The Tennessee Arts Commission Welcomes 4 New Board Members

From Anne B. Pope, Executive Director –

We’re thrilled to welcome four new board members who joined us in FY24! These community leaders and arts champions were appointed by Governor Bill Lee and bring a wealth of experience to the Commission. Our 15 volunteer board members, all appointed by the Governor for five-year terms, share a deep commitment to Tennessee’s arts and culture. 

Sarah Cantrell

Sarah Cantrell graduated from Lee University with a public relations and marketing degree, she entered the political sector of United States politics as a field rep for US Senator Fred Thompson and a sales associate for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. 

Sarah has been home with her two teen children in Southeast Tennessee. She is involved in the community in many ways. She is the co-founder of Willowbend Farms, an organization that educates the community on human trafficking as well as a full-scale program for women who have been identified and desire full services. Sarah also owns a concert promotion business, Oh My Stars, that brings the arts and music together for good. Sarah is a former classically trained ballet dancer with His Company International in Houston, Texas. 

Sarah and her husband Jonathan, the owner of Caldwell Paving and Manhattan Materials, reside in Cleveland, TN. 

Donald Fann

Donald Fann is a Cannon County native who established the theater program at Stewarts Creek High School. He was selected as The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts 2016 Teacher of the Year and launched the Tennessee All State Theatre Auditions. He served for 19 years as Executive Director of the Arts Center of Cannon County, which became a national model for Rural Community Arts Organizations under his leadership. At the Arts Center, he developed innovative Traditional Arts and Arts Education Programs and founded the Grammy Award winning record label Spring Fed Records. 

In 2013, he received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Arts Leadership for contributions to the state’s arts community. He is a former Chair of both Tennesseans for the Arts and for Humanities Tennessee Boards of Directors and primary guest director at Cumberland County Playhouse. He serves as President of Tennessee Theatre Educators and is a Board member and Secondary Division Chair for the Tennessee Theatre Association. His extensive theatrical background includes over 250 credits for directing, design, and performance. 

Donald currently lives on his family farm outside of Woodbury with his wife, Cortilla, and they have three adult children. 

Rachel Knox

Rachel Knox is the Senior Program Officer of the Thriving Art and Culture program at the Hyde Family Foundation (HFF), leading a $3 million portfolio focused on strengthening Memphis’ rich cultural sector in order to support a more equitable and inclusive arts community. 

In her role, Rachel works to create and execute strategies for artists and cultural organizations that amplify the creativity and brilliance of Memphis. She is responsible for managing grants, collaborating with partners, and building strong relationships with funders to advance the Program’s goals. 

Rachel graduated with her master’s in public policy and administration from American University. Previously, she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Memphis with a concentration in Costume Design and Technology. 

In 2016, Ms. Knox was nominated as one of the Memphis Flyer’s 20 Under 30. She also received the Salzburg Global Seminar Fellowship for Young Cultural Innovators in the Arts that same year. In 2018, she was named one of the 40 Under 40 Urban Elite recipients. In 2020, she received the Memphis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and the Association of Black Foundation Executive’s (ABFE) Connecting Leaders Fellowship. 

Before joining HFF in 2017, she worked as a Program Associate at Innovate Memphis, tackling problems that hindered the City’s growth. She has also held positions with the Orpheum Theatre, Arena Stage, and Voices of the South Theatre Company. 

Howard Robertson

Howard Robertson boasts a remarkable career spanning over 50 years in the marketing and advertising industry. His journey began at the iconic Stax Records, where he honed his skills as a copywriter and publicist. This early experience laid the groundwork for his diverse expertise, which encompasses marketing, advertising, and public/media/community relations. Beyond Stax, Robertson’s impressive resume includes roles as a Broadcast Consultant and radio/ TV sales management with WLOK Radio and WPTY 24 (Fox 24) in Memphis. 

In 1991, recognizing a gap in the market, Robertson and his wife, Beverly, co-founded TRUST Marketing & Communications. TRUST, a Memphis-based relationship marketing firm, caters to companies seeking to engage the African-American consumer market. The firm offers a comprehensive suite of marketing services, all tailored to effectively reach and connect Black audiences. TRUST has flourished, becoming the parent company of two additional ventures: The Spotset Radio Network and the Play Ode mobile app. 

Howard Robertson’s influence extends beyond the marketing world. He co-creates and co-hosts two popular syndicated podcasts: R & R on Sports and Riffin’ on Jazz. These podcasts, with a combined weekly audience exceeding half a million listeners, are carried on digital platforms, including iHeart, Apple, Google, Spotify, and more. 

The Tennessee Arts Commission is delighted to welcome Rachel, Sarah, Howard, and Donald to its board. Their impressive qualifications will be a valuable asset to the Commission as well as the arts and culture sector of Tennessee.