APSU Board of Trustees
Austin Peay State University’s Board of Trustees was first convened in 2017 by then Governor Bill Haslam. The exceptional individuals who serve as trustees for Austin Peay State University represent a wealth of experience in both the private and military sectors and provide important oversight and guidance to this institution.
Members of the Board of Trustees are:
Billy P. Atkins (Term expires in 2025)
Billy P. Atkins, chairman and CEO of Legends Bank, has spent more than 56 years in the banking industry. While still a student at Montgomery Central High School, he was hired by Northern Bank of Tennessee, and he went on to work with that institution for the next 28 years, being elevated to Senior Vice President and member of its Board of Directors, before seeing it sold to First American in Nashville. In 1998, when First American was going to merge with a larger institution, Atkins founded Legends Bank in Clarksville.
As a longtime Montgomery County resident, Atkins has dedicated himself to improving his community. He helped found the Economic Development Council, and as a member of the Industrial Development Board of Montgomery County, he has helped bring major employers, such as Hankook, to the Clarksville area. He also served as president of the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce, and he received that organization’s lifetime achievement award. In 1996 the Tennessee Bankers Association named Atkins a Leader of Banking Excellence
Atkins graduated from Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking of the South in 1977, and over the years he has become a strong supporter of Austin Peay State University. He is a member of the APSU Foundation—an organization chartered by the state to financially support the University—and he served as the foundation’s president in 1996. Atkins is a former chair of Austin Peay’s Capital Campaign, and he is a member of several University organizations, including the Tower Club, the Govs Club and the Red Coat Society. Atkins also serves on the State of Tennessee Foundation Board for Tennessee Homeland Security and the Department of Safety.
Katherine Cannata (Term expires in 2028)
Katherine Johnson Cannata, dealer principal for Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group, is a Clarksville native who worked for Price Waterhouse in Atlanta, before returning to join her family’s car dealership. A graduate of Clarksville High School, she earned a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she played Division I tennis.
Cannata worked in public accounting as an auditor for Price Waterhouse in Atlanta for nine years. In that role, she was able to learn aspects of several different types of industries, from entertainment businesses to food companies.
Cannata returned to Clarksville to work with her father, the late Sid Johnson, in the growing Wyatt-Johnson dealerships. She steadily worked her way up, finally being named dealer principal of the company with more than 300 local employees. Wyatt-Johnson purchased the local Toyota dealership in 2012, adding that brand to the company’s list that includes Buick-GMC, Hyundai, Subaru, Mazda, Kia and Volkswagen. The Nashville Business Journal named Wyatt-Johnson one of Middle Tennessee’s top-earning businesses owned by a woman.
Cannata is an active member of the Clarksville community, having served on several local organizations and as chair of the Aspire Clarksville Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Board Chair Don Jenkins (Term expires in 2026)
Don Jenkins, president and CEO of Jenkins & Wynne Ford-Lincoln-Honda is an avid supporter of football and basketball, and he has served as past president of the APSU Foundation, co-chair of the APSU “Changing Minds, Changing Lives” Capital Campaign and a member of the APSU Presidential Circle of Advisors.
Jenkins attended Clarksville High School, and he later earned his Bachelor of Arts at Rhodes College in Memphis. He returned to Clarksville to work in a family business that, under his leadership, would become one of the top automobile dealerships in the nation. He is also co-owner with Clay Smith of Pennyrile Ford in Hopkinsville.
For six years, Jenkins served as Region 7 Commissioner for the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission. He is an organizer and director of Cumberland Bank, vice chairman of the bank’s executive committee, 2013-14 chairman of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Board, 2014-15 Chairman of the Economic Development Council, co-chair for two building campaigns at First Baptist Church and two-time chairman for Military Affairs at the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce.
Jenkins is often recognized for his business and philanthropic work, being named Tennessee’s Time Dealer of the Year in 2010, 13-time winner of the American Cancer Society’s “Best of Clarksville” award, six-time winner of the Honda President’s Award and 10-time winner of Ford’s President’s Award. He was also presented with the 2013 Lincoln President’s Award and the United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region’s Ben C. Parks Award. Jenkins recently received the APSU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Award, the Alumni Association’s Wendell Gilbert Award and the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellors Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.
Jacob E. Knight, Student Trustee (Term expires in 2024)
Jacob Knight is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Management. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Austin Peay State University in 2022.
