Fall in Nashville is best spent among the changing leaves, and oftentimes that means a Sunday exploring Warner Parks. Percy and Edwin Warner Parks are among Nashville’s most beloved, not just for their beauty but for the plethora of activities they offer for all ages. Jenny Hannon serves as the Executive Director of Friends of Warner Parks, a local group dedicated to preserving and protecting these local natural treasures. Today, she shares a little bit about the path that led her to the role, as well as some of her favorite gems hidden in the park. We’re excited to introduce you to Jenny Hannon, our newest FACE of Nashville!
Tell us a bit about your background and your ties to Nashville. Have you always lived here?
I’m a Hoosier — born and raised in Indiana, and I attended Indiana University. My career began in Sports Marketing at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. In 1992, I moved to Nashville after marrying my late husband, Chris Hannon, a Nashville native. Shortly after arriving here, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor’s Office partnered and created the Nashville Sports Council, and I was hired as the first Executive Director. It was the perfect job for me at that time.
Mayor Bredesen had a vision and understanding of the impact that sports could have on our city. He asked me to run the campaign to bring the Houston Oilers, now our Tennessee Titans, to Nashville — TENNFL then was created, and I was fortunate to lead a team of incredibly talented professionals and volunteers. Shortly after, the Nashville Predators became a reality, and, having never seen a single NHL hockey game, I became the Director of Community Relations for the Nashville Predators Foundation. I, like so many other Nashvillians, became an instant fan of then-Pred’s owner Craig Leipold, the team and the game.
You recently stepped into the role of Executive Director of Friends of Warner Park. What led you there?
Again, good timing. My friend Cammie Claybrook, a 20-year park employee and lifelong park enthusiast, told me about the opening during one of our Wednesday morning hikes in the park. I jumped at the opportunity, and I can’t believe my great fortune! When your office is Warner Parks, every day is a good day. The Warner Parks hold a special place in my heart and my family’s daily life. I hope to finish my career protecting and preserving Nashville’s greatest natural treasure, the Warner Parks.
What does your role entail as the executive director?
Having served on the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation (1994-2006), this role allows me to combine my love and understanding of the parks with my fundraising and marketing experience. Together, with a talented and enthusiastic team at Friends, a dedicated board of directors and passionate volunteers, we strive to fulfill our mission to Protect, Preserve and Steward Warner Parks. To accomplish this, we work — in concert with Metro Parks under the capable direction of Monique Odom — to preserve our sanctuary in the city.
Any park news we should know? Exciting things happening?
In 2027, this historic park will turn 100 years old. In preparation for this milestone, we’re undertaking the “It’s My Nature” campaign. The 2018 renovation of the iconic sandstone entrance to Percy Warner Park serves as an inspiration to continue our next phase — the renovation of the allée, the limestone path and stairway that leads from the sandstone entrance to the first summit of Percy Warner Park. We’ll restore deteriorating and damaged stonework and address concerns around drainage and erosion to bring the allée back to its original glory. The construction phase is planned for mid-November through June 2020. Another priority is improved trails and the removal of invasive plants throughout Warner Parks. We can use some volunteer help in this area. We’ll also be undertaking structural improvements at the Nature Center, which houses a nature museum and a variety of great educational and environmental programs for all ages.
Our team loves and regularly visits Nashville’s many beautiful parks. If we wanted to give back or get involved, how would you recommend doing so?
Nashville has many beautiful parks to explore, and many opportunities to get involved. Financial support is always needed, and you can join a “friends” group, like Friends of Warner Parks. You can volunteer and help clean a stream, clear a trail, remove invasive plants, volunteer with our Bird Research program, or help at a fundraising event. At Friends of Warner Parks, we have many opportunities to get involved. We’ve also started a Park Partnership program for companies to get involved with Warner Parks, as sponsors and to engage employees in volunteer activities.
Your daughters are absolutely precious! What’s an ideal Saturday in Nashville for you and your family?
Needless to say, I am biased and very blessed when it comes to my four brilliant daughters! Naturally, a hike in the park, followed by breakfast at the Juice Bar and then a nap. We also love visiting the Farmers Market, especially in the fall. It is our family tradition to find the largest pumpkin for our front yard.
What’s your favorite hidden gem in Nashville?
The Burch Reserve in Warner Parks, off Highway 100. It’s natural and serene. If you haven’t experienced it, plan to hike it this fall — however, no dogs or running is allowed in this area.
What is it that makes Nashville unique in your eyes?
Our esprit de corps. There’s a great sense of pride and a remarkable spirit of philanthropy in Nashville.
What’s your best piece of advice?
Oh gosh, do I have to pick just one? What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger; Live in the truth; Be part of the solution, not part of the problem; Prior planning prevents poor performance; and eat the whale, one bite at a time!
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you couldn’t live without?
Dark chocolate-covered caramels, napping and the red trail at Percy Warner Park
Dr. David Yi is a self-described life-long learner with an unwavering desire to be the best at everything he does. And at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center, he’s committed to making a difference in the lives of his patients. Meet this dedicated and passionate FACE of TriStar! Click HERE.