Ryessia Jones Russell, President

Ryessia Jones Russell is the 2017-2018 TennACADA President. In addition to being President of TennACADA, she is also an Assistant Director in the Haslam College of Business. In the Haslam College of Business, she primarily works with the Global Leadership Scholars Program (GLS). Since joining the Haslam College of Business in June 2016, she advises GLS students, co-teaches a leadership seminar, plans professional development seminars, and coordinates site visits.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and watching reality television. She holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from the University of Kentucky as well as a Master’s Degree from the University of Louisville. Much like GLS students, she thinks traveling is essential to the learning process. Her current favorite place to travel is Trinidad and Tobago.


Ali Brewer, Vice President

Ali is an academic advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences. Prior to her current role, she served as a GTA in Arts & Sciences Advising Services. Ali earned her MA in Government (Comparative Politics) from American University in Washington, D.C. and her BA in Political Science with a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Ali primarily works with Pre-Health students and co-teaches INPG 100. She also is a coordinator for the Pre-Medicine Living Learning Community.

Ali loves books, movies (She’s a Mel Brooks enthusiast), live music, and baking. She also plays an inordinate amount of fetch with her border collies.


Merrill Walker, Secretary

Merrill is in her second year as an academic advisor in the Haslam College of Business. She previously worked in New Student Orientation at the University of South Carolina, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. Merrill also completed her M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at USC while holding a graduate assistantship in academic advising. In her current position, Merrill works with undergraduate business majors and teaches two sections of Business Administration 100 for first-year students.


Morgan Ridgell, Communications

Morgan is an academic advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences. Prior to starting at UT in October of 2015, she earned her M.Ed. in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She also earned her BA in Communications and minor in Pan-African Studies from the University of Louisville. Aside from advising, Morgan teaches an Exploratory section of FYS 101, serves as a Program Coordinator for the Intercollegiate Summer Bridge (ISB) program, and is a co-advisor for the UTK chapter of NAACP.

Morgan considers herself to be a college basketball fanatic and will never mention the blue and white team in the SEC. On any given day, you’ll find her mastering a new recipe, planning a weekend getaway, or spending time with friends and family. Hulu-ing and Netflix-ing on Sundays are her favorite pastime along with watching 90s movies and sitcoms.