McNeilly Announces Retirement of Executive Director

The McNeilly Center for Children Board of Directors today announced that Melba Marcrum, the Center’s long time Executive Director, has decided to retire effective April 15, 2015. The Executive Committee of the McNeilly Board of Directors has initiated an orderly leadership transition that will take place over the next few months. Marcrum’s decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of nearly 30 years of continuous service to McNeilly, the hundreds of children it has served over that time, as well as countless other individuals in the Nashville community.

"Melba Marcrum has been a very strong leader, one of only a precious few leaders in nearly a century of McNeilly’s history. Her vision, her love of children, her passion for educational excellence, and her presence and leadership over those years have resulted in McNeilly being an integral member of the greater Nashville community. Her contributions are priceless to the legacy of the McNeilly Center for Children," said Chris Puri, chairman of the board. "Melba has made countless contributions to McNeilly’s success, and she has attracted and inspired its immensely dedicated employees. The board is grateful for her invaluable contributions to the community as well as her distinguished tenure as Executive Director over the past three decades."

Marcrum’s leadership has always put her love of children first. "I've been privileged to lead such an incredible organization that makes such a difference in the lives of Nashville’s children, as well as their families," Marcrum said. "While I leave with mixed emotions, after almost three decades with McNeilly, I know I leave with the organization better than ever. For me it's time to move on to new opportunities in my life and usher in a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with the board and the management team during the transition period."

The board of directors is currently beginning the process of identifying and recruiting a new Executive Director. A committee formed from board of director’s members will conduct the search process for a new Executive Director, and plans to vet all qualified individuals for the position, including internal and external candidates. Christopher Puri, Board Chair will chair the committee. Joining him on the search committee will be board members Buddy Best, Emily Cook, Barbara Decker and Stratton Huggins. The Board expects to identify a new Executive Director in the very near future and has in place arrangements for interim leadership of the organization.

Founded nearly 100 years ago in 1916, McNeilly Center for Children is dedicated to the mission that every child deserves access to quality education. The McNeilly Center for Children is one of Middle Tennessee’s largest providers of quality child care for low-income families, and provides three of only 12 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited child care centers in Middle Tennessee. McNeilly provides a need-based financial “scholarship” program based on a sliding scale and recognizes that the family is the foundation of every child’s life. McNeilly provides support services to help parents strengthen their parenting skills and assist families in solving problems, in addition to providing a quality education. Everyone benefits from the opportunities for growth provided to children by a quality education. McNeilly gives children the tools to succeed, not only when they are at the McNeilly Center, but also at home, through parental education and by allowing parents the time to work or go to school.  The cognitive development and skills that children learn at McNeilly Center have positive lasting effects throughout their life.

Those wishing to contact Melba Marcrum can do so at For more information about McNeilly Center for Children, please visit or our Facebook page.