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Empowering service members: Leadership program earns Army Community Partnership Award 

Nestled within the heart of Lipscomb University lies a beacon of empowerment, where service members from the Tennessee National Guard find not just education, but a pathway to leadership. Two years ago, Lipscomb’s College of Leadership and Public Service launched a program for Tennessee National Guard members. The first class graduated this past fall. The program’s goal is to help full-time and part-time service members in the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard receive a master’s degree. Thanks to the success of the partnership between Lipscomb and the Tennessee National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, Lipscomb won a 2023 Army Community Partnership Award. 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee with the inaugural class (Photo by Lipscomb University)

Six editions of this award are given out to highlight various partnerships between the Department of the Army and other entities.  

“The awards recognize Army installations and their community partners for initiatives that improve soldier and family quality of life, enhance readiness, contribute to modernization, improve cost efficiencies, expand capabilities, support Army priorities and strengthen local community relationships”, according to the Lipscomb University Press Release.  

“After careful consideration and judging, your commitment to create an all-military cohort in which service members pursue the Master of Arts in Leadership and Public Service stood out among the impressive submissions we received,” wrote Dave Leinberger, Army Community Partnerships, in the Feb. 9 award notification letter. “Your dedication to enhancing the partnership between the Army and the community has not gone unnoticed. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for your exceptional work and the positive impact it has had for the National Guard as well as your local community. Your efforts truly embody the spirit of collaboration and community service that the Army Community Partnership Award aims to celebrate.” 

Classes are held once a week at the Tennessee National Guard Base in Nashville. The program’s goal was to bring the education to them.  

“Not only does the professor travel to teach in a classroom at the Tennessee National Guard Joint Force Headquarters each week, we also provide dinner and buy the students’ books,” said Laura Encalade, assistant professor and executive director of the School of Public Policy. “We work to make it accessible, helping to ensure that they can balance their military service, careers and family responsibilities while pursuing their education.” 

The honored partnerships will be recognized at an awards ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon in April.