About the Council

Our Vision

Economic equality, literacy, impact, opportunity and stability for every woman in Tennessee.

Our Mission

The Tennessee Economic Council on Women is an economic advocate for women.

Its purpose is to assess the economic status of women in Tennessee in order to develop and advocate for solutions that will address their economic needs and promote economic autonomy. The Council's areas of study include, but are not limited to: employment policies and practices, educational needs and opportunities, child care, property rights, health care, domestic relations, and the effect of federal and state laws on women.


Founding

The Economic Council on Women is a state agency created under TCA § 4-50-101, et seq. by the One Hundredth General Assembly in 1998 to address the economic needs of Tennessee women. The Economic Council on Women is attached administratively to the Office of the Secretary of State. Following the legislation in 1998, 21 members of the Council were appointed by the Governor, the Speakers of the House and Senate, the Tennessee Black Legislative Caucus and the Tennessee Women’s Legislative Caucus. Members of the Council represent each of the nine Development Districts of the State, the State’s university system, the Governor’s Cabinet, women’s organizations, the Black Caucus and the Women’s Caucus, along with other members from the Senate and the House. The Council first met in June 1999.


Biennial Reports

The Council is charged by its originatin legislation to submit biennial reports reviewing its activities of the previous 24 months. These publications provide overviews of the Council’s achievements while placing initiatives within the context of the Council’s purpose and direction, and constructing a vision of economic improvement for the women of Tennessee. Biennial reports summarize research findings and record the impact of conferences and other Council initiatives.

The following publications present an excellent introduction to the Economic Council: 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002.


Council Meetings

The Council's quarterly meetings are public and meeting minutes are public record. To find scheduling information for quarterly meetings, contact the Council or suscribe to our monthly newsletter; to access meeting minutes, contact the Council directly.


Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame

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The Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame recognizes and honors women who have made outstanding, unique and lasting contributions to the economic, civic, and cultural well-being of Tennessee. Its inductees have individually elevated the status of women and championed other women, women's issues, and served as advocates for issues important to women and families.

More information about the Hall of Fame and its extraordinary inductees can be found here.


Women's Economic Council Foundation

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The Women's Economic Council Foundation is a non-profit organization formed to assist the Tennessee Economic Council on Women in studying the economic needs of women in Tennessee and in developing constructive, cost-effective programs of service and education to meet those needs. Prominent among the Foundation's many efforts are the annual Tennessee Economic Summit for Women, college scholarships offered each year to traditional and non-traditional college students, the Excellence, Equality and Equity "E" Awards, and support of the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame. More information about the Foundation and it's work can be found at www.womenseconomicfoundation.org.


Executive Committee

Dr. Dena Wise
Chair

Professor, Extension Specialist
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
(615) 253-4266 | info.ecw@tn.gov

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karencamper_r

Representative Karen Camper
Vice-Chair
State Representative
87th House District, Memphis

 

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Dr. Carol Danehower
Assoc. Professor University
of Memphis

West TN Rep
Dr. Janet
Smith

President
Columbia State
Community College

Middle TN Rep
Ruby
Miller

State Farm
Insurance

East TN Rep
Kathleen
Armour Walker

President/Owner Tennessee Pewter Company
Secretary
Jane
Powers J.D.

Owner, Powers
Law Firm

Treasurer
Yvonne Wood
Owner, Wood
Conference
& Event Planning

Immediate Past Chair

 

Council Members

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Ann Ayers-Colvert
Jacksboro
Administrator of Elections
Campbell County

Dr. Mimi Barnard
Nashville
Assistant Provost
Belmont University

Maleia Evans
Dyersburg
Director
TN Small Business
Development Center
Dyersburg State Community College

Veronica Johnson
Nashville
Dir. of Programs & Operations
Ctr. for Women's Health Research
Meharry Medical College

Rep. Sherry Jones
Nashville
59th Tennessee
House District
Sen. Becky Massey
Knoxville
6th Tennessee
Senate District


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Robin Smith
Chattanooga
Partner & Certified Project Manager Smith Waterhouse
Strategies
Rep. Johnnie Turner
Memphis
85th Tennessee
House District
Comr. Susan Whitaker
Nashville
Commissioner, TN
Dept. of Tourist Development
Rep. Dawn White
Murfreesboro
37th Tennessee
House District

