Citizens 4 A Better Nashville meet with officials from the Mayor’s office

Michelle Hernandez-Lane, Chief Executive Officer speaks at the community meeting as a representative from the mayor's office.

Michelle Hernandez-Lane, Chief Executive Officer speaks at the community meeting as a representative from the mayor’s office.

Members of the Nashville community gathered at New Livingstone Church with members of the Mayor’s Office in mid August for a meeting hosted by Citizens 4 A Better Nashville. The group discussed networking “to provide solutions for problems facing the African American Community,” according to Ronnie Mitchell, overseer of the meeting and pastor of New Livingstone Church.

Citizens 4 A Better Nashville (C4ABN) goal is “to influence current public policy and budget in a manner that breaks down barriers to opportunity and inspires individual empowerment.” With this goal in mind, C4ABN has outlined a syllabus of concerns and possible solutions that have been presented to the Mayor’s Office.

An attempt was made to answer these questions from four individuals who work closely with Mayor Megan Berry in their capacity with the Mayor’s Office.

“Things are not going to just happen. We have to be intentional,” said Michelle Hernandez-Lane, chief diversity officer. She offered a report about the issues of employment regarding the many African Americans obtaining jobs according to their skills. Lane distributed several outlines of ‘Annual Report Highlights of Metro Government and Davidson County Business,’ saying the outlines of the reports are ongoing.

Laura Moore, education liaison, discussed the relationships with the schools and the school board, immediate goals and distant goals supporting the schools, the superintendent and the students. Moore revealed that there are a series of opportunities that will give the community an opportunity to see the changes and other strategic plans in education that the Mayor’s Office is involved in.

“The mayor is committed to establishing a baseline with the education system in regards to cost and attracting the best possible teachers,” Moore said.

Workforce development was discussed in relationship to addressing poverty and affordable housing.

“This mayor has doubled down on efforts to promote additional rental and affordable housing in the city,” said Erik Cole, director in the Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment. “We have gone from one million to 16 million for direct grants for non profit developers to develop housing.”

Cole spoke on the overall concept of the Mayor’s Office’s attempt to address minorities’ need to get good jobs, credit and the tools needed to obtain ‘the American dream.’

Matthew Wilshire, director of Economic and Community Development offered the opportunity to ask question because his primary functions are to recruit new businesses in Nashville and work with businesses on new projects and other workforce development—outside of mass transit and affordable housing. Wilshire works on improvement and overall development of business as a representative for Mayor Berry.

As each representative gave an overview of their position in the Mayor’s Office, they also allowed questions. However because so much information is involved, the meeting could only serve as an origin of discussion for upcoming meetings. “I think the meeting went well,” said one in attendance. “However, there was simply not enough time to cover all of the concerns as stated in the outlined syllabus.”

For information on this meeting and further information about Citizens 4 A Better Nashville, contact Rev. Ronnie Mitchell, pastor of New Livingstone Church at <>.

(Editor’s note: There will be a continuing, ongoing series to follow the updates on the efforts of Citizens 4 A Better Nashville.)