Christopher Antwone “Chris” Blue is an American singer, songwriter, dancer and actor. Born in Winter Haven, Florida, he was involved in his church choir and several local talent shows from a young age. This would gain him the exposure to perform the national anthem for Major League Baseball games. (St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians,Florida Marlins) became one of the first teen male artist to perform on B.E.T’s award winning Gospel televised show (Bobby Jones Gospel). In 2003 as the lead singer of The Blue Brothers, Chris performed an intermission for Tyler Perry’s “Tell Hell I ain’t Coming”.
In 2017 after overcoming a tragic accident with his fiancée Stephanie he decided to audition for The Hit NBC Television vocal competition series “The Voice”. Not only did Chris audition, but emerged as the Season 12 victor on Team Alicia Keys. Show after show, he captured the hearts of millions with his combination of raw vocal talent, heartfelt honesty, and brave vulnerability. His rendition of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” and “Take Me To The King” proved show-stopping, while a duet with Keys on “Diamonds and Pearls” brought the house down.
In 2011 Chris began to tour internationally and the Caribbean. Chris has toured multiple countries in Europe and the Caribbean (England, Jamaica, Bahamas, Virgin Islands) three years later Chris and singing group the Blue Brothers released their first EP receiving much media attention Chris recognized his opportunity to take his career to the next level. In 2015 Chris began his solo career by winning first place in the Voice-Off Knoxville. This lead him into more sing opportunities to tour with Artists such as Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Donnie Mcklurkin and Share stages with Erick Baker, Hallerin Hill and Travis Wyrick. Apart from his work in the music industry, Chris has pursued an acting career. In 2016 he made his on-screen television debut in Discover iD hit series Homicide Hunter and Fatal Attraction. He’s also appeared as a guest in numerous music videos (Royal Hounds and Gran Torino).
Jerry Colonna is CEO and cofounder of Reboot.io, an executive coaching and leadership development firm, and author of ‘REBOOT: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up’ (HarperBusiness). For nearly 20 years, he has used the knowledge gained as an executive, venture capitalist (VC), journalist and a board member for 100+ organizations to help people lead with humanity, resilience, and equanimity. For more, see rebootbyjerry.com.
As Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Nashville, Randy Goodman has orchestrated the ascension of the SMN family of labels and artists; succeeding not by reacting to change, but by staying in front of it. Respected for his leadership style, strategic vision, and passion for music, Goodman has attracted a diverse roster of talented artists aligning SMN’s human and company resources to reach consumers, build meaningful careers, and advance country music on a global scale.
Goodman joined SMN in July 2015 to oversee all operations, including the company’s three country recording imprints – Arista Nashville, Columbia Nashville, and RCA Nashville – as well as Provident Entertainment, which includes Provident Label Group, RCA Inspiration, Essential Worship, Essential Music Publishing, Provident Films and Essential Artist Services. Earning a reputation as a risk-taking innovator, he was named the 2019 Presidential Award recipient for outstanding executive achievement by Music Biz. Goodman led Sony Music Nashville to the level of Billboard’s 2019 Country Label Group of the Year, capturing a year-end 21.4% country current frontline album market share. Already in 2020, Sony Music Nashville earned 12 trophies during the 55th ACM Awards in September, the most of any label group, and the most in SMN’s 30-year history. SMN received 22 nominations (40% of total) for the forthcoming CMA Awards on ABC November 11. For info on the entire artist roster, visit SonyMusicNashville.com.
A 34-year industry veteran and a Nashville native, Goodman’s extensive career includes 16 years with RCA Records. During that time he served as Executive Vice President/General Manager of the RCA Label Group in Nashville, the forerunner of what is now SMN. Over the course of his career at RCA, he also spent five years as Senior Vice President/Marketing worldwide for RCA in New York prior to returning to Nashville. While at RCA, he worked with such superstars as Waylon Jennings, Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews Band, Wu-Tang Clan, Martina McBride, Clint Black, Keith Whitley, and The Judds.
In 1997, Goodman opened Lyric Street Records for the Walt Disney Co., overseeing the label as President through 2010 and enjoying multi-Platinum success with Rascal Flatts and SHeDAISY, as well as Platinum-sellers Aaron Tippin and American Idol finalist Josh Gracin.
A past President and Chairman of the CMA Board and current member, Goodman co-chaired the Music City Music Council with former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and is a board member of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. In addition, he is on the board of the Convention Center Authority, and has served in a wide range of industry consulting roles, as well as artist management. Goodman is a Lipscomb University alumnus.
Ramon Looby is Senior Vice President and Public Policy Lead at the Bank of America Corporation. A recognized thought leader in the field of public affairs, he is an expert in navigating complex policy issues among diverse stakeholders at all levels of government.
Looby previously managed public affairs for the Consumer Data Industry Association, testifying regularly before legislative and regulatory officials. He has held several leadership roles, including Secretariat General for the World Consumer Credit Reporting Conference and Special Advisor to the United States Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, Looby serves as Vice Chairman of the Maryland Bankers Association, while simultaneously sitting on the boards and councils of several economic development and educational nonprofit organizations, including the University of Florida Alumni Association, National Safe Place Network, Food on The Stove, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
PAMELA NEWKIRK PHD
Pamela Newkirk, PhD, is a journalist, New York University professor, author and multi-disciplinary scholar whose work examines contemporary and historical depictions of African Americans in popular culture. Her latest book Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of Billion-Dollar Business, exposes the decades-old practices and attitudes that have made diversity a lucrative business while they fail to realize diversity. The book was included on TIME magazine’s “Must-Read” books of 2019 and featured in numerous publications, including Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Chronicle of Higher Education and TIME.
