Meet our Knoxville Jewish Alliance Staff

Laura Berry - Senior Director of Development and Jewish Community Services

Laura has worked at the KJA since 2008. She started out as the JFS Director and later added Friendshippers and the Knoxville Jewish Community Family of Funds to her duties as well. At the end of 2020, she became the Senior Director of Development and Jewish Community Services. Laura holds a Social Work degree from UT and a J.D. from the University of Richmond. She is also a proud graduate of the AJCC Preschool (where her mother was a teacher) and a former MCDC camper. 




Kristen Cannon - Preschool at AJCC Early Childhood Program Director

Kristen has been at the AJCC since 2013 and has been Early Childhood Program Director since the summer of 2014. Kristen is involved in the Knoxville, Tennessee and National Association for the Education of Young Children. Kristen began as a teacher in the Gimel classroom and interim Director. In her extra time, she enjoys being a sports and dance mom and spending time with friends and family. She also enjoys decorating and party planning.




Ed Hunter - Director of Finance and Operations

Ed has been with the Knoxville Jewish Alliance for 20 years and counting. He enjoys working at and is pleased to be involved with the Knoxville Jewish Community.





Tara Bain - Hillel at UTK Director

Tara is a University of Tennessee graduate. She has been an active member of our Jewish community for many years. She currently teaches the teen Chai class at Temple Beth El and is TBE’s assistant religious school director. Tara holds positions of board member and member of the School and Youth Committee at TBE. She enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, biking, and playing cornhole.




Nicki Russler - Archivist

Nicki has been the Archivist at KJA since 2006. A professional genealogist, she previously taught at the UT Law School in their clinical program for 15 years and has a Master’s degree in Library Science and a J.D. from Harvard.





Joyce York - Ha'Kol Community Newsletter Editor and Layout

Joyce is a University of Tennessee graduate who previously worked in healthcare marketing and media relations. She is the wife of Michael Messing and mom to Andrew and Jacob Messing.