Board of Directors - Bios
Ms. Abdulla, a Nashvillian for over 17 years, is a native of Kurdistan of Iraq. A long-time social-justice educator, advocate and organizer since experiencing life in a refugee camp with her family, Ms. Abdulla has received numerous honors for her community activism in Nashville. Most recently, President Obama named her a “Champion of Change” in September 2013 for her work on immigrant integration in Tennessee. Ms. Abdulla has been featured in Nashville Public Television’s “Next Door Neighbor,” the Nashville Scene’s “The People Issue 2010” and Splashlifemagazine’s “30 Under 30: Civic Leaders.”
Ms. Abdulla graduated from Tennessee State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. She completed the University of Southern California’s fellowship on American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI) in 2010, and is a Leadership Nashville Alumna.
In pursuit of graduate school, Ms. Abdulla resigned from her position as the Director of Advocacy & Education at Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition in 2012, where she worked in the areas of policy research, advocacy, strategic communication, and education in the area of immigrant integration and leadership development. Ms. Abdulla serves on many boards, such as the community advisory board of Nashville Public Television, Board of Director of Young Women’s Christian Association and American Center for Outreach & American Muslim Advisory Council. Ms. Abdulla is currently the Director of Community and Family Engagement at Valor Collegiate Academies.
Mr. Abrahamson is Executive Director of Corporate Communications for Ryman Hospitalities where he is responsible for external and internal communications, philanthropy and government relations. Over the past ten years, Abrahamson has held various Human Resources positions. He joined Gaylord Entertainment in 2003 as Director of Staffing. His hospitality career began in 1999 at Harrah’s Entertainment working in their staffing department. Abrahamson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Ms. Barckley, Controller, Financial Reporting / Principal Accounting Officer at Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, joined LP Building Products in 1998. She has worked in several areas of finance for LP including operations finance and corporate reporting. Since 2011, she has held the position of the Principle Accounting Officer for LP.
Becky began her career with Arthur Andersen as an Auditor until 1988 and then became the Corporate Controller for Planar Systems, a specialty display manufacturer, through 1998. Becky holds a B.A. in Business Administration from California State University, Fresno. She is also a CPA (currently inactive).
Becky has been married for more than 20 years, has a son in high school and is looking forward to giving back to the community through partnering with PENCIL. She is especially excited about providing renewed financial insight for the organization.
Mr. Batson is a senior vice president and serves as the head of Tennessee operations for Marsh. In this role, he is responsible for the overall operations of the geography including client service and growth. The Tennessee offices of Marsh services a wide variety of industries including health care, manufacturing, construction, transportation, retail, food and beverage, government contractors, and real estate. Clients include both domestic and multinational companies.
Todd began his insurance career in 1996 with underwriting roles at The Hartford Insurance Group and Royal & SunAlliance. He joined the insurance brokerage firm, Gale Smith & Company in 1999 and became a shareholder in 2003. Gale Smith was sold to Arthur J. Gallagher in July 2008. Todd’s fifteen years as a property/casualty broker led to experience with the construction, transportation, real estate, and manufacturing industries. While at Arthur J. Gallagher, Todd led a team of producers and client service representatives and served as the southeast regional director of Arthur J. Gallagher’s Real Estate Practice Group. Todd’s clients value his strategic advice related to risk reduction and financing as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Bledsoe, Provost, David Lipscomb University, is a life-long educator. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at Lipscomb (1975), his M.A. in political science at the University of Florida (1976), and his Ph.D. in political science at Vanderbilt University (1985). Since joining the faculty at Lipscomb University, Craig has served in a variety of roles in higher education. He worked for many years as a professor in the Department of History, Politics, and Philosophy before becoming chair of the department in 1992.
In 1997 he was appointed Provost, chief academic officer of the university, a position he still holds. As Provost at Lipscomb, Craig has focused much of his attention on creating a number of vital professional programs at Lipscomb, including a College of Engineering, a College of Pharmacy, and the College of Leadership and Public Service. Also, he has contributed considerable time and energy to advancing the College of Education, now one of the most innovative and highly regarded education programs in the nation and home to the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, a strategic catalyst for the transformational reform efforts in education being led by the state of Tennessee. In addition to his teaching and administrative responsibilities, Craig also enjoys scholarship research and writing, especially on the topic of the American presidency.
Ms. Bonner is the Area Executive for the Tennessee Area in the outheast Region of Bank of America. Stephanie develops and executes local strategies and tactics that increase customer engagement and relationship deepening within the context of market conditions, opportunities and risks. She develops and leverages relationships with key partners to drive integrated business results, and also manages and develops Consumer Market Managers and area teammates. She attracts, retains, and develops talent to increase bench strength, improve productivity, proficiency and overall competitive position in the area.
