Williamson, Inc. announced Thursday its official launch of its Leadership DEI Program for entrepreneurial and community leaders countywide.

The new Leadership Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program is spearheaded by Nashville-based social equity coaching and consulting firm People3. The program’s inaugural cohort, which begins with Fall 2021, consists of 20 entrepreneurs and community leaders throughout the county chosen to help the organization as a whole improve its social equity components.

In tandem with Williamson, Inc.’s partners, the chamber launched this program in 2018 to better serve the local business community apropos of access to and retention of a greater workforce talent pool.

“In a community with under three percent unemployment, inclusion is not just about culture but a bottom-line issue as well,” said Elizabeth McCreary, chief economic development officer at the chamber.

Among the program’s first class are Kirk Bednar, Brentwood city administrator; Christine Belknap, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Tractor Supply Co.; Tara Blue, executive director at Community Childcare and co-chair of the chamber’s Black Business Coalition; Jason Golden, Director of Williamson County Schools; Travis Lester, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at Mars Petcare and Eric Stuckey, Franklin city administrator.

Dr. Candace Warner, founder and CEO of People3, is expected to personally facilitate the sessions with her team. The program’s inaugural cohort is scheduled to meet virtually on the first Thursday every month from October to December, making Oct. 7 the first meeting.

“We work with organizations daily on their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, programs all the things. Every organization is at different stages and has different needs. We want to ensure we are meeting them where they are,” Warner explained. “Our partnership with Williamson, Inc. on Leadership DEI provides an opportunity for participants to understand how to think through their DEI journey and plans, plus gain feedback in real time from our consultants as well as the other cohort members.”

This is the second leadership-based activity to better the community from the chamber so far this month. Williamson, Inc.’s Leadership Brentwood alumni — including Reid Zwickel, principal at Hill Center Brentwood-based architecture firm TMPartners PLLC. and Jennifer Shepard, president at First Farmers and Merchants Bank’s Brentwood locale — came together on Saturday, Oct. 2 for a community service activity. As a team, Brentwood leaders cleaned up a stretch of Franklin Road from Concord Road to Murray Lane — a biennial activity in a new location each spring and fall to keep Brentwood clean and beautiful.

Other participating leaders were Chris Henson, vice president of partnership engagement at Logic Cadence; Tom McLaughlin, principal of Brentwood-based Hospital Relocation Services; Dave Morgan, vice president of contract solutions at Franklin-based management consulting firm, Omnia Partners; Lisa Futrell, mortgage officer at Bank of England Mortgage in Franklin; Lynn Tucker, Williamson Chamber Foundation; Mike Umphres, principal at Brentwood-based Compensation Advantage; and Nancy Windley, financial recruiter at LBMC Staffing Solutions, LLC.