Skip to Main Content

The University of Tennessee

College of Business Administration

Frequently Used Tools:

Home » News


Shelly SunUT College of Business Administration saw one of its own on a recent episode of the hit CBS reality series Undercover Boss. Shelly Sun, co-founder and CEO of BrightStar Care®, one of the nation's fastest-growing providers of private healthcare, traveled to the front lines of her company. Sun holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting (’92) from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a Master of Science degree in accounting from the University of Colorado. Sun's stepfather, Dr. Anthony Kattine, was dear to her, as seen through her journey on Undercover Boss, and worked in the pathology department at the University of Tennessee Medical Center for over thirty years. Tony, whom Sun referred to as "Daddy" in life and on the show, passed away August 21, 2009.

Sun left the comfort of her corner office for an undercover mission to assist a caregiver overseeing four toddlers. In the process, Sun examined the inner workings of her company, saw the effects that her decisions had on others, and discovered where the problems lie within her organization. She got an up-close look at both the good and the bad while finding out who were the unsung heroes who made BrightStar Care succeed.

Shelly Sun Biography

shelly sunshelly sunBrightStar Care® is a premium healthcare staffing company that provides the full continuum of care, from private homecare to people of all ages, to supplemental staffing for medical facilities, including hospitals, independent/assisted living facilities and doctors’ offices. At BrightStar Care's® inception, Sun, along with her husband and co-founder, JD Sun, risked everything to pioneer a company that would offer more to those in need. In 2005, BrightStar Care® launched its franchising efforts, becoming the first franchising company in the country to specialize in both medical and non-medical care and healthcare staffing. Since then, BrightStar Care® has grown from one company location to over 200 locations nationwide, and is now on track to open 400 locations by the end of 2012. BrightStar Care® is also continuing its international development in Canada, and pursuing development in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and other countries in Europe. Today, in addition to leading the strategy and talent development for the BrightStar® LifeCare | KidCare | Staffing and BrightStar® Technology Group divisions, Sun is charting the vision for complementary brands and services to help consumers care for their families and homes.

Sun was selected as the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Entrepreneur of the Year for 2009, joining the ranks of J. Willard Marriott of Marriott Corporation and Frederick DeLuca of Subway, among others, as recipients of this prestigious award. She is the youngest recipient of this impressive award and only the second female to receive it.  Sun was selected as the Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in 2006, and she received NAWBO’s Trailblazer Award in 2007. She has received multiple awards from FranNet – more specifically, in 2006, she was the recipient of its Franchisor Rising Star Award, and in 2007 she received its Top Performance Award.  Also in 2007, she was the Chicago-land Regional winner of the “Innovate Illinois” award (from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Entrepreneur Network) for BrightStar Care®’s proprietary software, Athena Business System (ABS).

Sun was selected by Enterprising Women magazine as its 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year and was on the 50 Fastest Growing Woman Owned Companies by Entrepreneur magazine in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In the last three years, BrightStar Care® has jumped in the Inc. 500/5000 rankings, moving from #2225 in 2007 to #1988 in 2008, #217 in 2009, and #181 in 2010. Most recently, BrightStar Care premiered for the first time on Entrepreneur magazine’s “Franchise Fast 500” at #152.

Sun is a Certified Franchise Executive and participates on the IFA’s board of directors; membership committee; finance, audit and budget committee; and as co-chair of the IFA’s FranPAC President’s Council.

Prior to BrightStar Care®, Sun worked as the VP of Finance for Avolar, a former division of United Airlines, and in executive finance positions with CNA Insurance and Blue Cross Blue Shield. She and her husband, JD, who serves as BrightStar Care® co-founder and executive vice president of global development, are the proud parents of twin six-year-old boys, Mike and Luc. She recently finished writing her first book, Grow Smart, Risk Less, which discusses her experiences in franchising and her tips for business owners looking to expand their small business through franchising. The book is scheduled to be on bookstore shelves October 4, 2011.

Bookmark and Share