Meet the Crew:

Jack Knoxville-President

Originally from NY, Jack moved to Knoxville in 2012.  Since that time, he fell in love with Appalachian life and committed himself to bringing out the best in a town which welcomed him so quickly.

By the age of 14, he found myself homeless and spent the next 9 years observing & trying to learn how the world worked.  Once he found his way back into mainstream society, he began advocating for injustice and equality.  In 2002, Jack began an organization called Free2Be, in Charleston, SC.  The organization’s mission was to fight violence and hate crimes through education and awareness.  Since that time, Jack has become a Wall of Tolerance award recipient and earned the distinct pleasure of being the first openly Trans politician to run for office in Knoxville, TN.  Jack is currently overseeing the development of the Trans Empowerment Project, and is involved heavily with the community while working as a freelance writer/artist and entrepreneur.

Persephone Webb-Vice President


Persephone Webb

(Bio in process)











Kelli Turczyn- Director of Community Education / Board Chair

Kelli Turczyn-Kelli Turczyn is a speech-language pathologist and voice therapist who specializes in voice and communication therapy for transgender individuals. Kelli is passionate about fighting for, and defending the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ community. She is proud to serve on the board for The Trans Empowerment Project and aims to be a fierce ally for by promoting acceptance, combating harmful legislation, and providing education regarding issues that impact the transgender community.


Taylor Anne Hiner – Resources Task Force/Technical Director/Board Co-Chair

Taylor has been in Knoxville since 2001, longer than any other place she has ever lived. Over

the years it became her true home as she spread her roots through out the city of Knoxville. A long-time member of the musical community,  she has begun sharing her experience and talents with organizations such as Girls Rock Camp where she is an instructor/coach. She is also active with local community action groups like Lady Scouts of Knoxville.

As a board chair Taylor has begun organizing a catalog of health care providers, businesses, and services in the greater Knoxville area as both a digital and print publication, updated and printed annually. Additionally she is technical director for Trans Empowerment Project events.


Sher Smith- Board Secretary

I dove into the Trans Empowerment Project because I see a growing need to help, protect, and support our transgender community.  I’m a bleeding heart and nurturer, so I fit the role. I am currently acting Secretary for the Trans Empowerment Project. I look forward to seeing us develop, flourish, and make dreams come true for our beautiful Knox area community!

Haley Emitt-Board Treasurer

As the mother to a gender-nonconforming child, I am especially invested in supporting trans and queer people, and creating a welcoming, loving, and inclusive community in Knoxville. I am a student at the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work, and my passion and career goal lies in working with/for the LGBTQ population in the Southeast United States, where anti-LGBTQ legislation runs rampant. I am proud to be serving as secretary for the Trans Empowerment Project to support, empower, and advocate for transgender people right here in my hometown.



Nicole Deasy-Director of Digital Marketing

Nicole moved to Knoxville in 2009 and has grown to love it as a second home. Her goals are to get a bachelors degree in history, then a law degree, focusing on the rights of women, low income families, and LGBT+ individuals. As the Trans Empowerment Project’s director of digital marketing, Nicole’s focus is to be an ally and an empowering individual for the transgender community of Knoxville and beyond. Our social media outreach will focus on the promotion of equal rights for the LGBTQIA community, as well as the preservation of Knoxville as a safe space for all individuals.