Posanka earns Extra Miler award from chamber

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The Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC) presented their 2009 Extra Miler of the Year Award Jan. 23 at Tullahoma's Business Development Center.

The award went to Lt. Col. Elaine Posanka, Arnold Engineering Development Center's (AEDC) acting senior intelligence officer.

Diane Bryant, TACC executive director, and Karla Smith, the 2009 TACC president, were on hand to present the award to Colonel Posanka during the chamber's annual membership celebration.

"We work with many talented people during the year, but she [Elaine] has been the one who stepped up to serve the extra mile on many occasions this past year," Bryant said.

Colonel Posanka, who is a non-voting member of the TACC, proofread a 60-plus page marketing magazine specifically for Tullahoma. She spearheaded a time-sensitive effort to provide a list of points of interest in Tullahoma and Coffee County for a new Jack and George Trail being established by the Tennessee Department of Tourism.

"She also stepped up as a team leader for [our] Bonarroo booth," Bryant said. "She organized her day so well that when the other team leaders were kind of struggling, she jumped in and really worked to take her spreadsheet and helped them plug their days in as well."

Bryant also credited Colonel Posanka with serving as a "liaison" for another project which will have a lasting impact on Tullahoma and Coffee County.

"She has had a huge impact on our CEO (Creating Educational Opportunities) program," Bryant said. "She brought the Air Force on board as a middle school partner the year before last and that partnership grew into the 'Minds in Motion' tour. The pilot program started with 8th grade students from the Tullahoma City School system and St. Paul's School and then last year the program expanded to include the Coffee County schools as well. I just see the 'Minds in Motion' tour continuing to grow to include additional counties."

Colonel Posanka said the award was unexpected.

"I was surprised and touched by this honor; there are so many in Tullahoma who give of their time," she said. "I'm humbled to be counted amongst them. I feel good helping people especially if I have talents they find useful and valuable. For the chamber that was my editing ability, my organizational skills, my outgoing enthusiasm and my interest in education."

Colonel Posanka is a parent and Cub Scout Den leader who has served in the Air National Guard close to 20 years, also taught English at Motlow Community College and technical writing at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. She left teaching to deploy for Operation Enduring Freedom and subsequently returned stateside to start a family.

"Public service and volunteerism are values my parents demonstrated for me from my earliest memories," she said. "I come from a long line of public servants - military, firefighters, teachers and nurses."

Since joining AEDC's leadership in 2007, she said she has enjoyed living and working in middle Tennessee.

"I love it here and if you have a volunteer spirit, there are so many opportunities that are available because of the good relationship between AEDC and the surrounding communities," Colonel Posanka said.