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Tennessee Youth Courts Director Denise Bentley
To find out more about Tennessee Youth Courts, Inc., contact Youth Court Director Denise Bentley.

Denise works with the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation to establish local youth court programs across the state. These programs have proven successful in many areas and she is excited to be a part of the development of this program in Tennessee.

Youth court programs would not be successful without the hundreds of volunteers, mostly lawyers who act as mentors and advisors to youth court programs and the teens who volunteer their time and wisdom to act as members of the courts.


Denise Bentley, a native of Nashville, holds a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Ms. Bentley is the Executive Director of Tennessee Youth Courts, Inc. (TYC), a nonprofit that focuses on juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention. Before coming to TYC, Ms. Bentley was the program director for the Tennessee Youth Court Program, a teen-driven juvenile delinquency prevention/intervention diversion program based on restorative justice. Youth courts have been an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) for over 15 years. Under Bentley’s direction, the program has gone from nine programs in nine counties to twenty-one programs in eighteen counties.

Ms. Bentley came to the Tennessee Bar Association from Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). As the violence prevention coordinator for MNPS, Bentley’s duties included:
  • The administration of the Tennessee Safe Schools grant, approximately $300,00 per year for seven years.
  • Researching and making recommendations for violence prevention programs K-12,
  • Implementation and accountability for program fidelity. 
  • Oversight, training and hiring recommendations for approximately 200 school Campus Supervisor (monitors) and In-school Suspension personnel. 
  • Training of School Security staff.
While at MNPS, Bentley became a certified Olweus Bullying Prevention trainer. Preceding her tenure at MNPS, Ms. Bentley was the project director for the Mills Corporation’s Nashville Jobs Partnership. The Nashville Jobs Partnership was a welfare-to-work initiative of the Mills Corporation coordinated with the construction of Opry Mills Shopping Center.

After law school, Ms. Bentley served in a judicial clerkship with the Hon. Matthew J. Sweeney, III, and later became a member of the faculty of the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Business Administration.