Chuck Blackburn grew up in Texas and graduated from college in that state. He began his sales career as a teen, selling Fuller brushes. While in college he sold books door-to-door during his summers, working eighty hours per week and working1000 miles away from home. Blackburn became the company's top salesperson in the biggest year of their 155 year history while also building and managing a well-trained, motivated, and productive sales organization. He served as district sales manager for five years after graduation from college. As his career progressed, Blackburn was top producer in scores of diverse organizations in several different industries. He has demonstrated deep sales and sales strategy skills in a variety of challenging situations. He is extremely creative and analytical, and especially adept at advancing innovative concepts, products, services, or ideas.
A lifelong bow-tie fan, Blackburn owned a business providing tailored clothing and quality handmade neckwear, including bow ties, to many of the best traditional men’s specialty shops throughout the country. He believes that bow ties are not just a fashion option, but a personal lifestyle statement of a discerning individualist. He founded the International Bow Tie Society with a mission to leverage the interests of bow tie enthusiasts to create benefits, value, and friendship among thousands of members worldwide. He is the author of Stop Selling! ...Let 'em Buy. His most recent book is the Bow Tie Bible, an expose on how and why bow ties are a positive alternative to long ties. Chuck and his wife Marsha live in beautiful Brentwood, Tennessee.
Cavit Cheshier received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1953. Following a master’s program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, he returned to UT Martin to teach horticulture and landscape design, and fruit and vegetable production. In 1956, he was employed by the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) to become the specialist in teacher retirement and Social Security. While at TEA, he earned his masters and doctor degrees from Peabody College with an emphasis on school law and school finance.
During his thirty-eight year tenure at TEA, he served as field representative, assistant executive secretary, and associate executive secretary and before his retirement in 2004, he was the executive secretary-treasurer. He led a staff of eighty-three people, managed the association’s business and finances, wrote and lobbied many pieces of legislation and was the primary staff spokesperson for the 50,000 member association.
After retirement, Cheshier continued his hobbies of traveling, ballroom dancing, refinishing furniture, and serving on the grounds committee of his 188 home subdivision. He volunteers extensively at his church and is in his fifteenth year as trustees chair. Cheshier has served on the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation Board since its inception. He has been married fifty-nine years, has three granddaughters and two daughters who are teachers.
Stephen Coleman’s career as an instrumental music educator has spanned nearly four decades. He was most recently an associate professor of music education at Cumberland University, where he taught courses in instrumental music pedagogy and music history. Prior to this appointment, he and his wife Marion Coleman co-directed the instrumental music program in the Tullahoma City School system. Coleman has served as the president of Phi Beta Mu, the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, the Tennessee Bandmasters Association, the Tennessee Music Education Association, and was state chair for the National Band Association. He has presented clinics and sessions on various aspects of music education at the Tennessee Music Educators State Music Conference, the National Association for Music Education Conference, and the Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Conference. His professional honors include the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence, the Tennessee Music Education Association Hall of Fame, and the Tennessee Bandmasters Hall of Fame.
Ruby Fenton is a vice president for Iberia Bank’s Wolf River branch in Germantown, Tennessee. Her expertise focuses on consumer and small business lending and providing excellent client care. Fenton’s career in banking started with First Tennessee Bank, where she began as a teller. Fenton is the past president of the Germantown Art Alliance, as well as a board member for the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation in Nashville. She is a former ambassador for the Greater Memphis Chamber, and an active member of The Junior League of Memphis where she served as the League Cares Chairman for the 2015-2016 term. Fenton has been a long-time resident of Oakland, Tennessee and serves on the Planning Commission Board for the city of Oakland. She is an active member of Oakland Church of Christ. Fenton enjoys working in the yard, riding her bike, golfing, volunteering with the America Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association, and spending time with her Silky Terrier “Avery”.