 

Council Staff

 

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Dr. Phyllis
Qualls-Brooks

Executive Director
(615) 253-4266
William
Arth

Senior Research Manager
Tracey
Roberts

Administrative Assistant
   



Biographies

 

Executive Committee Officers

denawise_sDr. Dena Wise, Chair, is a Professor and Extension Specialist with the University of Tennessee focusing on Family Economics. She works with county extension agents and partners across the state to reach more than 3 million Tennesseans each year with information about money management, consumer education and fraud prevention. Dr. Wise is state coordinator of Tennessee Saves and gives statewide leadership to Extension's bankruptcy educator program and support to homebuyer education. She is principle author and project coordinator of On My Own, a financial education simulation conducted with 20,000 junior high and high school youth across Tennessee each year and coordinates a multi-state project funded by the FINRA Foundation to reach young adults with financial and investor education. Dr. Wise represents East Tennessee on the Executive Committee. dkwise@utk.edu

karencamper_sRepresentative Karen Camper, Vice Chair, has been a member of the 105th through 107th General Assemblies representing the 87th Representative District in Shelby County. Camper is retired from the U.S. Army and owner of Key II Entertainment. In the General Assembly, Camper is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Children and Family Committee, and the House Government Operations Committee. She is also a member of the Shelby County Delegation, the Women's Legislative Caucus, and the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus. In the community Camper serves on the International Business Council Advisory Board and as a substitute teacher in the Memphis City Schools. Camper is Executive Director of The Humble Hearts Foundation, Inc. She is Chairperson/CEO of Joint Services Black Heritage Committee and is a Charter Member of Women in Military Service for America. She serves as Treasurer of the Order of the Eastern Star and of the Harambee Social Club. Camper is a member of the NAACP, serves on the Maryland Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner Committee and is a Lifetime Member of Black in Government. She represents the Women's Legislative Caucus on the Economic Council.

caroldanehower_sDr. Carol Danehower, West Tennessee Representative, of Memphis, is Associate Professor of Management in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at The University of Memphis. She received her doctorate in Management from the University of Kentucky and MA in Economics from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Danehower teaches both online and on campus and conducts research on women in business as well as on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. She is also an active member of SHRM-Memphis. She represents the Tennessee Board of Regents on the Council. vdanehwr@memphis.edu

janetsmill_sDr. Janet F. Smith, Middle Tennessee Representative, became the fifth president of Columbia State Community College on February 18, 2008. Prior to joining Columbia State, Dr. Smith served in various administrative roles at several institutions of higher education across the country, including her time as President of Rich Mountain Community College in Mena, Arkansas. She has been honored for her leadership in community colleges by the Governor of Arkansas and the Kentucky Legislature. Dr. Smith has a rich history of involvement in her community and profession. She serves on the Workforce Investment Board, Maury Alliance Board of Directors (Executive Committee and Chamber Council Chair 2009-2011), and the Maury Advisory Board to First Farmers Bank, Nashville Symphony Advisory Council and the Family Support Center Board. She was also the founder of the Arkansas Association of Women in Community Colleges and has served as chair of the Community College Association. Dr. Smith is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee and has served on the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is Past President of the Tennessee College Association and a member of the national advisory board for the Higher Education Research and Development Institute; she has presented at area and state conferences, clubs, organizations and events.

rubymiller_sRuby Miller, East Tennessee Representative, is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. She received her bachelor's degree in business education from Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC. Following graduation, she was recruited by Union Carbide Corporation to work at the nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Miller held positions of increasing responsibility with Union Carbide and Martin Marietta Energy Systems, including associate director of Public Relations and manager of Small Business and Socioeconomic Programs. In 1990, she resigned from the company to start her own State Farm Insurance Agency which provides insurance products and financial services to individuals and small businesses. She also founded RAM/VITEC, Inc., a specialized business and management support services company, and continues to serve as corporate secretary and majority shareholder. A Board Member Emeritus of the Roane State Community College Foundation, Miller is a founding member of the Committee of 100 Women for Girls Inc. In 2007, Miller was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to a five-year term on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. She was selected by NAIFA-TN as "Agent of the Year" in 2009, and has received numerous other awards and honors.

