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Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger has been named Humanitarian of the Year by the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee.

Niswonger was honored Thursday, March 16, at a breakfast meeting attended by regional business and community leaders, held at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City.

The Humanitarian of the Year award, presented annually by the American Red Cross, recognizes local individuals or groups whose efforts and accomplishments have made their community a better place to live and work.

The award is based on the fundamental principles of the World Red Cross Movement - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, volunteer service, unity and universality - and specifically recognizes the first of those principles, humanity.

At the Thursday breakfast, Niswonger was introduced by Tom Wennogle, president of Jarden Zinc in Greeneville.

Wennogle shared his perceptions of Niswonger's accomplishments as a community servant through his work with the Niswonger Children's Hospital, the region's only children's hospital, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and the Niswonger Foundation.

Wennogle also recognized Niswonger's accomplishments in supporting the growth of downtown Greeneville, his contributions to Tusculum College and his recent appointment as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at East Tennessee State University.

Wennogle commented that, while substantial evidence of Niswonger's contributions is seen in structures like the Tusculum College library, Niswonger Commons and the Tusculum College's Pioneer Park baseball field, where the Greeneville Astros play, the true humanitarian is evidenced in "the many selfless acts of helping others which will never be publicly known."

In accepting the award, Niswonger commented that the recognition had caused him to reflect on events in his life. "There could have been a little skill involved, but, for sure, there was a healthy dose of blessings," Niswonger said. "Without a doubt, the greatest blessings have been the people who have come into my life at just the right time."

Niswonger named former Tennessee Senator Thomas J. Garland and Larry Estepp, executive vice president of Citizen's Bank, as individuals who "believed in a young man with a big dream" and provided the support that led to the success of his first company.

"Tom (Garland) is one of the many people in my life who has taught me that we all have a finite number of heartbeats, all that matters is the help we can be along the way."

Niswonger credited the philosophy of Andrew Carnegie as having taught him a valuable lesson about success and responsibility.  He commented that Carnegie believed that people should return the investments their communities make in them.

"Not only do I believe this is an imperative, I personally believe that giving back is fun.  I enjoy watching the successes of our work in the community," Niswonger said. "At the heart of my personal philosophy is the motto we instill in our Niswonger Scholars - we should "Learn, Earn and Return."

In closing his acceptance comments, Niswonger shared that the award is  a reminder of the Biblical instruction outlined in Luke 12:48: "To whom much is given much is expected." He also encouraged all attendees to "use their finite number of heartbeats wisely."

Following this award presentation, a keynote speech was provided by Dave Sanderson, a passenger on flight 1549, the "Miracle on the Hudson."  The last passenger off the back of the plane, Sanderson was largely responsible for the well-being and safety of others.  His motivational leadership message focused on how to help others make a difference through the way one does business and lives their life each day.

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February 7, 2017

Niswonger Foundation Congratulates Scott M. Niswonger
Presented Coveted Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Scott Niswonger with Professor Holleman

At a formal ceremony on Tuesday, at the General Morgan Inn, in Greeneville, Scott M. Niswonger, Chairman and Founder of the Niswonger Foundation, was presented the most prestigious award the Federal Aviation Administration issues to pilots.  This award is named for Wilber and Orville Wright, American brothers and aviators who are credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful airplane.  The award recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years, while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots.” 

Past recipients of this award are a “who’s who” list of notables in aviation, including Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan; and legendary icon and businessman, Arnold Palmer. 

Lew Kunkle, recently retired Chief Pilot with Niswonger’s local aviation company, Sky Night LLC, was the master of ceremonies for the luncheon event.  Kunkel introduced Nick Popovich, longtime friend of Niswonger, as the initial speaker.  Popovich cofounded Sage-Popovich, an global aviation services company.  His remarks focused on the impact that Niswonger has had on his life, sharing that his example has been Popovich’s inspiration to give back to his own community. 

Charles Holleman, Professor Emeritus from Purdue University, provided comments regarding Niswonger’s lifetime of achievement.  He shared that Niswonger took his first flight lessons at the age of twelve, soloed on his sixteenth birthday, and received his private pilot license on his seventeenth birthday. Holleman was one of Niswonger’s professors and Chairman of the Aviation and Transportation Technology program at Purdue.  Holleman commented about the passion and desire for learning that Niswonger exhibited as a student.  Furthermore, he recognized him for his lifetime of philanthropic and personal contributions to Purdue University and the Purdue aviation program. It is notable that past recipients and friends of Niswonger’s, Astronants Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, are fellow graduates of Purdue University.

