Visit Knoxville Board of Directors

Visit Knoxville is governed by a board of community leaders who willingly commit their time to nurture our efforts to be an economic driver for the Knoxville/Knox County area.

Executive Committee

 

Brad Anders

Board Chair

Brad Anders is currently the Executive Director of Knox County Emergency Communications Board (E-911). Brad served on Knox County Commission form 2008-2020, serving as Chairman 2013-2015. Brad was born and raised locally and is proud to call Knoxville is home.   

Brad is a graduate of Tusculum College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy Session 258. Brad is an alumnus of Knoxville 40 Under 40 in 2011 and a member of Leadership Knoxville 2012.  

Brad lives in the Karns community with his wife and daughter. 

Rick Emmett

Board Vice-Chair

Rick Emmett is the Downtown Coordinator for the City of Knoxville. He grew up in Middlesboro, Kentucky where he was employed as Chief Surveyor in the coal industry before moving to Knoxville 25 years ago to work for the City of Knoxville as Technical Services Administrator in the Engineering Department. Emmett attended Southeast Community College, the University of Kentucky, and Lincoln Memorial University and is a Professional Land Surveyor licensed in Tennessee and Kentucky.

He serves as ex officio member of Public Art Committee, Downtown District Association, the Historic Old City Association, and the 100 Block Association and is currently a Board member for the Central Business Improvement District. Emmett is also currently a member of the Mid South Parking and Transportation Association, the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors and the International Downtown Association. He has served as a Board member on the Public Property Naming Committee, the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad, and was Chairman of the Knox County Redistricting Committee.

 

Jay Kramer

Board Treasurer

Jackson G. Kramer, a highly skilled, knowledgeable and trusted counselor who has over 28 years of legal experience, concentrates his practice in the areas of Corporate and Transactional, Real Estate, Estate Planning, Administration and Trusts, and Local Government and Public Utilities.  He is a strong but reasonable advocate for his clients.  His primary goal is to help his clients solve their legal issues and achieve their overall objectives while simultaneously protecting their best interests.

Mr. Kramer's broad practice focuses on: real estate transactions including ad valorem taxation questions and sales and use tax matters, general business matters such as corporate formation, contracts, etc, estate planning guidance and administration, property tax issues, and tax exempt organizations

 

Robin Parton Pate

Secretary & Marketing Committee Chair

Robin Parton Pate serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Green Point Research (GPR), a vertically integrated phytocannabinoid-rich biomass originator and processor founded in 2016. Prior to joining GPR, Pate most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer at The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a major public-private partnership funded in part by the Department of Energy and operating as a not-for-profit under the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. During her time at the Institute, she led government relations, strategic partnerships, communications, and other functional areas.  Through her executive leadership positions with IACMI and many globally recognized media brands, including HGTV, CNN, and TBS, she has earned a reputation as an innovative and impactful marketer and business strategist.

Pate holds a Master of Arts in Marketing from the University of Alabama (UA), a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western Carolina University (WCU), and a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Management from Harvard.

Community and advisory leadership highlights include serving as President of Western Carolina University’s (WCU) National Alumni Association Board of Directors (2016-2018), 100 Girls of Code’s Advisory Team (2015-Current), Childhelp East TN’s Board of Directors (2011-2018) and Alpha Xi Delta’s National Communications Advisory Team (2014-Current).

Robin grew up in Bryson City, NC, and currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and two daughters. They enjoy experiencing all the wonders of the beautiful area with favorite activities ranging from paddleboarding on the Little River, to youth sports, to Sunday drives on the Dragon.

 

Becky Hancock

Sales Committee Chair

With 20 years of fund development, event planning, and project management in the nonprofit sector, Becky Hancock has served as the Executive Director of the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation since 2013. Becky oversees all activity at the venue, serves as the public face of the organization, and works with the Board of Directors to preserve and maintain this important community asset as well as fulfill the mission and long-term vision of the Official State Theatre of Tennessee.

After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Becky’s career began in arts administration, working in New York City for a public relations firm representing classical musicians and performing arts organizations.  She moved back to her hometown in 2001 to work for AC Entertainment, managing the daily operations of Tennessee Theatre. She was actively involved in the $30 million renovation and restoration of the venue completed in 2005, participating in both operational/programmatic planning and assisting the Board in fundraising.  Prior to her 2013 return to the Tennessee Theatre, she was Assistant Director of Knox Heritage, a preservation advocacy organization.

Becky is a member of Leadership Knoxville’s Class of 2006 and the Executive Women’s Association. She serves as Vice Chair of the League of Historic American Theatres, a national organization dedicated to sustaining treasured landmarks like the Tennessee. Becky spends her free time practicing yoga, renovating her historic home, and making music with friends.

 


Board Members

 

Lola Alapo

Lola Alapo has spent her career telling people’s stories through the written word. She has worked as a newspaper journalist, a public relations specialist and a science writer. She currently is the public information officer for University of Tennessee Public Safety and the UT Police Department. 

