NASHVILLE, TN — Scarritt Bennett Center (SBC), Nashville’s premiere conference, retreat, and transformative education center, has selected educator, lawyer and faith-based leader Rev. Sondrea L. Tolbert as its next executive director. She will begin her new role on November 1, 2021.

“We are excited to welcome Rev. Tolbert to Scarritt Bennett,” stated Andrea Hatcher, SBC Board Chairperson. “She is highly qualified, motivated and will challenge SBC to continue living into its mission of hospitality and education ministries of justice, equality and reconciliation in new and exciting ways.”  Rev. Tolbert succeeds Sarah Wilke, who has led SBC for five years.

This committed leader has a love for education and empowerment. She is the immediate past Director of the National Consortium of Black Women in Ministry, Nashville Chapter, (NCBWIM), where she fostered a focus on the community through ministry initiatives involving breast cancer awareness, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS. While leading NCBWIM, she established Pink Sunday Nashville which is held throughout churches in middle Tennessee to raise breast cancer awareness.

“It is indeed an honor to be selected by the Board as the guardian of the safe, sacred space of the historic Scarritt Bennett Center.”  “It is this place where transformation takes place to educate, equip and empower lives and communities,” said Rev. Tolbert.

This dynamic woman is an ordained minister who uses her myriad skills in the marketplace and ministry.   At the core of her work is her faith. Rev. Tolbert is a transformative servant leader, visionary, community organizer, educator, author and passionate advocate for women. A true woman of substance, she is the first woman ordained and appointed as Assistant Pastor of the historic Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church, in Goodlettsville, TN.  Furthermore, she is the author of On the Bright Side Morning Joy Devotions, a freelance writer for Abingdon Press, and founder of Sisterhood ROCKS Ministry (Radically Obedient Christian-Women Kingdom Surrendered).  

Most recently Rev. Tolbert served as a Judicial Law Clerk for Judge Monte Watkins, Davidson County Criminal Court Division V. She was as an administrator at Meharry Medical College and Adjunct Professor at Tennessee State University. She also practiced law at the Nashville-based Watkins, Clayton & Tolbert firm. 

Her education speaks boldly of her appreciation for both formal and informal learning.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Fisk University.  She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, OH and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, NC.

This energetic leader is a member of several organizations, including the Nashville Chapter of Les Gemmes. This year she chaired the 15th annual Literary Luncheon in its inaugural virtual modality space, because of COVID-19.  “It was her leadership that brought creativity and innovation, utilized for the first time, that made the event highly regarded,” said Phyllis Qualls, president of the chapter. Additionally Rev. Tolbert was the 2021 Athena nominee representing Nashville chapter of Les Gemmes.  She is a   member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Nu Kappa Omega Chapter, and Impact100- Nashville. She is a former Chautauqua Institute Clergy Fellow and currently a member of the American Baptist College, Lilly Foundation Grant program, Called to Lives of Purpose and Meaning Initiative Cohort II.

She is unstoppable in her drive to make the world a better place. “Her overarching career in law, higher education, and theology makes her the perfect fit to continue SBC’s growth as a hub for women’s empowerment, racial justice, spiritual formation, and education of the laity,” said Rev. Dr. Chestina Archibald, former chaplain at Fisk University.

Rev. Tolbert has received numerous awards, including proclamations from the State of Tennessee, the Mayor of Nashville, the Visionary Award from Fashioned in His Image, Inc., and the 2018 National Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Central Alabama. 

This Alabama native is the daughter of the late Eddie B. Tolbert and Mrs. Jerrie Ann Tolbert who lives in Alexander City, Alabama. She is a graduate of Benjamin Russell High School.

Her hobbies include reading; spending time with family; and cuddling with Amos, her Maltipoo.

As executive director, Rev. Tolbert plans to direct, guide and support the staff, as they together work closely with SBC Board of Trustees. “My goal is to ensure the SBC campus continues to be a place for justice and transformative education locally, nationally and throughout the world, said Rev. Tolbert.  

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