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Kyle Named Maxine Smith Fellow
June 18, 2021

Deidre’ Kyle, director of student success and recruitment at the Walters State Niswonger Campus, is among the 21 faculty and staff members from colleges and universities across Tennessee selected to participate in the 2021-22 Class of the Maxine Smith Fellows program.

The Maxine Smith Fellows program provides professional development, training and advancement opportunities for participants from traditionally underrepresented groups at Tennessee’s locally governed public universities and the community and technical colleges governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Members meet monthly for a year, starting this month. 

In addition to the professional development of class members, the program stimulates increased collaboration among institutions, development of a statewide network for program participants, and an overall increase in the diversity of ideas, thoughts, and experiences within senior leadership ranks at Tennessee public higher education institutions.

Kyle was nominated for the program by Dr. Tony Miksa, president of the college.

“Her selection to be part of the Maxine Smith Fellows Program is a reflection of both her professional expertise and her commitment to Walters State students. I am looking forward to seeing the skills and ideas Deidre’ develops during the next year.” 

Kyle joined the Walters State staff as a temporary, part-time financial aid assistant in 2000, becoming a full-time assistant and working in the department for 10 years before moving to the Sevier County Campus, where she eventually became an admissions specialist. Kyle is a graduate of Southeast Community College in Kentucky. She earned her B.A. in business administration from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and earned an M.B.A. from Milligan College.

“I am very excited to part of the 21-22 Maxine Fellows Program class. Our focus for the next year is increasing the success rate of Black males. I am looking forward to growing my leadership abilities and I also hope to see personal growth,” Kyle said. 

“Most of all, I hope to be able to share what I learn with my co-workers at Walters State. People helped me along my way through college and I want to use what I know to help others.”

The program has developed many current leaders. 

“Maxine Smith Fellows alumni have advanced to senior leadership positions, including seven Fellows who have gone on to serve as presidents at colleges and universities in Tennessee and in other states. Many of them have said that the Maxine Smith Fellows experience contributed to their success,” said Dr. Wendy J. Thompson, the program’s administrator and TBR vice chancellor for organizational effectiveness.

“One essential component of the program’s success is the continued support and engagement of college and university presidents, as well as other higher education leaders from across the state of Tennessee,” Thompson said. Presidents nominate eligible faculty and staff from their campus for consideration for the program.

The program is named in honor of the late Maxine A. Smith, who headed the Memphis Branch of the NAACP for 33 years and was a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents from 1994 to 2006. The Class of 21-22 is the program’s 15th cohort.

Members of the Maxine Smith Fellows Class of 2021-22 are:

Antija Allen, Pellissippi State Community College
Charria Campbell, Tennessee Tech University
Sean Chism, Tennessee Board of Regents system office
Richard Garvin, Jr., Nashville State Community College
Daniel Green, Middle Tennessee State University
Quincy Jenkins, Chattanooga State Community College
Kiana Johnson, East Tennessee State University
Brelinda Johnson, Middle Tennessee State University
Shayla Kolheim, Southwest Tennessee Community College
Deidre’ Kyle, Walters State Community College
Erica Lee, Motlow State Community College
Tongai Maodzwa, Northeast State Community College
Adrian Montague, Jackson State Community College
Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, Tennessee State University
Barbara Scales, Motlow State Community College
Cheryl Seay, Tennessee State University
Tanya Shephard, Roane State Community College
Eric Stokes, University of Memphis
Sharron Taylor Burnett, Dyersburg State Community College
LaNeeca Williams, Austin Peay State University
Johnny Wyatt, Columbia State Community College