Faculty

Dr. Sarah Fisher Gardial

Sarah Fisher Gardial joined Belmont University in 2020, making history as the first woman Dean of the Jack C. Massey College of Business. Sarah’s mission is to strategically advance the College and Belmont University through innovative collaborations with faculty, staff, students, and local, national, and international businesses. Prior to Belmont, she most recently served as Dean of the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa; she also held a variety of campus leadership positions at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Sarah earned her marketing and MBA degrees at the University of Arkansas and her Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

Dean Gardial has a strong background in business and business education: for over 30 years, she has personally engaged with industry in research, consulting, and executive education roles, and she has been instrumental in creating mutually beneficial partnerships between business colleges and industry. She has served on governing boards for publicly traded companies, cooperatives, and non-profits, and is an active public speaker.

Sarah’s academic experience encompasses a variety of campus initiatives, including leadership development, diversity efforts, and strategic planning. She has played active leadership roles in national and international associations, including the MBA Roundtable, the Graduate Management Admissions Council, and AACSB, the accrediting association for collegiate schools of business. She is an outspoken advocate for women in leadership and diversity and inclusion.

Sarah is a southern girl, raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas, who has been known to ride motorcycles and sing in both rock bands and church choirs. She and her guitar-playing husband, Jeffrey, are thrilled to be living in Music City. She is also very happy to be within driving distance of two adult daughters, a son-in-law, and a grandbaby on the way in Georgia.

Dr. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren is Professor of Accounting and Co-chair of Accounting and Business Systems and Analytics in the Massey College of Business at Belmont University. Her teaching interests in managerial and corporate accounting as well as negotiation derive from her professional experience. After receiving her B.A. from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and her M.B.A from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, Dr. Warren held several domestic and international positions at Cummins Engine Company. She then entered the financial services industry, serving as CFO and consultant for BMR Financial Group in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Warren earned her Ph.D. at the University of Georgia and taught at Boston College before coming to Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1998. Beyond the Massey College of Business Administration, her campus interests include service learning and general education. She is active in AACSB International and the American Accounting Association. In addition, she works with corporate clients, including Darden Restaurants, HCA, EA and Brookdale.

Dr. Marilyn Young

Dr. Marilyn Young is a professor of accounting at Belmont University. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes in taxation and corporate accounting. She also helps non-accounting students prepare to enter the Master in Accountancy program by teaching in the Summer Accounting Institute. Dr. Young is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with industry experience as a Tax Accountant for Deloitte & Touche; Frasier, Dean, and Howard; and as a Tax Specialist in Corporate Finance at Empire Berol Corporation.

Dr. Young has presented her research at various regional and national conferences and has been published in professional journals including the International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, Tennessee CPA, Economics and Politics, and Journal of S Corporation Taxation.

Dr. Young holds membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants, American Accounting Association, and American Taxation Association. McGraw-Hill/Irwin sought her expertise as a textbook reviewer for a new textbook entitled Taxation for Individuals. She has overseen Belmont students working in the IRS-sponsored VITA program to assist low income and elderly residents of Middle Tennessee prepare their income tax returns and she presented basic financial accounting concepts to entrepreneurs participating in The Growth Challenge Program.

Dr. Young has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Master of Tax Accounting from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Mississippi.

Dr. John Gonas

Dr. John Gonas is an Associate Professor of Finance in the Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University. He teaches Corporate Finance, Introduction to Investments, and Investment Management. Prior to joining Belmont’s faculty in 1998, Dr. Gonas worked in the financial planning industry for eight years primarily in retail brokerage, investment consulting and fee-based asset management.

Dr. Gonas also serves as the Sam Walton Fellow responsible for advising Belmont’s ENACTUS (formerly SIFE) students. ENACTUS is an international, non-profit organization active on over 1,500 college and university campuses in 47 countries. Under Dr. Gonas’ leadership, Belmont’s ENACTUS program has won numerous regional and national awards, including the 2006 National Rookie of the Year Award, a 2007 and 2008 placement as a top-20 team at the USA National Exposition, and winning the Motion Picture Association of America 2007 Grand Prize of its Anti-Piracy Public Service Announcement. In 2008, Dr. Gonas was selected as Tennessee’s Professor of the Year by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Dr. Gonas received his B.B.A. and M.B.A. from George Washington University, an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt, and his M.S. and Ph. D. from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Melanie Lashlee Adams

Melanie is the Executive Director for the Center for Executive Education at Belmont University. In this role, she leads CEE’s team of facilitators, curriculum designers, and program staff in developing programs and instructing leaders within the center’s programs. She has experience in developing and teaching fully customized leadership development programs for Fortune 100 and 500 organizations and specializes in cultivating a connection between the topics she teaches and the strategic focus of those organizations. One of the main goals Melanie has for the participants of CEE’s sessions is that they are able to readily understand and apply new concepts, fully embracing the center’s motto of “learn it today, apply it tomorrow.”

Melanie also serves as CEE’s principal consultant, working directly with clients to design customized leadership development programs for local and national organizations. Her focus is assessing and understanding the needs of both the business and the leaders in those organizations, and then working to design programs that align to both the strategic and human sides of those organizations. In her work for CEE over the last several years, Melanie has also maintained an active teaching role in programs, delivering courses such as Leading Organizational Change, Personal and Organizational Communication, Conflict Management and Difficult Conversations, Coaching and Development for Optimal Performance, Building a Winning Team, Strategic Thinking, The Generations at Work, Emotional Intelligence, StrengthsBased Leadership, Critical Thinking and Decision Making, as well as many others.

