J. Phenise Poole Named President of the Alumni Board of Directors

Category: News

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Alumni Board of Directors has instated J. Phenise Poole (’95) as its president for the next year and inducted 12 new members. Poole’s term began in July, succeeding Phil Jacobs (’77), and she will be the first African American woman in the leadership role. Jacobs will continue on the board as its immediate past president.

“I am very excited to be coming back on campus, and I think the board is as well, because there’s nothing like really fully engaging with students and having the opportunity to spread the word about the amazing things going on at UT,” Poole said. “All of us really enjoy meeting with the phenomenal students and soon-to-be graduates of UT.”

Poole graduated from UT’s College of Communication and Information prior to obtaining her law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law and entering the legal profession. She is currently deputy general counsel and a senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio.

One of Poole’s goals as board president is strengthening the relationship between the alumni board of directors and colleges to increase engagement opportunities. She is also committed to continuing the goals prioritized by Jacobs, with an ongoing focus on board giving and the board’s involvement with UT LEAD through the Vols Pay-It-Forward campaign.

“ “She has been committed to helping students obtain higher learning, both in the form of scholarships and also in serving as a role model. I know that she and the board will do great things in this upcoming year.” – Duane Wiles, assistant vice chancellor for alumni affairs

“I started thinking about the lasting impact I wanted to have years ago, and it was always a dream of mine to honor my parents and grandparents,” Poole said. “Both of my parents were first-generation college students at Tennessee State University, and my grandparents did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education, so I chose to endow scholarships in their honor.”

Poole endowed the Cleveland and Nadine Young Scholarship for Professional Excellence, which supports students in the College of Communication and Information. She is passionate about UT LEAD because it allows her to continue making a positive impact. The UT LEAD program and Vols-Pay-It-Forward campaign allow Vols to provide targeted support to first-generation students in meaningful ways.

“Phenise truly exemplifies the Volunteer spirit, and we are so grateful for her involvement with UT,” said Duane Wiles, associate vice chancellor of alumni affairs. “She has been committed to helping students obtain higher learning, both in the form of scholarships and in serving as a role model. I know that she and the board will do great things in this upcoming year.”


New members of the Alumni Board of Directors, as of July 1, include:

Jeff Abbott (’93), president at Ivanti Global Solutions

Leslie Benmark (’67, ’70), retired consultant and senior vice president with E.I. du Pont de Nemours

Linda Bradley (’76), retired assistant vice president of academic affairs with the University of Central Florida at Daytona Beach

Stephanie Frazier (’91), retired senior sales director with Lumen Technologies

Clay Hart (’00), executive vice president with Pinnacle Financial Partners

Aaron Love (’93), civil engineer and assistant to the president with Bechtel

Brion Randolph (’95, ’97), physician with the Methodist Blood and Marrow Transplant Program

Louis Gross, president of the Faculty Senate, chancellor’s professor and director of NIMBioS and TIEM at the University of Tennessee

Maria Martinez (’16), special interest and diversity council representative, coordinator with the Jones Center for Leadership and Service at the University of Tennessee

Claire Donelan, president of the Student Government Association

Lauren Gregg McWhirter (’14), young alumni council president, director of investor relations with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

Connor Davis, president of the Student Alumni Associates