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Tennessee Economic Summit for Women
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Astronaut, Judge, and Civil Rights Pioneer Among Eight 2015 Inductees to Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame

October 06, 2015

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Eight extraordinary women from all three grand divisions of the state will be inducted this year into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame, a program of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. The induction ceremony will be held on Monday, October 26, 2015 as part of the 12th Annual Economic Summit for Women.  The event will take place at noon and will be held at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

“The purpose of the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame is to celebrate and honor women who are extraordinarily accomplished and have made remarkable, unique and lasting contributions to the economic, political, and cultural well-being of Tennessee” said Dena Wise, chair of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.

The eight inductees are (alphabetically):


Joy Bishop (East Tennessee) was the first Air Force career woman to be appointed to the Senior Executive Service, the highest grade in the federal career employment system. She has consulted in public administration policy and organizational management for underdeveloped countries. She is known by all who know her as a leader, advocate, philanthropist, and advisor and mentor to both men and women alike.

“Joy is a person who doesn’t come into a room and say, ‘Here I am,’ she comes into a room and says, ‘There YOU are!’”
-Virginia Hardwick


Lizzie Crozier French (East Tennessee) founded the Knoxville Female Institute and the School of Elocution to further the education of women in the late 1800’s. Along with founding the Tennessee Suffrage Association, she became the first woman to address the Tennessee General Assembly lobbying on behalf of efforts to establish a separate prison for women and children in the state of Tennessee.

“She is, beyond doubt, the most brilliant woman in Tennessee today, and one of the most enthusiastic women in philanthropy of any of her sex."
-The Knoxville Sentinel, said of Ms. French during her lifetime


Janice Holder (West Tennessee), the first female Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and a founding member of the Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women, has devoted much of her career to the elimination of domestic violence, the provision of services to impaired members of the legal profession, and access to justice for all people. Justice Holder is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator.

“She is a great ambassador for Tennessee… and her place in history is secure.”

-Jocelyn Wurzburg


Rosetta Miller Perry (Middle Tennessee) is a Civil Rights activist and was an Equal Employment Opportunity Official during the 1960’s in middle & west Tennessee. She became the first African-American female to graduate with a Bachelor degree in Mortuary Science from Memphis State University. She later established the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce, and she and her late husband founded Perry & Perry Publishing Company, which has contributed cultural voice to Tennessee through multiple magazines and newspapers.

“Mrs. Perry is indeed a woman of courage and substance… and has worked tirelessly to elevate women, girls, and families.”
-Janice Woodard


Elizabeth Rona: (East Tennessee) Before immigrating to the United States, Elizabeth was the first woman to teach chemistry in any University in Hungary. Once in the United States, she was on the frontlines of the discoveries of isotopes and fission, and later contributed to work in the Manhattan project. She later taught on theory and methods of nuclear physics at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.

“She worked in several great European and US laboratories alongside some of the greatest minds of the 20th century.”
-Patricia Hope


Rhea Seddon (Middle Tennessee) is a former NASA astronaut, surgeon, educator and author. She has provided a female voice in the world of STEM education and male-centric careers. She was part of the first groups of astronauts to include women, and successfully completed three Space Shuttle missions.  On her final flight, Dr. Seddon was the Payload Commander. That flight received NASA management recognition as the most successful and efficient Spacelab flown to date.

“Her career shows not only how far women have come, but Dr. Seddon also provides a snapshot into the bright future that lies ahead.”
-Sheila Champlin


Zulfat Suara (West Tennessee) has contributed to her community as a cultural role-model and activist. She has served in organizations such as the Business and Professional Women of TN, Inc., Women’s Day on the Hill, and the TN Women’s Political Caucus. She has also served as President of the Junior Achievement program, an economic education platform for Hardeman County.

“Zulfat’s community service is selfless and humble, serving as a volunteer, because she believes in making Tennessee a better place for women, children and families.”
-Anna Carella


Carol Gardner Transou (East Tennessee) is a community activist, a 1987 Tennes-see Teacher of the Year, and our state's first Teacher-Scholar named by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has authored curriculum on the Vietnam War and on Women's History. She is a Founder of the Women's Fund of East Tennessee and currently serves on both the Advisory Board and the Advocacy Committee.

“Carol’s influence is felt in so many areas of the community, and she made history come alive for thousands of students.”
-Dr. Katie Baker

“The Economic Council is honored to highlight and preserve the contributions of these extraordinary women with hope that this recognition will inspire the communities in which they have served to continue to do great work for all citizens of Tennessee,” added Susanne Dupes, the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame Chair.

Go here to learn more about the Hall of Fame's current members.

To attend the full Economic Summit or just the inductee luncheon, visit: Early Registration Ends October 9th. There is a Student Discount with Student ID!

