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There’s no doubt that 2020 put our inner strength and resiliency to the test. But as we look toward 2021, we’re shining a light on some of the beautiful bright spots that emerged. With that in mind, we followed up with all of the FACES we featured in 2020 (from Nashville and around the South) and asked them to share the special, positive moments they’re carrying with them into the new year.

42 Positive Moments From 2020

Odessa Kelly

“Definitely celebrating my parents’ 52nd anniversary via Zoom. It was the funniest and sweetest thing … To watch my parents argue over how to operate Zoom and celebrate each other at the same time. It was the laughter I, and many other family members, needed in such a stressful time.” — Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville, Odessa Kelly | Image: Leila Grossman

Dr. Rahel Klapheke Sloan

“Pandemic puppies! Everyone got a pet this year.” — Parker’s Paws Animal Hospital owner Dr. Rahel Klapheke Sloan | Image: Leila Grossman

Lexie Smith

“In 2020, I am grateful for the choice to choose my responses, and by doing so, I always have more power and control over my circumstances than I think or feel.” — Human trafficking survivor, Lexie Smith | Image: Leila Grossman

Sara Beth Myers

“This past July, my husband and I drove 30 hours up to Glacier National Park in Montana to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. The road trip itself was a wonderful adventure, filled with quirky stops and good conversation. We stayed in a treehouse surrounded by mountains and woods. We told stories around a campfire and hiked gorgeous trails. The whole escape (our kiddos graciously visiting the grandparents) was a refreshing respite from the chaos of the year.” — Assistant United States Attorney and the founder and Chairman of the Board of AWAKE: Advocates for Women’s and Kids’ Equality, Sara Beth Myers | Image: Leila Grossman

Laura Lea Bryant

“My favorite positive moment of 2020 was the day I launched the Simply Balanced Meal Plans. I created them to help people who struggle to feed their families affordable, accessible and nutritious food. Seeing how the plans truly fill a need and save members time, money and mental energy (the most precious commodity of all) gave me an incredible sense of hope and purpose.” — Holistic chef Laura Lea Bryant of LL Balanced | Image: Leila Grossman

Country music singer, Tiera

“2020 has honestly been a highlight year for me. I signed my first publishing deal, started hosting my own radio show on Apple Music Country, released new music, and got engaged! I’m so blessed to have been able to experience all of these amazing things in the midst of the craziness of 2020.” — Country music artist Tiera | Image: Kam Studios

Claire Brandon of Delta Vintage

“Despite this year being one of our toughest to date, there have been many rich moments in 2020, all of which are centered around close relationships. I’ve been lucky to have a safe, comfortable home to quarantine in with friends and family. Having your best friend move into your childhood home with you for a month before life moves on feels like lightning in a bottle in your late 20s. My creative partner from New York came home to Nashville as well, and we’ve been able to bring a few different ideas to life, which has provided a semblance of fulfillment. Think what you will, but living with my parents and allowing them to get to know me as an adult human has been an absolute gift. I was traveling for two years leading up to quarantine, and although the transition to being anchored somewhere was a challenge at first, I’ve grown continually thankful that this city and its people made me stay put.” — Delta Vintage founder, Claire Brandon | Image: Leila Grossman

Mackenzie Colt of Colts Chocolate Co

“As the virus has kept many in a bubble, that bubble has become my neighborhood. After 20 years living in my sweet cul-de-sac, I have become so much closer to my neighbors — walking our dogs, stopping to chat, having outdoor gatherings with masks, our own chairs and beverages, and staying far apart. We even have a daily walking group of mostly women, getting in many miles a week and sharing our lives. Neighbors have become closer, like family, and it probably would not have happened without the virus; we would all have been busy. But we stopped, rested, looked around, and said, ‘Hi neighbor!’ Such a good feeling.” — Former “Hee Haw” Honey and founder of Colts Chocolate Company, Mackenzie Colt | Image: Leila Grossman

