Get to know the Be About Change Board of Directors
Marcel Hernandez, Executive Director
Marcel Hernandez founded Be About Change in 2016, putting his love for writing and working with others to use. He founded the non-profit organization to provide higher education scholarships to students from low-income households, using writing as a vehicle to promote healing, recovery, and expression.
Marcel leads writing and leadership workshops with students in the Nashville area and works with local youth to promote the philosophy of taking an active role in one’s community. He works in marketing and legal support at a Nashville-based law firm and plays piano and organ at a local church in Franklin, Tennessee. Currently, he oversees Project L.E.A.D.: leadership curriculum for the youth at the Juvenile Court of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County that encourages and prepares high school students to continue their education and gain confidence to realize their true leadership qualities.
He received his BA in Communications, Business, and Music from Vanderbilt University. He also received a vocational degree from the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe, Arizona, where he studied audio engineering and music business. Before attending Vanderbilt, he participated in University Outreach/University Crossroads, a program designed to prepare students to achieve at the college level.
In addition to Founder and Board Chairman of Be About Change, Marcel was a member of the Advisory Board for the YMCA Latino Achievers Program in Nashville, Tennessee, from 2011-2014, and was appointed by Mayor Karl Dean to the Metro Alarm Appeals Board for the 2011-2012 term. In addition to leadership and writing workshops, he participates with the YMCA Y-Cap program, has spoken at local schools on topics ranging from writing and motivation to racism, and has presented at several community events with others on immigration law-related issues.
Marcel enjoys spending time with family and friends, getting to know others, writing and playing music, physical training, and reading.
Woody Murray, Vice President
Woody Murray retired from The Gideons International in October 2017. The Gideons International is a major provider of Bibles for the world that operates in 201 countries, territories, and possessions. He still does freelance marketing communications, writing, and research for that association, as well as offering his communications services for other businesses and organizations.
Over a 40-year period, Woody has enjoyed three careers in mass communications: (1) vice president of a full-service advertising agency in Virginia, (2) first corporate brand manager for LifeWay Christian Resources—overseeing a major name transition and establishing a new slogan for this international organization, and (3) senior writer and researcher for The Gideons International. In the past, he also wrote a regular newspaper and online column for pastors on how to more effectively promote their churches.
Woody has a B.S. degree, cum laude, in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. At VCU, he also received the Mass Communications Faculty Scholarship. He is still an active Gideon in the West Nashville area and involved in public relations and communications for his local church. At his church, he leads a Christian ministry for grade-school boys, called Royal Ambassadors (similar to boy scouts). He has been involved with that ministry to boys for more than forty years.
Woody is glad to be a part of Be About Change in providing scholarships to young people and helping them grow in their writing skills to gain confidence for facing the challenges of the business world.
Listed alphabetically by last name
Bruce Buchanan, Treasurer
Bruce Buchanan is an attorney at the Nashville and Atlanta offices of Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC, where he primarily represents employers in all aspects of immigration law, with a special emphasis on employer immigration compliance, as well as employment/labor law matters. Mr. Buchanan received his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1982. Before going into private practice in 2003, he served as senior trial specialist for the National Labor Relations Board for 20 years. Mr. Buchanan also served for 12 years as Adjunct Professor at William H. Bowen UALR School of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University.
Mr. Buchanan authors his own blog on employer immigration compliance and is a guest blogger for LawLogix. He is also the editor of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section Newsletter, TBA’s Labor & Employment Law Newsletter, and AILA’s Georgia-Alabama Newsletter. Mr. Buchanan recently served on the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s National Verification Liaison Committee. In addition to serving on the Be About Change Board of Directors, Mr. Buchanan serves on the Board of Directors of the United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee and the Lupus Foundation – Mid-South. He is past-Chair of the TBA’s Immigration Law Section and Arkansas Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section.
Brent Coleman was raised in Middle Tennessee and has lived in Nashville since the age of nine. His father was a pastor and his mother a teacher. They taught him about the importance of loving the questions in life and listening with the intention of relating to people with different backgrounds from his own.
Brent grew up playing sports and guitar. Music became his focus for college at Middle Tennessee State University and Southern Methodist University where he earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance, respectively. After touring the country with an Indie rock band for 3 years, he settled back in Nashville and began to study and eventually teach Yoga. He has been leading group classes and working with individual clients since 2009. Learning about how the body can move and how it can hurt lead to wanting to know more about how to help people in pain. This led to his present endeavor as a candidate for a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Tennessee State University.
Brent brings his understanding of movement and experience with teaching groups to the physical training portion of the leadership classes offered by Be About Change.
Judd Cowan attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. While Judd was in college, he owned and operated a dive bar and founded a newspaper on campus, serving as the editor-in-chief for three years.
After graduating from college, Judd began practicing as an engineer in Nashville. He started as a machine designer and project manager overseeing the design and production of manufacturing equipment.
More recently, he worked as an aerospace engineer at the Smyrna Airport for Resource Air Charter managing a fabrication shop that builds cargo doors and puts them into planes. In addition to serving on the board for Be About Change, he is also President of the Bellevue Exchange Club and Chairman of the Nashville Young Republicans.
For fun, Judd is a self-taught machinist, a hobbyist woodworker, and an amateur historian.