kathleenwalker_sKathleen Armour Walker, Secretary (non-voting), is President of Tennessee Pewter Company, in Somerville, TN. The company manufactures pewter tableware, giftware and jewelry. She represents the Southwest Tennessee Development District. She has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and on public television sharing the beauty of pewter and introducing a new generation to the joy of entertaining and celebrating the finer things in life. She is a top authority on fine, hand-made pewter and her eye for beauty and detail has earned her rave reviews as she has helped to set some of the finest tables in the South and beyond. Kathleen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Delta State University and a Master of Science in Agriculture from Mississippi State University. She is a graduate of the WestStar Leadership program at University of Tennessee at Martin. Kathleen Armour Walker lives in Brownsville, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. They are the proud parents of two Golden Pyrenees and a Schnoodle, all of which were rescued.

janepowers_sMargaret Jane Powers, J.D., Treasurer (non-voting), of Crossville, serves as Upper Cumberland Development District Representative to the Economic Council on Women and chairs its Legislation and Policy Committee. Founder of the successful Powers Law Firm focusing on litigation of gender employment fairness issues, bankruptcy, criminal defense and workers compensation, Ms. Powers also serves as the President of the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women and as Speaker of the Tennessee Bar Association’s House of Delegates. She is also a Member of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. mjp@margaretjanepowers.com

yvonnewood_sYvonne Wood, M.Ed., Immediate Past Chair (non-voting), represents the Greater Nashville Development District on the Council and was elected in January 2012 to serve as Council Chair. She also serves as Chair of the Boards & Commissions Initiative and is the Director of the annual Economic Summit for Women. She owns Wood Conference & Event Planning. She is a past Chair of the ATHENA Foundation, International, honoring and advancing women in leadership around the world. She represents Tennessee on the Southern Regional Educational Board, a compact of sixteen states. She also represents Tennessee as a delegate to Vision2020 a national initiative convening allies and women leaders from across the country with the purpose to advance gender equality by the year 2020. Her lifelong work as an advocate for women has been recognized by the Tennessee General Assembly and the Nashville Metro Council. ycwood@aol.com

 

Council Members

annayers_sAnn Ayers-Colvin has served as Administrator of Elections for the Campbell County Elections Commission since October 2011. She has previously served as a Deputy Mayor in Campbell County and has extensive experience working in both state and county government. Ann has degrees from the Tennessee Technological Institute, Roane State Community College and the Tennessee Technology Center. She is active in numerous community organizations and has served on the board of directors for the Greater Smokey Mountain Council of The Boy Scouts of America, the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce, and Drug Free Tennessee. She has also served as Chairman for Campbell County Toys for Tots and for the Campbell County Republican Party.

mimibarnard_sDr. Mimi Barnard serves as Assistant Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education at Belmont University. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing Belmont's interdisciplinary and adult degree programs; global education and partnerships, including PeaceJam, a collaboration with STARS that brings a Nobel Peace Laureate to campus annually; and international student programming.

 

maleiaevans_sMaleia Evans, Northwest TN Development District. After successful careers in both legal administration and health care administration, Maleia joined the TN Small Business Development Center of Dyersburg State Community College in September 2010 as Director.  She currently serves a six county territory, in which she educates, counsels, and trains business owners from all walks of life, on how to start, grow, and sustain a business. In 2012, Maleia was named the National State Star, representing TN, by the American Association of Small Business Development Centers. 

