Spirit of the region award

darrell s. freeman sr.

December 23, 1964 - June 28, 2022

Since 2008, the Nashville Area Chamber’s annual Spirit of the Region Award has honored individuals and businesses that have contributed greatly to our organization’s purpose – creating economic prosperity by facilitating community leadership. Honorees are chosen based on business excellence, inspired leadership, community mindedness, and going above and beyond the call of duty. 

This year’s awardee, the late Darrell S. Freeman Sr., was a family man, mentor, businessman, philanthropist, and innovative leader. Over the course of his 30-year public career, Darrell founded and co-founded multiple companies including Zycron, Inc., Reliant Bank, and Pinnacle Construction Partners. He served on the board of directors of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Downtown Rotary Club, the Federal Reserve Advisory Board, the African American Museum of Music, Art and Culture, and the Middle Tennessee State University Board of Trustees, to name a few. 

Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Sam Howard, Darrell was the second African American chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, serving two terms from 2006-2014 and 2016-2022. During those terms he spearheaded impactful organizational leadership and governance changes, renewed the focus on core initiatives, developed an entrepreneurial task force, and successfully re-established the Chamber as a leading organization in the community. He relentlessly pursued excellence in public education and maintained a focus on inclusion in both board and committee leadership, always working to attract and support diverse and young minority-owned businesses, encouraging them to belong and engage in Chamber programs. 

Darrell embodied the Chamber’s brand promise to belong, engage, lead, and prosper while helping to position Middle Tennessee for continued success. His leadership shaped the direction of the Chamber and his contributions to our region will be felt for decades to come.