Old Friends, New Roles: 2014 Marks a Year of New Beginnings

As we begin 2014, Nashville Zoo is looking forward to an exciting year of growth, thanks in no small part to the leadership of our Board of Directors. These individuals serve as the governing body for the Zoo, and their tireless dedication helps maintain current operations and create strategic plans for a bright future.

2014 also marks the 20th anniversary of service to the Zoo by Board Chairman Jim Hunt. A tireless volunteer, Jim is always working to gain support for the Zoo and is a familiar face at many Zoo events and to many of our staff. In his time with the Zoo, he expanded an 8-member board to 39 active members, played a key role in developing the Zoo’s Master Plan, and was instrumental in the partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools that resulted in the creation of the Croft Middle School. In 2004, under his leadership, Nashville Zoo was awarded its first accreditation from the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Jim leads by example in his efforts to garner financial growth for the Zoo: in 2005, the Hunt Family Foundation funded Lorikeet Landing, a revenue-producing visitor experience and in 2013, Jim and Sally Hunt funded our newest habitat, Kangaroo Kickabout. Fortunately for the Zoo, Jim plans to remain extremely involved, serving on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chair.

Later this month, Jim will hand over the chairmanship to an individual who shares his commitment to the Zoo and to its future. Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the appointment of Robin Ingram Patton as Chairman of the Board of Directors. A visionary like Jim, Robin has been a supporter of Nashville Zoo since the opening of the Zoo and has provided tremendous financial backing, including two revenue-producing features at the Zoo – the Wild Animal Carousel and the Wilderness Express. Robin’s love of animals began in her childhood and is reflected in her role as past Board Chairman of the Nashville Humane Association. She currently serves on the boards of Nashville Humane, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and Harpeth Hall, bringing a wealth of experience to the Zoo, along with a clear commitment to the city of Nashville and its residents.

“I am thrilled to take helm of Nashville Zoo’s Board of Directors as we enter a time of major development and expansion,” said Patton. “We can’t wait to share with the community all of the plans we have for building what will become one of the best zoos in the country. The Board has been instrumental in creating this important community resource and I’m excited to bring on even more community leaders on the Zoo’s behalf.”

Joining the board this month include Kathryn Brown, Carl Haley, John Arvan Howard III, Julie Walker, and Chris Whitson. This group of talented individuals will strengthen the organization by advising on current projects, raising awareness about the Zoo's conservation focus, and building thriving partnerships within the community.

Kathryn Brown has been an Ensworth School Trustee since 2002. She also serves as a Board member for Monroe Carell Children's Hospital. Kathryn has been a board member for TPAC, Ronald McDonald House, and the City of Belle Meade Beautification Committee, in addition to her service on committees for the Antique and Garden Show and the Swan Ball.

Carl Haley is founder, President, and CEO of Grand Avenue. He and his wife Connie were named Philanthropists of the Year in 2012 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nashville Chapter, for their many contributions to local organizations. Carl also serves on the board of the Nashville Symphony, Battle of Franklin Trust, and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

John Arvan Howard III is the President of River Investments and Vice President and Principal of Hannah Constructors. Additionally, he is an account manager for PNA Construction Technologies. He also currently serves on the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Julie Walker is the owner and instructor of The Bridge Lady and has taught over 700 people to play the most popular card game in the world. In the last 20 years, she has served on the boards of 15 nonprofits and is currently serving on the Frist Center for the Visual Arts Board of Trustees and the Cheekwood Board of Trustees. In 2012, Julie was inducted into the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement.

Chris Whitson is an attorney with Sherrard and Roe, PLC. Chris is a former councilman for the 23rd District of Nashville and Davidson County. He has been a board member for Harpeth Hall, Harding Academy, St. George's Kindergarten, and the Nashville Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Other members of the 2014 Board of Directors are:
Jim Hunt, Immediate Past Chair, Former President + CEO, Benefit Communications Inc.
Wade McGregor, Treasurer, Partner,Ernst & Young
Kelley Beaman, Community Volunteer
Neely Coble, President + CEO, Neely Coble Co.
Jennifer Frist, Community Volunteer
Tracie Hamilton, Community Volunteer
Laurie Hooper, Community Volunteer
Jeff Jacobs, Founding Partner, Stradis Healthcare
Cammy Price, Community Volunteer
Dick Ragsdale, Community Volunteer
Sheryl Rogers, Community Volunteer
Charles Sonnenberg, Owner, Frugal MacDoogal
Elizabeth Washko, Attorney, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart
Phil Wenk, President and CEO, Delta Dental of TN

The Zoo is fortunate to enjoy the leadership of extremely dedicated volunteers. With their incredible involvement and support, 2014 promises to be a tremendously successful year!