Graduate scholarships through partners benefit community

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A master’s degree in a specialized career field is growing more and more important to a successful career in today’s business world. Digital technology has become universal in our society and specialized skills in all career fields are becoming more valued.

In order to reach out to those seeking graduate education in some of the economy’s most crucial career fields, Lipscomb University works each year with several community organizations to recruit potential students in niche job growth areas such as civic leadership, conflict management and computing and informatics.

At least six Nashville industry and government groups – CABLE, The Center for Nonprofit Management, Women in Technology of Tennessee, LEAD Tennessee, the Tennessee Association of Community Leadership and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)2, are sending professionals active in fields ranging from commercial retail to volunteer service to Lipscomb in 2014.

Nine scholarships are funded by the university to ensure that community organizations are represented in its many master's programs. The professionals selected for these scholarships touch every aspect of community life and growth in Middle Tennessee, and their impact on the community will only be enhanced by their new graduate degrees from Lipscomb.


Scholarship winners by program:


2014’s selected scholarship recipients by name:


Institute for Conflict Management

Since 2006, Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management and The Center for Nonprofit Management have partnered to make conflict management training more accessible to nonprofit organizations, which often face unique funding challenges. While workers in the nonprofit field face some of the toughest day-to-day conflict as they deal with disadvantaged populations of all types, it is often these organizations that have the least amount of available resources to learn how to manage conflict successfully.

Fourteen scholarships to the conflict management program have been awarded over the years. Past scholarship winners have come from organizations such as CASA, the Tennessee Alliance for Children and Families, HomeSafe, Oasis Center, Hands On Nashville, Room in the Inn, St. Thomas Hospital and Park Center.

“In the past, conflict management has been viewed as a resource the legal field or government entities could draw upon and use, but at Lipscomb we believe that conflict management skills are incredibly valuable in all aspects of the community: health care, faith-based organizations, education, business. So we strive to bring conflict management to the community as a whole,” said Steve Joiner, ICM managing director.

Sara Hamill, Brentwood
Restore Ministries Program Director, YMCA of Middle Tennessee
Scholarship obtained through the Center for Nonprofit Management

The Restore Ministries program at the YMCA offers a combination of Christian-based small group classes and counseling services focusing on building a healthy spirit, mind and body. As the director of three south Nashville centers, Hamill is responsible for organizing, planning and executing support programs throughout Williamson County and Southeast Nashville. She coordinated program volunteers, develops partnerships with churches and community organizations and does fundraising. Prior to her work with the YMCA, Hamill served as the pastoral care coordinator at Church of the Advent. Hamill is a graduate of Saint Cecilia Academy in Nashville and Notre Dame University in Indiana.

Valerie Lelek
Regional Director of Volunteer Services, American Red Cross
Scholarship obtained through the Center for Nonprofit Management

Lelek serves as the primary program manager for more than 4,000 volunteers for the Tennessee volunteer region. Under her leadership at the Red Cross, the volunteer corps has grown by 41 percent over a two-year period. She also developed a mentorship program for Red Cross volunteers. Prior to her work at the Red Cross, Lelek worked with the Vanderbilt University Office of Active Citizenship and Service and as Community Outreach Manager for Bethlehem Centers of Nashville. Her program was awarded the inaugural Excellence in Volunteer Engagement Certification for 2012-2014 by the mayor of Nashville, the Center for Nonprofit Management and Hands-On Nashville.


The Institute for Conflict Management offers two scholarships a year for its graduate certificate, a 15-hour program worth approximately $16,000 that can then be applied toward a master’s degree if desired. The program can be completed in as little as six months. Recipients are selected by the Center for Nonprofit Management. Contact 615-259-0100.


Institute for Civic Leadership

The Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership is devoted to nurturing new collaborative leaders, the kind of thinkers and actors who can bring multiple public and private stakeholders together in a project to benefit the entire community. The institute’s five scholarship recipients hail from four community organizations established to accomplish those same goals in our community:

  • CABLE, the state’s largest network of professionals committed to connecting women and opportunity;
  • Tennessee Association of Community Leadership, a volunteer association that supports and enhances community leadership development;
  • LEAD Tennessee, the state government’s premier leadership training initiative; and
  • The Center for Nonprofit Management, which creates and sustains nonprofit excellence through training, consulting, research, evaluation and recognition of nonprofit agencies.

“Our relationship with our community partners is invaluable and it’s truly a successful collaboration,” said Lydia Lenker, managing director of the Andrews Institute. “Our initiatives reflect Nelson Andrews’ philosophy that civic leadership is everyone’s responsibility and our partners share that belief. They understand that business, government and nonprofit leaders must also be civic leaders for a community to thrive.”

