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VOL. 132 | NO. 58 | Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Corker To Keynote Dunavant Awards

By Bill Dries

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U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will be the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Memphis East’s annual Dunavant Public Servant Awards.

BOB CORKER

Co-sponsored by The Daily News, the awards luncheon is 11:30 a.m., April 18, at the Memphis Hilton, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd.

The awards are given annually to one elected leader and one non-elected public official. The recipients are nominated by the public and selected after consideration by the family of the late Probate Court Clerk Bobby Dunavant and Rotary leaders.

The committee is taking nominations through March 25 via nomination forms at the website www.rotaryclubofmemphiseast.org.

“We’ve got a good number, but we always want some more,” said Mark Griffee, chairman of the Dunavant Awards. “We retain the nominations. We’ll look back at the ones from the prior years as well. Our universe or pool of applicants is both getting stronger and growing.”

The award recipients last year were state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Lisa Geater, chief of staff to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who was honored for her service as city council administrator.

Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addresses the luncheon at a time of change in Washington, D.C.

“We try to alternate between public and private sector keynote address speakers at the Dunavant Awards luncheon,” Griffee said. “We typically get a better crowd when there is a big public sector person like this as the speaker.”

The awards frequently offer a contrast from political topics of the day with a focus on how public servants go about their duties, whether they are elected or not elected.

But Corker’s audience will likely be listening for any indications of the direction and timing of change in Washington four months into the administration of President Donald Trump.

Corker’s name was on the short list for Secretary of State in the Trump administration and before that, potentially for vice president.

The keynote speakers at the luncheon over the years have been a mix of those from politics and from business.

They include FedEx Corp. founder Fred Smith; U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, Howard Baker and Phil Gramm; U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr.; AutoZone president and CEO Bill Rhodes; Tennessee Govs. Bill Haslam and Phil Bredesen; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; and last year Spence L. Wilson, chairman of Kemmons Wilson Companies.

Those considered for the awards are judged on a set of qualities consistent with the exemplary service and character of Dunavant as both an elected official and before that as an unelected official.

The awards began in 2004 as a way to not only honor Dunavant, who died in 2003, but to promote good government through the example of award winners.

“I think part of any educational process is repeating the message and presenting it via or through different speakers from different perspectives,” Griffee said. “We’ve got 28 award recipients now who also acknowledge and talk about their experience each year.”

Other past winners include retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Lanier, senior assistant city attorney Dorothy Osradker, Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Jury Commission chairman Kit Carson, Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy and Shelby County School board member Billy Orgel.

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