Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

ESC Representatives


Chair: Charles Primm
First Vice Chair: Elisha Hodge
Second Vice Chair: Tom Cervone
Past Chair: Kim Hardaway

To find your representative, choose your campus area from the list below:

Tom Cervone
Term ends in 2022

Tom Cervone is pleased and honored to be back at the Clarence Brown Theatre as managing director following 5-year hiatus during which he served as executive director for both Dogwood Arts and the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation. Prior to that, Cervone spent twenty-three years with UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre, serving as managing director for 17 (1995-2012). Throughout that time, Tom was very active within the UTK community, having served as Exempt Staff Council chair for two years, co-chair of the LGBT Commission, a member of the Diversity Council as well as many other UTK student, staff and faculty organizations. He also received the Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Service to the University in 2010.

Cervone spent many years on the board of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Greater Knoxville, and currently serves on the advisory board for the College of Business at Maryville College, the board of the WordPlayers as well as the inaugural BOD of River and Rail Theatre Companies. He has also served as chair of the curriculum committee for Leadership Knoxville and has been a member of their BOD as well. Recently, Cervone was appointed to the Foundation Board of West Liberty University, his alma mater. He is a proud and longtime member of the Actors’ Equity Association.

Cervone holds his undergraduate degree in Speech and English Education with an emphasis in Theatre from West Liberty University in West Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts and an MBA from UT. He is a graduate of and was selected as the Class Representative of the Leadership Knoxville class of 2011. Most recently, Cervone was inducted into his undergraduate alma mater’s class of 2015 Wall of Honor.

Johnny Jones
Term ends in 2020

Johnny Jones has 28 years of service with The University of Tennessee and has served as Exempt Staff Council Representative for Arts & Sciences Basic Sciences for the past 3 years.

Brad Briggs
Term ends in 2021

Brad Briggs is the Director of Business and Finance for the University of Tennessee Athletics Department. Originally from Manhattan, KS, Brad graduated with an MBA in 2013 and MS in Sport Management in 2014, both from the University of Tennessee. Since then, he has worked in the Athletics Business Office where his business/finance responsibilities include: Financial Reporting, Budgeting, Procurement Services, and Business Operations. Before coming to UT, Brad worked as a Financial Analyst in Chicago from 2011 – 2012. Brad graduated with a bachelor of science in business administration from Southern Illinois University, where he also played on the intercollegiate athletics football team.

Charles Primm
Term ends in 2021

Charles is a public relations specialist with the Media and Internal Relations team in the Office of Communications and Marketing. His responsibilities include managing the university’s compliance with the Tennessee Public Records Act as the primary contact for public records requests. He also assists with the production and distribution of the Tennessee Today employee newsletter. Charles has two degrees from UT: a bachelor’s degree in journalism and electronic media (’91) and a master’s degree in public relations (’12). Before joining the Office of Communications and Marketing in 1999, Charles worked in broadcast journalism as the news director of WSEV-AM/WDLY-FM radio in Sevierville, Tennessee.

Jeannine Wirth Berge
Term ends in 2021

Jeannine Berge is the Director of Undergraduate Professional and Career Development in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. She provides strategies and resources for undergraduate student to achieve higher value-added educational outcomes and career opportunities. Before joining UT, Jeannine served as Associate Director of Employer Experience and Outreach at the University of Nebraska and served as the Career Consultant to the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. She is involved in many professional organizations and has presented on career and professional development topics at the national and regional level. Prior to her work in career development, Jeannine worked in broadcast journalism in radio, newspaper, and video production. Her interest in broadcasting developed her passion for storytelling. She uses this passion to help students find their unique story and connect their value to their career goals. Jeannine holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Journalism in Broadcasting, both from the University of Nebraska.

Emma C. Burgin
Term ends in 2023

“I am entering my fourth year as staff at the University, serving as the Program Coordinator for the UT FUTURE Program in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. FUTURE is an inclusive postsecondary education program for students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. I earned my doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University of Tennessee in 2017 and am a National Certified Counselor.

In addition to my 20 FUTURE students, I supervise about 100 undergraduate peer mentors who work with FUTURE each semester. I serve as a site supervisor for Therapeutic Recreation and Counseling students. I also have mentored with the 1794 Scholars Program and recently signed up to be a UT Promise mentor.

In 2020, I was chosen as one of five national Disability Policy Advocates, representing UT disability interests to local, state, and national policymakers. I have worked with University administrators to advocate for my students to receive services from Student Disability Services and UT Housing. I have been actively involved in the efforts to start a University Commission on Disability.”

