Staff

Sam Maynard
Sam Maynard

Executive Director

Sam has been Executive Director of James White’s Fort for almost two decades. He has a passion for history and the preservation of all historic and cultural landmarks. He has served on numerous boards including City People, French Broad Preservation Association, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Knox Heritage and Tennessee Stage Company. He has also served on committees for American Cancer Society, Historic Homes of Knoxville, and Dogwood Arts Festival. He has won the following awards: 2019 Pauly Award, Tourism General Manager of the Year from GKHA, Stars of Industry Award 2019, Tourism Manager of the Year, and State of Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association.

 

Robert McGinnis

Curator

Robert is the author of more than 50 published cemetery listings throughout East Tennessee. He recently released Volume 5 of his “Gone So Soon” series, focusing strictly on the inscriptions on the markers in the massive cemetery. The book, entitled “Gone So Soon: The Interments of Grandview Cemetery of Blount County, Tennessee,” also includes the obituaries of all those interred in the cemetery from the first burial in 1923 through 1936.

Board

Chris Smith
Chris Smith

Board President

Chris is a Production Manager with East Tennessee PBS.
Staci Daganhardt
Staci Daganhardt

Board Vice President

Staci is a paralegal at the law offices of Butler, Vines & Babb a long standing firm that specializes in personal injury, insurance defense and general matters of law. Before her present position, Staci was a freelance paralegal in both Dayton, Ohio, and Knoxville. She has been an active volunteer with the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival and, while a student at Roane State Community College, was on both the President’s List and the Dean’s List.

Ron Lee
Ron Lee

Board Treasurer

Ron is employed by Home Trust Bank’s Bearden office. He is a retail business designer, developing more than a dozen retail outlets including co-creator of Forum Gifts in Knoxville. He is on the Advocacy Board for the Hearing & Speech Foundation of Blount County. He is active with multiple charitable organizations including volunteer service and fund raising.

John Hinkle
John Hinkle

Board Secretary and Chair of the Finance Committee

John is retired from First Tennessee Bank after 40 years of service. Active in the Blount County community, John has served on numerous United Way committees over the past 20 years, and was Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2012. He is currently a member of the Community Impact Committee. He is currently on the board of the Hearing & Speech Foundation and serves as the foundation’s Executive Director.

Brenda Asbury
Brenda Asbury

Founder of an international company for training and development, Ms. Asbury has been involved since 1977, starting in Knoxville, with the apartment business. She is an empowering speaker, author and committed to the leadership of the next generations thru podcasts. A South Knoxville native, Brenda is no stranger to community service thru the efforts of her father, Bill Hays who was a spiritual leader and ran for County Commissioner.

She has lived and worked in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Nashville. Having completed her work path she is currently assisting Neyland Associates with development in the Southeast.

She went to the University of Tennessee and East TN State and studied architecture. She has numerous national awards for her efforts and endeavors.

Griffin Witt
Griffin Witt

Griffin graduated from Carson-Newman University with a degree in Business Marketing and Management. He currently works as a Realtor for Trotta Montgomery Real Estate and volunteers for Hoof & Harness Experiential Learning in his spare time. Griffin formerly served as the Head of Marketing and Sales for Kusa Systems. Additionally, he was involved with the Regas Restaurant History Project.

Judge John Rosson
Judge John Rosson

John R. Rosson, Jr. graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1970, and received his Juris Doctorate at the University of Tennessee Law School in 1975. He was admitted to practice law in 1976 and continues to be in private law practice. In addition to his private practice, he has been the Knoxville City Municipal Judge since 1986. Additionally, he is currently a member of the Knoxville Bar Association, serving on the Professionalism Committee; he is a member of the American Bar Association, having served on the Executive Committee of Specialized Courts; he is a member of the American Judges Association, of which he has served on the Board of Governors; he is a member of the Tennessee Municipal Judges Conference, currently serving on the Legislative Committee and having served on the Board and as the Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee; he is a member of The Hamilton Burnett American Inns of Court. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Community Action Committee, Board of the Knoxville-Knox County CAC Office on Aging, Board of the Joy of Music School, the Board of the Parkinson Foundation, the Board of the James White Fort and has served on the Board of the Sertoma Club. He is a member of the PAD KAC legal fraternity. He was honorably discharged after serving in the Army Reserves and National Guard from 1970 to 1976. He is a member of the West End Church of Christ.