Stephanie joined Bank of America in 2008 as the Consumer Market Executive for the Piedmont Area in North Carolina. In 2011, she moved into the Area Operation Manager role for the Mid-South Area in Atlanta, and in 2013, she moved into the Sales Performance Manager role supporting the Virginia Area and eight Market Managers. Before joining Bank of America, Stephanie was the Service Director for Wachovia Bank, where held leadership roles during her 10 years with the company.
Ms. Brill is Vice President of Human Resources for HCA’s Corporate and Human Resources Groups. Beth has spent the past 25 year of her professional career in the HCA Healthcare organization holding a variety of roles. Prior to moving to Nashville 5 years ago to work in the corporate office, she worked in HCA’s East Florida Division as a Division HRVP.
Beth and her husband Paul reside in Sylvan Park. She has two sons, Aaron, who plays professional baseball and Matthew, a Radiologist, who is completing a Muscular Skeletal Fellowship at the Medical School of South Carolina in Charleston.
Mr. Brown hails from Louisville, KY, but has been a proud resident of Nashville for the past 12 years. Since his move to his new hometown, Andy has been employed at Dell and currently works as a Sales Director. He is passionate about his work, but finds his true fulfillment in caring for his family and engaging in his community. In his two sons, Anderson, 7, and Max, 4, he sees a desire to learn and grow every day in their schools, and, in turn, he feels passionate about making their experiences— and every child’s experience—a better one.
Mr. Burns is the Provost at Belmont University. Thomas is the Chief Academic Officer for the University, providing supervision for eight academic deans, three associate provosts, two assistant provosts, and the Registrar. At Belmont, the Provost’s portfolio of responsibilities includes oversight of all academic programs; student admissions and recruitment activities; faculty affairs; student life and student affairs; and budget oversight for the academic and student affairs functions of the University.
A graduate of William Penn High School in New Castle, DE, Thomas earned a BS degree in chemistry from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) in 1991, where he served as a resident advisor as well as a co- captain for the men’s varsity swim team. Thomas earned both MS and the PhD in chemistry from Vanderbilt University, before becoming an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and then chair of the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Florida Southern College (Lakeland, FL). In 2000 Thomas was appointed as assistant dean at Yale University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (New Haven, CT). Following his time at Yale, Thomas served as the Associate Provost for Academic Administration at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Thomas was appointed Provost of Belmont University effective January 1, 2011. He is a former assistant Cub Scout den leader and assistant coach of girls’ soccer.
Thomas was also a board member of the Community Homeless Outreach Center in Lancaster, PA. He has a lengthy affiliation with the American Chemical Society, serving variously as an advisor and area representative. He is also an institutional liaison with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. His hobbies and activities revolve around his family, youth sports, scouting and teaching, but he also enjoys reading, traveling and is a certified SCUBA diver. Thomas and his wife, Margret, are the parents of Zara, nine, and Owen, 12.
SHEILA DENISE JONES CALLOWAY
Ms. Calloway, a native of Louisville, KY, came to Nashville, Tennessee in 1987 to attend Vanderbilt University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications in 1991 and her Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1994 both from Vanderbilt University.
After graduating from law school, Sheila Calloway worked at the Metropolitan Public Defender’s Office in both the adult system as well as the juvenile system. In January 2004, she was appointed by Judge Betty Adams Green to the position of Juvenile Court Magistrate and served in that position until November 2013, when she announced her intention to run for the position of Juvenile Court Judge.
She was elected Juvenile Court Judge in August 2014. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University where she teaches both in the Undergraduate and Law Schools.
She is a member of the Temple Church under the Pastorate of Darrell A. Drumwright. At Temple, she is an active member of the Music Ministry, the Women’s Ministry, and a regular volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank. She is happily married to Paul Butler Calloway, Jr. and the proud mother of one son, Paul Calloway, III.
Mr. Cesnik is a Partner at Fresh Capital Group, a Nashville-based and Southeast-focused full service commercial real estate development and management company with a portfolio value exceeding $350 million. Fresh Capital’s primary focus is acquiring and developing restaurant build-to-suite assets and multi-tenant buildings throughout the Southeast and parts of the Mid-West.
Nick advises on the acquisition, development and financing of new assets, provides management and oversight on the day to day operation of stabilized assets, and pursues opportunities to ensure the continued growth of Fresh Capital. He has a commercial real estate focused public accounting background with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in New York City and numerous years of portfolio and asset management experience with The Abbey Company in Southern California.
Nicholas graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Accounting.
Mr. Cobucci is the Founder and Chief Strategist for BAM! A Social Business Firm. He grew up just minutes from New York City and attended Liberty University in Virginia where he received a B. S. in Communications. He worked for several years as a Marketing Representative for Warner Music Group, then moved to Nashville and launched BAM! Phil and his team specialize in social media and digital strategy but do event marketing work as well. Phil has been very involved in the Nashville community and currently services on the board of Nashville Pride, where he was recently their Board President. He is on the executive board of Nashville Emerging Leaders and is a volunteer of the Davidson County Foster Care Review Board. He is currently enrolled in the Chamber’s Leadership Connect cohort. Phil was named a 40 under 40 by the Nashville Business Journal.
