New OEOE focuses on financial empowerment, workforce development, affordability

Pics of OEOEMayor Megan Barry has announced the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment (OEOE), focused on making sure Nashville’s growth results in an increased quality of life for all Nashvillians.

“From the outset of my campaign, I was committed to making sure that Nashville’s focus on economic growth and expansion was matched by a renewed focus on lifting people out of poverty, and expanding opportunity,” said Mayor Barry. “The Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment, headed by Erik Cole, will help us to do just that.”

The mayor has announced the appointment of three new members to the administration, who will work with Erik Cole to further the goals of expanding the supply of safe and affordable housing, engaging community partners, and efficiently leveraging resources to reduce poverty and increase the supply of career-pathway jobs for all Davidson County residents.

“I’m honored by the confidence Mayor Barry has shown in me and humbled by
the opportunity to continue working on these important issues and lead the Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment,” said Cole. “All of our collaborative efforts will work together towards the common goal of building a better quality of life in Nashville.”

Cole, a former member of the Metro Council, has served in the Mayor’s Office since 2013, when he was appointed as the director of the Financial Empowerment Center. He brings years of knowledge and experience working on issues related to poverty, and will be in charge of coordinating efforts within the office while continuing to focus on promoting on finding solutions to alleviate poverty and end homelessness in Nashville.

Adriane Bond Harris will serve as senior advisor for Affordable Housing Issues. She is an urban planner and an affordable housing and community development professional in Nashville. She joins the administration from The Housing Fund (THF) assisting with THF’s new initiatives and providing technical assistance to nonprofits, developers, and local governments on housing and community development programs and policies. Prior to joining THF, Adriane worked as a consultant assisting local nonprofits and small governmental agencies to administer federally funded programs and housing developments.

“I look forward to working with the mayor to learn from other cities, those that have addressed affordable housing well, and those who have not, to find creative and sustainable solutions for Nashville,” said Harris.

Joining the administration as senior advisor for Labor and Workforce Issues will be Ashford Hughes. He will be leaving his role as assistant business manager for the Southeast Laborers District Council, Local 386, where he worked to organize and represent the interests of working families in Middle Tennessee. In addition, he has been a leading executive board member for Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), which played a pivotal role in bringing economic justice issues to the forefront of the 2015 mayoral election.

“I want to thank Mayor Barry for the opportunity to serve the people of Nashville as we work together to help improve the lives of working families in Nashville,” said Ashford Hughes.

Anne Havard will serve in the OEOE as a policy assistant, helping to research, review and implement the goals and policies developed by the office. She is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, and she served at Open Table Nashville doing homelessness outreach, advocacy and grant writing while attending the University. Most recently, she worked on the Megan Barry for Mayor Campaign as a policy and communications advisor, helping to draft policies and platforms during the campaign.

“I’m truly grateful to have such a diverse and knowledgeable team to help me and my administration to fulfill Nashville’s promise as a warm and welcoming city for all of Nashville,” said Barry. “They will be key players in turning the challenges we face into opportunities to improve upon the way we’ve done things in the past, and help us to keep Nashville moving forward for everyone.”

Erik Cole and Anne Havard have already begun working in the administration, while Ashford Hughes will join on Nov. 12 and Adriane Harris will begin on Nov. 9.

Debby Dale Mason to serve as Chief of Staff for Mayor Barry

Debby Dale Mason, chief community development officer for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed by Mayor Megan Barry to be her Chief of Staff. Mason will be focused on the management of the executive offices, guiding the formation and implementation of policy within the administration.

“Debby Dale Mason has been committed to public service for nearly all of her life and I’m honored that she will continue that service in my administration,” said Mayor Barry. “Debby has a wealth of experience that will enable her to help manage operations within my administration to ensure we are delivering on our promises to the people of Nashville.”

Mason’s career spans 40 years in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in Nashville, 20 of which have been at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Mason’s early career includes time spent with the Tennessee Arts Commission and Historic Nashville, Inc., as well as a role as Chief of Staff in Mayor Bill Boner’s administration. Her career has also included time at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, the Nashville Downtown Partnership, and as a small business owner, managing a consulting company.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve in Mayor Barry’s administration to support the continued economic growth of Nashville, while tackling the tough challenges around transportation and affordability which that growth brings,” said Mason. “I look forward to working with Mayor Barry and our staff team to build community-wide support for the Mayor’s initiatives.”