Thomas S. Smith
Douglas Henry State Museum Commission Chair
Tom Smith is the Chairman of the Board of Smith/Hallemann Partners, a real estate investment management company based in Nashville. The firm is the managing partner of multiple commercial real estate partnerships with holdings primarily in commercial office buildings comprising nearly two million square feet in three states. Prior to the formation of Smith/Hallemann, Smith served as Chairman of Eakin & Smith Real Estate and as a member of the Board of Directors of Highwoods Properties. He is an avid vintage automobile enthusiast and participant in vintage automobile rallies and other vintage auto events throughout the world. Smith, an Elder at Nashville's First Presbyterian Church, is a former board member of the Martha O’Bryan Center and Franklin Road Academy in Nashville. He is a 1980 graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a B.S. in real estate and finance. Smith is married to Jane Mattingly Smith and they have three sons and two grandchildren.
Nancy Baker De Friece
Nancy Baker De Friece is the president of Landmark Realty, Inc., a company she founded as sole proprietor in 1977. She also serves as a managing partner of Sikorski-De Friece Properties.
As a successful businesswoman and longtime patron of the arts, De Friece has lent her expertise to several nonprofit organizations. A former chairman of the Tennessee Arts Commission, she has also served on the boards of the Bristol School of Ballet and the Appalachian Girl Scout Council. She was a charter member of the Hands On! Regional Museum and served on the museum's Business Council.
She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of "The Birthplace of Country Music" and as a vice president of the Barter Theatre Foundation Board of Trustees in Abingdon, Virginia.
As well as being active in many other community organizations, De Friece has received numerous honors, including the "Arts in Tennessee Award" presented by International Storytelling Center and Bristol Regional Medical Center's Citizen's Hall of Fame.
De Friece attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She was recognized in 2000 as an Honorary Alumni of East Tennessee State University in Bristol, Tennessee and served on the King College Board of Trustees in Bristol, Virginia from 1994 to 2002.
Harbert Alexander Sr.
Harbert graduated from Jackson High School in 1957. He earned a bachelor's degree from the Virginia Military Institute in 1961 and a graduate degree from Rutgers University. He served as an artillery officer in Schweinfurt, West Germany, retiring from the army as a captain. He was associated with Jackson National Bank for twenty-four years where he served as president of the bank and vice chairman of the holding company. He was appointed president and CEO of Union Planters Bank of Jackson in 1988.
In 1988 Harbert was promoted to the position of regional president for all of the West Tennessee and Arkansas Union Planters Banks.
From 2007-2011 Mr. Alexander was CEO of The Bank of Jackson. He served as Madison County historian, on the board of Lambuth University, and was a member of the Jackson Utility board. He was named Jackson Exchange Club's "man of the year" in 1991.
Harbert is President of the Carnegie Center. He is the author of four books. He is married to Nora Noe and has three children and three grandchildren.
Ambassador Victor H. Ashe, II
The Honorable Victor Ashe, II was the 25th United States Ambassador to Poland. He was elected mayor of Knoxville, TN in 1988 and served until 2003, making him the city's longest serving mayor. He also served six years as a Tennessee state representative (1968 to 1974) and nine years as a state senator (1975 to 1984).
Ashe has been appointed by former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to federal positions.
Among his accomplishments, Ashe authored Tennessee's Natural Areas Preservation Act and Tennessee's Presidential Primary Law. As Knoxville's mayor he tripled the size of the city's park system and added 40 miles of greenways. He was formerly president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors as well as president of the Tennessee Municipal League.
Ashe received a bachelor of arts degree in history from Yale University. He received his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.
Ashe is married to the former Joan Plumlee and they have two children, Martha and J. Victor.
Mr. Claussen was born in New Jersey, graduated from Lafayette College with an AB degree in English and from Rutgers Law School with a JD degree.
After graduation he joined the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tennessee where he worked for 13 years as an attorney, Assistant General Counsel, and Division Director. In 1979 he joined the 1982 World’s Fair as Vice President-Legal Counsel, leaving that position in 1983 with the wrap-up of the Fair Corporation.
In 1985 he established Gulf & Ohio Railways of which he is Chairman. Gulf & Ohio owns and operates four railroads in the Southeastern US. He is also the President of Knoxville Locomotive Works, Inc., a green locomotive manufacturing company based in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Mr. Claussen is the founder of the Seven Islands Foundation which recently donated land to help create Tennessee’s 56th State Park, Seven Islands State Birding Park. He has also served as a member of the Smithsonian National Board, as co-chairman of the Alumni Board and has been a member and past Chairman of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He is a past Chairman of the Legislative Policy Committee of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association and a past member of its Board and Executive Committee. He also serves on the Boards of the Legacy Parks Foundation, the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Knoxville Zoo.
