Leadership

 


 

 

 

Paula D. Foster, MSW, LCSW
Executive Director

Paula D. Foster, MSW, LCSW received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Louisiana College in 1986 and her Master’s degree from the City University of New York, Hunter College School of Social Work in 1993. During her 13 years in NYC, Paula worked in a variety of culturally diverse settings throughout the city including the NYC public hospital system and a number of non-profit organizations. After receiving her Master’s degree, Paula began working in the field of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, continuing this work after moving to Nashville in 2001 as the Director of Emotional & Practical Support for Nashville CARES, Tennessee’s leading provider of community based social services for people living with HIV/AIDS. She has served as a Co-chair of the Ryan White Part A Planning Council for the Metro-Nashville Transitional Grant Area, providing input regarding the funding of services to the HIV/AIDS service community. Paula has been an adjunct instructor in the Social Work department at Tennessee State University and an adjunct instructor and field liaison for the University of Tennessee’s School of Social Work, Nashville campus. She has been a practicing faculty member at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing, for the Vanderbilt Program in Inter-professional Learning. She also teaches a Social Services Competency Based Training at TSU’s Center for Excellence in Learning Sciences. Most recently, Paula was the Executive Director of the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare (TCSW), a statewide advocacy and training organization.

Paula’s experience spans a variety of service areas including advocacy, healthcare, mental healthcare, substance abuse, hospice and homelessness. She is a past President of the Board of Directors for NASW-TN and has served as the Region VII Representative to the national board of directors of the National Association of Social Workers in Washington, DC. Paula was a trainer with the HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project of NASW and has developed extensive educational workshops for social workers throughout the state of Tennessee. In 2011, she was honored as NASW-TN’s Social Worker of the Year. Paula has served on a number of non-profit boards including Saddle Up!, the TN Disability Coalition, the Women’s Political Collaborative, Nashville Pride and was a mayoral appointment to the Metropolitan Nashville Homelessness Commission in 2016. The commission merged with the HUD mandated Nashville Continuum of Care in 2018 becoming the Nashville Davidson County Continuum of Care Homelessness Planning Council where she is currently the chair of the council.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lindsey Krinks
Co-Founder, Director of Education

Lindsey Krinks serves as Co-founder and Director of Education at Open Table Nashville. For over a decade, she has worked on the underside of Nashville—the streets, encampments, jails, slums, and underpasses—while also working with faith leaders, community organizers, and public officials to make the city more hospitable and just. Lindsey was ordained in 2013 and serves as an interfaith street chaplain. She graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2013 with a Masters of Theological Studies degree and is on the board of the Nashville Coalition for the Homeless. Her book Praying With Our Feet: Pursuing Justice & Healing on the Streets came out in February of 2021 through Brazos Press and can be purchased anywhere books are sold. On any given day, Lindsey can be found in tent cities, washing feet on the streets, marching for change, or foraging for native herbs and plants. To learn more about Lindsey’s work and writing, visit her blog or her website.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Lisa Avrit
Director of Finance

Lisa Avrit began volunteering with Open Table Nashville in 2015. After serving on the board for a few years, the opportunity arose to join the staff as the Finance Coordinator and she jumped at the chance. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, hiking and playing outdoors.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Allie Wallace
Director of Operations

Allie joined Open Table Nashville’s staff in August of 2019 after volunteering with OTN since its founding in 2010. Previous to her work as OTN’s operations coordinator, Allie served as a pastor for five years at a local church in Goodlettsville and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Lipscomb University in 2019. She has dedicated her academic career to the study of theology and is deeply interested in the intersections that exist between spirituality and justice. Allie is so excited to be a part of the staff at Open Table Nashville because she is passionate about journeying alongside the marginalized. If she isn’t hanging out with her twin sister or watching Netflix, you can find Allie reading on her back porch, inviting herself over to her friends’ houses, or eating a snack.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Edward Kehoe
Outreach & Data Coordinator

Edward comes to Open Table Nashville from the community organizing family in Nashville, working with several local grassroots organizations and nonprofits. Edward moved to Nashville in early 2018 from Washington where he went to college at The Evergreen State, triple majoring in Communications, Acting, and Political Economics. His goal is to de-professionalize community organizing in order to bring politics back to the people. Because of this goal he can be found canvassing in your neighborhood sometime soon.