Ms. Coleman is President of Yad Consulting, LLC (which she founded in 2014) and is a criminal defense Attorney for a firm she started in January 2017. Erin has also spent time in politics, running for Metro Council at Large in Davidson County in 2015 and as the TN Democratic Party candidate for District 20, State Senate. Erin graduate from Johns Hopkins with a degree in Engineering, has a Master’s degree in Project Management and obtained a Law degree from the University of Baltimore, School of Law.
Ms. Collins-Benedict is the Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the State of Tennessee working for the Department of Transportation (TDOT). A Kentucky native, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Fisk University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University. She began her career at the State in 1995 and currently oversees safety educational initiatives throughout Tennessee. Prior to that, she worked in insurance industry for over five years.
Diana also serves on other boards including the WC Young Community Center and TNBA Bowling Senate. She loves sports and actively bowls and plays tennis. Diana has one son and a dog named Leo.
Ms. Cooper is the previous Director, GPO Sourcing of HealthTrust. Rebecca is a results-driven negotiator and vendor management professional with demonstrated success in contract lifecycle management, a strong analytical mindset and motivated by a passion for driving process improvement and ensuring the long-term success of corporate initiatives. She is an experienced instructor with proven history of effective group leadership, communication & training.
Rebecca is a graduate of Sewanee – The University of the South. She is passionate about motorcycle safety education & training and has been actively involved in safety training and education for over 15 years. Rebecca also has a long history of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Mr. Curtis is the Sports Director at WKRN-TV (ABC) in Nashville, Tennessee. The Wheaton, Illinois native graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1993 with a degree in Radio & Television. Cory’s television career has included stops in (Marquette) Michigan, (Columbia) South Carolina, (Houston) Texas, (Norfolk) Virginia and Nashville. He arrived in Nashville in 2003 and has been the Sports Director since 2007. Cory is a 6-time Emmy Award Winner and 4-time (AP) Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year. Cory and his wife Rachel Martinez live in Franklin, Tennessee with their daughter Eva and the sweetest cat that ever lived the Notorious Mr. Jinx.
She is a graduate of Duke University, where she earned a Master of Public Policy degree. She was a classroom teacher for three years, and is currently working as an education policy analyst at the Office of Mayor David Briley. Prior to that, she worked as a policy analyst in North Carolina, focusing on advancing competency-based education in the state. She is passionate about enhancing teaching quality, especially around the use of evaluations. She is also interested in policies that support college readiness skills among students and actionable strategies to close the achievement and opportunity gap for students of color
Mr. Decuyper is the Sales Partner at Broker South Real Estate. He has held this position for 14 years. Prior to that, he was with Neal Clayton Realtors. Allen has a Marketing degree from Georgia State University and was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon. His volunteer experience includes serving as the Vice Chairman for the Metro Historic Zoning Commission from 1994-2012 where he tirelessly worked for the preservation of neighborhoods in Nashville.
Mr. Doerge is the Community Relations leader for Deloitte’s Tennessee Market. He has been a member of the PENCIL Board since 2013 and also serves on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Middle Tennessee March of Dimes, Middle Tennessee Junior Achievement, Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce and the National Career Academy Coalition.
This is John’s twentieth year as PENCIL volunteer. He led Opryland’s partnership with Two Rivers Middle School for eight years before moving to Deloitte where he leads Deloitte’s partnership with Warner Elementary, Antioch High School, McGavock High School and Overton High School.
Ms. Echegaray is the communications coordinator for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She joined the Vanderbilt News & Communication team in 2010, coming from The Tennessean, where she was a reporter covering medicine and life sciences. She serves as editor of the Children’s Hospital biannual publication Hope and contributes stories involving Children’s Hospital to other News and Communications publications. Echegaray received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Prior to The Tennessean, she worked as a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Bradenton, Florida, and the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is a loving wife to Chris Echegaray and mother to two boys, Joaquin, 9, a student at Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center in Nashville, and Julian, 2.
PETER L. ERICKSON
Mr. Erickson is Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager for Synovus. Mr. Erickson earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University. He currently lives in Nashville with his wife and two dogs.
Mr. Feeney is the Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Team Lead with Fifth Third Bank. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and later attended Clemson University. Tom and his best friend (wife Kelly) have been married for 25 years and have 3 children; boys ages 16, 20, and 22. The Feeney’s moved to Nashville from Atlanta 5 years ago. Tom joined Fifth Third Bank in July of 2017 after a long career with Bank of America. In addition to his current role, Tom is also a member of the Tennessee Leadership team with Fifth Third Bank. Tom also serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity Williamson Maury; as well the Board of Directors for Creating a More Mobile Community. He previously served on the Board of Directors for HomeAid in Atlanta as well. Tom is an active member in several organizations including: Rotary Club of Nashville, Association for Corporate Growth Tennessee, Williamson Inc., Nashville Chamber of Commerce Partnership 2020. He is an avid volunteer with United Way, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Room in the Inn.
