Nashville’s 10 Most Powerful African Americans 2019

One year ago the Nashville Voice shared with its readers Nashville’s 10 most powerful African Americans. It was our belief then and still is today that leadership in our community is of the highest importance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word power as possession of control, authority, or influence over others.

Leaders rise to power in many different ways. Regardless if it is through election or appointment, for a leader to have power they must be able to accomplish the goals they set forward. When a person is powerful their ideas do not just remain figments of their imagination but become tangible. Power means making one’s vision a reality.

We believe it is time to reexamine who in our community holds the most power. Who can actually get things accomplished throughout Metro Nashville and Davidson County. Some names are the same and there are some new faces. What is of interest is this year our list is split down the middle five men and five women.

We hope this list begins a discussion of who holds power and what does that mean for the rest of the community.  Just as last year the Nashville Voice used the following criteria when considering the selection of our top 10:

CAPACITY: They have the capacity to move the needle or make a change.
RESPONSIBILITY: They use their power to or are responsible for making big decisions to make lasting changes that impact the lives of Nashville residents.
SINGULARITY: If you needed something done, you would call this person. They don’t have to call anyone else to get things done.
RESPECTABILITY: They possess superior character and are deeply respected by their peers in the community.
CONSISTENCY: They have made a career out of using their power and influence for the greater good of the urban community in Nashville.

Decosta Jenkins

Decosta Jenkins was appointed the president and CEO of Nashville Electric Services—one of the 12 largest public electric utilities in the nation, distributing energy to more than 385,000 customers in Middle Tennessee—in September 2004, after 13 years with the company. Prior to that, Jenkins spent 11 years with Deloitte and Touche. Jenkins is a member and past treasurer of the Nashville Downtown Exchange Club and is board chairman of Samaritan Ministries/Project S.E.E. Jenkins serves on the boards of TN Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction, Goodwill Industries, Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Nashville Bank & Trust, YMCA of Middle Tennessee, Salvation Army, American Public Power Association and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

We selected Jenkins at the top of our list not only because of his professional power helming the largest utility company in middle Tennessee, but also his expansive commitment to using his personal influence, energy, resources, and compassion to serve the least of these in our community.

Adrienne Battle

Dr. Adrienne Battle is the first-ever woman to be appointed to superintendent of the Metro Nashville Public School system. Dr. Battle brings more than 20 years of academic leadership to the district.

Most recently, she served the southeast quadrant as one of the district’s four community superintendents. Previously, she served as an executive lead principal for priority and elementary schools, the executive principal at Antioch High School and the academic principal and assistant principal at Glencliff High School.

She held other leadership and teaching positions within Metro Schools for the past 14 years and also served as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Phoenix and Tennessee State University.  She holds master’s, educational specialist, and doctorate degrees from Tennessee State University and a bachelor’s from Missouri State University.

Dr. Glenda Glover, Ph.D., JD, CPA

Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover began serving as President of Tennessee State University on January 2, 2013, one of the largest HBCU’s in the nation. Dr. Glover’s educational development began as a student at Tennessee State University, where she majored in mathematics. After graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree, she pursued a Master of Business Administration at Clark Atlanta University. She then completed her doctorate in business from George Washington University, and later completed her law degree from Georgetown University.

Dr. Glover was formerly the Dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., where she led the College of Business throughout the accreditation process and spearheaded the implementation of the nation’s first Ph.D. in Business at an HBCU. She is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and is one of two African American women to hold the Ph.D.-CPA-JD combination in the nation.

Dr. Glover has been a corporate board member of three publicly traded corporations. These include Citigroup-Student Loan Corporation, Pinnacle Financial Partners and First Guaranty Bancshares. She served as a member or chair of the Audit Committee on each board, or as the board’s financial expert. Dr. Glover is the author of more than one hundred articles and papers and is regarded as one of the nation’s experts on corporate governance. She is a member of several professional, civic, and non-profit organizations, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

Darrell Freeman

Darrell S. Freeman is the founder of Zycron Inc., a company he founded more than 25 years ago and sold last spring to Texas-based IT Staffing for $20 Million. It is also one of the largest information technology companies in Nashville, Tennessee.

Beyond Zycron, Freeman’s other business ventures include being co-owner of Pinnacle Construction Partners and a co-founder of Franklin-based Reliant Bank. Freeman is also the chairman of S3 Asset Management, a technology and medical equipment recycling company in which he owns a 30 percent stake.

He sits on the board of Cross Country Healthcare, an Eight Hundred Million Dollar Healthcare Solutions Company based in Boca Raton, Florida. He is also the Vice Chairman of Middle Tennessee State University and was recently inducted in the Nashville Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.

While chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Freeman changed the culture and the face of the Nashville-Area Chamber of Commerce by bringing people of color to its table of power and championing minority-owned businesses.

Councilmember At-Large Sharon Hurt

Sharon Hurt is currently in her second term as Davidson County Councilmember At-Large. This past election Councilmember Hurt won the second highest vote count for Council At-Large with more than 41,000 votes. She is chair of the Metro Council Minority Caucus as well as the chair of the Health Hospitals and Social Services Committee. She serves as Vice President for the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

Hurt is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a master’s degree in Non-profit leadership from Belmont University. Hurt currently serves as President/CEO of JUMP-Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, an organization dedicated to revitalizing the businesses on Jefferson Street and bringing commerce to the North Nashville Community. She is also the CEO of Street Works one of Tennessee’s leading HIV service organizations.

