Source: ETEC | Release | December 6, 2019

Four leaders with long resumes of service in East Tennessee were awarded the Muddy Boot by the East Tennessee Economic Council at its annual awards luncheon today.

Dr. Harold Conner, Jr. and Edwena Crowe, both of whom have served in just about every capacity one can in the community and the Oak Ridge

Department of Energy Complex, and Dr. Lee Riedinger, recently retired as director of the University of Tennessee’s Bredesen Center, were named 2019 Muddy Boot Award winners. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who keynoted the event, also picked up his Muddy Boot, originally awarded in 2010.

The Muddy Boot Award was created in the 1970s to honor individuals who have gone above the call of duty—like those who served the nation during the Manhattan Project—to make the community, the state of Tennessee and the nation a better place to live and work. Over 80 people have received the award. A full list of recipients and more information about the award can be found on the ETEC website,

The Council also presented the Postma Young Professional Medal to community leader and business owner Brad Spears of EnTech Advantage.

Dr. Harold Conner, Jr.

When students enter the Dr. Harold Conner, Jr. Laboratory at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, they come into a place bearing the name of an East Tennessee resident who excelled in leading a vital nuclear facility through a challenging period of history while serving as a guiding beacon for three generations of professionals.

A product of the civil rights era of the 1960s, Harold is the son of schoolteachers. He attended segregated schools in West Tennessee through high school and later became the first African­ American student to participate in the University of Tennessee’s (UT} engineering co-op program. He continued to break barriers in his professional career, being named the first African-American to be honored as a Fellow by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The UT co-op program launched his impressive 50+ years of service to the Department of Energy and nuclear-related projects. Conner’s career blossomed and he began to excel in leadership positions of increasing responsibility, despite detours to work at other DOE complex locations, Harold ended his five-decade career at the same place it started – the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge. Harold recently retired as Senior Advisor to the President of UCOR, an AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs responsible for the cleanup of ETTP. While retired, Harold continues in the role as a part-time consultant, and volunteer with the University of Tennessee College of Nuclear Engineering, and the American Museum of Science and Energy board.

As a co-op student at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant in 1967 while pursuing his engineering degree at the University of Tennessee, his entry-level routine of working one quarter and going to school the next eventually earned him a full-time job. He spent the next 33 years through the height of the Cold War working in every uranium enrichment facility on the site, eventually being named Vice President of Environmental Management and Enrichment Facilities by Lockheed Martin.  In that role, he managed 3,000 workers and a $500 million budget for facilities located at K-25, Y- 12, ORNL, and Paducah and Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plants.

In 2014, he received the UT Knoxville Alumni Professional Achievement Award and the Secretary of Energy Award of Achievement. He serves on the University of Tennessee Nuclear Engineering Department Board of Advisors and has been named a Fellow, the highest professional distinction, by the American Society of Safety Professionals.

Dr. Lee Riedinger

Dr. Riedinger, who joined the physics faculty at the University of Tennessee in 1971, has held various administrative positions at UT and served as interim vice chancellor for research three times (1991-95, 2006-07, and 2012). He was a major force in strengthening the relationship between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his posts as ORNL’s deputy director for science and technology, beginning in 2000, and as associate laboratory director for university partnerships, from 2004 to 2006.

Dr. Riedinger served as director of the UT Science Alliance Center of Excellence for five years in the late 1980s, as associate vice chancellor for research from 1991 to 1995, and as head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1996 to 2000. He was the first chair of the Tennessee Science and Technology Advisory Council, serving from 1993 to 1996.

In 2000, Riedinger helped lead the formation of UT-Battelle LLC and the successful competition to assume the management of ORNL, becoming ORNL’s deputy director for science and technology. In that role, he worked to expand the capabilities of the laboratory through joint programs with UT and other leading universities. In 2007, he returned to teaching and research in the UT physics department.

In 2010 Lee Riedinger was appointed to serve as the first director of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

“Dr. Riedinger was the perfect person to have been selected to direct the Bredesen Center based on his strong interaction between UT and ORNL,” said then Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis. “He was the director from the beginning and worked tirelessly to expand the program to its current number of Ph.D. students. We have been extremely fortunate to have had his leadership in these very important multidisciplinary programs. He has built a solid foundation for the future of the center and its programs.”

He retired at the end of 2018.

“Dr. Riedinger earned just about every award at UT including the Macebearer award in 2008 and the Chancellor’s Medal in 2012,” said ETEC President Jim Campbell. “Dr. Riedinger is a great team player who always treats people with respect. We still see him frequently at ETEC meetings, and he has even led one of our workshop groups.”

Edwena Crowe

Edwena Crowe is a fixture in the Oak Ridge Department of Energy community, particularly at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the Y- 12 Nuclear Complex, filling multiple leadership roles over the years. Crowe is currently a Director at Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, contractor to the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. She has a 47-year career in Oak Ridge.

