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Siskin Children's Institute 

board of directors


Dr. edna varner, Chair

Dr. Varner is a consultant with the Public Education Foundation and director of Leadership Development for the Cornerstone National Literacy Initiative. She is on the board of the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy as well as a former Hamilton County teacher and principal.


dr. valerie c. rutledge, Vice chair

Dr. Rutledge serves as the Dean in the College of Health, Education and Professional Studies at UTC. Before that Rutledge served as Director of the School of Education at UTC and has led the School of Education since August 2003. Prior to joining the UTC faculty in 1995, Rutledge taught English and Latin in Hamilton County Schools. In 1999, she was appointed to a nine-year term on the Tennessee State Board of Education. She is a two-time proud graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee.


betty lebovitz, secretary

Mrs. Lebovitz is an active volunteer for Siskin Children’s Institute. She has previously co-chaired StarNight and SyleWorks, and served on the Institute’s Steering Committee. Currently, Betty is serving on the Development and Marketing Committee.


John m. thomas III, treasurer

John M. Thomas III, TVA’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, leads financial services functions—including Strategy; Financial Planning and Business Development; Treasury; Controller; Risk Management; Business Services; Investor Relations; Commercial Transactions; and Information Technology—for the nation’s largest public power provider with annual revenues of more than $11 billion.
Previously, Thomas served as executive vice president of People and Performance, responsible for TVA’s organizational effectiveness initiative, human resources, compliance, performance analysis, diversity and labor relations, and TVA security functions. Thomas has also served as senior vice president for corporate governance and compliance, vice president and controller, and chief accounting officer.



Paul J. Loftin is the president and COO of Siskin Steel and Supply Co. A Kansas native, Mr. Loftin has been employed with Siskin Steel and Supply for seven years. He began his career in the metals industry with Reynolds Aluminum as a part of their college apprenticeship program. After college he has continued to work in the industry for over 40 years. Most of his career has been in management of steel companies throughout the United States. He is vice chair of The Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association and director of Reliance Steel and Aluminum Company. Mr. Loftin is on the board of directors for the RPC Church and the Spirit of America Foundation. He and his wife Sandy have two daughters: Emily, a junior at Lee University, and Katie, who will be attending Gardner-Webb in North Carolina this fall. Additionally, he has two daughters who live out of state. Angie lives in Kansas, and Camille lives in Colorado Springs.


Scott leRoy, human resources committee chair

Coming Soon


dr. jim shire, Programs Chair

Dr. Shire specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and is the owner of Shire Facial Plastic Surgery.  A graduate of Ohio State University and the Medical College of Ohio, Dr. Shire completed a medical residency at the University of Cincinnati and a fellowship at Tulane University.  He practices at Erlanger and Memorial hospitals, and his research is published regularly in medical journals.


Alan Cates

Alan is an attorney and a member of Husch Blackwell’s Financial Services and Capital Markets team.  Mr. Cates is a member of the Tennessee Probate Study Committee and has served on the faculty of the National Planed Giving Institute of the College of William and Mary for more than 25 years.

Lee Davis

lee davis

Lee Davis is the father of two Siskin Early Learning Center alums, Matthew and Parker. Parker has Down Syndrome and Lee and his wife, Heather, attribute Parker’s success to the early intervention she received while at the Institute as a young child.  Parker is now a freshman at UTC where she is taking criminal justice, art and Spanish courses. Last year, Parker walked the runaway along with several other children from the Institute as part of the annual StyleWorks fashion event. Matthew is currently a sophomore at Baylor School. Professionally, Lee received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law. Mr. Davis enjoys teaching continuing legal education courses for both attorneys and paralegals. In the past, he taught courses for the University of Tennessee at both the Chattanooga and Knoxville campuses. He is a recognized as a Life Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has published articles on DNA technology and other topics. 


Dr. Andrea Goins

Dr. Goins graduated from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and was a resident at the UT College of Medicine. She is affiliated with Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital, Erlanger East Hospital, and Erlanger North Hospital. Dr. Goins heads the NICU follow up clinic.


Stacy lightfoot

Stacy is the Vice President, College & Career Success, Public Education Foundation (PEF). In this role, she coordinates PEF's Camp College program, an intensive college planning weekend retreat for first-generation and low-income students. Additionally, Ms. Lightfoot manages the Passport Scholars program, providing young women of promise with residential summer enrichment experiences across the country.


Carla Morgan

Carla has been a supporter of Siskin Children’s Institute for more than 30 years and has served the Institute’s Board of Directors as well as a member of the Executive Committee and Chairperson of the Development Committee.  She has been the co-chair for StyleWorks twice and was the 2015 co-chair of StarNight along with her husband, Bubba, and daughter, McCall. Carla is the co-owner and buyer for 2nds in Building Materials, Inc., which operates Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium stores in multiple locations across the southeast. Carla attended at University of Tennessee School of Law where she received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Carla is also very active at the Baylor School, her daughter’s alma mater and serves on the Erlanger Health Systems Foundation board and the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga board.


larry parks

Larry S. Parks is the president of T U Parks Construction Company, of Chattanooga. Aside from his business, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Tri State Carpenters Pension fund, and is active in the construction industry serving as Chairman of CompTrust AGC, Tennessee, a self insured trust providing workers compensation coverage in Tennessee to various construction industry firms, and is a national life director of AGC of America. A member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, he is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga and also serves on the board of Chambliss Center for Children. Larry is past Chairman of the finance committee of Our Lady of the Mount Catholic Church. He and his wife Robin are parents of two sons, reside on Lookout Mountain.


