Tennessean’s Engagement Editor David Plazas will moderate a free discussion with The Tennessean’s Executive Editor Maria DeVarenne about leading through adversity. In the last three months Nashville and the nation have experienced events that have changed how our communities operate from the tornado to COVID-19 to the protests against police brutality. These events have forced our communities to live and conduct business differently, from educating our children to shopping at local retailers to family dynamics during stay-at-home mandates. Learn how Maria and The Tennessean are ensuring communities are informed and ready to take on not just the challenges but the opportunities.
About our guest speaker: The Tennessean’s Executive Editor Maria De Varenne
Maria De Varenne is the executive editor of The Tennessean. She joined The Tennessean in 2011. She previously was the editor and vice president/news of The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif. Under her leadership, The Tennessean has won numerous national and state awards. Those include: The outstanding news operation by the Tennessee Associated Press Media Editors; The Associated Press Media Editors’ First Amendment Award for coverage of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services; finalist for EPPY awards for the Waffle House mass shooting and Civility Tennessee engagement project; finalist for the national Investigative Reporters and Editors award for coverage of Conservatorships in Tennessee; and
The Tennessean’s sports section and Tennessean.com were named in the Top 10 in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
De Varenne grew up in Albuquerque, NM, graduated with a BA in journalism from the University of New Mexico and was a fellow at the University of Southern California’s Knight Digital Media Center. She is an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University.
She is a graduate of Leadership Nashville, and on the board of The Tennessee Press Association, the Nashville Predators Foundation, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a member of The Nashville Chamber’s Business Conditions Council and a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville.
About Our Moderator: The Tennessean’s Engagement Editor – David Plazas
David Plazas is the Opinion and Engagement Director for the USA TODAY Network newsrooms in Tennessee where he serves as an editorial writer, opinion columnist, op-ed editor and an editorial board member. He oversees the opinion team for The Tennessean in Nashville, The Knoxville News-Sentinel and The Memphis Commercial Appeal and frequently moderates community conversations and statewide and local political and policy debates.
He is an award-winning journalist who wrote an acclaimed series on affordable housing, “The Costs of Growth in Nashville” (2017), and leads a statewide campaign, “Civility Tennessee” (starting in 2018), to
encourage, promote and practice civil discourse and effective citizenship.
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled events and forced many employees to work from
home, he created and launched the Tennessee Voices videocast, a show focused on connecting the
community with thinkers, creators, innovators and leaders who have written op-eds in the Tennessee
He started his career at The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida, where he worked as a reporter, Spanish-
language community editor, opinion editor and digital team leader. He holds B.A. and M.S. in Journalism
from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and an M.B.A. from Florida Gulf Coast University in
Fort Myers, Florida. He and his husband Darren Bradford reside in Nashville.