2009 Inductees

Jason Berry

Jason Berry is a member of the East Tennessee State University Class of 1998 and served as Student Government president. He went on to Virginia Commonwealth University, earning a master’s degree in public administration in 2000.

For the next two years, Berry served as a Presidential Management Intern in the U.S. Army Budget Office and spent much of his time at the Pentagon, where he experienced first hand the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

During these years, Berry rotated among many budget and analysis offices, including positions in the office of South Carolina’s Senator Strom Thurmond, the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., and the Army Ammunition Procurement Team.

By mid-2002, Berry was employed as an analyst in the Army Budget Office, but left to accept a position as Deputy Director of Financial Management and Comptroller in the White House Military Office. He was promoted in 2005 to management analyst for the Assistant Secretary of that office.

In 2006, Berry returned closer to home. He accepted the position of executive director of the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator. Among his accomplishments during his tenure is the addition of some 100 new jobs through the incubator.

Berry serves on the ETSU Alumni Board of Directors. He and his wife, Courtney, are members of Challenge 2000 as a way to support scholarship opportunities for ETSU students.

Berry and his wife reside in Abingdon, Va., and welcomed their first child, Ainsley, in July.


Dr. Steve Conerly

Steve Conerl y was born on a dairy farm in Spring Creek, Louisiana. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Louisiana State University, followed by a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Virginia Tech.

Conerly served in the U.S. Air Force as a Wing Weather officer for a Strategic Air Command Wing and as a base operations weather forecaster. He continued in the Reserves as a weather forecaster for a Tactical Air Command Wing and for an Air Defense Command division, as well as serving as an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer, eventually retiring from the Air Force with the rank of Lt. Col.

In civilian life, Conerly entered a career in business and retired as president and chief executive officer of Land-O-Sun Dairies, Flav-O-Rich Dairy, and Silver Creek Technologies.

Conerly was formerly the chairman of the Milk Industry Foundation and secretary of the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers. He served as Assistant Agricultural Economist and Dairy Marketing Specialist of the Agricultural Economics Department at Virginia Tech as well as chairman of the Virginia State Milk Commission.

Currently, Conerly operates Consultant Management Services and Strategic Planning. eHHe acts as consultant to many milk marketing dairy farmer cooperatives as well as food distribution outlets, transportation companies, and vegetable processing businesses.

Named a 2003 ETSU Honorary Alumnus, Conerly is a member of the ETSU Foundation, currently serving as treasurer and as an Executive Committee member. He also serves on the ETSU College of Business and Technology Advisory Council and has participated in the ETSU Alumni Return to the Classroom program.

Conerly and his wife, Jean, are members of the ETSU Distinguished President’s Trust and the ETSU Legacy Circle. They created the Conerly Business and Technology Academic Progress Scholarship Endowment to encourage and support students in the College.


Larry Trung La

Larry Trung La has Chinese ancestry and came to this country from Vietnam, where he graduated from the National Business School of Saigon. In 1984, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from East Tennessee State University.

La is the founder and chief executive officer of Meiwah Restaurant Grouping which is comprised of two Meiwah restaurants—one in Washington, D.C., and the other in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Both outlets have earned many critics’ awards and have been voted “Best Chinese Restaurant” by numerous media outlets.

In addition, La is the chairman of Meiwah International Holdings (MIH), an international trading company focusing on pharmaceutical products and services, in addition to promoting trade between the United States and Vietnam. This year, MIH was designated the Vietnam Trade Representative for the State of Maryland.

Since La speaks Cantonese, Hakka, Mandarin, and Vietnamese, he is in demand in Washington’s diverse Asian-American community. He is the founding member of the non-profit Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce for the Capitol City Area. In addition, he was a board member of the Newcomers Service Center.

La has made many appearances on television as a representative of the Asian-American community or as a spokesman for the food industry. He appears monthly on the local CBS Morning News program and has been interviewed on ABC’s News Nightline and NBC News.

As an ETSU Foundation donor, La has established the Larry Trung La Faculty Fellowship to assist distinguished faculty in the College of Business and Technology’s Department of Finance. He is also a member of the Distinguished President’s Trust, and he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the ETSU Alumni Association.

La resides in Rockville, Md., with his wife, Diana, and their two children—Alisa and Timothy.


Mitzi Wright McNab

Mitzi Wright McNab received a bachelor’s degree from The University of Tennessee, and, in 1982, an MBA degree from ETSU. She also earned certification for distributive education from Virginia Tech and completed the College Counselor Certification program at the University of California-Los Angeles.

As an ETSU student, she was a member of Alpha Xi Delta social sorority, and she represented the then College of Business in the ETSU Student Government Association.

Involved in secondary schools and community colleges for 27 years, McNab has placed students in employment programs such as distributive education and cooperative office education. She was a teacher in Virginia school systems in Bristol and in Dickenson and Washington counties.

As an entrepreneur, education consultant, and owner of Progressive Academic Consulting, she attends national conferences and workshops and visits schools and programs across the nation to keep pace with opportunities available to students.

