Meet the 2017-2018 JLN Leadership!

Nahed Zehr, Secretary

Hometown: I was born in Israel and have lived all over the United States. Home is where my husband and daughters are.

Occupation: I was a professor for 5 years and am now the executive director of a local non-profit which focuses on interfaith and community building work: Faith & Culture Center.

School Spirit: I’m always good to root for the hometown team.

Why Nashville? My husband and I moved here for jobs 5 and a half years ago, but now call Nashville home.

Preferred Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat

When did you become a member of JLN? My first year out of graduate school when I had a post-doc in Newport Rhode Island.

Favorite Placement: I’ve learned something useful in every placement. I don’t have a favorite though I’ve definitely enjoyed being on the governing board this year.

Favorite Places in Nashville: The Frist and the downtown public library

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I know Krystal will be very disappointed but I don’t watch HGTV :). Too classy for my taste in television.

Why did you take on your current role? I was excited to be a part of the strategic vision of JLN, and to be a part of a small cohort of women who I hope to get to know well through a shared commitment to the JLN’s mission. More specifically, our mission of training women to be catalysts of change in our community, and our focus on the needs and issues of women and children.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? When thinking about your placement, let yourself, at times, get out of your comfort zone. I’ve taken the basic approach of saying yes to wherever I’m asked to serve (where I’m needed) and it has led to skills and relationships I did not have before. There is a lot of support available, so the JLN is a great opportunity to learn and grow while giving back, all while meeting some outstanding women – take advantage of it!

Brande Thomas, Sustainer Representative

Hometown: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Occupation: Financial Advisor at Pinnacle Bank

School Spirit: Western Kentucky University

Why Nashville? Came after college and loved it so much we stayed!

Preferred Social Media: Instagram

When did you become a member of JLN ? A long time ago? Maybe 2002? Have been a Sustainer for many years.

Favorite Placement: In league – Junior League Showhouse & Investment Chair, Out of League – Book ‘Em

Favorite Places in Nashville: There are so many! Cheekwood, Sperrys, Rooftop at the Thompson Hotel, Ascend Ampitheater

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? HGTV is a fave at our house. We watch all the time.

Why did you take on your current role? It was a good time to come back again as a Sustainer.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Get involved! Meet as many people as you can. League friendships show back up later in life.

Jennifer Hamilton, VP of Development

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Occupation: Previously, I was a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and very recently I resigned to pursue a Masters in Biomolecular Sciences.

School Spirit: Memphis Tigers basketball and Arkansas Razorbacks football

Why Nashville? During my Junior Year in college I did an internship with the Tennessee General Assembly and fell in love with Nashville. After I graduated college, I moved back…..

Preferred Social Media: Instagram, I love seeing everyone’s pictures of their family, friends and fun times!

When did you become a member of JLN? 2012 was my Provisional Year

Favorite Placement: All of my placements have been equally fulfilling. I am very much enjoying serving as the VP of Development.

Favorite Places in Nashville: My most favorite place is being lazy on my couch with my husband and 5 dogs! But, I also love the Frist Center, Marche, Jeni’s Ice cream, Belcourt Theatre and Cheekwood.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? HGTV makes me anxious, because I feel like I should be working on a home improvement project….

Why did you take your current role? I applied and accepted the role of VP of Development, because I want to empower women on the Development Council to cultivate relationships within their committees to produce results that will positively impact our community partners! I feel like I sound like a broken record to my council sometimes, because I constantly repeat how important our relationships are with each other (the support, the encouragement) and how important it is that we understand WHY we are working so hard to raise funds for JLN.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? I remember some of my first JLN meetings after my provisional year. I felt so isolated, because I didn’t know anyone and everyone already seemed to be friends. I had to break out of my comfort zone and just start talking, contributing and asking questions… It is important to build relationships, question what you don’t understand, contribute to conversations and tell people what you want out of your JLN experience and placement. Don’t assume they will know or ask…

Jennifer Hillen, President-Elect

Hometown: Born in Denver, grew up in Huntsville, AL, and moved here from Birmingham as a young adult, so I call three states home.