Amber Mathes
Term ends in 2023

Amber Mathes works in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a Financial Specialist. Mathes assists faculty, staff, and students with all things related to post-award management as well as providing support for some pre-award activities. Mathes is currently serving as Vice-Chair of the Tickle College of Engineering Staff Advisory Committee. Mathes recently received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and is looking for opportunities to become engaged in campus activities and give back to the University.

Janet Jones
Term ends in 2022

Janet Jones has worked at the College of Veterinary Medicine for more than 30 years. Jones began veterinary nurse in the hospital, and has held numerous positions. She currently serves as the clinic director for the Small Animal Hospital. Jones is a licensed veterinary medical technician (LVMT), and completed her BS in Business Management at UTK.

Among Jones’ accomplishments at UTCVM is the establishment of a career path for veterinary technicians. This was the first career path established in the College. UTCVM has also established a year-long rotating internship for graduate veterinary technicians in the small animal hospital.

Jones received the Reed Outstanding Service Award and was awarded Veterinary Technician of the Year in the state of Tennessee. She’s served on the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for seven years, ending her tenure as Vice President.

Jones enjoys problem solving and looking for ways to make improvements.

Kevin W. Thompson
Term ends in 2023

Kevin Thompson has served for ten years as director for the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center located in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
Kevin spent 10 years with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, and was involved with the development and management of a beef cattle producer marketing alliance and a genetic improvement program for Tennessee beef cattle producers.

Following graduation from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science, Kevin spent 7 years as a Research Associate at Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center. In 2015 Thompson served as a member and then as Chairman of the UTIA Advisory council. He currently serves on the Maury County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

John Goddard
Term ends in 2021

John J. Goddard holds a BS in Animal Science and a MS in Animal Science Farm Management both from the University Of Tennessee College Of Agriculture. He has been a University of Tennessee Extension Agent for 39 years in Bradley, Hawkins and Loudon Counties, all in East Tennessee. He works with Beef and Dairy Cattle Producers as well as local row croppers. Goddard has been involved in numerous University led demonstrations with local producers. He has previously served on the UT Exempt Staff Council and the UT Advisory Council.

Heath Nokes
Term ends in 2022

Heath is a 19 year veteran with UT Extension, having served in Moore, Cannon and Warren Counties. Heath served as the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Moore and Cannon and transferred to Warren County to serve as the Agriculture Agent in 2013. In Warren County Heath is responsible for serving producers in one of the most agriculturally diverse counties in the state, with production focusing on beef cattle, row crops, fruit and vegetable production and nursery production. Heath received his Bachelor’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and Master’s Degree from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Heath previously served as Chair from 2017-2018 is now serving his second term on Exempt Staff Council.

Rita Jackson
Term ends in 2023

“I have worked with the Extension Service for 23 years. I served five years with Mississippi State University and the past 18 years with University of Tennessee Extension. I have served in both rural and urban areas as a 4-H Agent, FCS Agent, Area Extension Specialist, Interim Regional Program Leader, and currently as a State Extension Specialist. My office is located in the West TN AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson, TN. I received my BS in Family and Consumer Sciences, MS in Ag and Extension Education, and am currently enrolled in the Learning and Leadership doctoral program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I thoroughly enjoy working with UT staff on the county, regional, and state levels, but I especially enjoy working with our Extension program participants across the state.”

Eric Amos
Term ends in 2022

“I have been at the TN Language Center for almost 2 and 1/2 years. I very much enjoy my job here. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Cross-cultural communication. I have held various coordinating/management jobs related to that degree including this current job and living in China for almost 3 years along with trips to about 15 other countries. I believe in open and honest communication and equality for everyone. ”

Norma Wilcox
Term ends in 2022

Norma Wilcox is the Solutions Consultant for the North Central Region of Tennessee. For over 25 years she has been responsible for promoting the resources of UT CIS to business and industry. Her mission is to help businesses succeed, grow and create high quality jobs.

Before UT, Ms. Wilcox worked with the Small Business Development Center at The University of Central Missouri counseling small businesses on marketing and business planning. She also helped create MoPAL (Missouri Product Assistance Laboratory) at UCM. MoPAL provided quality measurement services for product design and development for small businesses. Her industrial experience was with The General Electric Company as a Sales Engineer for the motor and motor control divisions and with The Eaton Corporation as a Product Application Engineering Coordinator.

Wilcox has a MBA from The University of Central Missouri and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.

Kaley Walker
Term ends in 2022

Kaley Walker works with 12 separate counties in East Tennessee to assist each of them in improving their counties operations and relationships among themselves, other TN counties, state officials and their citizens.


Elisha Hodge
Term ends in 2022

Elisha Hodge currently serves as a legal consultant with the University of Tennessee, Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) and has been employed in that capacity since October 2014. Since coming to MTAS, Hodge served as the chair of the IPS Diversity Committee, served on multiple strategic plan micro-goal committees and search committees, and participated in the IPS Leadership Academy. Elisha also serves on the committee that selects interns for placement with MTAS and CTAS customers.