Mary Lou Teague
Mary Lou Teague
Mary Lou graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Psychology. She worked politically with the campaign for DT National Sheriff before working on the campaign for Jimmy Duncan in 1988. In that year, she was voted Knoxville’s most eligible bachelorette for the MS fund raiser. She was a member of the Knoxville Women Club where she served on many committees and gave a speech at the National Convention in Washington.
Pearl Dorsey
Pearl Dorsey
Pearl is Senior Sales Director at Visit Knoxville, the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the City of Knoxville and Knox County.  In addition to serving on the JWF board, she is a current member and has served on the board of the Tennessee Society of Association Executives.  She’s also a member of Meeting Professionals International and East Tennessee Meeting Professionals.
Vickie Lawson
Vickie Lawson
Vickie is the President and CEO of East Tennessee PBS. She serves on multiple area boards and associations, including the Chairman of the Tennessee Public Television Council and several national public media executive boards. She is the host of “Tennessee Life” on East Tennessee PBS, a show featuring the people who proudly call Tennessee home.
Deborah McMillan
Deborah McMillan

Over twenty five years in healthcare industry, starting as a therapist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and later, director of community outreach for Tennova Healthcare.

Currently direct a program dedicated to support and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Amedisys, Inc..

Born and raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains – attended University of Tennessee and hold master’s degree in health, safety and leisure.

State of Tennessee volunteer long-term care ombudsman.

Avid scuba diver, American Red Cross instructor for CPR/AED/First aid and Wilderness First Aid, and volunteer for Cancer Support Community and Mobile Meals.

Rick Staples
Rick Staples

Rick Staples is an orange-blooded Knoxville native who was born to the Cleola Staples and the late James Staples. He is a 1988 graduate of Holston High School. He studied Religious Studies and Sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Mr. Staples has always had a passion for community development and youth mentorship. 

As former State Representative, Mr. Staples was involved in serving on committees that serve the citizens of East Tennessee, such as: Human Recourses Committee, House Consumer & Human Resources Subcommittee, Health Committee, and the Calendar & Rules Committee. He is involved in many organizations that involve both of those passions such as 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville, A-1 Learning Institute, Knoxville District Baptist Association, PlanET (Plan East Tennessee), and Knoxville’s Neighborhood Working Group. He was also a member of the CC Russell Masonic Lodge 262, a Board Member of the S.M.A.R.T. Institute, Board Member of the League of Women Voters, and Board Member of the Knoxville Botanical Gardens & Arboretum. Throughout his commitment to serve, Mr. Staples has been recognized and rewarded as Volunteer of the Year, Community Service Award, and the Outstanding Mentor Award. Although he is involved in many aspects of the community, he loves to spend time with his family, watch sports, patronize small businesses and meet new people. 

Mr. Staples remains focused on tackling key issues that are essential to the citizens of Tennessee, such as: providing access to long-term counseling for youth including witnesses or victims to acts of violence and help in dealing with suicide attempts; creating resources for making Tennessee more competitive for business recruitment. 

Mr. Staples is concentrated on continuing the legacy in which individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sacrificed to provide equal opportunities to all mankind.

Jeannie Hoover
Jeannie Hoover

Jeannie is a retired educator and certified grant writer. She has lived in many places, but calls Knoxville home. Jeannie started the Junior Docent program at The Fort many years ago and continues to be dedicated to history education. She is also an artist, an avid hiker, and voracious reader.

Alan Williams
Alan Williams

Alan Williams is a native East Tennessean with deep roots and strong ties to the James White family history.

He is a long time TV and radio veteran beginning at WBIR-TV, WATE-TV, WVLT-TV and WIVK radio. He’s now involved in special media projects and proud to serve on the board in promoting Knoxville’s first family.

Melinda James
Melinda James

Chair of the Beautification Committee

Melinda is a retired Registered Nurse after 25 years of practice at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. She began her career in nursing in the operating room at UT. After earning specialty certifications in the OR and Orthopedics, she worked with University Orthopedic Surgeons until her retirement. Currently Melinda volunteers in the community for several nonprofit organizations. She is the advocacy leader and serves on the advocacy board of the Hearing & Speech Foundation. She is chair of the Fort’s Beautification Committee.

John David Curry
John David Curry

John David Curry is a native Chattanoogan with a B.S. in Organizational Management, an M.S. in Administration and Human Resource Management and has certification as a Tennessee State Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator.  He is a retired senior manager with the Tennessee Valley Authority, Nuclear Power Generation Division.  Prior to moving to Knoxville, he served as president of the Signal Mountain Area Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Directors of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.  John David also served on the Signal Mountain City Commission.  He has had various leadership roles in the Boy Scouts of America, the United Way and Catholic churches in the Knoxville Diocese.  He is currently president of the Riverhill Gateway Neighborhood Association in Knoxville and is a member of the Board of Directors for the James White Fort.