 

 

 

 
 
 
India Pungarcher
Advocacy & Outreach Specialist

India holds a bachelor of science degree in dietetics and global health from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is a Midwest transplant who came to Nashville to pursue her master of public health degree at Vanderbilt. She started as a volunteer and immediately fell in love with the Open Table Nashville way – building relationships and standing in solidarity with our friends. She wants to spend her career working with and advocating for people experiencing homelessness and affordable housing by merging efforts from local government, advocacy, and research sectors. She believes housing is a fundamental human right and supports housing first models.

When she is not doing nerdy things on her computer for school or work, you can find her at the dog park with her pug, trying a new coffee shop, going for a run, or planning her next escape into the wilderness for some hiking and camping. She is always in search of people, places, and experiences that allow her to experience grace deeply.

 

 

 

 
 
Chase Cate
Resource Coordinator

Chase is a senior at Lipscomb University where he is double majoring in English and philosophy. He chose to move to Nashville after spending his youth in Eastern Nebraska and his first year of college in Oklahoma. After Chase’s freshman year, he felt called to work with people experiencing homelessness and began pursuing work in the community, reorganizing life around that goal. When he is not working Open Table Nashville’s resource line, he loves to write poems, watch movies, listen to music ranging from folk to rap, and hammock outside. He hopes to pursue a graduate degree in poetry or theology, depending on where the Lord decides to lead. However, his ultimate goal is to work with and live in community with our most vulnerable populations.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Claire Hennigan
Street Outreach & Resource Navigator

Claire moved to Nashville from Greenville, South Carolina in 2017 to attend Belmont University for social work. As her freshman year eventually turned to her senior year, she grew to love the spirit of Nashville and found a home within it. She got her start interning at Planned Parenthood, which instilled a deep passion within her to advocate for the Nashville community. She’s excited to continue supporting Nashville at Open Table! When she’s not at work, she loves to play Stardew Valley and watch mindless TV.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Olivia Nelshoppen
Communications Coordinator

Olivia originally moved to Nashville in her sophomore year of college and just recently graduated in May 2022 from Belmont University with degrees in Corporate Communication and Marketing. During her time at Belmont, Olivia found a deep passion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within her sorority leadership position. Olivia is beyond excited to continue her advocacy work while incorporating her love for communications and marketing at Open Table. During her free time, Olivia enjoys finding need coffee shops, reading, and spontaneous adventures with friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Samantha Rae MacAlpine
Outreach Worker

Samantha Rae is a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor’s of Social Work and Ivy Tech Community College with an Associate’s in Human Services. She moved to Nashville from Indiana after graduating some five years ago, but the city had been a second home to her for at least that many more. SamRae has had something of an unconventional career. In addition to her 10+ years of experience in the social work field as an intern and professional, she has also occasionally ‘gone rogue’ as a member of organizing movements and community safety teams. She is a fierce advocate for the trans community, especially those far too many of her siblings who are out on the streets or under constant threat of losing their housing. She believes housing, healthcare, food, and water are fundamental human rights, and that there is no excuse in the modern world for anyone to kept from them. When not performing her duties with Open Table or marching around downtown yelling about stuff, SamRae enjoys a relatively quiet life with her two cats Catra and Glimmer. A devout Buddhist, she can often be found in local Sanghas and Dharma groups. She likes to spend her free time playing tabletop games, painting miniatures, hiking, making music, cooking, and befriending everyone’s pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Board of Directors

 

 

Caleigh Keadle, Board Chair

 

 

Sabrina Sullenberger, Professor of Social Work at Belmont University

Sabrina has been teaching in the Department of Social Work at Belmont since the fall semester of 2013. She teaches in almost all curriculum areas of social work, but is especially passionate about teaching courses on community practice, policy, human development, and poverty and child welfare. She and her husband have three daughters: Cosette, Ireland and Avila who keep their parents busy with a number of activities! Sabrina is a proud board member who loves serving with Open Table Nashville through resource shelters, foot clinics, cold weather canvassing, and any other needs that come up!

