, Dupont, Ecolab, Engelhard, GE, Hoechst, Huntsman, Lyondell Basell, Merck, Potash Corp, Reliance and Tata's.
Mr. Saggurti is a member of the Graduate Executive Board of The Wharton School, member of the Board of the Tennessee Technological University Foundation, and a member of the executive board of the USIndia Business Council. Mr. Saggurti was the former chairman of the board of trustees of the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations. He is Co-Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations.
Mr. Saggurti holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from Andhra University, a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Tennessee Tech University and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School.
He serves on the Audit and Business Committee.
- Johnny Stites
Mr. Johnny Stites
Managing partner of XI Investments
Mr. Johnny D. Stites has served as managing partner of XI Investments, one of the largest commercial and industrial real estate developers in the Upper Cumberland Region of Middle Tennessee, for more than 25 years. He served as CEO of J&S Construction Company, Inc. for more than 43 years before stepping down in March 2015 to give more focus to XI Investments.
Throughout his career he has served on numerous boards and organizations. He is a Certified Professional Constructor, and a founding member and past president of the Home Builders Association of the Upper Cumberland. He has served more than 17 years with the Associated General Contractors (AGC), the largest and oldest construction organization in the state and the country. He served as President of the Middle Tennessee Branch of AGC from 2004-2006 and 2006-2007 and served as President of AGC of Tennessee from January 2014 through June 2015.
In 2013, Mr. Stites was honored with the Skill, Integrity, and Responsibility (SIR) Construction Lifetime Achievement Award by the AGC of Middle Tennessee’s Branch. He also received the Alumni Citation Award and the Distinguished Business Leader award from Abilene Christian University, his alma mater, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and served on its Board of Trustees for 16 years.
In February 2014, he was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Governor Bill Haslam to represent the 6th congressional district, and served until resigning in 2015 upon being named to his current state role.
He previously served on Tech’s College of Business Board of Trustees.
He currently serves on the Executive Committee.
- Teresa Vanhooser
Ms. Teresa Vanhooser
Former deputy director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and current senior consultant with Seabrook Solutions, LLC
Tech Alumna: Industrial Engineering ’80
Ms. Teresa Vanhooser served as deputy director of one of NASA’s largest field installations, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, from 2012 -2015. Previously, she was manager of the Marshall Center's Flight Programs & Partnerships Office from 2011 to 2012, leading implementation of the center's human exploration projects and tasks; flight mission programs and projects; and external partnerships.
From 2007 to 2011, Ms. Vanhooser served as deputy manager, acting manager and manager of Ares Projects -- the launch vehicle development effort at Marshall which laid the foundation for development of NASA's Space Launch System, the heavy-lift launch vehicle set to carry human explorers to new destinations beyond Earth orbit.
From 2004 to 2007, she was co-deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall, overseeing design, testing, evaluation and operation of hardware and software associated with space transportation, spacecraft systems and science instruments and payloads at the center.
Ms. Vanhooser served in various roles since joining NASA in 1980, as an engineer at Marshall, including deputy director of the Flight Projects Directorate, manager of the Payload Operations and Integration Department, manager of the Space Station Utilization Office, and manager of the Microgravity Science Laboratory-1 mission.
Ms. Vanhooser has received numerous NASA awards, including a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal; a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives (the highest honor for career federal employees); and a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. In 1992, she was presented a Silver Snoopy award by the Astronaut Corps for her contributions to the success of human spaceflight missions. In 2007, she was named an Engineer of Distinction by Tech’s College of Engineering.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Tech in 1980, and a master’s degree in administrative science, with an emphasis on project management, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1986.
She serves as Chair of the Audit and Business Committee.
- Barry Wilmore
Capt. Barry Wilmore
Astronaut, NASA; Former Commander, International Space Station; Captain, U.S. Navy
Tech Alumnus: Electrical Engineering, B.S. ’85, M.S. ’94, Honorary Doctorate ’12
Capt. Barry Wilmore, a captain in the U.S. Navy, is a veteran of two spaceflights and has accumulated a total of 178 days in space. In September 2014, Mr. Wilmore launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket as a member of Expedition 41. He served as a flight engineer until November when he assumed command of the station upon arrival of the Expedition 42 crew. He returned to Earth in March 2015. During this mission, he logged 167 days in space and performed four spacewalks totaling 25 hours, 36 minutes. In 2009, Capt. Wilmore served as a pilot aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis for STS-129, traveling 4.5 million miles in 171 orbits.
Capt. Wilmore has accumulated more than 7,000 flight hours and 663 carrier landings, all in tactical jet aircraft, and is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS). During his tenure as a fleet Naval officer and pilot, Capt. Wilmore completed four operational deployments, flying the A-7E and FA 18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and the USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers.
He has flown missions in support of Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch over the skies of Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia in support of United States and NATO interests. Capt. Wilmore successfully completed 21 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm while operating from the flight deck of the USS Kennedy. His most recent operational deployment was aboard the USS Eisenhower with the "Blue Blasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34), an F/A-18 squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.
As a Navy test pilot, Capt. Wilmore participated in all aspects of the initial development of the T-45 jet trainer to include initial carrier landing certification and high angle of attack flight tests. His test tour also included a stint at USNTPS as a systems and fixed wing Flight Test Instructor.
Prior to his selection to NASA, he was on exchange to the United States Air Force as a Flight Test Instructor at the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Capt. Wilmore, from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Tennessee Tech. He also holds a master’s in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee.
He was a letterman and team captain of the Tennessee Tech football team and was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. He currently holds the number two spot in Tech's record books for most tackles in a game, and number three on tackles per season.
He serves on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.