Felker appointed to Metro Board of Health

Sam Felker, a long-time GLBT community leader, has been appointed by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to serve a five-year term on the Metro Board of Health (BOH), which oversees the Health Department of Nashville Davidson County. It is the first time in the city's history that a GLBT leader has been appointed to the BOH.

"I have known Sam for over 25 years," Dean said. "He's an excellent attorney and has substantive experience providing legal advice and guidance to the Nashville healthcare community and various non-profit boards. He will be an excellent addition to the Board."

Felker said he is honored to be a part of the BOH, and to be appointed to such a major post in the greater Nashville community. 

"It is one of the more important metro boards, touching the lives of everyone in Nashville in many ways," Felker said.

The BOH has a wide scope of mandates which includes auto emissions, animal control and emergency management response, Felker said.

Under the Metro Charter, the BOH is composed of six members. Three members must be doctors of medicine certified for practice by the state board of medical examiners and licensed by the state licensing board for the healing arts.

The six member BOH includes Chairman William N. Hance, J.D.; Vice Chair Ruth Stewart, M.D.; Secretary Samuel O. Okpaku, M.D.; Henry Foster, M.D., and Janie E. Parmley, R.N. Felker replaces Margaret L. Behm, J.D., who served as a Board of Health member for the past nine years.

Each of the three must have at least five years experience in the active practice of medicine. Per the Metro Charter requirements, one of the doctors must have experience in the field of psychiatry. One member of the board must be a registered nurse. The two remaining members of the Board are chosen without reference to occupation. Each Board member serves his or her duties without compensation.

"He brings a unique perspective to the board as not only a prominent member of Nasvhille’s gay community, but also as a distinguished attorney and Nashville business leader," Hance said. "Our welcome mat is out."

Felker has lived in Nashville for 30 years and is a trial attorney in the Nashville office of Bass, Berry and Sims. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Lawdragon 3000 Leading Lawyers in America.

Dean contacted Felker and asked him if he'd be interested in the position because of his experience with healthcare law.

"It says a lot about the mayor’s (GLBT) inclusiveness that the he would reach out to me to do this," Felker said.

Felker, who is partnered with Keith Little, also serves on the board of Nashville Cares. He previously has served as co-chair of the Nashville Federal Club of The Human Rights Campaign and in 2008 received a Community Leadership Award from the group.

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