Meet the 2017 Nashville Fellows
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Jonathan Adair, Founder/President & CEO, The Mental Health Initiative, Inc.
Jonathan Adair, M.S. -Founder, President & Chairman ñ The Mental Health Initiative, Inc. Jonathan Adair is a native of Nashville, TN and currently serves as the President & Chairman of the Mental Health Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit organization which he founded in 2010, dedicated to bringing awareness and eliminating public health disparities through education, research, advocacy, and outreach. Additionally, Jonathan is a 3rd year counseling psychology doctoral student at Tennessee State University. He received his bachelor of arts degree in psychology with a minor in business finance from Clark Atlanta University. He later received his master of science degree in psychology from Tennessee State University. Jonathan completed his master's level clinical training at Meharry Medical College's Department of Psychiatry. In 2010, Jonathan developed the R.E.A.C.H. Program, a federally funded outpatient co-occurring disorder treatment program specifically designed for individuals with HIV/AIDS. The program became one of Middle Tennessee's only co-occurring disorder continuum of care treatment programs for this specific demographic. This led to an appointment to Nashville's HIV/AIDS Planning Council by former Mayor Karl Dean. However, Jonathan's background consists of an array of skill sets including community organization and civic engagement, web design, social media content writing & marketing, program development, curriculum design, strategy planning, brand building, project management, and business operations including finance and accounting. Jonathan continues to make tremendous strides in the field of public health, outreach, civic engagement, and community service. In 2014, he was nominated to serve as the Community and Civic Engagement Committee Chair of the Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee. Further, in the past year Jonathan's outreach efforts have included a number of projects benefiting Middle Tennesseans, accumulating approximately 500 hours of service and assisting over 1,200 community members. As a result, Jonathan received the 2015 Nashville's Black 40 Under 40 Award for community service. In the same year, he was named a Top 5 Finalist for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Nashville Emerging Leaders Awards in the category of community service & nonprofit. Recently, Jonathan was again named a Top 5 Finalist for the 2016 Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Nashville Emerging Leaders Awards in the same category, becoming the only black male to be nominated out of more than 650 applicants.
Erwin (David) Aguilera, Legislative Aide, Tennessee General Assembly
David Aguilera, a native of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, made the United States his permanent home in 2000, and Tennessee in 2008. Growing up as a first generation immigrant in a financially strapped family, David held a variety of jobs, where he witnessed the mistreatment of immigrant workers. These experiences are what sparked his interest for social justice and politics, fueling his passion for public service. David received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He majored in Political Science; during his studies he obtained an internship in international politics in New York City and participated in numerous organizations, including the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature, where he discovered his passion for state politics.He parlayed this experience into a legislative aide position with State Senator Sara Kyle. He relishes his work and being part of the legislative process that touches the lives of all Tennesseans. Most recently, David was appointed as an At large member of the Davidson County Democratic Party Executive Committee where he serves as a committeeman. He has worked on numerous campaigns, mostly concentrating his efforts in reaching out to the Latino voters.David seeks to become a powerful voice for Nashville's growing Latino community through outreach, advocacy and education. He hopes to foster an understanding of the political system and justice. His comments and perspectives on this topic have been featured in print and radio media. He is also a second year Law student at the Nashville School of Law, where he is currently serving his second year as an Honor Council representative, an elected position by his peers. Upon graduation, David hopes to use his law degree to advocate for the rights and needs of individuals from all walks of life. Outside of work, David is an avid marathon runner, he enjoys attending concerts, traveling, reading, and playing guitar.
Matt Anderson, Press Secretary, Senate Democratic Caucus, State of Tennessee
Matt Anderson is a native of Nashville, Tenn., where he works as the Press Secretary for the Senate Democratic Caucus in the state Capitol. In that role, he has spearheaded communications efforts around Democratic priorities, including the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. He has worked closely with advocates to combat anti-LGBT legislation and generated national coverage around MaKayla’s Law, aimed at reducing gun violence among children. Prior to his work in state politics, he was a reporter for The Tennessean, where he covered local government and breaking news. He has also served as editor of the Hendersonville Star News, a thrice-weekly publication in one of Nashville’s bedroom communities.
