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Motlow State’s Dr. Erica Lee and Barbara Scales named Maxine Smith Fellows

June 30, 2021

Barabara Scales (left) and Dr Erica LeeDr. Erica Lee, completion coach; and Barbara Scales, chief compliance, equity, and inclusion officer at Motlow State Community College, are among 21 faculty and staff members from colleges and universities across Tennessee who were selected to participate in the 2021-22 Class of the Maxine Smith Fellows program.

“Motlow State continues its support of the coveted Dr. Maxine Smith Fellows Program as it identifies and coaches the next leaders across higher education and the TBR system,” said Dr. Michael Torrence, Motlow President. “Dr. Erica Lee and Mrs. Barbara Scales epitomize the essence of Dr. Smith who was a trailblazer and noted leader in education, civil rights, and community. Dr. Lee and Ms. Scales will glean and give immensely to the program and their peers as they journey through this invaluable experience.”

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. 

Dr. Erica Lee and family“I am honored and truly grateful to be nominated and selected as a member of the 2021 cohort of the Maxine Smith Fellows program. This is a huge professional development opportunity!” exclaimed Dr. Lee, a Chattanooga native, and current Nashville resident. She has been with Motlow for eight years. 

“I am excited to learn and grow with a diverse group of emerging senior leaders. I am looking forward to the leadership and mentorship this program offers,” she added.

Barbara Scales and familyCalifornia-born, Scales was raised in Texas and currently resides in Murfreesboro. She has been with Motlow since 2019. 

“Motlow is committed to diversity, equity, inclusive practices, and harnessing a culture of belonging within our community. I am beyond honored to represent the College as I learn about the leadership of this great trailblazer,” said Scales, who is thankful to Motlow President Dr. Michael Torrence, who nominated her for the opportunity. “I eagerly look forward to actively participating in the Maxine Smith Fellows professional development leadership program with great anticipation and networking with colleagues from all over the state.” 

In addition to the professional development of class members, the program stimulates increased collaboration among institutions, the 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. 

“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 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.

For information about the program, please contact Dr. Wendy Thompson [email protected]

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Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient, and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. The system offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs, and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at or visit Motlow at

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