Judge Richard Dinkins, passionate civil rights activist and judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals, will be honored with the Nelson C. Andrews Distinguished Service Award at the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF)’s 15th annual Public Schools Hall of Fame event on Wednesday, Oct. 2. Kasar Abdulla, Dr. Adrienne Battle and Jimmy Granbery will also be inducted into the Public Schools Hall of Fame as Distinguished Alumni Award honorees.
The annual Hall of Fame luncheon, presented by First Tennessee, raises funds to support NPEF’s work and aims to inspire future innovators and leaders in the city by honoring those who are making a difference for public schools.
Dinkins is being honored with the Nelson C. Andrews Award, sponsored by Education Networks of America, in recognition of his dedication and service to the Nashville community, and his fierce advocacy for civil rights in public education. During his third year of law school at Vanderbilt University, Dinkins clerked for the Honorable Avon N. Williams Jr. and became involved in Nashville’s long-running desegregation case. Dinkins went on to successfully represent the plaintiffs in the case.
“Judge Dinkins’ life and career are marked by an exemplary commitment to service, and he stands as a pillar of civic leadership in Nashville,” said Janet Miller, event co-chairwoman and CEO of the Nashville office of Colliers International. “I can think of few people who have made such a profound impact on Nashville’s public schools – and few people as deserving of NPEF’s highest honor – as Judge Richard Dinkins.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by Belmont University, recognizes outstanding Metro Nashville Public Schools graduates who go above and beyond to support our city and its public schools. This year’s winners are not only outstanding MNPS graduates, they also all give back to our public schools in their own unique and impactful ways, representing the necessary collaboration of nonprofit, public and private sectors in supporting our students.
● Kasar Abdulla has a lifelong dedication to empowering others, and gives back to the community through her work with schools, nonprofits and social justice organizations. This dedication can be traced back to her youth, when she spent part of her childhood in a Kurdish-refugee camp in Turkey. After immigrating to the United States, Abdulla became a first-generation college graduate and became involved in several organizations for change, including the YWCA, Kurdish Women for Better Health, and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. She was even honored by President Barack Obama as a Welcoming America Champion for Change in 2013. She now serves as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Valor Collegiate Academies, and serves on the board of PENCIL Foundation. She is a graduate of Antioch High School.
● Dr. Adrienne Battle is a devoted public servant whose career is marked by her commitment to serving Nashville’s public schools. She is the first female director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the first director to graduate from the district. Her 20-year career in education spans all the way back to her elementary school days in Nashville. She has held multiple executive principal positions through the elementary and high school levels, and was named the 2015 Academies of Nashville Executive Principal of the Year. Because of her leadership as executive principal of Antioch High School, the school made tremendous academic gains and was even designated a Tennessee Reward School for progress in 2014. She is a graduate of Overton High School.
● Jimmy Granbery is a prominent leader in the Nashville business community, serving as chairman and CEO of the H.G. Hill Realty Company and chairman of the H.G. Hill Company. He serves as a commissioner of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, was recently appointed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, and serves as vice chairman of the Martin Methodist College board and the Nashville Zoo board. He is also a longtime supporter of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, which recently awarded him the organization’s highest honor, the Order of the Red Triangle Award. His support of the Y’s Youth Outreach was instrumental in the success of YCAP’s Achievers Program. Last year, the program awarded over $600,000 in college scholarship money to MNPS students; a 1,000% increase over the previous year. He is a graduate of Hillwood High School.
“In order to tackle the problems facing our public schools, it is necessary for the entire community to come together. These three honorees, with their diverse backgrounds and career paths, are the embodiment of that,” said Joey Hatch, event co-chairman and former executive vice president and general manager for Skanska’s Midwest region. “As a fellow MNPS graduate, I am proud to help honor these three individuals, who’ve found such success in their careers, while also supporting public schools and giving back to the city in such meaningful ways.”
NPEF will also be presenting the Inspiring Innovation Award and the second annual Inspiring Educator Award at the event. Those winners will be unveiled at the Oct. 2 luncheon. Miller and Hatch are joined by Anne Lowry Russell, Ron Corbin and Harry Allen, who are serving as table host chairs for the event.
To purchase tickets, visit nashvillepef.org/hall-of-fame or call 615-727-1515. All proceeds support NPEF’s work to support and strengthen our public schools.