UT Knoxville Alumni recently unveiled the 2023 class of Volunteer 40 Under 40 award winners. This year’s class included nine alumni from the College of Education, Health & Human Sciences.
Volunteer 40 Under 40 recognizes forty alumni under the age of 40 who have excelled personally and professionally since completing their degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This honor celebrates outstanding Volunteers and shares their accomplishments with our alumni, campus, and community.
Bachelor’s Education (’16)
Occupation: Assistant Director of Clinical Operations, Survey and Perioperative Care, UT Health Austin
Bio: Kenneth Brown-Wilson, MHSA, is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and currently serves as the assistant director of clinical operations, surgery and perioperative care at the University of Texas at Austin. Through his passion for health administration, Brown-Wilson aims to provide quality health outcomes for all and address the needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabilities through community-based interventions. He previously served as an administrative fellow for Johns Hopkins Medicine, a rotation-based program that develops executive leaders to confront health care administration challenges. He was also the assistant director of operations for the Johns Hopkins Surgery Center Series, where he oversaw all ambulatory surgery centers. In his spare time, Brown-Wilson engages with the community through various volunteer efforts and serves as community service chair for the National Association of Health Services Executives, Baltimore Chapter.
PhD Nutritional Science (’20)
Occupation: Lead East Regional Director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network
Favorite UT Memory: As a mom of four, some of my favorite memories at UT are when my kiddos and I would set up camp in my office on the weekends while I would work. I got to defend my dissertation with my entire family present. My life radically changed when I was a student at UT. I had some of the worst experiences of my life happen on campus, but I can say today that there is no safer place I could have been. Now when I am on campus, it is not the traumatic experiences that flood my mind, it is the care, love, and kindness that UT has for people that fills my heart.
Bio: East Tennessee native Emily Hager returned home after service in the United States military to continue serving her community. After losing her previous Veteran husband to suicide, she made it her mission to aid others fighting the battle of depression and suicidal thoughts as well as those who are survivors of suicide loss. She has worked with nonprofit Vet to Vet Tennessee in organizing and implementing expungement clinics in partnership with the UT College of Law. She created, organized, and implemented the East Tennessee first Women Veterans Summit. Hager currently serves as the lead East regional director for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.
PhD Learning Environments and Education Studies (’19)
Master’s (’13), Bachelor’s (’11)
Occupation: Associate Director of Infractions Operations, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
Favorite UT Memory: Watching student–athletes I mentored graduate from UT and subsequently go pro in their respective sports. It was always bittersweet to see all their hard work pay off and move on from the university. A close second would be the occasional lunches with President Emeritus Joe and Pat Johnson at Chesapeake’s.
Bio: A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Alexandra Ingram is the associate director of infractions operations at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). She works with the Office of the Committee on Infractions, Infractions Appeals Committee Office, the newly formed Independent Accountability Resolution Process, and occasionally with Enforcement. She is currently one of 15 from the National Office of the NCAA to be a part of the inaugural Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging working group. She previously spent four years working for UT Knoxville’s athletic department as an academic mentor for student–athletes and two years as assistant coordinator of data projects at the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center.
Bachelor’s Spanish and Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (’05)
Occupation: Senior Director of Clinical Services, Sidekick Therapy Partners
Favorite UT Memory: I have so many incredible memories of my time at UT. I have traveled the world. I’ve watched football games in dozens of stadiums, including professional games and national championships. None of those experiences compare to a game in Neyland Stadium. My roommate and I never missed a game or pre-game. From the Vol Walk to the thousands and thousands of cheering fans filling the stands in a sea of orange—those games are engraved in my memories as some of the best times of my life. It was amazing to see so many people come together for a common goal of cheering on our Vols.
Bio: Jessica Lenden-Holt is the senior director of clinical services for Sidekick Therapy Partners, the largest pediatric therapeutic practice in Tennessee, serving almost 4,000 kids in clinics and schools with 200 employees. She has co-founded and served on two nonprofit boards serving children with disabilities. She earned two bachelor’s degrees from UT in 2005 in Spanish and audiology and speech-language pathology. Lenden-Holt was also honored as a Whittle Scholar at UT.
Bachelor’s Sport Management (’08)
Occupation: Professional Athlete, Chicago Sky
Bio: As one of the most decorated women’s basketball players of all-time, Candace Parker has already solidified herself as one of the most influential athletes of this generation. In 2008, Parker was selected as the No.1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, following a championship career at Tennessee where she led the Lady Vols to consecutive NCAA championships in 2007 and 2008. Parker went on to become the first player to earn WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season and was named Finals MVP after leading the Sparks to the 2016 WNBA title. After 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, Parker signed with her hometown Chicago Sky in 2021, where she won her second WNBA title – and the franchise’s first – in just her first season back home.