Occupation: CPA and Director of Accounting and Tax Programs for the National Business Officers Association, which is a national non-profit serving CFOs, accountants, human resources, facilities, IT, etc. at nearly 1,400 not-for-profit independent schools around the country and in 23 countries internationally. I also wrote and illustrated Goodnight, Nashville and spend time working on that in the community!

School Spirit: ROLL TIDE! (I attended Birmingham-Southern, but will always love Alabama football….and gymnastics!) I love living in a city with 27 colleges and universities so I have pride for the fact that our city focuses on scholars and education.

Why Nashville? There are so many reasons! I came here nearly 10 years ago because I loved living in the south, but wanted a little more than I was getting from Birmingham at the time (although I really love that city, too, and feel like it’s a mini-Nashville now). I was attracted to the business environment so as to transfer professionally with E&Y and I absolutely loved the culture, food scene, that we have college and pro sports here, and, of course, the MUSIC!

Preferred Social Media: I’m mostly into Instagram because of Goodnight, Nashville…but I love a good Snapchat filter, too!

When did you become a member of JLN? Volunteering in the community and doing so alongside strong women who wanted to better themselves and our city seemed like a dream, and it really has been. I had friends and colleagues through work and a few other ways, but I was eager to make my own path that I was able to discover and shape myself, and the League offered that and so much more. Thanks to participating in Young Leaders Council my provisional year and seeking leadership opportunities since then, I’ve made lifelong friendships with some other women from my group who did the same.

Favorite Placement: I’m going to make an early prediction that it will be my President-Elect year, which is happening now. Before this, there has been wonder, challenge, growth, and fulfillment with every placement I’ve had in the League. Other favorites include developing the mentor program, which I’m excited to make a focus area for leadership in the coming years, and serving as the first-ever EVP because I never could have imagined all I would experience and learn in doing so.

Favorite Places in Nashville: I live in Sylvan Park and love it there. Also love visiting my old neighborhoods, 12 South and Hillsboro Village (hello, Belcourt Theatre!). I have too many favorite restaurants and shops to name them all, but if you haven’t had the cacio e pepe at Moto, get there ASAP. I’m proud that we have the best independent bookstore in the country – Parnassus – just across the street from JLN! The new seats at the Green Hills theater are incredible, so that may be a new favorite! Have you visited the re-done Centennial Park? The cold water from the natural spring has been extremely refreshing on hot summer days and it’s such a beautiful space.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? Honestly, my feelings are very mixed between awe, envy, inspiration, exhaustion, and frustration. I read a tell-all article recently that exposed that most of the shows aren’t as real as we would hope, so that deflated me a little bit, but there are definitely some great ideas, stories, and characters presented! In my past life, I wanted to be an architect and even started studying architecture at Wash U in St. Louis before deciding to go another way, so the concept of design is very exciting, attractive, and important to me. Often times, HGTV can be just about the aesthetic and I love when they dig more deeply and think that’s a great metaphor for us to use at the League this year.

Why did you take on your current role? It is such an honor to be on the path of becoming President of our incredible League and I took this on because I’m inspired by the amazing nearly century old legacy that precedes us and challenged/excited by the opportunities we are tackling now and can address in the future. It’s impossible not to want to jump into the leadership mix here when you get to know the incredible women you’ll be serving alongside of and the agencies that are able to effect such meaningful change in our community thanks to JLN’s help.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Don’t be afraid to take on something new, encourage others to do the same, and remember that the experience and skills you gain inside the League can change your non-League life, too!

Sally Holland, Sustainer Director

Hometown: Decorah, IA

Occupation: I work in finance for Caterpillar Financial

Why Nashville? I moved here for a job at Cat

Preferred Social Media: While I do use social media, I prefer real life on the other side on my phone.

When did you become a member of JLN? I was a member of the Junior League of Peoria and transferred my membership to the JLN when I moved here.

