Francis S. Guess, an ardent advocate for equal opportunity, addressed a rapt audience at on Thursday, January 16 at the Double Tree Hotel. The event was the annual Waller Law Firm’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tribute luncheon. The theme of Guess’ remarks was “It’s Our Turn,” and his address related to building upon Dr. King’s legacy to foster equality throughout the Middle Tennessee business community.
Guess is widely recognized for his lifelong and candid commitment to equality, justice and the advancement of Middle Tennessee and its citizens. During the course of a distinguished 45-year career, he served 30 years as a member of the Tennessee Commission on Human Rights. Nationally, Guess served for six years on United States Commission on Civil Rights. He was Commissioner for the Tennessee departments of Labor and General Services; and provided volunteer support to more than 100 organizations.
“We take time each year to celebrate Dr. King’s life and to find inspiration as we make our own individual and collective efforts to carry on his legacy,” said John Tishler, chairman of the Waller Law firm. “Francis Guess is an eloquent and inspirational activist, philanthropist, businessman and community leader.”
Guess, a Nashville native, served in military intelligence with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam conflict. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tennessee State University and a master’s of business administration from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Later, he completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University. He served as executive vice president of The Danner Company, a management and investment firm, and remains the executive director of the Danner Foundation. He also owns and operates Helicopter Corporation of America (HELICORP).
Guess serves as the executive director of the Danner Foundation and senior advisor of Seigenthaler Public Relations, Inc. His volunteer commitments include, but are not limited to, board and commission positions with the National Coalition of Human Rights, American Institute for Managing Diversity, Nashville Committee on Foreign Relations, Tennessee Minority Purchasing Council, Tennessee Advisory Committee of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Governor’s Monitoring Committee. Guess currently serves on the boards of the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission; Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee; Nashville Minority Business Development Fund; Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Board of Officers and Directors; Metro Convention Center Authority; and the Nashville City Club. He is also a member American Legion Post 82-Inglewood and a life member of the NAACP.
At the event, Waller also recognized its annual diversity scholarship recipient, Alejandra (Alé) Dalton, a student at the University of Tennessee College of Law. The scholarship, which is renewable each semester for the three years the recipient attends law school, is the cornerstone of Waller’s effort to support the law school’s diversity recruiting program and honors students whose lives have been guided by the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.