Blood Assurance has appointed Dr. Liz Culler as its new president and CEO. Culler began her career at Blood Assurance as medical director in 2006. The organization later named her chief medical officer.
During her tenure as chief medical officer, Culler played a role in Blood Assurance’s expansion in the region and establishment of a research and cellular therapy program. Culler also helped Blood Assurance to become one of the first blood centers in the country to collect convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.
“Both of my parents had cancer, and transfusions saved both of their lives,” Culler says. “In addition, research trials extended my mom’s life 19 years after a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. I’m passionate about making sure area patients have access to both the transfusions they need and the clinical trials that could change their lives.”
Culler replaces J.B. Gaskins, who will retire this summer after spending over 40 years in the blood banking industry.
Culler has a degree in chemistry from the University of South Carolina and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. She completed a residency in clinical pathology and a fellowship in transfusion medicine at Emory University.
Culler lives with her husband and two children in Chattanooga and is a member of the Chattanooga Track and Scenic City Optimist clubs. She also serves on the board of Commonwealth Transfusion Foundation.
Symphony announces new leadership
The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Executive Committee recently voted to approve Susan W. Caminez as its next executive director. Caminez will replace outgoing director John Kilkenny, who will leave to take on a new role leading the New York Youth Symphony. The transition is expected to take place this spring.
Caminez brings decades of experience to the role, having served in various leadership positions with nonprofits in New York and Chattanooga. With previous executive leadership experience and an MBA in arts administration from Columbia University, the symphony board felt Caminez was well qualified to take over, it notes in a news release.
Caminez joined the CSO in 2021 as its bookkeeper and later served as the organization’s first director of education and community impact. Highlights of her time in the latter role include: a reimagining of the symphony’s sensory-friendly and young people’s concerts; engaging new audiences through a four-year, $200,000 grant from the One Chattanooga Initiative, which resulted in a Family Concert Series in partnership with Playful Evolving Monsters, Read20 and Semillas TN; as well as a re-branding of the Chattanooga Youth Symphony.
Police Dept. names public affairs director
The Chattanooga Police Department recently hired Keaira Turner as director of public affairs.
A native of Birmingham, Turner has a decade of experience in strategic communication with a focus on government affairs and communication. In her last role, she served as the public relations manager of the Birmingham Police Department, where she expanded their Public Information Division with strategies that improved the communication between the police department and the citizens of the city, notes the CPD in a news release.
Turner holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication studies and integrated media communication, respectively.
The community can follow the Chattanooga Police Department on Facebook, X and Instagram. All queries should be sent to CPDCommunications@Chattanooga.gov.
BASF welcomes new site director
BASF recently welcomed Shelly King as the new director of its Chattanooga sites. King is a leader with more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing across major global producers, including Ticona, Invista and DuPont.
A Chattanooga area native, King has held multiple leadership positions throughout her career, most recently as director of central infrastructure at Wacker.
Thrive promotes Millsaps to COO
Thrive Regional Partnership has promoted of Shannon Millsaps to chief operating officer.
Millsaps has five years of work experience with Thrive. As COO, she’ll manage partners and processes for Thrive’s portfolio of initiatives. She’ll also steward plans for the development of the organization, as well as community, philanthropic and industry partnerships.
Before joining Thrive, Millsaps spent 14 years in broadcast television in Chattanooga and Asheville, North Carolina, and ultimately served as assistant news director for her hometown station, WTVC-NewsChannel 9.
Millsaps was named to Chattanooga’s 20 Under 40 list in 2020 and is a graduate of the Leadership Tennessee NEXT program. Most recently, the Chattanooga Technology Council recognized her role in the development of the Thrive Regional Infrastructure Portal with its Early Innovator Award.
Millsaps volunteers as a board member of the Catoosa County College and Career Academy and on the Chattanooga Nonprofit Alliance’s Advisory Committee.
When Millsaps is out of her office, she cheers on the Chattanooga Football Club, travels, listens to live music and enjoys downtime with her wife, Claire.
River City announces event planning cohort
River City Company welcomed six cohort members to its new Emerging Producers Program on Monday, Jan. 29. The program was created to build on the success of the Cooper’s Alley Animation grant program and to support individuals who have a desire to create unique events in downtown Chattanooga.
During the first phase of the program, the cohort will take part in learning sessions that will teach event concept creation, fundraising, contract management, logistic planning and execution.
Following the learning sessions, the participants will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and work experiences during spring events.
The final part of the program will enable the members to host their own events from May through October. The group will support each other in the implementation of the events.
Over 30 people applied to be the part of the program; River City and the Emerging Producers advisory committee selected the top six, including Cortina Jenelle Caldwell, Pedro Rivas Mella, Brianna Jones, Kevin Bate, Randi Franklin and Courtenay Gillean Cholovich.
Each cohort member will receive $3,000 in seed funding for implementation of their event but will also be responsible for fundraising for the balance of their budget, recruiting volunteers and vendors, applying for permits and managing their event.
The Lyndhurst Foundation provided the funding for the Emerging Producers program.
Jennings joins CHI Memorial
Dr. Hunter Jennings, a general and critical care surgeon, and Brooke Henderson, nurse practitioner, have joined CHI Memorial Surgical Associates.
Jennings earned his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He completed a general surgery residency and a fellowship in liver transplantation and portal hypertension at Emory University. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery in surgery and surgical critical care.
Henderson earned a degree in nursing from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a master’s in nursing from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale. She’s a Chattanooga native.