Paula D. Foster, MSW, LCSW
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.
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 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.
Director of Communications
Linda moved to Nashville on a whim ten years ago after studying journalism at Abilene Christian University in Texas, where she’s from. She’s worked with people experiencing homelessness in multiple capacities since arriving in the city and also co-edits The Contributor, a nonprofit street paper sold by homeless and formerly homeless vendors. Linda has also managed the Where to Turn in Nashville resource guide since it’s first printing in 2013. When she’s not working, Linda is most likely drinking coffee, feeding the crows, or rearranging her home to accommodate something odd she found at a flea market.
Street Outreach & Resource Navigator
Susan graduated from the University of Cincinnati and worked in the field of mental health for the first ten years of her career. Eventually, she realized she couldn’t stay indoors eight hours a day and moved on to photojournalism and outreach, where she learned to work with a long stream culturally diverse individuals and groups. She joined Open Table Nashville in early 2018 as a street outreach and resource navigator and can typically be found on the streets of Nashville with a camera and a rather large, lovable dog.
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.
Susannah E. Shumate, CFRE
Director of Development
Susannah holds a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Management from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, where she was a history major. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE); she is one of only 6,000 people in the world who hold the credential.
Her work with vulnerable and marginalized populations has made Susannah an advocate for social and economic justice and for criminal justice system reconstruction. When she’s not at work, you can find Susannah with her husband and their three four-legged children (one canine and two feline) or reading, writing, or making handmade greeting cards.
Street Outreach & Resource Navigator
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 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.
Street Outreach & Resource Navigator
Emery is a Nashville native and a graduate of Davidson College, where he double majored in Biology and Music. He began his time with Open Table Nashville as an intern, and from that experience, knew that he wanted to be an outreach worker someday. Emery is deeply committed to the idea that housing and healthcare are fundamental human rights, and he wants to spend his career advocating for these issues alongside Nashville’s most vulnerable populations. In his work with Open Table Nashville, Emery strives to affirm human dignity and journey with the marginalized. He hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner and practice street medicine for those discarded by America’s for-profit healthcare system. When he’s not working, Emery can be found listening to jazz, reading, or watching bad movies.
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.
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.
Matt Deeb, Director of TrustCore Institutional
Matt Deeb is the Director of TrustCore Institutional, leading the firm’s efforts for non-profit and foundation clients. He joined TrustCore in 2018 as a Financial Planner before transitioning to his current role.
Prior to joining TrustCore, Matt was the CFO of The Healing Trust, a Nashville-based private foundation. During his 14-year tenure, Matt was responsible for overseeing a $100 million investment portfolio and all financial aspects of the firm. He also was a member of the grant review team and learned a great deal about the operational, financial, and governance challenges that non-profit agencies face.
Matt grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and has undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Finance from Florida State University. He has been involved with several non-profits over the years and currently serves on the board of Our Kids and the West End Home Foundation Investment Committee.
Matt and his wife, Beth, have lived in Nashville since 2000 and enjoy camping, live music, and reading.
Justin Pitt, Senior Vice President & Chief Litigation Counsel at Community Health Solutions
Justin is the Senior Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel for Community Health Systems, one of the nation’s largest hospital systems. He has been a member of the Open Table Nashville Board of Directors for over six years and is a past Board Chairman. Justin works with a number of groups providing housing to Middle Tennessee citizens experiencing homelessness, including serving on the Boards of The Village at Glencliff and The Williamson County Homeless Alliance. Justin and his family live in Franklin, Tennessee and are members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. In his free time, Justin enjoys hiking and gardening.
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.