TECW Newsletter, September 2015

September 28, 2015

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September 2015 Newsletter

This month's edition features the 2015 Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame Inductee Class; summit speakers Christine Brennan and DeLores Pressley; experiences from former volunteer Heather Walter; part two of an Insights interview with small business advocate Patricia Wesson; TECW staff speaking on gender bias; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

TECW Newsletter, August 2015

August 26, 2015

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August 2015 Newsletter

This month's edition features columnist and upcoming Economic Summit guest Ellen Goodman; part one of an Insights interview with small business advocate Patricia Wesson; information about the 2015 Economic Summit for Women; a recap of the TECW's Summer Quarterly Meeting; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

TECW Newsletter, July 2015

July 28, 2015

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July 2015 Newsletter

This month's edition features the 2015 WECF College Scholarship application window; part two of an Insights interview with investment expert and author Meredith Jones; information about the 2015 Economic Summit for Women; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

TECW Newsletter, June 2015

June 25, 2015

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June 2015 Newsletter

This month's edition features the 2015 Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame nomination window; part one of an Insights interview with investment expert and author Meredith Jones; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

Nominations Open for the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Cycle

Nominate an outstanding woman in your community by July 31st

June 05, 2015

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Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder

NASHVILLE – Is there a woman in your community who should be added to The Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame (TWHOF)? Nominations are open now for outstanding Tennessee women to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this October 2015 at the Economic Summit for Women in partnership with the Vision 2020 Congress in Nashville. 

Outstanding women from each of Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions will be added to the nine names currently in the Hall of Fame. Nominations may include both living and deceased individuals. “We want the Women’s Hall of Fame to include women throughout the State’s history, so we are adding posthumous induction beginning this cycle,” said Susanne Dupes, chair of the 2015 TN Women’s Hall of Fame Committee.  Established in 2010, the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes exceptional women who have made outstanding, unique, and lasting contributions to the State’s economic, political, and cultural well-being. “TWHOF inductees have individually elevated the status of women and championed other women, women’s issues, and served as advocates for issues important to women and families,” Dupes noted.

The deadline for nomination submissions is July 31, 2015. Nomination forms and information can be found at

Nominees will be rated on the level of involvement, leadership, achievement, and years of involvement in the following four categories:

  1. Level of community and professional involvement.
  2. Personal and professional excellence in chosen business, profession, or community service.
  3. Commitment to championing other women, elevating the status of women in Tennessee, and/or advocating for issues affecting women and families.
  4. Impact on the social, artistic, cultural, economic and/or political well-being of Tennessee.

Nominations may be submitted by groups, organizations, or individuals. However, no individual may nominate herself. Nominees must have been born in Tennessee, adopted Tennessee as her home state, or resided in Tennessee for a minimum of 10 years

The 2015 TWHOF Induction will be held at the 12th Annual Economic Summit for Women in partnership with the Vision 2020 Congress on Monday, October 26, at the Nashville Airport Marriott. Information about induction attendance and full summit registration will be posted soon at, and on the TECW’s Facebook page:

TECW Newsletter, May 2015

May 27, 2015

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May 2015 Newsletter

This month's edition features an analysis of Domestic Violence in Tennessee in 2014; nomination information for the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame 2015 induction; a welcome to Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

Veterans Services Commissioner Grinder Joins Economic Council on Women

May 22, 2015

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Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder

NASHVILLE – Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder has been appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to represent his cabinet on the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.  Grinder has served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services since January 2011, and is the first woman to hold the position.

“Women continue to make great strides in all sectors as difference makers and trailblazers, but not every woman has found her voice or her niche,” Grinder said.  “It is a privilege to serve on the board of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women to collaborate on innovative ways to help women across the state connect with the resources they need to make an impact in their communities.”

Commissioner Grinder, who retired from the Tennessee Army National Guard as a Colonel with more than 35 years of service in order to lead the department, has invested in services that empower veterans.  Her department’s approach has expanded to address “Everything Veteran,” and includes greater access to higher education for student veterans, increased recruiting of veterans for workforce development programs, and veteran business resources. 

“Tennessee’s veterans face a lot of barriers when they come home, and the Economic Council is eager to explore how Commissioner Grinder’s experience in overcoming those barriers can enhance the economic stability and growth of women and families,” said Dr. Dena Wise, Chair of the Economic Council.  “Priorities like education, workforce development, and trauma recovery overlap between veterans and women, and gains with one population may translate to improvement for the other.”

The TECW recently launched two web tools that facilitate both workforce development and recovery from violence for women and men.  The Women & Work Information Hub ( offers a variety of education, skill enhancement, job search, and entrepreneurship-related resources, and the Violence Against Women Resource Center ( is a comprehensive database of Tennessee’s social service providers and other information crucial to victims of domestic and sexual violence. 

“The TECW’s effectiveness in promoting economic strength is driven by the combined expertise of its members, and we celebrate Commissioner Grinder’s appointment,” added Wise.