A Nigerian-born, New York-raised Tennessean, Lola loves the outdoors and travel—especially using both passions for a purpose. She hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic and the Inca Trek to Machu Picchu in Peru through Compassion International to raise money for children’s needs. 

Locally, Lola served on the City of Knoxville’s Neighborhood Advisory Council (At-Large Seat C, 2015-2017). She chaired the Board of Advisors for the University of Tennessee Master of Public Policy and Administration Program (2015-2021). She is actively involved at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church and served on its pastoral search team (2017-2020). 

Lola believes any season in East Tennessee is a season for the outdoors. Favorite hikes include the River Boardwalk Trail and Ross Marble Quarry at Ijams Nature Center; North and South Old Mac trails at Frozen Head State Park; and Rainbow Falls trail to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

 

Linda Billman

Linda Billman uses her working skills to benefit Knoxville area non-profits such as Knoxville History Project, her neighborhood association, Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, Visit Knoxville and other organizations. Previously Linda served as Interim Director of Legacy Housing Foundation and as General Manager of community public radio station WDVX, which is located in the Knoxville Visitor Center.   

Linda’s professional background also includes independent documentary, lifestyle television and corporate video production and Managing Producer of the Emmy-award winning program, "The Heartland Series," on Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR-TV.  

 

Mayor Glenn Jacobs

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs took office in September 2018. Since that time, he has worked diligently to provide a fresh outlook on limited government and keep his campaign promises of transparency, maintaining low taxes, continuing to attract new jobs to this area, focusing on the quality of education, and improving infrastructure.  

In 2020, COVID-19 drastically changed the playing field, but Mayor Jacobs constantly rose to the challenge, fighting for personal responsibility and against government overreach.  

Now, with the pandemic waning, he is again focused on telling the rest of the world what he already knows: that Knox County is the best place to live, work, and raise a family.  

By putting jobs, education and recreation at the forefront, Mayor Jacobs hopes to ensure that Knox County is committed to creating opportunities for everyone to thrive in an engaged and vibrant community. 

Chief among his priorities is embracing regionalism and working across county and state borders to stimulate economic development.

Chris Ooten

Chris Ooten thrives in the fast-paced environment of Safe Harbor Development.  He brings over 25 years of experience in both commercial and residential real estate and development to the Safe Harbor team. As CEO he is at the helm of the overall management of Safe Harbor Development and other related companies including acquisitions, development, construction, operations, forecasting, and marketing.  

As Director of Real Estate for the Weigel family and Weigel's Stores managing, selling, and purchasing new store locations as well as family holdings, Chris gained valuable experience that would prepare him for his current role. He also worked for the Schaad Companies as their COO and the Metropolitan Planning Commission where he broadened his experience.  Chris has earned LEED certification from the Green Building Certification Institute and currently serves on the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission as a commissioner. 

Originally from Oak Ridge, he earned his BS Degree from ETSU with an option in city planning.  He is married to his wife, Leah, and has three children: daughter, Emily, son, Jack, and daughter, Miller.

 

HD Ranjan Arun

HD Ranjan Arun serves as both the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Ephant Group, a real estate development firm based in Knoxville, TN.

Originally from India, HD moved to the United States in 2008 to continue his college career. While in college, he began working part-time at a hotel which is where he fell in love with the hospitality industry. Understanding that the business is extremely complex, HD separates himself from most in that he started at the bottom and worked his way up. By doing it this way, he not only has a deep understanding of the business, but he also has a sincere love and appreciation for his team because, without them, nothing would be possible.

When asked about his approach to business, HD said “It’s really quite simple.  In order to accomplish anything, you must have faith and never stop believing in yourself. Couple that with vision, hard work, and dedication and your dreams will come true. Remember, all things are possible for those who believe.”

Through his hard work, vision, and approach, HD has quickly become a member of an elite group of entrepreneurs that are molding Knoxville’s future with keen business acumen and a fresh global perspective.

When he is not working, HD loves to travel, engage in outdoor activities and spend time with his wife, Purvi, and his son, Ehan. HD is also a fan of single malt scotch, fine bourbon, and playing with his dog, Leo.

Cortney Piper

Cortney started her business, Piper Communications, at the height of the recession in 2008 with a results-based approach to public relations and emphasis on energy and technology. Piper Communications has had the pleasure of working with an extensive list of clients to advance clean energy and technology related initiatives, projects and policy.

She is also a WATE-TV 6 On Your Side (ABC affiliate) public affairs commentator, appearing weekly on Tennessee this Week and providing commentary on current news and events.

In 2014, she was recognized as one of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and was also awarded the East Tennessee Economic Council’s Postma Young Professional Medal. Cortney is a member of the East Tennessee Economic Council Board of Directors; graduate of Leadership Oak Ridge class of 2009 and Leadership Knoxville class of 2013. She also Chairs The University of Tennessee Political Science Department’s Board of Advisors, serves on the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors and is the former Chairwoman of Visit Knoxville.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Piper attended the University of Tennessee on a swimming scholarship and earned degrees in Political Science and Sociology. She lives in East Knoxville with her husband Barry Armstrong and their three children.