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Major General Gary Harrell - Lifetime Achievement Award
Major General Gary Harrell has spent his life in service to his country.
He was among the first recipients of a four-year scholarship from the East Tennessee State University Army ROTC program, receiving his bachelors degree in industrial technology and his Army commission in 1973.
By early 1977, he had earned the highly respected Green Beret and was assigned to the 3 rd Battalion, 7 th Special Forces Group in Panama. Selected to be the commander of the first Commander In Chief In-Extremis assault team, he led a Special Forces A-Team and a SCUBA team.
Following his Panama assignment, Maj. Gen. Harrell was chosen to command an Airborne Rifle Company, deploying to the Sinai as the Commander of Charlie Company, 1 st Battalion, 505 th Parachute Infantry Regiment as part of the first multinational force there in 1981.
During his years on airborne status, he accrued several hundred static-line and military free fall jumps.
Maj. Gen. Harrells career has taken him to every hot spot on the globe involving the United States. He was deployed to Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury, and then took part in combat operations in Panama with Operation Just Cause as part of the Army Special Operations Community, SFOD-D.
He was sent to the Middle East during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and he was wounded by mortar fire while in Somalia helping with United Nations relief efforts.
Between 1999 and 2001, Maj. Gen. Harrell commanded the SFOD-D and then assumed responsibility as Central Command Joint Security Director responsible for the protection of U.S. forces in 25 nations surrounding the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
After the attack on the USS Cole, he deployed to Yemen, after being chosen by General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command from 2000-2003. In his book, An American Soldier, Gen. Franks says of his selection of Maj. Gen. Harrell, This proved to be a good decision. Gary understood terrorism from his time as an SMU commander in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 during the brutal combat made famous in the book and film Black Hawk Down. And he developed force protection procedures for CENTCOM subordinate commanders and troops, which over the next three years would save hundreds of American lives.
In 2001, he was Assistant Division Commander for the 10 th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, and was interviewed by Dan Rather on 60 Minutes II, discussing special operations work with Afghan forces to remove al-Qaida and Taliban operatives from power.
Operation Iraqi Freedom found Maj. Gen. Harrell commanding the largest special operations force assembled since World War II -- over 20,000 personnel.
Today, the major general is the Commanding General, Special Operations Command Central, based at McDill Air Force Base, Florida.
During his distinguished career, Maj. Gen. Harrell has attained further education. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and Armed Forces Staff College, and he has completed the Armys Airborne Course, Ranger School, Special Forces Underwater Operations (SCUBA) course, and the military free fall course.
Among his many prestigious decorations, Maj. Gen. Harrell counts a Bronze Star with V device for valor, the Purple Heart for his wounds received in Somalia, and the Humanitarian Service Ribbon.
The major general is married to the former Jennifer Counts and is the father of three: Chad, who attended ETSU and is now a U.S. Army Ranger, Amanda, and Andrea Burchette. Andrea, an ETSU graduate, and her husband, Kevin Burchette, are the parents of the Harrells granddaughters, Carson Grace and Callie Faith.
Cornelius Cox Corny Marshall - Lifetime Achievement Award
Lifelong Johnson City resident Corny Marshall earned a degree in business at East Tennessee State University in 1956, and he has used that degree to become one of the leading real estate developers, managers, and marketers in the region.
Anyone familiar with Johnson City will recognize local landmarks developed by Mr. Marshall and his Mountcastle Corporation. Among these are: The colonial-style building that houses the local Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Woodridge Hospital, Mountcastle Place, Walmart SuperCenter, Food Lion Shopping Center, and Shops at Franklin.
Some of Mountcastles recent projects include E-Park, which houses the Siemens office building and offers cutting-edge technology to tenants, and StorageMax Self Storage, a 100,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility, a first for Johnson City.
Corny Marshall founded Mountcastle Corporation in 1965. Today, his son, John, presides as president of the business, which has developed more than two million square feet of retail space, much of it in other states.
Mr. Marshall served as a director of Hamilton Bank for 17 years and was a founding director and chairman of the board for Peoples Community Bank. He also served on the board of directors of the Johnson City Medical Center and the ETSU Foundation. In 1996, he received an ETSU Award of Honor.
Mrs. Marshall, the former Alice Mays, is also a graduate of ETSU. The couple has two children, John and Courtney.
William Cal McGraw - Lifetime Achievement Award
Cal McGraw might have taken a different career path, had he not suffered a knee injury that forced him to leave the football team at East Tennessee State University.
He took his 1960 ETSU degree in business administration and launched a remarkable career, beginning with Burroughs Corporation where he worked 14 years in sales, marketing, product management, and corporate management.
