Leadership Franklin has awarded its $1,500 scholarship to recent Independence High School 2017 graduate Ashley Haylett. Haylett plans to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this coming fall and will study courses to pursue a career as an animal nutritionist.

Haylett is an active student at Independence with leadership roles in clubs like Young Rotarian Interact Club and Girls Cotillion, as Student Ambassador and a student council representative. She volunteers outside of school extensively with both Williamson County and Tennessee 4-H programs, leading significant projects that mentor and develop teams. Haylett currently serves as the Tennessee Central Region All-Star Chief, as well as the Tennessee 4-H State Council Senior Representative.

The Junior Girl Scout Troop Leader has also volunteered with South Williamson Association and Special Olympic youth basketball leagues, GraceWorks Ministries, Inc., and Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.

Scholarship applicants must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average to be considered. A copy of the student’s transcript and a 500-word essay are part of the application requirement. The contribution is awarded based on a combination of scholarship application points, community involvement, and quality of essay.


Brentwood Home Page

(Tuesday, June 27, 2017) 

United Way of Williamson County’s board of directors recently announced the recipients of more than $2 million in 2017-2018 program grants from the organization’s Community Care Fund.

The grants ranging from $347,000 to STARS, which serves students in Middle Tennessee with programs addressing violence, substance abuse and other issues; to $5,000 for Gentry’s Education Center at the Storefront, which provides tutoring and enrichment and other education programs.

The grants are the culmination of a months-long allocations process with more than 60 community volunteers serving on Citizens Review Panels. The goal of this process, which includes in-depth vetting of each applicant program’s administration, finances and effectiveness, is to ensure donor resources create the strongest impact on the individuals who comprise Williamson County and on the community as a whole.

“Our Citizens Review Panel volunteers live and/or work in this community, so they see its most pressing needs,” said United Way of Williamson County President and CEO Pam Bryant, in a press release announcing the grants. “These insights are crucial to ensuring Community Care Fund program investments create lasting solutions for our community’s Health, Education and Financial Stability needs.”

This year, volunteers allocated the most funding for Health-related programs at $1,381,911, or 69 percent of the total funds. This investment supports the community’s most vulnerable, providing access to health care, therapies, in-home assistance and supports needed to improve wellbeing and safety.

Education programs received $389,536 – 19 percent of the total fund – to remove barriers to learning and prepare students for successful, independent and productive futures.

Income-related programs help community members build more stable lives through job skills training and additional resources to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. This year, volunteers allocated $242,000, or 12 percent of the total fund, to reduce the burdens of financial need.

With each of these investments, United Way of Williamson County’s Community Care Fund is investing in long-term, sustainable change for the community’s collective well-being. To view the details of this year’s community investments, visit


Leadership Franklin is pleased to announce its class of 2017-18. 

Mike Alexander, Signs First – Franklin
Torrey Barnhill, Friends of Franklin Parks
Allena Bell, The Refuge Center for Counseling
Valencia Breckenridge, GraceWorks Ministries
Joni Cole, Gray’s on Main
Amy Dreiling, Attorney Law Magazine
Nena Graham, Williamson County Government
Chris Henson, Columbia State Community College
Mark Hilty, City of Franklin
Ricki Keckley, GoodWorks Unlimited, LLC
Zannie Martin, Williamson County Juvenile Court
Elizabeth McLaurin, The Land Trust for Tennessee
Sarah Meyerrose, Franklin Financial Network/FranklinSynergy Bank
Kevin Riggs, Franklin Community Church
Cyril Stewart, Cyril Stewart, LLC
Kristine Tallent, City of Franklin
JP Taylor, Franklin Police Department
John Wingo, Stites & Harbison
George Zubulake, Promotions, by George

IN THE NEWS: MAY 3, 2017

Williamson Herald

"Leadership Franklin 2017 group creates neighborhood park on Old Liberty Pike" | (Wednesday, May 3, 2017) | By Cassie Jones

A ribbon-cutting was held this week for a new neighborhood park at 204 Old Liberty Pike in Franklin. Leadership Franklin Class of 2017 members, Williamson Inc., the city of Franklin Parks Department, Aldermen Margaret Martin, 4th Ward, and Alderman at Large Brandy Blanton and community leaders attended the event.

Members of Leadership Franklin’s 2017 class worked with the city of Franklin to create the park in hopes to improve livability in the neighborhood by giving residents a place to sit, talk and enjoy the green space around them.   Franklin Synergy Bank sponsored benches for the park.

After the land was flooded in 2010, it was turned over to the city of Franklin with the thought that the land lying in the floodplain could never be built on.

“We wanted to partner with city parks to create a neighboring park for this area,” said Travis Dumke, one of the project members. “With it being in a floodplain, we had to figure out how to make this work.

“Our group worked with [Parks Director] Lisa Clayton and Brian Walker at the city of Franklin Parks Department to identify the need and to design the park itself.”

The city was looking to identify a usage of the land, and members of Leadership Franklin worked with city staff to design a peaceful space with benches and landscaping for the families nearby to walk to and enjoy.

Group members that participated in this project included Denise Andre, Williamson County General Sessions Court Judge; Travis Dumke, Franklin Synergy Bank; Adam Hicks, Skanska, USA; Tim Stillings, NCR Inc.;and Franklin Special School District school board member Amy Diaz-Barriga, city of Franklin.

“We took the opportunity to utilize this property to bring something good to the community that they could use and enjoy,” said Hicks.

Phase two of the project is set to include picnic tables and additional landscaping and trees that will border the property line.

“Our group could not have completed the project without the help of Blake Shelton Lawncare & Landscaping, who was contracted to complete the park,” Dumke said.


