Staff & Board

Our staff and board is as varied as the art for which we find a voice. It includes:

  • Aids to governors, senators and presidents
  • A Statesman of the Year
  • National Convention delegates
  • Director of large-scale musicals
  • Teachers, principals and professors
  • Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Executive director of the Fellowship of Southern Writers
  • Singer with the Knoxville Choral Society
  • Recipient of the Tennessee Governors School for the Arts Outstanding Teacher Award
  • Recipient of the Tennessee Education Association Administrator of the Year award
  • Principal trumpet of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra
  • Actors and fight choreographer
  • Playwrights
  • Historic gardener

We strive to maintain an appropriate mix of professionals and executives in the arts, practicing artists, and business and community leaders who support the arts in their communities and across the state. Choose a photo to learn more about each member.

Image: Whitney Jo

Whitney Jo, Memphis, TN

Vice President, West Tennessee

Whitney Jo has been managing director of Playhouse on the Square since 1993. Whitney is the Director/Founder of the Memphis Arts Advocacy Group, a member of the Safety Committee for the Cooper-Young Community Association, a member of Mpact Memphis, and on the Program Committee for Leadership Memphis. Previous accomplishments include serving on the Tennessee Arts Commission Theatre Grant Approval Committee, vice president of the Board of Directors for Voices of the South, and a participant in Johns Hopkins University’s Listening Post. Whitney is a graduate of Leadership Memphis FastTrack and was recognized in 2003 by Memphis Woman Magazine as one of the 50 Women in Memphis Who Make A Difference.

Image: Susan Robinson

Susan Robinson, Chattanooga, TN

Vice President – East Tennessee

Susan Robinson, executive director of the Chattanooga Arts & Education Council, began working for the organization in 1992. She is president-elect of the Southeastern Tennessee chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and is a charter member of the Tennessee Presenters Corporation where she currently serves as treasurer. She volunteers for the Southern Arts Federation and Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga. Susan also serves as executive director of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Image: Jane Alvis

Jane Alvis, Nashville, TN

Secretary

Jane Alvis has been in and around state government for over 27 years. She began her career with Governor Lamar Alexander, followed by M. Lee Smith Publishers and Printers as the associate editor of The Tennessee Journal. She later joined The Fulton Group and then The Ingram Group before serving the Office of the Mayor as Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell’s director of legislative affairs. In 2005, she started her own government, public and community relations consulting firm, Alvis Company. Jane is the chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and a board member of the Actor’s Bridge Ensemble.

Image: Stephanie Conner

Stephanie Conner, Nashville, TN

Past President

After graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Stephanie Conner served in several capacities within state and federal government. She worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for four years as a legislative researcher and assistant. After leaving Washington, she served as assistant to the governor for boards and commissions, deputy policy director, and executive director of the Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. During her time in state and federal government, Stephanie served as chair of the Southern Governors’ Association staff advisory committee, completed the Danforth Foundation policy maker’s program, served on the Tennessee State Healthcare Planning Commission and the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission. In 2002, Stephanie was appointed by the governor to a five-year term on the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC). She served as chair of the State Museum Committee, and as TAC chair the last two years of her term. She is an active board member of Watkins College of Art, Design and Film and the Southern Arts Federation.

Image: Debby Koch

Debby Koch, Nashville, TN

Vice President - Middle Tennessee

Debby Koch is a communications and marketing professional who currently serves as director of communications & marketing for Governor Bredesen’s Cover Tennessee program. Prior to this, Debby held several roles such as vice president of communications and marketing and vice president of administration for Baptist Hospital. Debby is also the former Deputy Press Secretary to Gov. Lamar Alexander. She has served in leadership positions on numerous boards including the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Foundation, the Cumberland Valley Girl Scouts of America Board of Directors, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Nashville Symphony, the Tennessee Arts Foundation, the Ladies Hermitage Association, and The Blakeford at Green Hills.

Image: Marie Murphy

Marie Murphy, Nashville, TN

Marie Murphy is senior projects advisor with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. An attorney, Marie served previously as executive director of the County Officials Association of Tennessee and as a staff attorney with The University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association (having served on its legislative committee), the Nashville Bar Association, and the Lawyers Association for Women (having served on its board and as editor of its newsletter). She has also served on the board of directors of the Guest House (now merged with the Campus for Human Development).

