Young Leaders Council Announces Spring 2022 Participants

Young Leaders Council Announces Spring 2022 Participants

More than 90 young professionals participate in YLC’s spring Nashville Class 78, Junior League of Nashville, and Belmont-Massey Cohorts 


Young Leaders Council (YLC),  the premier organization for training nonprofit board members in Middle Tennessee, is proud to announce the spring participants in the Nashville Class 78, Junior League of Nashville, and Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University Cohorts, three of five cohorts hosted this year.  YLC will also facilitate board leadership training in the fall through the Nashville and Williamson County Cohorts. Ninety-one young professionals from diverse professional and ethnic backgrounds are represented in the program this spring, which kicked-off officially on March 9 with a celebratory opening session hosted at the new Asurion Gulch Hub location. The opening sessional also featured an inspirational keynote address from Derek Young, YLC alumnus and president/CEO of Young Motivation Group. 

YLC’s mission is to train diverse, committed individuals to effectively participate on the boards of nonprofit organizations and make a difference in the community by replenishing the Nashville volunteer leadership base. Each year, YLC hosts five cohorts for a series of 11 interactive training sessions specifically designed to address fundamental board skills and prepare participants to be successful nonprofit board leaders. Training is facilitated by industry experts and reflects on success indicators deemed crucial for today’s nonprofit leadership. Once training concludes, participants connect with a nonprofit organization where they complete a yearlong internship as a nonvoting member of the board.

“It’s truly inspiring to see such passion and commitment from young professionals seeking to lean into the work of our nonprofit partners and help address the challenges faced within our community,” said Kim James, Young Leaders Council executive director. “YLC’s goal is to help our program participants develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective nonprofit board leaders and to do that in a fun and engaging way.” Since 1985, more than 3,000 students have participated in the YLC program, providing highly skilled community servants to support hundreds of nonprofit partners in the Nashville and surrounding area.


To view a full listing of the 2022 spring participants, please click on links to the respective cohorts below:

Alumni spotlight – Charlane Oliver (The Equity Alliance)

Alumni spotlight – Charlane Oliver (The Equity Alliance)

Charlane OliverMany of the young individuals who have participated in the Young Leaders Council training program over the years have gone on to make a tremendous impact as nonprofit board leaders in the Middle Tennessee community.  A select few have taken that knowledge, identified a specific need to address in our community, and used the training as a catalyst to build their own nonprofit organizations.  As a graduate of the YLC Nashville Class 59, Charlane Oliver felt an urgent pull to create a more inclusive, informed, and stronger democracy for communities of color. Together with fellow activist and friend, Tequila Johnson, Charlane set on a path to create The Equity Alliance, an organization advocating for equitable opportunities and systems to improve the quality of life for Black people.  YLC is proud of the impact and contributions that Charlane and The Equity Alliance have made to advance the cause of equity and social justice for the marginalized.

How are things at The Equity Alliance? 

Things are going great!  It’s always changing. Working in TN can be challenging in terms of getting people civically engaged especially in this political climate.  People tend to push everything towards race, and you’re trying to find ways to fight back when all the tools in the toolbox seem to be ineffective.  We’re trying to find new opportunities to engage people in new and innovative ways, and with that thing are going great. 

When we started, we didn’t have any staff and it felt like we were doing a passion project.  Now we have a staff of 12 and we’re doing well.  Over the years we have built a brand that is unapologetic in how we represent ourselves.  We show up as our full selves in the office and in the community.  Our culture is supportive and inclusive, and our team enjoys working in an environment where they don’t have to hide who they are at work.  At The Equity Alliance we champion their authenticity.  If we are going to fight for equity, we also have to care for ourselves and show self-love in order to fully be able to do the same for the community.  We work to create a better environment than some of the ones we experienced in previous positions. 

As one of the founders of The Equity Alliance, would you say that there was one pivotal moment in your life where you knew for certain that you wanted to build this hugely successful organization? 

It’s hard to pinpoint one specific situation, but the catalyst really was when Trayvon Martin was murdered. I was moved to get off the sidelines and take action. It impacted me because I saw my son in Trayvon.  He’s now 10 and was born a few days before Trayvon was killed.  I realized I’m raising my black son in a society that can sometimes see him as a threat. I started to think of opportunities for us to navigate these challenges and do something to change things.

You’ve held several significant professional positions throughout your career.  Of those roles, which one(s) would you say uniquely prepared you for the work that you do both in the community and as a leader for The Equity Alliance?

When I look at the trajectory of my life and my career, it truly was God ordering my steps.  My entire career has centered within nonprofit and/or government.  From the start of my career, I’ve always seen people in crisis and worked to help them at their worse. All of the jobs I’ve held as a culmination and seeing how society tends to treat the symptoms instead of providing solutions to the internal challenges that cause the struggles. I wanted to use social justice to push toward solutions.  From my own personal background being raised by a single mom and seeing how I had to really help myself succeed.

As African Americans, we are often shut out of politics. When you drill down to how change is created, every significant decision made comes down to who is placed in those positions of power.

