ABOVE: Dave Kumatz, Leadership Brentwood class of ’18, Lynn Tucker ’03, Sheila Cleveland, ’16, Betsy Crossley, ’05, Robbie Hayes ’17, and Tom Tunnicliffe,’18.
By DEB ENRIGHT
“… anyone can start serving any time because while you are looking
for some way to serve, there are people and organizations out there
looking for you, they just don’t know YOU yet.” – Brentwood City
Commissioner and former Mayor Betsy Crossley
We have a wealth of citizens from all walks of life and ages with remarkable talents to pour into this
community, but, if you are new to town, transitioning to an empty nester from a stay at home parent, or from the corporate world to staying at home to raise your children or care for a parent, or in a career transition, or recently retired, how do you begin to create your “What’s Next?”
How can you offer these talents to impact the work of an organization serving our community? Where do you go to find out how to give back to our community with your expertise, experience, and sweat equity?
We all have friends, maybe even you, who are asking these questions, so I decided to talk with folks deeply involved in serving our community, some of my fellow alums in the Leadership Brentwood program, which is accepting applications for the next class through June 1.
Since 1991, 450 citizens with a tie to Brentwood (you do NOT have to be a resident to participate) have experienced the Leadership Brentwood program, the non-profit arm of Williamson, Inc. Chamber of Commerce in Cool Springs, www.leadershipbrentwood.com.
Leadership Brentwood exists to bring together citizens to grow their leadership abilities while learning about Brentwood and the larger community of Williamson County over a 9-month span to provoke actions of service that will positively impact the community of Brentwood and the larger county.
The website describes the program in these terms:
to “enhance [the participants] leadership abilities through exposure to and understanding of all aspects of the Brentwood community to foster an attitude of increased participation and commitment within the community” and use “their leadership knowledge, skills, and abilities for the long-term benefit of the Brentwood community”.
Matt Largen, President and CEO of Williamson, Inc. sees the program as integral to the success of this County:
“As a community leadership organization, I know it is vitally important we continue to develop strong, selfless, passionate, courageous leaders to continue to move our community forward. Williamson County is blessed with our current leadership in the public and private sector. We host communities on a regular basis that study what makes Williamson County such a great place for business and families.
“Every single time they visit, they all leave with the same critical take-away: our leaders work together and respect each other and respect the roles we all play in making this a great community. I believe leadership program graduates, regardless of political affiliation, make the best elected leaders because every person who completes the program develops an understanding of how, for example, public safety connects to economic development or housing connects to transportation and that education is foundational to our community. We need to continue to develop and recruit public servants who will work tirelessly to make Williamson County a stronger and better place for the next generation of residents. We need to find and cultivate leaders who will put service above self and will give back to Williamson County. Leadership matters, and the only way Williamson County continues to enjoy success is by making sure we have great leaders.”
The program days provide participants with a complete dashboard of Brentwood and Williamson County today through the lenses of history, education, business, economic development, media/entertainment, government, quality of life, and an overview of the entire County with a newly added Williamson County Day. Created by Leadership Brentwood alums, each program day takes one of the above categories diving deep into the experience with onsite visits, panel discussions, and group work. Samples of the program day agendas can be found on the Leadership Brentwood website:
And the Chamber believes in cultivating leadership skills and a call to serve through their successful
Youth Leadership Brentwood programs for high school students living in Brentwood:
Leadership Brentwood graduates have had an impact on this community. Group projects created within each Leadership Brentwood class yielded many notable additions to our community including:
- Fifty Forward Martin Center Concept: http://www.themartincentertn.org
- Eddy Arnold Amphitheater: http://www.brentwoodtn.gov/departments/parks-recreation/parks-trails-greenways/crockett-park/eddy-arnold-amphitheater
- Public Safety Memorial Garden: Designed and constructed a Public Safety Memorial Garden at Brentwood City Hall to honor the memory of those who have sacrificed to keep us safe, and those who continue this sacrifice.
- Citizen’s Fire Academy: http://www.brentwoodtn.gov/departments/fire-and-rescue/prevention-education/citizens-fire-academy
- The launch of the first Brentwood Chamber of Commerce website
So, assembling some Leadership Brentwood participants together to talk about getting involved in
serving our community seemed a natural thing to do, plus everyone has a lot of fun during the program and it is fun to share those lighthearted stories with each other.
We gathered at the Williamson Inc. offices early one morning.
Those joining in the conversation were:
● Dave Kumatz ’18, a 25-year Brentwood resident serving as counsel at American General Life.
● Lynn Tucker ’03 is the Director of the Williamson Inc. Foundation – non-profit arm of Williamson,
Inc. She has led the Leadership programs since 2005 and is a 22 years resident of Brentwood.
● Sheila Cleveland ’16 is the current Williamson County School Board Member from District 7. She has lived in the community for 18 years.
● Betsy Crossley ‘05 a full-time volunteer and City Commissioner and former Brentwood Mayor has
called Brentwood home for 20 years.
● Robbie Hayes ’17 has lived in Brentwood for 10 years working as an environmental and
transportation planner for WSP USA.
● Tom Tunnicliffe ’18, a 14-year resident working as an account manager at Data Blue, running for
elected office for the first time.
We started by talking about their favorite program day while in the program. Both the History and the Education Days garnered the most votes for favorite. Many simply said that they had no idea about Brentwood’s history or all the educational options from preschool through college available to families.