Her previous book, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, was awarded the 2016 NAACP Image Award and was selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR, The Boston Globe, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Newkirk has compiled and edited two collections of African American letters and is the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism and was recently optioned for a feature film.
Prior to joining the journalism faculty at New York University she was a daily reporter at four news organizations including New York Newsday where she was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team. She holds journalism degrees from Columbia and New York universities, and a PhD from Columbia University. Her articles have appeared in a number of leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and TIME magazine.
Tanika Harper has ownership in four small businesses, starting the first in 2008, Shora Foundation. Shora means a safe place in the Nigerian Language and its mission is to provide a safe place culture for those in under-resourced areas by creating opportunities and transforming communities. The organization provides educational youth opportunities and small business development resources.
Secondly, she is a Partner in Elite Facility Maintenance, founded in 2011, a commercial cleaning company located in East Knoxville. In 2014, she founded Harper’s Naturals, LLC out of a need to have healthier skin due to an auto-immune disease. She loves teaching people the importance of taking care of their skin while also living healthier lives.
Lastly, this year, Ms. Harper helped Co-Found The Women, LLC and The Women Foundation. Both organizations were founded by six women and their purpose is to provide access to capital to Black Business Owners and to purchase commercial and real estate property to lease at below market rates.
Through her entrepreneurial journey and community connections, she has built relationships that allowed her to learn, earn, and return. Ms. Harper has been called to serve the East Knoxville, TN community, and she couldn’t love it more. Everything she has done has led her to building community. With over 20 years of service to the community through organizations like YoungLife, Shora Foundation, and local churches, she has been blessed to get to know so many people and build lasting relationships.
Tanika is grateful for all the opportunities that life has afforded her and looks forward to gaining more knowledge and wisdom in economic development in Black communities throughout Knoxville and beyond. Her goal is to continue to serve in much bigger ways, hoping to create lasting change and impacting more lives.
Alizza Punzalan-Randle joined YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley as CEO in August 2018. Her YWCA journey began with swimming lessons and Y-Teens during her formative years in Knoxville and continued as a board member of YWCA Tampa Bay and National Coordinating Board of YWCA USA.
YWCA’s mission “to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all” aligns with Alizza’s personal and professional values. Her 20-plus years of community outreach and leadership experience spans social services, pediatric health care, higher education, public broadcasting, visual and performing arts, and racial and social justice. Prior to returning to Knoxville, she led the community benefit process at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, where her efforts were focused on community health improvement and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Since returning to her hometown, Alizza has become a volunteer in the Leaders for Readers program at Inskip Elementary School, a member of Executive Women’s Association, a board member of Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, and a graduate of Leadership Knoxville’s Class of 2020.
Throughout her nonprofit career, Alizza has served on multiple boards and advisory councils, including the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area Citizen Advisory Committee, Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, and the Pinellas County Urban League. She is a past state president of the Florida Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (BPW/FL), whose mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace.
In 2006, Alizza summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak at 19,340 feet. In recognition of her commitment to civic and community engagement, Alizza was named to the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” list, Eckerd College faculty named her Staff Member of the Year, she was named one of five Local Heroes in Pinellas County in Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards, and she received a Racial Justice Award from YWCA of Tampa Bay in 2013. Under Alizza’s leadership, YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley was named a 2019 Top Workplace by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Alizza’s alma maters are St. Joseph School, Knoxville Catholic High School, and Rhodes College. She and her family reside in Powell, Tennessee.
Matt Ryerson is the President and CEO of United Way of Greater Knoxville, joining the organization in December 2019. Prior to that, Matt was the President and CEO at the United Way of the Ocoee Region from January 2012 through 2019. Matt joined the United Way Worldwide’s National Professional Council in 2015 and then the National Presidents Roundtable (NPR) in 2018 and is currently serving as the NPR Chair.
Currently, Matt has been leading the United Way through the COVID-19 Crisis by serving as the Knoxville Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Social Services Branch leader and positioning the United Way of Greater Knoxville as the Grant Administrator for the Tennessee Community CARES Act for all of East Tennessee by distributing $31 in grants to nonprofits working directly in the fight against this global pandemic.
Matt has also been selected for the 2021 class of Leadership Knoxville, as well as asked to serve on the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Associates program as a community advisor to Chancellor Donde Plowman.
Matt started his professional nonprofit career in the YMCA after graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1993. He had a short five-year stint in the for profit world as an administrator at a psychiatric hospital for juveniles in Chattanooga where he was inspired to attend and ultimately graduate law school in 2006, after which he served as the Project Director for an $8.3 million grant in Cleveland, Tennessee before ultimately joining the United Way. During his time at the United Way he grew revenue 400% and increased impact with targeted initiatives including a full-time dental clinic, a nonprofit incubator, and a large-scale neighborhood revitalization program.
Matt and his beautiful wife Heather have four children, Jackson (14), Chloe (12), Gabi (8), and Elsie (5) and currently live in Knoxville where they adventure together in the Smoky Mountains on the weekends.