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OAK RIDGE, TENN. Dec. 8 – At today’s Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration, the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC) celebrated its 50th Anniversary, named two new recipients of the Muddy Boot Award, and presented a Postma Young Professional Medal.  Nearly 400 attendees heard remarks from Governor Alexander, Congressman Fleischmann, and Tennessee’s Lt. Governor McNally.

Lt. Governor McNally opened the Council’s annual celebratory program by reading a proclamation from the State outlining the impact ETEC has made during its 50-year tenure. Governor Alexander, Former U.S. Senator and Governor of the State of Tennessee, was the featured speaker and Congressman Fleischmann also made remarks. All of whom are past Muddy Boot Award winners.

The Muddy Boot Award is a tribute to individuals who through their work and community activities make East Tennessee a stronger region. Cathy Toth, President & CEO of Acato Information Management; and, Phil Andrews, Chief Financial and Business Operations Officer of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), were named the newest members of the ‘Order of the Muddy Boot’.

The Muddy Boot was established 50 years ago to honor individuals who have gone above the call of duty — like those who served the nation during the Manhattan Project during adverse conditions, sometimes actual rivers of mud — to make the community, the state of Tennessee, and the nation a better place to live and work. From 1973-2023, 105 people have received the award. ETEC memorialized former winners in a slideshow for this anniversary event.

The Postma Young Professional medal was presented to a deserving young professional who is making a difference in their workplace and in the community. Kylie Julius-Schumacher, Communications Manager at Strata-G received the Postma Medal for 2023. She is the 27th recipient of this award.

In 2005 ETEC established the Postma Medal to honor the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region. Former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Herman Postma epitomized this spirit during his life; and his wife, Pat continues the tradition of service today through her involvement in the Oak Ridge community.

A full list of recipients and more information about both awards can be found on the ETEC website. More photos will be available on the ETEC Annual Meeting webpage here.

ETEC President Tracy Boatner said, “This year’s winners exemplify the Muddy Boot Award through their selfless service and dedication to making this community a better place to live and work.  They inspire others to greatness and like the leaders during the Manhattan Project, they run to challenges and not away from them.  They say yes, when the only path forward appears to be no.  Congratulations Cathy, Phil, and Kylie!”

Winners of the Muddy Boot Award

Cathy Toth

David Bradshaw, Oak Ridge Area Manager for Pinnacle Financial Partners and former Muddy Boot and Postma Medal winner, presented the award to Cathy Toth, President & CEO of Acato Information Management, LLC for her work as an inspiring entrepreneur, education advocate, and workforce champion.

Cathy is an outstanding example of an individual to has helped build the economic base by creating her own company specializing in Software Quality Assurance in 2010, Acato Information Management, LLC. in an effort to provide the best service for customers and to provide a great place to work for her employees.

Cathy earned her degree in electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She then worked as an independent consultant for a number of large corporations for the next 15 years. She operated as an independent Senior Software Quality Assurance Specialist for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and others while raising her young children, and then went on to found Acato Information Management, LLC.

Barry Stephenson, President of Materials and Chemistry Laboratory, stated in his nomination letter that Cathy has not only leveraged the federal presence to create private sector jobs but has done so while participating in the community beyond the workplace. She currently serves as Chair of the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation where she works tirelessly on behalf of public education. When she was chair of the ETEC Board of Directors she championed workforce development as a primary mission for the organization and just this year helped develop a high school internship program for its members. In addition, Cathy has served as President of the Breakfast Rotary Club of Oak Ridge and she continually inspires and encourages all of Acato’s 30+ full-time employees to serve the community in acts of volunteerism and financial support of charitable causes when possible, and implemented Acato’s annual fundraising campaign that matches employee donations to area nonprofit organizations.

