Class Notes (Fall 2011)


Last year, the Country Music Association’s (CMA) board of directors gave ex officio board member Jim Free (’69, ’72) the CMA Chairman’s Award. Chair Steve Moore highlighted Free’s “tireless efforts” on behalf of the country music format in Washington, D.C., over the years. Free joined the CMA board in 1997 after years of serving as the board’s legislative consultant.

Dan Jewell (’63) published the mystery/detective fiction book, Blood Country: A Nashville Sideman Mystery, through Outskirts Press. The book centers on a Nashville musician (or “sideman”) who, like most Nashville musicians, supplements his meager pay by doing something else—in this case, detective work. Before becoming a mystery writer, Jewell enjoyed a successful career as a college professor and dean of humanities at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. Jewell’s wife, Joyce, and their son, Barry, graduated together from MTSU in 1987.


Lt. Col. (USAF, ret.) Al Allenback (’73), was named vice president for airport planning and engineering at Goodwyn-Mills-Cawood, Montgomery, Ala. He returns to the firm following a two-year hiatus as district director for Alabama’s second congressional district.

Bart Gordon (’71), Washington, D.C., recently retired after many years of service as U.S. representative for Tennessee’s sixth district, is a partner in the public policy and law practice of K&L Gates.

Joyce A. Smith (’73), Chattanooga, is president of the Tennessee state chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors and was named 2010 Realtor of the Year by the Chattanooga chapter.

Brig. Gen. (U.S. Army, ret) R. David Ogg Jr. (’78, ’87), Athens, Ala., is the new president and CEO of Applied Geo Technologies based in Choctaw, Mississippi.


Ken Strickland (’89), a veteran of the Washington bureau of NBC News, was named deputy bureau chief earlier this year. Strickland joined NBC in 1995 as an associate producer for Dateline NBC. He was named White House producer in 1997 and later was NBC’s producer on Capitol Hill. Three days after he joined NBC in April 1995, the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Strickland was immediately dispatched to the scene to coordinate NBC’s coverage with the local affiliate. In 2008, he won an Emmy for breaking news coverage on the collapse of the bank bailout talks in Congress. Strickland also produced coverage of former president George W. Bush’s trip to Ground Zero in New York City in the days following the 9/11 attack.


The high school dropout problem is an epidemic in the United States. MTSU graduate Alvin Allgood (’93) is doing something about it. Allgood was recently named senior VP and head of the Student Dropout Recovery Center initiative at New York–based EdisonLearning. The company serves more than 450,000 students in 25 states, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East through 391 school partnerships. Allgood previously was executive VP and COO of middle Tennessee–based Educational Services of America, where he built four operating divisions including its recovery services.

Emily Brady (’95), Fayetteville, is the 2010–2011 teacher of the year at Hazel Green High School and alternate teacher of the year in Madison County, Ala.

Peter Tuttle (’95), Brentwood, is a CPA and has been awarded the insurance designation Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS). He is with Shelter Insurance in Cool Springs/Franklin.

Felicia Brown (’98) has been named treasury management officer at First Farmers and Merchants Bank, helping the 17-branch bank optimize cash management efforts for its commercial customers. Brown was the 2009 winner of the First Farmers Bank Innovation Award, which recognizes employees who contribute the most significant innovations.

Jennifer Pasalakis (’98), Nolensville, was recently inducted into Thirty-One Gift’s Circle of Honor, which recognizes consultants whose stories have been included in their catalogs. She was honored in three of the top five categories for the 2009–2010 sales year.

Jody McHugh Dianna (’99) is a counselor with MTSU Counseling Services.


Marcia Beene Dickerson (’01, ’04), Alexandria, Va., is the senior trainer in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon.

J. P. Kraft (’02) is the city forester for the City of Tullahoma.

Robin Wallace (’02), Weehawken, N.J., recently appeared on the Nate Berkus Show. She is the author of the blog.

J. Scott Griswold (’03, ’06) received the 2010 Harris Gilbert  Award from the Tennessee Bar Association for his outstanding commitment to pro bono service. Griswold is an attorney at the Knoxville firm of Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers.

Tommy Axford (’04) is a consulting actuary at BPS&M, a Wells Fargo company in Brentwood.

Joel Price (’04), Nashville, is a professional DJ.

Elizabeth Brown (’06) was hired earlier this year as a legislative assistant to Florida congresswoman Kathy Castor. Brown previously served in a similar position for now-retired Tennessee congressman John Tanner.

Nathan Jones (’08), is an accounting assistant for the Kroger Regional Accounting Center in Nashville.

Ashley Alexander Kraft (’09) is an independent support coordinator for the community development center in Shelbyville.

Ian Anderson (’09), Indianapolis, Ind., is an assistant professor of creative media and entertainment at Butler University.

Twin brothers Matthew (’02) and Scott Pessoni (’02), won awards at the 25th Annual Mid-South Emmy Awards in the Photography—Short Form category (Cinematography) for a project called Digital Diary Christine, which they shot for their client, GodFilms. The duo had previously won a student Emmy Award while attending MTSU for a project they worked on for a documentary class in 2001. The Pessonis are the founders of Nashville-based Gemini Production Group, where Matthew is a producer and art director and Scott serves as director of photography and chief technology officer.