Melanie holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in organizational communication from Murray State University, and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Tusculum University, and numerous professional certifications in the subject matter areas that she teaches. Away from work, Melanie has served on the Board of Directors at the Linden Waldorf School. She also loves to read and cook and looks forward to her family’s yearly vacation in Maine, where she spent her summers as a child. Melanie resides in West Nashville with her husband and their daughter, and their beloved Labrador retriever, Posey.

Dr. Kara D. Smith

Dr. Smith joined Belmont University in 2010, where she teaches Healthcare and Public Finance Economics. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Dr. Smith worked in the State of Tennessee’s Department of Finance and Administration where she assisted with the annual preparation of the state budget. As a result of that experience, her research focuses on public finance economics with a particular interest in the economics of state lotteries, state and local taxes and the intersection of public programs, poverty, and health disparity. She presents her work at regional and national conferences, and her research appears in Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Journal of Poverty and Public Policy, and International Review of Economics Education.

In 2020, Dr. Smith was honored by the Southern Economic Association with the Georgescu-Roegan Prize for her work on the regressivity of so-called “education lotteries.” She holds a B.A. in International Economics and Spanish from Carson-Newman University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she taught a variety of classes and worked as a research assistant in the Center for Business and Economic Research. Dr. Smith serves on the Board of Nashville Ballet, and is an active member at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

Dr. Jeffrey Cornwall

Dr. Jeff Cornwall is the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University and the inaugural recipient of the Jack C. Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship. He spent much of the 1990s as co-founder and President/CEO of Atlantic Behavioral Health Systems (ABHS), headquartered in Raleigh, NC. ABHS operated a variety of health care facilities and programs throughout North Carolina.

Dr. Cornwall has received national awards for his work in curriculum development and teaching, and the Belmont entrepreneurship program has been named a Top 25 Undergraduate Program in the nation by Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Belmont University received the 2008 National Model Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program Award from the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and in 2010, Fortune magazine featured Belmont as one of five universities to study entrepreneurship.

Dr. Cornwall is a Fellow of the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and has published six books and numerous articles on entrepreneurship. His blog, The Entrepreneurial Mind, is among the most popular with a focus on small business and entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurial Mind is part of the Forbes blog network and was named by the magazine as a “Best of the Web.” It is also syndicated by The Christian Science Monitor and Business Insider.

Dr. Cornwall holds a Doctorate in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Barry Padgett

Dr. Barry Padgett joined the faculty of the Jack C. College of Business at Belmont University in the Fall of 2010. He teaches courses in Business Ethics, Bioethics, Philosophy of Law, Principles of the American Constitution, among others. He has received multiple awards for his teaching, believing that education – particularly applied ethics – works best when it challenges individuals to search introspectively for resolutions to difficult contemporary issues. Prior to Belmont, Dr. Padgett taught at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he directed the Ethics and Social Justice Program since 2002.

Dr. Padgett’s research has appeared in professional journals such as the Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues; Business Ethics Quarterly; and Academy of Marketing Studies Journal. He has also authored two books. In hiss 2009-published article entitled Professional Morality and ‘Guilty Bystanding:’ Merton’s Conjectures and the Value of Work, Padgett asserts that work has a central role in our lives and is a major component of self actualization and well-being. Using the works of Thomas Merton as a guide, Padgett contends that a renewal of our professional lives and the institutional contexts in which we operate is needed to humanize the alienating aspects of work and professions.

Dr. Padgett received his B.A. from the University of Mobile, M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Louisville, and Ph.D. from Purdue University.

Dr. Dennis Chen

Dr. Dennis C. Chen is an Associate Professor of Management and International Business at Belmont University. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky as well as a MBA degree from Baylor University and a BE degree in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. He has seventeen years of operations, engineering and R&D management experience within multinational companies, specifically in the consumer products disposable diaper business.

Dr. Chen lived and worked in China on a two year international assignment as the startup plant manager for a production facility outside Shanghai, China. He has since visited China and Taiwan on multiple occasions, leading groups of undergraduate and MBA students on study abroad trips.

Dr. Chen teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in operations and supply chain management and international business. He also facilitates several executive education courses for Belmont’s Center for Executive Education. In his operations management course, he emphasizes systems thinking and continuous improvement utilizing lean and six sigma methods. He also volunteers with TNCPE to help TN organizations continuously improve using the Balridge framework. His current research interests are in the areas of supply chain relationships, supply chain social responsibility and lean Six Sigma implementation.

Carla Worthey-Sewell, PhD, MBA, SPHR

Carla has over 20 years of experience in consulting, business management and leadership development dedicated to the aviation, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. She currently serves as Global Talent Leader – International Consumer (Central Teams) at Amazon.

She has served as Assistant Vice President of Executive Talent Acquisition and Development, AVP of HR Talent Analytics as well as Director of Executive Development for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Before joining HCA, she served as the Senior Manager of Leadership Development at Teva Pharmaceuticals. Carla also has international business experience as an appointee to the Executive Leadership Council with rotations in Canada and Holland and former consulting in the Aerospace industry in South America and Western Europe.

Carla is an adjunct faculty member for the Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University and executive coach and facilitator for the Center for Executive Education. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a MBA from Belmont University and a PhD in Leadership Studies from Benedictine University.

Carla is active with various non-profit organizations, including serving as an advisory board member at The New Beginning Center. Carla is married with three children.

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