Will Rutherford is 32 years old, a long time Nashville resident, activist, and Warner Park enthusiast.Read More
TALENTS: empowerer, systems thinker
I am currently the CEO at Oasis Center. I have lived in Nashville for 50+ years. Chris, my wife, and I have been married for 40 years. We have 3 married children and 5 grandchildren. I taught in MNPS (32) and Peabody College at Vanderbilt (6) for a combined 38 years before coming to Oasis.
I like woodworking, teaching and being with my grandchildren. The outdoors have always been a great place to hide and renew.
TALENTS: extremely optimistic, fair, pacemaker, conversation starter, motivator, storyteller
Tasneem Grace Tewogbola grew up in Central New York where it was once so cold her eyelashes froze shut.
She first moved to Nashville in 1999 to work as a reporter at the Tennessean. She returned to Nashville in 2012 – after living in Syracuse, NY and Belize, Central America. She is still grateful for the soul and sunshine of the South. Especially, the soul. She loves that during her 10-year absence, Nashville’s international communities have grown in presence and population.
Tasneem – who is a West African-American Muslim — enjoys speaking Spanish, dancing to drums and cooking global cuisine. For her, Casa Azafrán’s touches of African, Latin American and Islamic architecture, feel like home.
Her home life, away from the office, is just as colorful. She and her husband, Zuberi, are parents of five daughters and two cats. When she’s not doing hair or picking out clothes for kids, she likes to garden, crochet, daydream, write and tell African folktales. She also likes to train for half-marathons and run at 5 a.m. before the children wake up.
As the Cultural Engagement and Events Coordinator at Casa Azafrán – an initiative of Conexión Américas – she is responsible for managing space usage for our agency partners and outside groups who rent rooms for meetings, retreats and receptions.
Her biggest joy on the job? Observing folks enter the building and watch their faces absorb the beauty of the place.
“What is this place?” they ask.
For Tasneem, the answer is always simple: “Welcome to Casa Azafrán, our global oasis.”
Tara manages the Social Integration programs for Conexión Américas, programs that create alliances and friendships, answer important questions for immigrants in a new land, and deepen the roots of Latino families in Middle Tennessee.
She also coordinates volunteers and tracks program performance and data for the organization.
Given all she does, it is why we’re glad Tara — who started her career at Conexión Américas with a year-long internship — has such a keen eye for detail, for specifics.
The “super detallista,” as she’s known in the office, is a native of Blowing Rock, N.C. and a graduate of Wake Forest University, where she studied religion and Spanish and volunteered in an after-school program for Hispanic children.
In 2011, Tara received a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. That means she preaches regularly, and in both English and Spanish
TALENTS: adaptability, art, Devil's Advocate, listening, observing details, complex narrative
I am an interior designer, custom draftsperson, and visual artist.
Along with my husband, artist Jairo Prado, I operate Prado Studio in our home/studio, which is open to the public by appointment. Please contact us to schedule a visit or learn more about our personal work, as well as how we work with the local and regional community.
We provide Interior Design services to individuals, businesses, and design professionals. I specialize in residential design and fine art resources including consultation, selection, and installation. I also specialize in hand-drafted architectural drawings for clients and interior design professionals.
Steve is a practicing well travelled Nashville musician. He's been working, living and playing as The Altered Statesmen here in Music City for a solid minute now. His type is gentle but strongly delivered alt country- and jazz-inflected soul of an experimental and somewhat avant garde ilk. If that sounds like a nearly preposterous description, that's probably because the Statesman's material doesn't really sound like much else. The Altered Statesman has released a number of albums over the last several years. In an earlier life he tied in with Paul And The Weathermen, travelling throughout the country and Europe. Steve also produces and engineers recordings for others. There’s not much time for hobbies, though he enjoys others’ music, appreciates art, and is a great chef.
Shannon is a Vice President and Client Services Manager for the Water Services Business Unit at Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon. He is responsible for working with BWSC’s water and wastewater clients to develop cost-effective, sustainable solutions to their operational challenges and changing regulatory pressures. Shannon has over 20 years of experience in the water industry in the planning, design and construction administration of a wide variety of water related projects including upgrades and expansions to water distribution systems, sewer collection systems, and water and wastewater treatment facilities ranging in size from $0.5 to $250 million.
Shannon holds a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He holds a Professional Engineering license in TN, KY, AL and MO.
Shannon moved to Middle Tennessee from St. Louis, Missouri in 2000. He is married and has two children. In his spare time he enjoys coaching and cheering on his children in their various activities and is active in his church, serving on the board and as the building program chair.
TALENTS: vision caster, fact- based decision maker, effective communicator, influence and motivate others
Ron is a nationally recognized leader with a track record of achievement as a leader in business, civic and not-for-profit organizations. He generated long-term growth and profit including industry leading market share growth as Field Vice President for the Southern Region of the Allstate Insurance Company, a $1.6 billion division of the largest publicly traded auto and personal property insurer in America. He understands that consumers expect businesses and their leaders to be partners in building communities. Ron has taken leadership and governance roles in civic, business and community organizations such as The Bank of Nashville, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Leadership Nashville and 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee. He has been recognized by state, local and national organizations for personal and professional leadership including Dollars and Sense Magazine, the Public Relations Society of America, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Tennessee Insurance Hall of Fame.