Favorite Placement: I have really enjoyed being the on boards of both the leagues where I was a member.

Favorite Places in Nashville: Too many to count and changing all the time.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? Sometimes well all need a little refresh …

Why did you take on your current role? I still think I have something to give

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Like everything else in life, the more you give, the more you will receive. I have many wonderful friends and mentors that I’ve met through the league.

Jade Sampson, Active Director

Hometown: I’m a Nashville Native! Born in Nashville, raised in Franklin.

Occupation: Director, Talent Management at AMSURG

School Spirit: Proud alum of Vanderbilt and MTSU!

Why Nashville? This is home! I have loved this city my entire life and continue to fall in love with it even more as it continues to evolve and as I get more and more involved in the nonprofit community. We are a thriving city with incredible people who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of our neighbors and we have fun doing it!

Preferred Social Media: Instagram

When did you become a member of JLN? 2010 was my Provisional Year

Favorite Placement: VP, Education and Training… This was my first Board experience and major leadership role in JLN. It was an incredible year of learning for me and I had the opportunity to participate in some extremely meaningful JLN work that I am now seeing come to life. I am deeply grateful for JLN and how we truly commit to developing the potential of women by providing endless opportunities for our members to contribute in new ways and learn across a multitude of platforms.

Favorite Places in Nashville: In addition to all of our fabulous brunch hotspots, I have recently developed a whole new appreciation for our parks. Whether it’s Percy Warner, Radnor Lake, or any of our other parks or greenways, I love that they offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle (and traffic!) of our growing city. We all need to unplug every now and then – our parks are the perfect setting to do just that (we have some pretty fabulous spas to help us do this too)! I also have a sweet spot for Franklin, as it is the backdrop for my childhood and is still such a great town!

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I love HGTV and I love our JLNxDesign theme! Just like the HGTV shows, JLN allows each member to truly design an experience that is meaningful and fulfilling to her. The true beauty of this is that the path we design will likely look different for all of us and that’s ok!

Why did you take on your current role? I am currently serving as Active Director on the Board – a role in which I consider a tremendous honor. In this role, I represent the voice of our membership at the Board table. The opportunity to serve on JLN’s leadership team in this capacity was important to me for many reasons. During my JLN tenure I’ve served at the committee level and in various leadership roles and I am passionate about ensuring that our members’ voices are well represented as decisions are made and as we continue evolving as a League. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to and witness so much incredible work take place and I am thrilled to be able to continue much of that work through this role as Active Director while also honoring our legacy and considering what’s next for us as a League.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Immerse yourself in the experience! If you allow yourself to be fully present and say “yes” to the endless opportunities that will present themselves, I guarantee that this organization will bring you joy, fulfillment, and learning. Be proud of what you bring to JLN and what you can contribute while also having fun and picking up some new skills along the way. Learn about our legacy and the impact we’ve had on the Nashville community and be part of the future as we continue paving the way. JLN is truly an incredible organization and we hope you love it as much as we do!

Dana Bybee, VP of Community

Hometown: Brentwood, TN

Occupation: IT Training Manager

School Spirit: Butler Bulldogs

Why Nashville? My family moved to the Nashville area when I was a kid, so I am almost native of Nashville. I went to Indianapolis for college and moved back (kicking and screaming) after I graduated. At the time I did not want to move back to Nashville but I am very glad I did. I now really like living in Nashville.

Preferred Social Media: Twitter, though I don’t actually tweet, I like to read other’s tweets.

When did you become a member of JLN? My provisional year was 2010-2011.

Favorite Placement: I’ve had a lot of great placements but if I can only pick one, I would pick my placement as Training chair last year. The Training Development committee was so successful in creating great training opportunities, I was so happy to be a part of it. I felt we made a big impact and it was a great year. I also enjoyed attending many of the trainings throughout the year!