Emily Baird-Chrisohon, Regional Organizer, Religions for Peace USA
Emily Baird-Chrisohon is the Regional Organizer with Religions for Peace USA, where she focuses on extending the reach of the Our Muslim Neighbor initiative by providing support to local community and faith leaders and building a statewide, interfaith network concerned with collaborative peacebuilding. She is dedicated to envisioning and working towards a world where all living beings have the ability to thrive. Currently, her efforts take her most often to Knoxville, TN, to work with a core team of diverse leaders seeking to build a more united and inclusive community. Emily was born and raised in Florence, AL. She received her B.A. with honors from Berry College and was presented the John A. Sibley Award for scholarship and character her senior year. After graduation, Emily became the Managing Director of a teambuilding adventure company in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt Divinity School where she earned a Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture. While in Divinity School, Emily served as the RACC student associate and helped orchestrate exhibitions and productions that explored the intersection of theology, the arts, and civic engagement. She was also Vice President of the VDS student body, Worship Arts Intern with Scarritt Bennett Center, and the recipient of an Imagination Grant to study contemplative and monastic communities in Scotland. In her spare time Emily enjoys trail running, reading, traveling, and creating music.
Christian Barker, Entertainment, Copyright & Trademark Attorney, Barker Nashville, PLLC
A future-oriented music industry and intellectual property professional possessing a comprehensive business and legal acumen, Christian Barker is a practicing attorney with Barker Nashville PLLC, the Nashville-based entertainment, copyright, and trademark law firm he founded in 2012. In addition to his law practice, Christian is co-founder and current co-owner of three music industry start-ups: Capri Nashville, an artist management firm currently representing American Idol's Matt Giraud; Tour Solutions & Agency, a national talent agency for touring musicians; and DiMe Collective, a digital media production company specializing in podcasts, live streaming video, and interactive web platforms, including the pilot Surviving the Music Industry Podcast project, of which he is the Executive Producer. Outside of Nashville, Christian regularly provides court-appointed guardian ad litem and criminal defense representation to indigent clients in rural Marshall County, Tennessee and serves as adjunct professor of Business Administration and Music Business at Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tennessee.
Brittany Debity-Barker, Director of Student Leadership , Tennessee's Department of Education
Brittany Debity-Barker†is the Director of Student Leadership at Tennessee's Department of Education. She is also the owner of Higher Education Resource and Leadership Development (HERALD), a consulting firm that provides institutions with services that range from staffing support and efficiency review to compliance audits and leadership development. Furthermore, she co-owns an artist management firm, Capri Nashville, which manages American Idol finalist and pop singer, Matt Giraud. Currently pursuing her doctorate of Global Education from the University of Southern California, she is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Rhetoric, and was awarded her Master of Science in Leadership from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to her professional and educational pursuits, she serves as a mentor for tnAchieves, empowering students in rural Marshall county as they transition from high school completion to postsecondary achievement.
Anne Barnett, Union Representative , UFCW Local 1995
Anne Barnett is a lifelong Tennessean. She was born in Paris and received her education in Knoxville, where she fought for social and economic justice alongside fellow students and campus workers. After graduation, she continued labor organizing as Co-Chair of Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee and as Membership Coordinator with United Campus Workers, Tennessee's Higher Education Union. She moved to Nashville in 2015 where she is a current Trustee on the Executive Board of the Central Labor Council, Union Representative with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1995, and Executive Board member of OUTreach, UFCW's LGBTQ Labor Caucus. In her spare time, she also participates in local campaigns fighting racism and economic oppression. When not working, she relaxes by gardening or hiking.†
Alexander Bissell, Attorney
Alex Bissell is a local attorney and native Nashvillian. After graduating from Tulane University with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Political Science in 2006, Alex worked on federal, state and local political campaigns in Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas. In 2009, Alex began law school at Emory University in Atlanta. During his time at Emory, Alex enrolled in clinical courses at the Barton Center for Child Law and Policy, where he lobbied the Georgia legislature for juvenile justice reform. After graduating from Emory Law, Alex worked on congressional campaigns in Georgia and Illinois and worked at a boutique law firm in Atlanta that lobbied on behalf of the automotive industry. Alex returned home to Nashville in 2014 and worked at the Tennessee legislature before starting his own law practice. As a criminal defense attorney, Alex is passionate about working in juvenile court where he defends truant and delinquent children. As a Spanish speaker, he has enjoyed the opportunity to work with Hispanic youth in Nashville. He is member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and chairs the Membership Committee for Middle Tennessee. Alex is also Regional Vice Chair representing the West Nashville area for the Davidson County Democratic Party. In his free time, Alex volunteers for local political campaigns, stays involved in the community and plays guitar and piano.