Robert Crawford began playing drums at the age fifteen in Akron, Ohio. At which time began studying with famed Akron drummer Bill Roth. He also joined his high school band where, along with playing with various rock bands, he spent his high school career. Following high school Robert spent a number of years playing and recording with a variety of local alternative and funk bands. These bands played throughout Akron and Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Dallas and Miami.
In 1996 Robert developed an interest in Jazz. He studied Jazz drummers and history and the following year moved to Cleveland. At which time he enrolled in the Jazz Studies Program at Cuyahoga County Community College led by Cleveland Saxophonist Ernie Krivda. The experience proved to be most helpful and inspiring, because during his time at Tri-C Robert was fortunate enough to perform with Jazz heavy weights such as Bill Dobbins, Rufus Reid, James Newton, Marcus Belgrave and Donald Waldon.
After his stay at Tri-C Robert studied with Jazz drummer Greg Bandy (Pharaoh Sanders, Gary Bartz). And began to do a lot of freelance work around Cleveland, getting the chance to play with nationally renown Jazz players like Dave Morgan, Dan Wall (John Abercrombie), Eddie Baccus Jr. (Pieces of a Dream) and Eddie Baccus Sr. (Roland Kirk). Robert also spent much of that time playing with many other local Jazz players as well as occasionally putting together his own groups. The following year Robert got the opportunity to play with blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr. at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas. He also spent that year and the next playing mostly with his own groups consisting of Josh Yellon on saxophone and Gary Hoopengardner on bass and Mike Murray on piano.
The year beginning of the year 2000 had Robert busy writing and arranging songs for his first C.D. release ‘HOW MUCH’ that he recorded in April. The C.D. features saxophonist extraordinaire Gary Bartz (Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner). The summer had Robert equally as busy with his own quartet that headlined the Crooked River Jazz and Blues Festival, and opening slots for Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Spyro Gyra and Maceo Parker.
Crawford currently resides in Nashville, TN and works often with locals Medicine King, Victor Krauss and with Steve Poulton as Altered Statesman.
TALENT: A leader's leader, dreamer, connector, very paractical, paragmatic, highly organized, advocate for all things Nashville, passionate, connector, communication
Rebecca Berrios is the Community Engagement Manager for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission. With over 16 years of experience as an arts administrator, she has specialized in event-planning, marketing, community relations and program management in the non-profit, higher education and government sectors. Berrios leads various initiatives to expand and support the arts in Nashville including Artober Nashville, the annual city-wide celebration of arts and culture during the month of October. She recently launched THRIVE, a new neighborhood focused funding program designed to encourage artistic development and engage community participation in the arts. In 2014, she was a member of the inaugural Americans for the Arts “Arts Leadership Class,” judged the Southern Word College Slam Finals Competition, served on the Legacy Committee for the Women’s NCAA Final Four, co-led local host efforts for the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention and was a presenter at the first ArtCampNashville. She also serves on the program committee for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville.
In her spare time, Berrios savors the natural beauty and distinct cultural personality that Nashville has to offer through hiking, experiencing our culinary scene, visiting art galleries and museums, and attending live music shows and theatrical performances. She has hula-hooped three half-marathons with Hooping for Hope ™, where she also served as a lead trainer. She is an Advanced Open Water scuba diver with more than a decade of experience and over 125 dives logged. Berrios lives in the Gulch with her husband and 18 year old cat.
I have been working with the Taylor Methodology for 20+ years. In addition to the traditional Knowledge Worker event roles such as music facilitation, documentation, environment and video I have also worked extensively in operations and logistics for facilities delivering the process, both permanent facilities and mobile deployments. Other roles have included corporate KWIB (Knowledge Worker Information Broker), Center Manager, sales, and client relationship lead.
Related to this work I was the plant manager for Athenaeum International for eight years. “AI” was founded by Matt Taylor, and has for many years been the globally recognized leader in designing and building collaborative work environments.
In supporting this type of collaborative event, I am often asked, “What is your favorite role?” That is actually a tough question because to me all of the various roles are important and interesting. To look at it from a different vantage point, my favorite role is removing obstacles for the participants so they can do the work they need to accomplish during their time with us.
I am an educator, and I have worked with students learning English from kindergarten to college age. Currently, I am an English Language teacher working with a diverse and courageous group of students in Metro Nashville School system. In my role, I provide English language services to students as well collaborate with classroom teachers and parents to support students as they transition to a new community. I am also co-project coordinator of Patterson RAPS, a program sponsored by best selling author James Patterson and Vanderbilt. Middle school students in the area come to the Vanderbilt campus on Saturday mornings. The program was designed for students to get excited about reading, to engage with Vanderbilt community, and to express their voices and stories.
