Founded in 1978, Cable started with a simple, yet powerful idea: networking between women. In the first year and half of its existence, Cable membership numbers reached 200, representing at least thirty-five to forty different career fields. The organizing committee, which included Carol McCoy, Barbara Richards, Martha Trammel, Bea Hubbard, and Mary Martin Schaffner, chose the name “Cable” because the word suggests strength of the links between women. Cable’s first luncheon meeting in 1978 drew a standing room only crowd to hear attorney Jayne Ann Woods speak about the “The Old Girl Network.”
Mary Martin Schaffner was the Vice President of the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee Board of Directors. She helped with the details of a partnership between the YWCA and Cable. The YWCA provided space and staff support for the new Cable organization. In 1979, Cable recognized Mary with a plaque in honor of her pivotal role and named her as Cable’s Founding Mother.
Cable and the YWCA worked together for 23 years creating diverse networks and promoting opportunities for business and professional women in our community. On February 14, 2001, Cable ratified new By-laws and became an independent organization, but continued its support of YWCA programs and activities.
Cable also formed the Cable Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) Corporation for fund-raising purposed. The Cable Foundation also serves as the umbrella for the Nashville ATHENA Award Program. Cable hired an association director in August 2001, but changed to an association administrator in June 2002. In 2011, Cable appointed its first Executive Director. In 2014, Cable had nearly 600 members.
In addition to monthly luncheon membership meetings and frequent networking events, Nashville Cable presents and educational program called the Women’s Development Series (formerly the Super Session and Super Series) and the community’s Power of Inclusion program and awards. Annually, it presents the Molly Todd Cup, Networking Award, Promote Women Award, Spirit of Leadership Award, Networking Award, and the Rising Star Award to outstanding Cable members and community organizations.
Cable began a mentoring program in 2009, which matches Cable members to women from sponsor and community organizations. Cable also sponsors the Leadership Academy in collaboration with Lipscomb University offering a certificate program or discounted Master’s Degree Program in Civic Leadership. The Academy was expanded in 2012 to include professional development in a variety of ways including civic leadership, mentoring, as programs such as the Women on Corporate Boards Series learning about and developing the skills for corporate board membership. In 2014 the inaugural Cable Corporate Board Academy graduated its first class of 15 women. It is designed to help prepare board-ready women to obtain meaningful corporate board roles.
In 2006 Cable conducted its first study that examines the representation of women in leadership in Tennessee based public companies and has followed up with five additional studies through 2013. Cable held its first Board Walk Hall of Fame in 2010 to honor women who serve on Tennessee corporate boards and companies. It has continued each year.
Cable has been involved with the Nashville ATHENA Award Program since its beginning in 1990. In 1995, Cable assumed leadership of the Program where it continues today under the Cable Foundation and pursuant to a license from ATHENA International. Each year since 1995, a Cable member serves as the Chair of the event. The event is considered the premier celebration of women leaders in Nashville. Since 1991, 15 women who have been or are current Cable members have received the prestigious ATHENA Award: Martha Craig Daughtrey (1991), Margaret Behm (1992), Mary Anne Jackson (1993), Carol McCoy (1999), Ronnie Steinberg (2001), Deborah Faulkner (2002), Patricia Pierce (2003), Mary Frances Lyle (2004), Yvonne Wood (2005), Tommie Morton-Young (2006), Barbara Moss (2007), Janet Jernigan (2009), Susan Short Jones (2010), Christine Bradley (2011), Ruth Johnson (2012), and Linda Peek Schacht (2014).
Scholarships given to high school students were added to the ATHENA Award Program in 1993. Each received $500. In 2001, a Non-Traditional category was added to support women who choose to pursue higher education in later life. In 2014, the Scholarship Program awarded over $28,000 to deserving women and girls.
2014 Cable member Linda Peek Schacht received the ATHENA Award. Cable held its fifth Board Walk of Fame. Fifteen women graduated from Cable’s inaugural Corporate Board Academy. Luncheon speakers included: Amy Lynch, President of Generations Edge; Steve Buchanan, President of Opry Entertainment Group; Dr. Carole Bucy, author, historian, & educator; Dr. Susan Schmidt Bies, Board of Directors for Zurich Insurance Group and Bank of America; and Ellen Brooks, former District Attorney of Montgomery County in Alabama.
2013 Cable celebrated its 35th Anniversary. A reception was held to recognize and honor Cable’s Founding Mothers. Cable published its fifth study examining the representation of women in leadership in Tennessee based public companies. The fourth Board Walk of Fame was held. Luncheon speakers included: Elizabeth Crook, CEO & Founder of Orchard Advisors; Kerry Robertson, Founder of Kerry Robertson Communications; Vallie Collins, passenger on US Airways flight that landed on Hudson River; Dr. Laura Belsten, author & educator; Janet Miller, Chief Economic Development Officer of Nashville Chamber of Commerce; and Felicia Anchor, Past Chair of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.
2012 Cable member Ruth Johnson received the ATHENA Award. The third Board Walk Hall of Fame was held. Cable launched the Leadership Academy in collaboration with Lipscomb University. Luncheon speakers included Nikki Giovanni, author and civil rights icon; Carol Haave, Owner of Sages, LLC; Bill Carey, Executvie Director of Tennessee History for Kids; Derek Young, President of Young Motivation Group; Sarah Meyerrose, President of ION; Vernice Armour, Marine Corp Combat Pilot; Ruth Johnson, Associate Vice President Meharry Medical College; Alice Randall, author and educator; and Lauren Thom, Owner of Fleurity Girl.