Favorite Places in Nashville: I love attending any type of event at the Schermerhorn, it is such a beautiful location. I like the hiking trails at Percy Warner Park. When it comes to food, some of my favorites are Il Mulino, Virago, Cabana, and The Grilled Cheeserie.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I do not watch HGTV often but I have always enjoyed the House Hunters show. I really like looking at houses, my realtor can probably attest to me wanting to see what felt like every place for sale in Nashville before buying my house.

Why did you take on your current role? I was excited for the opportunity to get back to the community and I look forward to finding ways to highlight the amazing work that we do in the community all year long. Hearing the stories of how we impact our community reminds me every day why we do this.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership opportunity. I was lucky to “fall into” my first leadership role and it made me realize I should have done it sooner. I also found it intimidating to reach out to members who had more experience for advice, even though it was always offered.. Don’t be afraid to reach out. When I finally got past that I got excellent advice. Our members really are happy to talk and meet with you!

Whitney Goetz, Treasurer

Hometown: Johnson City, TN

Occupation: Government and Legislative Affairs Manager

School Spirit: Go VOLS!

Why Nashville? My husband and I met while working on Capitol Hill in DC. We are both native Tennesseans and knew we eventually wanted to move back home to TN. Job opportunities brought us to Nashville and I am so thankful!

Preferred Social Media: Instagram (@WhitRaye)

When did you become a member of JLN? After years of “encouragement” from my mother (who was a League Member in the 90s), I agreed to attend a prospective member session only a few months after I moved to Nashville. I joined the 2013-2014 Provisional class.

Favorite Placement: Treasurer, of course! 🙂 I also enjoyed serving as a Project Chair for the Nashville Public Library to support the great work our members do for NPL.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I love HGTV! I’ve been a Chip and JoAnna Gaines fan since Season 1 and wish that Erin Napier (from Home Town) was my friend in real life.

Why did you take on your current role? I entered the process with an open mind to opportunities that would be a good fit for my skill set. I’ve worked in Finance policy for a number of years and when selected to be Treasurer, I felt honored! I’m looking forward to this opportunity to serve on the Board and expand my leadership experience in the League. The Board and Management Team are a dynamic group of women with a heart for the League, our members and service to our Community.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Be encouraging and say yes when opportunities are presented to you. Agree to take on leadership roles, attend trainings to better yourself, meet other women in the League and build new relationships – just say yes to being an active part of the League because it will enrich your experience! I have a dear friend who invited me to attend that initial prospective member meeting and she was the same person who encouraged me to apply to be Treasurer. When you see a friend who may have leadership potential, encourage her to explore those opportunities. Sometimes that is all someone needs to become more involved!

Megan Koontz, VP of MARCOM

Hometown: Lorena, Texas

Occupation: Manager, Walk MS – National MS Society

School Spirit: Baylor University

Why Nashville? Why not Nashville? 😉 Because I fall more in love with the music, food, culture, history, outdoors, people, HOCKEY, every single day.

Preferred Social Media: Instagram. @baylormegs

When did you become a member of JLN? Summer 2013

Favorite Placement: MARCOM Consultant Chair, thus far…

Favorite Places in Nashville: east side breweries, Phonoluxe records on a rainy day, with my pup on the greenway, walking 12 South, Two Rivers Dog Park, anywhere with tacos

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I have mixed feelings… and Fixer Upper is sort of overrated–although, as a Waco girl, I’ll admit to watching it when I’m homesick.

Why did you take on your current role? Because I love the vision and energy set forth by my preceding VP (heyyy, Becky!) and I love applying my experience on a team of those who are as impassioned as I am to communicate our JLN messages to membership and the community.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Your experience is 100% what you make it–get outside your comfort zone, learn as much as you can and meet as many people as you can. You will flourish when you consciously invest in this organization, and you will meet some magnificent people along the way.

Katherine Lay Miller, Active Director

Hometown: Chattanooga, TN

Occupation: Fundraiser, mom of three children (ages 14, 10 and 8)

School Spirit: Can I change this to Team Spirit? Go Sequoia Cyclone Divers!

