Women's Suffrage Centennial

A Century of Nashville Women

We're celebrating a century of Nashville women making history.

A Century of Nashville Women Making History

It's been 100 years since brave women from across the state and country descended upon Nashville to fight for the right to vote. They won. The 19th amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. Those women blazed the trail for so many incredible Nashville women that have come since and continue to pass the torch. We're celebrating more than 100 extraordinary people here, but know that there have been and will be many, many more.

A brief description of each woman is offered but we encourage you to explore more about all of them. These women truly led by example. And we are proudly following. 

Abby Crawford Milton
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Adrienne Battle
Superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools, first woman in the city’s history to hold this position

Agenia Clark
As CEO of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, she leads one of the fastest-growing and most innovative councils in the nation, serving 14,800 girls across a 39-county region

Ali Harnell
President and Chief Strategy Officer, Women Nation at Live Nation; she leads strategy and efforts to advance and support women in the live music business and also co-created the UK-based country music festival Country2Country.

Alice Randall
Author and Songwriter, first African American woman to co-write a number-one country hit

Amy Adams Strunk
Controlling Owner of the Tennessee Titans, one of a handful of female NFL owners

Amy Grant
Artist and Songwriter, known for performing Contemporary Christian Music and referred to as "The Queen of Christian Pop" for a successful crossover to pop music in the 1980s and 1990s

Amy Kurland
Founder of The Bluebird Cafe, an intimate listening room for Nashville's songwriter scene

Ann Patchett
Author and Co-Owner of independent bookstore, Parnassus Books

Anne Dallas Dudley
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Anne Holt
WKRN-TV News Anchor, the first woman, the first African American, and the first news anchor to receive the Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award from the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters

Ashley Howell
Executive Director of the Tennessee State Museum and oversaw the new museum opening in 2018

Barbara Mandrell
Country Music Artist and Actress, first performer to win the Country Music Association Award for Entertainer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1981

Becca Stevens
Founder of Thistle Farms, a social enterprise and residency program to benefit women survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution

Becky Gardenhire
Partner and Co-Head of Nashville WME Office, making her the highest-ranking female executive at a music agency in Nashville

Belle Kinney Scholz
Sculptor, created the Victory statue in front of the War Memorial Auditorium

Beth Harwell
First woman elected as Speaker of Tennessee's House of Representatives

Beth Slater Whitson
One of the first successful songwriters in Nashville, many songs becoming some of the largest-selling in sheet music

Bettie Page
Pinup Model, internationally known and often referred to as the "Queen of Pinups"

Brenda Lee
Country Music Artist, the only woman to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame

Candice Storey Lee
Vanderbilt University Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director, Vanderbilt University's first female athletic director, and the first African American woman to head an SEC athletics program.

Carell Stadler
CEO of Dance Network and Skyway Studios, the only full-service broadcast and production campus in Tennessee

Carol Gardner Transou
Educator and Community Activist, she became the National Endowment for Humanities’ first Tennessee Teacher-Scholar in 1990, winning a yearlong sabbatical for study of the Vietnam War and how to include the war in high school curricula

Caroline Randall Williams
Author, Poet, and Activist, her book of poetry Lucy Negro, Redux is currently being adapted as a ballet by the Nashville Ballet

Carrie Chapman Catt
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Carrie Gentry
Civil Rights Activist, influential in the effort to desegregate Nashville and one of the first African American members of the Davidson County Democratic Party’s Women Club

Carrie Underwood
Country Music Artist, ranked the highest-certified country album artist to debut in the twenty-first century

Catherine Talty Kenny
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

CeCe Winans
Gospel Music Artist, the best-selling female gospel artist of all time

A. Cherrie Epps
Former President/CEO of Meharry Medical College, the only African American woman with a Ph.D. degree to become Dean of a US medical school

Cindy Mabe
President of Universal Music Group Nashville, Nashville’s highest-ranking woman label executive

Connie Bradley
Music Industry Veteran and former head of ASCAP Nashville Office

Cordia Harrington
Owner and Founder of The Bakery Companies, has received dozens of awards for her dedication to furthering female entrepreneurship

Cornelia Fort
Pilot, one of the first women in Woman's Auxiliary Ferry Service

Danielle Whitworth Barnes
Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services which provides services to more than two million Tennesseans each year through various programs