Vanderbilt's Candice Storey Lee

“While being named the athletic director for my alma mater was the most incredible moment, the most special part of that was attending Vanderbilt’s first athletic event of the fall season in this role. The trials and tribulations of navigating through this pandemic were all worth it to give our student-athletes the opportunity to compete, and watching them do what they love was a great feeling.” — Vanderbilt University Athletic Director, Candice Storey Lee | Image: Leila Grossman

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

“I’m inspired and amazed at the resiliency of women entrepreneurs. Despite the global pandemic of 2020, the Nashville chapter of BrainTrust — a peer-to-peer membership for women business owners — reports an aggregate of more than $15 million in revenue. AND, they added over 100 new Nashville jobs! On average, even during this difficult time, the women grew their businesses by 6.5%. Imagine what they’re going to do next year!” — Founder of LetterLogic and CEO of BrainTrust, Sherry Stewart Deutschmann | Image: Leila Grossman

Jessica Van Cleave

“The best part of 2020 for me was being forced to slow down and really take in the small moments with my kids and family. I was also blessed with some amazing clients through my virtual private practice, which I am so thankful I was able to continue doing even through a pandemic.” — Practicing dietitian and nutritionist Jessica VanCleave | Image: Leila Grossman

Liz and Lindsey of Weezie Towels

Liz: “2020 brought us two exciting birthdays worth celebrating! My family added a second girl to our girl gang (my second daughter, Eadie). At the same time, my other “baby,” Weezie, had its second anniversary — and we were blown away by the customer response to our birthday sale!”
Lindsey: “Despite its fair share of uncertainty and challenges, the past year has been one of growth, both personally and professionally. My husband and I welcomed our first daughter in March, and we were also fortunate enough to grow our Weezie fam to over thirty employees, all of whom have provided incredible support for our growing business over the past year.” — Weezie Towels founders, Liz Eichholz (left) and Lindsey Johnson (right) | Image: Weezie Towels

Marie Suieng standing behind Nashville Music City sign

“The blessing that I hold especially dear is the moment I witnessed our niece, Gia, stand for the first time — three months after a terrible car accident on I-40 literally broke bones from her head to her feet. We watched her stand at the dinner table on legs and ankles that were broken in multiple places, and there was not a dry eye in the house. We told her that her name means God Is Able because her journey has been nothing but miraculous. And yet, despite all she has gone through and continues to go through, Gia is the one to encourage us. The lesson for me is that the resilience and strength of the human spirit can conquer just about anything life throws our way.” — Senior Vice President of Multicultural Community Relations for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, Marie Sueing | Image: Leila Grossman

Kimberly Goessele

“It has been a tradition at Alive Hospice to host a butterfly release in the spring. This year, with the pandemic, we had to reimagine the event and held it in July. We created a drive-thru event where families could purchase butterflies and butterfly houses and do their own release safely at home. The houses were a hit! It is not just about hanging a butterfly house, but about the space we keep in our hearts to go on loving and remembering those who have died. I bought a house and butterflies to release in my yard with my family. The butterflies floated around the yard for a few days and brought us so much joy.” — CEO of Alive Hospice, Kimberly Goessele | Image: Don Claussen

Carolyn Greene and Jennifer Cope of Dorm Decor

Carolyn: “One thing I would not trade about 2020 is having all of my children home. I had one that was a senior in college and two out in the workforce, and they were all home for two months for the first time in five or six years. We laughed often and realized how lucky we are to have been given this extra time together!”
Jennifer: “Early in the quarantine, 25 of my best college friends from all over the country started a weekly Zoom hour, ‘Quarantine Cocktails.’ Although we aren’t still holding a weekly remote gathering, the text thread has stayed active. It’s been so fun to reconnect, and the frequent posts have provided a constant source of amusement.” — Dorm Decor  owners Carolyn Green and Jennifer Cope | Image: Catherine Greene