July, August, September 2015 Board & Commission Openings Announced

Submit your application through the Economic Council

May 21, 2015

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The Tennessee Economic Council on Women has been advised of openings on the State Boards & Commissions listed below. Though the vacancies listed will occur throughout the Summer, appointments are expected to be made in the Fall, and the application deadline for all of these openings is 12:00pm (noon), July 15, 2015.

Those interested in serving on one or more boards should contact the Economic Council at to initiate the submission process and to receive future updates by email. Please include the phrase "Boards & Commissions Inquiry" in the subject of your email.

July 2015 Board Vacancies

  • Sam Davis Memorial Association Board of Trustees: Oversees the Sam Davis Memorial Home.
    3 Members

  • Board of Veterinary Medical ExaminersPromulgates rules and regulates licenses for veterinarians.

  • Committee for Clinical PerfusionistsPromulgates rules and regulates licenses for clinical perfusionists.
    Cardiac Surgeon or Cardiac Anesthesiologist
    Hospital Admin. of Healthcare Facility Where Cardiac Surgery is Performed

  • TennCare Pharmacy Advisory Committee: Makes recommendations regarding a preferred drug list to govern all state expenditures for prescription drugs for the TennCare program.
    Organizations Engaged in Advocacy on Behalf of Members of the TennCare Program

  • State Board of PharmacyPromulgates rules and regulates licenses for pharmacists.

  • Humanities Tennessee Board of DirectorsPromotes the study of community history and culture and the study of language and literature.

  • Tennessee Residence Commission: Oversees the restoration and preservation of the Tennessee residence, including the building and contiguous grounds.
    Citizen Member

  • Governor’s Council for Armed Forces, Veterans, and Their Families: Facilitates collaboration and coordination in order to effectively meet the needs of the members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families, specifically in the areas of PTSD, unemployment, and suicide prevention.
    County or City Mayor
    Representative of an Advocacy Organization for the Homeless
    Representative of a Veteran Service Organization for Women
    Representative of Higher Education

Continue to full list >>

TECW Newsletter, April 2015

April 30, 2015

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This month's edition features reflections on the Pathway Women’s Business Center opening; TECW’s participation in the TN Women’s Veteran Summit; TECW’s Women & Work Insights Interview with Columbia State Community College President Dr. Janet F. Smith; and other news. Read the full newsletter here.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean joins Mildred Walters, incoming Exec. Dir. of the Pathway Women’s Business Center, and representatives of Pathway Lending and Regions Bank at the new Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Economic Council Launches Comprehensive Online Workforce Tool

Women & Work Information Hub serves entrepreneurs, workers, and innovators; focuses on female success

January 07, 2015

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The Economic Council on Women has launched the Women & Work (W&W) Information Hub (, an online collection of information and guidance designed to enhance workforce skills, find a new career, start or strengthen a business, or grow ideas into products throughout Tennessee.

In addition to providing a single point of entry to resources from multiple agencies and regions, the Hub showcases information and insights that will be especially useful to female users, who experience unique barriers in the workforce.  “The Economic Council's mission is to promote the economic strength and stability of Tennessee women and their families, and this site does that by connecting women to tailored information about owning a business, seeking a new job or promotion, or enhancing their skills in fields where women are underrepresented,” says Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, the TECW’s Executive Director. 

TECW Chair Dena Wise cautions that the site is not only for women, however; men will find it just as useful.  “Most resources out there are not gender-specific, so those collected on the site would help anyone,” she says, “but what distinguishes this tool from others is its aim to break down the specific barriers between women and success; we want to offer a comfortable place where women can learn and grow through a tailored experience.”

The Hub’s information is organized to be accessed in three simple ways:

  1. Women & Work Pathways: An intuitive flow of information access that guides users to the resources that best fit their current goals (i.e. jobseekers, business start-up, skill enhancement, etc.), with specific, narrative suggestions about useful and reliable tools.

    “The site’s narrative pathways will be useful to Tennesseans because they offer an experience that begins at a central point of access and shapes itself around the user.  With each new selection on a pathway, the user will see an increasingly tapered variety of resources, but a greater depth of information related to their selection,” says William Arth, TECW Senior Research Manager.

  2. Feature Column and Insights: The Hub’s sidebar showcases general tools like and BERO's Smart Start Guide and also displays context-specific links and information when available.  An additional feature found on the sidebar is Women & Work: Insights, a new and ongoing series of articles and interviews providing users with valuable qualitative information from Tennesseans who are area experts.

  3. Women & Work Resource Map (Coming Soon): In the coming months, users will gain access to a statewide map listing professional and workforce resources by category and county. This will provide information about brick and mortar workforce resources in the state as well as provide a platform for the study and presentation of economic and workforce data statewide. 

Find the Women & Work Information Hub at  For other information, contact the Economic Council directly at (615) 253-4266 or via