Your Community Partner - 2021 Ladies of Distinction

May 17, 2021 at 02:46 pm by RMGadmin

Dr. Michelle Arnold

Dr. Michelle Arnold is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Associate Director of Admissions at Battle Ground Academy (BGA). She is also a Realtor with Parks Downtown Franklin, a member of the Junior League of Nashville where she serves on the Diversity Committee, and she serves on the Race, Justice and Reconciliation Council at Church of the City Franklin. She has always been passionate about education and being a strong advocate for assisting young people. “My role is to challenge, inspire and provide leadership within our community. I like to take that student that doesn’t see themselves as a leader and give them the opportunity to serve in a leadership role.” In high school, Michelle was awarded “Most Likely to Succeed,” and she says that she has lived up to this. “I’ve had to overcome many adversities over the past several years, but I have been able to maintain a positive attitude and remain successful despite difficulties or challenges. I embraced adversity as a chance for opportunity.”

“To be a Lady of Distinction means that you display self-respect, class, appreciation and etiquette. A Lady is someone who isn’t afraid to share her opinions and speak her truth in a respectful manner. She is a good listener, filled with kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable and authenticity. I am true to myself and I speak with confidence. I would consider myself a fighter and no matter what I have been through, I have been able to dust myself off, get back up and fight even harder.” When asked what she would tell her younger self today, Michelle says: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up. I do not care how hard life gets, stay strong and be the best you can be. Continue to pray and always keep God first in your life.”

Mary Kate Brown

Mary Kate Brown stays very busy in our community, working as a consultant and on various political campaigns, volunteering with numerous local charities, serving on the Williamson Medical Center Foundation board, and previously serving as Director of Development at Columbia State Community College. “I began my work in the political world in 2006. That’s really when I began getting involved in the Franklin and Williamson County community,” Mary Kate says. “I grew up in a family who always talked politics around the kitchen table so they have never been topics I have been shy to discuss. I think one reason we have had so much division nationwide lately is because not enough people were taught how to have discussions about hard topics and still walk away as friends.” Recently, Mary Kate has helped grow a community of those who care deeply for the students in Williamson County. “It’s been so rewarding to meet thousands of parents coming together to work on issues that are important to us and our children,” she says. “A favorite quote of mine is by Betty Ford: ‘Being a lady does not require silence.’ You can be passionate and have strong opinions and still be a lady. I think sometimes people feel like they have to be quiet about issues that are important to them. I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. Sometimes your willingness to speak up encourages others to join you.”
“I think that’s where being a lady of distinction comes in. Some people obviously aren’t always going to like what you say and speaking up is not always the easiest thing to do - in fact, it can be really tough. I think a Lady of Distinction does hard things and will stand up for issues she feels are important for the good of her community. When it’s on behalf of her children, it’s called a Mama Bear. I can be that too.”

Jeanne Hammontree


Jeanne Hammontree is the owner and operator of Chick-fil-A Berry Farms, FSU and South Franklin locations. She has been with Chick-fil-A for twenty years and there is a good reason why: “Chick-fil-A is a company that puts people first and I love people and community,” says Jeanne. She says her desire as an owner/operator with Chick-fil-A, is to have locations that provide a great place to work, a great place to eat and a great place to support our community. “I am not just in the chicken business, I am in the people business so I strive to see my team members succeed in day to day life and in the future,” she says. “I’m inspired to coach and encourage them everyday. Chick-fil-A awards Leadership Scholarships to our team members and I am committed to helping them succeed.”

Jeanne and her family live in Williamson County and one of her son-in-laws is the Operations Director over both Chick-fil-A locations. When asked how she feels about being nominated as one of our Ladies of Distinction, she says “I feel that I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be an example to young people. I try to uplift and encourage on a daily basis. As I am in the community, I strive to be an example of leadership and encouragement.”

Sally Hughes

Sara J. (Sally) Hughes is the Reverend at Trinity Presbyterian Church, and previously was Co-Pastor at Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church for twenty three years. She is involved in her children’s schools Liberty Elementary, Freedom Intermediate, Freedom Middle, Centennial High School, served on the Board of Bridges Domestic Violence Center, and is part of a weekly minister’s group that meets at First Presbyterian Church. “As a pastor, my contribution is to be welcoming and encouraging to all people, from Williamson County to Davidson County,” Sally explains. “I strive to connect God’s word to every person’s life. I have carried what I learned in my years at Historic Franklin into my current position at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Nashville. I learned a lot at HFPC which I am using at Trinity, and I am grateful!”

Sally says she is inspired by good friends and long time connections, and is now inspired by connecting with new friends and acquaintances. She feels that a lady or gentleman shows respect to every person they meet, and they treat all people with kindness, love and compassion. “My ‘younger self’ was given some advice by a ninety-year-old Presbyterian minister, Dr. C. H. Patterson, when I graduated from seminary in 1983. I have kept his typewritten letter and I have followed his advice about serving as a Pastor: Be realistic. Get acquainted with your community and fix your sights somewhere halfway between what the Episcopalians are doing and what the Pentecostals are doing. Above all, do not forget the greatest asset which the Lord gave you and that is Sally herself.”