Phil Andrews

Dr. Chris Whaley who received the Muddy Boot Award last year for his contributions to community education at Roane State Community College, presented a 2023 Muddy Boot award to Phil Andrews, Chief Financial and Business Operations Officer of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

The inscription on Phil’s award says, “For leading with integrity, vision, and heart.” Dr. Whaley and Andy Page, CEO and President of ORAU, echoed these sentiments in their nomination letter. They said, “While Phil could be awarded the Muddy Boot Award based on his accomplishments that have positively impacted the East Tennessee area for more than 40 years and for many years to come due to his legacy, what you will find in him personally is rare and of far more value in today’s workforce and community. He is a role model of the highest character and integrity, and he is someone you truly would be glad to know and call coworker and friend.”

Since joining ORAU in 2007 as Vice President of Business Operations and CFO, Phil has managed the financial aspects of the organization’s dramatic revenue and employee growth. His recent title change to Chief Financial and Business Operations Officer reflects his overall leadership position at ORAU. In this role, he oversees all financial, facility, communications, and business support services. He provides executive-level leadership for the operations of ORAU’s four departments, contributes to strategic planning for the corporation, and directs the strategic planning initiatives of Business Operations.

Phil began his professional career as an auditor for the State of Tennessee and then for the University of Tennessee. He moved into the commercial sector and worked at Boeing in Oak Ridge as an auditor and quickly grew with the company. Over the course of 26 years, he held increasingly responsible positions at Boeing. He was accountable for total Oak Ridge site leadership as the director of site operations and led the Boeing Oak Ridge site to the best two years of performance in facility history. More recently, he served as Boeing’s Commercial Airlines program manager/government and community relations manager where he was responsible for business development, leading commercial airplane programs, integration and testing, and leading local, state and federal government and community relations activities. During Phil’s career with Boeing in Oak Ridge, his efforts coupled with those of countless other civic and political leaders helped bring and keep jobs, business and economic prosperity and ultimately residential development to Oak Ridge.

Phil loves to help his community any way he can. From helping nonprofit organizations plan and execute complex strategic plans, to rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty while volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity build, or serving as a deacon in his church, he significantly contributes to the community.

Postma Young Professional Medal Winner

Kylie Julius-Schumacher 

Pat Postma and Courtney Russell Branton presented this year’s Postma Young Professional Medal to Kylie Julius-Schumacher. Courtney won the Postma Medal in 2010 and through Strata-G provides public affairs support to the NNSA Y-12 Office of Acquisition and Project Management.

Kylie serves as the Communications Manager for Strata-G, LLC, and is a Business and Professional Communications Instructor at the University of Tennessee. Michael Russell, Strata-G’s Director for Nuclear and Quality Services, states in his nomination letter that Kylie epitomizes how a successful young professional should approach life, work, and their professional career.

He goes on to say that Kylie’s upbeat personality combined with an unwavering energy and enthusiasm for her clients and co-workers makes her the ideal communications manager and leader for Strata-G. Kylie came to Strata-G as an intern and has worked her way not only into a full-time position but as an integral part of Strata-G’s management team in areas of recruitment, business development, outreach, and communications.

Kylie has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Tennessee (UTK). While working full time for Strata-G and supporting the UCOR team, she graduated from UTK with a Master of Science degree in Communication and Information. Kylie also teaches public speaking for UTK and recently was honored to have one of her papers accepted for publication and represented UTK with another at the recent National Communication Associated conference where she presented her co-authored paper. She is currently working on her doctorate.

Kylie has continued her professional development by participating in the Leadership Oak Ridge class of 2023 and supporting numerous outreach and volunteer efforts, personally and with Strata-G, in support of local charities including the Pat Summit Foundation, Knox Area Rescue Mission (KARM), Bethel Valley Road Cleanup, and Emerald Academy, among others. She is active in the Energy, Technology and Environmental Business Association (ETEBA) and is often seen at the ETEC Friday morning meetings.

About ETEC:

The East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC) is an independent, regional, non-profit membership organization, dedicated to supporting and leveraging the federal government’s missions by working in strong partnership with federal contractors, Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration representatives, state and federal elected officials, small businesses, and other local economic development organizations. ETEC seeks new ways to use federal investments in science and security to create prosperity, promote regional development, and explore opportunities for growth. For more information visit, www.eteconline.org.

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