Mr. Finch is an 11th grader at Pearl-Cohn High School. He is a part of the Mayor’s Youth Council and is the President of Sigma Beta Club of Nashville. Here is what Brittany Edmondson shared in her recommendation of Mr. Finch:
I am honored to take a moment to reflect on Kavarious Finch. The first quality that comes to mind is personable. Kavarious greeted me with a smile and hand shake our first meeting. He was genuinely excited to learn more about me as he carried items I brought into the school. Kavarious also has dignity. He is clear that the work he does, the spaces he dwells in, and the man he aspires to become have worth. He values feedback as well as the platform to have a voice. I observed Kavarious interacting with partners during an internship, and he took full advantage of where he was and what was being afforded to him was invaluable.
BRIAN J. GERAGHTY
Mr. Geraghty is an Account Manager for CoreTrust Purchasing Group, specializing in procurement solutions for private equity firms and large global corporations. Brian was previously an equity research Associate Analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey where he focused on the Apparel Retail and Wholesale group. He has more than eight years of experience in the financial industry, which also includes two years as an Institutional Futures Broker with Prebon Yamane (USA), Inc. in Jersey City, NJ. A graduate of Fairfield University in Connecticut, Geraghty majored in Finance. He is Series 3, 7, 86 & 87 Licensed.
Mr. Graham is the Principal Broker of Bradford Real Estate. Originally from Bowling Green, KY, Tyler holds a bachelor's degree from Western Kentucky University as well as a Master of Business Administration from Belmont University. Tyler co-founded Bradford Real Estate in 2016 and focuses on agent recruiting and training, as well as residential sales. Prior to that, he was a REALTOR® and Property Manager with EASE Property Services in Washington, D.C. Tyler serves on several community boards including the Tomorrow Fund and Chamber East, and is a volunteer reader with the Metro Nashville Public Schools Reading Clinic. Tyler and his wife, Hannah, live in East Nashville with their dog Clark.
Mr. Gregg is an agent at Creative Artists Agency. A native of Dallas, Jeff was born into a family that thoroughly enjoyed entertainment. This love of entertainment inspired him to study music and acting. By the age of 20, he had produced and directed more than 20 shows.
Furthering his diversity in the entertainment industry, Jeff began to explore the financial and marketing avenues of the business and opened NVizion Artists Agency in 1988, later to be hired as president of Vanguard Entertainment in Atlanta. In 1997, Jeff joined entertainment powerhouse Creative Artists Agency which represents many of the world’s most talented and successful actors, directors, producers, writers and musicians. As an agent in the Nashville office, he has worked with such artists as Shania Twain and Amy Grant.
An active participant in The CAA Foundation, Jeff supports improved teaching and learning in America through mentoring and reading programs at local schools. He is an active mentor in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America organization, and he is an alumnus of Leadership Music. Jeff is on the boards of Little Folks School in Dallas and the Gospel Music Association and Company X in Nashville.
Ms. Haley is an attorney at McKenzie Laird PLLC, where she represents individuals and companies in a variety of business transactions, with a focus on corporate matters and commercial real estate.
Whitney is a Nashville native. She received her Bachelor of Accountancy degree from the University of Mississippi and her J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. She serves as Treasurer of the Porch Writers’ Collective and is on the Board of the Nashville Independent Business Alliance. She is also active in other community organizations, including the Junior League of Nashville, as Chair of the Mentor Program; the Nashville Bar Association, as Chair of the Business Law Committee; Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; and NAIOP.
Ms. Hall was born in Mississippi and was raised in the state and graduated from public high school in the historic city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, with a Minor in Fiber Arts, from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
In 1996 Lila and her husband, Linus Hall, moved to Nashville where she pursued a career in the museum field. Lila was Registrar and Assistant Curator at The Parthenon from 1998 to 2003, where in addition to her exhibit planning and collection management roles, she also hosted tours of the museum for many school children.
In October of 2003, she helped Linus open Yazoo Brewing Company. Founded in the Marathon Motorworks Building in north Nashville, the brewery started with three employees (Lila and Linus were two of them), and sold its brews only on draft locally. In the 13 years since, Yazoo Brewing Company has grown to bottle its beers, moved to a larger facility in the Gulch, built up its production to 25,000 barrels annually, expanded its distribution to all of Tennessee and Mississippi, and now employs over 25 people.
While still assisting in the operations of Yazoo, and responsible for accounting, human resources and the creation of some of the beer’s labels, Lila continues to work with art and in museums through conservation, collections management and exhibit installation. She has worked at The Frist Center for Visual Arts as a Contract Registrar off and on since 2009. From 2011 until last year, she was assistant to the local paper conservator Christine Young. She is currently volunteering some of her time and experience to John Early Museum Middle Magnet School, cataloguing and digitizing the school’s museum collection, a newly acquired group of over 3000 ethnographic objects.