Image: Bo Spessard

Bo Spessard, Nashville, TN

Since 2006, Bo Spessard has served as the director of operations for an email service provider, Emma. Prior to coming on board at Emma, he was an associate at the law firm of Baker Donelson. In 2005, Bo and Casey Gill Summar began working on an idea which would eventually evolve into the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (TNVLA). As the Chairman of the Board for TNVLA, Bo worked with Casey and the TNVLA board to grow TNVLA into a successful organization providing pro bono legal services for artists and non-profit arts organizations throughout Nashville. In the winter of 2009, TNVLA and The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville merged into one organization, and TNVLA has expanded its offering under the Arts & Business Council to include Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts. Bo continues to serve on the board of directors for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville.

Image: Ginger Terry

Ginger Terry, Lexington, TN

Ginger Terry currently serves on the City of Lexington Tourism Board and is a full time student at Bethel University. Previously, she worked as an account executive in advertising at Lexington Broadcasting working in the local market and the E.S.P.N. market for West Tennessee. She works as an event coordinator and organizer for weddings, galas, parties and receptions. Ginger previously worked in customer service at Central State Bank in Lexington. Her hobbies include theater, museums, symphony and traveling.  Ginger is currently a board  member of Tennesseans for the Arts,she is active in Arts Advocacy Day and is a past member of the Tennessee Arts Commission (2006-2011).She serves on the Imagination Library committee as well as the Henderson Co. Community Kitchen.   Her past community involvement has included: member of the Jackson (TN) Symphony marketing committee; panelist for the Jackson Arts Council; parent representative of the Caywood School Health Advisory Council; member of the Caywood School Component 5 School Improvement Plan Leadership Team; member of the Lexington High School Community Leaders Board; historian for the Lexington Civic League; president of the Lexington Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center; co-chair of Andrea Walks Henderson County; campaign coordinator for Representative Steve McDaniel (R-TN, Dist. 72) (2004/2006); founder and president of the Lexington Soccer League and graduate of Leadership Henderson County.  Ginger is a graduate of WestStar, a regional leadership program offered through the University of Tennessee-Martin, during which she received the C.P.Boyd  Leadership Award for the class of 2006.  She also served on the WestStar Marketing Committee and Alumni Council.

Image: Cathy Wilson

Cathy Wilson, Memphis, TN

Cathy Wilson has been an active leader in education and arts education for K-16 in Tennessee for 32 years. She has served as a classroom teacher, art teacher, K-12 fine arts supervisor, K-12 general education supervisor, assistant principal, principal, education consultant, assistant professor and associate professor. She has served as a member of the Praxis Art Education National Advisory Council through Educational Testing Services, and attended the National Art Education Association Distinguished Fellows Institute. Cathy has been recognized as The SCS Outstanding Service Award: Tennessee Education Association Administrator of the Year; TAEA Higher Education Educator of the Year; SCS Administrator of the Year; Tennessee Art Education Association Administrator of the Year; Outstanding Teacher of the Humanities; School, System, and State finalist Teacher of the Year; and University of Memphis Department of Leadership Mortar Board Graduate Student of the Year. Her artwork has been exhibited at several invitational shows, and she is an active painter and writer with a manuscript currently under review.

Image: Liza Zenni

Liza Zenni, Knoxville, TN

Liza Zenni’s career in arts administration has spanned nearly 20 years. Since 2002, she has served as executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, a membership-driven organization of artists, arts and culture organizations, historic homes, and arts aficionados in the 11 counties of East Tennessee. Liza has performed as an effective advocate on behalf of East Tennessee’s arts and culture community earning appointments on the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation Board of Directors, Maryville College’s Civic Arts Center Board, the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Public Art Task Force, and as a panelist and consultant to numerous funding entities, arts organizations, and redevelopment projects.

Image: Molly Pratt

Molly Pratt, Nashville, TN

Government & Community Relations Consultant, TFTA

Molly Pratt is a principal in the firm of Pratt, Pratt & Rice, Inc., a government and community relations consulting group. Pratt has more than 25 years of experience working in and around all levels of government. Pratt worked on the legislative team of former Governor Lamar Alexander, has served as the lobbyist for a major Tennessee trade association and as the head of government and community relations for Knox County government. In 1999, Pratt was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission and to the Tennessee Residence Foundation in 2003. She is currently vice-chair of Nashville’s Metro Arts Commission. Before moving to Nashville from Knoxville, Pratt served on the boards of the Knoxville Opera and The Arts and Cultural Alliance. She is a member of The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts Board of Directors and serves on the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.