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Patricia Pierce

Pat Pierce


Chair, Board of Commissioners
Tennessee Human Rights Commission


Patricia Ann Pierce of Harriman, Tennessee retired from Vanderbilt University in 2007 after a career of almost 30 years as the Senior Director of the Opportunity Development Center (ODC). She was responsible for all University and Medical Center matters related to equal opportunity and affirmative action laws, regulations, and guidelines. Pierce designed and conducted workshops for faculty and staff on a variety of topics related to equity and diversity, and she served as a fact finder and mediator of grievances filed by faculty, staff and students. Previously she worked as compliance director for the State of Tennessee Human Rights Commission. She currently serves as immediate past chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Pierce also serves as a member of the state Economic Council Foundation Board and chairs the scholarship program and is a board member of the Nashville Sports Council where she chairs the Champions4Women Legacy Committee for the 2014 Women's Final Four basketball tournament. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Tennessee Women's Project, which celebrates the rich heritage of women in Tennessee.

Pierce achieved outstanding success in the academic world and is recognized internationally as an advocate for diversity and equity. She has presented numerous programs on disability issues, gender issues, including sexual harassment, and cultural diversity for Nashville community organizations, and at regional, national and international conferences. Pierce has given her time to many organizations to help promote opportunities and advocate equity for women. She has served as a volunteer or member of 34 organizations, served as president or vice president of nine organizations and served as a member of the Board of Directors of 20 organizations of which two are international organizations.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Rotary International Jean Harris Award, YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement, the Women in Higher Education in Tennessee June Anderson Award, the 2003 Nashville ATHENA Award, the 2006 Tennessee Economic Council's Excellence & Equity Award, Tennessee State University's 2008 Woman of Legend and Merit Award and Nashville's largest women's organization, CABLE's, prestigious Molly Todd Cup which is given to a woman who spends much of her life making the world a better place to live.

She is a frequent guest on local television to discuss women's issues. Pierce has published many articles and blogs about equity and diversity issues. She is a graduate of Leadership America, Leadership Nashville, the Oxford University Roundtable, and is a member of the International Women's Forum. Pierce was selected as one of Tennessee's first Delegates to participate in Vision 2020. She has a BS from the University of Tennessee. Pierce played basketball at the University of Tennessee under Joan Cronan. She completed the Bryn Mawr University Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration and the National Institute for Leadership Development at Arizona State. She was married to the late Jacky Goss. They have two sons and four grandchildren.