Donna-Michelle Copas – a Nashville native – is an English teacher at Glencliff High School in Nashville, Tennessee, where she serves as Chair of the English Department. She was selected as a 2016 Blue Ribbon Teacher by Nashville Public Education Foundation and Metro Nashville Public Schools and has consistently won or been nominated for Teacher of the Year at Glencliff High School. She has also taught in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas.
Mrs. Copas earned her BA in English and Speech Communications at Lipscomb University and is a Coach of National Qualifiers in Speech and Debate. She directs dramas in several different venues, from schools and churches to community theaters. She also enjoys acting in community and repertoire theaters. Some of the plays she has directed include Big River, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, The Crucible, Our Town, Hello, Dolly, Grease, and Little Shop of Horrors.
In addition to serving on the Be About Change Board and volunteering at her church, Mrs. Copas also enjoys sewing, reading, writing, sports, hiking and traveling.
Iván Díaz is an experienced business manager who also works with a Nashville-based engineering firm, building robotics. As a Nashville resident and graduate of a local high school, Mr. Díaz is familiar with the struggles our inner-city youth face on a daily basis.
Iván is a firm believer in the power of confidence-building when it comes to physical training. While undergoing a personal transformation and losing over 157 pounds through dedicated weights/calisthenics training and running, Iván realized the potential to apply this approach to personal challenges. Mr. Díaz further realized his capacity to pass this mentality on to others, and now trains several individuals to utilize physical fitness as a means to bolster personal achievement.
With this mindset, business management and operations expertise, and a proven history of overcoming adversity and facing challenges head-on, Iván has positioned himself to have a maximum impact on the youth Be About Change serves. In addition to serving the Nashville community and surrounding areas, Ivan enjoys kayaking, hiking, and meeting and getting to know others.
John “Gunny” Hendley is a retired U.S. Marine from Nashville, Tennessee who enlisted in September 1972 and retired in 1993.
Gunny has had a wide breath of life experiences and successes, both career and personal.
Mr. Hendley grew up in a one-parent home, as his Mother passed away when he was three months old. He began working at age 11, cutting neighborhood yards and working at the Nashville Speedway at the Nashville Fairgrounds, selling cokes and popcorn to race fans.
At 14, his Father passed away and he then lived with his older sister and her family. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps to begin his career of twenty-one years beginning at Parris Island, South Carolina for Boot Camp then on to Millington, Tennessee for his MOS training as a Crash, Fire and Rescueman.
Additional duties included Recruiting Duty in Bowling Green, Kentucky until 1979 where he then went on for his first overseas tour at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan. He returned to the U.S. in 1980, transferring to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. After two years, Gunny Hendley was selected for assignment with the Department of State serving as the Detachment Commander of the Marine Security Guard Detachment at the American Consulate General in Calcutta, India from 1982 to 1984 and at the American Embassy in Manila, Philippines until 1985.
Additional assignments took him to many other parts of the world until his retirement in 1993, when he returned to Nashville with his wife and children. During his time in the Marine Corps he earned his Associate in Arts Degree in Business at Craven Community College by attending evening and weekend studies beginning in 1979 while serving in the Marine Corps.
He has been in business since 1996 in the Investment Securities Industry and a General Insurance Agency. His company, Investment Strategies Inc., is located in Hendersonville and has been an active member of the Hendersonville Rotary Club since 2003.
Gunny has assisted with Be About Change efforts and is happy to be a member of the Board of Directors.
Brandie Jones has spent many years building her career in Corporate America. She has held the roles of Process Engineer, Project Manager, and currently Regional Account Manager for Nissan North America. Brandie has enjoyed her time learning and growing in business, but is currently transitioning into the nonprofit realm. Brandie also serves as an Intern Counselor at Lantern Lane Farm working with multiple populations.
Brandie partners with many community organizations to provide services to underserved communities. She is also a member of Faith Life Church, where she is a part of the Media Team.
Brandie received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership and a Master of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Bethel University. She also earned a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University.
In addition to Board Member for Be About Change, Brandie has also served as the Financial Director for Overcoming Toxic Emotions, Associate Board Member for Nashville STARS, and Advisory Board President for the University School of Law and Leadership. Brandie has also served multiple organizations by creating curriculum, teaching classes, motivational speaking, providing group counseling, and mentoring adolescents.
Brandie enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, reading, trying new foods, serving the community, reading and writing poetry, and mentoring youth.
Channoty Robinson is a Nashville native and grew up in public housing. Therefore, she has first hand knowledge of challenges that low income and inner-city youth face. She attended a local community center as a child and this shaped her into the community leader she is today. Mrs. Robinson has been involved in community-based programs for over 20 years.
Channoty worked for a drug elimination grant-funded program in 1998 at the James A. Cayce public housing development, now known as Cayce Place. This program targeted at-risk teens and the goals were to keep the teenagers off the streets, educate and equip them with the necessary tools to become self-confident, and help them find their own voices. This program also helped the youth to become successful in making good decisions, goal setting, along with many other tools.
Channoty attended Aquinas College and earned a Liberal Arts degree form Trevecca University. She enjoys music, dancing, cooking and she is most passionate about helping youth to be successful. She is currently a Facility Coordinator at a local community center. She has been employed with this organization for over 17 years.
Mrs. Robinson’s goal is to have a positive impact on every individual she comes in contact with each day.
This could be a simple smile or simply asking “how are you today?” She knows firsthand that this can have a grand effect on so many. Channoty believes in meeting people where they are.