About the NELAs


The Nashville Area Chamber and YP Nashville annually present the Nashville Emerging Leader Awards (NELAs). The NELAs recognize Nashville's young professionals for significant accomplishments in their chosen career fields, as well as their commitment and contribution to the community. 

2016 NELA Industry Descriptions

Impact Award

Another facet of the NELAs is the Impact Award, which honors a community leader who is making an important impact on the young professional demographic in terms of community leadership and professional development of Nashville's YPs and YP organizations. 

Learn more about the Impact Award here.

Impact Award previous winners

2017 NELAs Timeline


January 4 - Applications available

February 22 - Nomination deadline

March 1 - Application deadline

March-May - Judging

April 28 - Impact Award deadline

June 6 - Finalists announced

TBD - Meet the NELAs Finalists Networking Event

TBD - NELAs Award Ceremony

2016 NELA winners

Architecture, Engineering & Construction
Brittany Shepherd
Estimating Engineer, Turner Construction Company
As an estimating engineer at Turner Construction Company, Brittany Shepherd is responsible for quantifying business elements, evaluating bids and generating cost estimates. She manages projects up to $100 million in volume. She currently serves as president of Associated General Contractors’ Construction Leadership Council and is the youngest member to serve on their board of directors. Shepherd volunteers as team leader for the ACE mentor program and was recognized as an exemplary mentor in 2015. She is also active with Special Olympics of Tennessee, where she co-chairs their Young Professionals Board.

Arts, Entertainment & Music
Amanda Mazzo, 
Graphic Designer, Mazzo Media
Amanda Mazzo is a graphic designer and consultant with Mazzo Media. With more than 15 years of experience, her many credits include work as coordinator of communications for Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, graphic designer for Adventure Science Center, design consultant for Naxos of America and art director for East of the City magazine. Mazzo is a past honoree for Nashville’s 30 Under 30, a member of Leadership Nashville's class of 2013 and former chair of Young Professionals Nashville. She currently serves on the board of directors of the W.O. Smith Community Music School.

Business Services
Klay Lesko
Transportation Specialist, Averitt Express
In his role as transportation specialist at Averitt Express, Klay Lesko has consistently ranked in the top five in sales nationally and finished No. 1 in overall sales in 2011, 2014 and 2015. In his six years at Averitt, Lesko has grown the Nashville territory from 1 million to over 11 million annually. Since 2011, he has served as on the Special Olympics Tennessee board of directors, of which he was recently named the youngest chairman in the organization’s 42-year history. He was named one of Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30 by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was recognized by STARS as a community leader who promotes the importance of accepting differences among mankind. Lesko is an alumnus of the Nashville Junior Chamber and Young Professionals in Transportation.

Community Service & Nonprofit
Rebecca King
Senior Director of Community Relations, Nashville Predators and Executive Director, Nashville Predators Foundation
An 11-year veteran of the Nashville Predators' community relations department, Rebecca King is the senior director of community relations and executive director of the Nashville Predators Foundation, where she oversees all of the team’s community outreach, fundraising and distribution of funding. This includes the Nashville Predators Foundation grants program and the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General. She is a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. 

Simyka Carlton
Assistant Principal, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools: STEM Magnet High School
In her role as assistant principal of Stratford STEM Magnet High School, Dr. Simyka Carlton is responsible for creating a culture for learning and leading teachers throughout the classrooms. When serving as a physical education teacher in 2012, Nashville Public Television interviewed and filmed Carlton and her students for a series on sexual health to expose the myths and create a safe environment for students to talk.. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Wellness Teacher Award from Metropolitan Nashville Virtual School. She is a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She volunteers her time with the Adolescent Sexual Responsibility Team of Alignment Nashville.

Environment & Sustainability
Jaclyn Mothupi
Energy Consultant, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
In her role as an energy consultant for Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Jaclyn Mothupi focuses her efforts on creating residential efficiency program from design to implementation. She is LEED ID+C certified. She serves on the board of Urban Green Lab and Tennessee Women in Green. She is a graduate of the Nashville Emerging Leaders class of 2015 and completed a year of service in AmeriCorps. Mothupi received the Innovation in Action Award from the Center for Nonprofit Management and is a regular volunteer with Hands On Nashville. 

Financial Services
Nancy Mullen
Senior Manager of Assurance Services, KraftCPAs, PLLC
With 13 years of public and private accounting experience, Nancy Mullen serves as the senior manager of assurance services at KraftCPAs. Her firm has recognized her professional and civic dedication and accomplishments by presenting her with its “Practice Development”  internal award. Mullen is a member of Clarksville Young Professionals, and has volunteered in multiple positions for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, currently serving as treasurer. She is also the treasurer of Operation Stand Down Tennessee. Mullen was named to Nashville Business Journal's Top 40 Under 40 list in 2015.