You’re a graduate of the Young Leaders Council Nashville Class 59 Cohort.  How did your YLC training influence or support your community advocacy and engagement work? 

I started in the nonprofit space and had that unique perspective, but I believe the training provided by YLC and the level of engagement it provided with instructors like Attorney Trace Blankenship (Spencer Fane Bone McAllester) set a foundation that gave me the tools and confidence to start a nonprofit organization. YLC prepares individuals to successfully serve on a nonprofit board, which was invaluable as we worked to set the foundation that helped to create The Equity Alliance.  

We are so proud of the work you’re doing as a YLC alumna, and I am specifically excited to see you thrive as an African American woman and executive leader in the Nashville nonprofit community.  What advice would you give to other future leaders looking to elevate their impact in a similar fashion?

Don’t overthink the level of impact that you as an individual can have on the world.  We can’t solve every specific problem.  Don’t overthink it to where you never stop.  If I had never sent that text to my friends and thought too much about it, I would have never done it.  Find a cause that you are really passionate about – that you wouldn’t mind doing it for free.  If you could wake up every day and would do that work for free, then that’s your path.

Alumni Spotlight: Jonny Woo

Alumni Spotlight: Jonny Woo

Jonny Woo is a 2020 graduate of the Young Leaders Council Belmont – Massey Cohort and currently serves as a Human Resources Business Partner for Change Healthcare here in Nashville. Jonny currently serves on the Board of Directors for Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center and is the President of the Associate Board for The Nashville Ronald McDonald House. Recently, YLC caught up with Jonny to see what he’s up to and to talk about how his educational journey at Belmont and training from YLC helped to shape his success as a nonprofit board leader.

How did the YLC program help you leverage your learning experience at Belmont to make you a more effective nonprofit leader?

One of the biggest takeaways from my time at Belmont was the power of effective & genuine networking. Networking is one of those terms that is constantly thrown around (which is good) but the key is to have a purpose behind that networking. YLC allowed me to practice that skill by providing plenty of outlets through the different instructors and opportunities to network with alumni. I specifically remember the topic of Fundraising being taught by Kim Carpenter Drake and all of the new strategies I learned about effective ways to align your networking and fundraising skills. This, for me, was a wonderful example of how YLC helps individuals build specific board leadership skills on top of the educational foundation I received at Belmont. Both experiences helped me to become a more effective nonprofit leader.

What did you enjoy most about your YLC experience?

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the participants within my specific Belmont – Massey Cohort. It was fun to be around such incredible leaders who not only had the shared experience of graduating from Belmont’s Jack C. Massey College of Business but also have a passion for serving the many nonprofits around Nashville. Additionally, I enjoyed the specific content that was taught by the instructors in each class, which focused on the specific guidelines on how nonprofit boards should operate. Two classes that stood out to me were “Nonprofit Financials” with Becky Harrell and “Legal Responsibilities of Board Members” with Trace Blankenship. I remember diving deep into some P&L statements and documents, which is an important thing for a nonprofit board member to understand.

What advice would you share with other young professionals who would like to become nonprofit board leaders?  How can YLC help them make that step?

The best advice I can give is to lean into what you are passionate about and utilize your network. Long story short I had no idea that Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), the nonprofit organization on which I served as a board intern and was eventually voted in as a full member of the board, existed prior to my YLC experience. I was able to leverage the mentor relationships that I have in the Nashville Healthcare industry to connect with MWCHC as a YLC intern and support a mission that aligned with my professional passion of improving healthcare for everyone.  YLC provides invaluable networking opportunities and helps match participants with organizations where they can help build awareness and make a lasting impact.

Young Leaders Spotlight: Christopher Haigler

Young Leaders Spotlight: Christopher Haigler

Christopher Haigler is a graduate of the Young Leaders Council Nashville Class 77 Cohort and serves as Trust Officer at Southeastern Trust Company. As a recent graduate of the program, Christopher shared his experience with the program this semester and how the training he received has prepared him to make a lasting contribution as a nonprofit board leader.


As a Trust Officer with the Southeastern Trust Company, what do you enjoy most about your work?

As a Trust Officer, I manage and administer Trust accounts, Investment Management accounts and qualified retirement accounts for our clients in a multi-family office setting.  I truly enjoy coming to work each day as each trust account, client and matter is unique and presents an entirely different challenge from the day before.  I take great pride in knowing my career revolves around assisting our clients to foster and deliver their family’s legacy. 

What inspired you to want to participate in the Young Leaders Council training program?

I was referred to YLC from a friend and after researching the mission of the organization, I knew participating in YLC would be the foundation I was seeking to contribute to the nonprofit community in Middle Tennessee.  YLC provides an exceptional curriculum to mold an individual with passion for giving back into a confident contribution to the nonprofit community.  I am looking forward to supporting YLC in different capacities in the future. 

As a new YLC grad, what have you enjoyed most this semester?  Did you have a favorite session or topic? 

