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Leadership Franklin announces new class for 2013-14

The 2013-14 Class of Leadership Franklin has been selected and the 20 participants will begin the nine-month program in August. The class members were selected from the largest pool of applicants Leadership Franklin has received since the organization was founded in 1996.

“We are excited about the number and the quality of the applicants for this year’s class,” states Paula E. Harris, executive director. “The selection committee had a very tough task narrowing the field to 20 members.”

“The 2013-2014 Class of Leadership Franklin is another excellent group of leaders who are engaged in making Franklin and Williamson County an even better place to live, work, and play,” comments Debbie Henry, associate executive director. “The number of applicants tells us that the impact Leadership Franklin has on our community is attractive to leaders who want to make a difference.”

Class members include executives and senior community leaders who are selected based on diversity of industry, ethnicity, and age, serving as a representative cross-section of Franklin and Williamson County citizens. Participants commit to a two-year involvement in the organization. During the first year, class members work through a program that develops knowledge of Franklin and understanding of issues and organizations in Williamson County. The second year of commitment involves mentorship of the following class members.

The Leadership Franklin Class of 2013-2014 includes:

Randy Bechtel is supervisory special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nashville office. He directs the Public Corruption, Complex Financial Crimes and Civil Rights programs. In his role, he manages 10 special agent investigators, two forensic accountants, and approximately 170 on-going criminal investigations. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he has 10 years of service in the U.S. Army and an additional 17 years in the FBI. Bechtel feels it is critical for Franklin and Williamson County government entities to be able to support the substantial growth occurring in the area. His leadership activities include the FBI Nashville Citizen’s Academy Alumni Association, Franklin Youth Baseball, and First Presbyterian Church (Franklin).

On his upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Bechtel comments “I hope to gain a better understanding of the Franklin and Williamson County community, specifically in the areas of government, private, and civic organization. I look forward to discovering ways to become more involved with community leaders and be better informed of opportunities to contribute.”

As minister at the Heritage Church of Christ, Steve Blackman is involved in leading church ministries, pastoral counseling, and teaching. A former professor at Lipscomb University, he is aware and concerned about the challenges facing illiterate adults in Franklin, as well as the non-English speaking residents. Blackman holds a Master of Theology degree and is active with Benevolent Outreach and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

Anticipating his Leadership Franklin experience, Blackman notes “I want to have a broader view of Franklin’s leaders and future. What better way for me to grow than by working side-by-side with the ones who are also making a difference in my community? Leadership Franklin is a birthing place for the economic and moral direction of this city and county.”

J. Edward Campbell assists sellers and buyers in the purchase of residential real estate, frequently counseling first-time buyers and seniors who are downsizing on the intricacies of real estate investment. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with concentrated studies in management and human resources from Trevecca Nazarene University and has attended multiple real estate educational programs. Campbell’s leadership activities include the Downtown Franklin Association, Heritage Foundation, Williamson County Realtors Association, the Franklin Affordable Housing Commission, and First Presbyterian Church (Franklin). He is the recipient of the Downtown Franklin Association’s Outstanding Service Award and has served on the Williamson County Association of Realtor’s Board of Directors.

Campbell is passionate about the need for affordable, quality housing options for Franklin’s workforce such as teachers, fire and police staff, and service industry employees. He also feels there is an increasing need for senior residential developments for our aging population that wishes to remain engaged and active in the community. On his upcoming Leadership Franklin involvement, Campbell states “Participation in the program will provide the opportunity to learn more about the operation of the City. I plan to use this knowledge to make a continual difference in this awesome place in which to live, work, play and worship.”

As an attorney, Miranda Christy’s practice focuses largely on banking, including syndicated credit facilities, agent-administered loans, sale and trade of loans, asset-based loans, real estate financing, non-profit and charitable credit facilities, and other types of credit facilities. She holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee, College of Law, a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and an undergraduate degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Christy’s community involvement encompasses activities with Franklin’s Charge, The Land Trust of Tennessee, The Nature Conservancy, Nashville Classical Charter School, and the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County.

An engaged young professional, Christy feels a balance is needed between historical preservation and sustainable strategic planning for Williamson County’s continued growth. Thoughtful and efficient land-use planning to support public transportation accessibility and to foster growth is essential. Christy comments, “I will learn more about Williamson County, but more importantly, I expect to learn more about myself and how I can best serve this community. I am hopeful that my classmates and I will become agents of change in Williamson County as a result of our Leadership Franklin experience.”

