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Leaders Heart Lunch

About Leaders Heart Lunch

Do you wonder what the greatest minds in Nashville think and say about leadership?  Are you curious about the way they build leaders and impact their communities?  Would you like to know how they became leaders in their field? Get your questions answered at Leaders Heart Lunch (LHL).

This monthly lunch series will give you the opportunity to learn about the experiences of leaders at Vanderbilt and in the Nashville community.  It will provide you with the chance to connect with knowledgeable people that are passionate about their work and can offer you valuable insight on becoming an impactful student leader.

During lunch, the speaker delivers a dynamic 15-minute talk on their leadership journey.  This will be followed by 45 minutes of question-and-answer, guided by you – the students.  This will be your chance to have all of your burning questions answered and gain valuable leadership insight.


2015 Scheduled Lunches

“Power In Service”
Guest Speaker: Becca Stevens -Thistle Farms

This session is full.  Thank you for your interest.

Date: Thursday, February 19, 2015
12:30 – 1:30pm
Student Life Center Meeting Room 1 & 2

Serving the community can have a great impact on all people.  Whether you are receiving support or losing yourself in it, we can easily see how empowering it can be to make a difference in the lives of many people. All it takes is the simple decision to serve.  Founder of Thistle Farms, Becca Stevens, understands the power of serving others and its lasting impact on humanity.  Join Becca for lunch and chance to learn how she leads in service.

Becca Stevens is one of the premiere preachers and speakers in the United States proclaiming love as the most powerful force for social change. She is an Episcopal priest and founder of Magdalene, residential communities of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. 

She founded Thistle Farms in 2001 which currently employs nearly 50 residents and graduates, and houses a natural body care line, a paper and sewing studio and the Thistle Stop Café. She demonstrates that love is good business and raises millions of dollars annually for the organizations she runs. She is a prolific writer and has been featured in the New York Times and on ABC World News, NPR, PBS, CNN, and Huffington Post and named by the White House as one of 15 Champions of Change for violence against women in 2011.

She was recently named 2014 Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America, has been inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame, and was conferred an honorary doctorate by Sewanee: The University of the South. In fall 2013, Stevens launched the first Thistle Farms national conference welcoming attendees from over 30 states. Her newest book, “The Way of Tea & Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage from its Violent History,” will release in 2014. Stevens lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.

More information on Becca



“Making A Way”
Guest Speaker: Kawema Orita, Director of Community Development and Family Resource Center at Martha O’Bryan Center

Date: Monday, March 16, 2015
12:30 – 1:30pm
Location: Sarratt 189

Nothing screams leadership more than a people who help people acquire the tools needed to be successful.  The Martha O’Bryan Center (MOBC) has worked with the community since 1894 to ”join family, community, and schools to support better education and employment opportunities for our city’s most vulnerable families.”  we invite you to join Kawema Orita to hear about her leadership story and how it translates into her work with MOBC.

Learn more about the Martha O’ryan Center


“Rebuild and Flourish”
Guest Speaker: Valerie Wynn – Mary Parish Center

Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
Location: Sarratt 189

A great leader fosters an environment where people can heal and flourish.  Helping people rebuild their lives and reclaim their autonomy is what founder and Executive Director of the Mary Parish Center, Valerie Wynn has been doing for 18 years.  Join Valerie for lunch and find out how and why she provides a safe space for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

Ms. Wynn has worked with domestic and sexual violence victims for the past 18 years.  During her three years as a counselor with the Nashville Police Department’s Domestic Violence Division (a job she describes as “a pivotal turning point in my life”) she saw firsthand, the plethora of obstacles that victims face in healing from their abuse and rebuilding their lives. 

It was her passion as an advocate (and a survivor) for abused women and children and her deep desire to help them that inspired her to create The Mary Parrish Center for Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence (MPC).  In founding the MPC, Ms. Wynn had planned to take a short hiatus from her PhD dissertation to serve as Executive Director and before she knew it that “short hiatus” turned into 13 years; years she describes as the most fulfilling, difficult, joyous and rewarding years of her life.  In its first 9 years, the MPC provided a myriad of lifesaving non-residential services to over 6,000 victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Learn more about Valerie



Why Leaders Heart Lunch?

In addition to a wonderful lunch and access to great advice, you will also have the opportunity to connect with people who can help you make the most out of your leadership experience.

How Do I Sign Up?

If you would like to attend a Lunch, you must complete a short, “Intent To Attend ” form on Anchor Link.

You will be asked to login with your VUNetID and password.  Please note that we will have a speaker once per month.  Therefore we ask that you return to this page for updates.

What If I Cannot Make It For Lunch?

You are expected to be part of the entire engagement. Therefore, we ask that you plan for this event in advance.  However, if you will not be able to stay or realize that you cannot be present for this entire event, we kindly request that you let us know as soon as possible so that we may reach out to one of our alternate applicants.  You can send an email to wil.delossantos@vanderbilt.edu

Who Do I Contact If I have Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact Wil De Los Santos at wil.delossantos@vanderbilt.edu or visit us in Sarratt 339.


Previous Speakers






“Blazing A Trail In Leadership”
Guest Speaker: Dr. Marisa Richmond

Marisa served as a Delegate in the 2008 National Democratic Convention. Elected as the first openly transgender Delegate ever from the state of Tennessee and the first African American transgender Delegate in the United States, she has valuable leadership insight and a passion for leadership in politics and the LGBT community.  We invite you to have lunch with us and learn about her work as a leader in the Nashville community.


“Servant Leadership”
Guest Speaker: Tom Ward, President and CEO, Oasis Center

Ever wonder what it means to serve others? Why is servant leadership so important when it comes to inspiring others? Join us and find out what servant leadership looks like from the experience of our guest.

Read Tom’s bio here.





“Being A Young Professional In A Thriving City”
Guest Speaker: Corey Davis, Director of Business Growth Initiatives, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

The city of Nashville is rapidly growing and has a lot to offer Vanderbilt students. Join us to find out how you can get involved and learn about the resources that exist in music city.  Learn about the life of a young professional and how you can thrive in this city.

Read Corey’s bio here.