Mitzi McNab, her husband Robert, and their family have created the McNab Scholarship Endowment within the East Tennessee State University Foundation for the ETSU College of Business and Technology. They serve as members of the ETSU Foundation as well as of the Distinguished President’s Trust.

The McNabs live in Gray and have two sons, Spencer and Wesley.


Robert B. McNab. Jr.

Robert B. McNab, Jr. has some 35 years of business and entrepreneurial experience, primarily in the field of aviation but also encompassing real estate development and leasing.

After his 1966 graduation from high school in Knoxville, McNab attended ETSU from 1966-69 and from 1971-72, with time in between spent serving in Vietnam with United States Army military intelligence—for which he received the Army Commendation Medal for Excellence.

A pilot from the age of 15, McNab continued training while working at Appalachian Flying Service at Tri-Cities Regional Airport. By 1972, he had earned Commercial, Instrument, and Multi-Engine Ratings and was manager of the Charter and Flight Instruction Departments.

In 1977, he and a partner co-founded Edwards and Associates, a helicopter and charter service, followed by Aeronautical Accessories and Rotor Blades, two subsidiaries devoted to helicopter parts and repairs. The business and its subsidiaries were founded with initial capital of $1,200, grew into a $50 million enterprise, and were sold to Textron, Inc. in 1999.

Branching out in 1989, McNab co-founded Principle Investment Company, a real estate leasing business, and, 10 years later, Century Enterprises, dedicated to property development and leasing.

Elected as board member and later president of the Helicopter Association International, McNab was awarded the prestigious Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award in 1997 for outstanding service to the helicopter industry. He has also been inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame.

Selected as an Organizer of TriSummit Bank in 2005, McNab currently serves on the business’s board of directors.


Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller, a Winchester, Va. native, began his academic career at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Va. He then came to East Tennessee State University to enter the university’s highly successful surveying program.

With his 1995 ETSU bachelor’s degree in surveying and mapping in hand, he joined a firm in Greeneville, where he worked as a surveyor and became head of the surveying department.

In 2003, Miller founded his own company, Miller Land Surveying. From its home base in Greeneville, the firm serves Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.

Miller has taken an active role in professional societies. He is a founding member and president of the Tennessee Surveying Education Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and awareness about surveying. He sits on the board of the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors and has served that group as chair of the education committee and as vice president. As a member of the Virginia Association of Surveyors, Miller has acted as Education Committee Liaison to ETSU.

A faithful alumnus, Miller serves on the Board of Advisors for the College of Business and Technology as well as on the Advisory Committee for the Surveying and Mapping Program.

Miller resides in Greeneville with his wife, Kim, an attorney who practices with the Ricker Law Office.


Frank Rutherford

Frank Rutherford was born in 1933 and raised in Big Stone Gap, Va. He was an electrician apprentice briefly at the Newport News (Va.) Ship Building and Dry Dock Company before he entered what was then East Tennessee State College on a football scholarship.

A four-year participant in the ROTC program, Rutherford graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in business and a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

After completing the Armor Officer’s Basic Course at Fort Knox, Ky., Rutherford completed Ranger School and Airborne School. He served in Germany, France, Vietnam, and 11 states at home. After completing his last assignment—as professor of military science at the University of Alabama—he retired with the rank of colonel.

During his military career, Rutherford earned an MBA from Syracuse University and completed Command and General Staff College, as well as the Armed Forces Industrial College.

Following his military career, Rutherford served as city manager of Northport, Ala., and as executive director of the Solid Waste Disposal Authority in Tuscaloosa, Ala. In addition, he was elected to a four-year term on the Northport City Council.

After his 1992 marriage to Ginger Hawk, Rutherford resided in Johnson City. From 1994 until his death in 2008, he devoted himself to his hobby of repairing, refinishing, and building furniture. He also spent time attending ETSU functions and Buccaneer sport events.

Rutherford is also being posthumously inducted as an inaugural member of the ETSU ROTC Hall of Fame at Homecoming 2009.

Rutherford has two children: Jeb Alan Rutherford of Maypearl, Texas, and Jill Rutherford Smith of Birmingham, Ala. He also has a grandson, Samuel Evan Rutherford.


Ginger Hawk Rutherford

Ginger Hawk Rutherford, a Greene County native, graduated in 1955 from what was then East Tennessee State College with a bachelor’s degree in business education.

After graduation, Rutherford taught two years in Greene and Knox counties. In 1960, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for eight years at the National Academy of Sciences as the fiscal assistant to the chief accountant.

In 1968, Rutherford returned ETSU as manager of computer operations. Ten years later, she became assistant director in the Office of Institutional Research where she managed the data reporting function for the university. In 1995, she retired as Director of Institutional Research.

Rutherford continued her education while employed at ETSU and earned an Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis in 1995.

