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VOL. 42 | NO. 33 | Friday, August 17, 2018

Blackburn unanimously elected presiding judge

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Davidson County General Sessions judges have unanimously elected Judge Melissa Blackburn to serve as presiding judge through Sept. 2019.

Blackburn has been serving as presiding judge since Dec. 2017 when Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton was elevated to the 20th District Criminal Court by Gov. Bill Haslam. She was elected to serve as judge of the Division II General Sessions Court in 2014.

A Nashville native, Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School, Lipscomb University and the Nashville School of Law.

Blackburn also serves as presiding judge of the Mental Health and Veterans Courts. She works through the court program to provide assistance to the mentally challenged and works with Nashville’s veterans who have encountered legal difficulties resulting from trauma suffered in the service.

Legal Aid Society appoints board president


Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, the state’s largest nonprofit law firm, has appointed Charles K. Grant as its new board president.

Grant succeeds Robert “Bob” Martineau Jr., who had served as president since 2016. Grant previously served as first vice president of the board, and his term as president will last through 2020.

A graduate of The Citadel and Washington & Lee School of Law, Grant is a shareholder at Baker, Donelson, and a member of its board of directors. His practice focuses on complex employment litigation, including FLSA collective actions, general business litigation and representation of licensed professionals before licensing boards. Grant has tried more than 50 jury trials to verdict in federal and state courts and represented clients in mediation and arbitration proceedings.

Grant is a past president of the Nashville Bar Association and has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Napier-Looby Bar Foundation’s Trailblazer and A.A. Birch Outstanding Public Service awards, the Nashville Bar Association’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award, the Tennessee Bar Association’s Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Award and the ACLU of Tennessee’s Bruce Kramer Cooperating Attorney Award.

Grant has been listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers every year since 2006 in the area of Employment Litigation Defense, and in The Best Lawyers In America in the areas of Employment Law - Litigation and Employment Law - Management every year since 2014.

Frost Brown Todd hires for business litigation


Joshua R. Denton has joined Frost Brown Todd’s Nashville office as a member of the Business Litigation Practice Group.

He adds to the group nearly two decades of experience counseling clients in a variety of complex commercial matters and litigating business and real estate disputes. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Denton earned his J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he served as an associate editor of the Kentucky Law Journal. He also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky.

Bar Leadership Forum selects 2019 class members

The Nashville Bar Foundation has chosen 25 local attorneys for the 2019 Leadership Forum program.

The nine-month professional development program begins Sept. 27 and will meet monthly through next May. Graduation will take place May 3, the same day the Nashville Bar Association celebrates the American Bar Association’s annual Law Day event.

The program is kicking off its fifth year and is intended for lawyers with three to eight years of experience, encourages diversity in the practice of law and will aid in building relationships among attorneys with diverse backgrounds and practices.

2019 Class Participants

  • Katie Atkins, naviHealth, Inc.
  • Jaz Boon, Waller
  • Meredith Bowen, TN Attorney General’s Office
  • Kelly Donley Desseyn, Eventbrite, Inc.
  • Adam Dietrich, Frost Brown Todd
  • Flynne Dowdy, GSRM Law
  • Colin Ferguson, Dickinson Wright
  • Mollie Gass, Rudy Winstead Turner
  • Shellie Handelsman, Shuttleworth Williams
  • Laura Heiman, Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein
  • Callie Hinson, Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan
  • Joseph Hubbard, Kay Griffin
  • Caroline Hudson, Law Offices of John Day
  • Dave Kieley, Metro Public Defender’s Office
  • April Knox, Asurion
  • Mark Lenihan, Sims|Funk
  • Casey Miller, Bradley
  • Amy Mohan, Sherrard Roe Voigt Harbison
  • Quan Poole, Metro Legal
  • Byron Pugh, District Attorney General’s Office
  • William Scales, Lewis Thomason
  • Marie Scott, Neal & Harwell
  • Deadrick Thaxton, Best American Hospitality Corp.
  • Joshua Thomas, Legal Aid Society
  • David Watkins, TN Office of Post-Conviction Defender

NCVC adds 4 to board of directors

Four new members have joined the board of directors of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp:

  • Charles Robert Bone, president and CEO of Bone McAllester Norton
  • Kevin Green, COO of Chartwell Hospitality
  • Ellen Pryor, director of communications at the Frist Art Museum
  • Marcus Whitney, president and co-founder of Briovation, a healthcare innovation company.