Dr. Solie Fott is professor emeritus of music at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, Tennessee. He joined the music faculty at APSU in 1958 and during his career at the university he served as chair of the music department and founding president of the faculty senate. He also was a major force in establishing the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts in 1985.
Fott has performed with the Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville Symphonies. In his sideline career as a Nashville sessions string player, he performed with some of the top names in modern music history, including Eddie Arnold, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson, and Elvis Presley.
In recognition of his distinguished career in music education, Fott was presented the Tennessee Arts Academy’s Lorin Hollander Award in 2008. He was also honored with the Tennessee Music Educators Association’s Hall of Fame award in 2008. Most recently, he received the Acuff Circle of Excellence award from the Center for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University.
Fott is a member of the board of the Customs House Museum, the Acuff Circle of Excellence, the Gateway Chamber Orchestra and the Community Concert Association. He is the former president of the Tennessee chapters of the American String Teachers Association and the Tennessee Music Educators Association, and served on the board of the Tennessee Alliance for Arts Education.
Bobby Jean Frost
Bobby Jean Frost was chair of the fine arts department and director of choral activities at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee. She retired from that position in 2002, having previously taught at McGavock High School and Pearl High School.
Frost’s high school performing groups garnered many gold and silver medals in international competitions and received invitations from all over the world to participate in special events. The unique McGavock Jazz Rock Ensemble combined sixteen singers and sixteen instrumentalists to perform current music. The SophistiCats, her widely acclaimed singers at Hillsboro High School, were named as one of the top 100 of 14,588 high school performance choirs in the United States.
A diverse musician, Frost also enjoyed a career in commercial music. She was a musical director at Opryland, USA for twenty-three years. A published arranger, she has supplied custom arrangements for Opryland and many other groups. Frost has been a frequent clinician and adjudicator at regional and national events. She was session director and pianist for all classroom recordings in Metro Nashville Public Schools and for many well-known local PBS educational TV shows.
Frost's awards include The National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences “Music of the Heart” Educator, Metro Nashville Education Association Distinguished Classroom Teacher, Hillsboro Teacher of the Year, Tennessee Arts Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Tennessee Music Education Association Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award. Frost currently serves on the boards of the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation, the Tennessee Music Education Association, the Woman’s Club of Nashville, and the J. B. Daniels Foundation, and is a member of the Tennessee State Museum Ladies and Gents Committee. She received a bachelor of music degree in piano performance from George Peabody College and did graduate work at Belmont University.
Charlsie Hand is the owner and general manager of The Riverview Inn in Clarksville, Tennessee. She is responsible for daily operations of the full service hotel with 154 guest rooms and seventy employees. She is also a vice president of the board of directors at Budweiser of Clarksville and Hand Family Companies, a wholesaler for Anheuser Busch products. Ms. Hand is a member of the guild for the Clarksville Montgomery County Museum, the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce and The Women’s Network. She has served on the board of many cultural and civic organizations including Clarksville Academy, Roxy Theatre, United Way, Clarksville YMCA and the Montgomery County Advocacy Center for Sexually Abused Children. Additionally, Hand has served as president of the Downtown District Partnership and the Clarksville Montgomery County Humane Society. In 2001, she was the winner of the Athena Award for Outstanding Young Women of America.
Brandon Herrenbruck is the vice president and an owner of Steinway Piano Gallery in Nashville and Alabama Piano Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama. His company represents Steinway & Sons pianos for most of Tennessee and Alabama. After being an educator for seven years, he joined the family business in June of 2007. Herrenbruck grew up in Evansville, Indiana and received the bachelor of science degree in Secondary Education and Theatre from Indiana University in Bloomington and a masters of education and supervision from Tennessee State University in Nashville. He and his family relocated to Nashville in 2002 and currently live on a small farm in Thompsons Station, Tennessee.
