Thrive Regional Partnership Announces New Trustees

Thursday, January 14, 2021

At the outset of 2021, Thrive Regional Partnership welcomed five new trustees to its board that reflect growing county representation and corporate leadership across the tri-state, 16-county greater Chattanooga region. The newly elected Board trustees are Barry Allen, Mike Costa, Nathan Lee, Jennifer McCurdy and Harriette Stokes.

“After a year like 2020, we understand more than ever how important it is to strengthen connections among communities across our region,” said Bridgett Massengill, president and CEO of Thrive Regional Partnership. “We are pleased to welcome these new trustees, representing businesses and towns across northeast Alabama, northwest Georgia, and southeast Tennessee, to ensure that we continue to practice Thrive’s mission authentically and inclusively across the tri-state.”

Mr. Allen lives in Jasper, Tn. along with his wife, Laura and their two daughters, Gracie and Sophie.  He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1995 and has spent 26 years in the banking industry.  He currently serves as president of Tower Community Bank in Jasper.

Mr. Allen is an avid cyclist and pursuer of all things outdoors with the principal plan of getting as far away from civilization as he can on long bike rides, hikes, or camping pursuits.

He has dedicated his non-work, public service life to land conservation, historic preservation, and economic development of Southeastern Tennessee and the South Cumberland Plateau.  He has also found himself active in animal rescue. Mr. Allen has most recently finished an eight year stint on the board of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, finishing his tenure as president in 2019 and 2020.  Mr. Allen also serves on the board of The Battle of Franklin Trust.

Mr. Costa, “Mike”, is the owner of Costa Media Advisors, an advisory firm focused on media, marketing and management.

A career in local television brought Mr. Costa to Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley in 2000. He was general manager of WDSI Fox61 from 2000 to 2004.  In 2004, Mr. Costa became general manager of WTVC NewsChannel9, a position he held until 2018.  In his role as a station leader, Mr. Costa fell in love with this area, its people and its community organizations. He and his team at WTVC were responsible for the book, Chattanooga Heroic Drive: History of a Renaissance, documenting Chattanooga’s journey from “America’s dirtiest city” to the place ranked #1 by Outdoor Magazine.

From 2019 until October 2020, Mr. Costa led Alabama News Network in Montgomery, Al.  Homesick for the Tennessee Valley and tired of commuting each week, he decided to return home to start a new phase of his journey and launched Costa Media Advisors.

Mr. Costa and his wife Suzy live in Chattanooga.

Mr. Lee is the project manager for the Jackson County Economic Development Authority.  In this role, he supports existing industries and recruits new industries into North Alabama. Mr. Lee is a graduate of Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute and Auburn EDAA essentials of Economic Development.  He is from Jackson County Alabama and graduated from Pisgah High School.  He has a Master’s degree from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s degree from Covenant College in Organizational Management.  Mr. Lee has served in the United States Air Force, worked as a mechanic, served as a police officer, worked as a houseparent, and was a career coach in the Jackson County and Scottsboro City School System. Mr. Lee and his wife Lisa have two daughters and reside in Jackson County, Al.

Ms. McCurdy was born and raised in DeKalb County, Al. and is a proud graduate of Auburn University holding a degree in Health Services Administration. She has served in healthcare marketing for over 20 years and has served as executive director of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce for three years. Ms. McCurdy is a graduate of The Government and Economic Development Institute at Auburn University’s EDAA Leadership Institute program. She also attended and completed the Auburn University Basic Economic Development Course through The Government and Economic Development Institute. A graduate of Leadership Dekalb, Ms. McCurdy currently serves on their Board of Directors.  In partnership with DeKalb County Economic Development and Tennessee Valley Authority, she helped spearhead Rising Leaders of DeKalb, a young talent group formed two-year ago in DeKalb County. Ms. McCurdy is married to Bruce McCurdy, and they have 12-year-old twins, Reese and Sam.

Ms. Stokes is the director of Executive Account Management & Economic Development for North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation serving Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Whitfield, and Walker Counties.  She has been with North Georgia EMC for nine years.  Ms. Stokes received a B.S in Mathematics from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville, Fl. She currently serves on the Board of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority and represents her company with the Southeast Industrial Development Association and the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership. Ms. Stokes has served on many boards including Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, Ronald MacDonald House, Creative Discovery Museum, St Nicholas School, Chambliss Children’s Home and is a past board chair of Junior Achievement of Northwest Georgia.

“Each of the Thrive board members bring local perspective and distinct skill sets to the table,” said Connie Vaughan, chair of Thrive Regional Partnership. “As Thrive enters its sixth year, we are pleased to welcome these new members who will help steer the organization’s collaborative efforts around infrastructure, community prosperity, and the stewardship of our natural landscape.”

With these appointments, the Thrive board consists of 27 trustees. Chaired by Connie Vaughan, Government Relations Manager for McKee Foods, the board of trustees includes: Rob Bradham, President & CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce; Daniel Carter of Carter Farm and Sewanee, University of the South; Whitney K. Coe of the Center for Rural Strategies; Chuck Dobbins of Dobbins Investments, LLC; Gary Farlow of the Arrowhead Group; Bryan Griffin of Georgia Power; Mike Griffin, President & CEO of Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce; Justin Groenert, Vice President of Public Policy for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Joel Houser, Southeast Field Coordinator for the Open Space Institute; Beth Jones, Executive Director of Southeast Tennessee Development; Denny Mobbs of Jordan Fabricating; Brittany Pittman of the Appalachian Regional Commission; Rick Roden, President & CEO of Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce; Honna Rogers, Municipal Management Consultant for UT-Municipal Technical Advisory Service; Emerson Russell, CEO of ERMC Facility Services; Dr. Mina Sartipi, Program Leader for UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress; Dennis Tumlin, Chief Customer Officer of the TN Department of Tourist Development; Dr. Edna Varner, Senior Advisor for the Public Education Foundation; Greg A. Vital, President/CEO of Morning Pointe Senior Living; Elizabeth Wells of Rossville Redevelopment; and Charles Wood, Chief Economic Development Officer of the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership.  

Thrive Regional Partnership inspires responsible growth through conversation, connection, and collaboration. The unprecedented nonprofit unites people across the growing tri-state region to preserve community and natural character for generations to come. For more information about Thrive Regional Partnership, visit

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