published Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Business Digest: BlueCross picks Plekkenpol

BlueCross picks Plekkenpol

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has named Kasie Plekkenpol director of new product strategy.

Plekkenpol will be responsible for developing and directing strategic planning around the BlueHealth Solutions portfolio of integrated health management products and new product strategy.

"Kasie will play a critical role in helping our clients create integrated product solutions to manage their medical trend and engage their total employee population in wellness programs," said Carla Raynor, vice president of strategic marketing for BlueCross.

Plekkenpol previously worked at OptumHealth where she was director of product infrastructure.

A graduate of Drake University, Plekkenpol obtained a bachelor of science in management and marketing. She also received an MBA with an emphasis in health care administration and marketing from Bellevue University.


Ruckman named regional VP

Primerica has promoted Aidra Ruckman to regional vice president.

John Addison, co-chief executive officer of the company, said her success is a barometer of the number of people Primerica has helped prepare for a more secure financial future.

Ruckman said the most satisfying aspect of being a Primerica representative "is knowing that you are helping other people take control of their finances."


Upchurch graduates from program

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler recently presented an EXCEL certificate of leadership development to Chris Upchurch, manager of the Georgia Department of Labor's Dalton Career Center.

Upchurch graduated from the GDOL's Executive Commitment to Excellence in Leadership 2013 class.

EXCEL, a partnership between the GDOL and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government in Athens, is designed to develop future leaders for the department. Classes explore the major political, social, and economic issues facing the state and nation.


Habitat hires Brandt

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area has named Dominique Brandt the director of volunteers, sponsorships and events.

Before relocating to the Chattanooga area to accept this position, Brandt most recently served for more than five years as the director of volunteers and special events at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami.

"We have been working toward building a stronger network of volunteers and corporate partners so we can further expand opportunities of homeownership to more families in the Greater Chattanooga Area," said Ethan Collier, board chairman of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area and president & CEO of Collier Construction.


Bussey receives award

Anthony Bussey, a Northwestern Mutual financial adviser based in Chattanooga, is receiving the Northwestern Mutual Financial Security Co.'s Emerald Award based on an outstanding year of helping clients achieve financial security.

"We're proud of financial professionals like Anthony who are helping so many people develop plans to achieve financial security," said Northwestern Mutual Executive Vice President Todd M. Schoon.

Northwestern Mutual will recognize Bussey at its 133rd annual meeting in July in Milwaukee.


Hixon joins Upward Realty

Realtor Helen Scott Hixon has joined Upward Realty.com where she will work with a team of real estate specialists. The company is owned by broker Raymond Warren.

Hixon has a varied real estate background ranging from property management, retail center, outlet mall and office leasing. She served as general manager/marketing manager at Prime Retail Outlet Malls in Darien, Ga., and Perryville, Md., and oversaw capital improvement and maintenance projects.

While managing Chattanooga's Northtowne Center for Angel Realty, she negotiated new leases with Staples, Factory Card Outlet, Framearound Gallery and others to accomplish 100 percent occupancy.

She graduated from Covenant College with a bachelor's in organizational management.


Advertising Club installs officers

The American Advertising Federation of Chattanooga has installed officers for its 2013-14 board of directors. Officers include Casey Knox, president, director of communications and public relations for AREA203 Digital; Fallon Skinner, 1st vice president, office manager at AREA203 Digital; Skye Childers, 2nd vice president, a designer at True North Media; Melanie Radtke, treasurer, director of accounting and finance for See Rock City Inc.; and Leandra Wilkins, historian, digital product support specialist for Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Preschool earns certification

Tommie Lane Preschool, 754 Tommie Lane in Soddy-Daisy, has earned national certification as a Nature Explore Classroom from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Tommie Lane Preschool joins a growing network of organizations and institutions that have created effective nature-based outdoor learning environments for children. This network allows for idea-sharing, peer support and continuous development.


Protégé announces class

Protégé Chattanooga, a team-based mentor program for emerging leaders, announced its second class of protégés and mentors. Protégé Chattanooga connects young professionals in early- to mid-career with accomplished leaders for nine months of professional development. It is offered by Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Protégé Chattanooga 2013-2014 participants include Tia Capps, Chattanooga Chamber; Tyler Forrest, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Alishea Hixson, First Things First; Erica Jolly, TVA; Jeff Murphy, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Leif Ramsey, SVAD Productions; Matthew Richman, Debo's Diners; and Tiffanie Robinson, River City Co.

Mentors include Stephen Culp, founder and chairman of Smart Furniture; Tom Griscom, former executive editor of Chattanooga Times Free Press and former White House communications director; Michael Lebovitz, executive vice president of CBL & Associates Properties Inc.; MaryStewart Lewis, regional director of AT&T; Ladell McCullough, partner of Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough PLLC; Bernie Miller, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Church; and Kim White, CEO of River City Co.


Company appoints four

Jonathan Bussey, Eric Widner, Ryan Copeland and Tyler Evatt have been appointed financial representatives by Northwestern Mutual in Chattanooga.

Before joining Northwestern Mutual, Bussey was finance manager at Toyota of Cleveland in Cleveland, Tenn. Bussey is a native of Greeneville, Tenn., and received a degree in business administration from Southern Adventist University.

Widner was district interrogator and financial auditor for Sears Holdings Corp. for the Chattanooga District. Widner is a native of Chattanooga and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee of Chattanooga in 2003.

Copeland was a financial counselor at 21st Mortgage Corp. in Knoxville. Copeland is a native of Murfreesboro and received a bachelor's of arts degree in economics from the UT-Knoxville.

Evatt worked in construction at Evatt Construction in Chattanooga. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from UTC.

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