Having been born and raised in northwest TN, Maleia feels passionate about the need for women to empower women, through spiritual growth, personal growth, and professional growth.  One of the best ways to do that is by giving back to the communities.  Chair of Dyer Co Relay For Life and Team Captain of Walk Across TN are just a couple of roles Maleia currently holds in her community.  As Founder of Second Saturday Success, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire, and nurture professional and personal development in women and children of NW TN, Maleia is a national, regional, and local speaker in areas of professional development, workplace motivation, healthcare administration, women’s inspirational topics, and prison ministry/recidivism coaching.  She is an entrepreneur, an educator, and practices what she preaches.  She firmly believes an education is essential to maximize potential, but experience is critical to success.

veronicajohnson_sVeronica Marable Johnson is currently employed as the Director of Programs and Operations for the Center for Women's Health Research @ Meharry Medical College. Veronica oversees the Center's Fiscal responsibilities, Programs, Fund Development and Community Outreach Initiatives.
After graduating from Austin Peay, she began her professional career with First American National Bank. Veronica rose thru the ranks to Senior Vice President and Corporate Director of Diversity prior to the bank's acquisition. Following a 13 year banking career, Veronica became the first African American female to manage a multi-million dollar sales portfolio in the Middle Tennessee Region for one of the world's largest transportation corporations.
Active on various community boards and organizations, including the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Metro Nashville Chapter President, TN Economic Council on Women, Girl Scouts, Leadership Nashville, CABLE, TN Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, Hendersonville Links, American Heart Association – Go Red for Women Society, Habitat for Humanity, and Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church – where she is the Associate Youth Director and Sunday School teacher.
Previous community involvement: Immediate Past President of the Urban League Guild and Board of Directors, YWCA, Jr. Chamber, Junior League, Harding Place YMCA and numerous others.

sherryjones_sRep. Sherry Jones, of Nashville, has been a House member of the 99th through 107th General Assemblies. She is the Vice-Chair of the House Children and Family Affairs Committee. Rep. Jones is a member of the Nashville Women’s Political Caucus and Davidson County Democratic Women. She also volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Prior to her work in the General Assembly, Rep. Jones was a member of the Metro Nashville Council for the 30th District from 1987 to 1995. She has received leadership awards from the Mid-Cumberland Council on Children and Youth, Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, Tennessee AFL-CIO, Tennessee Citizen Action, Tennessee March of Dimes, and Vanderbilt Law School, among others. She was appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Economic Council. rep.sherry.jones@capitol.tn.gov

beckymassey_sSen. Becky Massey, of Knoxville, was born on January 2, 1955.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1977. She is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, a women's fraternity.

In November 2011, she was elected to the sixth district in the Tennessee Senate, after Republican Senator Jamie Woodson resigned. She serves as Executive Director of the Sertoma Center to treat patients with mental disorders in Knoxville. She is a former board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters.  She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Walters State Community College, where she taught a Money and Banking course.  She attends a Presbyterian church.

She is married to Morton Massey, a software developer, and they have two daughters, Courtney and Kristen. Her father was John Duncan, Sr., Mayor of Knoxville from 1954 to 1964, and a U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 2nd congressional district from 1965 to 1988.  Her brother is Jimmy Duncan, who took up their father's district at the federal level.

robinsmith_sRobin Smith, Southwest TN Development District. Robin Smith, partner of SmithWaterhouse Strategies of Chattanooga, works daily with companies, campaigns, and causes to craft effective strategies at the local, state and national levels to compete and to excel. Robin Smith is also founder and head of Rivers Edge Alliance, a firm providing project management and consulting with current clients in the sectors of healthcare, energy and nonprofit. Smith has worked on local, state and national political campaigns, including presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and county elections, for more than 25 years. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a Bachelo'rs of Science in nursing and is certified in project management through Stanford University. Among her long list of government relations accomplishments, Smith has served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican party, founded and chaired a statewide council for minority leadership in politics, the Tennessee GOP Development Council, and acted as the Tennessee Human Rights Commissioner. Smith currently serves on a variety of boards and writes a weekly column for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

jonnieturner_sRep. Johnnie Turner represents District 85 (part of Shelby County) in the Tennessee House of Representatives. She is a member of the House Consumer & Employee Affairs Committee and of the House Children & Family Affairs Committee. Rep. Turner sits on the Board of Directors of the NAACP Tennessee State Conference and of the New Memphis Arena Building Authority. She is also active with Leadership Memphis, LeMoyne Owen National Alumni Association, and Memphis Retired Teachers Association. Rep. Turner is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Living Legends Award from the Northeast Region of the NAACP, the Living Legends Award from the Memphis Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Addie G. Owen Racial Justice Award presented by the YWCA of Greater Memphis. On the Council, Rep. Turner represents the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators.