As president and CEO of Millennium Marketing, LLC, Ramon Cisneros specializes in marketing and advertisement targeted toward Latinos in the United States and Latin America. He is a consultant for corporations regarding their engagement with Latinos either as employees or clients and serves as publisher of La Campana, Middle Tennessee’s Hispanic newspaper. Cisneros earned an undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida and has graduate studies at Simon Bolivar University with concentration in business administration – marketing. He is active with organizations that include the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Mercy Children’s Clinic, Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Williamson Medical Center Foundation, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Sister Cities of Franklin and Williamson County, and YMCA of Middle Tennessee.

Cisneros is a long-time resident of Williamson County and a champion of the importance of diversity. He feels that getting to know one another and educating the population in regard to inclusion are keys to achieving a healthy community. As a Latino, he welcomes the opportunity to bring a new perspective and contribute his experience to enhance conversations. He states, “I would like to meet new leaders, especially young ones, both in my fellow classmates, facilitators, and expositors, and among the Leadership Franklin alumni in order to exchange ideas to develop initiatives and partnerships that can preserve and enhance the quality of life in Franklin.”

Lisa Clayton holds the position of Parks Director for the City of Franklin in which she performs a variety of complex professional and administrative work in planning, developing, scheduling, directing, and implementing a year-round, city-wide parks and recreation program. Building on her extensive background, Clayton leads long-range planning that incorporates connectivity of greenways, alternative transportation options, and residential and mixed use developments, with an emphasis on how these will impact Franklin and surrounding areas. She understands the importance of connecting key leaders in moving toward an optimum future.

Clayton holds a Master of Science in Sports Management from East Tennessee State University, and she received her undergraduate degree from Lander University. She is a graduate of the LEAD program from the University of Virginia. Clayton’s leadership activities include involvement in the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association, Friends of Franklin Park, the United Way of Williamson County, and Brentwood Baptist Church.

She states, “My hope is to gain understanding and learn from other professionals within our community. Leadership comes in many forms with multiple personality types. It is my personal and professional goal to meet and hopefully establish new relationships that will bring forth new experiences in my everyday position.”


Kristen Corn represents the City of Franklin as a staff attorney in civil matters and in “quasi-criminal” matters in Franklin Municipal Court. She drafts and reviews contract, ordinances, and resolutions and attends various board and commission meetings to provide legal guidance. She is passionate about access to legal services for everyone and has a goal to build awareness of the issue. Corn’s love for the community is evidenced by her eagerness to engage with community leaders seeking ways to balance government, quality of life, growth, and preservation.

Corn’s leadership activities in the areas of government and civic organizations include involvement in the Williamson County Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, Williamson County Schools, Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association, and Delta Gamma Fraternity-Nashville Alumni. She holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Nashville School of Law and undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee.

On her upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Corn comments, “I am eager to discover more about the City of Franklin. I am excited to meet other professionals outside my career field, and I know Leadership Franklin will be the perfect opportunity.”


Tom Curl’s position as senior vice president in commercial real estate for SunTrust involves financing and portfolio management of construction and acquisition of commercial income-producing properties. A champion for balance between preserving the past and building for the future, Curl feels Franklin is at a crossroad of growth in terms of affordable housing. His leadership activities include involvement in Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, the Boy Scouts of America, the National Associations of Industrial and Office Parks, and the International Council of Shopping Centers. He is the recipient of President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in both 2011 and 2012.
Curl holds a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from the University of Toledo. His undergraduate degree is from Miami University with a concentration in business management.
Of his upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Curl notes, “I hope to gain a more in-depth understanding of the history of Franklin and to assist in the continued preservation of Franklin’s past while balancing our history with progressive and aesthetic growth.”


As executive director of GraceWorks Ministries, Tina Edwards works to provide the best quality help for our neighbors in need. She oversees a full-time staff of 20 and 200 weekly volunteers. She works to balance the increased demand for GraceWorks’s 20 programs with good financial stewardship. In her everyday work, Edwards sees the struggle that hard-working families have to find affordable housing in Franklin. It is important to her to find a balance between supply and demand for these workers who fuel the Franklin economic engine.
Edwards’ undergraduate work was at Fort Wayne Bible College with a concentration in pastoral ministries. Currently, she is pursuing nonprofit certification from the Center for Non-profit Management. Her other service involvement includes work with the Centennial High School PTSO, the United Way of Williamson County, the Centennial Choral Association, and Peoples Church.
Edwards states, “I hope a better understanding of our community, who does what in the community, and what current and future needs our community has will impact the way I lead.”