Deb Paquette
Chef and Community Advocate, the first woman in Tennessee to qualify as a certified executive chef

Demetria Kalodimos
Former Reporter and longest continuously serving nightly news anchor for WSMV-TV

Diane Nash
Civil Rights Leader and Student Leader of the Nashville Sit-ins Movement

Diane Neighbors
First Woman Elected as Vice Mayor of Nashville

Dolly Parton
Country Music Artist, Songwriter, and Actress, one of the most-honored female country performers of all time, she has 44 career Top 10 country albums (a record for any artist), and 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years

Donna Hilley
Music Industry Veteran and former CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Dorothy L. Brown
Surgeon and first African American woman elected to the Tennessee's House of Representatives

Dottie Rambo
Gospel Artist and Songwriter, she wrote more than 2,500 songs and her music is known for its poetic lyrics and cross genre reaching melodies

Ellen Lehman
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee founder and president; received the outstanding Nashvillian of the Year Award in 2010 for leading flood relief efforts

Emily Reynolds
Former Secretary of the U.S. Senate

Emmylou Harris
Country Music Artist and Songwriter and recognized as an activist and vocal feminist in music

Faith Hill
Country Music Artist, one of the most successful of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide

Felice Bryant
Country Music and Pop Songwriter, best known for writing "Rocky Top" among the more than 6,000 songs written with her husband, Boudleaux

Frances Preston
Music Industry Veteran and former CEO of BMI Nashville office, then the first full-time performing rights organization representative in the South

Glenda Baskin Glover
Tennessee State University President, she is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and is one of two African American women to hold the Ph.D.-CPA-JD combination in the nation

Hazel Smith
Country Music Journalist, Publicist, and TV Host known for giving "Outlaw Country" its name

Higgins Bond
Freelance Illustrator and Fine Artist, the first African American woman ever to illustrate a stamp for the U.S. Postal Service

Inez Crutchfield
First African American woman to serve as a Representative for Tennessee on the Democratic National Committee, first African American woman to serve as president of the Democratic Women's Club of Davidson County

J. Frankie Pierce
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Jackie Patillo
President & Executive Director, Gospel Music Association and Stellar Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee

Jane Eskind
Activist and Politician, first woman to win an election to a statewide office in Tennessee

Jane MacLeod
President and CEO of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Janice Holder
Served as the first female Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Dr. Jean Litterer
Under her leadership as President of Hillsboro High School, the school was named a United States Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the US Department of Education; she's also one of the first females on the TSSAA's Legislative Council

Jo Walker-Meador
Music Industry Veteran, created the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, developed the CMA Awards, and launched Fan Fair (now CMA Fest)

Dr. Judy Cummings
Pastor and North Nashville Advocate, first female president of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, and founding director of the Nashville Chapter of the National Consortium of Black Women in Ministry

June Carter Cash
Country Music Artist, wrote "Ring of Fire" performed by her husband Johnny Cash

Karen Springer
President and CEO of Saint Thomas Health

Kasar Abdulla
Founding Member of the Welcome Tennessee Initiative, a movement focused on welcoming and celebrating the diversity that immigrants bring to our state

Katherine "Kitty" Moon Emery
Civic Leader and former Chairwoman of Metro Sports Authority during the era that brought football and hockey to Nashville

Kitty Wells
Country Music Artist, first female country singer to top the U.S. Country charts

Laura Heatherly
CEO of the TJ Martell Foundation, the music industry's largest foundation for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS research

Leslie Fram
Senior Vice President of Music Strategy at CMT and Co-Founder of Change The Conversation, an organization that fights gender inequality in the music industry by providing support, education, and community for female artists and executives

Loretta Lynn
Country Music Artist, the most awarded female country recording artist and the only female ACM Artist of the Decade (1970s)

Lula C. Naff
Ryman Auditorium Theatre Manager for over 40 years

Maneet Chauhan
Chef and Community Advocate, received a recognition of "Distinguished Service to the Foodservice and Hospitality Industry" as the Ambassador of the Culinary Institute of America

Margaret (Rhea) Seddon
One of the first women to enter the U.S. Astronaut Program

Margaret Behm
Co-founder of Shipley & Behm, the first all-woman law firm in Nashville

Margaret Dolan
President and CEO of Launch Tennessee, a public-private entrepreneurship organization

