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.
Rena C. Ellzy
Rena Ellzy is a retired university professor and a graduate of Northern
Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Realtor Institute, a certified residential specialist, and a Million Dollar Life member of the Nashville Greater Association of Realtors.
Ellzy is also an artist who likes to travel; she uses oil paints on canvas to capture her excursions. She has served the Nashville community as a member of the boards of directors for the Hospital Hospitality House, the Nashville Urban League, and the Boiler Room Theatre. She is a founding member and leader in the Parthenon Chapter of Links, Inc.
From 2010 to 2017, Ellzy was co-chair on the organization Room at the Inn for the Forest Hills Baptist Church. She currently volunteers with Hope Lodge and is a member of Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Frist Arts Museum, and the Woman’s Club of Nashville. For her many achievements and contributions to the community, her peers have honored her by naming her to both Who’s Who in the South and Who’s Who in American Women.
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.
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.
Kami Lunsford is the 2020-2021 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. She has been sharing her love of learning and music with students, teachers, and future educators in all three regions of Tennessee for her entire career. As choir director of Karns Middle School, Kami uses music to help students find their place in middle school and promote personal and academic success. She operates before and after school programs, including theatre and advanced ensembles that seek to expose students to disciplines, careers, and opportunities in the arts. Kami credits exceptional, visionary K-12 teachers in her rural, West Tennessee upbringing for her passion to provide opportunities in creativity and leadership that equip students for their future, wherever it takes them. Paying it forward has always been the goal.
Two-time Knox County Schools Middle School Teacher of the Year, Kami consistently answers the call to serve her school and county through leadership and collaboration on improvement initiatives. She actively supports Tennessee teachers as an evaluator and mentor, as well as serving as a facilitator for the Tennessee Arts Academy at Belmont University. Her music ensembles have performed in nine states and extensively in Tennessee, recording at Studio B in Nashville, live at Graceland in Memphis, and alongside performers like Knoxville star, Chris Blue. Many of her students have pursued careers in music, performance, church music, theatre, and education. She counts the privilege of using music and the arts to help kids build a better life as “the best job in the world.”
Flowerree W. McDonough
Flowerree W. McDonough has been named by the National Art Education Association as the Tennessee Art Educator of the Year in 1999, and National Emeritus Art Educator in 2018. The Tennessee Arts Academy Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to her in 2011. The Tennessee Governor’s School named her Tennessee Visual Arts Educator of the Year in 2009 in a ceremony at the Schermerhorn Center in Nashville.
Until her retirement in 2013, Mrs. McDonough served for thirty-two years as chair of the Bearden High School Fine Arts Department in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her tenure, her students garnered numerous scholarships and won Scholastic Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention awards. At Carnegie Hall, she was honored at the National Teacher Recognition ceremony for having several national student winners. After being named a Twenty-first Century Classroom Teacher, the resulting grant funds jump-started her students’ technological understanding of visual production techniques. She was selected as a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and subsequently, participated in the Excellence in Teaching Institute at Ohio Wesleyan and in Florence, Italy.
She served as President of the Tennessee Art Education Association, as well as National Art Education Association’s Southeast Region Secondary Director, and has also chaired state-wide art education conferences. In 2000, she represented the state in several events as State Finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year.
McDonough has served on the ArtsEd Tennessee Development Committee, and for Leadership Knoxville, she has coordinated the art experiences for new class members each year since she became a member in 2003. McDonough has been a frequent clinician and adjudicator at regional and national events.
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.
After a 43 year career in education, Ron Meers retired in 2012 following his 30 year tenure as Director of Bands at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Prior to Riverdale, Meers was Director of Bands at Mt. Pleasant High School in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, for 13 years. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from David Lipscomb University and his Master+30 from Cumberland University. Meers has served as president of various statewide music organizations including the Tennessee Music Education Association (TMEA), the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (MTSBOA), the Tennessee Bandmaster‘s Association, and Phi Beta Mu. Meers has also served in numerous adjudication roles including TMEA Performing Group Audition Chair, All-State/Mid State Audition Chair for the MTSBOA, auditions chair for the Governor’s School for the Arts, and Tennessee All State Band Chair. Throughout his long career he often was asked to be an adjudicator for both marching and concert band events. Meers was selected as Riverdale High School‘s Teacher of the Year for the 2002-2003 school year. On April 7th, 2011 he was inducted into the Tennessee Music Education Association’s Hall of Fame at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. The following year, the Riverdale High School Band Room was renamed the Ronald S. Meers Band Hall in his honor. In the spring of 2019, Ron was inducted into the Tennessee Bandmasters Hall of Fame. Ron recently retired one final time after eight years of service as Executive Director of the Tennessee Music Education Association in June of 2020.
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.
Wayne Qualls has given fifty-one years of devoted service in the field of education to the students and teachers of Tennessee. A former Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Qualls began his career as a public school teacher in 1970. He soon became a principal and eventually the superintendent of Hickman County Schools. He also served for four years as a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Qualls is the founder of Teams, Inc. an educational consulting firm that offers education and management services. He has conducted more than forty superintendent searches for school systems across the state. He is also the executive director of Tennessee School Systems for Equity, a group that represents the interests of rural schools throughout the state.
Jim H. Rieniets, Jr.
Jim Rieniets, Jr. is president and CEO of INSBANK. He has been with the bank since its inception in November of 2000, and served as its chief Lending and Credit officer for six years. He serves on the Bank’s Board of Directors; its management committee; and chairs both the Bank’s Executive Loan Committee and the Asset Liability Committee.
Jim is currently serving as chairman of the Government Relations Council of the American Bankers Association, as well as a member of its board of directors. He is also on the board of the Tennessee Bankers Association, and previously chaired both its Government Relations Committee and Credit Committee.
Within the community he is on the board of directors of Affordable Housing Resources; is a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville; serves on the finance committee for University School of Nashville; is an advisory board member of the technology non-profit GeekCause; and serves as vice-chairman on the board of directors of the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission. For more than twenty years Jim has been a member of the fundraising team for the FedEx St. Jude Classic and World Golf Championships FedEx St. Jude Invitational. In 2015 he was recognized by the Nashville Business Journal as an honoree in their Most Admired CEOs Awards.
Prior to INSBANK, Jim worked for National Commerce Bancorp in Memphis, where he held positions as Division Head of Correspondent Banking, Business Banking Department Manager, Commercial Loan Officer, Credit Analyst, and Branch Manager. During his eight-year tenure with National Commerce Bancorp Jim served for four years as a senior loan committee member. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University in 1991 and earned an MBA at the University of Memphis with a concentration in Finance in 1998. Jim and his wife, Susie, reside in the Forest Hills community of Nashville with their three children.
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.
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.