Phyllis Nichols named first member of the new Knoxville Nonprofit Hall of Fame

 Organizational leaders and nonprofits including East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Muse Knoxville and Volunteer Ministry Center were recognized earlier this month at The Change Awards, a new recognition event hosted by United Way of Greater Knoxville.

The sell-out event, which took place at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville, honored outstanding results by the area’s nonprofit community. The evening was a first-of-a-kind awards program to exclusively recognize both agencies and individuals for leadership, innovation and collaboration in the region.

Two independent judging panels included representatives from across UWGK’s footprint, and recognized agencies and individuals for awards including Nonprofit Collaboration of the Year, Leadership in Equity & Inclusion and Fundraising Professional of the Year.

In addition, the Change Awards recognized Phyllis Nichols as the first entrant into the newly established Knoxville Nonprofit Hall of Fame. Nichols retired from her role as president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League after almost thirty years with the organization. A full list of winners can be found below.

“We have an incredibly vibrant nonprofit community and collaborative culture in the region. Our winning individuals and organizations are driving continuous improvement toward attaining greater quality of life and long-term change for people with all kinds of needs,” said United Way of Greater Knoxville President and CEO Matt Ryerson. “The Change Awards celebrate another year of transformative achievement and innovation, reflecting our appreciation for the people and organizations who exemplify our ‘Unite for Change‘ mission.”

The event took place on December 2 to mark its 100th anniversary of service to the community. The awards also featured a performance by Knoxville Poet Laureate Rhea “Sunshine” Carmon, as well as a moment of silence to mark the tragic recent passing of Marble City Opera Managing Director Brandon Gibson.


Knoxville Nonprofit Hall of Fame Inductee

Phyllis Nichols, CEO, Knoxville Area Urban League


Agency Awards 

Large Nonprofit Collaboration of the Year

The McNabb Center & East Tennessee Children’s Hospital 


Small Nonprofit Collaboration of the Year

Nourish Knoxville & CAC Beardsley Community Farm 


Large Agency Innovator of the Year

Volunteer Ministry Center


Small Agency Innovator of the Year

New Direction Health Care Solutions


Leadership in Equity & Inclusion Award – Large Agency

Muse Knoxville


Leadership in Equity & Inclusion Award – Small Agency

A Step Ahead Foundation of East Tennessee

Individual Awards 


Change Leader Award

Reico Hopewell, The Mend House


Innovator of the Year

Marisa Moazen, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation


Fundraising Professional of the Year

Grace Bennett, Young-Williams Animal Center


Digital Trailblazer of the Year

Tommy Dodson, Hillcrest Healthcare


Marketer of the Year

Tyrone Beach, Muse Knoxville


Young Professional of the Year

Porschia Pickett, Wesley House Community Center 


Recognition for Businesses 


Corporate Social Responsibility Award

Bank of America Corporation