                                                   Valerie Romanko                                                                                                             Madison Ovies

                                                   Valerie Romanko                                                                                                             Madison Ovies

Leadership Franklin recently announced its 2016 scholarship recipients, Madison Ovies and Valerie Romanko, during the organization’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration on April 7.

Madison Ovies is a May 2013 Franklin High School graduate and a current student at West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Madison, a Girl Scout, co-founded her alma mater’s Buddies Club that mentors students with special needs. She has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Franklin Girls Cotillion. Madison is now a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority where she has served in various positions and co-founded the college’s WVWC Buddies program that pairs students with local elementary students.

Valerie Romanko will graduate from Fred J. Page High School in May 2016. Valerie is actively involved in the school’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter, YMCA Model United Nations, and United Way. She is a graduate of Youth Leadership Franklin and has participated in such programs as the Governor’s School for the Scientific Exploration of Tennessee Heritage and Vanderbilt University’s Summer Academy. Valerie plans to attend East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, after graduation. 

High school seniors and current college students who live in Williamson County were encouraged to apply for the scholarship awarded by Leadership Franklin. Scholarships are awarded annually based on a combination of scholarship application points, community involvement, and quality of essay.

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


Leadership Franklin began its twenty-first year on August 29, 2016 and announced Dr. Joseph Willoughby as this year’s recipient of the Caroline J. Cross Award.

Dr. Willoughby moved to Franklin in 1960 after service in the United States Navy. Over the last 55 years, while practicing medicine in Franklin, Willoughby has supported various organizations such as The Heritage Foundation, Carnton Plantation, and the Franklin Noon Rotary Club.

His strong belief in education led him to co-found Harpeth Academy (now Battle Ground Academy Lower Campus) and serve as trustee, board chairman, and benefactor. Willoughby is credited among other physicians who assisted in making Claiborne Hughes Nursing Home and Harpeth Terrace Nursing Home, now Grace Healthcare, a reality.

In 2016, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson proclaimed March 19 on Dr. Joseph “Joe” Willoughby Day.

The Caroline J. Cross Award was established to honor Mrs. Cross (Founding Executive Director) and create an ongoing award that identifies a leader in our community who exemplifies the values and lessons of Leadership Franklin. 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
  • County Mayor Rogers Anderson (Leadership Franklin Alumnus)
  • Julian Bibb III (LFA)
  • Scott Roley (LFA)
  • Janet Keck
  • Alma McLemore (LFA)
  • Rick Warwick
  • Emily Magid
  • Paige Pitts (LFA)


(L-R): Williamson County Mayor and Leadership Franklin Alumnus Rogers Anderson, First Inaugural Youth Leadership Franklin (YLF) Scholarship Recipient Julia Vesly, YLF Board members Tim Ledman and Will Powell.

(L-R): Williamson County Mayor and Leadership Franklin Alumnus Rogers Anderson, First Inaugural Youth Leadership Franklin (YLF) Scholarship Recipient Julia Vesly, YLF Board members Tim Ledman and Will Powell.

Youth Leadership Franklin is pleased to announce the first annual scholarship recipient, Julia Vesly. Julia will enter Tennessee Tech University in the fall of 2016, majoring in Human Ecology — Food, Nutrition and Dietetics.

Board President Diane Giddens stated, “It is exciting to be able to award our first scholarship to Julia for one thousand dollars ($1,000). In applying to the 2014-15 class, she noted her interest to learn about what goes on behind the scenes of a flourishing community. In her application essay, she wrote about her class visit to Williamson Medical, which sparked her interest to volunteer and explore career options. Now serving her community as a volunteer in the Nutrition Department, Julia has chosen to pursue a career as a dietician.”

“In reviewing the scholarship applications, the Board recognized Julia’s Youth Leadership Franklin experience as one which came full circle with the leadership program, established to help future leaders cultivate their leadership skills.”

Youth Leadership Franklin is a non-profit leadership organization founded in 1998 as a class project from the adult Leadership Franklin program and was funded in 2015-16 through sponsorships provided by Williamson Medical Center, Stites & Harbison, Franklin Synergy Bank, First Tennessee Foundation and MTEMC Customers Care Program.



Leadership Franklin is pleased to announce its twenty-first class. Founded in 1996 to develop leaders in Franklin and Williamson County, Leadership Franklin endeavors to provide class members with knowledge, network connections, and resources to bring new ideas to the table for the community.

Each class day is focused on presenting and analyzing a particularly important segment of the city, including area history, government, business, law enforcement, media, education, and quality of life. Class members are grouped, and each group produces a leadership project for the year that is focused on improving some aspect of the community.

The following are the members of the next Leadership Franklin class:

Judge Denise Andre, Williamson County General Sessions Court
Patty Bearden, WAKM, Harpeth True Value
Tony Cassiol, CapStar Bank
Laura Chavarria, Williamson County Animal Center
Amy Diaz-Barriga, City of Franklin
Bryan Doleshel, Williamson, Inc.
Travis Dumke, Franklin Synergy Bank
Lenda Elmlinger, Pinnacle Financial Partners
Drew Freeman, YMCA of Middle Tennessee – Franklin Branch
Kim Hamner, SunTrust Bank|
Adam Hicks, Skanska USA Inc.
Reverend Kenneth Hill, Historic Shorter Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Glenn Johnson, City of Franklin Fire Department
Cassie Jones, Williamson Herald and Southern Exposure Magazine
Wynn Lembright, New Hope Academy
Matt Magallanes, Southern Land Company
Julie Miller, Williamson Medical Center
Ernie Reynolds, Outdoor Classic Structures, LLC
Tim Stillings, NCR, Inc.
Joann Willhite, City of Franklin Police Department