Mr. McGraw always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit, and, in 1975, he founded McGraw and Associates, a company engaged in providing capital and consulting services to technology companies.
The firm focuses on providing incubator services for start-up and fledgling technology businesses throughout the United States and Europe. McGraw and Associates has founded, co-founded, or aided the development of more than 20 companies, providing guidance in marketing, funding, and business planning.
Currently, Mr. McGraw is associated with two Atlanta-based companies, Recall Systems, Inc. and Time Plus, Inc. He was until recently board chairman of Expert Systems, Inc., a leading provider of interactive voice response systems, and he was instrumental in the merger of Expert Systems with National Health Enhancement Systems (NHES), the largest health information call center software company in the nation. Mr. McGraw also co-founded Health Enhancement International, Inc. (HEI), a company addressing the health information call center software market outside the U.S., and, in 1998, he negotiated the merger of NHES and HEI to form HBO and Company.
Director of international operations for several U.S.-based technology companies, Mr. McGraw has also co-founded software companies in the United Kingdom and Germany.
Named the 1993 ETSU Outstanding Alumnus, Mr. McGraw is actively involved with his alma mater as a member of the Foundation Board, College of Business and Technology Board of Advisors, Distinguished Presidents Trust, and Committee of 1,000. He and his wife have also established a scholarship fund for deserving students in the College of Business and Technology.
Mr. McGraw lives in the suburbs of Atlanta and is married to the former Joan Metheny, who also attended ETSU. They have three sons, David, ETSU Class of 1994, Stephen, and Timothy.
Bill F. Breeding, Jr. - Excellence Award
Bill Breeding has experienced life at East Tennessee State University both as a traditional and non-traditional student. He left the university for active duty in the U.S. Air Force, serving from 1966-1970.
Upon his return to Johnson City, he joined Clyce Distributing Company, and today he is its president and owner. Coming back to ETSU to complete his bachelors degree in history, Mr. Breeding graduated in 1990.
His tenure at Clyce Distributing has seen the company flourish. The business is the first in the eastern part of the United States and the only distributor in Tennessee to be recognized for excellence by Adolph Coors Company with a Founders Award. Earlier, Stroh Brewing Company presented Clyce Distributing the Stroh Golden Lion Award for outstanding achievement.
During his career, Mr. Breeding has been active in civic and charitable concerns, and he has been an especially good friend of ETSU. He has served Johnson City as a city commissioner, vice mayor, and mayor, as well as accepting an appointment to the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission. A member of the board for the Greeneville and Kingsport Chambers of Commerce, he is past president of the Johnson City/Washington County Area Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Breeding is a member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church.
He served nine years as a member of the board of directors of Johnson City Medical Center. In 1994, he was appointed by then Governor Don Sundquist to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission, on which he served three years.
After accepting an appointment to the Johnson City Development Authority, Mr. Breeding acted as chairman, overseeing the group when it initiated building Millennium Centre and establishing the cultural district.
As 1990 campaign chairman for the Johnson City United Way, he saw the fund raise over $1 million for the first time, while he was also serving as director of the Tennessee Municipal League. Currently, he is chairman of the board of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, a member of the SunTrust Bank of Northeast Tennessee board, and a member and past president of the Johnson City Kiwanis Club.
Mr. Breeding helped establish ETSU PRIDE Week and served as co-chairman of the first PRIDE Week celebration. He has worked on the campus Alcohol Awareness Task Force, is a member of the Distinguished Presidents Trust, is a former director of the ETSU Foundation, and has served as an officer in the ETSU Alumni Association.
Among his many honors, Mr. Breeding can count the Distinguished Past President Award and Kiwanian of the Year designation from the Johnson City Kiwanis Club and the Distinguished Service Award from the Johnson City Jaycees. He was also declared Man of the Year by Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and the Tennessee Professional Golfers Association made him an honorary member.
Mr. Breeding is the father of two adult sons, Bryan and Bradley.
Scott M. Niswonger - Excellence Award
Scott M. Niswonger grew up in a small town in Northwestern Ohio. He came to Greeneville, Tennessee, as the pilot for the President of the Magnavox Consumer Electronics Company in 1968, and five years later started his own transportation business. He subsequently co-founded Landair Transport in 1981 with an initial investment of $2,000. In fact, Mr. Niswonger founded the first two companies ever to be taken public in Greene County's history.
Today, Mr. Niswonger is the majority shareholder of Landair Transport, Inc., and also serves as chairman of Forward Air Corporation. The two companies have combined annual revenues of $400 million. These businesses provide high service level truckload operations and contract services to the air cargo industry and other time definite shippers. Publicly traded on the NASDAQ, Forward Air (FWRD) has been recognized the past five years by Forbes magazine as one of the "Top 200 Small Companies" in America and by Inc. 500 as one of Americas Fastest Growing Private Companies three consecutive years prior to going public.
