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Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development sets North Nashville Participatory Budget leadership

by PRIDE Newsdesk

Judge Rachel L. Bell

The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development has appointed 18 members to the North Nashville Participatory Budget steering committee, executive committee, and program facilitator.

Steering committee members include:

  • Judge Rachel Bell (chair) – General Sessions Court Judge
  • Alandis Brassel – counsel, Scale LLP; assistant professor of ‘music business,’ University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
  • Eric Capehart (vice chair) – professional counselor and wellness coach
  • Lerlie Cleveland – clinician, Meharry Medical College, MNPS (retired)
  • Rev. Sonnye Dixon – lead pastor, Hobson United Methodist Church
  • Delores Donigan – licensed aesthetician, cosmetologist, and ‘cosmetology’ instructor
  • George Ewing – affiliate broker, Fridrich & Clark Realty
  • Shonnita Frey – veteran transportation service administrator, VUMC
  • Luvenia R. Harrison – civil rights compliance officer/ADA coordinator, Tennessee Department of Health
  • De’Sean Keys (secretary) – coordinator for the Office of Student Activities and Leadership, Tennessee State University
  • Stephanie Nesbitt – manager of training and development, Bridgestone Americas
  • Lagra Newman – founder/head of school, Purpose Preparatory Academy Charter School
  • Dr. Janet Parham – speech language pathologist, MNPS (retired)
  • Shereka Roby-Grant – director of charter schools, MNPS
  • Charles Scott – deputy fire marshall, Nashville Fire Department (retired)
  • Seth Thorpe – senior, Pearl-Cohn High School
  • C. Olusola Tribble – cultural and racial equity educator and coach
  • Dr. Ronald A. Wooding – principal, Pearl-Cohn High School

All steering committee members are residents of Bordeaux and North Nashville.

Judge Rachel Bell was elected chair of the executive committee. Eric Capehart will serve as vice chair, and De’Sean Keys was chosen as secretary.

“Me and my family have lived in the Bordeaux/North Nashville area for four generations,” said Judge Bell. “It’s important to me that we have representation from those that have lived here a lifetime and want to be a part of the process. Bordeaux has been overlooked for many, many years. I’m proud the mayor has made an effort to provide resources and to have community input. This is a long time coming and is the start of many more commitments from the city for years to come.”

“As an active member of my community and the Beautification Commissioner for District 2, I accepted a role on the steering committee because I believe we have an incredible opportunity to show the rest of Nashville that we do care about our community and that we can come together to have a shared vision on how to improve where we live,” said Capehart. “We know this investment into our communities will not alleviate all of our issues, but we are excited for the opportunity to do Participatory Budgeting and having our ideas come to fruition.”

“We are thankful for a community-led process that is a start for showing an investment in the Bordeaux and North Nashville communities,” said Eric Brown, North Nashville ‘economic and community development (NNECD) manager’ at the mayor’s office. “The leaders who represent the steering committee are folks who not only live in the community. They work every day on behalf of the community. From high school students to retired teachers and firefighters, Participatory Budgeting is local-people centered and neighborhood focused.”

Kia Jarmon has been named program facilitator of the budgeting process. Jarmon is the founder of MEPR Agency, founder of Nonprofit Equity Collaborative, co-leader of the Black Philanthropy Initiative, and a Collective Impact Consultant with the Center for Nonprofit Management.

As facilitator, Jarmon will help residents participate effectively in committee meetings, liaise with Metro staff, and support Budget Delegates in researching and developing final proposals.

Mayor John Cooper in March included $2 million in his capital spending plan to bring participatory budgeting to Nashville for the first time. As the Metro Council’s 37208 special committee examined, North Nashville is a historically underserved area in need of infrastructure investment.

Residents within the North Nashville participatory budgeting area will determine the infrastructure investments they want to fund in a process led by citizen volunteers and the community.

  • To meet criteria eligibility, projects must meet the following criteria:
  • provide primary benefit for the public at-large;
  • provide a tangible, permanent benefit that allows for broad public access;
  • designed to accomplish goals and fulfill purpose without further funding past the initial investment;
  • are capital infrastructure, capital improvement or durable projects;
  • $50,000 or higher with a lifespan of at least 10 years.

Area residents age 14 and older will be qualified to vote on the final proposals in December.

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