As District Grant Writer for Williamson County Schools, Deb Enright, EdD., directs development activity for the district and also coordinates and oversees the grant application and management process. She works closely with the Superintendent and provides support to the Williamson County Schools Educational Foundation. A true champion of partnerships, Enright works to create community relationships that strengthen the delivery of instruction and engage citizens in the tapestry of the school system. She believes in the benefits of empowering residents to lend their knowledge, skill sets, and joy of learning to students.

Enright holds a Doctorate of Education Policy as well as a Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University. She earned her undergraduate degree from Vassar College. Her leadership activities include work with the Maryland Farms YMCA, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Leadership Brentwood, Vassar College Alumni Board, and Brentwood United Methodist Church.
Enright anticipates her upcoming Leadership Franklin experience with the comment, “I want to become smarter about how Williamson County Schools can connect in new and innovative ways with the Franklin community.”


Kelly Gilfillan is co-owner and managing partner of BrentWord Communications, publisher of Franklin Home Page and Brentwood Home Page. She directs business activities, sales, and marketing, and conducts select writing for both publications. A long-time Williamson County resident, Gilfillan feels the balance between the fast-paced growth of Williamson County and the preservation of a unique sense of community will continue to be a challenge. Keeping the public proactively informed of the successes and challenges of growth in the area is a priority for Gilfillan.

In addition to holding a Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University, Gilfillan also has studied graphic design. She is a member of the 2013 Transit Citizens Leadership Academy and has been involved with Nashville Next 2040, LION Publishers, Scales Elementary and Brentwood Middle School PTOs, and Brentwood United Methodist Church.

Of her upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Gilfillan comments, “I hope to gain a well-rounded knowledge of what makes the city tick. As an owner of a media company that covers the city on a daily basis, the experience will be priceless in learning how to better serve Franklin.”


As Deputy Chief of Administration, Mike Jordan leads the management of evidence, training, records, professional standards, firearms range, fleet maintenance, and research and development for the City of Franklin Police Department. With 35 years with the department, Jordan has had the opportunity to interact with the law enforcement community on a local and national level and also with the businesses and citizens of Franklin. He feels that the literacy of the area’s students is critical and he recognizes the importance of after-school tutoring programs.

Jordan is a graduate of the Southeastern Command and Leadership Academy at the University of Tennessee and pursued undergraduate studies at Cumberland College and Belmont Universities. He is the recipient of the Morris Heithcock FOP Law Enforcement Award. His leadership activities include involvement with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, Inc., and the Greater Nashville Choral Union.

“I am hoping to gain more insight into the business communities within the area, develop additional professional relationships, and learn how I can better serve my community,” comments Jordan on his upcoming Leadership Franklin involvement.


Vickie Manning is senior vice president at Pinnacle Financial Partners where she provides financial counsel to clients in determining the best process of investment and asset management to meet their needs and achieve their financial goals. A well-established business and community leader within Franklin and Williamson County, Manning feels residential density and well-planned growth are important to maintaining what makes Franklin so special.

Manning’s leadership activities include serving on the City of Franklin’s Public Building Authority, the Williamson County Industrial Development Council, Franklin Tomorrow, Leadership Brentwood, and Cool Springs Rotary. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee and has attended multiple banking schools.

Of her upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Manning says, “I expect to gain a more thorough understanding of the needs and concerns for our very special city as it faces the challenges of growth. With that understanding, I will be in a better position to guide change.”


As Director of Community Development for the Franklin Housing Authority, Susan Minor is responsible for human resources, and planning and coordination of public relations programs designed to create and maintain a favorable image for the organization. Minor understands the need for desirable and affordable housing for the workforce, a need that will only increase with the continued growth of the community.

Minor holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arkansas State University and the Certified Property Manager designation. Her leadership activities in business, industry, and the community include Franklin Tomorrow, Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, Bridges of Williamson County, and Christ United Methodist Church.
Minor notes, “I hope to gain a better understanding of the needs of our community, the possibilities, and available resources through my involvement in Leadership Franklin. No place is perfect, but I believe we can move Franklin even closer to the perfect place to live, work, and play.”


Strategic and long-term planning, financial oversight, marketing, staff management, public relations, and sales all are part of Carol Penterman’s job as CEO of Interim HealthCare of Middle Tennessee. Penterman understands that staffing needs are a primary concern for businesses and that availability of training opportunities for the workforce is important. She believes older business models must be transformed to meet the changes, including the delivery of healthcare.

Penterman holds a Master of Music from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and she is a Certified Financial Advisor. Her leadership activities include involvement in Leadership Nashville, Leadership Music, Opera America Board of Directors, Rotary Club of Nashville, and Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Having relocated her business to Franklin, Penterman anticipates her involvement in Leadership Franklin to provide greater understanding of the inner workings of the community. She states, “This knowledge will allow me to better assess where my skills might be of service and how I can best help Franklin achieve the vision for its future.”


