Mary Mills is the recipient of this year’s Caroline J. Cross Award, presented by Leadership Franklin.

Mills, a lifelong Franklin resident, spent 39 years as a secretary at Johnson Elementary and as Principal at Franklin Middle School. After retiring from the school system, she once again served her community as Williamson County Commissioner for 17 years in the 11th district. Mills is an active member of the African American Heritage Society and has been affiliated with the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, Williamson Medical Center, Community Childcare, and the Williamson County Health Council.

She is a graduate of Tennessee State University with an Administrative degree, and a graduate of Franklin High School.

The Caroline J. Cross Award was established to honor Mrs. Cross (Found Executive Director) and create an ongoing award that identifies a leader in our community who exemplifies the values and lessons of Leadership Franklin. Criteria for nomination include leadership that motivates and inspires other individuals along with traits of creativity, character, dedication, and community service. Each year’s class submits nominations and selects an individual who makes a true impact in the community.

Past recipients of the award are:

(LFA: Leadership Franklin Alumnus)

  • Jimmy Gentry
  • Rogers Anderson
  • Julian Bibb III (LFA)
  • Scott Roley (LFA)
  • Janet Keck
  • Alma McLemore (LFA)
  • Rick Warwick
  • Emily Magid
  • Paige Pitts (LFA)
  • Dr. Joseph Willoughby

Leadership Franklin is a non-profit organization to develop leadership and community engagement and further a vision for Franklin and Williamson County. For more information about the organization, visit