He resides on a farm near Knoxville with his wife, Linda, and has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell
State Representative Beth Harwell represents the 56th District, which includes a part of Davidson County. Beth currently serves as the Speaker of the House, a position to which she was elected by her House colleagues. Directly prior to this, she served as House Commerce Committee Chairwoman and as House Republican Caucus Whip.
Beth has been a strong advocate for tougher sexual abuse laws, victims’ rights, welfare reform, children’s issues, and most notably, education. She has sponsored and passed legislation clarifying and toughening the penalties against stalkers, requiring more time behind bars for rapists, strengthening Tennessee’s laws for rape of a child, and building crime prevention cooperation among the states.
Beth has impacted Tennessee’s education system in numerous ways, always maintaining a legislative focus on innovative education policy. In 2009, her passion for education reform resulted in the passage of landmark charter school legislation, enabling thousands of Tennessee children statewide to benefit from attending a charter school. In addition, she pushed passage of legislation to direct additional funds for improvement of training for day care workers.
Beth sponsored the “Families First” legislation that enacted Tennessee’s current welfare reform program and the “Children’s Act for Clean Indoor Air” to keep children safe from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
A friend of small business, Beth was twice awarded the coveted Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).
In addition to her legislative accomplishments, Beth served as chair of the state Republican Party from 2001 to 2004. During that time she was instrumental in the Republicans taking control of the State Senate for the first time in 105 years. While serving as Chair she also contributed immensely to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, and served as a Bush Pioneer.
Beth has also been an active member of her community as a member of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board, the Montgomery Bell Academy Board, the Executive Committee of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, the Saint Thomas Health Mission and Advocacy Committee, the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee, the PearlPoint Cancer Support Board of Directors, and is an alumni of Leadership Nashville. Beth serves as the 2nd Vice President of the National Speaker’s Conference and is a Co-Chair of the Republican State Legislative Committee’s ‘Right Women, Right Now’ effort.
Speaker Harwell has won numerous awards, including the Harold Bradley Legislative Leadership Award, the American Cancer Society Legislative Leadership Award, the 2013 Conservation Legislator Award, Champion for Children Award, and the Junior League 2012 Legislator of the Year Award.
Harwell received her Bachelor of Arts degree from David Lipscomb University, an M.S. degree from George Peabody College, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt. She has been an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Belmont University. She and her husband, Sam, have three children – Allie, Sam, and Tucker.
Senator Douglas Henry
The Honorable Douglas Selph Henry, was a State Senator for the 21st Senatorial District of Tennessee, which comprises the western and southern parts of Nashville and Davidson County. He keeps a private law office in Nashville. He was formerly assistant vice president and Counsel, Insurance for the National Life and Accident Insurance Company.
Henry attended school in Nashville and Chattanooga, later graduating from Vanderbilt University. He holds the B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Vanderbilt and the designation of CLU from the American College of Life Underwriters in Philadelphia. He is a member of the Nashville, Tennessee and American Bar Associations and of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel.
He was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 79th General Assembly. Since two and one-half years of service in the Army in World War II, he has been a member of the American Legion. He also belongs to the Kiwanis Club, other organizations and the YMCA which he has served in different capacities. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Historical Society and the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board.
He was chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference for 1987-88. He currently serves on the Executive Committees of the Southern Legislative Conference and of the Council of State Governments.
Henry was a member of the 87th through 108th General Assemblies. Senator Henry was the longest-serving member in the history of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Walter G. Knestrick
Nashville native and founder of Knestrick Contracting, Inc., Walter Knestrick retired from his firm in 2002. He was appointed by Governor Don Sundquist to serve as the State Finance Chairman and to serve on the State Board of Licensing Contractors. Appointed to the first Individual Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange, Knestrick has held multiple leadership positions in fiduciary and civic service. He has served as a board member of First American National Bank, two terms on the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, and on the Board of Trustees of Brentwood Academy, where he served as president for two terms.
As co-founder of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation with Senator Douglas Henry and TSM Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell, Knestrick served as Chairman of the Foundation Board for two terms. His work as an arts advocate also includes his service on many past boards and committees, including Chairman of the Nashville International Airport Arts Committee (15 years); Board of Directors, Frist Center for the Visual Arts Foundation; Founding Board Member, Frist Center for the Visual Arts; Member of Nashville's First Metro Arts Council (appointed by Mayor Fulton); Board Member and Chairman of the Tennessee Performing Arts Management Board (appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander); Board Member and Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Commission (appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander); Past Chairman of Fine Arts at the Cheekwood Museum and Botanical Gardens; Board Member of the W. O. Smith School of Music; and Past Board Member of the Blair School of Music.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Knestrick has been an active alumnus having served as Charter Member of the Fred J. Lewis Society School of Engineering, a member of the National Commodore Club, and two terms on the Board of Directors for the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. He was also served as the 1989 Chairman of Reunion and Annual Giving in which he raised $6.4 million for his alma mater.
