Better Decisions, which helps women in prison make better life choices, has selected Christina Zitka as its new
Executive Director. For 30 years, Better Decisions has been mentoring incarcerated women at the Tennessee Prison for Women, mobilizing hundreds of local women volunteers to help prepare those behind bars for a future of hope and responsibility.
Programs like Better Decisions have been instrumental in lowering the state prison’s recidivism rate—in the past year, it has dropped from 50.5% to 47.1%, according to the Tennessee Department of Corrections. The life skills taught through the 8-week Better Decisions class seek to break inter-generational cycles of crime and impart hope for more responsible decision-making in prison and after parole. Since 1985, Better Decisions has taught more than 1,500 incarcerated women and trained more than 1,200 volunteers to serve as one-on-one mentors to inmates.
Zitka’s work has focused on workforce and community education and health advocacy in various leadership roles that have taken her from state-level and regional positions to national and global assignments.
As a volunteer-driven organization, Better Decisions attracts women who seek a personal and meaningful volunteer experience, bringing together women from varied backgrounds and giving them a unique opportunity to learn from each other. Our 8-week program at the women’s state prison consists of weekly classroom and one-on-one mentoring sessions, teaching life skills that help inmates gain control of their lives behind bars as well as make parole and thrive in the outside world.
With Zitka’s hiring, Better Decisions is poised to increase the number of inmates it reaches each year. For more information on raising funds to purchase workbooks for inmates and volunteers go to http://better-decisions.org.
NAMI Davidson County
Mental Health Cooperative’s Evelyn Yeargin has been named President of National Alliance on Mental Illness Davidson County (NAMI-Davidson). Yeargin has been an integral leader for NAMI as a member of the organization’s fundraising committee over the last two years. She’s also supported community events on behalf of the behavioral health cause.
As President, Yeargin will work with board members to build fiscal stability and assist in the planning and delivery of NAMI-Davidson services in the Greater Nashville Area.
Over the last 24 years, Yeargin has served as Director of Advocacy for Mental Health Cooperative, a nonprofit behavioral health company that supports adults and children with serious behavioral health challenges.
Yeargin replaces former president Andrew Turk.
NAMI Davidson County provides peer support, education and advocacy to people with direct life experience of mental health issues and their families, helping them find their way to a “new normal”. For more information, visit www.mhc-tn.org
Operation Stand Down Tennessee
Operation Stand Down Tennessee (OSDTN), the only Veteran Service Center in Tennessee recognized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, has named Eden Murrie, former director at the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C., Chief Operating Officer.
Murrie is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and has MA’s in Political Science and National Security Strategy and an MBA from Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management.
As the Chief Operating Officer at OSDTN, Murrie will use her prior experience in executive management to build and maintain relationships with clients and partner agencies, lead teams in exceptional client work, and improve internal systems.
The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee
Mary H. Johnson, a veteran of banking and commercial real estate, was named Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. Johnson is a longtime board member for the nonprofit conservation organization’s Tennessee Chapter, having served from 2002 to 2011 and then again, starting in 2013. She also served as chair of a successful capital campaign that raised $14 million for the organization’s Tennessee conservation priorities and which concluded in 2007.
After an early career in banking, Johnson moved into commercial real estate, founding Land Partners LLC, based in Bristol, where she continues to work today. An avid outdoorswoman, she hikes, paddles kayaks, skis cross country and fly fishes in mountain streams. In addition to being a board member for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee, she has also served on the boards of the Friends of the Smokies and the National Parks Conservation Association and on the State of Tennessee’s Conservation Commission.
The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 300,000 acres in Tennessee—an area comparable to 372 New York City Central Parks. Along the way, the Conservancy has created or expanded 29 State Natural Areas, 12 State Wildlife Manage- ment Areas and 2 National Wildlife Refuges. The Nature Conservancy has also protected iconic Tennessee sites such as the Walls of Jericho, Savage Gulf, Radnor Lake, Roan Mountain, the North Cumber- land Wildlife Management Area, the Tennessee River Gorge, Pogue Creek Canyon and the Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge.
Franklin Road Academy
Franklin Road Academy’s athletic department is pleased to announce the hiring of Doug Newman as head wrestling coach.
Newman, whose career spans an incredible 46 years, was most recently a community coach at Pearl Cohn High School. He has also coached at Goodlettsville High School, Hunters Lane High School, Hillwood High School, and Stratford High School. During his illustrious career, he has trained 24 state medalists and one state champion.
Newman, who was inducted into the Tennessee Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009, was the first director of the TSSAA state duals in 1987 and served as director of the tournament from 1987-1990. He has also served as the state director for AAU Wrestling in Tennessee.
Newman will be assisted by David Dawson, FRA’s Heart to Heart coordinator and varsity football coach, at the varsity level and Garrett Whitworth, an FRA faculty fellow, at the middle school level.