I absolutely enjoyed each presentation this semester.  Each topic provided an experience tailored to a specific objective to better prepare me for nonprofit board experience.  I am most appreciative of the presenters and facilitators of the sessions as real-world scenarios were discussed to shape our learning experiences to be relatable and provide the highest impact.  My favorite session was, Planning for Sustainable Impact.  Each session throughout the semester has prepared me to tackle individual matters, and I feel the Planning for Sustainable Impact material concentrated on leveraging techniques mentioned in previous sessions and transforming the ideas into measurable and effective contributions to the organization. 

As you prepare to transition into your board internship, do you feel more prepared and empowered to be successful as a nonprofit board leader?

The YLC curriculum has done a terrific job preparing me to confidently contribute as a nonprofit board member.  I am a true believer in the saying, “confidence is key”.  The YLC training program detailed the key subjects to lay the foundation for nonprofit board participation and provided me the confidence needed to take the next step and contribute to the community.  Each YLC graduate knows they have a storied network of resources to depend on as they begin their journey and that is invaluable.    

What advice would you give to any young professional looking to engage more in the work of our Middle Tennessee nonprofit community? 

In short, follow your passion.  Determine what mission in the community is your passion and then become involved with the organization that you believe provides, or has the potential to provide, the most impact toward your selected mission.  Be ready to listen, roll your sleeves up and contribute to the organization in whatever way is needed.  Remember that the day you wake up and no longer have passion for your mission is the day you are no longer providing the drive and conviction the organization requires to thrive.  There is nothing wrong with realizing this as everyone evolves, just ensure that you are still in the right place and don’t be hesitant to make a change when you feel the need.

Nashville Ledger: Young Leaders Council names annual honorees

Nashville Ledger: Young Leaders Council names annual honorees

As published by

Young Leaders Council has named Maria Amado as its 2021 Young Leader of the Year Award recipient for her commitment to making a difference in the nonprofit community.

The award is presented annually to one YLC alumnus who has used the skills developed through the program to positively impact the Middle Tennessee nonprofit community while staying engaged with YLC.

Amado serves as a partner at A&G Financial Management and as board president of the Community Resource Center. She is a graduate of Nashville Class 37.

YLC also recognized Joshua Livingston, relationship executive, Healthcare Services at J.P. Morgan, with the Legacy of Leadership Award, given to an outstanding alumnus for demonstrated excellence and commitment, leadership and excellence to Young Leader Council and the nonprofit community.

It also recognizes his commitment to the long-term success of the organization.

He is a graduate of YLC class 60 and the organization’s immediate past board chair. Livingston serves as board chair for the governing board of Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee and on the board and executive committee of Leadership Health Care.

Reflections: A Conversation with Diane Hayes

Reflections: A Conversation with Diane Hayes

Recently, Kim James, Executive Director of the Young Leaders Council, sat down for lunch with Diane Hayes, the  beloved former YLC Executive Director for more than 25 years. Their conversation covered numerous topics, including Diane’s legacy at YLC, challenges faced as a nonprofit leader, opportunities to advance YLC’s mission for the future, the many perks of retirement life, and what’s next on Diane’s to do list.

Kim James: Diane!  I am so excited to have this conversation and reflect with you!  Thank you for joining me today.  Having had the opportunity to work with you during my time in the program, I never realized all that it took to keep things running smoothly at YLC – now I’m aware!  Leading an organization for 25 years is no small feat.  What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time with YLC?

Diane Hayes: I’m so proud of how we worked hard to build the name recognition and respect for Young Leaders Council. When we first started, so many people didn’t know who we were or what we did. So as people started understanding more about our mission and the value of YLC’s training, that helped spur growth for the organization. The growth helped us reach more young professionals who benefited from training and moved on to serve as leaders on nonprofit boards. Ultimately all of this was great for the community.

Kim: After investing so many years in the growth and success of YLC, what’s your biggest hope for the future of this great organization?

Diane: My biggest hope is that the organization will continue to grow and that more companies will realize just how important community service and leadership is for their employees. And with that more young professionals will see how impactful it is for their personal lives to be involved as leaders within the nonprofit community.

Thankfully YLC managed to survive during the most difficult season of the pandemic, and I’m even more hopeful at how the organization will continue to impact the community as a whole as things continue to improve.

Kim:  What was the most difficult part of serving as the Executive Director for YLC?

Diane: I think most nonprofit executives would agree that the never-ending need for funding to support your work is the toughest part. With so many organizations doing great work, the resources are limited and that often makes it difficult to fundraise.

Kim:  I can certainly identify with that.  How are you enjoying your retirement?

Diane:  Well, I don’t have to worry about deadlines anymore!  I have just been enjoying the lighter load and less responsibility. I really enjoy traveling and spending quality time with my granddaughter!

Kim:  You’re living the dream, Diane!  I’m happy for you and so very grateful that you continue to support YLC and me in this capacity. Thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with me today! 

What a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with one of Nashville’s treasured nonprofit leaders!  It was such a pleasure to catch up with Diane and hear her reflect on her time with YLC. I was also excited to learn that Diane is currently focusing on a new professional journey as a nonprofit consultant!  To learn more about Diane’s company and the services offered, please email her directly.