Molly Leach Pratt of Tennessee Honored with 2018 NASAA Distinguished Public Service Award

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Molly Leach Pratt, former chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission, the recipient of its 2018 Distinguished Public Service Award. The award honors a chair or council member whose outstanding service, creative thinking and leadership significantly impact public support for the arts in his/her state and across the country. The award will be presented on November 3 during NASAA’s annual conference, Assembly 2018, in Baltimore, Maryland.

“A force of nature” perfectly describes Molly Leach Pratt and her devotion to the arts in Tennessee and nationally. Over the course of her 40-year career, she has held a variety of government positions at the local, state and federal levels. She served as legislative aide to Gov. Lamar Alexander and staffed both his reelection and first U.S. Senate campaigns. Pratt did extensive work for the Tennessee GOP and trained for the National Women’s Political Caucus. She continues to represent clients before Tennessee’s General Assembly.

Pratt’s broad knowledge of the inner workings of all levels of government has been invaluable to her arts advocacy efforts. She was appointed in 1999 to a five-year term on the Tennessee Arts Commission and in 2004 to the Metro Arts Commission by Nashville’s mayor. She chaired both bodies. In 2009, she received the Governor’s Award in the Arts. In addition to serving on the boards of numerous community and arts groups in Knoxville and Nashville, Pratt served on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies board. She also served as a state captain for Americans for the Arts.

Pratt believes a “one message, one voice” strategy for grass-roots arts advocacy is the most effective way to promote the arts. By following this axiom, Tennesseans for the Arts is regarded as a national model for successful advocacy. If asked what she considers to be her lasting legacy, she would say the formation of the Tennessee Legislature’s Arts Caucus, which was conceived to promote and to protect the state’s Specialty License Plate Program—a crucial, dedicated source of revenue available to the Tennessee Arts Commission and used primarily to fund arts grants.

“Molly Pratt’s passionate and tireless advocacy on behalf of public funding for the arts has advanced the arts in Tennessee and across the nation,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “Her exemplary leadership has broadened support for the arts in the civic, business and policy spheres. NASAA is pleased to salute Molly’s many accomplishments with this award.”

Founded in 1968 and celebrating 50 years of service in 2018, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is the nonpartisan membership organization that serves the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. NASAA helps state arts agencies fulfill their many citizen service roles by providing knowledge services, representation and leadership programs that strengthen the state arts agency community. NASAA also serves as a clearinghouse for data and research about public funding and the arts. To learn more about NASAA and state arts agencies, visit