It’s amazing what you can learn when you leave your own backyard.
A group of 30 business, government, education and nonprofit leaders from across Tennessee are doing just that through the newly launched Leadership Tennessee, a leadership education program for those committed to addressing the state’s challenges and opportunities.
Leadership Tennessee, an initiative of Lipscomb University’s Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership, is strategically designed to help these leaders learn more about their home state including its diverse economic, business, education, culture, geography and other sectors.
“By bringing together top leaders in business, education, health care and the nonprofit arena, we hope to not only learn from our differences, but also understand the collaborative nature of conversation and action that will continue to move our state ahead,” said Cathy Cate, executive director of Leadership Tennessee and director of community leadership programs for the Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership.
“The program is designed for participants to also experience the unique cultures found throughout Tennessee to help foster a deeper understanding of and appreciation for each other and the context for the issues, challenges and opportunities for building stronger communities.”
The 10-month program launched in August with an opening retreat in Townsend, Tenn. The program provides collaborative learning and dialogue spanning the state’s three grand divisions, issue-specific education for demonstrated leaders, a diverse representation of participants and opportunities to affect change. The group will meet a total of seven times in addition to participating in other activities, research and projects throughout the program. The group met in Memphis in September.
In November the group met in Nashville to learn more about the issues, challenges and opportunities in Middle Tennessee. The group learned more about the entertainment industry from acclaimed singer-songwriter Rivers Rutherford, visited Nashville’s new Music City Center and lodged overnight at the Omni Hotel, one of the city’s newest hotels.
Several key issues were discussed including:
- Government effectiveness, urban development and Nashville’s story with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Steve Turner, founder of MarketStreet Equities Company;
- Post-secondary education and its relationship to workforce development with Kim Estep, Western Governor University Tennessee chancellor; John G. Morgan, Tennessee Board of Regents chancellor; and Claude Pressnell, president of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities; and
- Health and wellness with Mary Bufwack, CEO of United Neighborhood Health Services, and Melinda Raymond, product design and development lead for Healthways.
Participants are already gaining new perspective to the challenges and opportunities across the state.
“It is great to get a deeper understanding of the state as a whole,” said Randy Boyd, president and chief executive officer, Radio Systems Corporation in Knoxville. “The most powerful part is getting to know other leaders from across the state. As a result of this program, we have already created a veterans services task force to examine how to serve this population more effectively.”
Finding common ground is another benefit for participants.
“We are getting acquainted over the issues that are common to us across the state,” said Blair Taylor, president of Memphis Tomorrow. “This program raises awareness and plugs us in to what is going on across the state. It helps us leverage our opportunities better. This program is a great way to help us to that.”
Nashville mayor Karl Dean said he is learning more about Tennessee which helps in his daily work in Nashville.
“The biggest benefit so far to me is learning about other areas of the state,” said Dean. “I have also met a great group of leaders from across Tennessee and the relationships we are building are very valuable. Leadership Tennessee is broadening my horizons and helping me fully realize what a great state we live in.”
The inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee will visit Knoxville in January for its next meeting. They will also visit Chattanooga and rural west Tennessee as part of the program.
Members of the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee
Chattanooga: Jim Hobson, chief executive officer, Memorial Health Care; Rebecca Hunter, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Human Resources; Todd Womack, chief of staff, Senator Bob Corker
Clarksville: Kim McMillan, mayor, City of Clarksville
Franklin: John Schroer, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Transportation
Knoxville: Joe Armstrong, state representative, Tennessee House of Representatives; president, National Black Caucus of State Legislators; Randy Boyd, president and chief executive officer, Radio Systems Corporation; MaryAnne Carter, president, MAC Research; A. Richard (Rick) Johnson, president and chief executive officer, the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness; Special Assistant to the Governor; Raja Jubran, chief executive officer, Denark Construction, Inc.; Michael T. Strickland, chairman, Bandit Lites; J. Laurens Tullock, president, Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville; Jamie Woodson, president and chief executive officer, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
Memphis: Laura Adams, executive director, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy; Dr. Steven Bares, president and executive director, Memphis Bioworks Foundation; Martha Perine Beard, Memphis regional executive, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Mike Carpenter, executive director. Plough Foundation; Jack Sammons, chair, Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority; Blair Taylor, president, Memphis Tomorrow
Nashville: Michael Burcham, president & CEO, The Nashville Entrepreneur Center; Karl F. Dean, mayor, Metro Nashville – Davidson County; Stacey A. Garrett, founding member and chairperson, board of directors, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC; vice president for online & professional studies, Cumberland University; Many-Bears Grinder, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; Dr. Candice McQueen, dean, College of Education, Lipscomb University; Dr. Claude O. Pressnell, president, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association; Renata Soto, executive director, Conexion Americas
Oak Ridge: Dr. Thom Mason, director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Parsons: Janet Ayers, president, The Ayers Foundation
Sevierville: David Ogle, president, Five Oaks Development
Tullahoma: Dr. Mary Lou Apple, president, Motlow State Community College
For more information about Leadership Tennessee visit www.leadershiptennessee.org or contact Cate at 615.966.5180 firstname.lastname@example.org.