The most important role Lila has is that of mother to two beautiful daughters, Lucia and Lillian. Both girls have attended schools MNPS since kindergarten (Dan Mills, Elementary, Eakin Elementary and Meigs Middle Magnet). Lila and Linus are committed to Nashville’s public education system, and support MNPS through their volunteer efforts within their daughters’ schools.
DK HAYES, Ex-Officio Student Intern
Mr. Hayes attends Pearl-Cohn High School where he is a student ambassador. Here is what Christopher Moore shared in his recommendation of Mr. Hayes:
DK is one of our school’s student ambassadors, and as such he represents the faculty and students. He conducts tours and is often the “face” of our school for the public. He is honest, hardworking, genuine, and always strives to do his very best. He is a great student, often helping his student peers, and just in general an outstanding young man. He will achieve great things.
Mr. Henson is Chief Operating Officer for Metro Nashville Public Schools and has recently served as Interim Schools Director prior to the hiring of Dr. Shawn Joseph. Chris joined MNPS in 2002, previously serving as Associate Director of Schools, Finance & Administration for Franklin Special School District and Budget & Finance Director for Sumner County Schools.
Mr. Horton is owner of The Horton Group. With a long history of involvement in the Nashville public school system, Ned has always been generous in his efforts to support education in the local community. A graduate of Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Business Executive MBA program, Ned heads the Nashville-based online marketing and advertising agency, Horton Group.
Through his expertise as a marketer, a volunteer and donations he has helped a variety of local organizations and businesses get their start. With more than 14 years of experience in the radio industry, Ned started and ran WRLT Lightning 100 in 1990 and then moved it to downtown Nashville in 1991. During this period Ned created events and visibility for downtown Nashville and was one of the biggest voices encouraging Nashvillians to return to the downtown core.
More recently, through grassroots efforts, Ned teamed up with a group of like-minded parents to form a non-profit youth soccer league serving Nashville proper. Currently, Nashville Soccer United provides children from public schools across the metro area with the opportunity to take part in a community youth soccer program close to home.
Mr. Jones, President of The Crichton Group, leads Crichton’s Nonprofit/Social Services Division and is a member of The Crichton Group Board. He is responsible for new business generation, servicing current clients, developing and maintaining relationships with insurance company underwriters and overseeing sales team.
Cooper has a long history of nonprofit board service including President of the Alumni Council of The Ensworth School, Board Member of Fannie Battle Day Home for Young Children, Board Member for the Westminster School for Young Children, STARS Golf Tournament Chairman and The Nashville Zoo Golf Tournament Chairman.
He was selected as a 40 Under 40 Business Leader by the Nashville Business Journal in 2011. Cooper is a Nashville native and has his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi. He and his wife Hallie have two sons, Landon & Luke, and a daughter, Adeline.
Ms. Jones is the Director of Marketing for R.C. Mathews Contractor, a third-generation family business founded in Nashville in 1941.
She serves as the Chair-Elect for the NAIOP Developing Leaders Committee, and is an active member of Urban Land Institute (ULI) Nashville Chapter, AEC Power Women, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Rotary Club of Nashville. She received the 2017 NAIOP Middle Tennessee Developing Leader of the Year award, as well as a nomination for the 2016 Nashville Athena Young Professional of the year. Kaitlyn holds degrees in Political Science (International Relations) and Spanish with summa cum laude honors from Middle Tennessee State University. She also currently serves on the Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission as appointed by Mayor Megan Barry in January 2017. Kaitlyn grew up attending public schools, and her mother is a retired 35-year teacher of Metro Nashville Public Schools.
DR. SHAWN JOSEPH
Dr. Joseph is the Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools. He is an experienced educator who has fought for excellence and equity for every student he has served over a 20-year career.
That career has seen him serve as a teacher, principal, district administrator, deputy superintendent and superintendent. Most recently, he worked for students in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland as the head of teaching and learning. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of the Seaford County District in Seaford, Delaware.
Dr. Joseph’s work has garnered national recognition, and his expertise has been sought by other districts during transitional periods. He has won numerous awards for his work and service, including:
Ambassador Andrew Young Certificate of Distinguished Services (2016)
American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Dissertation Award (2010)
Middle Level Principal of the Year, Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals (2009)
He is also a published author and researcher, with articles in top, peer-reviewed journals of education on topics like strategic planning and principal development. In 2012, Dr. Joseph published the book The Principal’s Guide to the First 100 Days of the School Year: Creating Instructional Momentum.
Dr. Joseph considers himself a lifelong learner and holds three degrees from Lincoln University, Johns Hopkins University and The George Washington University. He and his wife, Ocheze Joseph, who is also a public school educator, have two school-aged children.