Additionally, Ronnie Smith, head of Corporate Bank, Regions Bank, will serve as chair of the NCVC board of directors for fiscal year 2018-2019. Robert Fisher, president of Belmont University, will serve as chair-elect. Beth Seigenthaler Courtney serves as immediate past chair.

Green, Pryor and Whitney will join existing NCVC board members for FY 2018-2019:

  • Shannon Bowles, general manager, Nashville Airport Marriott
  • Patrick Chaffin, Senior VP of asset management, Ryman Hospitality Properties
  • Maneet Chauhan, executive chef and partner, Morph Hospitality Group
  • Jana Davis, Integrit Consulting
  • John Esposito, chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group
  • Max Goldberg, managing partner, Strategic Hospitality
  • Ed Hardy
  • Ken Levitan, co-president, Vector Management
  • Kimberly Lewis, owner, Emerson Grace
  • Joelle Phillips, president, AT&T Tennessee
  • Dan Piotrowski, area managing director, Omni Nashville Hotel
  • Brian Tibbs, partner, Moody Nolan.

Bone will join as legal counsel with other ex officio members, including Butch Spyridon, NCVC; Howard Kittell, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, who serves as chair of the Metro Tourism and Convention Commission; and Sarah Trahern, CMA.

The 22-member volunteer board are community and business leaders who represent diverse voices in the Nashville area. Elected for staggered terms, the board is charged with directing the organization’s work on behalf of the city, the members of the NCVC and the city’s vibrant hospitality industry.

American Heart Association announces 2018-19 board


Middle Tennessee is home to three members of the newly announced American Heart Association’s Greater Southeast Affiliate Board of Directors for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Local directors include: David Dill, president and COO of LifePoint Health; Dr. Kiersten Espaillat, DNP, APN, stroke coordinator, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Mr. Keith Wolken, chairman and chief executive officer of SMS Holdings Corporation.


Dill has been involved with the American Heart Association since 2013, serving on the local board since 2014 and as board President for two years. Additionally, he and his wife, Ashley, co-chaired the 2016 Middle Tennessee Heart Gala.


Espaillat earned her undergraduate and master’s in nursing from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate in nursing from University of Tennessee Health Science Center. For the past six years, she has worked in research, quality monitoring and education for stroke care.

Wolken has been chairman and CEO of SMS Holdings Corp. since November 2004. He has served on the board of the American Heart Association since 2005 and is a past chairman.

The Greater Southeast Affiliate serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Board members will assist the organization in achieving its 2020 impact goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Perkins named to post with TN College System


Cris Perkins has been appointed assistant vice chancellor for strategic advancement at the College System of Tennessee, assuming responsibility for system-level development, advancement and fundraising to bolster its Student Success and Workforce Development mission.

Perkins’ work also will support the development activities at the College System’s 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Perkins reports to Kimberly McCormick, vice chancellor for external affairs, and assists in leading the system’s outward-facing activities as a senior leader in the Office of External Affairs.

He will be developing strategic relationships with community partners, crafting and leading the development of capital campaigns, helping develop corporate and public relations strategic plans, and building general partnerships that benefit the system. He is also assisting the vice chancellor in the creation and development of a systemwide annual conference and awards ceremony to recognize outstanding students and faculty, planned for launch next March.

Perkins holds a degree in journalism from Nicholls State University in Louisiana.

Skanska promotes Hackney to market strategy director


Skanska USA recently announced the promotion of Sveta Hackney to market strategy director for its Centers of Excellence.

Hackney, who formerly served as market strategy solutions manager, oversees internal and external brand initiatives for all Skanska COEs including sector-specific key messaging and marketing material development. She assists with the management of strategic national accounts, including account analysis research. She also designs and develops marketing collateral and presentations and manages and executes Skanska’s internal annual COE conferences.

Hackney joined Skanska in 2008 as an outreach and events manager. She has more than 10 years of industry experience and extensive experience working in marketing and digital advertising. She earned her degree in marketing from Western Kentucky University.

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