Why Nashville? The music, arts, creativity scene

Preferred Social Media: Instagram @katelizabeth13

When did you become a member of JLN? Active in 2006

Favorite Placement: Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Favorite Places in Nashville: Breakfast: Le Peep, Lunch: Harding House, Brunch: Germantown Cafe, Dinner: 5th & Taylor, Pre-dinner Drinks: Cellar at Sutler, Post-dinner drinks: L.A. Jackson, Wine: Barcelona Edgehill, Patio: Le Sel, Anytime Restaurant: Firefly, Workout: BAR Method, Yoga: Sanctuary, Park for a hike: Percy Warner Park, Park with the children: Sevier Park, Family-day: Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Family-night: Nashville Sounds in the summer & Predators any other time of the year, Radio station: Lightning 100, it’s independent and promotes our local artists

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I’m more of a National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery channel type person.

Why did you take on your current role? The League has been an incredibly important presence in my life for over a decade now, and it has given me professional development, personal development and friendships that I would not have otherwise. I felt it only appropriate to give back to the League in a meaningful way what I can of what it has given me. I am honored to serve as an advocate for Active members as a Director on the Board of Governance, and look forward to utilizing the skills the League has developed in me over the years. I want to encourage members to reach out to the Active Directors at any point throughout the year, as that is why we serve in this capacity.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Your experience with the League is yours, and yours alone. It will be what you make of it, so make it great! Show up to events, be engaged, seize opportunities to make the community better, but also to better yourself. Attend trainings. Apply for Young Leaders Council, if your schedule allows. Get to know the woman sitting next to you at a meeting, or working alongside you in the community. I guarantee you can learn something interesting from her, and she from you. Simply asking her “why did you join the League?” can open the door to a remarkable connection.

Emily Prather, Nominating Chair

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Occupation: Editor, mom

School Spirit: Vanderbilt

Why Nashville? Fell in love with the city while doing my undergrad at Vandy
Preferred Social Media: I don’t use it!

When did you become a member of JLN: 2008

Favorite Placement: Nominating

Favorite Places in Nashville: Grace Chapel, my home, Barnes & Noble, Parnassus, the library

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? The novelty can wear off quickly, but I have to admit to a fascination with House Hunters International

Why did you take on your current role? I loved my placement on Nominating a few years ago and knew then that I would want to do it again! It’s a privilege to work with a group of women to shape the future leadership composition of the League.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Get involved! Your League experience will be as fulfilling as you make it. Show up for stuff, be unafraid to try new things, take on leadership roles, and enjoy!

Jillian Frist, Sustainer Director

Hometown: I am a Yankee on paper and southern by drawl. I have lived in Nashville since I was 6mos old and born in Buffalo, NY

Occupation: Senior Managing Consultant

Why Nashville? Why leave? I remember when you only went downtown to go to the Spaghetti Factory and there were tumbleweeds rolling down 2nd Ave. What a thriving city we now live in!

Preferred Social Media: I am of the Facebook generation

When did you become a member of JLN: 2001

Favorite Placement: President

Favorite Places in Nashville: I am a foodie and so excited about the options and variety we have now in Nashville. There are so many good options its hard to pick! I like to mix it up. If we go downtown to an event I rotate between Etch, Farmhouse, 404 Kitchen, and Fin & Pearl among many good options.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV?What do JLN and HGTV have in common…. If you are not careful you will be roped in and it will be difficult to stop watching/doing! To me HGTV is taking something you love and making it better, giving it a fresh coat of paint. The theme of JLNxDesign speaks to that as it relates to our members and evolving their experiences in the league.

Why did you take on your current role? There is so much history in the JL and I am such an advocate, especially as we near 100 years, to help keep it alive. Every year I have worked with some amazing women, and after being less involved as a sustainer I enjoy being back on the Board with smart women who care about training our members to be volunteers to make an impact in the community.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? You get out of it what you put into it. Show up, be present, and don’t be scared to step up.