Knight arrived at Austin Peay in August 2018 after being recruited to play clarinet in the Governors Own Marching and Pep Bands, where he served as president of athletic bands for the 2022-2023 academic year.
In addition to being a member of the university’s President’s Emerging Leaders Program, Knight was a founding member of the Honors and PELP Student Advisory Council, founded and served as president of Austin Peay’s Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda chapter, and is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. Knight has served five years as a member of the College of Business Student Advisory Council, including two terms as council chair. Knight was also elected Homecoming King in 2021.
Knight has been a student worker with several offices during his time at Austin Peay, including the Office of Housing, Residence Life & Dining Services, the Division of Student Affairs, Tri-County Upward Bound, and University Student Success as an APSU, PELP, and Honors 1000 Peer Leader. Knight currently serves as the events and engagement graduate assistant for the Division of Alumni, Engagement, and Philanthropy.
Knight expects to graduate in August 2024.
Valencia May, DDS (Term expires in 2025)
Dr. Valencia May, general dentist and owner of Plaza Dental Offices in Memphis, graduated second in her class from Shelbyville High School, where she also participated in softball, track and basketball. She then headed north to Austin Peay State University, where she excelled as a student and was a walk-on for the APSU basketball team as a freshman.
In 1985, May graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry, with a minor in mathematics.
A few months later, May enrolled in the University of Tennessee’s College of Dentistry, where she graduated in the top 20 percent of her class. She then embarked on a seven-year career with the United States Air Force, providing dental care for enlistees at bases in Michigan and Mississippi. After leaving the military, she returned to Memphis to open her own dental practice.
In 2003, May was honored with Austin Peay’s Young Alumna Award. She is also a member of the University’s African American Alumni Chapter. She is member of the Memphis Dental Society, and she served as chair of that organization’s Dental Health Committee. She is also a board member for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry’s Alumni Association. She is a member of the Tennessee Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the National Dental Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Keri McInnis (Term expires in 2026)
Keri McInnis serves as senior vice president and financial advisor for Pinnacle’s
Green Hills office in Nashville, TN.
McInnis began her career in financial services in 1995. She came to Pinnacle in 2002 from Union Planters Bank, where she was vice president and branch manager of its Green Hills location.
McInnis was awarded Union Planters’ 2002 UP Best Award in recognition of her sales performance and community involvement. Prior to Union Planters Bank, McInnis served for five years as senior financial specialist and assistant vice president at First Union National Bank, where she received the 1998 First Union Zenith Award. McInnis was chosen as one of Nashville’s “Top Thirty under 30” in 2002 by Business Nashville and Nashville’s “Top Forty under 40” in 2003 by The Tennessean.
McInnis is a 1995 graduate of Austin Peay State University (APSU) and is an alumna of the university’s prestigious President’s Emerging Leaders Program. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee appointed her to serve on APSU’s Board of Trustees in August 2020. McInnis also served on the APSU Foundation Board of Trustees and is a past member and founding board chairman of the APSU College of Business advisory board. In 2013, she was appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and served two terms on the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Board.
In addition, McInnis is a Junior League of Nashville sustainer and has served on the boards of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra League, TN Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Nashville Wine Auction. In addition, she has served in various leadership roles with numerous other nonprofit organizations.
Robin Mealer (Term expires in 2026)
Retired Brig. Gen. Robin Mealer, an Austin Peay State University alumna, is director of the U.S. Army Manpower Analysis Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She earned a Master of Arts degree in special education at APSU while she was professor of military science in the University’s ROTC program from 1996-2000.
Mealer earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from York College of Pennsylvania and upon graduation was commissioned as an air defense artillery officer, with orders to initial entry rotary wing training. She has served primarily in aviation and force management assignments at various installations, including Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Upon selection as a force management officer in 2000, she was assigned to the Pentagon in various duty positions in the Army, culminating with an assignment as the chief of the Force Management and Integration Division. She led Army chief of staff initiatives to transform and build Army force structure capabilities, develop a RESET program to restore strategic depth, gain approval on additional end strength and deployed to Afghanistan to assess Headquarters and Joint Manning documents of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. She was deployed to Iraq for 16 months to advise Iraqi Ministry of Defense General Officers on the development of their institutional capabilities to generate, train and sustain their forces.
