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Meet Our Team

Our Staff


John Hinkle

John A. Hinkle - Executive Director

John A. Hinkle, is retired from First Tennessee Bank after 40 years of service.  Prior to retiring he was Senior Vice President of First Tennessee Bank’s Government Banking Department in Knoxville for 3 years.  Prior to that he was Senior Vice President of the bank’s Regional Bank Operations Center located in Maryville which processed banking transactions for all of the  middle and east Tennessee First Tennessee locations.

John attended the University of Tennessee.  He graduated from the American Bankers Association Business of Banking School and the Bank Administration Institute’s University of Wisconsin School of Banking.

Active in the community, Mr. Hinkle has served on numerous United Way committee’s over the past 15 years, as well as chairing the 2009 United Way Campaign and was Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2012.  He is a graduate of Leadership Blount County’s class of 1999 and is a Leadership Blount County’s Past Chair of the Board of Directors.  John was on The Hearing & Speech Foundation’s Board from 2008 – 2010 where he created the signature fundraising event, “The Away Game Tailgate Party”, he also served on the Hearing and Speech Advocacy Board in 2011 and 2012 and was the Foundation’s building project manager for the foundation offices.  John is also on the board of James White’s Fort, the birthplace of Knoxville TN.  He and his wife Vicki reside in Maryville and enjoy traveling.

Leslee Rook

Leslee Rook - Director of Therapy and Training Programs

Leslee is from Knoxville, Tennessee, and received her Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee in 1972. Focusing on applying the Verbotonal Method with hearing impaired children, Leslee worked 11 years as a demonstration teacher and program supervisor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. During this time she received Verbotonal training from Dr. Carl Asp, Professor of Audiology and Speech Pathology; Dr. Petar Guberina, the method’s originator; and two Croatian experts from SUVAG CENTRE in Croatia.

Leslee studied in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1974 and 1976, and received Trainer Certification from the Institute of Aural Rehabilitation in 1980 in the specialty areas of body movements, classroom and individual therapy techniques. While at the University, Leslee taught English as a second language to deaf Taiwanese children, and consulted with professionals throughout the United States to implement the Verbotonal Method in schools, clinics and schools for the deaf, including the Dade County School System (Miami, Fla.) and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

In 1986, Leslee began a therapy program for an audiologist in a Knoxville-based ENT practice and used the Verbotonal strategies with more than 200 children and adults diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorders. She continued her work with children as a Hearing Specialist with Knox County Schools in Knoxville from 1997 to 2011, as well as a consultant to the Dade County Public Schools Verbotonal Program.

Leslee developed a manual “Strategies for Developing Speech, Language and Auditory Perception: Body Movements” in 2010, the first of a series of training manuals and DVDs produced by The Hearing and Speech Foundation. She has served on the Advocacy Board of the Hearing and Speech Foundation since 2004 and has been involved in the Training Program since 2001.

Leslee joined the HSF staff in June 2011 as the Director of Therapy and Training Programs. She and her husband Paul, an audiologist with Blount Hearing and Speech Services, reside in Farragut and enjoy boating, fishing, reading and traveling.

Board of Directors

HSF CEO and Co-founder John Berry

John Berry – CEO and Co-founder – Owner, Blount Hearing and Speech Services

John Seymour Berry received a BA from Saint Edwards University in 1968. During his tenure at the University of St. Edwards, John worked as house parent and supervisor at the Texas School for the Deaf. Because of this experience, John began his Masters in Deaf Education at the University of Texas in 1968. He transferred to the University of Tennessee where he received his MS in Deaf Education in 1972.

After graduating, John worked at the University of Tennessee for 10 years and served as a teacher-clinician and coordinator of the Verbotonal Preschool Program. He was an instructor and supervisor of the Verbotonal Adult Aural Rehabilitation Program. John also studied in Zagreb, Croatia, at the Centre SUVAG to become a trainer in the Verbotonal Method and is a certified Verbotonal Aural Rehabilitation Therapist.

In 1975, John started Blount Hearing and Speech Services, which has served over 20,000 patients and has a staff of eight employees. In 1981, John and Tutt Bradford co-founded the Hearing and Speech Foundation (HSF), fulfilling John’s passion to provide quality services for the hearing needs of economically-disadvantaged hearing impaired individuals. John also focused his energies to launch the HSF Research and Development Program that houses an anechoic chamber used in studies on speech acoustics.

