Blanton given Leadership Franklin's Caroline J. Cross Award

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Brandy Blanton

Brandy Blanton was surprised when the leadership team from Leadership Franklin and her family showed up to the BOMA meeting on Tuesday to present her with the Caroline Cross Award. From left to right: Paula Harris, Debbie Henry, Julian Bibb, Nick Rainey, Brandy Blanton, Caroline Cross, Zach Blanton, Samantha Castro holding Elliott Castro, Ashley Rainey and Brandon Castro.

Leadership Franklin began its 24th program year on Aug. 27 and announced Leadership Franklin alumnus Brandy Blanton as this year’s recipient of the Caroline J. Cross Award.

Blanton grew up in Franklin and has been involved in the community as a community volunteer, elected official, entrepreneur and member of the media with her creation of Southern Exposure Magazine. In 2018, she compiled “Legacy – The Stories of Williamson County from 2002 – 2018.” 

Her volunteer activities include being a board member for Leadership Franklin, Franklin Tomorrow, Franklin’s Charge, the Williamson County Library Foundation, Williamson County Homeless Alliance and the Franklin Public Arts Commission.

“Brandy is deeply involved in the fabric of our non-profit life – building on community, making lives better,” Leadership Franklin Board Chair Julian Bibb said. “She has brought her skills to the Franklin Board of Mayor and Alderman (elected in 2011), and because of her dedication to her granddaughter, Ellie G, she saw a means to help other families and joined High Hopes as its development director.” 

The Caroline J. Cross Award was established to honor Caroline J. Cross, founding executive director of Leadership Franklin, and create an ongoing award that identifies a leader in the community who exemplifies the values and lessons of Leadership Franklin. The award was created as the class project by Dan Klatt, Charles Pareigis, Chris Clausi and Brandy Blanton in 2007. 

Criteria for nomination include leadership that motivates and inspires other individuals along with traits of creativity, character, dedication and community service. Each year’s class submits nominations and selects an individual who makes a true impact in the community.

Past recipients of the award are Jimmy Gentry, Rogers Anderson (Leadership Franklin Alumnus), Julian Bibb III (Leadership Franklin Alumnus), Scott Roley (Leadership Franklin Alumnus), Janet Keck, Alma McLemore (Leadership Franklin Alumnus), Rick Warwick, Emily Magid, Paige Pitts (Leadership Franklin Alumnus), Dr. Joseph Willoughby, Mary Mills and Judy Hayes.

Leadership Franklin is a non-profit organization originally founded in 1996 to develop leadership and community engagement to further a vision for Franklin and Williamson County. 

For more information about the organization, visit

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