Ondrea Johnson

Ondrea Johnson is the Director at Williamson County Animal Center and has had a love for rescuing animals her entire life. She is a graduate of the 2019 class of Leadership Franklin, serves on the Williamson County CASA Advisory Board, is one of the founding sponsors of Eat the Street which benefits the 21st Drug Court, volunteers for the Franklin Firefighters Charity Toy Drive, A Vintage Affair, the Franklin Special School District, holds a Shelter Operations certification, is an active member in the Middle Tennessee Shelter Director’s Alliance, a member of the Animal Care and Control Alliance and the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. “I am so fortunate to be an animal welfare professional at this particular time and I bring a unique background of service to humans to the Director role,” explains Andrea. “We cannot help animals without helping the people who own them. I promote an attitude of service, never judgment, among our staff and volunteers. The best thing I can offer our community is service.”
“In my life and experience, being a lady means you serve others and put others before yourself. You always remember that you represent something bigger than the moment whether that be your reputation, your church, your career or your family. Webster defines distinction as ‘a difference or contrast between similar things or people.’ I’m not sure that I am that different from other women. I’m fortunate that I have had wonderful mentors and strong women in my life since I was a child. My parents never told me there were things I couldn’t do because I was a girl. I never knew there was a glass ceiling and it never crossed my mind not to try for anything I wanted. If there is anything distinctive in my life, it’s been that I’ve had really wonderful people believe in me and that has made all the difference.”

Mary Damon Akin Rogers

Mary Damon Akin Rogers is a sixth generation Williamson Countian, but left in 1971 for thirty years to follow her career Naval Officer husband, Captain Mark Rogers, from coast to coast and abroad. Damon is currently serving as CEO of Rogers Homeport, two short term vacation rental properties (STVR) in historic Franklin. “I was fortunate to inherit my family home, separate home office and guest home,” she says. Her parents were founding members of the Heritage Foundation and charter members of saving Carnton Mansion. “I continued their legacy, when we retired back to Franklin in 1997, by serving as President of the Heritage Foundation Board and helped create the Next Generation Board for young members of the Heritage Foundation. My nephew and both my children served as officers at the inception of the Next Generation Board and their names can be found at the Franklin Theatre as doing their part in saving this historic building, along with my two granddaughter’s names.” She has also served on Educare and the Citizens Police Academy Boards, among others.
What does Damon think about being nominated as a Lady of Distinction? “What I know for sure is a lady should ALWAYS be true to herself! By being true to yourself and not trying to please others or saying what others want to hear, then one can truly find happiness within and radiate that happiness to all who pass her way. It took me a while to live up to the best one liner I ever heard and that is ‘what other people think of me is none of my business!’ I strive for that and today I believe I have achieved to thine own self be true.”

Marianne Schroer

Marianne Schroer is currently retired from Williamson County CASA where she served as Executive Director for seven years. Prior to that, she was the Coordinator of the 21st Recovery Court. “I am a therapist with a focus on children and how they are impacted by trauma,” Marianne says. “Prior to heading up these two nonprofits, I was a therapist with a private practice. I have also done training on The Attachment Relationship and its Impact on children locally, statewide and nationally.” Marianne is also the handler for Rocklin, a Courthouse/Facility dog who was bred and trained by Canine Companions for Independence. “We work with children in WC Juvenile Court, offering support through difficult and scary times,” she says. “My career path has, I hope, made the lives of children better and a little easier. Parenting is such a hard job and I have also spent much of my time helping parents be the very best that they can be,” explains Marianne. “I have also been on a number of boards and through that experience have been able to take a leadership role in the child welfare system. I  have a love for history and historic preservation and have devoted a lot of time to promoting preservation in our community through board and committee work.”
Marianne serves on the Battle of Franklin Trust Board, through Carnton’s merger with the Carter House, and now with the African American Heritage Society and Toussaint L’Overture Cemetery Club. When asked how she feels about being nominated as a Lady of Distinction, she says: “I think that what makes one distinct comes from striving everyday to be the very best you can be in whatever you choose to do. I continue to work every day to improve myself in every facet of my life. Wife, mother, daughter, grandmother. friend, Christian and counselor are the things I continue to work on every single day.”

Patti Walton

Patti Walton is the Director of Laboratory Services and Occupational Health at Williamson Medical Center (WMC). She has been at Williamson Medical Center since 1991 and has been in her current role since 2008. She has served on the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Governors, the Clinical Laboratory Management Board of Directors, and the Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board. She enjoys supporting and volunteering for the Williamson Medical Center Foundation which provides scholarships to Williamson County students going into healthcare, A Vintage Affair which benefits the WMC NICU, and the WMC Golf Tournament which funds the many scholarships offered to county students, and the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital at Williamson. During the pandemic this past year, Patti was responsible for securing Covid-19 testing for WMC, the patients and their employees. She has also served as a consultant for the NFL and helped set up their Covid testing program and protocols. “As prevalence increased, the NFL tightened their protocols and developed enhanced precautions which enabled the Super Bowl to be played on time and without any games canceled. Lessons learned through the NFL protocols have been successfully used in other settings and could be modified for a number of different programs and situations.”
“My parents instilled in me a great work ethic and I tend to be a self-motivator but what inspires me to work harder and do more is when I can take the knowledge I have acquired along the way, and pass that on to someone just starting out on their chosen path. When I can get someone excited or passionate about helping others, that inspires me,” she says. “I think a lady is filled with generosity, kindness, compassion, integrity and humbleness. She is strong, authentic and vulnerable and always speaks and lives her truth.”