Lily Clayton Hansen FACE of Nashville 2020

“While this may be shocking, 2020 was the best year of my life. The year began with my TEDx Talk debuting on YouTube and having the ability to promote what I’m proudest of — my beautiful interviewing career and the amazing people who took the time to talk to me. Next, I celebrated my 33rd birthday with my family, who I love and adore, and I was able to visit some of my favorite places in Asheville, North Carolina, where my parents live … I felt happy, healthy, and more myself than I have in many years. This year shaved years off my life because I was intentional about taking care of myself, mentally, spiritually, and physically, and spending time with people I love. Whether it was phone calls with my mom, dad, or stepdad, or texts from my girlfriends who I grew up with, I was constantly reminded that it is people that matter — not success. We are nothing without love, family, friends and a supportive community.” — Author Lily Clayton Hansen | Image: Leila Grossman

Tricia Herzfeld

“Democracy in America is alive and kicking. More Americans voted in the presidential election than in any other presidential election in at least 100 years. Over 65% of eligible voters cast a ballot this year, and young people not only voted but volunteered to work the polls. Watching people come together in a pandemic to ensure our democracy works … That was my favorite moment of 2020.” — Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings partner, Tricia Herzfeld | Image: Submitted

Today in Nashville's Carole Sullivan and Kelly Sutton

Carole: “My favorite moment of 2020 happened the first week of January. I told anyone within earshot that 2020 was going to be amazing. ‘The roaring ’20s are back! This is going to be THE BEST YEAR EVER!’ So much for that declaration. I laugh about this often with coworkers and friends!”
Kelly: “This has been a difficult year for sure, but one shining moment for me has been starting my own YouTube series called ‘Connected with Kelly.’ It has given me the chance to talk to some of my Nashvillians on a deeper level, tell stories that may not get told, and shine a light on so many people I adore. I said I wanted to be brave enough to start something new, even if it’s not perfect. I am proud to say I did it, and I am doing it every day!” — Kelly Sutton and Carole Sullivan | Image: Leila Grossman

Mural artist Cymone WIlder

“My brightest spot of 2020 is the opportunity to build stronger, more intentional relationships with a smaller circle of friends. 2020 has really shown a lot of people’s true colors, and I’m grateful for the ones in my corner who are open and willing to receive me and all of my flaws during this time.” — Walls for Women mural artist, Cymone Wilder | Image: Cymone Wilder

Heather Hubbard

“Summer camp! We hosted over 150 women from across the U.S. and Canada for a virtual three-day summer camp experience, hosted live with a full-production crew from Miraval Austin Resort and Spa. It was a ‘choose your own adventure’ format, which included workshops and roundtables, daily keynotes, short ‘campfire stories,’ and curated cabin huddles and activities hosted by Miraval. It wasn’t the same as getting together in person, but it far exceeded all of our expectations, and it showed us what’s possible when women lead, get creative, and commit to having fun.” — Motivational speaker, coach and podcast host, Heather Hubbard | Image: Photographix

Emily Buckner Pierce

“I can thank 2020 for the strengthening of my dearest female friendships. I’m a creatively ambitious person and find a lot of personal value in work. I’m also a working mom, so regular calls to friends to just chit-chat haven’t traditionally been a top priority given the juggling of daily life. Our shared isolation has actually opened the door to regular FaceTime calls, daily group texts, snail-mail, and endless meme sharing. Even though we all live scattered across the USA, I feel closer to my friends than ever before.” — Art Director Emily Buckner Pierce | Image: James Pierce

CEO and founder of Twice Social, Emily Sandberg Gold

“I took my kids on a road trip to visit family in Minnesota. We became outlaws on this trip because we pulled over, and I let them sneak a few ears of corn off the stalk — I hope the farmer doesn’t mind. FYI: the corn was unripe but delicious.” — Emily Sandberg Gold of Twice Social | Image: Matthew Simmons

Alyssa Rosenheck

“Every year comes with a few memorable moments for me; however, 2020 has been world (and life) changing. The highlight for me was bringing my book, The New Southern, into the world this year. Was it easy with a pandemic raging and racial tensions roaring? No, it was very difficult. However, I did it with grit, determination and great meaning, which made it worth it. Also, witnessing the first Madam Vice President elected into office brings a sense of hope as a woman in this country who continues to dream. Representation matters, and we matter.” — Author and photographer Alyssa Rosenheck | Image: Alyssa Rosenheck