Stephen Ratterman

Stephen Ratterman is the Senior Vice President with Pinnacle Financial Partners.  Mr. Ratterman earned a B.B.A. in Managerial Finance and Investment Analysis from the University of Mississippi and is a graduate of the Southeastern School of Banking conducted at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University.


Matt Rivers

Mr. Rivers is an insurance industry professional with 14 years of progressive employment with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.  He currently serves as Principal Product Manager providing strategic direction for product and program initiatives across commercial lines of business.  Mr. Rivers has a varied background with Blue Cross having worked in Operations, Legal, the Office of Health Care Reform and Product Strategy & Individual Markets.  He has a B.A. from the University of the South and earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga in 2009 with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.  He’s also a recent graduate of the Executive Education Leadership Program through UTC College of Business.  He and his wife, Meredith, live in Hixson with their three children, Neil, Cole and Will. 


Eddie Russell

Eddie is president of ERMC and has been involved in facility services for 20 years. Mr. Russell serves as a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Building Services Contractor Association International (BSCAI) and Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.


robert h. siskin

Robert H. Siskin, son of Institute founder Mose Siskin, is the former Executive Vice President of Siskin Steel & Supply. Robert attended McCallie School and earned his business degree from the University Of Pennsylvania- Wharton School. Robert is very active in the community, serving as the past president of the Bnai Zion Synagogue, past board president and former chair of the community relations committee for the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga. Currently, Mr. Siskin serves on the board of the Public Education Foundation, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation and other community organizations including Siskin Children’s Institute. He and his wife, Pris, have two grown children and five grandchildren.


Tama R. Van Decar, MD, ACPE,

Dr. Van Decar provides physician administrative operational oversight as part of the HCA Healthcare TriStar Division’s executive leadership team.  She is responsible for the provision of high quality, cost effective care through activities based on strategic goals, clinical excellence initiatives and guidelines.  Dr. Van Decar works closely with the division executives, Facility chief medical officers and other physician leaders.  Her areas of focus include medical staff interaction, peer review, physician recruitment, interdisciplinary communication, compliance and regulatory guideline adherence, case management physician review, electronic health record implementation, and clinical quality enhancement through evidenced based medicine.

Dr. Van Decar received her medical doctorate degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in May 1989.  She completed postgraduate training and an anesthesiology residency at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1993.  She was selected to pursue a clinical scientist tract and spent her last year of residency specializing in obstetric anesthesiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.  She was appointed Director of Obstetric Anesthesiology at Wilford Hall Medical Center after completion of this Fellowship.  She was then assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, in August 1995 and served as the Chief of Anesthesiology prior to her appointment as Surgical Services Flight Commander.  She left England in July 1999 to become Chief, Anesthesia Services including the Ambulatory Surgery Unit and the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, 74th Medical Group, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.  Dr. Van Decar took her first command position at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida as the Commander of the 96th Surgical Operations Squadron in July 2003.  Success at the Squadron level led, in June 2006, to her selection as Group Commander for the 96 Medical Group, the sixth largest hospital in the Air Force Medical Service. She attained qualification as a Certified Physician Executive in 2008 and after a highly decorated 20-year military career, Dr. Van Decar retired and transitioned to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center in August 2009, first as Vice President Medical Affairs and then a year later, in 2010, as Chief Medical Officer.  In May of 2017, she was selected to become Chief Medical Officer for the TriStar Division of HCA where she leads the Quality agenda for 20 facilities across 3 states.

Dr. Van Decar and her husband, Jim, a board-certified developmental pediatrician and retired Air Force Officer, have four grown sons.

Board advisory committee


claire siskin binder

Mrs. Binder is an active community volunteer, serving in board positions with the B’nai Zion Synagogue and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation. She is a past board member of the Chattanooga Symphony Opera Association and a past president of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga.


a.v. terry blunt

Mr. Blunt is the vice president of Human Resources for Olan Mills, Inc. He serves as an elder for Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church.


carl henderson

Mr. Henderson began his career in public accounting 1975 and is now a partner in the firm of Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC. He has served as an expert witness before the U.S. Tax Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Mr. Henderson is a former revenue agent for the Internal Revenue Service. His professional and civic affiliations include the American Institute of CPAs, the Tennessee Society of CPAs, a member of the TSCPA Federal Tax Committee and a past president and board member of the Estate Planning Council of Chattanooga.


sam e. miles, jr.

Mr. Miles is a past board member of the Siskin Foundation, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation and Pioneer Bank. He is a past treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees of the Hunter Museum of American Art and a past president of the Chattanooga Symphony Association. Mr. Miles retired as vice president of Mortgage Loans and Real Estate for Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company.


Helen Pregulman

Helen Siskin Pregulman has served on and advised the Siskin Children’s Institute board for many years, and is the daughter of Institute co-founder Garrison Siskin, brother of Mose Siskin. She currently serves on the United Way of Chattanooga Advisory Board as well and previously served on the board of Arts Build, Girls Inc., Chattanooga Jewish Federation, and the Hunter Museum of American Art, to name a few, and has chaired multiple boards, committees, events, and campaigns. Miss Pregulman also serves on the Institute marketing and development committee.


ross i. schram iii

Mr. Schram is a lawyer and shareholder of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. He currently serves as an elder and trustee at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in addition to being vice chairman of the boards of The Chambliss Center for Children, Fortwood Center and Volunteer Community School. Mr. Schram also chairs the Allocations Committee of the United Way and serves on its Board and Executive Committee. He is a past chairman of the Institute’s Board of Directors.


Jo Ann Yates

Coming Soon

Meet our Leadership Team