John’s career goals have included establishing both domestic and international hearing aid assistance programs; being involved in research to explore the field of auditory perception; and establishing a therapy and training centre to promote the principles and strategies of the Verbotonal System. In June 2012, the centre became a reality. The HSF is housed in a facility conducive to therapy, research and training; it joins a network of 22 countries that implement the Verbotonal techniques in helping individuals with hearing and other communication difficulties.

John was born December 25, 1943, in Blanco, Texas, and is the oldest of eleven children. He has two children and several grandchildren. John and his wife, Sara, live in Laurel Valley with their dog, Seymour.

 


Bernie Bowman – Director – Retired CEO Asbury Inc.

Bernie Bowman was CEO of three different continuing care retirement community organizations, mostly recently since 1998, of Asbury, Inc. headquartered in Maryville, TN. The two prior organizations were in Cedar Rapids and Kalona, Iowa.

Bernie has a masters degree in hospital and healthcare administration from the University of Minnesota, and other degrees from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and Des Monies Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

As relates to community activities, Bernie serves on the Alcoa Aluminum Companies Community Foundation Board. In the past he also served on and chaired both the United Way Board and the Board of Trustees for the Blount County Public Library, as well as volunteering for Blount’s Habitat for Humanity and for Blount County Adult Education. While living in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Bernie served on the City Council and as chair of both the Parks and Rec, and Planning and Zoning Commissions for the City.

Bernie has been married to Carol for 46 years and is father to Megan and John, and grandfather to Witt.

 


Noel H. Case – Director – Retired Sun Trust Bank

Noel H. Case is retired from Sun Trust Bank.  Noel began his banking career in 1975 with Citizens Bank of Blount County.

Noel attended Maryville High School and went on to The University of Tennessee’s School of Business/Transportation from 1973-1977.  He attended many Banking schools; Tennessee School of Banking at Vanderbilt, General Banking School, Consumer Lending and Commercial Lending School.  Noel also is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.

Noel has been involved in many organization and served on many boards in Blount County.  Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Maryville City Schools Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Blount County – President, Boys and Girls Club, American Heart Association – Chair of founding board, Alcoa Rotary Club – President, United Way of Blount County – Division Chair, Leadership Blount and Dogwood Arts Festival Co-Chair.

Noel is married to Laura Case and has a daughter Jennifer Morgan (James Morgan) and two grandchildren, Riley and Sam.

 


HSF Board Member Dr. Gerald Gibson

Dr. Gerald Gibson – Board Chairman – President Emeritus, Maryville College

Dr. Gerald Gibson served as President of Maryville College from 1993 to 2010. During his tenure, Maryville College was consistently ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the Southeast, and its curriculum was recognized by the John Templeton Foundation’s Honor Roll for Character Building Colleges and its “Colleges that Encourage Character Development” guide. Dr. Gibson holds a BS in Chemistry from Wofford College, where he graduated magna cum laude; and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gibson served in the U.S. Army from 1963-65 and achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. After his Honorable Discharge in 1965, Dr. Gibson became assistant professor of Chemistry at the College of Charleston. He remained in Charleston until 1984, serving as professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry. Before his appointment at Maryville College in 1993, Dr. Gibson served as Vice President and Dean of Roanoke College. Throughout his career, Dr. Gibson has been honored by Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Xi. He received the Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International and won first place in poetry contests in South Carolina. Dr. Gibson has presented on Organic Chemistry at various professional meetings over seventeen years and had publications in Freshman Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, chemical line notation, college faculty orientation, and poetry.

Dr. Gibson has been active in a variety of civic organizations including the East Tennessee’s Resource Valley, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Appalachian College Association, Tennessee Independent College and University Association, Catawba Board of Trustees, Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, Board of Elders at Harborview Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C., and the Church Council for the College Lutheran Church in Salem, Va.

 


John Hinkle

John Hinkle – Executive Director – Retired, Senior Vice President First Tennessee Bank

John A. Hinkle, is retired from First Tennessee Bank after 40 years of service.  Prior to retiring he was Senior Vice President of First Tennessee Bank’s Government Banking Department in Knoxville for 3 years.  Prior to that he was Senior Vice President of the bank’s Regional Bank Operations Center located in Maryville which processed banking transactions for all of the  middle and east Tennessee First Tennessee locations.

Mr. Hinkle attended the University of Tennessee.  He graduated from the American Bankers Association Business of Banking School and the Bank Administration Institute’s University of Wisconsin School of Banking.

