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Andrews Institute serves community through leadership development, conversations of significance

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Nashville skyline at night

Strong leadership is essential to thriving communities. Over the last decade Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service has become a resource for Tennesseans who want to learn to better serve their communities by developing strong leadership skills and innovative solutions. 

Through its Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership, the College of Leadership & Public Service focuses on community engagement, the study and practice of collaborative leadership and finding creative civic solutions that result when business, nonprofit and government work together for the common good. In addition to providing a robust offering of leadership development workshops, collaborative conversations and training programs, the Andrews Institute also develops programming that responds to the needs of the community. 

“We are very focused on serving and engaging the community. The College of Leadership & Public Service has developed a number of collaborative partnerships with organizations across the state who turn to the Andrews Institute for various needs they have in leadership development for their employees or have a need for a training program,” says Sara Eatherly, director of the Andrews Institute. “We take their needs and build a program that meets those specific needs. Also, through our engagement with the community we develop programming that helps fill gaps that we believe will have a positive impact in the world around us.”

“The Andrews Institute is a resource center for leadership. We are utilizing the unique skills and expertise that not many other places offer,” she continues. “If you need resources, come to us. If you need training, come to us. We focus specifically on civic leadership, government leadership, conflict management leadership, sustainability leadership … we are the place where Tennessee turns for leadership. Together, we are working to build thriving communities.”

Through its citizen leadership academies, the institute develops individuals to lead the public conversation on community issues and public policy in collaboration with government, business, education and not-for-profit leaders. Other programming includes the annual Southeastern Conference on Conflict Management, leadership development workshops for regional leaders, Rule 31 mediation training, the Don R. Elliott Distinguished Lecture Series and the Fred D. Gray Dinner among other workshops, seminars and training sessions. The Andrews Institute is also a resource for CLPS alumni. Eatherly says the institute is planning continuing education opportunities, alumni outreach programs and other engagement opportunities in the near future. The development of a three-year plan for the Andrews Institute, which will include new initiatives and community engagement opportunities, is also in the planning stages, she says. 

Eatherly, who has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Arts degree in conflict management from Lipscomb, has been part of the CLPS leadership team for the past five years and today leads the Andrews Institute. But she has been associated with Lipscomb for many years. 

“Lipscomb has been a part of my life for the majority of my life as I started here as a pre-first grade student at Lipscomb Academy and continued on through a graduate degree,” explains Eatherly, a certified general civil Rule 31 mediator who has been involved in the work of conflict management for nearly a decade. “Being able to utilize my passion for leadership and serving the community through an institution that has meant so much to me is very rewarding.”

Launched in October 2010, the Andrews Institute was named for the late Nelson Andrews, an influential Nashville community leader, and his wife, Sue. The institute is inspired by and continues the Andrews’ legacy of civic leadership through its programming and community engagement. For more information, visit