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VOL. 43 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 17, 2019

Baker Donelson makes Douse a shareholder

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Baker Donelson has elected 11 new shareholders across the firm, including Chris Douse in the Nashville office.

Douse is a member of the firm’s Corporate Finance & Securities Group, where he focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, public and private equity and debt offerings, corporate governance, commercial finance and other general business law matters.

A graduate of Tulane University Law School, Douse has been recognized as a “Rising Star” in Mid-South Super Lawyers since 2017 in the area of Securities & Corporate Finance. He helps coordinate a monthly pro bono clinic known as the H.E.L.P. Clinic (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) in conjunction with the Room In The Inn homeless shelter and other local area law firms.

Pro bono director leaving Legal Aid Society


Lucinda Smith, director of the firmwide Volunteer Lawyers Program for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, is leaving the firm after 16 years.

Andrae P. Crismon Sr., managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office, has been promoted to take over Smith’s role.

Smith has led Legal Aid Society’s pro bono work since joining the firm in 2003. She initiated the firmwide Volunteer Lawyers Program in 2014, helping to expand pro bono support from two to 48 counties in Middle Tennessee by developing and strengthening partnerships with law firms in Nashville. In this position, she created partnerships with law firms and lawyers that provided volunteer lawyer resources to represent up to 2,500 clients annually.

Smith joined in 2003 as the first attorney director of the Nashville Pro Bono Program Inc., a position she served in until 2013. In 2008, she also took on the role of managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office, serving in that role until 2011.

Smith previously was an attorney with Dodson, Parker, Behm & Caparella, 1991-2003. She also served as an adjunct family law professor at Vanderbilt School of Law 2007-2010. She earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law and her B.A. from Southern Methodist University.


Crismon has served as managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office since 2011. During that time, he restarted and managed a student internship program with MTSU’s School of Social Work, allowing the office to better serve its Rutherford and Cannon County service area.

He joined Legal Aid Society in 2007 as an attorney. During his time working at the firm, Crismon has helped hundreds of families maintain their homes through his housing work, saved his clients over $100,000 through his tax advocacy and helped many deserving clients gain SSI benefits.

Crismon previously was a contract attorney in the law offices of J. Houston Gordon in Murfreesboro. He earned his JD from Vanderbilt Law School in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 2000.

Osborne appointed to emerging leaders council


Attorney Eric G. Osborne, counsel at Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, has been appointed to the newly created Emerging Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation.

The LSC Emerging Leaders Council will bring together young leaders from across the country with the goals of increasing public awareness of the crisis in civil legal aid and the importance of providing equal access to justice to all low-income Americans.

The LSC is a federally created, bipartisan nonprofit that provides financial support to civil legal aid organizations nationwide.

At Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, Osborne focuses his practice on the firm’s Antitrust and Cost Recovery practices.

Osborne earned his J.D. at Stanford Law School in 2010, where he served as chair of the graduate student council. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a master of divinity, and earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College. Osborne serves on the boards of the Presbyterian Foundation and the Medical Benevolence Foundation.

McPeak leaving TDCI; Lawrence named interim


Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak is leaving state government to pursue career opportunities in the private sector. Her last day as commissioner will be June 14.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has named TDCI Deputy Commissioner Carter Lawrence to serve as the Department’s interim commissioner until a permanent commissioner is selected.

McPeak, who was appointed commissioner by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011, is the immediate past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Insurance, McPeak is the first woman to serve as chief insurance regulator in more than one state.

Lawrence previously served as TDCI’s deputy commissioner overseeing the department’s administration as and Division of Regulatory Boards. An attorney, Lawrence, also holds an MBA.

TDEC hires Bryson for Parks & Conservation


The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has hired Jim Bryson as deputy commissioner of Parks and Conservation at TDEC.

Bryson is founder and president of 20/20 Research Inc., a market research consulting, project management and technology firm based in Nashville.

Elected in 2002, Bryson served four years as a senator in the Tennessee General Assembly, representing Williamson and Davidson counties, and was the GOP nominee for governor in 2006 opposite Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Bryson is founder and president of The Joseph School, providing a globally competitive education for poor and orphaned children in Haiti. He was a founding board member of the Marketing Research Education Foundation, focused on improving global childhood education.

He earned a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University after graduating from Baylor University.

Robinson to lead VU inclusive excellence office


William H. Robinson, associate dean for academic success at the School of Engineering, will lead the Office for Inclusive Excellence as interim vice provost for strategic initiatives.

Robinson takes on this new role following the departure of Melissa Thomas-Hunt, who has accepted a position with the executive team at Airbnb in San Francisco as their head of global diversity and belonging.

Robinson also served on the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community, and was the recipient of a Chancellor’s Award for Research on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in 2016 for his work to broaden minorities’ participation in engineering that has significantly informed the understanding of factors that often discourage black scholars from pursuing academic careers.

Robinson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, leads the Security and Fault Tolerance Research Group at Vanderbilt, which has a mission to design, model, verify and implement robust computing systems that positively benefit stakeholders with consumer, defense, industrial and medical applications. He also co-leads the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative, which investigates the institutional, technical, social and cultural factors that affect the decision-making, career choices and career satisfaction for doctoral students.


Thomas-Hunt will serve on Airbnb’s executive team and lead the strategy and execution of global internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs for Airbnb’s 5,000 employees around the world.

Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt served as global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she was focused on ensuring that the student community was seen, heard, valued and supported.

Thomas-Hunt held full, associate and assistant professorial roles for more than 20 years at schools such as Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, Cornell University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Watts honored with Cable’s Champion Award


Beverly Watts, executive director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, has been awarded the inaugural Champion Award, recognizing her lifetime of work as a champion of inclusion.

Watts has more than 30 years of experience in civil rights enforcement and education in the public and private sectors. A graduate of Tennessee State University, she was one of the first Title IX coordinators in the U.S. at the Office for Civil Rights.

The honor was part of Cable’s Power of Inclusion Awards, presented by HCA, which recognizes Nashville individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that champion all types of diversity and demonstrate innovative methods to enhance diversity and inclusion.

Nominees were evaluated and selected by Cable’s panel of experts on diversity best practices. Awards criteria reflect high standards for a diverse workplace, covering hiring practices, efforts to advocate for diversity in the Nashville community, and demonstrable achievement resolving inequalities between different segments of the workforce.

This year’s awards are presented to:

Individual: Dr. Arie Nettles, founder and director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Office of Inclusion and Health Equity. She is also an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and a psychologist for school-age children to young adults with developmental disabilities and autism in the VUMC Division of Developmental Medicine.

Business: Culture Shift Team, a consulting agency that has a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Culture Shift Team has been the driving force of campaigns such as nMotion and Transit For Nashville. It also teaches classes regarding diversity, recruiting a diverse board, and highlighting implicit bias and how that arises in the workplace.

Not-for-Profit: Nashville State Community College Foundation, an organization that has helped make the dream of attending and graduating from college a reality for thousands of first-generation and nontraditional students.

Whether students’ post-community college goals are immediate entry into the workforce or pursuit of a four-year degree, the NSCC Foundation works to remove financial barriers that prevent students from completing their courses of study.

Watts has served for more than 12 years as the executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and in numerous other leadership positions in Illinois and Kentucky, including special adviser to the chair at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission responsible for state and local relations and the first executive director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy, and in 2005 was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

The Nashville native was appointed the executive director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission in 2007.

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