Mr. Niswonger is a graduate of aviation technology at Purdue University, received his bachelor of science in business administration from Tusculum College, and was awarded a doctorate of technology degree, also from Purdue. He is a graduate of the United Airlines Training Academy and a certificated Airline Transport Pilot, having flown an assortment of airplanes from J-3 Cubs to the Boeing 747. He currently enjoys flying his Gulfstream IV-SP for business and pleasure.
Mr. Niswonger is very active in community and civic affairs. He is an ordained elder in his church and has previously served in leadership for several organizations, including: chairman of the Greene County Partnership; founding board member of the Fund for Greene County; and founding director of the Junior Achievement in Greene County. In 1994, Junior Achievement recognized him as their worldwide recipient of the International Distinguished Graduate Award. In 1999, he was inducted into Junior Achievements Business Hall of Fame and he was chosen by Ernst & Young as the 1999 Entrepreneur of the Year for the southeastern United States. On the state level, Mr. Niswonger was appointed vice-chair of the Tennessee Board for Economic Growth and Chairman of the Building and Finance Committee for the State of Tennessee by then Governor Don Sundquist.
Mr. Niswonger continues his active support of regional economic development. He currently serves as a Trustee at Tusculum College and on their Executive Committee; on Purdue University's Deans Executive Council for the School of Technology; and is a board member and honorary alumnus of East Tennessee State University.
He is especially proud of The Niswonger Foundation that he established in 2001 to create opportunities for individual and regional growth through educational programs, scholarships, and other charitable activities. This is the first educational operating foundation to be formed in Greene County.
Marie Baucom Williams - Excellence Award
Marie Baucom Williams is now retired and lives on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, a fitting adventure for an Outward Bound Alumna who enjoys hot air ballooning, ultra-light and sailplane flights, and bungee jumping.
Ms. Williams retired in July 2004 from her position as President and CEO of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) in Nashville. She was the founder of the benchmark organizational improvement and recognition program, Tennessee Quality Award (TQA), which became the TNCPE, and during her tenure with the public-private, nonprofit organization, she recruited, developed, trained, and mentored over 2,000 volunteers serving on the Board of Examiners. Those examiners then assisted more than 1,000 Tennessee businesses, hospitals, schools, and colleges to improve their capabilities and results. In addition, she spoke to over 100,000 leaders regarding the benefits of performance excellence criteria.
TQA experienced great success under Ms. Williams tutelage, with Tennessee-based Pals Sudden Service, Eastman Chemical, and Caterpillar Financial Services joining Federal Express as winners of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards.
With the Tennessee Department of Education, TQA developed a Baldrige in Education Initiative, recommended by University of Tennessee research for adoption in all schools within the Volunteer State. Through partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Work Force Development, TQA developed a program for statewide Adult Education Centers and Career Centers.
The TQA became a model for 43 states and other countries, including Mauritius (an island republic in the Indian Ocean), Australia, and New Zealand, leading the U.S. State Department to appoint Ms. Williams as Visiting Scholar to establish the Mauritius National Quality Award.
In recognition of her work, Ms. Williams received a 2004 Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence honorary Excellence Award. She was the subject of a State of Tennessee joint Senate/House resolution recognizing her significant contributions to Tennessee, received an honorary masters degree from Tennessee Technological University's School of Business Administration, and attained the title of Kentucky Colonel for her involvement with the Bluegrass State.
Currently, Ms. Williams is a member of the advisory board of the ETSU College of Business and Technology, and she sits on advisory boards at Tennessee Tech. In addition, she is a member of Signature Managements board of governors.
Her career encompasses an array of public service, including five years as a judge at ETSU for the former College of Applied Science and Technologys Teacher Award Program, serving as president of the Bristol Chamber Foundation and of the Greater Bristol Area Chamber of Commerce, developing the first-ever joint work of the Tri-Cities Chambers of Commerce. She was a board member on the ETSU Regional Economic Development Board, founding board chair of Volunteer Bristol, and founding board member of the Bristol Regional Medical Center Hall of Fame. Her service as a judge extends to participation in determining the Girl Scouts of America National Award and the General Shale Presidents Award.
Ms. Williams, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, is married to Michael Williams and is the mother of three sons: Miles Small, Hank Williams, and Bob Williams.
Morgan Cox - Horizon Award
Immediately after graduating from East Tennessee State University in 1998 with a bachelors degree in marketing, Morgan Cox accepted employment with Powell Construction Company as Director of Corporate Communications in the Johnson City office and Director of Business Development for Powell Building Group in Nashville.