A member of the downtown Franklin banking team for Franklin Synergy Bank, Will Powell is involved in the growth of the bank through loans and deposits and in the management of bank branch staff. A Franklin native, Powell has witnessed first-hand the city’s growth and development. He believes a major issue will be the balance of commercialization and growth while maintaining the unique charm and preservation of historic locations.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi with concentrations in history and English, Powell attended Battle Ground Academy. He is active in civic organizations that include Next Generation Heritage Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and the Williamson County Softball League.

Powell notes, “It is easy to pass each day not realizing everything that goes on around you to keep Franklin and Williamson County progressively moving forward and continually improving our quality of life. I would like to use Leadership Franklin as an opportunity to learn more about the necessary aspects of this progression and determine how I can contribute.”


Jason Ritzen is president and CEO of the Ritzen Group, Inc. where he oversees commercial real estate development and management of multi-million-dollar real estate transactions. He directs all aspects of design, development, construction, financing, and property management or maintenance. For the past four decades, Ritzen has been immersed in Williamson County as a resident, student, property owner, developer, business owner, and parent. He feels it is imperative to ensure that Franklin’s quality of life standards as they pertain to long-term environmental and financial sustainability, be maintained or improved.

Ritzen holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from Southern Methodist University. He is involved in the Heritage Foundation, the Meadows Foundation of Texas, and the Harpeth River Watershed.

Concerning his upcoming Leadership Franklin experience, Ritzen says, “I hope to gain a better understanding of the focus for the future of our community as it relates to our economic development and quality of life issues. I hope to use this insight to steer my efforts as a developer and resident in a direction that benefits the future of our community.”

Joshua Rogers is a partner/attorney of Schell & Davies law firm and serves as a part-time juvenile magistrate for the Juvenile Court of Williamson County for Judge Sharon Guffee’s office. Rogers presides over custody, dependency and neglect, and delinquent child support matters. He has practiced law since 2005 with an emphasis in family law.
Rogers feels that the community should be educated about the issues facing our youth today. He believes that more community involvement and education with expanded resources available through law enforcement, government, and civic organizations are needed by Williamson County youth.

Rogers holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Nashville School of Law and completed his undergraduate studies at Samford University. He recently obtained his Rule 31 Certification in Family Law from the Tennessee Supreme Court. His involvement in the community includes not only the Williamson County Juvenile Court, but also the Spring Hill Planning Commission and Thompsons Station Church.

Of his anticipated Leadership Franklin involvement, he says, “In order to benefit our youth, the entire community needs to be involved and educated as to the ever-evolving issues affecting our children. Through Leadership Franklin, I hope to make connections with others in the community to gain information and resources to that end.”


Ben Rooke leads Brasfield & Gorrie’s healthcare construction group. With more than $100 million in medical construction projects performed each year, he sees that each project is built with integrity while exceeding the expectations of clients, business partners, employees, and the communities. A champion of the area’s school system, Rooke feels maintaining the excellence in education and the high caliber of school facilities during slow economic times will continue to be a challenge. He is interested in looking at creative and alternative solutions for the continued improvement of the school system.

Rooke has a Bachelor of Science in Building Science from Auburn University and is a LEED Accredited Professional. His leadership activities include involvement in the March of Dimes, United Way, Association of Builders and Contractors, Leadership Healthcare, and the American Heart Association. Rooke states, “As a part of the Franklin community, I am eager to learn more about Franklin, its leaders, its citizens, and the issues it faces so I will be better equipped to influence its future.”

Celeste Ware, III is underwriting supervisor for Direct General Insurance. He directs a team of nine underwriters that provide assistance in 13 states. He also provides guidance to agents and policyholders for auto insurance policies as well as technical guidance and expertise to the underwriting staff. As a strong advocate for youth and education, Ware is passionate about helping academically challenged students within the Williamson County School system. He feels that more mentors and tutors and a better overall support system are keys to student success.

Ware holds a Master of Criminal Justice Administration from Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University. His undergraduate degree was earned at Kentucky State University and he is a graduate of the Direct General Leadership Development program. His community involvement activities include the United Way of Williamson County, Community Child Care Center (Franklin), Literacy Council of Williamson County, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, and Raise Your Hand Williamson County. Ware notes, “I feel Leadership Franklin will increase my awareness of the Williamson County community and will provide more resources in my endeavors to give back to the community.”

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 .


Posted on: 7/24/2013


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