Trevor Burbank, Director , Refinery Nashville
Trevor†Burbank is the Founder and Director of Refinery Nashville - a collaborative workspace for independent businesses and entrepreneurs in the Nashville community.†In two years, Refinery has grown to 70 members, launched the first-of-its-kind small business accelerator, ScaleUp, and partnered with community organizations including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Pathway Women's Business Center, and Pinnacle Bank. Trevor is also the Curator for World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Nashville and an alum of Vanderbilt University.
Anna Carella, Researcher, Vanderbilt University
Anna Carella grew up in Michigan and graduated with a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2003. She has had various jobs that have taken her around the world, for the Labour Party in England, for the Peace Corps in Senegal, for US Agency for International Development in Rwanda, for the US Army in Afghanistan, and for Vanderbilt University in Bangladesh. Anna is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Political Science. She serves the Nashville community as the Communications Director for Advocates for Women's and Kids' Equality (AWAKE). She is a founding member of the Nashville chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), organizing White people for racial justice, and the Nashville Feminist Collective. She is a member of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a statewide coalition of reproductive rights advocates. She has volunteered for the Nashville Sexual Assault Center since 2013.†She was the recipient of the 2016 Human Rights Rising Advocate Award from Tennessee United for Human Rights.
Aerial Ellis, Professor, Lipscomb University
Aerial Ellis is a gifted speaker and strategist who launched her first public relations firm at the age of 22. Since, she has become sought-after for her ability to help organizations transform culture, improve diversity, enhance communication, navigate change, build community and drive innovation. Recognized nationally as one of PR News 15-to-Watch and listed among Young HBCU Alum to Watch by The Huffington Post, Aerial is co-founder of the Nashville Women of Color in Communications Network and serves as secretary of the national committee on diversity & inclusion for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She holds an executive leadership certification in workforce diversity and inclusion awarded by UCLA Extension and the National Organization for Workforce Diversity and is a fellow of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. She has been a speaker/facilitator for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), US Army Corps of Engineers, National Urban League, National Diversity Council, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), and CABLE Women's Leadership Academy among others. She has also been featured as an expert source in media outlets such as Fortune, Ebony, National Journal, along with several online radio programs. Aerial is author of The Original Millennial, a new thought leadership series highlighting lessons in business for the millennial generation, and teaches university courses in public relations, strategic planning, cross-cultural communication and leadership at Lipscomb University. A native of Memphis, she holds a bachelor's degree from Tennessee State University and master's degree from Middle Tennessee State University. She is based in Nashville.
Jasmine Gales, Intern, Nashville Chamber of Commerce
Jasmine Gales is a Memphis, Tennessee native who moved to Nashville in 2010 to pursue a degree in Psychology, which she earned from Lipscomb University. She is currently a second year student at Tennessee State University, receiving a Master's of Public Administration with a certificate in Public Policy. Jasmine spent the summer of 2016 interning with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, located in Washington, D.C., which further ignited her preexisting passion for civil rights and social justice. During that time, she contributed towards public policy projects centering around promoting equality for minorities and underserved populations. Supporting her interests in community advocacy, she has worked with the City of Goodlettsville, TN, under City Manager Tim Ellis, to develop and implement a Neighborhood Enhancement Project. The project is aimed at strengthening communication and enhancing community engagement within the city, and was recently acknowledged through resolution by the Board of Commission. Jasmine has worked as a campaign field intern for the current Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry, and is beginning an internship with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce focusing on education policy. Outside of supporting her passions professionally, Jasmine believes in promoting civic engagement amongst millennial minorities, specifically those in low-income communities. Recently, she was able to increase voter awareness and registration amongst college students in the Metro area through a voter registration drive, which she co-organized. Jasmine is a member of the Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee, the American Society of Public Administration, and the Tennessee City Management Association.
