John Berry – HSF CEO and Co-founder – 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 – HSF Board Secretary – 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 – HSF 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.
John A. Hinkle – HSF 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 Howell – HSF 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 – HSF 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.
Tonia Latham – HSF Board Chair – Epic Nine Marketing Consultant & Social Media Expert
Tonia Latham creates change! She is the Marketing Consultant and Social Media Expert with Epic Nine Marketing in Maryville. Previously, she was the Director of Development with Family Promise of Blount County and the Director of Finance & Operations with the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless. With decades of communications and marketing experience in for-profit and non-profit organizations in East Tennessee, she understands what local businesses need to market successfully in a continually changing digital landscape.
Tonia is a graduate of Leadership Blount Class of 2019. She was the Blount County Chamber Ambassador of the Year in 2020, and chairs the 2021 Chamber Ambassadors. A member of the Morning Cup Toastmasters, Tonia is the 2021 Toastmasters District 63 reigning champion for Table Topics Impromptu Speech Contest and Evaluation Speech Contest. She is a member of the Board of Directors for The Hearing and Speech Foundation and is a member of the Chilhowee Club. Tonia also leads multiple marketing workshops throughout Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky, has been a guest speaker at the UT Haslam College of Business, and has been a guest lecturer in non-profit studies & advocacy at Maryville College and Carson-Newman University. Additionally, Tonia leads Visioneering classes for individuals and businesses, helping people define and design their visions for the future.
Tonia’s passion is to help her friends and our community reach the top of their mountains!
William N. Parsons, Jr. (Bill) – HSF 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 – HSF 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.
William R. Shepard (Rick) – HSF 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.
Debby Skyler – HSF Director – Director Family Resource Center Maryville City Schools
Employed with Maryville City Schools as the Family Resource Director. Debby has been a classroom teacher, homebound instructor, school psychologist and a Chaplin for UT Hospital. She also was the Outreach Coordinator for the Wellness Community specializing in meditation and relaxation techniques to assist families and individuals with cancer treatment.
Education-B.S., M.S., Ed.S.-From UT-Knoxville
Volunteer Organizations-United Way, Juvenile Court as part of the Foster Care Review Board for Adolescents, formerly served on the Haven House Board of Directors, volunteers as a QPR trainer for Suicide Prevention with Blount County
Collaborates with Family Promise, Good Neighbors, and Habitat for Humanity in serving families of Blount County.
Dr. Gerald Gibson – HSF Board Chairman Emeritus – 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 had 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. Dr. Gibson passed away May 20, 2021 after an extended illness.