Meet Our Team

Deegee Lester

Deegee Lester


DeeGee Lester was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Her father, a civilian inspector for the US Army, moved his family to France where DeeGee spent many of her childhood years. Over the years, she has traveled to 17 countries throughout Europe, South America, and India, and studied in Ireland. These unique experiences have helped to mold DeeGee into the global citizen she is today. She earned her bachelor's degree in history from Belmont University and a master's degree in museum studies from Middle Tennessee State University. In 1998, DeeGee became the Director of Education at the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. In this role, she created curriculum and award-winning programs, including special special tours for the blind, as well as conducted workshops which highlighted the Parthenon as a visual teaching tool across every subject area and grade level. After 20 years of service, DeeGee retired from the Parthenon on 2018. Continuing her passion for cultural diplomacy, she hosted Maestro Rik Ghesqueire and Belgian musicians for two Nashville concerts in November 2018 celebrating the Centennial of the end of World War I. In 2020, she was invited by President Peter Kapsaskis to launch the US branch of the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy. The author of six books, she has written for numerous magazines and academic journals, contributed to two encyclopedias, and was a monthly contributor for several years for Nashville Arts Magazine and Nashville Trace publication, Validity Magazine.
Jim Hoobler

Jim Hoobler

Vice President

Jim Hoobler received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia with a double major in history and education, and a Master’s degree in history from Vanderbilt University. He recently retired as Senior Curator of Art and Architecture for the Tennessee State Museum. A recognized leader in Nashville history, art and architecture, he is a former Curator of the Tennessee State Capitol, former Director of the Tennessee State Historical Society, and former Chair of the Curators Committee for the American Alliance of Museums. He is Chair of Property and History for the historic Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville with its incredible Egyptian Revival architecture and impressive pipe organ. Jim has served on a number of boards including Belle Meade Mansion, Belmont Mansion, Historic Rugby, TN, the Inter-Museum Council of Nashville.
Dr Tim Winters

Dr. Tim Winters

Director of Academics

Dr. Timothy F. Winters is Professor of Classics and Director of the Honors Program and the President’s Emerging Leaders Program at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He has been teaching Classical languages ​​and civilization for thirty years. Dr. Winters studied for his BA at the University of Arizona in Tucson, then did his MA and Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in Columbus where he wrote his dissertation on Kleisthenes and Athenian Nomenclature under the direction of Prof. Stephen Tracy. Dr. Winters spent the academic year 1981-82 at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens studying archeology, history, and Modern Greek. He returned to the American School in 1986-87 as a Fulbright Fellow to work on his dissertation. He worked on archaeological excavations at Corinth, Toroni in Chalkidiki, and Nemea. Dr.Winters has led many student trips to Greece, including four terms as Gertrude Smith Professor for the Summer Session at the American School of Classical Studies. Dr. Winters is married to Mary Winters, and they have four daughters, one of whom is also a professor of Classics.
Dr. Kesia Ray

Dr. Kecia Ray

Director of Innovation

Dr. Kecia Ray is a strategic thinker and a proven leader in K12 transformation. Her career includes designing technology within the Frist Art Museum and directing technology research through Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Science Outreach programs. She was appointed as a turnaround agent by the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and established award-winning instructional technology programs recognized by the USDOE and Harvard University while in that role. Dr. Ray was named ’20 to Watch ‘by the National School Board Association, Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, a Top 10 EdTech Leader by Tech and Learning, an ISTE Making IT Happen recipient, and most recently named a Top 100 EdTech Influencer by EdTech Digest.
Ryan Love

Ryan Love

Director of Communication

Ryan Love grew up in the Midwest United States, flying kites and climbing trees with his three brothers. As a teenager, Ryan was writing stories, acting in plays, taking advanced classes in almost every subject possible, and eventually found an affinity for computers. Ryan Love is often described as a modern-day Renaissance man whose list of occupations throughout his life are almost as many and as varied as the famous author Jack London. He was a teacher, librarian, private investigator, game designer, pit boss at a casino, supervisor at a hog slaughter plant, assistant to a college vice-president, a successful political campaign manager, software developer, and he even managed a malt shoppe .Ryan has also volunteered for various organizations throughout his life, including Scoutmaster for the Cub Scouts, Technical Advisor for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Advocacy Chair for Relay For Life, and Chair of the Shakopee Economic Council. Today, Ryan is a Technical Manager overseeing the development of software robotics and artificial intelligence. He is divorced with three sons and one daughter.
Theresa Wilkins-Jones

Theresa Wilkins-Jones

Director of Finance

Theresa Wilkens-Jones works as a Mortgage Loan Originator, in Nashville TN. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1995 after completing the undergraduate requirements in Classics. She later went on to further study finance through the American Bankers Association of Tennessee. After two decades in the financial district, she has a broad knowledge of the financial world and holds Life and Health, Mortgage, and Realtor licenses. In 2013, she became involved with the Parthenon in Nashville, utilizing the Vanderbilt degree as a docent to provide further knowledge to patrons who visit. She is excited to combine these two worlds through the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy.
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