Ovation 2014: Best Citizen/Excellence in Leadership

Honoring leaders, managers and elected/appointed officials who have helped pave the way and are promoting a strong business and economic environment in the Upper Cumberland.



Upper Cumberland/WCTE president and CEO

Near or far, whether traveling within the region or outside it on business, Becky Magura is always serving as an ambassador for the Upper Cumberland.

Sure, it may be all in a day’s work, but for the WCTE president/CEO, it’s more about sharing the strengths the region has to offer.

“I love being a part of the community. I love my job,” Magura said. “I think by being a part of it, you’re supporting the infrastructure that makes this such a wonderful place to live.”

Locally, Magura specifically serves on the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association Advisory Board, the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee and is a new member of the Cookeville-Putnam County Sports Council. She’s also on several national PBS-related boards, like the Association of Public Television Stations and the National Education Telecommunications Association.

Plus, Magura’s a business co-owner on the side. She and Jennifer LaFevre started Tennessee Race Timing in 2012 – providing chip timing for road races around the state. Prior, Magura said, there were no local options for race organizers, meaning outside companies from urban areas were often brought in.

“We have been very busy, and we’ve actually had a few (events) in Nashville, but we started Tennessee Race Timing to serve the Upper Cumberland,” Magura said. “No matter whether you’re running or walking, or if you can improve your time by even 5 seconds, you’re really working toward being a healthier person, and that builds a healthier community.”


Putnam County/Retiring state Senator


The story of Charlotte Burks’ ultimate election to the state Senate is both widely known and tragic – following the death of her husband, former Sen. Tommy Burks at the hand of an opponent. But for 16 years, the Monterey resident and Gainesboro native has served the people of the Upper Cumberland with grace.

Burks has been named legislator of the year numerous times throughout her career by numerous organizations. There’s also countless committees and subsequent bills that will bear her name. And her fight for stronger anti-meth legislation remains one of her most marked endeavors.

Burks announced last fall that she would not seek re-election in the 15th District, which includes Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Bledsoe, Putnam and White counties. Her successor will be elected in August.



White County/Former state Representative

For a span of nearly 20 years, Charles Curtiss was a go-to resource on the state level for residents in White, Grundy and Warren counties.

The former Cassville fire chief climbed the political stepladder over time, first serving on the White County Commission from 1982-1986 before being appointed White County executive in 1986. He lost his bid for re-election in 1990, but a few years later, decided to run for state representative in the 43rd District, encouraged by the former office holder, Ivy Hillis.

It was a seat he held for 19 years.

While Curtiss, 67, resigned from his post Jan. 1, he’s still active on the Capitol. He was hired as executive director of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, which lobbies on behalf of counties’ interests in Nashville.



Putnam County/Former TTU president

Angelo Volpe may not be an Upper Cumberland native, but he’s certainly made Cookeville home – and continues to be an active member in the community even after his “working” days.

Volpe retired in 2000, after serving as Tennessee Tech University president for 13 years, still considering the longest tenured leader there. He hasn’t slowed in the years since.

He’s served on the Cookeville Planning Commission, has been a board member of Cookeville’s First Tennessee Bank, the Upper Cumberland Public Broadcast Council, which is the governing board for WCTE, and the Bryan Symphony Orchestra, and has assisted with fundraising efforts for several other groups, among many other activities.

And yes, he’s still an avid New York Yankees fan. The Brooklyn-born Volpe has attended numerous games over the years.

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Liz Engel is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at liz@ucbjournal.com

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