Other honors and awards include, but are not limited to the 1990 Applause Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Tennessee Performing Art Center; Coordinator of the Art Collection at the American Embassy, Paris, France (Appointed by Ambassador Joe M. Rodgers, 1987-1988); 1986 Governors Awards in the Arts for Outstanding Patron of the Arts in Tennessee; Honorary Trustee for Brentwood Academy; and the 2011 Martha Ingram Arts Visionary Award which was presented by the Nashville Arts and Business Council.
In addition to serving on the DHSMC, Knestrick also currently serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Nashville YMCA (Past President) and State Commissioner on the Board of Trustees at Watkins School of Arts & Design (appointed by Governor Don Sunquist).
He is married to the former Sarah Lindsey Thompson. They have five children, two step children and twenty grandchildren.
Deputy House Speaker Steve K. McDaniel
Steve McDaniel grew up in Henderson County, Tennessee, and is a graduate of the University of Memphis. He’s been a small business owner for over 40 years.
A long and distinguished career as a public servant, Steve was first elected in 1988 to represent House District 72 in the Tennessee General Assembly. This includes all of Henderson, Chester, Decatur and Perry Counties.
In this capacity, Steve was elected by his colleagues to serve in the Republican leadership, serving two terms as Caucus Chairman and three terms as House Minority Leader. He currently serves as Deputy Speaker of the House.
Steve is a member of the House Agriculture Committee; the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee; and the Finance Subcommittee. He chairs the House Rules Committee and the House Ethics Committee. In addition, he serves on the Council on Pensions and Insurance.
Steve is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation’s largest legislative member organization. He served on the ALEC board for many years and was the organization’s 2001 National Chairman.
An avid history buff, Steve is very active in battlefield preservation efforts in Tennessee. He was appointed by the governor to the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, which coordinates programs and events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. He has also served as chair of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission.
Steve has been married 46 years to Phyllis Taylor from Carroll County. They have one daughter, Andrea.
As Soulsville’s first President and CEO, Ms. Parker led the nonprofit organization founded to build and manage the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy in an area dubbed Soulsville USA. Deanie then established the Soulsville Foundation and served as its President to fund the Museum and Academy operations. Much of her professional career development happened while she was Director of Publicity, Artists and Community Relations for Stax Records and working with such internationally famous performers as Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Richard Pryor, The Dramatics, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King and others.
Prior to joining Soulsville Ms. Parker was the Vice-President of Communications and Marketing at Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED). For nearly a decade (87-95) she served as the Assistant Director of Memphis in May and returned briefly as the Interim Director for the 1996 Festival edition saluting Brazil.
Ms. Parker is a graduate of the University of Memphis (Masters of Public Administration) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by LeMoyne-Owen College in 2001. She received the University of Memphis University College Alumni Achievement Award in 2003, in 2004 was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission, was given the 2004 Women of Achievement award for Initiative, and in 2006 received a University of Memphis 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award and also a Diversity Memphis Humanitarian of the Year Award. In 2009, she was awarded two Emmy’s for the “I Am A Man” documentary for which she was executive producer and title song composer. 2011 Legends Award Honoree for Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
Representative Charles Michael Sargent, Jr.
The Honorable Charles Michael Sargent represents District 61 in the House of Representatives in the 109th General Assembly, a position he has held since the 100th General Assembly. He currently serves as the Chairman of House Finance, Ways & Means, as well as a member of Commerce, Insurance and Pensions, Ad Hoc Rules, and Business Tax Committees. He was honored as the Outstanding Representative of 2001 by The County Officials Association of Tennessee and was named Honored Legislator of the Year by the Tennessee Development District Association for 2002 and 2003. Sargent was the Republican Caucus Chairman of the 103rd and 104th General Assemblies, and served as Republican Whip during the previous four years.
Sargent is an active member of Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, the Williamson County Republican Party, and the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce. He is a Williamson Medical Foundation Board Member, and a court-appointed special advocate board member. He was Williamson County Commissioner from 1990-1996, and was part of the Williamson County Planning Commission from 1989-1997. He is also the co-founder and past president of Grassland Athletic Association.
A graduate of Pace University in New York, Sargent served in the United States Navy from 1965-1967 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He relocated to Nashville in 1970 and moved to Franklin in 1977. A manager of John Hancock Insurance from 1967-1975, Sargent has been a State Farm Insurance agent for the past 38 years.