Throughout her career, Parker has built an outstanding honors list which includes two league MVP Awards, seven WNBA All-Star nods, the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game MVP, ten All-WNBA selections, and the 2020 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Parker also led Team USA to gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. And, to top off her stellar 2021 championship run, Parker was voted the AP Female Athlete of the Year and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022 by TIME.
As a mother and a Black woman, Parker has developed into a bold, insightful and inspiring thought leader who is passionate about the importance of women’s rights, voters’ rights and Black Lives Matter. In September of 2020, Parker was the first women to join the Social Change Fund, the mission of which is to invest in and support organizations that are working to liberate Black people and advocate for indigenous people and communities of color through the lens of policy solutions, community representation and narrative change. With her heart, passion and competitiveness, Parker is already a role model for so many with much more to come.
Master’s Sports Management (’12)
Occupation: Senior Manager of Business Development Consumer Products, United States Olympic and Paralympic Properties
Favorite UT Memory: There was a moment we went up to rural Appalachia with Smokey to be a part of a community holiday event. Smokey was dressed up as Santa and came out with a big bag to hang out with kids and help hand out presents that were generously donated from University of Tennessee students and alumni.
Bio: Taylor Reynolds currently serves as the senior manager of business development consumer products at United States Olympic and Paralympic Properties. He is proud to have been born and raised in Knoxville, and carries the Volunteer spirit to every exciting destination his career takes him. During his time at UT, he learned the importance and fulfillment of bringing communities together, and that core value has driven him throughout his career. In each role Reynolds has held, he constantly looked back to the Torchbearer’s Creed. He has been very fortunate to apply determination and the Volunteer spirit in each of his roles to find and create opportunities that build communities through sports, entertainment, and (in his current role) the Olympic and Paralympic movement.
Master’s College Student Personnel (’10)
Occupation: Associate Professor of Engineering Education, Virginia Tech
Bio: Sarah Rodriguez is an associate professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech. Her engineering education research agenda centers upon engineering and computing identity development of historically marginalized populations at higher education institutions. She has authored 68 works, and her articles have been featured in The Review of Higher Education, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Journal of Latinos in Education, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Teachers College Record, and Community College Review. She served as a PI/co-PI on10 funded large-scale grant projects, including eight National Science Foundation grants, one Kapor Center grant, and one Center for the Study of Community Colleges Grant for Innovative Research totaling over $20,000,000. She has made over 100 research presentations at many prestigious scholarly conferences within the field of education.
Bachelor’s Therapeutic Recreation (’17)
Occupation: Associate Director of Scheduling and Advance, The White House (Sophia is receiving this award in her personal capacity)
Favorite UT Memory: My favorite memory at UT was at a community service event called Light the Night, which was held in Circle Park. Light the Night is a fundraising event that benefits research for Leukemia and Lymphoma. I went as the leader of my sorority in 2016. At this event, we were able to choose what we walked for, and my sorority dedicated our walk to my father, who just beat lymphoma cancer the day before the event. It was the time where I felt the greatest sense of community and where I saw firsthand what it meant to be a Volunteer.
Bio: Sophia Rubio is a dedicated public servant who has served in the House of Representatives, political campaigns, the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and the current administration. She believes in serving the communities that shaped her into the person she is today. Sophia is a proud first-generation college graduate of UT where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation and minor in Psychology in 2017. She is from Diamond Bar, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Bachelor’s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (’07)
Occupation: Partner, Chartwell Hospitality/Chartwell Residential/Franklin Construction Group
Bio: Will Schaedle co-founded Franklin Construction Group, Chartwell’s in-house construction company, and is a partner in Chartwell Residential. Chartwell Residential and Franklin Construction Company have approximately $500 million in active residential developments throughout Tennessee. His first project was a dual branded hotel construction project in Franklin, Tennessee, which started two months after his graduation, and became a partner at Chartwell Hospitality in 2012. Schaedle has been a part of over $1,500,000,000 in hotel specific developments throughout Tennessee, Missouri, New York, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, and Georgia. Several of Schaedle’s developments have earned awards, including The North American Full Service New-Build of the Year and ABC 2019 Award for Excellence in Commercial Construction for the Hilton in Franklin, Tennessee.