The Franklin Special School District Board of Education is a seven-time Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Board of Distinction and was 2015 Tennessee School Board of the Year. The Board was recognized by TSBA for its development, application and monitoring of policy; involvement in long-range planning; promotion of quality education through involvement with the legislature, city/county commission, State Board of Education, community and staff; participation in board development activities, including boardmanship award levels for each member; and exhibition of a positive relationship with the media.

As a Board of Distinction, a two-year designation, FSSD was honored by TSBA as a Board of Distinction for its work as a whole, meeting specified requirements in four key areas: planning, policy, promotion and board development. The FSSD Board of Education was previously awarded TSBA School Board of the Year in 1998, and accomplished the requirements necessary to become a Board of Distinction in 1999-2001, 2001-2003, 2007-2009, 2009-2011, 2014-2016, 2016-2018, and most recently 2019-2021.

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Robert Blair, Chairman
Robert Blair photo

Robert Blair

Robert Blair
Board Chairman

Robert Blair has served on the Board of Education since 2003 and currently holds the office of Chairman, a post to which he was elected by his fellow board members in 2020.

In 2020, Mr. Blair was inducted into the Tennessee School Boards Association Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA)  Scholars Circle. This award recognizes those school board members that have achieved Level V and attained 900 or more points in the TSBA Boardsmanship Award Program.

In 2016, Mr. Blair was named to the TSBA All-Tennessee School Board, an honor granted to only five School Board members across the state. In 2011, Mr. Blair achieved Level V boardsmanship status, a Master School Board Member, from the TSBA, the highest designation a School Board member can earn.

Mr. Blair is continually looking for opportunities to increase his knowledge of school-related issues and holds professional memberships in the national and state affiliate of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NBSE). He was recognized in 2009 for Outstanding Board Training by the National Alliance of Black School Educators. In 2015, he was elected President of the Greater Nashville NABSE affiliate (GNABSE).

His service includes work with Leadership Franklin and Youth Leadership Franklin, My Friend’s House, WAVES, Franklin/Williamson County Boys and Girls Club, and Franklin Tomorrow. In 2019 he received the Monroe and Mary Booker Award for Community Service and in 2017, he received the Boys and Girls Club “Ed Moody Award of Excellence” for his advocacy on behalf of children. He is also Education Director at Cummins Street Church of Christ. He owns B. Media Communications, a strategic planning and board development agency that provides communications strategies for non-profits.

A Franklin native and graduate of the Franklin Special School District, Mr. Blair is a strong community advocate.

Alicia Spencer Barker

Alicia Barker

Alicia Spencer Barker, Au.D.
Board Vice-Chair

Dr. Alicia Spencer Barker was elected as vice-chair by the board in 2020. She has two children and has been an active member of her children’s PTO during their years in FSSD. She served as PTO Chairman at Moore Elementary School and Vice President of the FSSD Executive PTO. She has completed training at the state, regional and national levels, and has attained Level V Boardsmanship.  In addition, she served as a member of the FSSD Board of Education’s School Equity Task Force.

With two active boy scouts, she and her husband both volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America.  She and her family are active volunteers for Room In the Inn through her local church. Her experience outside of school includes service through the Junior League of Nashville, where she received the 2006 Paragon Award for First-Year Active members. Her volunteer efforts through Junior League include time fundraising and chairing various committees. She also completed the Young Leaders Non-Profit Board Training in Nashville as well as the Fast Track New Business Ventures training program through the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. named Dr. Barker one of its 100 Leading Women of 2018.

In 2017, Dr. Barker is a co-founder and chairman of a non-profit organization called The N.O.O.K. (Needs Of Our Kids), an urgent needs warehouse of essential items for students created to support school staff across Williamson County by providing new clothing and other items to students in crisis on an on-call basis. The goal of The NOOK is to ensure all students enter the classroom ready to learn and achieve their individual potential.

Dr. Barker is a practicing Doctor of Audiology with Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center in Franklin. She also enjoys running and spends much of her personal time training for marathons and races.


