Breaking Ground 114

Summer 2023

Introduction by Lauren Pearcy, Executive Director, TN Council on Developmental Disabilities

Dear Readers,

This summer marks an exciting anniversary: 30 years of our biggest leadership program, Partners in Policymaking®. Each year, approximately 25 people from all corners of Tennessee have learned about disability best practices and leadership skills. After graduating, these leaders bring their knowledge and passion back to their communities across Tennessee. As they do, they increase the impact of the program many times over. This is one of the most important ways our small agency makes a big impact throughout Tennessee: by investing in community leaders.

For most of the program’s history, Partners in Policymaking was held in person on weekends. This design worked well for the pre-pandemic era. In 2020, we (like everyone else!) suddenly shifted to virtual so that we could keep the program going. Now, at our 30th anniversary, we are going to step back and regroup. We will reflect this year on the program’s accomplishments, on celebrating our graduates, and on designing what’s next in the post-pandemic era. Watch our newsletters for updates and ways to get involved!

In the meantime, I want to share a photo of our most recent graduating class and their names/hometowns. These are your state’s newest leaders. Congratulations, Partners class of 2022-23!


Lauren Pearcy
Executive Director

2023 Partners in Policymaking graduates

  • Heather Bensch - Ripley
  • Becca Brnik - Cleveland
  • Colleen Campbell - Madison
  • Sarah Clinton - Nashville
  • Olivia Crossman - Nashville
  • Swathi Dasari - Brentwood
  • Monica Everett - Cordova
  • Barbara Goodrum - Paris
  • Jennifer Hout - Franklin
  • Gregory Hutchins - Murfreesboro
  • Kevin Krieb - Christiana
  • Nidhi Mali - Memphis
  • Alexis May - Milan
  • Katie Moore - Jackson
  • Lia Nichol - Powell
  • Edel Pace - Lebanon
  • Justin Ralls - Greenfield
  • Lindy Register - Bells
  • Sidney Roark - Oak Ridge
  • Dr. Sharon Webb - Memphis
  • Fleur Whitehead - Clarksville
a diverse group of about 20 adults with and without disabilities pose for a group photo in the hotel courtyard holding up their Partners paper certificates.
Partners scholars with their graduation certificates, April 2023. Graduates not pictured: Heather Bensch, Colleen Campbell, Olivia Crossman, Edel Pace, and Justin Ralls

Resources and news highlighted in this issue of Breaking Ground

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) offers the site, which is a database of affordable rental properties across Tennessee. Interested renters can search by:

  • city,
  • county,
  • rent price range,
  • number of bedrooms,
  • accessibility features,
  • and many other items.

Search results will show the property on a map and include pictures of the property. It will describe the property’s access to transportation and other nearby services. The listing will give you direct contact information for property managers and describe the application requirements. If you don’t have computer access, you can call 1-877-428-8844 for bilingual, one-on-one help finding the right rental home for your needs and budget.