Before joining MTAS, Hodge served as the Open Records Specialist in the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury from 2007 until 2009. In 2009, Hodge was promoted to Open Records Counsel for the State of Tennessee and filled that role until joining MTAS. Prior to joining the Comptroller’s office, Hodge prosecuted cases and served as advisory counsel for the Tennessee Department of Health. Hodge graduated from the University of the South (Sewanee) in 2001 and Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 2003.


Joe Christian
Term ends in 2021

As a Knoxville native and a UT alumnus, Joe has a serious passion for the University of Tennessee and the people that work tirelessly for its students and for the mission of the University.

Joe has served for the last two years as a representative on the Exempt Staff Council. Through this service, Joe has enjoyed the opportunity to represent the interests and concerns of his fellow exempt staff and to help equip them with important information about the University and its policies. Joe has also served the University on the Alumni Band Council and on the Alumni Board of Directors.”

James H. Hodge
Term ends in 2023

James Hodge is a senior auditor in the Office of Audit and Compliance. James has 20+ years of experience as an internal auditor, and serves on several local boards and community organizations.

Michael Smith-Porter
Term ends in 2023

Michael Smith-Porter has worked at UT for 6 years, and currently serves as a project coordinator. In this role Michael oversees special projects and manages strategic partnerships for the Office of the Vice Provost of Enrollment Management.

Theresa Sears
Term ends in 2022

Theresa Sears serves as assistant director in the Office of Sponsored Programs under the Office of Research & Engagement, Knoxville. Theresa’s background includes over twenty five years’ experience in a university setting, of which over fifteen years are in research administration. Prior university experience includes Associate Director of Grants Administration, Wake Forest University Health Sciences; Senior Grants Management Specialist, University of Louisville; and Client Services Coordinator of Student Financial Aid, East Tennessee State University.

Theresa’s previous experience consists of more than 30 years at various corporate and educational organizations serving in leadership and managerial roles. Prior to work in a university setting, Sears served as Assistant Vice President and Data Processing Manager at a mid-size corporate financial institution.

Kenneth Wagner
Term ends in 2023

“I have been with the College as an Exempt employee since 1997. While I’m based in the Nashville office, I travel frequently to Knoxville since my role included both cities. I believe that I’ve always had a “statewide” view of things that impact all University employees – and not just those who are Knoxville-based.”

Kimberly Hardaway
Term ends in 2021

“My name is Kimberly Hardaway and I’m one of the Assistant Directors for University Housing. I have been a Student Affairs professional since 2006 and have worked at institutions of varying sizes and types in the Southeast and Midwest, mostly within Housing and Residence Life. My bachelors degree is in Human Resources from Georgia Southwestern State University and my masters degree is in College Student Personnel from the University of Louisville. I have a passion for student development, diversity and inclusion work, and staff training and development. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to serve on and chair committees at the departmental, divisional, and regional level. I feel the work I contributed to these committees were successful in bringing cooperation among peers and being able to appropriately challenge processes to affect positive change. I would be honored to have the opportunity to work with the Exempt Staff Council and to help share concerns and provide suggestions to the University so that the needs of staff are heard and met.”

Brian Browning
Term ends in 2021

Brian has worked at UT for nearly 18 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Auxiliary & Support Services for the Office of Senior Associate Vice Chancellor, Finance & Administration. In his current position he manages a variety of administrative and operational functions within the office, which oversees nine departments. Brian also maintains the role of the campus Designated Official for implementation oversight for the Program for Minors policy on the Knoxville campus. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Masters of Science in Emergency Management, and Executive MBA degrees all from the University of Tennessee. Brian and his wife have two sons, Tyler and Colin.

John Rich
Term ends in 2021

John joined the University of Tennessee in 1978 as a management analyst for the Nursing Department at UT Medical Center, Knoxville.  He currently works in the IRIS Administrative Support department where he does design, configuration, reporting, support, and testing of the Taleo Applicant Tracking System, and similar work on various modules of the IRIS HR system.  He has worked on the IRIS HR team since its inception in 2001.  From 1980 until 2001, he was employed in the System Human Resources office where he worked in such areas as affirmative action, compensation, policy and procedure development, governmental reporting, training and development, unemployment and workers’ compensation claims processing.  John lives in Halls and has a beautiful wife, Vicki, a son, two step-daughters and three grandchildren.

Deanna Flinchum, Research

Jessica Cantu, Human Resources

Mary Lucal, Human Resources

Julie Roe, Human Resources

Izetta Slade, Human Resources

Michelle Whited, Human Resources