Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee announces 2018 Board of Directors

Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee announces 2018 Board of Directors








Rev. Dr. Richard Gentzler takes role of president, Chris Puri as vice president, Hertha Hines and Nancy Conway join as board members

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – March 12, 2018 –The Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee announces its 2018 board of directors and has elected a new Board President, Rev. Dr. Richard Gentzler, Jr. and Vice President, Chris Puri. Two new board members, both from Williamson County, were recently added: Hertha Hines and Nancy Conway.

“We take our role as a convener and catalyst for ensuring the well-being of older adults very seriously,” said COA Board President Gentzler. “As we begin 2018, we renew our commitment to creating a community that honors older adults and caregivers, and ensures helpful information, resources and support are readily available and easily accessible. ”

The newly elected members join 11 returning board members and five officers dedicated to the advancement of COA’s mission to address the unmet needs of older adults and caregivers through information, advocacy and education, and by being a catalyst for comprehensive solutions.

“We are excited to announce the 2018 board of directors,” said Grace Sutherland Smith, COA’s executive director. “This group of diverse individuals is guiding COA’s strategic work to help employers support working caregivers, deliver elder abuse and scam prevention education, expand information and referral services, and support Senior Ride Nashville and other emerging volunteer ride programs.”

Rev. Dr. Rick Gentzler is director of ENCORE Ministries, a ministry of the Golden Cross Foundation of the Tennessee Conference – United Methodist Church. As a much sought after speaker and teacher, Gentzler is an internationally recognized leader in the field of aging and older adult ministries. In 2013, he was selected by Governor Haslam to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on Aging for the state of Tennessee.  He has written nearly a dozen books and hundreds of articles on aging and ministry and was a keynote presenter for International Conferences on Aging and Older Adult Ministries in Australia and New Zealand. He has been the recipient of several awards related to his work in aging, including the “Outstanding Leadership in Older Adult Ministries Award” from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries and the “Spirituality and AgingAward” from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA). He was also a presenter at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Gentzler’s latest book, to be published by Discipleship Resources in May 2018, is titled, An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Older Adult Ministry.

Christopher Puri is an attorney with Bradley’s Senior Housing and Long Term Care Practice team. His practice focuses on providing ongoing counseling on regulatory, reimbursement, legislative, and business development issues for long-term care providers. A recognized national leader in the long-term care area, he has helped develop long-term care policy at both the state and national level as outside counsel for the Tennessee Health Care Association (THCA), and as a member of the American Health Care Association’s Legal Committee. Chris also serves as Chair of the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) Long Term Care and the Law Program Planning Committee.

Hertha Hines is the director of community relations of NHC Place at Cool Springs. She leads the marketing function for NHC Place and guides prospective residents and their family members through the process of moving to the Assisted Living Center. An industry veteran, Hines has more than 24 years experience in social services and marketing, and she has been with NHC for more than 24 years. Hines last served as a regional social worker and, prior to that, was director of social services for NHC. She holds her B.A. in sociology from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., and is a member of the Williamson County Geriatric Council, Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and Board Member of the J. L. Clay Senior Center.

Nancy Conway is the senior VP of community relations for Williamson, Inc. (Chamber of Commerce) after having served as president/CEO for nearly 30 years. She has volunteer leadership in several non-profits including Columbia State Community College, Natchez Trace Parkway Association, Franklin Tomorrow, Franklin Housing Commission, Franklin Charge, Carter House, Discover Franklin, Williamson Medical Center Foundation, and Leadership Middle TN.  She also serves on the steering committee for Discover Williamson, a partnership between COA and Williamson County Parks and Recreation. In 2017, Nancy was presented with the Council on Aging’s Sage Award for improving the quality of life in our community.  She is an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church and is on the Advisory Board of NHC Cool Springs. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia Institute of Organization Management and served two terms on the Institute’s Board of Regents. 


2018 COA officers:

Rev. Dr. Richard Gentzler, Jr., Encore Ministries; president

Christopher Puri, ESQ., Bradley Law; vice president

Debra Gibbs, EdD, MHS, Belmont University School of Occupational Therapy; secretary

Matt Shaw, First Tennessee; treasurer

Vickie Harris, MBA, QEC Partners; past president


Returning 2018 COA board members:

Betsy Chernau, community volunteer

Caroline Chamberlain, community volunteer

Ed Cole, community volunteer

John Gonas, PhD, Belmont University School of Business

Darlene Kemp, MPH, MBA, Vista Points

Maggie Lea, Home Instead Senior Care

Steve Mathews, Caregivers by Wholecare

Charlotte McAnally, community volunteer

James S. Powers, MD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Kirk Rutter, community volunteer

Betty Wilson, community volunteer


About the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee

The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee COA is an independent, board directed 501(c) 3 nonprofit that strives to ensure that the community values, honors and supports older adults and caregivers by addressing unmet needs through information, advocacy and education, and being a catalyst for solutions to unmet needs. Services include free information and referral, community education, caregiver resources, elder abuse & scam prevention, advocacy, support for senior transportation and the Directory of Services. COA also hosts the annual Sage Awards to honor older adults and organizations for their lifelong service to the community. Learn more at



Grace Smith

Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee



Amy Kovar

Deane | Smith








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