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The Full Story

About Us

A.W.A.K.E. Nashville (Advocating for Wellness, Accessibility, and Knowledge of injustice facing the Elderly) is a non-profit organization that advocates for senior members of our community who have limited resources and cannot advocate for themselves. It is our goal to build a bridge of opportunity for the very people who thought they had been forgotten.


The organization was formed by Karen Holder and Danielle Cotton after the matriarch of their beloved family (Norma Upshaw) was impacted by the growth and development of Nashville and was displaced from her senior living community in Madison, TN. After spearheading the relocation efforts of all the seniors, the mother-daughter duo saw a need and wanted to launch an organization to address the growing housing gap for senior residents of Nashville. However, they realize that affordable housing for seniors is not an isolated problem, and they plan to continue to scale their efforts worldwide.


Since inception in 2022, AWAKE Nashville has made significant progress towards its mission, including creating affordable housing solutions for seniors on fixed incomes and championing legislation to extend the eviction regulation period for involuntarily displaced seniors from 30 to 60 days. The over-arching purpose of the organization is to be the change agent in transforming the lives of seniors to a place of wholeness. We are dedicated to assessing each person’s individual needs in efforts to improve their ability to function as a productive, contributing members of their community.

Meet the Team


Karen Holder

Founder & CEO

Karen Holder, Founder & CEO of AWAKE Nashville, is a beacon of hope and catalyst for change in her community. With an unwavering commitment to uplift marginalized communities, Holder has dedicated her career to the noble cause of helping others. 


Holder has extensive experience in counseling and ministry, having obtained a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and a license in ministry in 1994. During her professional journey she has served in pivotal roles such as a Rehabilitation Counselor at Davidson County Drug Court and Program Director for Mending Hearts, where she brought compassion and dedication to every interaction.


Driven by an innate desire to serve the disenfranchised, Holder embarked on the creation of AWAKE Nashville, a testament to her visionary leadership and deep-rooted commitment to community empowerment. Through AWAKE Nashville, she has cultivated a platform for transformative change, offering support, resources, and advocacy for those who need it most.


Holder's impact extends far beyond the confines of her organization. She is a true champion for social justice, leveraging her skills and experiences to address systemic issues and foster legislative change. Her relentless dedication to improving the lives of those around her serves as an inspiration to many.


Danielle Cotton


Danielle Cotton, Co-founder of AWAKE Nashville, is a native Nashvillian with a sincere passion for community, family, and social justice. Cotton has over eight years of professional experience in publicity, marketing, brand consultation, press relations, social media, brand design, email marketing, event planning, and more. As honors graduate from Lipscomb University with a B.A. degree in Journalism and New Media, Cotton began her career in public relations in 2015, specializing in the domestic and International entertainment arena. During her years of experience as a public relations professional, Cotton has led countless successful marketing campaigns for prominent television and entertainment companies, drama festivals, non-profits, and city leaders. In addition, Cotton has a sincere commitment to serving the community. As a seasoned, accomplished, and motivated strategic thinker, Cotton has leveraged the expertise of community partners, social activists, government officials, and nonprofits to create a long-term community plan around housing disparities for seniors. Through this initiative, she has garnered the attention of political leaders and had the opportunity to engage the city to evaluate policy changes and new funding opportunities to help protect the health and wellness of our most vulnerable citizens.


When Cotton is not working, she enjoys spending hours in home décor stores, spending time with her husband and family, making crafts with her beautiful six-year-old daughter, Aubrey, and being a dog mom to her thirteen-year-old toy poodle, Bella.

Board of Directors

Dedication. Expertise. Passion.

Core Values & Beliefs

AWAKE Nashville is committed to operating in integrity, and upholding the highest ethical standards in all that we do. We believe our core values will help us fulfill our mission and vision to those we serve, and provide accountability, transparency, and trust with our donors, grantors, partners, and the community.


Core Values that guide the leadership of AWAKE Nashville:

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