Active in the community, Mr. Hinkle has served on numerous United Way committee’s over the past 20 years, as well as chairing the 2009 United Way Campaign and was Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2012, he is currently a member of the Community Impact Committee.  He is a graduate of Leadership Blount County’s class of 1999 and was Leadership Blount County’s Chair of the Board of Directors in 2012.  Mr. Hinkle was on The Hearing & Speech Foundation’s Board from 2008 – 2010 where he created the signature fundraising event, “The Away Game Tailgate Party”, he also served on the Hearing and Speech Advocacy Board in 2011 and 2012 and was the Foundation’s building project manager for the foundation offices.  Mr. Hinkle is currently on the board of the Hearing & Speech Foundation and serves as the Executive Director, he is also on the board of James White Fort in Knoxville.

 


Sherri Gardner HowellSherri Gardner Howell – Director – Sole Proprietor SGH Enterprises

Sherri Gardner Howell has spent her career in journalism since she graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1976, working the lion’s share of her career for E.W. Scripps as a writer, editor, columnist and publisher. She is currently sole proprietor of SGH Enterprises where she assists small businesses and nonprofits with business management and communication issues and writes for various magazines and community news websites.

Sherri’s nonprofit works includes being on committees and boards of numerous organizations, currently the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation board, Hearing and Speech Advisory Committee and United Way of Blount County Communications Committee. She lives with her husband, Neville, in West Knoxville. They have two married sons and three grandsons.

 


Dr. Joseph Johnson – Director – President Emeritus, University of Tennessee

Dr. Joseph Johnson is the President Emeritus of the University of Tennessee and was president of UT from 1991 to 1999. Before being named president, Dr. Johnson was Executive Vice President and Vice President for Development. Duties of Executive Vice President consist of serving as the number two executive under direction of the President of the statewide University of Tennessee with emphasis on coordination of relationships and decision implementation within The University of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee’s total 1990-91 budget was in excess of $850,000,000 and includes four primary campuses with 40,000 students, Agricultural Extension, Agricultural Research, the Institute of Public Service, the Space Institute, and two hospitals. In the area of development, the University of Tennessee’s annual giving program raised over $6,000,000 to rank in the top ten among the nation’s public universities, and the University of Tennessee secured approximately $32,000,000 in all private gifts for 1989-90. As Vice President for Development, Dr. Johnson was also responsible for state and federal relations. The Executive Vice President is responsible for coordination of affairs throughout The University of Tennessee. Dr. Johnson received his B.S. in political science and history from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama in 1955; his M.A. in public administration in 1960; and his Ed.D. with major in higher education administration and a minor in industrial management from in 1968. He received both his M.A and Ed.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Johnson served as Sergeant for the U.S. Army from 1956-158.

His community involvements include Golden Key Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Council for the Advancement of Education, Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Finance Committee, Board of Directors of Home Federal Bank of East Tennessee, Executive Committee of Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Past President of the Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Board and Advisory Council Member of the Southern Region Boy Scouts of America, Board of Directors of the Helen Ross McNabb Mental Health Center Foundation, Board of Directors of the Imagination Library – Knox County, Board of Directors of the East Tennessee Community Design Center, Board of Directors of Knox Area Rescue Ministries, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the East Tennessee Discovery Center, Board of Directors of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Board of Directors of the Tennessee 4-H Foundation. Dr. Johnson lives in Knoxville with his wife Patricia. They have two children, Kent and Kelly, and two grandchildren, Tucker and Luke.

 


Bill Parsons

William N. Parsons, Jr. (Bill) – Director –  Owner, Heritage Properties

Bill Parsons is the owner of Heritage Properties, a commercial real estate management company which is an outgrowth of his recent retirement from Heritage Log Homes. Founded in 1974 by Parsons, the manufacturer of luxury custom log homes grew to be one of the world’s largest log home companies delivering more than 10,000 homes. The company was named to the INC500 list of fastest growing privately held companies in the US and won numerous other industry awards in its 37 year history.

With roots in architecture, engineering, and the NASA program, Parsons holds a BS in Business & Economics from Rollins College and graduated from the Owners & Presidents Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Parsons serves as an officer of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church. As part of a missionary team and in collaboration with the Hearing and Speech Foundation, he has made numerous trips to Jamaica to serve the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf. Accompanied by the HSF staff they have fitted many deaf children with their first hearing aids and have seen many children and adults develop language and self esteem. He has served on the Board of the Great Smoky Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America and supports numerous charitable organizations.

