Thrive Regional Partnership Welcomes 5 New Trustees In 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022

Thrive Regional Partnership, a nonprofit organization that inspires responsible growth through conversation, connection and collaboration in the tri-state Chattanooga region, has kicked off 2022 by welcoming five new members from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee to its board of trustees.

The newly elected trustees, which reflect growing representation and corporate leadership across the tri-state, 16-county greater Chattanooga region that Thrive Regional Partnership serves, are Darren Bakkestuen (Rhea County, Tenn.), Mike Shirey (DeKalb County, Ala.), Amy L. Jackson (Catoosa County, Ga.), Carey Garland (Marion County, Tenn.) and Courtney Keehan (Hamilton County, Tenn.).

“Our entire organization is thrilled to welcome these five incredible individuals to our board. Each of them truly understands and lives by our mission at Thrive to inspire responsible growth in the greater Chattanooga region. As leaders representing a variety of sectors across Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, we know that these five outstanding community leaders will bring new and valuable perspectives to our board,” Bridgett Massengill, Thrive Regional Partnership president and CEO, said. 

New trustees are: 

Darren Bakkestuen, Environmental Health Safety and Security manager for Nokian Tyres’ North American factory in Dayton. He oversees environmental compliance programs, sustainability efforts, and safety and security activities at the only LEED v4 Silver-certified tire factory in the world. Mr. Bakkestuen has been actively involved in sustainability programs and environmental health and safety management systems development at several companies, most recently helping Nokian Tyres’ Dayton Factory achieve ISO 14001 certification. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin—Platteville and his MBA from Viterbo University. Additionally, he holds the Certified Safety Professional accreditation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Mr. Bakkestuen lives in Hixson and has been in the Chattanooga area since 2013. He enjoys the natural beauty of the area and can usually be found out on the lake on his boat during the summer months and either out hiking or cozied up by a warm bonfire when the leaves start to turn.

Mike Shirey, general manager for the Fort Payne Improvement Authority. Mr. Shirey was born and raised in Fort Payne, Al.  After graduating from Fort Payne High School, he attended Auburn University. While at Auburn, he earned a degree in Civil Engineering and was a member of the football team. Mr. Shirey was one of Pat Dye’s first team captains and was the first player for the legendary Auburn coach to earn his degree. In 1982, Mr. Shirey  returned to Fort Payne and began his career with Tennessee Valley Authority. During his career with TVA, he worked on numerous projects and served in multiple general manager roles, including Business Services, Transmission Projects, Transmission Line Engineering, Generation Projects and Transmission Contract Projects. After a 35-year career with TVA, Mr. Shirey retired in 2017 and was selected as the general manager for the Fort Payne Improvement Authority. Since joining FPIA, he and the FPIA Team have worked to strengthen and improve the power distribution system serving Fort Payne and the surrounding community. In the spring of 2020, FPIA completed the deployment of an advanced metering infrastructure system, and in the spring of 2022, a new substation will be placed in service that will improve reliability and provide flexibility for growth. In addition to his work with TVA and now FPIA, Mr. Shirey is currently in his 23rd season as a line judge with the Southeastern Conference. Mr. Shirey has been an official in some of the South’s oldest rivalries and has officiated two SEC Championships and multiple Bowl Games including the Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls.  Mr. Shirey and his wife, Amanda, have been married for 40 years. Their daughter, Hannah, and her husband, David Burton, have two children, Corbin and Sadie. Their son, Jake, and his wife, Annie, have two children, Colton and Christian.

Amy L. Jackson, president and chief executive officer of the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce. She began this role in Georgia in 2019 after serving as the Chamber Membership Coordinator for three years. Ms. Jackson grew up in Chattanooga and graduated with a degree in business management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After pursuing a successful career in technology sales with IBM in Savannah and Nashville, she and her husband, Greg, and sons, Eric and Evan, relocated to Catoosa County, Ga., in 1999 as she enjoyed a sales management career with T-Mobile in Chattanooga. Ms. Jackson currently serves on the Catoosa County College and Career Academy Board, the Catoosa County Economic Development Authority Board, the North Georgia Community YMCA Board, the Catoosa County Community Food & Benevolence/Stocking Full of Love Committee, the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy Advisory Committee and the Catoosa County Public Schools Partnership Program Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the Kiwanis of Fort Oglethorpe. Ms. Jackson is currently in the process of pursuing the four-year Institute of Organization Management (IOM) graduate recognition for completing a comprehensive course of study in nonprofit management through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Carey Garland, director of Product Marketing at Lodge Cast Iron. Ms. Garland was born and raised in South Pittsburg. A 1996 graduate of South Pittsburg High School, she went on to complete her B.A. degree in business from Maryville College. Ms. Garland relocated to South Pittsburg in 2008 and began working for Lodge Cast Iron in 2009, where she is currently the director of Product Marketing. Ms. Garland and her husband, Mike, built a home in South Pittsburg in 2012 and are raising two boys, Hank & Alex. The family is a member of Christ Church Episcopal in South Pittsburg. They own a company, Team G, LLC, that refurbishes homes in South Pittsburg to provide affordable, quality homes to rent for the community while renovating the community. Ms. Garland became a National Cornbread Festival volunteer in 2007. She joined the Executive Committee in 2011 and continues to hold a seat on this board. She is a founding member of the newest 501(c)(3) in South Pittsburg, SPARQ – South Pittsburg Area Revitalization Quest. She holds a seat on the board and is its acting president.

Courtney Keehan, transactional attorney at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. Ms. Keehan advises clients on business matters related to mergers and acquisitions, environmental compliance, brownfield redevelopment, entity formation and general business operations in the manufacturing, telecommunications, utilities, startup, food and beverage, construction, healthcare and logistics industries. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Law and the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Prior to joining Chambliss full-time, Ms. Keehan worked with both Chambliss and the Southern Environmental Law Center as a summer associate, as well as the Federal Highway Administration as an extern. In her undergraduate studies, she was involved in multiple design projects, including the Yamuna River Project, where she helped rethink the riverfront design in New Delhi, India, to address the city's pressing pollution issues. Ms. Keehan is a native of Signal Mountain and is currently serving on the board of the Association of Visual Arts and as vice-chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Environmental Section.

“Our board is composed of leaders from across the tri-state region who each bring a unique and special attribute to the table. Watching Thrive grow over the past almost six years has been remarkable, and being able to add new members to our board is a testament to that growth. I know Darren, Mike, Amy, Carley and Courtney are going to bring a plethora of new ideas to our board, and I cannot wait to see what all our organization accomplishes in 2022,” Connie Vaughan, chair of Thrive Regional Partnership, said.

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