Mrs. Joyner is the Sales Operations Supervisor at UPS-Mid South District. Angela has been an LP PENCIL Box volunteer on many occasions. She has an adult daughter and lives in Hendersonville with her spouse.
Mr. Karabel is a Partner at Waller Law. Public and private corporations rely on Aron Karabel for advice and counsel in a wide range of labor and employment law matters. He has served as general counsel and chief negotiator for colleges and universities, school districts and municipalities and has successfully litigated matters in both federal and state courts as well as before various arbitrators and public agencies. Aron has significant experience in higher education compliance and labor relations. He has also represented public and private sector employers in negotiations, contract grievances, disciplinary proceedings, and administrative hearings.
Aron is a Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of more than 250 corporate legal officers and law firm partners dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession in the United States. In 2016, he was selected to participate on the National Civil Rights Committee for the Anti-Defamation League, a committee focused on emerging civil rights issues and recommending policy changes to regulatory and legislative bodies. Aron was also selected to be on the National Young Leadership Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of America, an arm of the Jewish Federation that focuses on advocacy, governance and philanthropy. Aron has also served as a board member to these organizations as well as the West End Synagogue. He has chaired and volunteered with many charity golf tournaments as well.
Ms. Laird is a Nashville attorney with twenty years of legal experience. She most recently served as Vice-President and Senior Litigation Counsel for Comdata Inc., a leading business-to- business global provider of electronic payment solutions. In this role, she worked with executive management regarding business strategy and litigation management. She continues to aid the company in a contract position today as Special Projects Manager. Christie was named Best of the Bar, Corporate Counsel in 2015. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and was a member of the 2006 Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Class. Prior to joining Comdata, Christie practiced law at Stokes & Bartholomew (now Adams & Reese) in Nashville and clerked for the Tennessee Court of Appeals and Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
Christie began volunteering in Metro Schools in 2014 and became a Reading Clinic Volunteer in 2015. Recently, Christie has been working with the Pencil Foundation to expand the number of volunteers and students in the Reading Clinic. Christie has served as the Board President for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and as a board member for The Children’s House.
She earned her B.S. degree, magnum cum laude, at the University of Tennessee and her J.D., cum laude, also at the University of Tennessee.
CASSIE LYNN FOOTE
Ms. Foote is the Director of Policy and Research for the Tennessee Business Roundtable, an organization of senior level business leaders, which seeks to collaborate with state government and Tennessee’s business organizations to develop and implement policy supporting business and economic growth in Tennessee. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and History, and from the Peabody College at Vanderbilt with Master of Education in Leadership, Policy and Organizations.
Cassie serves on the Ayers Foundation Board of Directors, the Expect More Achieve More Advisory Council, the Business Marketing and Finance Career Clusters Advisory Committee for the CTE Division of the Dept. of Education, the Pathways for Prosperity State-wide Planning Committee, the Tennessee Scholars Advisory Council, and is the 2014 Chair Elect of the Junior League of Nashville’s Advocacy and Public Awareness Committee.
DARIN M. MATSON
Mr. Matson became President and Chief Executive Officer of Rogers Group Inc. April 1, 2016. Darin’s 27-year career in aggregates began with Martin Marietta Materials in Georgia. He joined RGI in 1993 and has held several key positions of leadership within RGI including his most recent position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Currently, Darin serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) and the Board of PENCIL Foundation. Previously Darin has served as Chair of the Advisory Board for Cane Ridge High School Academy of Architecture and Construction and on the Board of Directors for Kentucky Crushed Stone Association.
Darin earned his Bachelor of Science, Mining Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He and his wife Kathy reside in Franklin, TN and have two grown children, Kaylie and Grant.
JOHN R. MCCOY
Mr. McCoy has been with UBS for more than 17 years, most recently in Global Sourcing, and has spent over 20 years in the financial services industry. In his current role, John is a Director - Head of Transition Management within the Nashville Business Solution Center (NBSC) Management Team. He has front-to-back responsibilities for the successful transition of business activities to Nashville from other locations through partnerships with each business/functional group. Prior to joining UBS, John was the Head of Administration for Independence Trust Company in Franklin, Tennessee.
John received his MBA with a concentration in Leadership from Lipscomb University and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing from Belmont University. He is a long time middle Tennessee resident and currently lives in Hendersonville with his wife and two children.
NORMAN L. MERRIFIELD
Mr. Merrifield is Principal at 808Education LLC, a consulting firm specializing in professional development training experiences.
A Bloomington Indiana native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in K12 Education from Tennessee State University and a Master’s from Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Norman founded 808Education based on his passion for delivering professional development services that focus on assets and strengths of educational communities that have been historically underserved. Prior to that, he served as a teacher, instructional designer and educational consultant. Norman serves as Co-Chair of the educational counsel for the National Museum of African American Music and youth soccer coach for Nashville Sporting Travel Soccer through East Nashville Athletics. He and his wife Christal have two children, Blake and Kylan, who are enrolled in Metro Public Schools.
