Announcing the 2023 TNCPE McWherter Leadership Award


January 26, 2023  

Patrick Lawton, retired City Administrator of the City of Germantown, to be honored at the
30th Annual Excellence in Tennessee Awards Banquet 

The Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) is proud to announce that Patrick Lawton, former City Administrator for the City of Germantown, is the recipient of the 2023 Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award. The Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award annually recognizes an individual who exemplifies outstanding leadership in the pursuit of performance excellence and has worked to further performance improvement beyond the boundaries of his or her organization.  

Patrick Lawton has been a dynamic, innovative, and energetic proponent of quality assurance and continuous improvement for the City of Germantown during his 34-year career,” says Mayor Mike Palazzolo. “Patrick has been engaged in seeking new levels of service excellence for both our internal and external customers, and he was an early advocate and participant in TNCPE. He is deeply invested in the core values of TNCPE and the Baldrige Framework, culminating with the City of Germantown’s recognition as a 2017 TNCPE Excellence Winner and 2019 Baldrige National Award Recipient. He is a most deserving recipient of the Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award.” 

During Lawton’s tenure with Germantown, the city achieved and maintained the dual AAA bond rating from Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. Lawton oversaw the construction of the city’s performing arts center and new library, and the introduction of new urbanism design standards. He was a driving force in the establishment of the Germantown Municipal School District and led a year-long strategic planning effort to create the Germantown Forward 2030 plan. Lawton further served the community as a member of TNCPE’s Board of Directors. 

Heather Schoch, President and CEO of TNCPE agrees that “Patrick is a visionary leader, and his insistence on excellence is inspirational to everyone he encounters. When I visited Germantown, I experienced a tangible culture of customer service and continuous improvement. Patrick’s commitment to excellence extends beyond the city and benefits the entire state of Tennessee.” 

The McWherter Award is named after the 46th governor of Tennessee, who was instrumental in TNCPE’s founding in 1993. Ned McWherter’s support for the program acknowledged the value of the Baldrige Excellence Framework as an integral tool that can help Tennessee businesses and organizations thrive. Previous honorees include Dr. Bob Bell (President, Tennessee Tech University), Dr. Andy Czuchry (AFG Chair of Excellence, ETSU), Jan McNally (Director, Leadership Development Covenant Health), Robert Otwell (CEO, Maury Regional Medical Center), Ed Scott (Treasurer, Caterpillar, Inc.), Dr. Susan Williams (Professor of Management, Belmont University), Dr. R. Michael Browder (CEO, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services), David McClaskey (President, Pal’s Business Excellence Institute), Dennis Vonderfecht (CEO, Mountain States Health Alliance), Dr. Joe Alexander (Associate Dean, Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business at Belmont University), Lewis Lavine (President, Center for Nonprofit Management), Thom Crosby (President and CEO, Pal’s), Jim Duensing (Executive Vice President/CFO, Caterpillar Financial Services), Donn Fisher (Executive Director/CEO, MSQPC – the Quality Center), Chuck Shoopman (Assistant Vice President, UT Institute for Public Service), Dr. John Dreyzehner (Commissioner, TN Department of Health), David M. Jones (President, The Excellence Advisory), Rebecca Hunter (Commissioner, TN Department of Human Resources), and Doran Johnson (NHC South Central Region). 

Lawton will accept the award at the 2023 Excellence in Tennessee Awards Banquet on Thursday, March 2 at the Franklin Cool Springs Hilton in Franklin, TN. 

Established in 1993 as a public-private partnership, the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence strives to promote economic development and drive organizational excellence by helping companies and organizations grow more competitive in today’s global marketplace. A statewide nonprofit, TNCPE is grounded in the Baldrige Excellence Framework—a holistic framework used by organizations across multiple industries to improve their performance and achieve sustainable results. More than 1,500 organizations have participated in and benefited from the TNCPE program. Six Tennessee businesses – Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, Pal’s Sudden Service, Eastman Chemical Company, Federal Express, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, and the City of Germantown—have been honored with the prestigious Baldrige National Quality Award and the TNCPE Excellence Award. For more information, visit