Mickey Guyton

“Country music is three chords and the truth, so I needed to write my own truth. I was like, What do I have? Well, I’m a Black woman. I need to write from that experience. So, that’s what I did, and I wrote “Black Like Me.” The feedback has been amazing; it’s the best and biggest feedback I’ve had from any song that I’ve ever written.” — Grammy-nominated country music artist Mickey Guyton | Image: Phylicia J.L. Munn

Amanda Frederickson

“My daughter, Palmer, was born at the beginning of January, and she is, by far, my favorite moment of 2020. 2020 has been unbelievably difficult for so many, but every time I look at her, I am reminded of how fortunate I am. She is a shining light in our family, and we are so fortunate to have been graced with this sweet, smiling soul.” — Radish Kitchen chef, Amanda Frederickson | Image: Joseph Bradshaw

Lynne Tolley at Jack Daniel's Distillery

“My favorite positive and most special moment of 2020 was opening a box in the attic that turned out to be a treasure chest full of things that I had never seen before. It was a collection of things that were important to my mother, who died at 98 years old in 2015. There was her baby book from 1917 with precious photos of her as a baby, the elementary school report cards for my brother and me, a daily journal of a family road trip in 1957 to New York, written by mother and daddy (whoever was not driving wrote about the sights and stops we were making), a war ration book full of unused stamps during World War II, a  high school essay I wrote as a senior where I made an A+, Daddy’s boyhood stamp collection book, a page from a 1974 Saturday Evening Post magazine featuring a photo of my cousin’s antique car parked in front of Cheekwood, and my grandmother’s 1908 college certificate from Linwood Female College in Gastonia, NC. And I am only halfway finished with reading everything! I just discovered this box a few weeks ago, and it is so amazing to our family. I advise everyone to be careful while cleaning out the attic; who knows what you will find!” — Jack Daniel’s premier whiskey taster, consultant and brand ambassador, Lynne Tolley | Image: Jack Daniel Distillery

Laura Hutfless

“For me, 2020 was filled with moments of healing, love and hope. In March, 60 mass shooting survivors attended The Onsite Foundation’s Triumph Over Tragedy workshop in Nashville, a program I championed to honor the life of my significant other, Austin Eubanks, a Columbine survivor who tragically passed away in 2019. This summer, I found love again and opened my heart to a new relationship with a wonderful man and his three amazing kids, whose own story of love and loss brought us together. In October, my company launched The FlyteVu Fund, a donor-advised fund that will continue our charitable giving efforts, now totaling over $750,000 since inception. If there is one thing I learned this year, it’s that there’s always a purpose in the hard. God is bigger than the hard, and life is what you choose to make it. 2020 has been the best year yet.” — Laura Hutfless of FlyteVu and The Onsite Foundation’s Triumph Over Tragedy workshop | Image: FlyteVu

Zeitlin Sotheby's Jessica Averbuch

“I have teenagers who will head to college over the next two years, so the extra time at home with them this year has been a gift. I could never have anticipated having so much family time, especially with teenagers, and it’s been the most special silver lining of 2020. I am grateful for every extra moment we got to spend together this year.” — CEO of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty, Jessica Averbuch | Image: Leslie Brown Photography

Shawn Bakker, in the courtyard of the Nashville Public Library

“While 2020 has been challenging, bright spots have emerged at Nashville Public Library Foundation. One of my favorites was Nashville Public Library’s opening of the Votes for Women Room. This new space in the Library’s main branch commemorates the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which was a monumental step in securing the right to vote for all women. Our local effort to pay homage to our foremothers was conceived of and led by women, a fitting tribute to the suffrage movement. The space will stand as a testament to Nashville’s role in bringing equality to all people.” — President of the Nashville Public Library Foundation, Shawn Bakker | Image: Nashville Public Library Foundation

