Phyllis Hildreth, academic director of Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), was recently appointed by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission as a board member.
Hildreth, a Harvard alumna who received her juris doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law, was confirmed by the Metro Council in February to serve on the Commission that is charged by ordinance with protecting and promoting the personal dignity of all residents in Nashville and Davidson County. The Commission partners with public, private and community organizations to engage conflict constructively and work against divisive attitudes and behaviors that compromise individual and collective well-being.
By Metro Code, the commission is also charged with receiving and resolving inquires and complaints of discrimination and perceived discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, financial services, commercial transactions, public accommodations and the provision of city activities and services.
Hildreth worked as a public defender and in the Department of Juvenile Justice in Maryland before coming to Nashville, where she owned her own businesses until joining the ICM. She has served as managing director of the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center and as a deputy secretary in the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, giving her a deep background in dealing with conflict in both the legal and community sectors.
“I put forth Phyllis’ name in large measure because of the tremendous respect I have for her professional background, the professional compassionate way she engages with people, her thoughtfulness, and for the institute itself,” said Caroline Blackwell, executive director of the Metro Human Relations Commission.
Hildreth’s expertise will add a new dimension of diversity to the commission as it strives to represent the broadest range of identities, backgrounds and world views possible, Blackwell said.
The commission works closely with schools, law enforcement, businesses and community-based organizations such as academic, civic and religious groups to promote multicultural education and civil rights compliance.
In addition to her legal expertise, Hildreth has been an entrepreneur and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
“When I look at the incredible scope of work that Phyllis brings, as an educator, a litigator, attorney and a mediator, I could think of few more qualified in terms of sensibilities and professional competencies,” Blackwell said. “She brings the total package – support on the education side of our work, support on the legal side, expertise in community engagement and public policy advocacy.”
Hildreth is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Nashville. She works as a volunteer with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program and is a board member for the Women’s Fund of Nashville and the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee.
For six years the ICM has trained state workers, state judges, policeman, health care workers, faith leaders and businesspeople in conflict management methods. The institute is an approved Rule 31 mediation trainer for the state of Tennessee, it has worked with Metro Nashville Public Schools on anti-bullying training, and it provides parent training at the Martha O’Bryan Center, among other programs.