Board of Directors

Jay Quaintance
Jay Quaintance has served as the Assistant News Director at WATE 6 On Your Side in Knoxville for over a decade.

A graduate of Eastern Tennessee State University, Quaintance started his career as a talk show host at Citadel Broadcasting in 1996.

Annie Culver
Vice President

Annie Culver has worked at WATE 6 On Your Side in Knoxville since 2011.

A graduate of Appalachian State University, Culver started her career as an editor/photographer. She was hired as one of the first social media managers in East Tennessee. In 2014, she took over as the digital director of, helping to create a “digital first” culture and re-imagine the role digital media plays in a newsroom.

From the Biscuit Festival to the Grainger County Tomato Festival, Culver loves to get out and experience all of the festivals and activities in the East Tennessee area.

Jennifer Sicking
With more than 15 years of experience in professional news writing, Jennifer Sicking is currently the assistant director of media relations at the University of Tennessee System.

Sicking is a published poet and creative non-fiction writer. She also mentors student interns, is an award winning reporter and video script writer and has developed and produced magazines, stories and video packages.

Jean Ash

Jean Ash spent 17 years as an anchor and reporter for WIVK and was named the AP Broadcasters Association Broadcaster of the Year and Knoxville YWCA Woman of the Year in 1987.

After leaving WIVK/WNOX, she worked in Beijing for China Central TV and China Radio International. Ash holds a bachelor of arts degree in history, with a minor in social studies education, from Gettysburg (Pa.)  College and did post-graduate studies in communications and Chinese language at the University of Tennessee. She has visited China more than 50 times and led tours of the country, some with an international travel company, others on her own. Ash is past president of ETSPJ and the founding president of the Front Page Foundation. She was named the 38th honoree at the Front Page Follies in 2016.

Rachel Wedding McClelland

Rachel Wedding McClelland
Board Member

Rachel is the Director of Student Media at the University of Tennessee where she oversees the Daily Beacon student newspaper, the Phoenix Literary Journal and the organizations’ websites and multimedia teams.

McClelland moved to Knoxville in 2014 after having served as Director of Student Publications at Indiana State University. As a university faculty member at ISU, she also earned the Excellence in Education award for instruction in a variety of honors, reporting, media writing and public relations courses.

In addition to her work with the organization, McClelland has been active on the boards of the Indiana Collegiate Press Association and College Media Association and the Clarence Brown Theater. She was a print news reporter before beginning her career in higher education. She reported for a variety of publications covering social issues, crime, city and county government and the arts. She has also worked as a freelance writer for the Associated Press covering election news.

maria-corneliusMaria Cornelius
Board Member

Maria Cornelius is a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, the region’s leading public relations firm. She has been immersed in communications and local media for more than 25 years and worked for 14 years at the News Sentinel, where she rose through the ranks from reporter to assistant managing editor.

Cornelius also is an accomplished sportswriter. Her book, The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt, chronicles the last season of the legendary Lady Vols basketball coach and was published in the fall of 2016 by University of Tennessee Press.

She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists; U.S. Basketball Writers Association; and Association for Women in Sports Media. She serves as a committee member for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer to help coordinate the annual walk at World Fair’s Park.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Memphis in 1987.

melissa-ericksonMelissa Erickson
Board Member
Melissa Erickson is a Multi-platform Producer at WBIR-TV, where she reports, writes and edits stories for the station’s digital platforms. She joined the ETSPJ board in 2016.

Erickson moved to East Tennessee in 2015, and spent a year as a business reporter for The (Maryville) Daily Times. Prior to that, she was the Associate Editor of the Ames (Iowa) Tribune, where she also covered stories in county and state government, education, courts and crime.

An Iowa native, Erickson is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She was editor of the student newspaper, Luther College Chips, and the annual literary magazine, The Oneota Review.

Jack Lail
Board Member
Jack Lail has worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for over 15 years. He is the managing editor/multimedia and director of digital. Lail is a graduate of East Carolina University.

While Lail is a new addition to our 2017 board, he has served as president of the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists. We’re happy to have his experience on our board.

Nick Shepherd 
Board Member

Nick Shepherd is the county government reporter for the Greeneville Sun.

Shepherd joined the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists on January 20, 2017. He was born and raised in Johnson City, Tennessee. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from East Tennessee State University in 2013.

He has received numerous recognitions for his work in the four years he has been a professional reporter. He was recognized by the Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association for his feature writing, news reporting, video production and investigative reporting. He also earned the Chanticleer Award for Excellence in Writing during his senior year at ETSU.

A fierce advocate for a free press and a lover of all things journalism, Shepherd is married to his lovely wife Cindy and has one biological daughter and three stepchildren he loves like they were his own. He is an avid guitar player and gamer.

Gina Stafford 
Board Member

Gina Stafford is the University of Tennessee Assistant Vice President & Director of Communications and has extensive experience in both journalism and corporate communications, having begun her career as a reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel, then working as PR manager for an area hospital, and serving as UT System spokesperson and press secretary for more than 10 years.

Over her career, Stafford’s work has earned honors including a Scripps-Howard national award for breaking news coverage, an ETSPJ Best of Show award, twice winning the PRSA Volunteer Chapter (Knoxville) Best of Show award, and multiple awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Tennessee College Public Relations Association (TCPRA).

Stafford also serves the community and her profession as a member of Volunteer Chapter PRSA, CASE and TCPRA. She frequently volunteers her time with UT student chapters of SPJ and PRSA, and as a speaker to journalism and PR classes and student groups.

She has a bachelor’s degree in English-Journalism from Tennessee Tech and a master’s degree in communications from UT Knoxville. She also completed fellowships in professional programs in higher education management at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and is a graduate of the UT Leadership Institute.

Brit Stack
Board Member
Brit Stack is senior producer at News 5 WCYB in the Tri-Cities serving Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. She produces the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts and collaborates on in-depth storytelling.

Stack moved to East Tennessee in 2016 after producing at WGNO in New Orleans. She has also served as assignment manager at KGBT in Harlingen, Texas and executive producer at KALB in Alexandria, Louisiana.

While her professional career after college has been in broadcast news, Stack was a print journalist for a variety of local papers and magazines while finishing her degree at the University of Mississippi. Her favorite new beats included crime, city government, and local arts. She also enjoys blogging about hiking and the unique side-of-the-road attractions she finds while exploring the various places she’s lived.

Amanda Womac
Board Member

Amanda Womac is the Director of Communications for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee and a freelance science writer.

Womac is president of the UT Science Forum and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

She has a Master’s degree in science journalism from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. She is a native Appalachian and lives in Knoxville.