Laura Travis of Dayton was recently appointed to the Museum Commission. She is an Associate Agent at the Ron Travis Agency, a Nationwide Insurance affiliate in Dayton, and serves as the accountant for the agency and its satellite offices. A former owner and primary agent of the Laura Travis Agency, an Allstate Insurance affiliate, Travis is retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In 2013, she created and implemented the “Let’s Tour 31” program for House District 31, recognizing the need for constituents to receive more exposure to Tennessee’s State Capitol. She currently serves as a docent at the Tennessee Residence.
As the event coordinator for House District 31’s local office, she serves as the liaison for such programs as Read Across America and the Imagination Library. In December of 2015, she was named to the Advisory Council of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. She is also a mentor for the Tennessee Achieves Program, which helps high school seniors qualify for the Tennessee Promise scholarship.
Travis is married to State Representative Ron Travis (R), Dayton. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Eleanor Yoakum, a native of Claiborne County, is Chairman of First Century Bank with locations in Tazewell, New Tazewell, Harrogate, Maynardville, Sneedville, Maryville and Knox County. She is a graduate of Fairfax Hall and East Tennessee State University, where she was honored as outstanding alumna in 1999. She was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission by Governor Lamar Alexander where she served as Vice Chairman and Chairman 1987-1989. From 1996-1999 Yoakum served as Commissioner of Personnel for Governor Don Sundquist and was the Governor’s Chief Administrative Officer from 1996-2002.
Always a strong advocate for Education and the Arts, Ms. Yoakum has served for many years on the Walters State Community College Foundation Board serving as President in 2010 - 2011, as well as the East Tennessee Foundation Board where she serves as Secretary to the Board. After serving on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission from 2002- 2006, Ms. Yoakum was appointed to the Board of Professional Responsibility by the Tennessee Supreme Court where she served as Vice Chair in 2015.
Eleanor is the Mother of two children, Stephanie Barger Conner of Nashville, who followed her mother's passion for the arts by serving as Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Commission from 2005 - 2006, and was reappointed by Governor Haslam and presently serves as Chair. Her son Rob Barger is President and CEO of First Century Bank. She has five grandchildren.
Eleanor resides in Tazewell, Tennessee with her husband William A. Dunavant, Jr.
Robert N. Buchanan III
Robert Buchanan (Bob) is the President of The Tennessee Historical Society (est. 1849) and has been a member of its board since 2008. He retired from his private law practice in Nashville after forty-one years as a member of Stites & Harbison PLLC (and its predecessor firm, Farris, Warfield & Kanaday).
He is a graduate of Davidson College and Vanderbilt University School of Law. He is a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve (retired).
Mr. Buchanan is a direct descendant of early Davidson County pioneer Maj. John Buchanan of Buchanan Station, and of Tennessee Gov. John P. Buchanan (1891-93).
Since 1981, Lois Riggins-Ezzell has served as executive director of the Tennessee State Museum and its oversight properties, which include the Military Branch in the War Memorial Building, and the historic Tennessee State Capitol. She manages the museum's $3.9 million general operating budget and serves as an ex-officio member of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, the institution's governing authority.
A Nashville native and graduate of the ’57 class of East High School, Riggins-Ezzell received her undergraduate degree at Belmont College and pursued graduate work at Western Kentucky State University. During her extensive career, she has been an educator, historic site interpreter, curator, and public administrator and was one of five national grant recipients of a museum studies sabbatical at George Washington University and the Smithsonian Institute.
A 1988 Leadership Nashville graduate, she has served as a founding board member of the Documentary Channel (DOC), an ex-officio member of the Capitol Restoration Committee; as a commission member of Homecoming ‘86; as one of five key note speakers selected from the national membership of the American Alliance of Museums to present to the International Council of Museums Education Committee (ICOM/EDCOM) meeting in Washington, D.C.; a member of the commissioning committee of the U.S.S. TENNESSEE (Trident Nuclear Submarine) and as a member of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. She has participated on numerous boards and committees of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and was selected as one of only 14 museum administrators in the nation to serve on the AAM Museum Review Assessment Committee and the National Education Committee of the American Association for State and Local History. She was a member of the host committee for a visit of the United Nations to Tennessee, and was a Lears Magazine "Woman for Lears." She is a member of the American Association for State and Local History, the Southeastern Museum Conference, Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM), the InterMuseum Council of Nashville, and as an ex-officio member of Governor Haslam’s Tennessee State Museum - New Museum Steering Committee.
Sharon Dennis is the executive assistant to the museum's executive director, serves as the staff liaison to the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, and is the Museum's special events coordinator. She is the founder of Music Row's Dennis Management and 1002 Productions, as well as a former faculty member at IBI Global, an entrepreneurial educational forum. She is also a former Parish Administrator, and a professional touring musician.
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.