Jim Holcomb has contributed an outstanding body of work to benefit music and arts education in Tennessee, the Mid-south and the nation. His impact continues to affect high quality access to arts education for all students in a number of ways. Holcomb spent twenty-four years in the classroom as an instrumental and vocal music teacher, mostly in service to high need student populations within Memphis City Schools. He later served as supervisor of music programs for Memphis City Schools for twenty-one years. Holcomb continues to serve as an educator and administrator in the community music school of the Bellevue School of Performing Arts.
During his work as an administrator, he was an integral part of ushering in an era of standards, accountability, sound policy, and systematic professional development for music educators. Under his leadership, Memphis City Schools would regularly host professional development workshops with top clinicians and artists, such as Wynton Marsalis, Kathleen Battle, and Yo-Yo Ma. As a result of his policies, the Memphis City Schools arts program was selected as a mentor arts schools district by the President’s Commission of the Arts and Humanities. During his tenure, the Memphis City Schools adopted policies that provided free music instruments and repair facilities for all students in need, and added curricular offerings in class piano, world drumming, music technology, recording and production.
Holcomb has served in numerous leadership positions for the Tennessee Music Education Association and is a former president of the West Tennessee Vocal Music Association. He has been a grant panelist for both the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Memphis City Center Commission. He has served on the board of the Governor’s School of the Arts and currently serves on the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation Board of Directors.
In service to the Tennessee Music Education Association and affiliated regional associations, Holcomb has received an Outstanding Administrator Award and membership in the TMEA Hall of Fame. During his career, Holcomb has impacted countless students and administrators. He a recipient of the Amro Music Educator’s Walk of Fame Award and the Tennessee Arts Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Dan Lawson currently is director of schools for the Tullahoma City School System, a position he has held for the past nineteen years. In addition to his responsibilities as school superintendent, Lawson also serves as an adjunct professor of education at Middle Tennessee State University where he teaches graduate courses in educational leadership. He has served as state president of the Association of Independent and Municipal Schools, and state president of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. Lawson has received a number of honors and awards during his career, including Tennessee School Superintendent of the Year, Tennessee Music Education Association Administrator of the Year, and Tullahoma Business Professional of the Year. At a time when school systems across Tennessee are narrowing their curriculum to include only subjects covered by high-stakes testing, he remains an influential voice for a balanced curriculum that offers sequential arts education for all students. Under his leadership, Tullahoma was the first school system to implement the Fine Arts Student Growth Measures throughout the system. Realizing the value of professional development, each year Lawson offers a full scholarship to any fine arts educator in his district who wishes to attend the Tennessee Arts Academy. He describes his major personal achievement as “securing a marriage license with Karen Lawson and helping to produce three children I hope can someday provide for themselves.”
Jean Litterer’s distinguished career in education spans 58 years. Prior to the spring of 2007, she had served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and as an administrator with the Tennessee Department of Education. Many of the thousands of students she has mentored have gone on to become leaders in the fields of business, science, politics and the arts. All have benefited from her wisdom, guidance and expertise.
Litterer taught her first students at Townsend High School in the Great Smoky Mountains, while her husband William finished his graduate degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She began teaching in Nashville at Donelson High School in 1951. She moved to Central High School and then John Overton High School, before advancing into educational administration. Litterer was appointed assistant principal at John Trotwood Moore Middle School and later at Bellevue Middle School before being named principal at West End Junior High. When a vacancy occurred at Hillsboro High School, she was assigned as principal. Litterer is best known for the growth and many accomplishments the school achieved in multiple fields during her tenure. Under her leadership, Hillsboro was named a United States. Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
After retiring from Metro Schools, Litterer served as assistant director of Davidson Academy and eventually went on to work at the Tennessee Department of Education. She was one of the first females to serve on the board of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA). In 2006, she was awarded the Nelson C. Andrews Distinguished Service Award. The award is given to a dynamic and impactful civic, business or political leader in the Nashville community who demonstrates the pinnacle of commitment and service to improving the quality of life for our residents through his or her support and advocacy of public education. Litterer has one daughter and lives in the Nashville area.
