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Lewis Lavine: A Beautiful Legacy

Community Impact

May 3, 2018

Dear CNM members and community partners,

Many of you may be aware that former CNM president Lewis Lavine passed away yesterday. Lewis was a dear friend to many, and his 12-year commitment to CNM changed the landscape of the local nonprofit community as we know it. Our community is a close knit one, and we will certainly feel the loss of a man who championed CNM and the nonprofit sector throughout his career.

Lewis elevated the stature of the entire nonprofit sector when he accepted the job as President of CNM in 2005. And he didn’t stop there. He saw the tremendous potential in the nonprofit sector and left his mark by spearheading CNM’s move to the Trolley Barns, establishing strong partnerships with local universities, and so much more.

Under his 12-year leadership, CNM significantly grew its membership base (reaching an all-time high during his final year in 2016), launched the annual Bridge to Excellence nonprofit conference, relocated CNM headquarters to the historic Trolley Barns, expanded the Salute to Excellence ceremony to become the largest nonprofit awards celebration in the country, and spearheaded new community-facing sessions. Bringing his significant experience in government and public relations, Lewis transformed CNM to become an even stronger community presence during his tenure.

Lewis’ final year at CNM was 2016, which coincided with the agency’s 30th anniversary. He remained as busy as ever during that year; Lewis initiated CNM’s first-ever Community Initiatives session titled “Changing Nashville Neighborhoods: The Effect on Nonprofits,” partnered with The Tennessean to host a “30 in their 30s” contest for nonprofit professionals, and hosted an anniversary celebration to honor the agency’s friends and supporters. CNM staff threw Lewis a surprise party towards the end of 2016, inviting friends and family, longtime CNM consultants and experts, and former staff members. Attendees will never forget the look of absolute pure shock on Lewis’ face, nor the good-natured “roasting” that took place during the celebration. Lewis just couldn’t let any barbs slide without retorting back using his signature quick wit.

In addition to his accomplishments at CNM, Lewis was a tremendous leader, known for big-picture thinking and ability to connect the dots – as can be easily seen in his final op-ed as CNM president, “The future of Nashville’s nonprofits”. Lewis served as a mentor to countless staff and nonprofit CEOs who knew they could pop in his office or pick up the phone to ask for advice at any time. If he didn’t know the answer to your problem (and he usually did), he would know exactly who to connect you with from his vast circle of friends. He deeply trusted his staff and constantly empowered them to tackle new projects. Lewis was also known to employ his easygoing smarts to issue classic one-liners during all-staff meetings.

The nonprofit community and the city of Nashville owe him a debt of gratitude. Lewis will be terribly missed at CNM by the current and former staff, consultants and experts, board members, and thousands of nonprofit professionals all over the state.

Tari Hughes, President and CEO

The service for Lewis Lavine will be held Sunday, May 6 at 4:00 pm at The Temple, 5015 Harding Road Nashville, TN 37205. Donations can me made Lewis Lavine Strategic Nonprofit Opportunities Fund at the Community Foundation.