Hannah-Kate McFadden

“My favorite moment of 2020 was when I was able to tour the Tennessee State Capitol. As I walked through the tunnel leading to the elevators that took me to the Capitol, my heart was pumping fast with excitement! This year has been filled with so much sadness and anguish … We have all been through a lot in this tough year, and we need to look for the positive things. So, as I was in the elevator, I focused on all the hard work I put into making positive election changes. As the elevator door opened, I was awestruck by the beauty of the Capitol. When I walked onto the floor where laws are made, I knew that all the negativity and sadness of 2020 is bringing change to our country. As I stood on the floor and looked all around the room, I knew that this was just the beginning, and I had more work to accomplish.” — The 13-year-old founder of  The Candidate Pledge, Hannah-Kate McFadden | Image: Submitted

Avo's Annie Choo

“My most special moment of 2020 was when I found out that I was pregnant and shared the news with my husband, family and friends. We all needed some good news this year, so it was a special moment to share with the people we love most. Baby Elliston is coming in March 2021!” — AVO owner Annie Choo | Image: Josh Bethea

Katy Shah and India Mayer

Katy: “My favorite thing about 2020 was starting a business that we are super passionate about … with my best friend!  I can’t say that it was easy to launch our company, Of Note, in the midst of a global pandemic, but it was never boring! And I do believe it will make us even more resilient and successful moving forward. Apart from this monumental professional development, 2020 has brought clarity about what is truly important. I’m so thankful for our supportive friends and family who kept us going during this wild ride of a year.”
India: “I agree wholeheartedly. Starting a business with my best friend has been the greatest blessing of 2020, and I am so excited for all that is to come!” — Of Note founders India Mayer (standing) and Katy Shah | Image: Ellen Pelletier

Katie Vance

“I have actually learned to cook! My restaurant clients would be thrilled! Teaching myself to cook and having home-cooked meals while eating at the actual dining table with my husband has been a bright spot, and it has provided some positive memories for this year.” — Powell Architecture + Building Studio design director and co-founder of Porter Flea, Katie Vance | Image: Andrea Behrends

Gayle Ray

“September 22, 1995, was the most difficult day I faced as Sheriff: the death of civil warrant officer, Jerry Newson, who was shot in the process of trying to serve an eviction notice. On September 22, 2020, 25 years later, I was invited to speak at an event memorializing his life and re-naming a street Jerry Newson Way. I got to see Jerry’s son, who was a toddler when his dad was killed, and I got to meet the daughter, who had not even been born when her dad died. I also got to reconnect with the amazing Newson family, who gathered from many locations in the United States. The event, while remembering something tragic, put me in touch with characteristics that strengthen individuals, families and nations — making sacrifices to protect others, the love and resilience of families, and the importance of honoring and remembering people who lost their lives for a greater good.” — Gayle Ray, former sheriff of Nashville, | Image: Gayle Ray

Crystal Renee Hayslett

“My favorite positive moment in 2020 was having the time to really focus on things I’d neglected, and in that time, I also found new things that I really love to do. I’m not sure if that would have happened otherwise.” — Actress Crystal Renee’ Hayslett | Image: Kayla Madonna

Susan Dyke and Laura Chadwick of Epergne

Laura: “The silver lining has been spending time with family. My daughter has been working remotely from New York, so the four of us have spent a lot of time together.”
Susan: “With everything going on in the last nine months, I’ve been really inspired by how young people are starting their activism and demonstrating interest in the world. Having two teenagers, it’s exciting to see that engagement for younger people, and it has been very inspiring to me.” — Epergne owners Laura Chadwick and Susan Dyke | Image: Tausha Dickinson

Courtney Vrablik of The Store

“Oh, without a doubt, getting to meet so many other people in the non-profit sector — other directors, donors, staff, foundation partners, other agency partners … I’ve learned so much from them all, and we’ve built a network behind the scenes to keep each other encouraged. There are so many amazing people showing up every day to keep trying to help others.” — Courtney Vrablik, Executive Director of The Store | Image: Leila Grossman

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For more amazing local FACES in our archives, click HERE!

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