Alphonso Mance has a variety of experiences in education as a teacher, trainer, consultant, author, director, and professional advocate. Mance came to the Tennessee Educators Association (TEA) in 1984 as the assistant executive director and manager of instruction and professional development. He became executive director in 1999, a position he held until his retirement in 2013. He had primary responsibility for supervising and coordinating the administrative, editorial, publicity, financial, and professional activities of the association. He has written more than two hundred articles on educational and organizational issues and topics. He developed and presented training packages on stress management, time management, leadership, parent-teacher conferences, teaching in a multi-cultural environment, interpersonal relations, and humanism in education.
Mance is a native of South Carolina, and received his pre-college education in the public schools of that state. His post-secondary education was completed at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, Tuskeegee University in Alabama, and Adelphi University in New York. He taught chemistry and biology in the public schools of Florida and New York. He also taught English subjects at the Mesivta of Long Beach, a boarding school for male orthodox Jewish students completing their pre-rabbinical studies. Mance started his organizational career as a field representative for the New York Educators Association.
“Al is known not only in Tennessee, but nationwide, for his calm professionalism, and his knowledge of and dedication to public education,” said Gera Summerford, TEA president and Sevier county math teacher. “Al has devoted his life to improving public education and fighting for the rights of educators.”
Flowerree W. McDonough
Flowerree McDonough is a recognized art educator who has served as a member of the board of examiners for the Tennessee Department of Education. Recently she served as the Southeastern Region Secondary Director for the National Art Education Association, where she reviewed proposals for its national conference and nominations for national awards. She taught Visual Art I as an advanced placement course at Bearden High School, where she acted as fine arts department chair. As past president of the Tennessee Art Education Association, she has served on many award selection committees.
McDonough was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Arts Academy in July of 2011. The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts awarded her the first Tennessee Visual Art Teacher Award at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in 2009. McDonough has also received appreciation from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards with National Teacher Recognition at Carnegie Hall for having several national student winners. She was selected as a fellow by the National Endowment for the Humanities to participate in the Excellence in Teaching Institute at Ohio Wesleyan and in Florence, Italy. McDonough was honored as Tennessee Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association, and she was a state finalist for the Tennessee Teacher of the Year, serving as the alternate. McDonough passionately serves both students and teachers of the arts in her dual roles as an adjudicator for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and as a Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation board member.
Diana K. Poe
Diana Poe, a native of Chicago, Illinois, is an alumna of Tennessee State University where she has also served as a vocal professor and choir director. She was founder and artistic director for the TSU Showstoppers Choir, which performed under her direction at the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors presentation for Oprah Winfrey. She also received the University’s President’s Public Service Award. Ms. Poe, a lyric soprano, has performed internationally and throughout the United States. She holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She serves on the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation Board and has directed the Nashville Symphony Celebration Chorus for the Let Freedom Sing concert for more than twenty-two years. She is presently a music instructor at Nashville State Community College and is the recipient of the Circle Players Theater’s Best Music Director award 2013-2014 for Dreamgirls.
Sara Savell’s varied career spans both the arts and education. After winning the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions, Savell performed many leading roles as a resident member of the Memphis Opera Theatre, now known as Opera Memphis. She was also a featured soloist with the Memphis and Jackson Symphonies, and sang the soprano roles in Hayden's Creation with the Dallas Symphony. Savell has served as musical director for more than fifty musical productions at both Theatre Memphis and the Poplar Pike Playhouse. In 1994 she was presented with a Germantown Arts Alliance Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Savell is a past president and long-time board member of the Beethoven Club of Memphis, which sponsors the Las and Sara Savell vocal competition. This contest provides financial awards and professional encouragement to singers between the ages of nineteen and twenty-eight from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
In addition to her operatic pursuits, Ms. Savell worked thirty years in the legacy Shelby County School system. The last fifteen years of her teaching career were spent at Germantown High School on the faculty of its internationally-known fine arts department. During that time her choirs consistently won numerous local, state and national awards. Many of her students advanced to professional careers in music and the arts.