Colleen Callaghan
Youth Program Manager, Hands On Nashville
Scholarship obtained through the Center for Nonprofit Management

At Hands On Nashville, Callaghan mobilized more than 2,400 youth volunteers for service in 2013. She develops service-learning opportunities for Metro Nashville’s public school students, including seven annual youth service events that engage more than 1,200 students age 11 to 18. From 2010 to 2011, Callaghan served as an AmeriCorps member at Hands On Nashville through the Youth Volunteer Corps of America. She holds a certification in nonprofit management from the Center for Nonprofit Management.




Mohamed-Shukri Hassan
Middle Tennessee Coordinator, American Muslim Advisory Council
Scholarship obtained through the Center for Nonprofit Management

Hassan is currently a board member of the Nashville International Center for Empowerment. He previously worked as director of Welcoming Tennessee at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, organizing committees throughout the state to hold community events and education sessions. Before joining the coalition, Hassan served as a fellow at the American Center for Outreach, as an outreach worker for Nashville’s public health department and as a case worker at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee. Hassan has a degree from Tennessee State University and speaks four languages.


Patricia Brown James
Retired Vice President, Shared Services Division, Bridgestone Americas Inc.
Scholarship obtained through the Tennessee Association of Community Leadership

James was charged with leading cross-functional study teams to plan, design and implement efficient and effective “back office” shared services across North America. From 2007 to 2012 she worked as vice president of human resources and administration for Bridgestone Americas Inc., and before that she served as vice president of human resources and administration for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC. She has also held positions with Shell Oil Company and Schlumberger.


Kellie McCain
Development Disability Director, Compliance and Quality Assurance, Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Scholarship obtained through LEAD Tennessee

McCain has managed statewide data production for the state’s disabilities department since 2006. Previous to that, she has worked as a compliance waiting list and intake coordinator, a quality assurance coordinator, a community development coordinator and a quality assurance program surveyor in the state’s Division of Mental Retardation Services, which became the disabilities department. She has also held positions with the New Horizons Corporation and the Association for the Developmentally Disabled.



Emily Schneller
Broker/Retail Tenant Representation Specialist, The Shopping Center Group
Scholarship obtained through CABLE

Schneller has worked in commercial real estate since 2001 and joined The Shopping Center Group in 2005, relocating from Kentucky. During her career in commercial real estate, she has worked with developers, landlords and tenants on various projects. Her focus since joining The Shopping Center Group has been tenant representation for a diverse group of national and regional tenants including small shop, specialty retailers and grocery users. Schneller also founded the 100 Women Who Care-Middle TN chapter in 2013 which empowers women to make a collective impact on nonprofits throughout Middle Tennessee. Schneller is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and CABLE, and has achieved her Certified Commercial Investment Member designation. 


For more information about the Andrews Institute Master's Program, please call 615-966-6155.


School of Computing and Informatics

With hundreds of technology jobs in Nashville sitting unfilled over the past few years, developing new talent and enhancing the skills of those already in the business is a major goal of city and tech industry leaders. Partnering with education is a primary way to accomplish that, and Lipscomb’s School of Computing and Informatics has jumped in to help with five scholarships offered specifically to tech association members.

In addition to (ISC)2 and Women in Technology, other organizations with scholarships partnerships are the Information Systems Security Association, the Information Technology Service Management Forum and the Project Management Institute. These professional organizations in technology fields seek to better their respective fields through networking and continuing education.

“These groups were a good fit for us because they involve people who see technology careers as more than a paycheck. They see opportunity for collaboration, growth and the betterment of their respective disciplines, which, unsurprisingly, makes them wonderful candidates for our graduate programs,” said Finn Breland, enrollment specialist at the School of Computing and Informatics.

Clarissa Renfro
Certified Patient Account Representative, Community Health Systems Inc.
Scholarship obtained through Women in technology of Tennessee

Renfro has worked as a Medicaid and Medicare assistance team supervisor in Brentwood since 2004. She has also worked at Kessler Rehabilitation Services in Franklin, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and Maury Regional Hospital in Columbia. She has an associate degree in business administration from Columbia State Community College and a Bachelor of Business Administration/Management from Tennessee State University.


Christopher Gilliam
Computer programmer, Smart Data Strategies
Scholarship obtained through (ISC)2

Gilliam is currently working as a computer programmer at Smart Data Strategies. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master in Education Administration from Lipscomb University. He holds a second bachelor’s degree from Trevecca University in information technology. He has also worked as a student missions coordinator at Lipscomb and in the Sumner County school system.



The School of Computing and Informatics offers five scholarships a year for its information technology management, information security, software engineering, and informatics and analytics programs. These 36-hour programs take 12 months to complete. The school’s 2013-14 scholarships are valued at $6,345 per scholarship. Recipients are selected by (ISC)2, ISSA, ITSMF, PMI and WiTT. Contact 615-966-1193 for more information.