Denise Bentley

Get to know our neighbor, her background
and what she stands for.

Choosing to run was a hard decision. I’ve avoided being in the spotlight, preferring to serve in background. This time is different. My skills and experience align too closely with the issues we are facing for me to do anything but my best to solve them.

I’m a native of the 21st District and the daughter of a school teacher and a mailman. I’ve lived in the shadow of TSU virtually all my life. I’m the product of a family who cooked for and helped raise other people’s children and who sacrificed so I could go to Fisk and Vanderbilt Law School.

This time, in this city, in our District, things are different. This is a new day with big challenges. These challenges are not new, although they wear a new face and come at a faster pace:

        • Unrestrained development.
        • Youth with no outlets who sometimes act out with violence.
        • A city experiencing remarkable growth and abundance – but a continued failure to make the fruits of that abundance available to all.

The pace of these changes must be matched by equal responsiveness and equal effort. My skills and experience align too closely with the issues we are facing for me to do anything but my best to solve them. Much of the success I’ve had is because of hard work, and I’m unlikely to change now. Let’s work… together!


My official in-home campaign managers.
Pax Stratford (Beagle-Spaniel mix, rescue pup),
and Makeda (German Sheppard).

I’ve been blessed with extensive work experience, from AT&T and IBM to judicial clerkships, to practicing and teaching law at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

After returning to Nashville to take care of my parents, I worked with my godmother Leatrice McKissack, the Mills Corporation and Metro Nashville Public Schools – eventually leading me to become a member of the staff of the Tennessee Bar Association, Vanderbilt University Office of Undergraduate Admissions and my current position as Executive Director of the non-profit Tennessee Youth Courts organization.


It was my parents from whom I inherited my love of this community and a dedication to service. In living that legacy, I have: 

        • Facilitated implementation, in alignment with partnership goals, of a Career Center at Opry Mills, improving transit routes to employment at Opry Mills and a child-care resource network.
        • Led strategy sessions to reduce homelessness across the country for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
        • Served in the Tennessee State Guard as Deputy Chief of Chaplins at the rank of Lt. Colonel.
        • Active participant in the Community Outreach Partnership with Vanderbilt, which resulted in the creation of a CDC – in which I held offices of President, VP,  and treasurer. 
        • Was a gubernatorial appointee to the Advisory Board for Post Secondary Education on which I served for 17 years.
        • Connected businesses with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) students to career exploration opportunities. 
        • Developed strategies and implemented safety plans and violence prevention programs for Metro Schools. 
        • As staff for the Tennessee Bar Association, and currently as Executive Director of Tennessee Youth Courts, I have led a nonprofit with a statewide focus on juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention, via a platform of Restorative Justice.
        • Provided subject matter expertise/workshops for federal managers including ATF, Customs, CIA, DEA, FBI, NSA and Secret Service.
        • Received training in emergency response and crisis management through the US Department of Education and by the US secret service to respond to active shooter situations. Resulted in the development of an emergency and crisis plan for MNPS.

Join me, vote for me on August 1st, and let’s work hard, together, for District 21!