Mr. Miranda is a Financial Advisor and partner with the Jefferson Group, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial in Franklin, Tennessee. Raul focuses his practice on financial planning and wealth management. Raul was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 2. He is a graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He and his wife, Karla, moved from Orlando to Middle Tennessee in 2008.
Raul and Karla live in Franklin along with their sons, Alex and Bruno and their two dogs, Bailey and Max. He loves to explore his creative side while in the kitchen and by the grill. He enjoys traveling when time permits, having visited about half of the 50 states, Europe, and South America.
Raul also serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville chapter of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America), and is on the Board of Governors for the Tennessee Latin-American Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Mohyuddin is a PhD Student in the Community Research and Action (CRA) program at Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the program, she received a BA in Economics from Yale University, and an MBA from Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.
After working in the healthcare industry for several years, she went back to school to complete her doctoral degree. Her dissertation research explores the religious identity development for Muslim American youth in the context of widespread negative stereotypes of Islam and Islamophobia. Other research projects she has worked on include a mixed-methods study of interfaith organizations, an ethnographic study of classroom discussion, and a qualitative study of women’s activism in Nashville.
Currently, Hasina is serving as the Study Coordinator for Professor Carol Nixon on two grants: one evaluating HIV/AIDS education for the Southeast AETC, and the other evaluating the implementation of environmental strategies for alleviating prescription drug abuse programs by community coalitions for the TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Hasina has been married for over 20 years to her husband Shuaib, has three wonderful sons, and is an active member of the Islamic Center of Nashville’s Education Committee, the League of Women Voters and the Nashville OIC.
Ms. Nabaa McKinney is an independent consultant providing assistance in areas of school improvement for Early Learning Centers and K-12 schools related to data-driven instruction, early childhood education, social-emotional learning, curriculum development, professional development, Principal/School Leadership, and school/board governing policies and procedures.
Prior to that, she was the Principal at Nashville International Academy serving students in preschool through 8th grade in a safe, respectful and fair learning environment. Berthena spent four years of her career at Antioch High in various roles including Chemistry teacher, Science Department Chair and ACT Coordinator. She currently serves on the Boards of the Muslim American Cultural Center and Faith and Culture Center. She was a member of the Leadership Donelson-Hermitage Class of 2016.
As a graduate of Metro Nashville Public Schools, and having grown up in a family of educators, Elizabeth Papel has always appreciated the importance of good public education. Before she was a board member at Pencil, she and her family regularly supported the organization’s fundraisers and donated to the LP Pencil Box. Now she fully grasps the effects poverty has on graduation rates and is motivated by the dedicated staff and volunteers who donate school supplies, tutor students and even find household items for families — all of which are important to academic success. By way of serving on board committees, Elizabeth raises funds and awareness for Pencil, most recently by co-chairing its inaugural Back to School Breakfast.
Elizabeth believes community involvement and leadership are essential to assist the government in providing public education and sets the example for the rest of us. Through contributions like hers, Pencil provides additional support to our public schools by bridging the gap between volunteers’ generosity and skills to support our schools so that all students have a chance at success in life.
Ms. Payne is Chief Human Resources Officer for HCTec. Previously, Brandyn led the talent management and OD practices for Tenet Healthcare, a $16B, 110,000 colleague health system, and directed employee and organizational development for Healthways, a leading well-being company and FORTUNE Best Place to Work. Brandyn holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s degree in Instructional Systems Evaluation and Design.
Mr. Payne is a Commercial Real Estate Manager for Regions Bank. He has the distinction of being a Certified Treasury Professional.
Prior to his work at Regions, Wesley was a Vice President, Special Assets, at First Tennessee Bank. Wesley earned his MBA in Finance from Belmont University and a BBA in Financial Institution Management from MTSU. He currently serves on the Board of the Maryland Farms YMCA.
AMYA PRATT, Ex-Officio Student Intern
Miss Pratt is a senior at Pearl-Cohn High School. Here is what Brittany Edmondson shared in her recommendation of Miss Pratt:
Amya is observant and strategic. Amya approached me after a community meeting interested in mapping out the senior year experiences and post secondary opportunities that will offer a competitive edge to her end game. She also appreciates the value and wisdom of professional adults and those committed to positively influencing her generation.
Kim Sasser-Hayden serves as Senior Manager of External Affairs for Nashville’s Comcast corporate headquarters. The veteran strategist and thought leader has nearly 10 years of experience in project management and executing marketing efforts for corporate clients, non-profit organizations, governmental entities, and political campaigns.
Ms. Schultz is Contract Manager of Operations at American Addiction Centers in Brentwood. Prior to AAC, Lynn has drafted and negotiated contracts at Affinion Group and Healthways. Lynn holds a B.S. in Political Science from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and is a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has lived in Nashville since 2001.
