Click Here To Listen Nashville Business 100 Leading African Americans Joyce Espy Searcy
Joyce Espy Searcy is a native of Yazoo City, MS and currently serves as Director of Community Relations at Belmont University. At Belmont, Joyce leads the effort to consistently improve the effectiveness of Belmont’s engagement with neighborhoods, community groups, non-profit organizations and governmental authorities and to increase the level of awareness regarding Belmont’s identity and mission.
A graduate of Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities, she has over 46 years of experience in the non-profit and educational arenas. She also attended Harvard Business School’s “Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management” on full scholarship and completed Vanderbilt’s Owen School’s “Finance and Accounting for Executives”. Joyce is the past President and C.E.O of Bethlehem Centers of Nashville. During her 22 year tenure at Bethlehem Centers, Joyce built a strong board and staff team that provided programs for over 6,000 children, youth, and adults per year at three locations. Under Joyce’s leadership, Bethlehem Centers became nationally accredited, consistently earned the highest level possible – three stars – for all three child development locations, and was awarded numerous national and local honors for its programs. Those enrolled in Bethlehem Centers’ programs learned to make positive life choices, become self-reliant, and transform their community. Now they are teachers, ministers, department heads, business leaders, and members of the Metro Nashville Council.
An advocate for women and family issues and diversity, Joyce does public speaking, conducts workshops on organizational diversity, fund development, board and development, team building, and strategic planning. She is a former professor at Fisk and Tennessee State Universities and Meharry Medical College. Joyce is also the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Women of Legend and Merit Award from Tennessee State University and the Athena Award – considered Nashville’s highest award for professional women. Other community recognitions are from the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the ACLU, CommunityNashville, Alpha Kappa Alpha Regional “Member of the Year”, the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement, the Hispanic Chamber’s “Amiga of the Year”, and the Community Service Award from the Metropolitan Police Department. The NAACP and 100 Black Men have also presented Joyce with youth service awards. The Nashville Scene named her a “Nashville Saint”.
Carrying on her family tradition to serve in the community, Joyce served on boards of directors for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, chaired the Chamber’s Education Report Card committee, was Vice-President for Mid-States for the YWCA of the USA and on the board of the National Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. She currently sits on the boards of the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive board, is Secretary for Leadership Nashville’s Board of Trustees, and is secretary for the South Nashville Fellowship Community Development Corporation.
Joyce and her husband, Walter, of 46 years have two accomplished daughters and she is “Lovey” to a 3 year-old granddaughter – the best role she has ever had.