Holleman, also, is a past recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and was one of the individuals who nominated Niswonger for this honor.

Pam Charles was on hand from the Federal Aviation Administration to present the coveted lapel pin and plaque.  Holleman did the honors of placing the pin on Scott Niswonger’s lapel.

Niswonger’s comments reflected on the experiences that aviation has provided to him over the course of a lifetime.  In particular, he shared about the changes he has witnessed in the training of pilots, from the days of celestial navigation and low frequency ranges, to the current technology of global positioning system (gps) as the chief method of navigation. 

Niswonger stated that he was immensely honored to be recognized with this award, and humbled to consider the group of individuals he is joining as a recipient.  In particular, he recognized his former professor and friend, Charles Holleman for the important role he has played in his life, stating: “Each of us knows the importance of that teacher who set us on course and truly made a difference in our lives.”

Niswonger recognized the attendees from Purdue Aviation and Purdue University, members of the Sky Night LLC team, and many local dignitaries, friends and family who were in attendance.  A number of guests spoke of their personal appreciation for Niswonger’s contributions to Greeneville, Greene County and Tusculum College; his hometown of Van Wert, Ohio; and at Purdue University. 

Local officials commenting on the award included Greene County Mayor, David Crum; Greeneville City Mayor, W. T. Daniels; and Todd Smith, City Administrator for Greeneville.  

To be eligible for the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, nominees must have held a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificate, have 50 or more years of civil and military flying experience, and be a United States citizen.  

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Congratulations to Alumni Scholar, Brittany Vogt Jorgenson, for her work in achieving the WeddingWire Award for Storybrook Farm

WeddingWire, an online marketplace for the wedding and event industry, recently announced Storybrook Farm Weddings and Events as a winner of the esteemed 2017 WeddingWire Couples' Choice Award for wedding venues in the Tri-Cities. This is the second win of this honor following their receipt of the award last year.

The Couples' Choice Awards recognize the top 5 percent of wedding professionals on WeddingWire who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism.  The awards are given to the top local wedding professionals across more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their professional achievements from the previous year.

The WeddingWire Couples' Choice Award winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Storybrook Farm Weddings and Events.

Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.

"The Couples' Choice Awards' ninth year features one of the most impressive groups of dedicated and acclaimed wedding professionals yet," said Timothy Chi, CEO of WeddingWire. "It is our honor to work with high-caliber merchants, such as Storybrook Farm, who not only make a couple's big day possible, but also contribute to the more than 2.5 million U.S. reviews represented on WeddingWire."

As a Couples' Choice Award winner, Storybrook Farm Weddings and Events is highlighted on WeddingWire, which is comprised of more than 200,000 wedding professionals in the U.S. 

"Storybrook Farm is thrilled to be one of the top wedding venues in the Tri-Cities on WeddingWire," said Brittany Jorgenson, venue director at Storybrook Farm.  "We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We truly value all of our clients and appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn both a 2016 and a 2017 WeddingWire Couples' Choice Award."

For more information about Storybrook Farm Weddings and Events, visit To learn more about the WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards, visit WeddingWire

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The NISWONGER FOUNDATION, founded by Greeneville, Tennessee businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger, has selected five high school seniors to join the Niswonger Scholars program.  Currently, there are 21 Niswonger Scholars, with the newly selected students for 2017 bringing the total to 26.  The Foundation also has 61 alumni of the program.

The Niswonger  Foundation is leaving our mark in this region with the Niswonger Scholars. We know of no other Scholarship and Leadership program like ours in the United States.  Niswonger Scholars are selected through a nomination process that seeks to identify the region’s best and brightest future leaders.  They are given the opportunity to attend the college or university that will best prepare them for success in their field of study, while participating in our four-year leadership program. Through an emphasis on leadership, business management, community service and ethical decision making, the Scholars are provided travel, training, internships, and personalized support to become model leaders and citizens of the world. 