Barry Greer, Owner/ CEO, InMe LLC
Barry is a Nashville native. He attended High School at Goodpasture, and college Trevecca Nazarene University; where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information Systems. He worked in the computer industry for 7 years before starting his own company, InMe LLC in 2013. He currently is a Real Estate Investor/Entrepreneur, Social Media/Marketing Consultant, and does PR for several businesses and clients. He is in his 4th year of Ministers Licensing Training, and is a partner with Urban Soul CafÈ, an entertainment ministry and company in Nashville. He is also the president of a nonprofit ministry in the developmental stages called InMe Ministries, which focuses on discipleship and entrepreneurship training for urban youth. He is mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nashville, Alumni of the Young Leaders Council and serves on the board of New Level Community Development Corporation, where he is the current vice chairman. In 2017, Barry will take over as board chairman. In this role, he will be positioned to have a meaningful impact in addressing the cities rising affordable housing challenges. This is something that Barry is extremely passionate about. Above all, Barry has a heart to serve, and he strives make positive changes in the community he lives in and every life that he touches.
Brittany Irby, Staffing Specialist, DayNine Consulting
Brittany Irby, a native of Chicago, IL is an established education, outreach, and community development specialist. With a background rooted in nonprofit management, she currently serves as a Staffing Specialist for DayNine Consulting. Her duties include analysis of client operations in order to provide business and strategic plans to increase use of economic resources.Brittany's passion for community development extends well beyond her career. Utilizing her positions within the Junior League of Nashville and Leadership Donelson Hermitage, Brittany helps to build a better tomorrow for Nashville and the surrounding counties. †Brittany has found her greatest joy to be strategic planning. A natural born leader, organized team member, and a lover of politics, Brittany hopes to implement the skills she currently has and those she will gain through this process to change the political environment. Brittany holds a Master of Public Administration and Bachelors of Science in Public Administration from Tennessee State University.
Odessa Kelly, Program Coordinator, Metro Parks & Recreation
Odessa is a native of Nashville, TN, she attended Stratford High School and then Tennessee State University where she received her degree in Business Administration. Odessa also holds a Masters degree of Public Service from Cumberland University. Odessa is a staunch liberal who strongly believes in serving Nashville through public service and creating policies that enhance all it's residents and provide real opportunities to have the best quality of life. She has built most of her career in the public sector being a civil servant for Parks & Recreation, where she currently serves at Napier community center. She works diligently to bring positive and equitable change to the Nashville community by serving as co-chair for NOAH's Economic Equity & Jobs task force. Her work with NOAH has included building one of the largest and most powerful social justice movements in Nashville. She has advocated for the working class and underserved communities in Nashville, issues ranging from affordable housing to reformation of the criminal justice system. She believes that Nashville has the potential to be achieve a progressive paradigm shift. A cultural shift in how a traditional southern city becomes a leader in the progressive movement across the country. Odessa is also a member of Stand Up Nashville, an emerging voice in Nashville's public arena and SEIU Local 205.
Nora Kern, Executive Director, Walk Bike Nashville
Nora is the Executive Director of Walk Bike Nashville (WBN), a grassroots non-profit dedicated to making Nashville more walkable, bikeable and livable. Through her work at Walk Bike Nashville, Nora has worked to make active transportation an option for all Nashvillians, no matter who they are or where they're trying to go. Nora has worked at WBN since 2013, when she became one of the organizations first paid staff.A Nashville native, Nora graduated from Williams College with a major in history and leadership studies. It took a year of work in the aerospace-manufacturing industry and a couple of summers commercial salmon fishing in Alaska before Nora realized she wanted to return to Nashville and work to improve the built environment. Nora worked with various Nashville non-profits, including the Cumberland River Compact and the Nashville Civic Design Center, before ending up at WBN. Throughout her time at Walk Bike Nashville Nora has largely focused on growing and establishing its educational programming and advocacy voice. Today she serves on the Mayor's Livable Nashville Committee, the steering committee for Public Work's Walk N' Bike Master Plan update, the steering committee for Metro Parks' Plan to Play parks and greenways masterplan, and on the Chamber of Commerce's Moving Forward Advisory committee. In 2016 Nora was also appointed by Mayor Barry to the Traffic and Parking Commission.
