FirstBank's Ayers receives 2019 Horatio Alger Award

Friday, May 24, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 21


FirstBank Executive Chairman of the Board Jim Ayers was formally inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans during recent ceremonies honoring the achievements of 13 prominent Americans.

Ayers joined 12 other business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving the 2019 honors during a three-day event in Washington. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable endeavors throughout their lives.

Through its members, the Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities.

Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $159 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.

Three promoted to c-suite posts at Cumberland Trust

Cumberland Trust, a Nashville-based independent corporate trust company, has promoted three of its executive team members to c-suite roles:

• C. Runcie Clements IV to chief legal officer & general counsel

• Michelle R. Diamond to chief development officer & executive director of regional markets

• Jennifer Karrels Menzie to chief operating officer & corporate counsel


With new titles, the c-suite members have enhanced responsibilities. Clements, who leads the company’s legal and compliance team, will continue his overall advisement and work hand in hand with the rest of the executive team on smart, strategic growth. Diamond will seek to grow Cumberland Trust’s national footprint and establish new regional offices as well as continue to oversee the existing regional offices. In addition to leading corporate and administration teams, Menzie will identify efficiencies within the company, refining company structure and will travel to establish new growth markets and initiatives.

Clements previously served as executive vice president and general counsel at Cumberland Trust, heading up the legal and compliance department. Before joining Cumberland Trust, Clements was the charitable giving counsel for the American Cancer Society, where he advised nationwide staff on legal and tax issues in the areas of planned giving, outright gifts and other charitable giving arrangements.

He is a graduate of Baylor University with a B.B.A. in accounting. He earned his J.D. from Vanderbilt University.


Diamond previously served as executive vice president and director of business development & regional offices at Cumberland Trust. As the company grew, Diamond developed the blueprint for expansion into regional markets and she worked to open the nine regional offices. Before joining Cumberland Trust, she was a trust officer at First Tennessee.

Diamond holds a B.A. in business administration from Hanover College. She was awarded the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor Designation and is a graduate of Cannon Trust School through Cannon Financial Institute.


Menzie previously served as executive vice president, director of strategic planning and assistant general counsel of Cumberland Trust. She led and managed the external and internal strategic initiatives for Cumberland Trust and oversees Cumberland’s long-range planning goals. She previously served as vice president at Thompson & Associates, working in the area of charitable estate planning.

She holds a degree in business administration from Auburn University, a J.D. from Vanderbilt School of Law and a master’s in taxation from the University of Florida School of Law. She is a Fellow in Charitable Estate Planning from the Institute of Charitable Estate Planning.

Roberson joins Taylor, Pigue, Marchetti and Blair


Rachel Roberson has joined Taylor, Pigue, Marchetti and Blair PLLC (tpmbLAW) as an associate.

Roberson earned her J.D. from Belmont University College of Law, where she was the managing editor for the Health Law Journal, selected as a member of the Health Law Transactional Moot Court Competition Team and served as president of the American Constitution Society.

During law school, Roberson worked as a research assistant for professor Lynn Zehrt, reviewing employment discrimination trends on both a state and federal level. She externed at the Tennessee Justice Center and also completed several field placements with the 21st Judicial District of Tennessee and Honorable Senior Judge Nixon with the Middle District Court of Tennessee. She earned Best Performance Awards for Legal Information and Communications I and Employment Discrimination.

A West Tennessee native, Roberson attended the University of Tennessee at Martin, earning a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry. After moving to Nashville and before law school, she managed regulatory affairs, reviewed data analytics and drafted journal manuscripts for clinical studies at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute and Sarah Cannon Research Development Innovations.

Denneny named TMA president


The Tennessee Medical Association has named Elise C. Denneny, M.D., FACS, as president.

She will serve a one-year term as the public representative for the nonprofit advocacy organization’s 9,500 physician members, and will hold a seat on the TMA board of trustees.

She is the 165th physician elected to serve in TMA’s top role and the third female president in the association’s long history.

Denneny is an otolaryngologist with Greater Knoxville Ear Nose and Throat in Knoxville, where she has practiced for more than 30 years. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, her medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and residency at the University of Illinois, where she served as chief resident for two years before completing head and neck reconstructive surgery fellowship at the University of Michigan.

A member of American Academy of Otolaryngology, she is board certified in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery.

Denneny has been a TMA member since 1988 and has served in numerous leadership positions including the board of trustees and for the past year as president-elect.

Schools to replace Tucker as CapStar president, CEO


Claire W. Tucker is stepping aside as president and CEO of CapStar Financial Holdings, Inc. and will be succeeded by Timothy K. Schools.

Schools will be president and CEO of the bank and president of the company, while Tucker will continue as CEO of the Company. On July 31, Schools will succeed Tucker as CEO of the Company. Tucker will then serve as founding president and chief executive officer emerita until May 31, 2021.

Schools has held positions of increasing responsibility with leading Southeastern banks, including National Commerce Financial Corporation in Memphis and SouthTrust Corporation in Birmingham. Previously, he served as president of American Savings Bank, Hawaii’s third largest financial institution, where he led it to become one of the nation’s highest performing and employee-engaged banks.

Most recently, Schools was president and CEO of Highlands Bancshares, Inc. in Abingdon, Virginia. Schools is a graduate of James Madison University and holds an MBA from Emory University.

Southern Land hires homebuilding president


Southern Land Company, a national real estate developer of mixed-use developments and master planned communities, has hired David Bracht as president of homebuilding and acquisitions.

Bracht has been appointed to lead the company’s efforts to use best practices from its award-winning Westhaven community in Franklin to plan and execute new master planned communities across the United States.

Bracht is a 28-year veteran of the homebuilding industry with 20 years in the Denver market and the remaining eight years in Michigan, Phoenix, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and Philadelphia. Before joining Southern Land, he was the Denver division president and land company president for Oakwood Homes, overseeing all land acquisition, entitlement and development activities for the entire company, as well as all aspects of the Denver division’s operations.

Before Oakwood, he was the Midwest regional president for the Drees Company in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

Bracht holds an accounting degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and is a certified public accountant.

Parks adds director of agent development


Parks has hired Kristy King as the director of agent development. She will focus on mentoring and training, as well as recruitment for offices in Nashville, Williamson and Wilson markets.

King has worked in real estate for seven years and spent the past four years mentoring more 100 agents from all experience levels.

Orr joins Catholic Charities as executive director


Judy Orr has been named executive director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee and will oversee the entire operation of the social services agency, the social services arm of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville.

Before joining Catholic Charities, Orr served as vice president/mission-based services for Alive Hospice in Nashville and as assistant vice chancellor for creative services for Vanderbilt University. She worked at Ingram Book Company for 10 years before moving to Vanderbilt.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee, established in 1962, served early 12,000 unduplicated clients last year through approximately 70,000+ service connections. Operating on behalf of the Diocese of Nashville, major areas of community involvement include refugee & immigrant services, adoptions & parental support, counseling, senior services, education & job training, and basic needs (including feeding, housing and clothing assistance).