What makes our program unique to all other scholarships is that the goal is to identify and develop leaders for Northeast Tennessee. These students commit to returning, within seven years, to Northeast Tennessee to work in their chosen career one year for each year they receive our scholarship.  The plan is that by enabling these students to pursue their academic passion and by cultivating their leadership abilities, they will be committed to returning to their “roots” and being catalysts for the growth and improvement of their communities.

The five new Northeast Tennessee Scholars are Austin Blazer, Cocke County High School; Brittany Church, Johnson County High School; Emily Ellison, Cocke County High School; Lorraine Hayes, Cloudland High School; Tyler Myers, Tennessee High School.


Austin Levi Blazer is a student at Cocke County High School. He ranks first in his class and has a 4.0 GPA.  He serves as president of Future Business Leaders of America; president of Student Council and Editor of the Annual Staff school news. He is a member of Cross Country, Track and Field, Tennis, Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Club, Principal’s Student Council, National Honor Society, Math Club and Scholar’s Bowl.  His awards include, Future Business Leaders of America Regional Competition, English I Honors, AP Human Geography, Student of the Week and Tennessee American Legion Boys State. He has given of his time in service to Friends of Tennessee’s Babies, Edgemont Elementary School, Angel Tree Ministries and Cocke County Board of Education. Austin is the son of Tony and Gayla Blazer.

Brittany Renee Church attends Johnson County High School. She serves as vice president and Brass Captain of Johnson County Marching Band, secretary of Latin Club and Sergeant in Arms of National Technical Honors Society. She is a member of National Honors Society, Chess Club, Latin Club, National Latin Honors Society, Media Club, Motorsports Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and East Tennessee State University’s Upward Bound Program. Her awards include, Johnson County High School Band Merit Award and Director’s Award. She has volunteered her time at Johnson City Medical Center, Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Calvary Baptist Church. Brittany is the daughter of Tammy Ramsey and Billy Church.


Emily Laurel Ellison is a student at Cocke County High School with a 4.0 GPA. She serves as president of Future Farmers of America and Tennessee Junior Sheep Producers Association. Her awards include, Tennessee Governor’s School for Agriculture, State Future Farmers of America Delegate, National Leadership Forum, National Honor Society Inductee, Mu Alpha Theta Inductee, Regional FFA Dairy Judging CDE High Individual, FFA Leadership Award, 3rd place in National Dorset Yearling Futurity and 3rd place in National Dorset Lamb Futurity.  She is a member of Cocke County 4-H, Future Farmers of America, American Shropshire Registry, Continental Dorset Club, Tennessee Junior Sheep Producer’s Association, Beta Club and Round Mountain Baptist Church.  She has given her time in service to Northwest Elementary School, Lions Club, Freewill Baptist Women’s Auxiliary Horse Show, Samaritan’s Purse and FFA Gentle Touch Ministries Food Drive. Emily is the daughter of Wesley and Patricia Ellison.


Lorraine Faith Hayes is a student at Cloudland High School where she serves as senior class president, president and founder of English Club, president of Relay for Life Club, president of the Bible History Club, co-founder, secretary and treasurer of the Student Government Association, Youth Leadership Delegate and captain of CHS Varsity Cheer Squad. She is a member of National Society of High School Scholars, International Distinguished Scholars Honor Society, Beta Club, Drama Club, Relay for Life Club, HOSA Club, Chorus Club and Bible History Club.  Her awards include, Honorary Usher at Senior Honors and Commencement, Highest ACT Score Award, Principal’s Pride Award, UCA All-American Cheerleader, Most Versatile Cheerleader Award, Christian Fellowship Center International Ministries Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation for Volunteer Work and Christian Fellowship Center International Ministries Most Outstanding Youth Award. She has served her community through MARSH Regional Blood Center, Philippines Feeding Ministry, Camp Christian Challenge, Valley Forge Day Camp, Johnson City Medical Center, Operation Christmas Child and Salvation Army.  Lorraine is the daughter of Eloine and Jeffery Hayes.


Tyler James Myers attends Tennessee High School with a 4.0 GPA and ranks first in his class. He is president of Health Occupation Students of America.  He was voted Best All-around Senior Superlative by his peers. He served as American Legion Tennessee Boys State Delegate. He was selected for Student Congress on Policies in Education. He is Homecoming King and Honor Court King Senior Class. He is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club and Student Council. He is founder, president and CEO of a self-employed business, Poor Boy Gadgets. He is Assistant Tournament Director at Velocity Sports Performance.  He serves his community with Highlands Fellowship Church, Bristol TN/VA Chamber of Commerce, Love-N-People, Tennessee High School and Adaptive Aquatics. Tyler is the son of Corey and Denise Myers.