Ginger Hawk married Frank Rutherford in 1992. Together, they were named members of the ETSU Legacy Circle and Silver Society members of the ETSU Distinguished President’s Trust. They established the Rutherford ROTC Scholarship Endowment within the ETSU Foundation to assist outstanding ROTC students in the College’s Department of Military Science.

Rutherford, a Johnson City resident, currently serves as a member of the ETSU Foundation. In addition, she has been a longtime Buccaneer supporter and season ticket holder.

While at ETSU, Rutherford participated in several university and statewide committees. She served on the Johnson City/Washington County United Way Allocation Committee, and, in 1990, she was in the first group of area women to receive the Honorarium for Women and Industry awarded by the Altrusa Club of Kingsport. Her civic commitments also included volunteering with Contact, a local telephone help line, as well as serving on the organization’s board and as its treasurer.


Carroll Shanks

Carroll Shanks began his education at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, but transferred to East Tennessee State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business in 1948 and then a master’s degree in 1954.

Shanks became principal of Ottway School, encompassing grades one through twelve and located in his native Greene County.

After leaving the field of education, Shanks was hired by IBM Corporation, where he was an account representative for 12 years.

In 1965, Shanks began a long and successful career in insurance, serving in many capacities with National Life and Accident and its parent company, NLT Corporation.

When the company was acquired by American General and Accident Insurance in 1982, Shanks was named a senior vice president and continued to move up through the ranks. The following year, he was elected president and chief operating officer of the corporation. In 1984, he remained president and was named chief executive officer. He was elected vice chairman of the board in 1990.

Active in civic affairs, Shanks has earned many awards, beginning with the American Spirit of Honor Award from the U.S. Air Force in 1953. Other achievements include the Free Enterprise Award presented by Junior Achievement, Philanthropist of the Year given by the Fund-Raising Executives, the Applause Award of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and the Tree of Life Award bestowed by the Nashville Jewish Community.

Shanks was named the 1986 ETSU Outstanding Alumnus, and he has served his alma mater as a member of the ETSU Foundation Alumni Board of Directors.

Now a Nashville resident, Shanks is married to Adair Sizemore Shanks, a member of the ETSU Class of 1954. They have three adult children, Karen, Douglas, and David.


Kenneth Simonds

Kenneth Simonds, a Kingsport native, attended George Washington University, but then transferred to East Tennessee State University. He graduated in 1957 with a degree in business administration.

Simonds began working for IBM after college and held sales and sales management positions for the next nine years. At one time, he was the company’s youngest branch manager.

In 1975, Simonds was part of the team that established Amdahl Corporation, a small start-up company based in Sunnydale, Calif. He assisted as the company went public in 1977. Simonds served as Executive Vice President and Chairman of the Operating Committee. He saw the business grow from its inception to generating $800 in revenue during 1984.

In 1985, Simonds established Terdata Corporation. As Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Simonds led the company as it went public two years later and reached revenues of $380 million by 1991.

Simonds was recognized as a finalist for the 1989 Entrepreneur of the Year for Southern California award. He received the 1991 “Spirit of Life” award from the City of Hope Medical Center, and he was named Outstanding Alumnus by ETSU in 2000.

Simonds served on the boards of the ETSU Foundation, the College of the Desert, Hidden Harvest, and the Medical Care Corporation. In addition, he served on the boards of 12 companies.

Simonds and his wife, Sally, were named as members of the Distinguished President’s Trust Platinum Society and the ETSU Legacy Circle for their steadfast support of the university.

Simonds last resided in Indian Wells, Calif. He and his wife are the parents of five adult children and grandparents of a dozen grandchildren.


K. Newton Raff

Kenneth “Newt” Raff attended Furman University for two years with the assistance of a football scholarship, but a shoulder injury and shortage of funds dictated a delay in his college career.

Raff left his hometown of Tryon, N.C., to take a position as proof operator at a bank in Charlotte. Realizing he would need further education to achieve his dream of succeeding in his field, Raff resumed his studies—this time at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He continued his education at the Tennessee School of Banking at Vanderbilt University and the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. He later served as an instructor at both Vanderbilt and LSU, and he attended Harvard Business School, completing their Executive Leadership Program in 1999.

Raff began pursuing his dream in 1976 as an operations officer with First Tennessee Bank. He quickly moved up the ranks, and, in 1985, he accepted the position of Regional President for First Tennessee Bank in Kingsport and Bristol. He doubled the bank’s size from $85 million in 1986 to $177 million in 1989. Next, he was promoted to chairman and chief executive officer of First Tennessee Bank Northeast Tennessee in 1992.

Currently, Raff is Metro President of the Northeast Tennessee region, overseeing three banks with a total of 21 offices with some $1 billion in deposits and $700 million in loans.

In 2005, Raff was named an ETSU Honorary Alumnus. He participated in the ETSU President’s Class of 2006 and serves the university in many ways, including membership on the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board, Chair of Banking Board, Foundation Board, and Pirate Club Board.

In recognition of their many expressions of support for the university, Raff and his wife, Carmen, are members of the Distinguished President’s Trust Silver Society and the ETSU Legacy Circle.