 

 

Christian Williams, Assistant Professor and Director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at Belmont University

Christian L. Williams, DrPH, MPH is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to coming to Belmont University, Dr. Williams served as the Public Health Competency Coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Health. In that role, she was responsible for workforce development and training; served as the program director for the Commissioner’s Fellowship in Public Health; and coordinated all student internships and volunteer activities. Dr. Williams received her DrPH in Community Health and MPH in Health Services Administration from the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. Her research interests include workforce development, quality improvement, linkages between academia and practice, and public health systems and services.

Dr. Williams actively serves the community in a variety of roles. In addition to being a board member at Open Table Nashville, she is also the President-Elect for the Tennessee Public Health Association, Chair of the Advocacy Committee with the Junior League of Nashville, and serves on the Education Committee of Leadership Health Care. When not engaging in volunteer service, you can find her spending time with her husband, four pets, reading, or exploring the Nashville food scene.

 

 

Raphael McPerson

Raphael McPherson was born in Nashville and graduated from Maplewood High School. He then attended Middle Tennessee State University where he studied political silence and military science. After graduation, Raphael joined the United States Army from 1986-1992. From 1994 – 1998 Raphael was in prison and then was homeless off and on from 2005 – 2015. That’s when he met Open Table Nashville who was able to help him secure housing. He currently works at Sysco Foods and has been a board member at OTN for several years.

 

 

Ana L. Escobar, General Sessions Court Div 3 Judge

Ana L. Escobar was elected to the General Sessions Court Div 3 in August 2018. She is one of three judges that hears Domestic Violence cases eight months out of the year.  She also presides over the Cherished Hearts Court, a treatment court for Human trafficking survivors.

Ana Escobar was born in Colombia, South America and became a United States citizen when she was 12 years old.  She and her family have lived in Nashville for more than forty years. Ana earned her college degree from Vanderbilt University and graduated from The National Law Center at George Washington University with a Doctor in Jurisprudence. Prior to her election, Judge Escobar has practiced law since 1995 by serving as an assistant public defender, an assistant district attorney, solo practitioner, Metro Clerk, and Deputy Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Ana has a passion for public serve. She has served on twenty non-profit boards, government boards, and commissions. She has given her time to the Planning Commission, the Davidson County Election Commission, the Board of Equalization, and the State Judicial Nominating Commission. In 2012, she co-founded MyCity Academy, a leadership program that enables New American Nashvillians and neighborhood leaders to learn about Metro Government.

 

 

Abby Shelley Taylor

Abby is a Nashville native, Lipscomb alumni, and a big UT Vols fan. She has a heart for serving others and giving back to the community. Her background is working with uninsured patients in hospitals, and patients who are at or below the poverty line, providing them resources in the community to better the quality of their lives. She looks forward to being a part of the Open Table Nashville team and serving alongside them here in Nashville.

 

 

Jenean Davis

Jenean Davis is an entrepreneur, advocate, leader, and community volunteer. Jenean is owner of JDavis Management, a business development consulting company. She is a native of Nashville, TN. Davis has worked in the Nashville and Franklin communities as a non-profit philanthropy and event management leader, and small business consultant, working with organizations such as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Alignment Nashville, Scarritt Bennett, Tennessee State University, Franklin Family YMCA, Nashville CARES, the YWCA, and others. Jenean developed a passion for community service and volunteerism at a young age and has served on several boards including CABLE, Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce, and Young Leaders Council, Inc. She was appointed in 2010 by Mayor Karl Dean as a Commissioner for the Metropolitan Nashville Beautification Commission, District 1.

Davis is a graduate of Fisk University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She also has a Master of Arts in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb University’s Nelson Andrews Institute. Davis also holds professional and civic memberships in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Incorporated, Nashville Cable, and the Nashville Fisk Alumni Association. She also serves on the board for Nashville Cable. Jenean attends Living Word Community Church in Antioch, TN, and loves spending time with family and friends living, laughing, and enjoying life!