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Joyce Lavery has served as CEO of Safe Haven Family Shelter (SHFS) since 2009 and since her tenure, has more than tripled the budget, overseen a capital campaign to build a new shelter, and has introduced new models and thinking around ending family homelessness. In 2011, she and Safe Haven received the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Marvin Runyan Leadership Award for the agency’s turnaround success. Recently, Safe Haven was awarded with the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Partnership Award providing high-level leadership training to the CEO and one emerging leader. In 2015 she was a finalist for CNM’s CEO of the year and in 2016 was one of Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs. She is most proud, however, of her Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award in 2013 for Dynamic Duo with her friend and partner, Trey Lipman, demonstrating that partnership and friendship is a powerful force.
Previously, she was the President and Executive Director of the National Conference for Community and Justice ( AKA CommunityNashville), Nashville Region from 2000-2009 and from 1995-2000 she served as Director of Program Services for the Girls Scouts of Middle Tennessee. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Florida and an M.A. in Applied Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis with an emphasis on issues of poverty, diversity, and community development.
While a graduate student in anthropology (she returned to school when her two daughters were in elementary school), she developed an award-winning course in cross-disciplinary qualitative methods, served as president of the anthropology student group, and was a finalist for Teaching Assistant of the Year. She taught introductory anthropology classes to 3 institutions at a time as an adjunct professor and presented several papers at local and national conferences.
Her love of cultures has also made her a world traveler and just this past fall she spent six weeks in Seville, Spain during a recent 6 months sabbatical awarded by the Healing Trust. She has visited Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Africa and she believes she is just getting started.
Her many areas of expertise and experience spans issues around diversity, youth development, poverty, homelessness, nonprofit management, and fund development. Ms. Lavery has served on community committees around homelessness and poverty and is a strong advocate for best practices in the field and encouraging collaboration and cooperation among homeless serving organizations. She has served on the Governing Board of the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, was a founding member of National Just Communities, and is currently on the Middle Tennessee Workforce Development board.
Joyce was recently widowed, but enjoyed 37 years of marriage to Dr. David Lavery, a well-known and loved scholar and professor and MTSU. Together, they have 2 grown daughters, Rachel and Sarah, and five grandchildren, Adelyn, Maya, Jackson, Waylon, and Dillon.