As is our annual tradition, the Post team presents In Charge, a compendium of Middle Tennessee’s top business, political and civic leaders. The 450-plus women and men on our list — our fifth annual — make a positive impact not just on their individual sectors, but on the city in general. These folks are the best of the best — and always “in charge.”
1. Pete Bird — President and CEO,Frist Foundation: Has served as Frist Foundation CEO since 2002 but has been with the foundation since 1983. A former Nashville Banner business news editor and senior VP of Commerce Union Corp. Oversees more than $140 million in foundation assets.
2. Agenia Clark — CEO,Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee: Dynamic leader of an organization that serves approximately 14,000 girls and 7,100 volunteers in 39 Middle Tennessee counties. Previously served as VP of human resources for the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. and as Vanderbilt University’s senior director of HR.
3. Glenn Cranfield — President and CEO, Nashville Rescue Mission: Oversees a large-scale operation that includes a staff, a 25-member board and hundreds of needy citizens using the SoBro facility daily. Mission property is located in epicenter of SoBro redevelopment.
4. Jaynee Day — President and CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank: Has led Second Harvest since 1988. In 2001, peers honored her with the Association of Non Profit Executives CEO of the Year Award. Second Harvest has a network of more than 400 nonprofits working within 46 counties to fight hunger.
5. Eric Dewey — President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville: Leads one of the state’s largest nonprofits, with about 40 employees. Named to post in June 2008. Oversees an entity that collaborates with about three dozen Nashville-area groups in addition to its 130-plus funded programs with about 60 partner agencies.
6. Susan Duvenhage — President and CEO, Adventure Science Center: Working to make science, technology, health, engineering and math fun for kids — a noble goal with measurable business outcomes. Began tenure in 2007 and then oversaw construction of $20 million Sudekum Planetarium and Sky and Space Wing.
7. H. Beecher Hicks — President and CEO, National Museum of African American Music: Named last October to lead the fledgling (and not yet built) museum. Previously served as managing partner of private equity investment firm Red Clay Holdings, which in March 2013 sold a majority interest in RLCL Acquisition (then doing business as Gray Line of Tennessee) to Nashville-based XMi Holdings.
8. Susan Huggins — Executive Director, CABLE: Started in 1987 Direct Link, a full-service direct mail firm and certified woman-owned business. Oversees Tennessee’s largest and most established network of professionals committed to “connecting women and opportunity.” Group’s annual ATHENA event has become a staple.
9. Sharon Hurt — Executive Director, Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership: Veteran JUMP leader who assists North Nashville by organizing festivals, coordinating streetscaping projects and raising community awareness. Previously was vice president of sales and marketing at software training venture Alpha Computech and admissions director for 16 years at Meharry Medical College.
10. Lewis Lavine — President,Center for Nonprofit Management: Oversaw the move of the center to the Trolley Barns in 2012. Earned his master’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University. Served as chief of staff to then-Gov. Lamar Alexander and as a member of Gov. Bill Haslam’s winter 2010 transition team.
11. Ellen Lehman —Founder & President,The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee: Essentially started CFMT out of her house in 1991. Earned an MBA at Harvard University and a master’s degree in public management and enterprise at the London School of Economics. In the past 22 years, the foundation’s overall grantmaking has totaled $600 million to community programs and institutions.
12. Jean Nelson — President and Executive Director, Land Trust for Tennessee: Serves as board chair of the Southern Environmental Law Center and worked in the Clinton Administration as the general counsel for the EPA. Has helped protect more than 84,000 acres throughout the state.
13. Rick Schwartz — President, Nashville Zoo: One of the most internationally influential leaders of a Nashville-based nonprofit. His work with both giant anteaters and the highly endangered clouded leopard are likely unmatched, earning praise from the world’s zoological community. Has helmed the zoo since its 1990 opening.
14. Patricia Shea— President and CEO, YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee: Oversees a staff of 69 full- and part-time employees and eight programs/cost centers. YWCA generated 2013 revenues of $4.9 million with expenses of $3.73 million. Must effectively answer to a 44-member board.
15. Renata Soto — Co-Founder and Executive Director, Conexion Americas: Former United Way stalwart who co-founded Conexion Americas to aid the city’s fast-growing Latino population. Costa Rican native serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees. A major go-to source for local media seeking the Hispanic community’s perspective.
16. Becca Stevens — Founder, Magdalene and Thistle Farms: An Episcopal priest whose nonprofit works with women recovering from prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Magdalene is the residential model while Thistle Farms residents and graduates manufacture, market and sell all-natural bath and beauty products in about 200 retail stores. Opened Thistle Stop Cafe retail location on Charlotte Avenue last May.
17. Charles Strobel — Founding Director, Room in the Inn: Known to many simply as Father Strobel. A tireless advocate of the poor and the homeless who is unafraid of tackling either controversy or addressing his detractors. Named Nashville Scene‘s “Nashvillian of the Year” in 2004.
18. Steve Turner — Chairman,James Stephen Turner Charitable Foundation: Member of family that founded Dollar General and has since become one of Nashville’s most enthusiastic boosters. Focuses philanthropic energies on the arts — think the Nashville Symphony and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — and education.