Board of Directors

Emerge Tennessee’s inaugural 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.

Holly McCall, Chair,  Franklin. Holly has more than 30 years of experience as a communications strategist, newspaper reporter, and fundraiser at the local, state, and national levels. She served as Tennessee Press Secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.  Her public relations and public affairs business, Morrigan Strategies, LLC, represents national public interest campaigns as well as local clients, and she provides political and election analysis for Nashville’s WZTV Fox 17. Prior to becoming chair of Emerge Tennessee, she served as chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party and was the Democratic nominee for State Representative, House District 65, in 2016.

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.

Freda Player, senior legislative advisor to Mayor David Briley, Nashville. Freda began her political career on the Gore Presidential Campaign. She was later Voter Outreach Coordinator and the Political Director at the Tennessee Democratic Party. As political director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, she was responsible for all lobbying, advocacy and electoral efforts for Local 205 in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis. Freda serves as Vice-Chair of Emerge Tennessee, chairs the Tennessee Health Care Campaign Board of Directors, serves as Treasurer of Tennessee Citizen Action, sits on the Advisory Board of Nashville New Leaders Council, and is At-Large board member for the League of Women Voters of Tennessee.

Stacy Richardson currently serves as Chief of Staff to Mayor Andy Berke in Chattanooga. Stacy leads a team of 15 senior government officials who oversee the development and implementation of the Mayor’s agenda. She has overseen the drafting and passage of the City’s first open data policy, lead the development of the City’s early childhood education agenda, and coordinated efforts with area Universities to limit sexual assault on college campuses. Stacy previously worked at the crossroads of politics and policy — either in her capacity as a researcher or working on political campaigns. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is currently pursuing her masters degree at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Stacy also serves on the board of the Chattanooga Urban Design Studio and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Arts & Sciences.

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.