Three CCI alumni were among the 17 honored by the UTK Alumni Board of Directors on September 16 at the UT Knoxville Board of Directors Awards Dinner at the Knoxville Convention Center. This year’s CCI award recipients were: Sharon Price John (BS/AD ’86) who received the Distinguished Alumni Award, UT Knoxville’s highest alumni honor; Judge Nannette Baker (BS/JEM ’78) who received the Alumni Professional Achievement Award; and Shannon Jamieson Driver (BS/JEM ’99 & MBA ’11) who received the Alumni Promise Award.
“Each of this year’s award recipients has generously given back to their communities, to the University and to this College,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “We congratulate them on these well-deserved honors and recognize them for the outstanding leadership and inspiration they have provided CCI students, faculty and alumni.”
Sharon Price John
Sharon Price John is among UT Knoxville’s most distinguished graduates. She became CEO and President of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. in 2013. The company had experienced a $49 M loss in 2012. In 2014, John was able to lead the company to a $14 M net income.
Fortune.com interviewed her on the company’s remarkable turnaround and began inviting her to provide articles as a top business CEO. Build-A-Bear was recognized as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” in the United States and ranked in the top 100 in six different categories.
In addition to her remarkable achievements as one of the top business executives in the US, John takes the time to “give back” to the causes and organizations she cares about both with her time and her treasure. Fortunately, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the College of Communication and Information are among the organizations about which she cares deeply.
As evidence of her devotion to UT, John: serves as a member of the College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors, made a major gift to CCI to establish the Sharon Price John Endowed Scholarship and served as a guest speaker for CCI’s Ad Club. Her sage advice, innovative ideas, inspirational messages and philanthropic contributions represent a very important investment in the future of CCI and its students.
John also received CCI’s highest alumni honor, the Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award, in November 2014.
Judge Nannette Baker
Judge Nannette Baker is currently the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Prior to being appointed to this position, Governor Bob Holden appointed her to the Missouri Court of Appeals- Eastern District. She served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the 2008-2009 term becoming the first African American woman to serve in that capacity in Missouri. Prior to the appellate court, Judge Baker was appointed as Circuit Judge for the 22nd Judicial District of Missouri and served as Chair of the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis where she was responsible for more than 30 employees and a budget of $2 million dollars.
Prior to her judicial appointments, Judge Baker served as an attorney for two law firms. She received her law degree from St. Louis University. Before she began her legal career, Judge Baker worked in television broadcasting as a consumer reporter, medical reporter, news anchor, talk show host and producer in St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Judge Baker has also been very active in the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division. She served on the Editorial Board for the Judges Journal, and on the association’s committees. Baker served as Chair of the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges and has held several other positions with that organization. She was vice chair of the Appellate Judges Conference in 2010-2011 and served on the Board of Governors of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and on the Executive Board of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Among her many honors, Judge Baker has received the following:
- Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society, Lifetime Honorary Member 2014
- The University of Tennessee Accomplished Alumni Award 2010
- Missouri Lawyers Weekly Best Appeals Court Judge, Eastern District 2009
- Women’s Justice Award-Public Official 2009
- Judge Theodore McMillian Award, St. Louis University 2007
- Mound City Bar Association Legal Service Award 2006
- Gallery of St. Louis Legal Pioneers 2005
Shannon Jamieson Driver
Shannon Jamieson Driver is Scripps Networks Interactive senior vice president, network marketing and creative services with overall responsibility for all six Scripps Networks’ domestic brands – HGTV, DIY Network, Food Channel, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country. During her twelve year tenure at Scripps Networks, Driver has progressed from ad sales marketing manager through five promotions of increasing marketing responsibility to her current role.
Notable accomplishments include inking innovative audience and brand-building partnerships for HGTV/DIY Network with Disney Theme Parks, Major League Baseball, the Bristol Motor Speedway and Old Navy. She also launched innovative, brand-building experiential marketing initiatives at the Mall of America, the SXSW festival, Comic-Con and the CMA Fan Fest.
Driver also negotiated a truly unique media buying partnership with DirecTV – a first for the pay TV industry. And she led a data-based initiative to streamline HGTV and DIY promotional inventory to maximize viewership conversion and increase ratings. In addition, she has played a key role in establishing HGTV as one of the most popular cable networks in the US with 15 consecutive months of year-on-year ratings growth. In August 2015, HGTV was the leading cable network for women aged 25-54, for the third month in a row.
In 2011, while working full-time, Driver received her MBA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Her service activities and civic involvement include: serving as a member of CCI’s Board of Visitors, support of the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM), and providing professional mentorship and active membership in the Southeast Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT).
In 2013, she was named to the Multichannel News list of 40 Under 40, Cablefax presented her with the Marketer of the Year Award in 2015 and the Knoxville Business Journal named Driver to its list of 40 Under 40.
The awards dinner program can be found at http://alumni.utk.edu/s/1341/images/gid2/editor_documents/223375_alumniawardsdinnerprogram_vfinal2onlinepdf_v0.1.pdf