The Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee has honored former Nashville mayor Bill Purcell with the 2007 Jack C. Massey Leadership Award.  Presented biennially, the award recognizes outstanding community leadership and considerable contributions that improve the lives of Middle Tennessee’s citizens.
 
Bill Purcell accepted the honor during the 11th Jack C. Massey Leadership Award dinner on Tue., Nov. 13. The Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee created this award in 1986 to honor the late Mr. Massey’s lifelong dedication to the Nashville community.  Alyne Massey, Mr. Massey’s widow, served as honorary chair of the invitation-only awards dinner event.  Michael Schoenfeld, M.S., vice chancellor for Public Affairs at Vanderbilt University, and his wife, Elizabeth, served as event co-chairs.
 
“For more than 20 years, Mayor Purcell has worked to enrich the quality of life for Nashville residents,” said Angie Thompson, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee. “His legacy of leadership and dedication to community and economic development and his efforts to improve access to better education and health services – including mental health services – exemplify the type of visionary leadership that Jack C. Massey demonstrated.  We are delighted to name Mayor Purcell as the recipient of the Jack C. Massey Award.”
 
As mayor of Nashville, Purcell burnished a legacy of civic and community service in Middle Tennessee and around the country.  Under his leadership, Nashville experienced unprecedented economic expansion.  The city was named the hottest city in America for corporate relocation and expansion by Expansion Management magazine for two consecutive years and was ranked first on the list of 50 Smart Cities compiled in 2006 by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. 
 
Mayor Purcell’s accomplishments go far beyond economic development.  During his tenure as mayor, Purcell increased funding for education by more than 42 percent. His education programs, such as the Mayor’s First Day Festival and Take Your Child to School Day, drew national attention and became models for other cities. 
 
In the healthcare arena, Mayor Purcell’s Healthy Nashville 2010 initiative worked to continually improve the health status and quality of life of Nashville residents. His support for programs such as the Mental Health Court and Bridges to Care provided vital services to residents in need. 
 
Additionally, Mayor Purcell enriched Nashville by supporting construction of new arts centers such as the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and expanding parks and greenways across the city.
 
For his efforts, Mayor Purcell was awarded GOVERNING Magazine’s Public Official of the Year Award in 2006. He was the only mayor to be recognized that year. 
 
Prior to becoming mayor of Nashville, Mayor Purcell served five terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives beginning in 1986. A former House Majority Leader and Chair of the Select Committee on Children and Youth, Purcell's work in the legislature positioned him at the forefront of education, health care, workers compensation and criminal sentencing reforms.
 
An attorney by profession, Purcell received his law degree from Vanderbilt University and is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt Law School.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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