Savell was co-owner of Las Savell Jewelry in Memphis, Tennessee for more than thirty years with her husband Las. She has one daughter, Amy, and lives in Memphis.
Bill Shinn has been a public-school art educator for forty-five years. He currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a student, he attended Concord University in West Virginia and Yale University on an art scholarship. At Yale, Shinn studied printmaking under renowned Hungarian printmaker Gabor Peterdi and American master printmaker Peter Milton. Shinn’s diverse classroom instruction has introduced his students to essentially every area of artistic expression, style, and medium. Named Teacher of the Year in 2013 at Karns High School, Shinn has also taught many workshops and classes at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg as well as the Tennessee Arts Academy.
In 2013, he created his company Shinn Custom Carving. Shinn is active in the East Tennessee gun show circuit where he offers custom relief-carved gunstocks, award-winning walking sticks, and other fine carvings. He recently completed his educational video, Carving the Spirit Man. Shinn’s work has won many awards including Best of Show in the 2013 Dogwood Arts East Tennessee Art Educators Competition for his Synergy exhibition. His most recent Best of Show award was for a graphite drawing that was in the 2016 Tennessee Art Educator’s Association Connections exhibition at Belmont University.
Shinn is the newly elected president of the Tennessee Arts Academy Alumni Association in Nashville and an active member of National and Tennessee Art Educators Associations and Townsend Artisian Guild.
Pat Smith has been active in community service for many years. She was named the 19th Century Club’s Outstanding Member after serving as chairman of the club’s sponsorship activities for the Germantown Charity Horse Show. Smith was named as Honorary Shelby County Commissioner by Mayor Jim Rout for her work at the polls and promoting candidates for public service. She was named Shelby County School’s Teacher of the Year and was recognized in 1989 as the Outstanding Career Ladder Evaluator in Tennessee for Governor Alexander’s Master Teacher program.
Smith has served as president of the Germantown Performing Arts Guild, Germantown Arts Alliance and Germantown Garden Club. She has served as a member of the board of the Germantown Community Theater, Poplar Pike Playhouse and Tennessee Shakespeare Company. In 2012, Smith was named Germantown’s Outstanding Citizen and won the Leadership Germantown Award for Community Service.
Smith is a Master Flower Show judge and has judged international shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; and San Ramon, Costa Rica. She served as a United States delegate to the World Flower Show in Dublin, Ireland. She currently serves on the board of directors of the State, Deep South and National Garden Clubs, Inc. where she is vice chairman of the National Disaster Grants Committee and a delegate on the National Nominating Committee.
Thane Smith has been recognized as a Germantown Hometown Hero and in 2003 was named the recipient of the Germantown Arts Alliance Patron of the Arts Medal for his contributions to the arts in the community. He is a founding board member and treasurer of the Germantown Association, a non-profit organization that oversees the annual Germantown Arts and Crafts Festival.
Thane and his wife, Pat, serve on the board of the Tennessee Arts AcademyFoundation (TAAF) and sponsored the musing sessions for both Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Sherman at the Academy. They continue to sponsor the celebrity performer at the Bravo Banquet and in 2013 received the Academy’s Lorin Hollander Award for their continued commitment to the arts.
Smith is past president of the Shelby County Homebuilders Association, past chairman of the Germantown Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as president of the Condo Association in Angel Fire, New Mexico, where he enjoys skiing in the winter. He is owner of Old Town Center, a shopping complex in Germantown.
Smith has been scout master of Troop 64 in Germantown for over forty-five years and has served on the staff at Philmont Training Center, the Boy Scout National Adult Training Facility in Cimarron, New Mexico.
