CEO Thinking Media

College/University attended?

  • University of Florida BS – Chemical Engineering.

  • University of California, Berkeley MS – Civil/Environmental Engineering 

A Little About Sheila:

Sheila Boyington, P.E., is the co-founder and CEO/President of Thinking Media, a Chattanooga-based educational technology firm, for the past 25 years. Thinking Media is the creator of Learning Blade®—system of interactive online lessons and printable at-home activities for 5th to 9th graders that has been validated by Battelle to increase awareness and interest in STEM careers with many statewide contracts currently and used in over 40 states. Thinking Media was the creator of ACT-acquired KeyTrain® which held 28 state contracts and has been hailed as one of the most effective system for improving basic skills, used by millions of students/clients in high schools, community colleges, one stops and major corporations throughout the United States and abroad.  Thinking Media was also named to the Inc. 5000 – Fastest Growing Private Companies for 2021 and 2022.

Sheila has served as the National States Chair and Co-Founder for Million Women Mentors since its inception—helping to launch, grow and now lead this mentor movement with State Chairs and Steering Committees contributing to the national, cross-sector conversation on Women in STEM and workforce development.

Sheila serves in many other leadership positions: Chair of the Board of Trustees for Erlanger Health System; the Interactive Media Council Chair and an Education & Workforce Sub-Committee Co-Chair for the Tennessee Entertainment Commission; the Executive Board Vice Chair and a Resource Development Committee Member for the Foundation of the College System of Tennessee; on the Board of Directors for Bioscape Digital; Member of the Code.org Advisory Board; and Member of CSforALL.

Sheila has won numerous awards for her Entrepreneurship and Leadership including the Athena, Navigator of Entrepreneurship, Supernova, Woman of Distinction Award by the American Lung Association, and Chattanooga Engineer Entrepreneur of the Year. Sheila is a Professional Engineer, and holds a Master’s Degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. Sheila worked for environmental firms such as Black & Veatch and Parsons Engineering prior to founding Thinking Media.  She and her husband Dane (co-founder) are the proud parents of two daughters who are married and are in STEM fields as well.

What does leadership mean to you?  

Leadership means working to support those that you lead and empower them to think innovatively but still providing direction and overall goals!

What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?

I encourage young women today to find a way to find an advocate or “sponsor” for you and your career.  That is someone that will advocate for you no matter if you are in the room.  I also encourage women to find what they are REALLY good at and stay in your lane around that.  From time to time you have to get out of your comfort zone – so be willing to do that – as sometimes you will find something else that you are good at too. Sounds like conflicting advice but I believe you can and must do both!!  PASSION is very much a needed ingredient to be successful. 

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?

The person who has impacted my life the most is my husband Dane. While he has let me lead, he continually supports every aspect that I am allowed to lead in by encouraging me and providing me with the needed guidance that makes me a MUCH better leader. While we have stood side-by-side in so many things, he is always the one that puts me out front and for that I will always be SO grateful. Not many men could be so comfortable to allow their wife to be the “boss” at work AND home. As we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary this December and our 25th company anniversary this year, I am one blessed person!

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the Governor of Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on the stage – one-on-one, at a national conference.  Through our work with the Governor, we have had a chance to be part of the National Governor’s Association Chairs Initiative. We were able to attend 4 events with Governors over the past year, meeting at least 35-40 governors and talking to them was exciting and rewarding when they understand the importance of the work you are doing. 

Those were certainly proud moments!  However, the proudest moment thus far was in Dec. 2010 – our system – KeyTrain® and Career Ready 101® was acquired by ACT – the College testing company. Having arguably the most respected educational institution believe what you created is worthy of their acquisition – that is truly remarkable!

What strides do you think members can take to make more of a difference in women’s leadership issues in the local community?

CWLI serves an important role in our community, allowing women of many backgrounds to come together to learn from each other. In Chattanooga, we do not have many CEO’s of for-profit organizations and finding ways to support those that are leading these types of organizations is one thing I would like to see CWLI do. While the non-profit CEOs have support from each other – we can find some ways to support others in the for-profit space.  

When you’re not working, where and how do you spend your time?

Family, Traveling, Cooking, Socializing, Creating Bourbon Cocktails (I wrote a book of these – The Whiskey Alliance!) and Helping Others (serving as Erlanger’s Board Chair is one of those) These are the ways I love to spend my spare time.   My most favorite time is also spent in the pool. I had back surgery 5 years ago and my doctor here in Chattanooga told me I should start swimming to get rid of the residual pain.  He was SO right – so I try to swim laps straight for 30-40 minutes 5-6 times a week!!!

What benefit do you hope to gain/or have gained by joining this organization?

As one of the first members when the group expanded past the original founders and as the first membership chair, I have seen CWLI be a critical organization empowering women at all levels.  I appreciated those early days getting to network with so many and I particularly love the Lunch and Learns.   I am happy to be a sustaining member and getting my employees involved for their growth too!  Thank you CWLI – and all who have helped lead this great organization.