This list of charitable organizations she has supported is long: Girls Club, Arts Council of Oak Ridge, East Tennessee Foundation, Scarboro Day Care Center, Camp Fire Girls and Boys, Tanasi Girl Scout Council (Board and Leader), United Way of Anderson County, South Carolina State University HBCU/RISC Board, and the Oak Ridge SECME Advisory Board.

She currently serves on the Oak Ridge Playhouse Board, the Men of Tomorrow Foundation Board, the Arts Council of Oak Ridge Board, the Oak Ridge Fund for Achieving Community Excellence Board, Club LeConte Board of Directors, Oak Ridge YWCA Executive Committee, Methodist Medical Center Foundation Board, University of Tennessee School of Systems and Industrial Engineering Advisory Board, South Carolina State University School of Engineering, Mathematics, and Sciences Advisory Council, and the South Carolina State University Foundation Board.

Recently appointed to Tennessee’s reconstituted Board of Judicial Conduct, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally conveyed these words of praise, “Edwena Crowe is a pillar of this community and a woman of strong ethical character. The Board of Judicial Conduct needs citizens who are able to look at the evidence, make decisions, and stand by them. Edwena is a highly skilled executive who understands how to make good decisions based on the evidence presented. The Board will be stronger with her contributions. I am confident she will do well.”

Brad Spears Receives 2019 Postma Medal

An energetic young man who promotes Oak Ridge’s natural assets shamelessly is the 2019 winner of the Herman and Pat Postma Young Professionals Medal given by the East Tennessee Economic Council at its annual awards celebration.

Spears, who came to Oak Ridge in 2012 to work in the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management program, is an avid runner, biker, and hiker. Most mornings you can find him on the Melton Hill Greenway taking a run or ride before he goes off to work.

“Brad’s accomplishments as a community leader and consensus builder are contributing significantly to both enhancing the quality of life in Oak Ridge and creating additional amenities that attract new residents and businesses to the city,” says his nominator, Ken Rueter of UCOR. “In addition to his civic leadership, Brad is very engaged in the Oak Ridge business community, having started a new small business in the past year that is already profitable and contributing to some major private sector and government projects.”

The Postma Young Professional Medal was created by the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC) to honor the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region. Former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Herman Postma epitomized this spirit during his life; and his wife, Pat continues the tradition of service today through her involvement in the Oak Ridge community.

Pat Postma made the award presentation.

The Postma Medal, however, is about more than outstanding work. It’s about being passionate about your community. His resume shows his passion for the community and his work ethic.

A 2014 graduate of Leadership Oak Ridge, Spears has served on the board of directors of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and chaired its Residential Housing Development Committee. He chairs the City of Oak Ridge Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and is on the board of the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET).

Spears was a founding member and President of the non-profit Clinch Valley Trail Alliance (CVTA) ( to promote hiking, running, and biking recreation in Anderson and Roane counties. In this capacity, Brad supported the development and maintenance of 30 miles of multi-use recreational trails in the 780-acre Haw Ridge Park in Oak Ridge; and was responsible for the management and maintenance of 15 miles of multi-use Boulder & Sinkhole Trails on the North Boundary parcel in Oak Ridge.

He continues to be a champion and facilitator for the expansion of the Oak Ridge Greenway system and serves as a facilitator in the expansion of the Legacy Parks Foundation into both Anderson and Roane counties. As an example. He assisted Legacy Parks in obtaining property easements from the DOE to expand the trail network on DOE property in the City of Oak Ridge and Anderson County. Legacy Parks currently holds five new trail easements and has constructed the Boulder & Sinkhole Trails on the DOE North Boundary parcel in Oak Ridge.

Spears founded Peak Mountain Sports ( in 2014 to promote recreational trail running and mountain biking in the Oak Ridge community and organized an annual Haw Ridge Trash Race to remove trash from the 30 miles of trails and five miles of riverbank at Haw Ridge Park. Over four years, this annual event is responsible for removing two tons of trash from the park.

But that’s not all.

In 2018 Spears led the creation and start-up of EnTech Advantage, business growth and diversification platform for parent company RSI EnTech (RSI). EnTech Advantage has grown organically to eight new employees providing project management and controls, safety, quality, and engineering support to major federal and commercial clients.

Prior to establishing EnTech Advantage, Brad provided technical, staff augmentation, and project management services on environmental cleanup and waste management projects that included the decontamination and decommissioning of all three DOE facilities on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

“Brad’s accomplishments supporting the Oak Ridge community vision and local business development embody the characteristics and spirit of the Postma Young Professional Medal objectives,” says Rueter.


The East Tennessee Economic Council is a non-profit membership organization that focuses on bringing people together to create new opportunities for federal research, national security, and environmental programs, and to support technology transfer and economic development.