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Ely Named WIOA Chair


Matthew A. R. Converse                       Debra Williams or Mark Rutledge
President and CEO                                  Walters State Community College
Sevier County Bank                                 423.585.6824 or 423.585.6822                                 

Elaine Ely of Sevierville has been elected chair of the Smoky Mountain Area Workforce Board, the administrative entity for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in Local Area 2. The board’s area includes the following counties: Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Sevier and Union.

Ely is senior vice president of Sevier County Bank.

“In addition to her proven leadership skills, Elaine brings a very keen knowledge of this region’s economy to the board chairmanship. This will be an important asset as the board works closely with various sectors in the coming years,” said Donna Stansberry, dean of workforce development for Walters State.

While Ely is new to the board chair position, she has worked with WIOA for several years, both as a board member and accessing WIOA services on behalf of her employer. 

“I first became aware of the board when the bank learned of available funding for training,” Ely said. The WIOA staff processes incumbent worker grants and submits those to the State of Tennessee for approval.

She was named to the board in 2015 by Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters. 

Ely would like to see more businesses take advantage of the services offered by both the board and by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“The state wants to see its citizens at work, and is willing to provide resources to help businesses stay competitive. We want to make sure employees have the tools they need to keep a job or to advance,” Ely said.

Ely said she had been very impressed by the way the board and staff members work to remove employment barriers for groups like youth and veterans.

Ely has lived in Sevier County since her early childhood. She earned an associate’s degree from Hiwassee College and a bachelor’s degree from Tusculum College. She started her banking career in 1979 when offered a job as a bookkeeper.  Ely has become a well-known and respected leader in the banking industry, having worked with two local community banks for 34 years before joining Sevier County Bank in 2013. She holds certifications as an Accredited ACH Professional and a Certified Payments Risk Manager. She is a graduate of the Tennessee School of Banking at Vanderbilt University.   

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but banking has been my calling,” Ely said.

“A bank has to meet the needs of the consumers and the businesses in its area. I also appreciate the fact that banks are good corporate citizens and are involved in their communities.”

Ely is a member of the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ, a volunteer for the Dollywood Foundation, and serves on the boards of directors for Leadership Sevier and the Mountain Tough Recovery Team.

Ely replaces David Popiel of Newport, who resigned after serving as chair since 2006.