Married to former HSF board member Terri Seaton Parsons, they have three children, Laura, Austin and Ethan, and five grandchildren. Laura and Austin, severely hearing impaired from birth, were first introduced to John Berry at the UT Speech & Hearing Center in 1978. After therapy and hearing aid fitting according to the Verbo-tonal methodology, they function as normal hearing adults. Both hold advanced degrees, and enjoy speaking at HSF events. We credit their normalcy to the dedication of John and the superiority of the Verbo-tonal methodology. It is the propagation of this same opportunity for others that makes our family so passionate about the work of the Hearing and Speech Foundation.

 


Cole Piper - Director

Cole Piper – Director

1968 B.A. Maryville College

1968-1972 High school History teacher

1972-1999 Work for Proffitt’s Department Store

1999-present Teach at Maryville College and University of Tennessee

Married–wife Sue, children Amy, Caroline and Austin.

 


Jim Rose – Board Vice-Chair & Secretary – CEO and Consultant with EQ Consulting Services

Jim is a native of East Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Industrial Engineering.  He went to work for the Aluminum Company of America in Alcoa, Tennessee and worked there for ten years.  He was then moved to a large plant in Evansville, Indiana where he worked for twenty years.  Most of his assignments were as a production manager.  His last assignment was to assist Alcoa with a corporate effort for developing and implementing a process for implementing tools, techniques and methologies for managing change. Preparing him for this work he went through extensive training which included learning from the greats like Dr. Deming and Dr. Juran.  He also participated in study missions with great companies in both Japan and in the US.  Jim then became the change agent for the large facility in Indiana.   Jim Retired after thirty years and formed his own consulting business and started assisting organizations with managing change to improve organizational performance.

Jim provides a wide range of services and has worked with clients ranging from small to large, which provide many different products and services both throughout the US as well as many different countries.  Jim and his wife have moved back to Tennessee and built a home in Laurel Valley. Jim has provided consulting services for the Hearing and Speech foundation for thirteen years and now serves as Vice Chair.

 


William R. Shepard (Rick) – Treasurer – Retired County President, United Community Bank

William R. Shepard (Rick), currently is the County President of United Community Bank in Blount County. Prior to his current position, Mr. Shepard retired from SunTrust Bank after 21 years, serving as Regional President, Commercial Lender and various positions during his career at SunTrust. Mr. Shepard is retired from the Tennessee Air National Guard after 21 years of service and a veteran of the Gulf War in 1991. Mr. Shepard is a graduate of East Tennessee State, Community College of the Air Force, Tennessee School of Banking and LSU Graduate School of Banking. Mr. Shepard is an Eagle Scout.

Mr. Shepard’s current and past community involvements include:

Member New Providence Presbyterian Church, Board member of Smoky Mountain Council Boy Scouts of America and District Chairman, United Way of Blount County Board Chairman in 2007 and Campaign Chairman in 2016, Board member of Secret Safe Place for Newborns, Alumni and Board Member and Board Chairman of Leadership Blount,  Past Board Member and Board Chair of New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Board member and VIP Chair of Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Board Member and Treasurer of Blount County Education Foundation, Board member and President of East Tennessee American Cancer Society Leadership Council and Relay for Life Chairman. Other community initiatives and involvement include, Knox Area Rescue Ministries, Maryville College Community Campaign and Blount Memorial Hospital foundation.

My family is the fifth generation of Blount County natives who settled in Cades Cove in the 1800s and I was raised on a small family farm in Wildwood. For 38 years, I’ve been a banker in the Knox and Blount County area. I am married to another Blount County native, Cindy Laughmiller and we have been happily married now for 32 years.

Advocacy Board

The Hearing and Speech Foundation Advocacy Board is comprised of community volunteers who dedicate their time to coordinating and implementing all local grassroots events and activities that provide awareness  and financial support for the Hearing and Speech Foundation.

Members of this group include the HSF staff and the following volunteers:

Sara Berry
Community Leader

Terri Cross
AT&T

Nancy Dietz
Retired Hearing Specialist
Knox County Schools

Allyson Dowell
Hearing Specialist
Knox County Schools

Nancy Hodge
Broker – LeConte Realty, LLC

Monica Helgeson
Retired Registered Nurse

Sherry Gardner-Howell
Owner – SGH Enterprises

Melinda James  –  Advocacy Board Leader
Retired Registered Nurse

Mandy Burnside
Teacher

Jane Ellen Rawdon
Community Leader

Jayne Perry
Community Leader

Melissa Smith
Alumni Events Coordinator
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Jeanie VanWinkle, Ph.D.
Retired Tenured Professor

Carole Cavendar-Witt, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
South College