Leadership Franklin Announces 2016 Scholarship Recipients

                                                   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.

Dr. Joseph Willoughby Receives The Coveted Caroline J. Cross Award

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