Allena Bell

Allena Bell



Allena Bell
 Allena Bell was appointed by the Board of Education in 2013 to fill a vacant seat and was subsequently elected in 2014 to serve a four-year term.  She currently serves as the School Board’s representative on the Tennessee School Boards Association’s (TSBA) Tennessee Legislative Network.
In 2015, Mrs. Bell was selected by the TSBA as a Master Ambassador for her outreach efforts to increase community awareness and understanding of public education issues. She has completed training at the state and regional levels, and has attained the credit necessary to achieve TSBA’s Level V Master Boardsmanship.
She and her husband Gary have four children and she is an active volunteer in their schools, serving in many different capacities for the individual school PTO’s. Additionally, she served as Secretary of the FSSD Executive PTO for the 2012-2013 school year. She is a member of the FSSD Family and Community Advisory Council and served on the FSSD Stakeholder Committee during the 2013 AdvancED district accreditation process as well as the Middle School Focus Committee in 2016-2017.
Her experience outside of school includes pharmaceutical sales, marketing, capital development and donor relations. Community work includes service as President and former board member for Franklin Tomorrow, ex-officio board member of the Education Foundation of Williamson County, and a board member for Youth Leadership Franklin, a program designed to help high school students cultivate their leadership skills and increase awareness of the Franklin community.  She is also a 2018 graduate of Leadership Franklin.
Mrs. Bell is active in her neighborhood homeowner’s association and in her church. She received her undergraduate degree in Government from Liberty University in Virginia.
Kevin Townsel
Kevin Townsel photo

Kevin Townsel

Kevin Townsel
 Kevin Townsel, J.D., was elected to the Board of Education in 2014.  He serves as the School Board’s representative to the FSSD Family and Community Advisory Council. Prior to his election, he was an active volunteer in the FSSD community. Mr. Townsel first served the district as a member of the FSSD Working Conditions Task Force in 2005. He later served as co-chair of the Franklin Elementary PTO, member of the Franklin Elementary Shared Leadership Team, and member of the Franklin Elementary Principal Search Committee. He has completed training at the state, regional and national levels, and has attained the credit necessary to achieve Level IV Boardsmanship from the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA).
Mr. Townsel led the Executive PTO for three terms, first as Vice President and then as President for two terms. He chaired the FSSD Financial Task Force Committee for several years. He currently serves as a board member to My Friend’s House and is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Franklin.
He currently serves as Director of Human Resources for the City of Franklin. Mr. Townsel received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Mr. Townsel and his wife Dot have two children.
Robin Newman
Robin Newman photo

Robin Newman

First appointed to serve a two-year vacancy in 2008, Mrs. Newman is now serving her second four-year term on the board. Past leadership roles include service as the Board Treasurer. Also, by participating in training at the local, state and national levels, she has attained Level III Boardsmanship status from the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA).
Throughout her time on the Board thus far, she has also served as a member of the school equity committee and on the strategic planning communications task force with the goal of communicating and engaging all constituents on the goals, vision and passion of the FSSD.

 She and her husband, Phil, have three children, all of whom attended FSSD schools at various ages. Mrs. Newman is employed by STAR Physical Therapy with a degree in Allied Medicine from The Ohio State University. She is active in her school community, church and neighborhood.

Tim Stillings

image of Tim Stillings


Tim Stillings
Board Member

Twitter:  @timstillings

Phone:  615.330.3225


First elected in 1998, Tim Stillings is serving his sixth four-year term on the board. He has served as the Board Treasurer, Secretary, Vice Chairman and Chairman. Prior to his election to the FSSD Board of Education, he served as chairman of the Technology for the Future Task Force and then on a long-range Technology Planning Committee.  He also served on the Financing for the Future Task Force, engaging FSSD stakeholders to come together, understand the unique mission of the FSSD, and develop economic strategies for the future sustainability of the district.

In 2009, Mr. Stillings achieved Level V Master Board Member status from the Tennessee School Boards Association, the highest level of boardsmanship certification.  Three times, the National School Boards Association has recognized Mr. Stillings’ significant contribution to public education by presenting him the National Distinguished Service Award. He was a member of the FSSD Board of Education both in 1998 and 2015 when it was named by the Tennessee School Boards Association as the “Tennessee School Board of the Year,” as well as when the Board received the “Board of Distinction” designation from TSBA in 1999, 2008, and 2014, 2016, and 2018.

In 2015, Mr. Stillings received the most prestigious honor awarded to a School Board member by the Tennessee School Boards Association, the School Board Member of the Year and Hal C. Henard Distinguished Service Award. This award is granted to a board member “who has distinguished himself or herself through outstanding service to his or her local board of education and community.  In 2020, Mr. Stillings was inducted into TSBA’s Scholars Circle.

He is a member of the Leadership Franklin class of 2017, an eight-month program whereby participants develop knowledge of Franklin, an understanding of issues and organizations in Williamson County, and a vision for local improvements. He and his family have been a part of five international mission trips in recent years, building school, church, and community facilities with The Nicaragua Project; constructing electrical and clean water infrastructure in Honduras; and delivering medical/dental/pharmacy services to residents of poverty stricken communities in Uganda through Raise the Roof.

Mr. Stillings is the president and managing partner of a real estate services company. His education includes a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University and further professional development from Belmont University, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and the Southeast School of Banking at Vanderbilt University.