Mealer assumed her current duties on Dec. 12, 2011, and as director, she is responsible for the oversight of all manpower determination policies and analytical methodologies used in manpower requirements validation for the Army’s generating force. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from York College and master’s degree from APSU, Mealer has a master’s in military science from the Command and General Staff College and a master’s in national security and strategy from the Army War College. She has attended a wide variety of military schools, culminating with her graduation from the Joint Force Staff College in 2010.
Board Vice-Chair Mike O’Malley (Term expires in 2028)
Mike O’Malley, an Air Force veteran, earned his college degree from Ohio University. When he moved to Clarksville in 1988, the successful businessman saw how important APSU was to the entire community.
O’Malley came to Clarksville to work for Wendy’s of Bowling Green—a franchise operating 18 restaurants. In 1990, he became a partner in the business and helped it grow to 56 Wendy’s restaurants in four states. He was inducted into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame in 2010, and he became CEO and senior partner of Wendy’s of Bowling Green in 2012. The company has been the recipient of all of Wendy’s major awards, including the prestigious Founders Award, given to the top franchisee in the system.
During this impressive business career, O’Malley found time to support APSU in a number of capacities. He served as past chairman of the Austin Peay Foundation, a member of the Tower Club and a member of the APSU Red Coat Society. He is a long time APSU Athletic Department supporter and corporate sponsor of the Wendy’s Golf Tournament, benefiting the APSU golf program.
O’Malley has served Clarksville in numerous capacities, and in 2006, he was presented with the William O. Beach Citizen of the Year Award. He currently serves on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Board.
Phil Roe (Term expires in 2025)
Dr. Phil Roe, a retired U.S. congressman who represented Tennessee’s First District, graduated from Austin Peay in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1970 and then served two years in the United States Army Medical Corps. After being discharged, Roe operated a successful OB/GYN practice in Johnson City for 31 years.
Over the years, Roe has been one of APSU’s most active alumni, serving on the APSU National Alumni Association Executive Board as president, vice president and past president. He has also served as vice president of the APSU Foundation Board of Trustees and a member of the steering committee for APSU’s first capital campaign, which exceeded its initial goal months ahead of schedule.
Through his leadership, the APSU Class of 1967 raised about $55,000, earmarked to purchase new equipment for science students. He subsequently established a scholarship in honor of Dr. Durward Harris, APSU professor emeritus of chemistry, who had a profound influence on Roe’s life. Because of his sustained generosity to his alma mater over the years, a wing in the Sundquist Science Complex was named for Roe.
In 2006, a generous gift from Roe funded the establishment of the Phil Roe Academic Center for Student Athletes. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy and the APSU Distinguished Achievement Award, one of the University’s most prestigious honors.
On Nov. 8, 2008, Roe was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Austin Peay alumnus to serve in congress.
Jane R. Semler, Faculty Trustee (Term expires in 2025)
Jane R. Semler is a Professor of Medical Laboratory Science and Coordinator of the MLT to MLS program at Austin P
eay State University. Having served on the faculty since 2009, she teaches clinical analysis, urinalysis and body fluids analysis, and laboratory management. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Science in microbiology from
the University of Georgia. She then completed a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of AIDS, STD, and Tuberculosis Research. Her work there focused on the identification of adhesion factors used by Mycobacterium tuberculosis to bind lung epithelial cells. Following her fellowship, Semler worked as a veterinary microbiologist at Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville, KY for five years before beginning a career in laboratory education.
Semler is an active scholar and has been the principal or co-author on three publications, in addition to authoring two textbook chapters on laboratory information systems and human gonadal function, respectively. She has presented her work at academic conferences, including the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference, the Tennessee Association of Blood Banks, and the Volunteer State Chapter Clinical Laboratory Management Association. She has mentored more than 150 undergraduate research students and received the Socrates award for teaching excellence in 2015.
Semler is a dedicated member of the APSU community, having served as the President of the Faculty Senate and on many committees, including the University and Academic Affairs Strategic Planning committees, the COVID-19 Taskforce, and the University Animal Care and Use Committee. She also serves APSU students as a faculty advisor for the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Student Forum. Semler is a member of the APSU chapters of Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa. Outside of work, she enjoys travel, spending time with family, and volunteering for her local Friends of the Public Library organization, for which she currently serves as president.