Born in Yazoo City, MS to an entrepreneurial family that founded the first Black hospital in the state, Joyce Espy Searcy is no stranger to hard work. At 17-years-old, she relocated to Nashville, TN to attend Fisk for her undergraduate degree and Peabody College of Vanderbilt for her graduate degree. She went on to a career in higher education teaching and readying students to become health care administrators before funneling her skills and talents into a new career path.
After many years spent in the college classroom, Joyce transitioned to consulting for Hospital
Corporation of American before becoming CEO of Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, a non-profit dedicated to promoting self-reliance and positive life choices for children, youth and seniors. In that role, one she held for 22 years, Joyce oversaw organizational operations and had the chance to work alongside a team of professionals equally dedicated to making a significant impact in the community. To strengthen her skills in a C-level leadership position, Joyce completed the Executive Seminar on Finance and Accounting at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management and Harvard’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management. Soon after, Joyce transitioned to Belmont University where she currently serves as the Founding Director for the Office of Community Relations. At Belmont, Joyce identifies and cultivates alliances with neighborhoods, community groups, non-and for-profits, businesses and governmental entities in Nashville to increase the effectiveness of Belmont’s outreach and service initiatives.
Joyce has served on numerous local and national boards including on the Board of Directors for Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce, as an Executive Committee Board Member of the YWCA of the USA (where she served as Regional Vice-President of the Mid-States), Girl Scouts of the USA, Metro Human Relations Commission, Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Women’s Fund and the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee. Currently, she serves as Secretary for the Leadership Nashville Board of Trustees, Treasurer for the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NAHCC) and as a Board Member for the Nashville Public Library and the Nashville Public Library Foundation, among others.
Ever dedicated to the importance of diversity throughout her community, Joyce’s volunteer work has largely been focused on furthering her own beliefs surrounding the importance of inclusion, and she credits Nashville’s success to the diversity of its residents. At Belmont, Joyce has launched the University’s Supplier Diversity Program. In recognition of her service, Joyce has consistently been honored with some of the city’s top awards: the Nashville Athena Award, a designation celebrating women who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their profession and throughout the community; Academy for Women of Achievement; the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Community Service Award, the NAHCC Diversity Award; their Board Member of the Year Award; and the Nashville Minority Business Center’s Corporate Award. Most recently, she was elected to the International Women’s Forum, a global organization advancing women’s leadership and was selected along with nine other Nashville leaders for Harvard University’s 2019 Summer Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.