Diane Giddens, Mary Pearce honored with top awards

Mary Pearce, longtime executive director of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County, was honored Wednesday, Aug. 17, by Franklin Tomorrow with the 2016 Business Legacy Award for the impact of her work in creating a positive business climate and an enhanced quality of life in Williamson County.

The Business Legacy Award recognizes an individual who has made significant impact in the areas of business, quality of life, and leadership. Pearce has been with the Heritage Foundation since 1987 and during that time has seen Franklin’s historic downtown gain recognition nationally as an example of historic preservation and restoration. Earlier this year, she received the Presidential Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the organization’s highest award, honoring her career in preservation.

Business Legacy Award winner Mary Pearce with her husband Harris, daughter Holly, and grandchildren Andrew and Evie after the ceremony at the Franklin Theatre.

Business Legacy Award winner Mary Pearce with her husband Harris, daughter Holly, and grandchildren Andrew and Evie after the ceremony at the Franklin Theatre.

Speaking on her behalf were Heritage Foundation Board Chair Julian Bibb and Ed Silva, a former board chair who worked with Pearce and others on the implementation of the Streetscape program in downtown Franklin, which while providing beautification of the downtown area was billed as an economic development project as well.

Under her tenure, the Heritage Foundation has been instrumental in preserving thousands of acres of green space in Williamson County, ensuring that new development fits the historic and geographic context, and saving more than 50 historic buildings from the wrecking ball, including the Franklin Theatre and the Old, Old Jail.

Receiving the Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award was Diane Giddens for her tireless work for organizations such as WAVES, Youth Leadership Franklin, and the Williamson County Fair.

Diane Giddens accepts the Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award from Anne T. Rutherford while flanked by nominators Debbie Henry (left) and Paula Harris (right).

Diane Giddens accepts the Anne T. Rutherford Exemplary Community Volunteer Award from Anne T. Rutherford while flanked by nominators Debbie Henry (left) and Paula Harris (right).

“Diane Giddens is one of those extraordinary people who leave a lasting handprint on the heart of all and on her extraordinary Williamson County,” nominators Paula Harris and Debbie Henry wrote in their nomination. “Her legacy is her passionate love and work for and unselfish dedication to the betterment of Williamson County and its people. It has been said that hard work and a giving heart spotlights the character of an individual; this exemplifies Diane Giddens.”

Volunteer Spirit Awards were given to Ann Bright, Pro-Health Medical Services; Kathie Moore, Franklin Tomorrow and Williamson County Association of Realtors; and Paula Harris, Leadership Franklin and Williamson Inc.

The Youth Initiative Award was presented to Katie Shelton, a Page High School junior, for her work with High School Heroes and the Dream Center, but also her practice of random acts of kindness in the community.

“At a time when many teens are consumed with consumerism and the developing brain is naturally self-absorbed, Kate stands out as someone who is making a very real difference in her sphere of influence,” said Ondrea Johnson in nominating Shelton.

Receiving the Corporate Volunteer Achievement Award was Christine Smalley of Jackson National Life. Smalley has been an active member of the volunteer program at Jackson for many years and is passionate about engaging children, and especially girls, in technology and exposing IT as a career path. She has planned, recruited additional volunteers and led a coding workshop for middle school girls with WiTT/Adventure Science Center for two years. Outside of technology, Smalley is an active volunteer with Jackson’s volunteer programs at Second Harvest Food Bank and the Nashville Food Project. Not only does she volunteer at these programs but she also engages her children in her volunteer service with her. She, her children and their dog are often found supporting many causes including the Ronald McDonald House during the Hustle for the House and the March of Dimes’ March for Babies.

Tractor Supply Co. received the Corporate Team Award for its work with numerous agencies, as described in a nomination from United Way of Williamson County, as well as specific work described in a nomination from local nonprofit SaddleUp!

“Both as a company and through the support of individual employees, Tractor Supply Company makes a big difference in multiple ways,” said Cheryl Scutt, SaddleUp! executive director. “From the barn to the Board, Tractor Supply Company models excellence in service to the community. Since 2005, the company has been the presenting sponsor of our largest fundraising event, the Music Country Grand Prix. Its visible leadership and support has also helped Saddle Up! expand support from other businesses.”

A few examples of Tractor Supply Co. employees making a difference: serving as volunteers in SaddleUp! programs; regularly performing group volunteer projects around the farm (including 250 employees volunteering on the same day to paint fences); Board membership and leadership; and, through their generous financial support.

The Civic Group Award was presented to both the Franklin Firefighters Charities, nominated by Williamson County CASA, and Franklin Noon Rotary, nominated for its long history of service to numerous organizations and an outstanding year recently.

The late Roy Barker was remembered for his life of service with Ned Lea Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Making the event possible as partners were FirstBank, Williamson Medical Center, and Vanderbilt University’s Office of Community, Neighborhood and Government Relations. Acting as partners were Buerger Moseley Carson, PARKS Realty, and Franklin Rotary at Breakfast.

Patrons supporters for the event were The TMA Group and Signs First. Supporters were 61st District State Rep. Charles Sargent, 63rd District State Rep. Glen Casada, 23rd District State Sen. Jack Johnson, Ernie & Nell Bacon, Benchmark Realty, Deana Hood, Attorney at Law, The BBB Integrity Foundation, District Attorney General Kim Helper, and Ryan Search & Consulting.

Nominations for the annual awards were received from more than 20 nonprofits and individuals recognizing the “stars of our community.”

In 2007, Franklin Tomorrow established the Exemplary Community Volunteer Awards to honor the decades of service and tremendous impact of Anne T. Rutherford, a founding member of Franklin Tomorrow and an active volunteer for many community organizations. Additional awards have been added as the awards continued.

In each category, Franklin Tomorrow makes a donation in each award recipient’s name to the nonprofit of their choice.

Photo album courtesy of Brandy Blanton & Southern Exposure Magazine