Joy Styles ’92: Building Bridges through Positive Change

Jared Scott Tesler
What do recording artists and civil servants have in common? “They bring people together,” says Joy Styles ’92, who speaks from experience as a bridge-builder and visionary focused on strengthening relationships between people from different cultural backgrounds.

Prior to being elected to the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County, Styles, who serves as District 32 Councilwoman and Vice-Chairwoman of the Metro Council Women’s Caucus and the Parks, Libraries, and Arts Committee, was—and still is—one of just a handful of Black female country artists to secure a record deal. An alumna of Wellesley College, where she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, the first Greek-letter organization for college-educated Black women, her big break came after a decade-long career as a New York City-based performer specializing in film, television, voice acting, and off-Broadway plays and musicals.

Shortly after realizing her dream, Styles walked away from the music industry to focus on new pursuits. She built a home, joined the homeowners’ association, and eventually became its president. It was then that she discovered that the same core values—accountability, transparency, commitment, and communication—were missing from both her neighborhood and her district, thereby prompting her to run for city council.

“It’s interesting how all the things that I did for all those years have really helped me transfer into this position that I’m in now, interacting with people, listening, and exchanging ideas,” says Styles, who holds a master’s degree in communication and media studies from Purdue University. “You can’t be a good council member without communicating with your constituents, without looking into the issues that they’re bringing to you.”

In addition to her full-time job, Styles serves as Chairwoman of Hope Clinic for Women’s Board of Directors, Chairwoman of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship’s Martin Luther King Day Committee, a member of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center’s Advisory Council at Vanderbilt University, and a member of The Salvation Army’s Advisory Board. Her commitment to community engagement and social justice, she notes, was cultivated at Shipley.

“We were instructed—through kindness, support, and encouragement—that we were the future leaders of the world,” Styles says. “The time that I spent at Shipley prepared me to be a trailblazer for my community and society as a whole. It was at Shipley that I honed my skill to use my voice to fight for what I believe in, and I have no plans to stop. Whether in Nashville, Bryn Mawr, or abroad, the time is always right to fight for change.”

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.