Chattanooga’s Top Philanthropists Of The Year Announced

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chattanooga’s top philanthropists of 2014 will be honored during a celebration of National Philanthropy Day on Tuesday, November 18. The Southeast Tennessee Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals will host the annual event at the Chattanoogan Hotel Ballroom from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

National Philanthropy Day is the official day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to lives, communities and the world. National Philanthropy Day is formally supported by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and hundreds of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations throughout North America.

“We are excited and honored to recognize these leaders in our community who have raised the bar on civic and charitable generosity and helped make Chattanooga what it is today,”  notes Jennifer Nicely, 2014 National Philanthropy Day Chair.

2014 honorees include: Franklin Farrow, Outstanding Philanthropist; Keith Sanford, Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year; Ralston Hartness & Thomas West, Youth in Philanthropy Award; and the Hutton Company, Corporate Philanthropist of the Year.

Franklin Farrow, Outstanding Philanthropist, is co-founder and chief operating officer of Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC (IHP). Mr.  Farrow has over 19 years of knowledge and experience in real estate development, construction, operations and financing of senior healthcare services. Mr. Farrow currently oversees the development, operations and financing of 23 assisted living communities for IHP, as well as manages several commercial properties and development activities for residential housing and government leases.

Coupled with his IHP responsibilities, Mr. Farrow also provides leadership and support to several area non-profit organizations as a board member for the East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra, Samaritan Center, Inc. Bible In The Schools board, the board of trustees for Southern Adventist University and the Tennessee advisory board of the Trust for Public Land.

Mr. Farrow is a graduate of Southern Adventist University with Magna Cum Laude honors and a degree in business administration; he is also an alumnus of Leadership Chattanooga. Along with being actively involved in his church, Farrow enjoys triathlons and gentleman’s farming.  He and his wife, along with their two children, have lived in Chattanooga for the past 30 years.

Keith SanfordVolunteer Fundraiser of the Year recipient, has served as market president of First Tennessee since May of 2012.  He joined First Tennessee Chattanooga in June 1980 as a management trainee and has worked there ever since.  In his 34-year career at First Tennessee, he has served as branch manager, relationship manager in Correspondent Banking, manager of Correspondent Banking, manager of Private Banking and Trust and as manager of the Retail Division.   

Mr. Sanford’s service to the community has been wide.  He has served as board chair of Ballet Tennessee, Chambliss Center for Children, Creative Discovery Museum, AVA, Caldsted Foundation, Junior Achievement,  the Fortwood Center and as a trustee and treasurer of Girls Preparatory Schoo.  He currently serves on the boards of Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Lookout Mountain Conservancy (treasurer), Hunter Museum of Art (treasurer), Chattanooga Symphony, Tennessee Aquarium, Arts Build  (treasurer), the Theatre Centre (treasurer) and Rotary Club of Chattanooga (treasurer).   He is active at his church, Church of The Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain, having served on the Vestry as Senior Warden, Chalice Bearer and currently as treasurer and Verger.  He is also the Vice Chair of the Lookout Mountain Georgia planning commission.  

As a leader in fundraising, Mr. Sanford has served as annual fund chair at GPS, has helped raise money for Caldsted, Chattanooga Symphony, Chattanooga Chamber, Arts Build, Ballet Tennessee, Fairyland School PTO, AVA, Creative Discovery Museum, Aim Center, Fortwood Center, Chambliss Center, Chattanooga History Center, Helen Ross McNabb, McCallie School and will chair the United Way campaign next year. 

Mr. Sanford is a native of Lynchburg, Va., and graduated from Virginia Episcopal School, Washington and Lee University, the Southeastern School of Banking and the Graduate School of Banking of the South. Sanford has been married to the former Julia Grosvenor of Memphis for over 33 years.  They have four children, three dogs, three cats and a pet snake. 

Ralston Harness and Thomas West, Youth in Philanthropy award recipients and students at McCallie School, are the co-founders of ReGenerate, a new arts and leadership group for high school students and the Let Beauty Awaken project, supporting arts education in the local public schools.  After visiting Dalewood Middle School to perform for their students, West was struck by the lack of arts equipment and supplies available to those students. The Let Beauty Awaken project under their leadership raised more the $14,000 partly through a fundraising event with other musicians at the Chattanooga Theatre Center. 

Acknowledging the continued need to support local arts education after their graduation from McCallie, Hartness and West approached ArtsBuild to help sustain their efforts by facilitating the creation of the student arts leadership group, ReGenerate.  The high school students in ReGenerate served as panelists for the Let Beauty Awaken project to select the fourteen schools to Hamilton Co. elementary and middle schools for grants toward arts equipment and supplies.  

“I meet with many students each year who have grand ideas for projects,” says Community Foundation President, Pete Cooper, “Most of these projects are never completed.  I am impressed with not only the successful fundraising effort of the Let Beauty Awaken project, but also the work of ReGenerate to sustain this effort to support arts in our schools.”

The Hutton Companies, Corporate Philanthropist of the Year, is a real state, development and construction firm based in Chattanooga.  The company has one of the most active employee led philanthropic efforts in the city.  The employees collectively give and raise money, often through contests throughout the year, for donations to many sponsored organizations.  Additionally many employees volunteer their time and effort to organizations such as the Jordan Thomas Foundation. 

Other organizations supported by the Hutton Companies and their employees include:  The American Heart Assoc., Atlanta Zoo, Ape Conservation, ASPCA, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Food Bank, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga Water Front, IRONMAN Triathlon, Chattanooga Zoo, Chattanooga State, Cystic Fibrosis, Girls Inc., Hospice of Chattanooga and the McKamey Animal Center.

Tickets for the luncheon are $40 per seat or $400 for a table of eight.  Table hosts may honor a volunteer from their own organization at the event.  The table honorees will receive a gift for the occasion and recognition.   This year’s event is sponsored by Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, First Tennessee Foundation, Gerber Taylor,  Jordan Thomas Foundation,  Playcore and Starkey Printing.

 For more information about the National Philanthropy Day awards lunch and ceremony, please visit

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