Leadership Nashville came about as a result of two groups finding each other. In January 1976, C. Brent Poulton, PhD, who had recently joined the University of Tennessee Nashville faculty to develop community programs, invited Frank Robinson, executive director of Leadership Atlanta, to speak to a group of Nashvillians, “people who could make things happen.”

At the same time, Nelson C. Andrews and other business leaders were discussing the need to broaden the perspectives of Nashville’s primary leaders. The idea and the need fit perfectly. “The stars were perfectly aligned,” said Steering Committee Chairman Nelson Andrews.

Nelson and Brent did not do it alone, however. Serving on the steering committee with them were Eddie Jones, executive vice president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; Honey Alexander and Jean Caplinger Farris, both members of the Junior League of Nashville; Shirley Caldwell-Patterson, member of League of Women; John Mallette, vice chancellor of University of Tennessee Nashville; May Shayne, member of Nashville Section, National Council of Jewish Women; Robert Hawkins, president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce; Cathy Anderson, Mayor’s office representative and Corinne Franklin, who was hired as executive director.

Allen Steele, president of Life & Casualty Insurance Company, served as president of Leadership Nashville‚‘s founding board of trustees. He named William C. Weaver Jr., president of National Life & Accident Insurance Company, chairman of fundraising and David K. Wilson, president of Cherokee Equity Corporation, chairman of the selection committee that first year. Members of the selection committee considered more than 200 nominations and announced the first class September 17, 1976.