We are proud to lay claim to Pam Lewis–preservationist, philanthropist and music industry veteran–as a new board member of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County. The President & CEO of PLA Media has led a long & fascinating career in both New York City and Nashville… and we know that her varied expertise in fields ranging from politics to non-profits will serve our organization well.
The Historic Register property owner has even written a book about her experiences with preservation–how neat is that? Aptly titled A Tennessee Yankee, Pam shares her life and the restoration journey when she rescued the Harrison House from development. You can purchase the book here.
So that you can get to know Pam better, we put together a quick Q&A that shows off her passion for the community and why she chose to spend time on our mission (to learn more about her very interesting life–and how she came to Franklin–read her fuller bio below her answers). Enjoy!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the rural mid Hudson valley north of NYC and south of Albany. It is called McIntosh country and is loaded with rolling hills and orchards. If you have never visited, put the area on your bucket list — it is spectacularly beautiful with the Catskill Mountains, Hudson River, estates, The Hudson River school of painters Frederick Church and Thomas Cole house museums, and in general loaded with beautiful vistas, history, culture and charm. It’s also only two hours by train to the city which I love.
How long have you lived in Williamson County? What is your favorite part of this community?
I moved to Franklin in 1993. Franklin feels like home to me even more so than my home town. The people are so engaged in our town and care about the way it grows, its history and destiny. We have strong opinions- not allot of apathy, about the important things anyway. I feel a sense of community for the first time in my life.
How did you first become familiar with the Heritage Foundation?
It is impossible to own a historic home in Franklin and not become acquainted with the Heritage Foundation. As soon as I bought the Harrison House, the phone began to ring, notes were dropped at my back door and before I knew it I had met so many people and found myself on the Candlelight Tour! The dance had begun, and oh what I an interesting and joyful dance it has been.
I said in my book “Tennessee Yankee”, my life changed forever and for the better when I decided to rescue that house from development and I mean it. I would never have met so many interesting people from all walks of life, never have run for office, become involved in so many historical causes–and really I feel most blessed and lucky.
Why did you choose to invest your resources with the Heritage Foundation?
I feel that there are so many facets of the Heritage Foundation that are important to our community. Our community would be a very different place (and I would argue less unique) without the consistent, tenacious dedication of the HF staff. There have been so many projects, so many victories and a few disappointments to be sure. What impresses me is how multifaceted HF is as an organization: a valued clearing house for information, research and a historic resource, the many beloved family festivals, the spring Heritage Tour, Franklin Theater restoration and continuing events, land reclamation and various restoration projects, as an activist organization for preservation issues and so much more.
Do you have a favorite event that the Heritage Foundation produces?
I guess my favorite event from the Heritage Foundation is Dickens. Though, I must admit I like any opportunity to slip into a hoop skirt and who doesn’t like to wax a bit English especially around the holidays.
What is your favorite historic landmark or project in Williamson County?
It would have to be the collaborative work on land reclamation- I think the first thing I was involved with was Roper’s Knob.
It’s your perfect Saturday. What would you do?
A cup of coffee, a work out and zumba class and I can be happy just walking around my farm gardening , swimming, riding, and enjoying my critter family but, also any Saturday when I am exploring some place new and traveling. I am a homebody who also loves to travel and have a long list of places to visit and re-visit.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t complain, be grateful in all things, have a short memory and thick skin, seize the day.
To riff off our friends at StyleBlueprint, what are a few things you can’t live without (aside from faith, family and friends)?
Books; coffee and music in the morning; animals in my life; freedom; good health and piece of mind.
Pamela Lewis, a native of upstate New York, is a graduate of Wells College with a B.A. in Economics/Marketing and a minor in French and Communications. Lewis spent a year in Paris studying at COUP (Center of Overseas Undergraduate Program) affiliated with The Sorbonne University. In New York City, she did additional graduate course work at Fordham University, The New York School for Social Research and The Publicity Club of New York. From 1980 to 1984, Lewis was part of the original publicity/marketing team that launched MTV to the world and also worked with MTV’s sister cable channels Nickelodeon, The Movie Channel, and the Arts & Entertainment Network. In 1984 she left WASEC (Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company), a joint venture of Warner Communications and American Express, with the position as National Media Director.
RCA records relocated Lewis from New York City to Nashville to help shape the careers of top country stars such as Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, and Alabama. In 1987, she formed award-winning Doyle/Lewis Management with partner Bob Doyle, while continuing to operate PLA Media. The first client Lewis agreed to represent was an unknown Oklahoma crooner named Garth Brooks, who she worked with until 1994. Lewis also managed Trisha Yearwood’s early career, landing her a record deal at MCA Records. Under Lewis’ guidance, Yearwood released her debut self-titled album in 1991, becoming the first female country musician to sell one million records off her first single “She’s In Love With The Boy.” The album went on to be certified double platinum, and Yearwood went on to win the Academy of Country Music award for Top Female Vocalist later that year.
In 2003, Lewis made her first foray into the world of politics running for office of alderman-at-large in Franklin, Tennessee. She won a four-year term and was the only female on the board for two years and vice mayor for a year. Lewis is a graduate of University of Tennessee’s Institute of Public Service Local Government Leadership Program (third level). She has also served on or chaired multiple committees as well as being elected to the Planning and Historic Zoning Commission. She is a graduate of Belmont University’s College of Business Administration’s Scarlett Leadership Institute Mini Executive MBA program.
Lewis’ charitable board work has included: The Tennessee State Museum, Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte’s You Have The Power, BRIDGES Domestic Violence Center, Sister Cities of Franklin, Battlefield Preservation Commission, GAP, mayor appointed Moderately Priced Housing Task Force, Franklin’s Historic Battlefield Commission, ARC Board and the Tennessee Preservation Trust.
Her other community outreach efforts include historic preservation and green space causes, women and children’s advocacy, educational scholarships, fair housing and environmental and animal rights protection. Her foundation has given away thousands of dollars to numerous charities over the last ten years.