Each year, MOAA National holds the Col. Marvin J. Harris Communications Award Contest to identify councils and chapters that do an outstanding job communicating with their members and community. We were notified on 4 May 2022 that the Middle TN Chapter received the 5-Star award for it's web site (for the second year in a row!).
Middle Tennessee Chapter Newsletter August 2022
Editor: COL Doug Minton, USA Retired
MOAA Middle Tennessee Chapter Meeting
23 August 2022; 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
MTC Monthly Luncheon Meeting
“Davidson County Veterans Court”
Judge Melissa Blackburn
Davidson County General Sessions Court, Division II
Old Natchez Country Club, 115 Gardengate Drive, Franklin, TN 37069
Melissa Blackburn was elected to serve as Judge of the Division II General Sessions Court on August 7, 2014 and re-elected by the voters of Nashville on August 4, 2022.
A Nashville native, Judge Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School and Lipscomb University, She attended the Nashville School of Law to earn her law degree. Following graduation, she decided to practice law in the General Sessions courts across Tennessee and extensively in Nashville.
In addition to her duties in General Sessions Court, Judge Blackburn serves as judge of the Mental Health and Veterans Courts. She works through the court program to provide assistance to the mentally challenged and works with Nashville’s Veterans who have encountered legal difficulties resulting from trauma suffered in the service of the United States Military. Since taking the bench, Judge Blackburn has established the Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation. She successfully led the effort to secure funding to support the work of Veterans Courts in the Tennessee Legislature, making Tennessee the first state to provide such funding. In 2022, she successfully worked with the Legislature to enact Tennessee’s first funding of Mental Health Courts. In December of 2017, she was elected by her colleagues to serve as Presiding Judge of the Davidson County General Sessions Courts. She was re-elected to the post in August of 2018 and will serve again in 2022/23.
Among the civic leadership positions Judge Blackburn has held are:
• Member of the Tennessee Bar Association.
• Member of the Nashville Bar Association.
• Elected to the Nashville Bar Association Board of Directors for 2019-2023.
● Nashville Bar Association First Vice President, 2022
• Past Board Member, Lawyers Association for Women.
• 2005-2007 Chairman of the Downtown Nashville YMCA Board.
• Campaign Chairman for the YMCA “We Build People” Campaign.
• Past Chair of the General Sessions Court Committee for Nashville Bar Association.
• Past Chair of the Small and Solo Section of Tennessee Bar Association.
• Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation.
• Fellow of the American Inns of Court.
• Former Executive Director of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Tennessee Chapter.
• Member of “Women In Numbers.”
• Developed the “Women Build” Program for Habitat, annually bringing together a diverse group of
women leaders to build a home for a deserving woman in Nashville.
● Member of the Downtown Nashville Chapter of Rotary International.
• Member of the Hearts of Hope Luncheon Committee for the Nashville Rescue Mission.
• Member of the Women’s Political Collaborative.
• Member of the Davidson County Democratic Women.
● Member of Nashville CABLE.
● 2022 Graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee.
● Leadership Nashville, Class of 2023.
Together Judge Blackburn and her husband, Nashville Attorney Gary Blackburn, have raised four children in our community. They are avid fans of the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. In her spare time she enjoys golf, spending time with Gary and doting on her dog, Abigail.
MTC President's Letter
July saw outstanding membership attendance at our luncheon! Almost 40-chapter members came to hear Mrs. Traci Holton, Vice President, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chief Engineer of the Nashville International Airport (BNA). She discussed how airport passenger throughput at BNA has consistently outpaced the national average at 18.8 million and the airport ranks 5th in passenger recovery. The $1.5 billion dollar revitalization and expansion, which includes a new concourse and future runway extension, were thoroughly briefed. The airport is definitely planning to keep pace with the Middle Tennessee area’s rapid growth.
For the August meeting, the chapter will again gather at the Old Natchez Trace Country Club to hear a Nashville leader making a difference. Judge Melissa Blackburn will be our guest speaker and discuss the Davidson County Veterans’ Court. This alternative sentencing initiative started in 2014 and has a success rate of more than 85%. This promises to be an impactful meeting.
Shortly before our July luncheon, the chapter’s Vice President, Colleen Vetere, notified board members that she is stepping down as a board member to concentrate on her expanded work responsibilities. This leaves the board with no First or Second Vice Presidents in the line of succession. The chapter’s succession plan was created over a decade ago and functioned well until this post-pandemic period. Currently, we are fortunate that we have a slew of dedicated past presidents and other chapter members who regularly perform critical duties. In one case, a past president has selflessly performed myriad critical duties for almost a decade and in another case, a chapter member admirably juggles three key duties simultaneously.
Optimally, we need to fill at least one Vice President position by the end of this year or start of next year. The present board is working on updates to the chapter bylaws and creation of appendices which will delineate the responsibilities and resources needed for the various board positions. We are also archiving key documentation into a centralized storage area to allow improved transitions when new members join the board. I am confident that the right people are in the chapter who believe in the MOAA mission and want to keep the Middle Tennessee Chapter growing and remaining a top performer as evidenced by our string of 5-star Levels of Excellence Awards.
Finally, the chapter has several events coming up which will allow us to fulfill MOAA’s commitment to “never stop serving.” Members can directly engage in three events supporting area charities this Fall and attend Operation Stand Down Tennessee’s inspirational annual breakfast. Please be on the lookout for more information about these events!
Lt. Col. (ret) Karon Uzzell-Baggett, USAF
President, MTC MOAA
Middle TN Chapter Awarded MOAA 5-Star Levels of Excellence Award for the year 2021.
On 5 August we were notified by MOAA National that the Middle Tennessee Chapter has received another consecutive selection as a 5-star Levels of Excellence (for the membership year 2021) award winner.
This is testament to the fine work of LTC (ret) Mike Patenaude and his staff during the 2021 timeframe. Special thanks to COL (ret) Doug Minton who has expertly crafted the chapter's submission for over a decade.
The complete list of winners appears at the link below.
"Congratulations on Middle Tennessee Chapter, MOAA (TN04) selection as a Levels of Excellence (LOE) Award winner! To review the complete list of winners, select this link."
Lt. Col. (ret) Karon Uzzell-Baggett, USAF
President, MTC MOAA
MTC Membership Updates
Welcome to the new members that have joined in the 2022 membership year: