Board of Directors

Emerge Tennessee’s Board of Directors


State Senator Raumesh Akbari, Memphis. 

Andrea Campbell, a nonprofit professional, Nashville. Dedicated to advancement of women in leadership, Campbell is the Nashville facilitator of LeadHer, an international women’s organization that challenges women to grow in their faith, leadership and relationships. Andrea also serves on the Executive Board of Advocates for Women’s and as Education Director of Kid’s Equality (AWAKE). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Fisk University and is pursuing a Masters of Divinity.

Brenda Gadd,  veteran government affairs expert, Nashville. Brenda has more than 17 years of experience in Tennessee campaigns. She managed the successful, nationally watched Tennessee Supreme Court Retention Campaign, including protection of two women Justices. An outspoken advocate for women’s, children’s and minority issues, Brenda leads workshops and trainings on both grassroots and grassroots leadership.

State Representative Gloria Johnson, Knoxville. Rep. Johnson represents District 13 in the Tennessee House of Representatives, having been elected in 2012 and 2018.  A master of grassroots politics, she is a champion in the legislature for public education, women’s healthcare, and good paying jobs with equal pay for equal work.  Prior to her legislative service, she served four years as Chair of the Knox County Democratic Party, and 27 years as a teacher with an emphasis on special education.

Vonda McDaniel, Nashville.

Olliette Murry-Drobot, Executive Director of The Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County. Olliette has 20 years of experience in not-for-profit management. The Family Safety Center (FSC) coordinates civil, criminal, health and social services for domestic violence victims. A member of the Memphis/Shelby Crime Commission Board of Directors, she is also a board member of the Memphis/Shelby County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council. She currently serves as treasurer of Emerge Tennessee.

Joanne Sowell,  attorney, community activist and philanthropist, Nashville. Joanne is passionate about making Tennessee a welcoming and inclusive place to live. Besides practicing law, she has worked at social service agencies, owned a social enterprise and been an active volunteer on political campaigns, including former Governor Phil Bredesen’s U.S. Senate race in 2018,  and in numerous community projects. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar, a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Tulane University, and the University of Florida and a mother of two.

Jennifer Buck Wallace, Director for Together Tennessee, of Nashville. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2000. After working as a producer for Country Music Television for 5 years, Jennifer left her career in television to become the Tennessee State Field Organizer for Obama for America in 2007. Post-election, Jennifer went to work for the Tennessee Democratic Party as the Executive Director in 2009, and then became the Director of Development and Tennessee Senior Advisor for Organizing for Action in 2013. Jennifer and her husband Billy live in Germantown are the parents of a young son, Buck.

Candy Johnson, senior advisor to Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga: Candy is a high-level government, education and non-profit leader with more than a decade of experience providing leadership to numerous organizations. Her well-rounded and collaborative approach to leading provides a unique perspective on organizational development and planning with the ability to produce measurable outcomes that matter to all. Strategic planning, communications, research, public policy, project management and evaluation, resource and fund development, public-private partnerships, government & nonprofit budgeting, community relations and political acumen are skills in which Candy has excelled.

Lauren Rider, Knoxville City Councilwoman for the 4th District, Knoxville. Lauren Rider, a resident of North Knoxville and native of Evans, Georgia, is active in the community and a faculty member at Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), serving as the Librarian at their Division Street campus. She previously worked as a Research Librarian in Healthcare at Methodist Medical Center-Oak Ridge, the National Library of Medicine’s Go Local-Indiana project, and at Community Health Network of Indiana. Lauren’s community service includes: KAT Community Advisory Committee, Knox County Library Advisory Board, Broadway Corridor Task Force, City of Knoxville Public Property Naming Committee, Old North Knoxville, Inc., City of Knoxville Neighborhood Advisory Council.

State Senator Katrina Robinson, Memphis.