2016 Human Relations Award Honorees
The Reverend Bill Barnes
Bill Barnes is a native of Nashville, a Methodist minister, civil rights activist and is a life-long instigator and servant of social and civil justice. Bill is the founding pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church, an award-winning interracial, interclass, inner city, reconciling church.
Bill is known as an advocate for people who are poor and marginalized. He has been a leader in racial justice issues, as a champion of the rights of those who have been disenfranchised, particularly homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people.
Among the issues Bill has championed, reducing poverty and poverty-dense neighborhoods has been at the forefront. Currently, Bill serves as a founding member of the A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty Leadership Team. He is its leading, most revered voice calling for countywide, inclusionary zoning. The Barnes Trust Fund, whose mission it is to build housing for the poor in our community, has been appropriately named after him in recognition for his dedication to the poor and the remarkable work he has done for people most in need.
Rashed is the founding board member to American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), which helps to build strong interfaith relations through open houses, presentations, and other community services. He is also a volunteer through Habitat for Humanity, 2nd Harvest Food Bank, Family of Abraham as well as other organizations. He is currently the president of the Islamic Center of Nashville and co-founder and advisor of MYNT – a Muslim Youth Group.
Rashed has consistently given his time, talent, and money in creating a strong, vibrant, community in Nashville. For example, he built a partnership program between Metro School students and NES around science and engineering.
Abby is a Nashville-based attorney focusing on family law, sexual orientation, and AIDS-related issues. She was one of the lawyers that handled the suit seeking recognition of same-sex marriages in Tennessee and across the nation, resulting in 2015’s landmark Supreme Court decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Tennessee affiliate has recognized Rubenfeld’s activism with its Bill of Rights Award, and she has received the Dan Bradley Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association for her work toward LGBT equality. She is a former board member of both the ACLU of Tennessee and the Human Rights Campaign.
Most recently a Senior Advisor to Mayor Karl Dean, Hershell has been an active participant in organizations and causes affecting Human Relations in Nashville. Hershell served on the Metro Human Relations Commission for five years, also acting as interim executive director, as well as the of the ACLU Foundation of Tennessee. His participation with Community Nashville includes chairing the HR Awards Dinner, serving on the board, the honoree nominating committee and providing consistent support.
Hershell was the director of public policy and governmental affairs for Meharry Medical College. While there he also served as executive director for the Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center, where he helped develop several specialized treatment programs for women with dependent children. He served on the Health Care Task Force of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and worked on statewide health care initiatives for the Office of Minority Health and the Black Health Care Commission.