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John Tweed, Sponsor of CareerConnect        Law Loving, Coordinator of CareerConnect

At a Media Event held on Wednesday, January 11, at West Greene High School, the Niswonger Foundation announced CareerConnect, a new workforce readiness and career exploration initiative for 10th - 12th graders. This three-year program, in partnership with Greene County and Greeneville City Schools, is designed to provide students the opportunity to explore career paths, develop “soft” skills and academic credentials, and gain real-world work experience. The pilot program officially began in Fall 2016 with the selection of 100 10th grade participants, called Explorers. Twenty Explorers were chosen from each of the five high schools located in Greene County.  Explorers and their parents participated in a program orientation in December.

The Niswonger Foundation has initiated this project to guide and support students in building the critical skills necessary for future workplace success.  The focus of the project is on high school students who are most in need of developing an understanding of career opportunities.  Other than jobs held by family members, friends, or seen on TV, students are limited in their understanding of careers available to them. Often, they have had little or no support for considering personal options and identifying their unique skill sets. Students who are not viewed as “college bound” are, historically, among the least likely to receive career counseling in their school environments.

These students will be provided simulated and real-world work experiences, as well as mentoring support. There will be a focus on the critical skills that will help to ensure their successful transition to work.  This project will allow them to more broadly explore career options and will better credential them for future job opportunities with such tools as the Work Ethic Diploma and WorkKeys assessment.  The program will provide an opportunity for the students to have excellent role models and personalized support.

In his remarks at the media event, Niswonger Foundation Chairman and Founder, Scott M. Niswonger, stated: “The better job we do preparing young people for the workplace, the easier it will be to attract new employers to our region, and provide better opportunities for their futures.” 

Niswonger further commented: “This program will begin to give students a look at business and industry, and what is expected. I believe employers will be eager to put the CareerConnect students into jobs in our region.” He introduced John Tweed, President and CEO of Landair Transport, as the sponsor of the CareerConnect pilot program. Speaking from his personal experiences, Tweed shared the need to encourage and educate students regarding the skills that will provide opportunities for them to be successful in the workplace. He stated: “I believe this program will enhance the prosperity of our community, improve the quality of life of our citizens – especially young people, help us create an environment where people will want to live, and be a place where they want to bring their businesses.”

Law Loving will coordinate the CareerConnect program for the Niswonger Foundation.  Loving, an alumnus of the Niswonger Scholars program, has an undergraduate degree in public health from Tulane University, and master’s degree in business administration from East Tennessee State University.  He came to this position following five years of experience with a local marketing research firm.  Loving shared an overview of the CareerConnect program.  Following these comments, he introduced Greene County Director of Schools, David McLain; and Greeneville City Schools Director, Jeff Moorhouse.  Both Directors spoke of the importance of this program to these students and the future of the region. 

Loving, then, introduced Laura Bustos, West Greene High School student and CareerConnect Explorer.  Bustos expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to participate in this program.  Following these comments, members of the media and guests were encouraged to visit the first CareerConnect class for an opportunity to spend time with the Explorers. 

CareerConnect will continue throughout the school year. Explorers will participate in monthly after-school meetings at their respective high schools. Through this effort, they will build soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and financial literacy. In between monthly meetings, students will work on take-home assignments that focus on career exploration and reinforce the soft skill development that takes place in the monthly meetings.

The program extends beyond the regular school year, as well. Over the summer, participants in CareerConnect will gather at Greene Technology Center (GTC) for the two-week CareerConnect Summer Experience. The Summer Experience will give participants the opportunity to take field trips to post-secondary educational sites, like Walters State and TCAT Morristown, and local businesses. Explorers will also be able to participate in hands-on projects and demonstrations at GTC that will give them a feel for different career paths.

Explorers will remain in the program throughout the remainder of high school. During 11th grade, students will continue to develop soft skills at monthly meetings and will participate in the Summer Experience. In 12th grade, Explorers will be eligible to complete internships with local industry sponsors and will receive personalized support as they prepare for post-secondary education and their careers. 