Ms. Shepherd was elected to the Metro Nashville Public Schools Board of Education in August of 2014 and now serves as Vice Chair and represents District 4. Anna is the Payroll Manager for Diocese of Nashville and is an active community member, having participated in various organizations over the past 25 years. She and her husband, Larry, have three children.
Ms. Spickard is a founding member of PENCIL. A former elementary teacher, Sue has continuously served on the board since 1982, serving as chair in 2002-2003. She has chaired the boards of the Junior League of Nashville, Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Council, Martha O’Bryan Community Center, YWCA and Renewal House. She is on the board of the Alliance for Public Education. Sue is an inductee into the YW Academy of Women of Achievement. She was presented the 1997 E. Bronson Ingram Award for her dedication to public education.
Mr. Stewart is a commercial real estate attorney at Bass, Berry & Sims PLC. Mike has a national practice assisting real estate developers, investors, retailers, healthcare providers and office and industrial users with the acquisition, development, disposition, leasing and financing of commercial properties. Mike is active in local industry groups, including the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and Urban Land Institute, and serves in leadership roles with the International Council of Shopping Centers and CCIM. Prior to attending law school, Mike taught in the Atlanta Public School system as a Teach for America corps member and subsequently served as a board member of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator (now the Tennessee Charter School Center) and the Tomorrow Fund, a fund under The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Mike earned his undergraduate degree at Indiana University and law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law. Outside of the practice of law, Mike enjoys spending time with his two young children and playing ice hockey.
Ms. Suara is a CPA and currently works as Assistant Controller at Meharry Medical College. In 2003, she started the Hardeman County branch of Junior Achievement. She is past state president of the Business and Professional Women (BPW) of Tennessee, the VP of Political Planning for the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus and served as chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council from 2011 to 2016. For the past four years, she has served as Chair of BPW’s Women’s Day on the Hill and helped coordinate a joint legislative day for 17 women’s organizations. Among her many achievements, she was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame by the Economic Council on Women. She has also been named by Mpower Change as one of 100 Muslim social leader justices in the U.S. She is married to Rahaman, her husband of 26 years, and they have five children.
CLIF TANT, JR.
Mr. Tant is Vice President of Commercial Banking at Nashville-based Capstar Bank. Clif joined Capstar Bank in early 2008, about six months prior to the Bank’s opening. Clif’s work focus and passion are in the areas of building trusted and lasting relationships with owner-managed businesses and non- profits based in the Middle Tennessee area. Clif spent the first four years (2004-2007) of his banking career with Fifth Third Bank, where he worked in various retail, business banking, and management roles. Before he was a banker, Clif spent several years working in his family’s various manufacturing businesses.
Clif is a Nashville native, and a graduate of Franklin Road Academy and then Vanderbilt. He earned his B.A in Economics from Vanderbilt in 1998. He also earned his MBA in operations management and entrepreneurship from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt in 2003.
Away from work, Clif spends all of his time with wife and son. Clif enjoys coaching his son’s sports teams, spending time at Center Hill lake, and is an avid bowler. Clif has served on the Board of Trustees at Franklin Road Academy and is currently the Treasurer of the FRA Alumni Board. Clif also enjoys supporting his non-profit clients be dedicating his time and resources in whatever way might best benefit the organization.
Mr. Warth is an attorney at Waller Law. Drew assists a wide range of corporate entities and individuals, including hospitals and other healthcare providers, with their litigation needs, as well as with internal investigations and government investigations. His experience is broad and includes defending large healthcare companies and other businesses in False Claims Act cases, as well as working closely with current and former corporate employees under government investigation in a wide range of matters, including in the construction and automotive industries.
Drew was an Associate with Neal & Harwell and was Law Clerk to the Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. He is an Attorney Volunteer with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and has volunteered with Casa Azafrán and Operation Stand Down Tennessee. Drew and his wife are raising four-year-old twins, and when they have the energy (and a babysitter) they like explore new restaurants in Nashville.
Mr. Williams is Director, Change Readiness - Talent & Performance Excellence at Piedmont Natural Gas. Juan received his Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Wesleyan College and his master’s degree from Queens University of Charlotte (NC). Juan was a human resources manager with Piedmont in the Charlotte market for many years before moving to Nashville almost two years ago. Prior to joining Piedmont, Juan worked with Nortel in Charlotte for over 13 years.
Robyn Williams is Nissan’s Regional Product Manager for electric vehicles and small crossovers. With 18 years in the automotive industry, Robyn has a breadth of experience, including leadership roles in Product Planning, Business Strategy, and Vehicle Connected Services.
A native of Eastern Kentucky, Robyn is the daughter of a teacher and a coal miner who instilled values of hard work and education. Robyn graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and later earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is a rabid college basketball fan, a passionate patron of the Nashville music scene, and an avid global traveler with 40 countries under her belt.
Robyn volunteers as a strategy consultant with Oasis Center, has previously represented Nissan on the board for Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, and is currently serving on the University Of Kentucky College Of Engineering Alumni Board.