susanwhitaker_sCommissioner Susan Whitaker, a veteran tourism marketing executive, was appointed in January 2011 to the cabinet of Governor Bill Haslam as Commissioner of Tourist Development. Whitaker was initially appointed to the position in 2003 by Governor Phil Bredesen and reappointed under his administration in 2007. Whitaker was named the 2013 National Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Travel Directors.
As Commissioner, Whitaker is responsible for marketing Tennessee’s tourism industry domestically and internationally. Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries with a $16.16 billion direct economic impact in 2012, a 5.2 percent increase over 2011. State and local tax collections reached a new high of $1.24 billion for tourism related businesses in 2012, which is the seventh consecutive year above $1 billion. Whitaker oversees the development and implementation of the state’s comprehensive marketing, public relations and promotions campaigns designed to stimulate growth of tourism in Tennessee.
Whitaker serves as the Secretary of the U.S. Travel Association's Board of Directors. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of State Travel Directors, Travel South USA Board of Directors, the University of Tennessee's Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board, and the Governor’s International Advisory Council. She serves as the co-chair of Tennessee's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission as well as the Tennessee State Fair Commission and is a member of the Smoky Mountains Park Commission. In September 2013, Whitaker was appointed to the Civil War Trust Board of Trustees.
Whitaker is a Chicago native and a direct descendent of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Prior to her state cabinet post, Whitaker served as vice president of marketing for Dollywood, Tennessee's most visited manmade attraction. Susan.Whitaker@tn.gov

dawnwhite_sRepresentative Dawn White represents the 37th District (part of Rutherford County) in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Rep. White is a member of the House Business & Utilities Committee and of the House Education Committee and Subcommittee. Growing up in Eagleville, Dawn learned the importance of faith, family, and giving back to her community. Dawn attended Rutherford County Schools and is a proud graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, and Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision degrees.
Dawn's love of community service led her to become involved with organizations whose work addresses some of our community's greatest needs. Recognizing that the government cannot solve all of society's problems, she has spent years volunteering with organizations across Rutherford County in an effort to improve the lives of people in our community. In 2005, Dawn felt the call of entrepreneurship. She became an owner of TheVacuumCenter.com and eventually started TheSewingCenter.com, which are online retailers of vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, and related parts and supplies. Through hard work, Dawn tripled the size of her business and has provided both full-time and part-time jobs for numerous people in Rutherford County. Her office and warehouse space are located in Smyrna, TN.

 

Staff

phyllisquallsbrooks_sPhyllis Qualls-Brooks was named Executive Director of The Tennessee Economic Council in 2012. Phyllis has extensive experience in both state and federal government, education and communications. She holds a doctorate in higher education from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University and a master's degree in English from Tennessee State University. She recently served as a Congressional Affairs Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Special Projects Coordinator with the Office of the Treasurer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She formerly served as Assistant Commissioner in the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Director of Public Relations at Tennessee State University. Phyllis.Qualls-Brooks@tn.gov

billarth_sBill Arth joined the Economic Council on Women as Senior Research Manager in 2012. A transplant from Columbus, Ohio, Bill brings with him over eight years of experience in the Ohio General Assembly, where he worked in both chambers, including as a researcher and policy analyst for the Speaker of the Ohio House. Prior to his work in the Statehouse, Bill earned his bachelor's degree in political science and economics at Ohio State University. Bill's passion for public policy extends beyond the workplace, where he is drawn to community efforts pertaining to social justice, public transportation and urban affairs. William.Arth@tn.gov

traceyroberts_sTracey Roberts joined the Tennessee Economic Council on Women in February 2008 as the Administrative Assistant. Today, Tracey stands at the helm in a dual role of Office Manager and Administrative Assistant. Tracey has recently earned her Associate's degree in Business and is planning to return to college in spring 2012 to continue her Bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management. Prior to joining the Council, Tracey worked in electronics warehousing as Quality Control Lead. Tracey enjoys the outdoors and scrapbooking in her spare time along with spending time with her Family and Grandson. tracey.roberts@tn.gov