Taryn Anderson, Executive Vice President

Hometown: White Bear Lake, MN

Occupation: Recovering accountant and now part time work for a law firm and student

School Spirit: University of Saint Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Why Nashville? Moved here in July 2005 for a boy and while we didn’t stay together, it was much warmer down here in the winters and I loved the job I was at so I didn’t move back home.

Preferred Social Media: Instagram, @tkanderson

When did you become a member of JLN? I joined the Junior League of Nashville in 2008 and became an active in 2009!

Favorite Placement: So many. Krystal said Provisional Co-Chair because that was the year we met and fell in love, so that’s up there. I also enjoyed being VP of Operations on the Board with Laura Creekmore and well there is nominating where you really get to kind of see the behind the scenes work!

In connect with theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I love HGTV … it makes me feel like the projects are super easy and that I can take them on myself … even though I’m not really handy. I’m going to be doing more projects around my house so ask me this question at the end of the year … either it’ll be super successful and my house will look awesome … or I had to pay a contractor to fix all my mistakes and I’ll be ticked!

Why did you take on the role of EVP? I’m not 100% sure yet … kidding! I think the most meaningful years I’ve had in the Junior League have been leadership positions, you really get to know the other women you’re working with and it does create a special bond. Knowing that I would be able to continue to work along side with Clark was a big reason. She is a fierce woman and I just have really enjoyed working with her. I think when you can be challenged with the people you work with it only helps you as a person grow. She is definitely a lot different than I am so why not learn from one of the best!? There are a lot of things that I knew she would tackle that I thought would be good for the League to continue to evolve and stay relevant and I’m behind those changes!

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? It is really easy to focus on what you need to do to complete your requirements but I would tell you to try as much as you can. There is a reason the curriculum of whatever you’re attending was put together the way it was …. there must be something that you should be taking away from what you’re attending. If you don’t know it or can’t see it ask! Get involved and remember why you joined the League. Whether it is to volunteer, meet new friends, the League’s main focus is to develop women in our community and to serve our community – do not lose sight of that.

Krystal Clark, President

Hometown: Portsmouth, VA

Occupation: Director of Student Leadership Development at Vanderbilt University

School Spirit: College of William & Mary and University of Maryland, College Park

Why Nashville? Moved here in July 2011 for a job at Vanderbilt University and it was the best decision of my life.

Preferred Social Media: Instagram, @krystalnclark

When did you become a member of JLN? I joined the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties (JLDOC) in 2008 and transferred here in 2011.

Favorite Placement: Provisional Co-Chair

Favorite Places in Nashville: Ryman Auditorium, Belcourt Theatre, Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, the Tennessee State Museum, a patio in good weather, and so many more.

In connection with the theme of JLNxDesign, what are your feelings about HGTV? I love Hometown with Erin and Ben Napier. I love that they use people’s existing pieces when they decorate the new house. It’s kind of a great metaphor for life. We all have what we need to be successful but sometimes, it just needs to be polished, a new coat of paint, or just angled differently. They’re in Laurel, MS — only 5.5 hours away! JLN road trip, anyone?

Why did you take on the role of President? Why not? So many reasons that I could share, but, I believe in the mission of JLN and want to work to ensure its relevance in the city of Nashville. I think when you start asking, “what if?” or “why?” with a foundation of positive intent, genuine interest, and humility that you probably need to start examining the role you’re playing in an organization and get to a place in which you can strive to create change in relationship with others – that relationship is what we often call leadership. We have a fantastic 95-year history and our future is just as promising. Organizations that develop the potential of women serve a great purpose in this world and I know the League has and will continue to change the lives of women in Nashville.

What advice would you give the newest members of JLN? Show up. Half the battle is just being in the room and making sure that you are physically present. The other half is being mentally present and allowing yourself to be engaged with and open to the people and the opportunities that surround you. You’re a member which means that you’re officially invited to partake in the experiences offered. Get into it! Nothing is ever going to happen and you’ll never reap the rewards of membership if you never fully show up to the organization.