Quite Moten, Program Director, Caregiver Relief Program of Middle Tennessee
Quiteka "Teka" Moten is a native of Memphis, TN and current Nashville resident. She graduated from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville with a Bachelor's in Sociology and Bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Programs (Legal Studies concentration). Following undergrad, she worked directing afterschool and senior programs for the Knoxville YWCA. There, she coordinated a number of initiatives including Family Engagement (Nutrition and GED workshops), Senior Citizen weekly luncheons, and K-8 summer camp.Following her start in nonprofit and time as caregiver for her grandmother suffering with dementia, Teka accepted a position with the Alzheimer's Association as Manager of Programs and Education for the Mid South Chapter. For the last three years, she has worked providing care and support to the 13-South Central counties and diverse populations of greater Nashville. Her duties included training support group facilitators, writing respite/program grants, and heading up public policy initiatives. Teka is currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student in the Masters of Public Health program at Tennessee State University with a concentration in Behavioral Sciences.
Robert Robinson, Associate Director, Alignment Nashville
Robert is a nonprofit and education professional from Memphis, TN. He received his B.S. in Psychology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 2011, Robert moved to Nashville to complete his M.Ed. in Community Development and Action at Vanderbilt University. Since arriving in Nashville, Robert has been involved with several local nonprofit organizations, including the Urban League of Middle Tennessee where he completed his capstone project focusing on preparing underrepresented high school students for college. Upon completion of his master's program, Robert was hired as the Urban League's Youth Service Program Manager, where he has spent the past three years managing and facilitating K-12 programs that prepare youth for college, work, and life. Robert will begin a new role in January 2017 as Associate Director with Alignment Nashville, whose mission centers on bringing community organizations and resources together to positively impact public school success, children's health, and the success of the community. Robert is passionate about education, social justice, community empowerment, and working with underserved communities. He was a Summer Community Organizing Fellow with Organizing for America where he coordinated out of state trips and local phone banks aiding in President Obama's reelection campaign. He has held multiple leadership roles with the Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee, where he organized multiple volunteer and civic engagement opportunities and currently serves as the Co- Membership Chair. He also is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and he enjoys mentoring youth and volunteering with local community based organizations.
Joseph Sheeran, Graduate Student, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Joseph Sheeran is a native of Michigan and a graduate of Oberlin College. He first came to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. Prior to this, he served as a Micah fellow with Life Together Boston and Episcopal City Mission in Boston, MA where he organized Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations to support immigrants rights legislation and worker’s rights legislation. Most notably he worked as part of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition successful campaign to secure the highest state minimum wage and the nation’s strongest sick day policy. Since coming to Nashville, he has worked on several state and local electoral campaigns, in addition to providing support to various grassroots efforts. Joseph is motivated by a deep religious faith and brings this perspective to all of his activism and organizing work. Likewise, he believes that religion is inescapably political and seeks to awaken worshiping communities to their responsibility to stand in solidarity with the oppressed. To this end, he works to build connections between worshiping communities seeking to deepen their faithful practice and organizations working for social justice, such as Workers Dignity/Dignidad Obrera, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. He is co-founder of Napier United, a grassroots organization in South Nashville residents that seeks to build power for a better future for their community. Joseph is pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), under care of his home Presbytery of Detroit.
Tyler Yount, Campaign Manager, Berke for Mayor
Tyler Yount is a native Tennesseean, raised in Oak Ridge, and started working in politics in 2009 as an Organizing for America fellow. After graduating from Indiana University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Philosophy, he moved back to Knoxville, TN to manage Gloria Johnson's successful campaign for State House in 2012. Tyler has lived in Chattanooga for the past four years where he has worked on several local and state campaigns, in local government, and volunteered on local boards for United Way of Greater Chattanooga Emerging Leaders and the Center for Non-Profits. Most recently, Tyler was the Tennessee State Director for Hillary for America. Tyler enjoys hiking, camping, music, comics, and basketball.