Marilyn Robinson
Executive Director of the Nashville Minority Business Center

Marion James
Nashville native, considered Nashville's "Queen of the Blues," she made honoring and preserving Jefferson Street's musical legacy a top priority

Martha Daughtrey
First woman Assistant U.S. Attorney, first woman to teach as a faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School, and the first woman to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court

Martha Ingram
Former CEO of Ingram Industries and advocate for the arts in Nashville

Maybelle Carter
Country Music Musician and originator of the "Carter scratch", she and band-mate Sara Carter became the first female performers to be inducted (simultaneously) into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Michelle Kennedy
Executive Vice President, CFO, and General Counsel for the Nashville Predators

Nancy Shapiro
Music Industry Veteran and key player in development of Music Makes Us that is tasked with including music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools

Nancy VanReece
Serves District 8 on the Nashville and Davidson County Metro Council and was the first openly out lesbian elected to a legislative body in the State of Tennessee; founding member of Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Equality Project; served as Executive Director/CEO of The Nashville Shakespeare Festival and strategist for GivingMatters.com and the Nashville Library Foundation; 2017 recipient for the Steine Award for Public Leadership in the Arts

Nera White
Basketball Player that led the United States National Women's Basketball team to winning the World Championship in 1957

Nicole Kidman
Actress, Philanthropist, and Producer, the first Australian actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress

Oprah Winfrey
Actress, Producer, and Philanthropist, best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years

Patsy Cline
Country Music Artist and one of the first country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music

Phran Galante
Community Advocate and Philanthropist, founding member of United Partnerships in Animal Welfare, a community-based group sanctioned by the city of Nashville

Reba McEntire
Country Music Artist and Actress, highly credited for remaining one of country's most popular female artists for nearly four decades

Reese Witherspoon
Actress, Producer, and Entrepreneur, co-founder of Hello Sunshine, media firm focused on female-led stories and has produced a number of films and television series

Renata Soto
Co-Founder of Conexion Americas, an Immigrant Advocacy Organization that helps immigrants adjust to life in the Nashville community

Rosetta Miller-Perry
Founder of the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Tribune

Sandra Fulton
Commissioner, Department of Tourist Development Tennessee

Sandra Sepulveda
Nashville Council Member and first Latina woman to ever serve as a council member in Nashville

Sarah Cannon (Minnie Pearl)
Cancer Research Advocate and name of the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, also Country Comedian who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years

Sarah Trahern
CEO of Country Music Association since 2014

Sharon Roberson
YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee‘s President and CEO

Shelia Shipley Biddy
First woman to head a Nashville record label, Decca Records, and co-founder of SOURCE, a nonprofit organization supporting women executives and professionals who work in all facets of the Nashville music industry

Sue Shelton White
Suffragist who led campaign with others in TN to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Susan Edwards
Executive Director & CEO of Frist Art Museum

Tammy Wynette
Country Music Artist; her song, "Stand by Your Man", is one of the best-selling hit singles by a woman in the history of country music

Taylor Swift
One of the best-selling music artists of all time, she is the first artist to have four studio albums sell one million copies in their first week in the U.S, she has received the most day-one streams of an album on Spotify by a female artist, and holds numerous records related to music

Thelma Harper
First African American woman elected to the Tennessee Senate

Theresa Phillips
Tennessee State University Director of Athletics and first woman to coach NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball team

Tiffany Wilmot
President of Wilmot Inc. & Co-Founder of Tennessee Women in Green (TWIG), a nonprofit organization that empowers, inspires, and connects women in the sustainability industry

Tootsie Bess
Legendary former owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway

Tracy Caulkins Stockwell
Three-time Olympic gold medalist, five-time world champion, and former world record-holder in three events for swimming

Trisha Yearwood
Country Music Artist and Author of three cookbooks on The New York Times Best Seller list

Veronica Mallett
Executive Director of the Center for Women's Health Research at Meharry Medical College, one of the nation's first research centers devoted exclusively to understanding why women of color are at greater risk of certain diseases and how biology, race, and economics contribute to women's health disparities

Willa McCord Blake Eslick
First woman to represent Tennessee in the United States Congress

Wilma Rudolph
World-record-holding Olympic champion and international sports icon in track and field

Zulfat Suara
The first Muslim woman elected in the State of Tennessee as Metro Council At-Large and the first Nigerian woman elected to any office in the United States

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