Ronald Roberts

Ronald Roberts joined DVL Seigenthaler as an assistant account executive after working at The Nashville Network and Middle Tennessee State University. Ronald oversees the day-to-day management of the agency and directs the firm’s short-and-long-range plans. He is certified by the Institute for Crisis Management and has participated in extensive crisis management for clients throughout the country. Ronald has managed corporate and crisis communications, media relations, message strategy and development, event management and executive image management for many of DVL Seigenthaler’s clients. He also leads their media and message training practice group.

Ronald is a member of the Board of Directors for the 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Downtown Rotary Club, the Nashville Sports Council, the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and Citizens Bank & Trust. In addition, he is co-chair of the Mayor’s Council on Gender Equity.

He was honored with inclusion on the Middle Tennessee State University, College of Mass Communication’s Wall of Fame and recognition as a 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee Distinguished Member.

Judge Sheila Calloway

Sheila Calloway serves as Juvenile Judge of Metro Nashville and Davidson County. Judge Calloway, a native of Louisville, KY, came to Nashville, Tennessee in 1987. This year she received the Woman of Distinction Award. In 2018 she was inducted into the Tennessee Justice Center Hall of Fame. In 2017 she received the YMCA Women of Achievement Award.

She received her B.A. degree in Communications in 1991 and her J.D. in 1994 both from Vanderbilt University. After graduating, she worked at the Metro Public  Defender’s Office in both the adult system as well as the juvenile system. In January 2004, she was appointed by Judge Betty Adams Green to the position of Juvenile Court Magistrate. She was elected Juvenile Court Judge in August 2014. She serves as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University Law School, Belmont Law School, and American Baptist College.

Judge Calloway is currently a member of the Napier-Looby Bar Association, the Nashville Bar Association, and the Disproportionate Minority Local Task Force. She also serves on The Pencil Foundation Board and the Homework Hotline Board. She has previously served on the Board of the Nashville Prevention Partnership, the MNPS Academies Partnership Council, where she is a past chair of the Health and Public Services Partnership Council. She is a past chair of the Advisory Board of the Cane Ridge High School Academy of Law, a 2013 member of Leadership Donelson/Hermitage, a member of the 2016 Class of Leadership Nashville and served on the state-wide Advisory Board of Tennessee Voices for Victims. She is the former co-founder and co-director of The Voices of Justice – a choir comprised of Juvenile Court employees and others that work with juveniles. She has also worked with Project Prison Connect – a program designed to educate high school students across Davidson County about the criminal justice system.

Calloway is a member of the Temple Church. At Temple, she is an active member of the Music Ministry, the Women’s Ministry, and a regular volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank. She is happily married to Paul Butler Calloway, Jr. and the proud mother of one son, Paul Calloway, III.

Bishop Joseph Walker

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III, is the Senior Pastor of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana to Deacon Joseph and Mrs. Rosa Walker.

Bishop Walker received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He holds two honorary Doctorates from Meharry Medical College and Southern University, respectively. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Meharry Medical College and Citizens Savings Bank; in October 2016, he was appointed by TN Governor Bill Haslam to serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Tennessee State University. He is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity.

Bishop Walker currently serves as the International Presiding Bishop in the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, International. In July 2013, he was chosen to succeed the founding International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr.

In 1992, at the age of 24, Bishop Walker began his pastorate at Mt. Zion with 175 members. Presently, the ministry has grown to over 30,000 and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate of over 2,000 souls per year. Under his leadership, Mt. Zion has expanded beyond its original location on historic Jefferson Street to eight weekly services in three physical locations and also includes a worldwide virtual church location which ministers to millions around the world, as well as a weekly broadcast on BET that reaches over 25 million viewers worldwide.

Dr. Joseph Webb, D.Sc., MSHA, FACHE

Joseph Webb, D.Sc., MSHA, FACHE is Chief Executive Officer of Nashville General Hospital (NGH) at Meharry, a publicly supported, community-based hospital which serves as the primary teaching hospital of Meharry Medical College. Branded as a Visionary and Transformational leader, Dr. Webb has demonstrated success as both a fiscal and operational change agent.

Dr. Webb obtained his Doctorate of Science in Health Services Administration and his Master of Science in Hospital and Health Services Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama. He also holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degrees in Health and Physical Education from Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Webb joined NGH in January 2015, bringing 30 years of proven expertise in for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare organizations. He most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer for Common Table Health Alliance in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Webb is Board Certified in Healthcare Management and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). He continues his professional development through the national ACHE chapter, active membership in the ACHE of Middle TN Chapter, and the National Association of Health Services Executives.

Brenda Haywood

Former Councilwoman Brenda Haywood served as the chair of the John Cooper for Mayor Campaign. She currently serves as the first female Deputy Mayor of Metro Nashville and Davidson County.

Haywood is a Nashville Native. She is an Associate Minister at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee and formerly served as the Councilwoman of District 3 in Nashville, Tennessee. She has led an esteemed life as a Career Educator and Community Servant. Haywood earned her B.A. degree from Tennessee State University, M.A. from Vanderbilt University and a +45 in Administration and Supervision from Trevecca Nazarene College.

She is a retired teacher and is a Wellness Nutritional Consultant and host of the Treasure chest of wellness with a focus on Mind, Body, Spirit, and Finance, she seeks to help others achieve Spiritual Peace and Prosperity. She is the founder and CEO of the Royal Heirs Youth Academy, which is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower youth and their families through awareness, education, information, mentorship, and community resources.

She is a member of several organizations including Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Nashville Chapter of the NAACP, Top Ladies of Distinction, Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship and Metro School’s Passage Sub Committee. She also serves on the board of Nashville Prevention Partnership and the Homeless Veterans Foundation and graduated from The John Maxwell’s Leadership Institute and the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work Gotham.

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