Government and Public Affairs
Shauna Lynn Holman
Administrative Liaison, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Shauna Lynn Holman serves as the administrative liaison at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation under Commissioner Bob Martineau. She began her career in 2005 as president and founder of Operation Appreciation, a nonprofit dedicated to sending handwritten letters and notes of support to deployed soldiers. Because of her leadership, she received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President George Bush and was also featured on the Tyra Banks television show. Additionally, Holman was the coordinator for the Nashville Sounds' grand opening event for First Tennessee Park.

Hospitality & Tourism
Erica Rains
CEO, The Chef and I, LLC
Seven years ago, Erica Rains and her husband opened The Chef and I, LLC, which includes a large catering division and interactive restaurant, along with a cooking class program. Her catering division alone serves 350 offsite events a year. Recently, Rains and her husband were cast in CNBC's Restaurant Startup show. In 2014, NFocus magazine named The Chef and I “Best Menu” and a runner-up for “Best Caterer.” She received the National Association of Women Business Owners' Celebrating Women Award in 2015. She volunteers with Nashville Cares on the planning committee for Avant Garde. 

Human Resources
Jaclyn Pritchett
Senior Manager, Leadership Development, Bridgestone Americas
Jaclyn Pritchett is the senior manager, leadership development at Bridgestone Americas, where she leads high-potential development and succession planning for Bridgestone retail operations. She serves on the boards of the Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management and New Frontiers. Pritchett received her master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology from Middle Tennessee State University.

Legal Services
Gabe Roberts
Deputy Director, Tennessee Division of Health Care Finance & Administration, Bureau of TennCare
In his role as deputy director for the Tennessee Department of Health Care Finance and Administration, Gabe Roberts oversees the coordination of the agency’s key operational divisions, including the division of member services, managed care operations, and the offices of the chief medical officer and the general counsel. He is an alumnus of the Nashville Emerging Leaders and Young Leaders Council courses. Roberts was elected to an open-ended term on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Health Law Section’s Executive Leadership Council. He serves on the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and is treasurer of the Phoenix Club of Nashville.

Medical and Healthcare Services
Michelle Reising Scobey
Assistant Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the M.Ed Clinical Psychological Assessment Program, Vanderbilt University
Dr. Michelle Reising Scobey is an assistant professor of practice and co-director of the M.Ed. clinical psychological assessment program at Vanderbilt University. In this role, she manages the program, teaches graduate-level courses, provides clinical supervision, advises students and is active in research. Scobey has also successfully started her own clinical psychology practice, providing assessment and treatment services to children, adolescents, young adults and families coping with mood disorders, anxiety, trauma and medical conditions.

PR, Advertising & Marketing
Michelle Lacewell
Deputy Director and Communications Officer, Nashville Area Metro Planning Organization
As the deputy director and communications officer for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Michelle Lacewell oversees the organization’s communications efforts and internal operations. She successfully managed the planning and execution of the organization's inaugural annual meeting. She is a member of Junior League of Nashville, an associate board member for Junior Achievement Nashville and a board member of the Nashville chapter of Public Relations Society of America. Lacewell is also an adjunct professor for Belmont University’s public relations department. She is a graduate of Young Leaders Council and remains involved in alumni events.

Real Estate Services
Jonathan Harris
Owner and Broker, Scout Properties
Jonathan Harris is a Nashville native who has been full time in real estate for the past 13 years. In 2012, he launched Scout Properties, a residential real estate firm that designs real estate solutions to bring clarity, ease and simplicity to home buying and selling. In 2015, he launched the Home for Homes initiative to take proceeds from closed real estate transactions and provide housing for widows and orphans in impoverished countries. Through his vision, innovation and leadership, Harris leverages local success into global good. 

Kane Harrison
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, TalkApolis
Helping other businesses become successful is Kane Harrison’s mission at TalkApolis. In his role as vice president and chief information officer, he works to produce measurable results while ensuring his clients understand the technology behind TalkApolis. He is not only an entrepreneur; Harrison also has a music career. He was named a finalist on the Australian Idol TV show and works to highlight local musicians and entrepreneurs on his radio shows. As an Australian immigrant, he recognized the importance of sharing that culture with Nashville, and also serves as vice president of the Nashville Kangaroos, a USAFL sports team.