Tabor Stamper serves as president of KHS America, the parent company for Jupiter Band Instruments, XO Professional Brass, Mapex, Sonor, Majestic Percussion, Altus Flutes and Hohner Harmonicas and Accordions. KHS America is a leading supplier of musical instruments, and serves the performance needs of musicians from beginning students to professionals.
Stamper began his career in music education as a band director, teaching in both high school and at the university level. He holds music degrees from Indiana University and Ball State University and is a member of both Alpha Beta Alpha and Phi Beta Mu bandmaster fraternities. In 2002 he was recognized by Phi Beta Mu as Outstanding Contributor to Bands. He is the founding chairman of “Give a Note,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for music education in underserved school districts throughout the United States. He is a member of the Music Makes Us advisory council, serving Nashville Metropolitan Schools in support of music education, and is a board member for the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the Tennessee Arts Academy Foundation.
Following his years of directing bands in Indiana, Ohio and Missouri, Stamper joined the music industry, holding various positions with United Musical Instruments and Conn-Selmer before joining KHS America in 2005. As a former music educator, he believes in the positive impact music has on all lives, and that every student deserves the opportunity to receive a quality music education.
Hope Stringer is an active community volunteer in Nashville, Tennessee and is a Metro Arts Commissioner. She is the past chair and current member of the board of the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park. She is leading the capital campaign for the renovation of the park. Her past board positions include the executive committees of Adventure Science Museum and The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson. She has also served as chair of the board of Congregation Micah and the Legal Aid Society Community Board. She is a member of Cheekwood’s Art Committee and has served on numerous other committees for non-profit organizations. Hope and her husband Howard are art collectors with a wide range of interests. They received the Human Relations Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice in 2001, and she was named to the Academy of Women of Achievement of the YWCA in 2013.
Bennett Tarleton is a retired executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. Since his retirement, he has consulted with The Family Center and has held positions with several other non-profits organizations. These posts include interim managing director, Nashville Children’s Theatre; senior Development Officer, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art; audience development director, Nashville Repertory Theatre, and executive vice president for Institutional Advancement, Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
He currently serves on the board of the W.O. Smith Music School. He has served on the board of directors for The Children's House; National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; Association of Performing Arts Presenters; Southern Arts Federation, chairman; Harvard University Alumni Association, and Cheekwood.
Born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, Tarleton received his bachelor of arts in English Honors from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master of arts in teaching from Harvard University before teaching secondary English in Great Neck, New York. He then served as an administrative assistant in the office of the dean of students, University of Missouri; Curriculum Developer and Coordinator, Central Midwestern Regional Learning Center; coordinator, National Aesthetic Education Learning Center at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.; director, Alliance for Arts Education; executive director, Dance St. Louis and also served as an arts consultant for major institutions and organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tarleton lives in Nashville and is married to the former Victoria Jane Smith. His children are Kate Meriwether (Jonathan) and Will Tarleton (Christie). His grandchildren are Grace and Jameson Meriwether. He is a communicant at St. George’s Episcopal Church where he serves as a Lay Eucharist Minister and as a member of the In Excelsis Music Committee.
Bill Watkins began his career in public accounting with a large local firm and then served as controller for the sixth largest industrial security firm in the United States. He transitioned back into public accounting when he started the public accounting firm of Watkins and Watkins in 1971 which became what is now Watkins Uiberall, PLLC.
Watkins is a graduate of the University of Memphis College of Business, which has named the auditorium in its Fogelman College of Business and Economics in his honor. He is a member of the Germantown Performing Arts Centre and serves on its board of directors. Watkins is also a member of the Economic Club of Memphis, Christ United Methodist Church, and the Boy Scouts of America, for which he has served on the board of directors in the Chickasaw Council. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Tennessee Society of CPAs, and the University of Memphis board of visitors.
Watkins is a Missouri native and currently resides in Germantown, Tennessee with his wife, Jeanette. When away from the office, he and Jeanette enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren, relaxing at their lake home and boating.