The goal of CareerConnect is simple: to provide high-school students with the skills and opportunities to be successful when they enter the workplace. While the project will initially include 100 students per year, this pilot is designed to be adaptable to other Northeast Tennessee high schools. 

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Left to Right: Kelly Price, Eastman Credit Union, chair elect Chamber board; Carmen Butler, CenturyLink; Bill MacPherson, Domtar; Nancy Dishner, Niswonger Foundation; Mickey Trivett, WebCoUSA; Keddrain Bowen, Fanatics 101; Rick Bishop, Food City; Keith Young, Northeast State at Johnson City; Logan McCabe, Bristol Motor Speedway; Betsy Holleman, Speedway Children's Charities; Lindy White, Franklin Woods Community Hospital; and Heather Tillman, CenturyLink. 

Photo by Jeff Derby

The Niswonger Foundation was honored to receive the "Faith In The Future" Award presented by CenturyLink and the Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and received by, Dr. Nancy Dishner, President & CEO of the Foundation. The award ceremony was held at the Millennium Centre on November 3rd.  The Foundation received the award in the Non-Profit category for providing approximately $50 million dollars in support of local schools over the past 15 years.

Recipients were evaluated based on their commitment to the future of their business, their employees, their community and the region. The featured speaker was Lester Lattany, United Way of Washington County, Tennessee.

Other recipients are:

Entrepreneur Category: Fanatics 101 Sportswear

Healthcare Category: Franklin Woods Community Hospital

Manufacturing Category: Domtar

Professional/Service Category: Bristol Motor Speedway

Technology Category: WebCoUSA Enterprises

Educational Category: Northeast State at Johnson City

Retail Category: Food City

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Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Presents Young Peoples Concert at Niswonger Performing Arts Center

On November third, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, sponsored by Niswonger Foundation, presented the 2016 Young Peoples Concert at Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  This year's theme titled KSOKids Guide to the Orchestra was presented, in two performances, to over 2200 students from across our region.  

The primary goal of this annual program is to provide the opportunity for children to see a quality orchestral performance. Each year, the concerts are specially designed as a teaching/learning experience.  The Niswonger Foundation supports the belief that developing an appreciation for the arts is an important aspect of becoming an educated person. 

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Scott Niswonger and Books From Birth Foundation Host First Lady Crissy Haslam in Greeneville

First Lady Haslam Celebrates New TN Imagination Library Partnerships at Two Green County Birthing Hospitals

October 13, 2016

Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF)celebrated the launch of newborn enrollment partnerships with Takoma Regional Hospital and Laughlin Memorial Hospital in Greene County on Thursday. At both hospitals, each family of a newborn child will now be given the opportunity to enroll in Tennessee’s Imagination Library, receiving the first book, The Little Engine That Could, as an example of the wonderful gift of books to come in the mail in the future. This initiative will introduce Tennessee’s Imagination Library program to parents and families of newborns and emphasize the joys and benefits of reading with children beginning at birth.

In celebration of these birthing hospital partnerships, First Lady Crissy Haslam presented The Little Engine That Could to families at Takoma Regional Hospital and Laughlin Memorial Hospital who have enrolled their newborn in the program

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Can't make it to this year's National Storytelling Festival? We've got you covered. On Friday, October 7th, we're streaming video live from our Family Tent so you can join us in Jonesborough from wherever you happen to be.

Throw a viewing party, check in on your phone during lunch, or binge watch the whole thing from the comfort of your couch!

 Want to convince others about the power of storytelling? Invite your family, colleagues, and students to tune in, too!  

It's easy, it's entertaining, and it's free!


Join the celebration by using the hashtag #storyfest on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Connect with our audience in Jonesborough and around the globe!


The National Storytelling Festival livestream has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Niswonger Foundation. The Family Tent is sponsored by Dollywood's DreamMore Resort.

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Imagination and Education:

A Free Teacher Workshop with Tim Lowry

Geared toward K-5 teachers

Saturday, September 24

9:30-11:30 am

Seating is limited · Call 800-952-8392 to reserve your spot

According to Albert Einstein, imagination is even more important than book learning. Tim demonstrates practical ways to connect mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies through a child's inherent ability to imaginatively explore the world.  

Based on the works of Kieran Egan and the Imaginative Research Group.

This workshop is provided free to teachers through the generosity of the Niswonger Foundation and the East Tennessee Foundation. 

Registration information and details regarding the workshop can be found at:


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