He was featured in an article in The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA as a successful entrepreneur under the age of 30 and as an example of the advantages of a mentoring relationship, such as the one Mr. Cox developed with Jim Powell, president of Powell Construction.
In the fall of 2002, Mr. Cox established AVANT--Advanced Commercial Strategies, a commercial real estate company which currently represents many regional and national retail and corporate clients, including Chrysler Corporation, Rush Fitness Corporation, Mountcastle Corporation, and Federated Department Stores.
Earlier this year, Mr. Cox relocated to Dallas, Texas, to pursue the development and expansion of Marquis Group, a real estate investment and management company, where he is a partner and directs acquisitions.
A member of the ETSU College of Business and Technology Board of Advisors, Mr. Cox enjoyed serving as co-chair of the Washington County Junior Achievement Board and serving on the Mountain States Health Alliance Advisory Board. Associated with the Childrens Advocacy Center of the First Judicial District, he is a member of Rotary International and assisted the Coalition for Kids, as well as the Easter Seals Foundation of Tennessee, which is headquartered in Nashville. Mr. Cox is also affiliated with the Frist Roundtable in Washington, D.C., and the Ryan Gibson Foundation of Dallas.
Melissa Steagall-Jones - Horizon Award
Melissa Steagall-Jones began working for Blackburn, Childers and Steagall in 1987, after her graduation from high school, and she joined the firm four years later when she completed work on her bachelors degree at East Tennessee State University. She earned her CPA designation in 1993 and became a partner in 2002.
The firm was founded in 1961 by Carl Childers, Jr., and the late Joe A. Blackburn, Jr. In 1967, Charles Steagall, Melissa Steagall-Joness father, joined them while he was still an ETSU student and became a partner in 1974.
With offices in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Greeneville, the firm is one of the largest, oldest, and most highly respected in the region. A staff of over 50 offers specialties in accounting and taxes, with consulting available in areas such as auditing, personal financial planning, medical practice consulting, litigation support, business valuations and entrepreneurial ventures, estate service, and employee benefits.
Mrs. Steagall-Jones was named a 40 Under 40 Business Journal honoree in 2002 and received the 2004 Distinguished Leadership Award presented by the Community Leadership Association. She is also noted for her column in The Business Journalof TN/VA.
In 2003, Mrs. Steagall-Jones co-chaired the Signature Club division of the Johnson City Area United Way Campaign, which reached its best performance ever, and she currently chairs the 2004 campaign.
Her leadership within the firm helped establish the Blackburn, Childers and Steagall Faculty Fellowship in Accountancy within the ETSU Foundation. The fellowship recognizes and provides financial support for teaching, research, and service for an ETSU Department of Accountancy faculty member.
Mrs. Steagall-Jones is married to Jeff Jones, a 1988 ETSU graduate. They have two children: six-year-old Lydia and Evan, who was born in April 2004.
Freddie H. Malone - Horizon Award
Since 1989, when he earned an East Tennessee State University bachelors degree in finance with minors in real estate and management, Freddie H. Malone has built upon his financial knowledge at the Tennessee School of Banking, the Tennessee Consumer Credit School at Vanderbilt, and through various seminars at the American Institute of Banking.
At the end of his ETSU career, Mr. Malone served as an intern for the late United States Congressman James H. (Jimmy) Quillen.
Joining SunTrust Bank in 1989 as a management trainee, Mr. Malone worked in a variety of areas, including Special Assets, Loan Review, and Mortgage Lending, before eventually finding his niche in the Commercial Banking Division.
In 2003, he assumed his current position as Vice President of First Tennessee Bank, assisting commercial clients in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia with an array of financial products and services.
Active in his community, Mr. Malone serves the Mountain States Foundation as a member and past chair of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Planned Gifts Committee, and a member of the Signature Gifts Committee. He also serves as a member and chair of the Mountain States Health Alliance Audit and Compliance Committee.
His support of United Way includes service as a member of the Allocations Committee and as former Finance Committee Campaign Chair. He is a graduate of the 1998 Johnson City Chamber Leadership Program and 2003 Bristol Chamber LEAD Program.
Mr. Malones accolades include his designation among The Business Journalof TN/VA 1998 40 Under 40 honorees and among that magazines 2003 Healthcare Hero award winners. He was also named Outstanding Volunteer in 2002 by the Association of Fundraising Professions, Mountain Empire Chapter.
He and his wife, the former Sharon Roberts, who is a member of the ETSU Class of 1988, are the parents of two children, 10-year-old Andrew and 4-year-old Anna Beth. The family is active as members of Heritage Baptist Church.