Today’s FACE has a heart bursting for Nashville, specifically for its youth. Sheila Calloway serves as Nashville’s Juvenile Court Judge and additionally serves her community in myriad ways outside of work. She cares deeply for the city she has called home for 32 years. From serving at Second Harvest Food Bank to working with Project Prison Connect, a program that educates high schoolers about the criminal justice system, her passion extends beyond her day job. Sheila sees teens and children during some of the most vulnerable, scary times of their lives, and she believes in the importance of giving them opportunity and forgiveness, changing the way our justice system works from the inside out. We’re inspired by her goodwill and honored to introduce her as today’s FACE of Nashville. Meet Sheila Calloway!
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you end up in Nashville?
I am originally from Louisville, Kentucky. My parents still live there now. I have one older sister who is currently the Provost at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minnesota. I came to Nashville in 1987 to attend Vanderbilt University and majored in Communication with a minor in Political Science. Then I graduated from undergraduate with a BA in 1991. I stayed at Vanderbilt University to attend law school and graduated from law school in 1994.
Did you always want to practice law? What led you to your career path?
My mother, who used to save every paper we ever wrote, gave me a paper that I had written in fourth grade. In that paper, I wrote about wanting to be a lawyer and helping people when I grew up. I actually have no idea why I chose that career path, but I’m glad I did!
Tell us about your role as a Juvenile Court Judge. What does your job entail?
As the Juvenile Court Judge, my role is very extensive. I have more than 125 employees I manage. The employees range from magistrates, administrators, probation officers, warrant officers, intake personnel, grant managers, IT team and office support representatives. I also manage the detention facility, which houses youth who are being detained. We contract with a private facility, Youth Opportunity Investments. My responsibility is to make sure they are operating within the guidelines of the contract. I also have to manage the budget of the court.
On top of my management responsibilities, I also hear cases every day. I hear all of the cases being appealed from decisions of the nine Magistrates who work for me. I also hear all of the cases involving termination of parental rights and the request of sending a child to the adult system for prosecution.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I normally start my day with a morning meeting sometime between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. I then start to hear cases around 9 a.m. We usually break for lunch around 11:30 a.m. or noon. On many occasions, I am speaking at an event or attending a luncheon. I start court around 1:15 p.m. to hear more cases. I usually stop hearing cases around 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. Depending on the day, I have a number of activities I participate in in the evenings.
You are a busy woman! Outside of your career, how else are you involved in Nashville?
I’m involved in many different things outside of my career. Currently, I teach a class at Vanderbilt Law School. In past years, I have also taught classes at Belmont Law School, American Baptist College and Vanderbilt undergraduate school. I’m active in my church, particularly in the music ministry. I co-direct the youth choir at my church. I am also an active volunteer for the Second Harvest Food Bank, Temple Baptist Church site and I am active with the Napier-Looby Bar Association and the Nashville Bar Association. I am on the board of the Nashville Public Education Foundation, PENCIL and Homework Hotline.
What are you most passionate about right now?
Right now, I am most passionate about doing what I can to ensure that all youth have the same access to opportunities to be successful, particularly in the education system. I know that I had a number of privileges growing up in an upper-middle-class two-parent family. My child has the same types of privileges. I think every child should have the same opportunities my child has no matter where they live or what they look like.
On a Saturday, where might we find you and your family spending time in Nashville?
On most Saturday mornings, you will find me at the Second Harvest Food Bank, Temple site helping to distribute food boxes. If it’s football season, you can probably find me at a Vandy football game. During marching band season, you will find me watching my child participate with the award-winning McGavock High School Band. Occasionally, you may also find me at work … just catching up!
What’s your favorite thing about Nashville?
My favorite thing about Nashville is truly the people. Even when we disagree on issues, we still seem to be able to work things out to better our entire community.
What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I think most people know that I love singing. They may be surprised to learn that I absolutely HATE shopping for anything!
What is your best piece of advice?
My best piece of advice comes from the Bible: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, which states, “Be joyful ALWAYS, pray continually, and give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you couldn’t live without?
The three things I couldn’t live without are cheese dip, football and music.
Thank you to Sheila Calloway. And thank you to Leila Grossman for the beautiful photos of Sheila.
She has a passion for pulmonary health and patient care, and she’s on the forefront of cutting edge lung health technological advances. Meet our newest FACE of TriStar, Dr. Susan Garwood of TriStar Centennial Medical Center. Click HERE.