John Cooper takes oath of office, promises focus on schools, finances

John Cooper takes the oath of office on Saturday, September 30th at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in East Nashville as the ninth mayor of Nashville’s metropolitan government.

John Cooper was sworn in as the ninth mayor of the Nashville Metropolitan government during a ceremony at Stratford Stem Magnet High School on September 29.

Cooper’s choice of where his inauguration took place was no accident.

“This is special place. Fifty-six years ago, less than a week after Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a Dream’ speech, my campaign co-chair and my friend, Brenda Haywood, walked through these doors and integrated Stratford High.

“This is a school where TSU, Vanderbilt, and Nissan have come together to support the work being done here. This past year, 11 students from Stratford got full scholarships to Belmont University as part of Belmont’s Bridges to Belmont program. That’s a wonderful accomplishment. But Stratford, like many of our schools, also faces challenges. It started the year without a chemistry or Spanish teacher. We are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. Teachers struggle to lead middle-class lives. That has to change. We have to do better.”

Cooper has vowed to focus not only on Nashville schools, but also the finances of the city to create a cost-effective, fiscally responsible government.

“I’ve been told that I care too much about the numbers. But if we don’t get the money right, we can’t get anything else right. Because in government, to care about finances is to care about people. That is how you make our dreams real.”

Monday, his first day in office, he kept in lock-step with his inaugural theme by making his first meeting with Nashville Public Schools interim director, Dr. Adrienne Battle, and meeting later in the day with Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal and other members of the Metro Finance Department.

Mayor Cooper also announced several important appointments to his team as well as other changes in the administration.

Brenda Haywood has joined the Cooper administration as Deputy Mayor for Community Engagement. Brenda Haywood, who represented District 3 on the Metro Council, serves as associate minister at St. John Missionary Baptist Church and is the founder of Royal Heirs Youth Academy, a youth and family empowerment nonprofit. A Nashville native, Haywood was the first African American student to walk through the doors of Stratford High School in 1963, followed by three others, integrating the school. Haywood later earned her bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University and master’s degree from Vanderbilt University. A retired Metro Nashville Public School teacher and administrator, now a volunteer chaplain for incarcerated youth, Haywood serves on the Board of Nashville Prevention Partnership and the Homeless Veterans Foundation.

Kevin Crumbo, a noted finance expert and philanthropic leader, is joining the Cooper administration as Metro Finance Director. Ms. Lomax-O’dneal has decided to step down as Finance Director but will be staying in Metro and assist with the transition. Kevin brings a deep expertise in finances, accounting, financial forensics, and restructuring to Metro government, as well as a history of deep involvement and commitment to Nashville’s nonprofit sector.

Kristin Wilson, former Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the city of Atlanta, is joining Metro as Nashville’s new Chief of Operations and Performance. Kristin Canavan Wilson has 20+years experience in strategy, operations and analytics/performance management in both public and private organizations. She comes to Metro as most recently the Head of Business Analytics for Nashville’s property insurance company Velocity Risk Underwriters.

Dr. Paulette Coleman earned her Ph.D. in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is being appointed to the Board of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. She replaces Ralph Moseley, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Southwestern/Great American.

Coleman has had a distinguished career as a university professor, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, and interim administrator of the NAACP Nashville branch. Currently, she serves as chair of the NOAH (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) Affordable Housing and Gentrification Task Force.   Coleman also earned a bachelor’s degrees from Fordham University in African and African American Studies, and completed a certificate program in Museum Studies from Harvard University.

In the days and weeks to come, the Cooper administration will be filling other positions and making additional announcements. One-third of the positions in the Mayor’s Office will continue to be filled by current staff. Mayor Cooper is excited by the opportunity to recruit new talent to Nashville while retaining staff with broad knowledge of current Metro operations and initiatives.