Quality of Life Day also got high marks for exposing these leaders to the many organizations working to make like better for all including these two sites:
- Inman Deaf Chapel http://brentwoodbaptist.com/ministries/deaf/
- Graceworks https://graceworksministries.net/
Government Day rated high because many were unfamiliar with how Brentwood’s and the County’s
governments are structured and enjoyed meeting with elected officials to learn.
The brand new program day – Williamson County Day – provided an overview of public and private resources in Williamson County outside of Brentwood City limits including stops at Golf House of TN, TN Equine Hospital, Mars Innovation Center, Puckett’s Boathouse, Carnton Plantation/McGavock Cemetery, Williamson County Emergency Response Center, Williamson County Jail, Musical Instrument Reclamation Center, and Williamson Medical Center was singled out as rounding out the program’s reach.
For Betsy Crossley, the Opening Retreat was her favorite day:
“ I had an established circle of friends and colleagues through my volunteer interests, but the opening retreat introduced me to wonderful new friends who I would have had no contact with were it not for Leadership Brentwood”
“The experience broadened my circle to include new folks from business, education, and the government in particular that I would not have met otherwise and now many of them are close friends and we have worked together for the good of the community.”
And then we coined it: The Leadership Brentwood experience creates a ripple effect for every
participant with a heightened call to service, new friendships, and raised awareness to new
opportunities to serve Brentwood and Williamson County growing out of the program.
For example, out of the 20-member Brentwood Green Space Committee, nine are Leadership
Brentwood alumni. proving that this leadership network builds relationships that foster common interests in service. Also, 6 of the 10 members City of Brentwood Tree Board are Leadership Brentwood alumni.
It also expands your sphere of influence according to Tom Tunnicliffe:
“No one in my class is involved in the service work that I do. Everyone is doing something totally different from me, so I learned a lot about what else is out there for me to get involved with and my classmates learned about the work that I was doing. It was a win-win for all involved. Stories of impact were always a part of our program day conversations.”
That new awareness caused Sheila Cleveland to go outside of her comfort zone and run for office.
Sheila knew it was time in her life to give back, “It was the best decision ever to run for office even though I had never, ever considered doing something like this when I was raising our children.”
They all agreed that in serving the community they were simply honoring the work of those who had
come before leaving things better, stronger than when they had found it.
Lynn Tucker, the director of the program since 2005, believes the program encourages you to take risks to serve in places you never thought you would. For instance, Lynn has served as the Brentwood Morning Rotary Treasurer these past 12 years.
“I had never held such a position. I’ve learned so much and asked other leaders for help when I’ve needed it.”
Dave said he learned so much from the program even though he has lived here in Brentwood for 25 years:
“Honestly, you can get overwhelmed while going through the program, but after every one of the sessions, I was telling friends what I had learned to share information and lifting up new opportunities to serve. For instance, the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home http://www.tennesseechildren.org/. I’ve passed that for years and never knew anything about it. During our visit there, I spoke with kids and their parents and it touched my heart. I realize now that I could have gone by myself and asked to learn about the organization without the benefit of a community program. These organizations that do so much good in our community are very happy to tell their story to anyone who is interested or has even an inkling to help.”
That Ripple Effect at work
Robbie found that he connected to opportunities to serve through conversations with his Leadership
Brentwood classmates. In fact, he is now on the Tree Board because of talking with Dave about their
“Once Dave knew about my work life, the invitation to serve on Tree Board brought my community
interest together with my profession and that provided instant balance for me. In time, I may move my interests to the school system or another part of the community as our children grow older and their interests.”
Ultimately, Tom says, your volunteering gives back to you.
“I’ve been serving since I was a Scout and service has always made me better: taught me knew skills and raised my awareness of needs in my community.”
Is Leadership Brentwood the only way to get involved?
“Absolutely not!” says Sheila. “Go find out what’s available in the community. Throw things up on the
wall and see what sticks. Observe organizations, learn about them, and see what impact your talents might have on them. As I serve these days, I’ve learned about myself as well as all the wonderful places open to volunteers in our community. I will look into other organizations in the future to see if there is a fit to help.”
Time was up, these leaders had to get their days going. So, we ended with questions about where to look, who to talk to, when to start just taking that first step to serving.
They listed Meetup.com, Next Door, and the web as ways to begin to see what’s out there. They also
suggested taking a friend out for coffee and asking them about their community service story.
“Hands down,” our former Mayor Betsy Crossley began, “Leadership Brentwood is a unique and powerful way to become involved in our great community and I encourage everyone to look into the program and consider applying. But I want to be clear that anyone can start serving any time because while you are looking for some way to serve, there are people and organizations out there looking for you, they just don’t know you yet.”
Yes, they are all waiting for us to reach out to help, have an impact, and fill our lives by simply asking, “how can I help?”
Leadership Brentwood is accepting applications for the 2018-2019 class through 5 p.m. on June 1, 2018. If you are the least bit curious, please join us at our introductory mixer, April 17 to learn more and speak with alums about their Leadership Brentwood experiences.
For more information about the program and the mixer, please contact Lynn Tucker Lynn@WilliamsonChamber.com.
Leadership Brentwood Informational Mixer
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Williamson, Inc. Chamber of Commerce
5005 Meridian Blvd. Suite 150
Franklin, TN 37067
Deb Enright, Ed.D. (Leadership Brentwood Class of 2012) LOVES helping folks find ways to lend their talents to organizations lifting those in need in our community or help them create one that uniquely serves Williamson County and Middle Tennessee. email@example.com.