The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville present the 12th Annual Nashville Emerging Leader Awards (the NELAs).

The Nashville Emerging Leader Awards program is designed to salute and applaud Middle Tennessee’s young professionals under the age of 40 for significant accomplishments in their chosen professional field, as well as their commitment and contribution to the community.

By celebrating achievement and excellence, the NELAs seek to recognize and honor Nashville-area young professionals. Achievement Awards will be given in 15 distinct categories; one Impact Award will be given to someone who has displayed outstanding leadership toward the YP demographic. 

Learn more about the NELAs here.

Click here to view the 2018 NELAs finalists.

To view a list of the 2018 NELAs winners, click here!

Winners will receive:

  • Distinguished Achievement Award for display in office

  • Special recognition in Chamber publications

  • Special recognition on and

  • Opportunity for involvement with 2019 NELAs

The NELAs Ceremony will be held on Thursday July 26, 2018.


The Nashville Emerging Leader Awards are open to individuals under the age of 40 who live or work in the Nashville area. An applicant’s 40th birthday must be after the application deadline of February 27, 2018. The Nashville area is comprised of Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

If you, as an applicant, feel that you fit into more than one industry, please choose the best fit, as only one application will be accepted per person. The NELA program manager and judging chair of your selected industry reserve the right to move your application to another industry. In the event that this happens, the applicant will be contacted immediately.

The following individuals are not eligible to apply:

  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce staff
  • 2017 and 2018 NELA judges*
  • Previous NELA award winners (NELA finalists may reapply)
  • Anyone whose 40th birthday falls before the application deadline

Spouses and immediate family of these individuals are only eligible to apply in an industry not judged by their spouse/family member.


NELAS will be given in each of the following industry categories:

  • Architecture, Engineering and Construction
  • Arts, Entertainment and Music Business
  • Business Services
  • Community Service and Nonprofit
  • Education
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Financial Services
  • Government and Public Affairs
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Human Resources
  • Legal Services
  • Medical and Health Care Services
  • Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing
  • Real Estate Services
  • Technology

Read more about the industry categories here.


It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that his/her application is correct and complete. Judges reserve the right to disqualify any applicant for lack of completion of the required information. If your 40th birthday falls before the application deadline, you are not eligible to apply.


Links to the electronic application will be emailed to each nominee. You must be nominated to receive this link. You may nominate yourself.

  • Only one application per person will be accepted.
  • All applications must be typed.
  • The essay questions on the application can only be completed and submitted by the applicant him- or herself.
  • Submit your electronic application by Tuesday, February 27, 2018.

Your application must include:

  1. All required personal information and answers to the essay questions.
  2. Resume and biography.
  3. High-resolution color headshot of at least 300 dpi. If you do not have a headshot at the time of your application, you must submit the photo by March 30, 2018 to us at
  4. One letter of recommendation is required from your employer. A maximum of three letters of recommendation will be accepted including the one from your employer.
  5. No additional information (newspaper articles, etc.) will be accepted; please be thorough on your application.


  • Is your 40th birthday after February 27, 2018?
  • Upload one letter of recommendation from your employer, and include up to three letters of recommendation if desired.
  • Upload your resumé.
  • Upload a high-resolution, color headshot of at least 300 dpi with your application, or email the headshot to us at by Friday, March 30, 2018.
  • Complete and submit the electronic application by February 27, 2018.


  • All applications must be submitted electronically by Tuesday, February 27, 2018, using the application form that will be emailed to each nominee.
  • Materials submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • All items submitted for purposes of the NELAs become the sole property of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to be used for the purpose of selecting nominees for achievements.

If you are having difficulty completing the electronic form, please contact us at


Applications will go through two rounds of judging based on the applicant's answers to each question; level of professional achievement; demonstrated leadership; and community impact. NELA recipients in each industry will be determined by a selection committee comprised of a diverse group of community leaders and industry experts within each of the 15 categories. All applicants will receive notification in June of the finalists in each industry.


Judges’ scores will be tabulated by KraftCPAs PLLC.