In the community, I served on the board of directors for NICE, the Nashville International Center for Empowerment. I have enjoyed coaching and volunteering with the Girls on the Run program. It has been a pleasure to see girls make a commitment to their health and personal well being.
My professional interests include supporting heritage language programs and giving voice to teacher and student stories. I enjoy visiting schools (locally and internationally) to learn how teachers and schools are preparing children to think critically and be future ready. In my personal time, I enjoy checking out coffee shops, hiking, and reading.
TALENTS: spirit of social entrepreneurism, innovation, passion for activism, get up and out, connector of people, policy minded, speaks 4 languages, brings other perspective
Mohamed-Shukri Hassan is a civically engaged entrepreneur with significant experience in community organizing, immigrant integration and grassroots advocacy. He is the former Welcoming Tennessee Coordinator. He currently serves on The Mayors’ New American Advisory Council and sits on the board of directors of The Nashville International Center for Empowerment.
He is working on his master’s degree at Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for civic leader at Lipscomb University.
He is originally a refugee from Somalia and speaks four different languages - English, Somali, Swahili and Oromo.
TALENTS: goal-oriented, implementation, problem solving, collaboration, community conservations, civic engagement
Michelle D. Steele, Ed.D is the Academic Director of the Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership. With more than 15 years experience working with governmental agencies, Steele served as director of Nashville’s Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods for four years during the Purcell administration, is a former case manager for the Mid-Cumberland Community Services Agency, and most recently, supervised the customer service team at the Metropolitan Nashville Department of Codes and Building Safety. Steele has a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, a Master of Science degree in public service management from Cumberland University and a Doctorate of Education in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.
TALENTS: ethically driven, forward thinking, empathetic, intuitive, excellent in crisis, pivots well, organizational communication, team developer
Michelle Lacewell serves as the deputy director for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, leading the public relations efforts for the MPO and supporting the operational goals of the organization.
Prior to joining the MPO Michelle served as the director of communications, marketing and public relations for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a board member for the Nashville Chapter of the Public Relation Society of America, member of the Junior League of Nashville, and member of Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee’s associate board.
Additionally, she is an adjunct professor for Belmont University teaching for the public relations and communication departments. A Florida native, Michelle moved to Nashville in 2011; she earned her BA from the University of West Florida and her MA from Florida State University.
Michele is co-founder and Executive Director of the Tennessee Justice Center, where the focus of her nationally-recognized legal work has been children with special health care needs. In that role, she lobbied successfully to extend health care coverage to uninsured children in working families and participated in a landmark case establishing appeal rights for TennCare patients who are denied care by their HMO.
As lead counsel, she negotiated a class action settlement requiring comprehensive reform of health care for 665,000 Tennessee children enrolled in TennCare. She also continues to represent scores of individual children.
Michele grew up in Nashville, graduating from Father Ryan High School. There she began her career in public service volunteering at a pre-school for children with special health care needs. Father Ryan’s magazine, Irish Ayes, named Michele one of five alumni “dedicated to improving life for the next generation of their family.”
TALENT: creating and proving the concept, mentoring, speaking, technology, entrepreneurship
Marcus Whitney is Co-Founder and President of Jumpstart Foundry, the leading business accelerator in the Southeast.
Marcus co-founded Moontoast, Barcamp Nashville, Southern/Alpha and Clariture Health and serves on the boards of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and Belcourt Theatre. He most recently was elected chairman of the board of Nashville FC (soccer team).
He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but he planted his roots and blossomed in Nashville, TN.
TALENTS: What box? Foodie, visionary, thinker
Manuel Zeitlin is a busy Nashville architect. If you ask him about all those projects, though, he's somewhat sheepish about how prolific Manuel Zeitlin Architects has been. "You know the pathological liar on Saturday Night Live?'' He says, "That's who I felt like because [a prospective client] would mention, 'We saw this cool project today,' and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, I did that.'
'We like to try new things, grow as artists,'' he continues. "That’s always been really important to us as architects, taking risks. We very rarely do the same thing twice."
Zeitlin doesn't fly on airplanes, so he says part of his motivation to help make Nashville a world-class city is self-serving. "If I'm going to be here for the most part, I want it to be really interesting."
Part of what he loves about Nashville today, compared to when he moved back to the city in 1980, is the breadth of dining options. "I got homesick and came home. And there was basically one little Korean restaurant in the back of the market with three stools. Now the choices of ethnic food are just unlimited," he says. And although he's the architect behind The Catbird Seat, among his favorite places to eat around town are two holes-in-the wall in Inglewood: El Jaliciense and Bailey & Cato.
What might be most surprising: Golf is my new passion. I’m either working or golfing.
Mac Pirkle is a 40-year veteran of theatre, film, and video. He co-founded Tennessee's largest and most successful regional theatre company, the Tennessee Repertory Theatre (The Rep), producing and directing over 65 major theatre productions, including new musicals Some Sweet Day, The Perfect 36 for the Tennessee Bicentennial, A House Divided with Mike Reid, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Dennis DeYoung (STYX). His most recent theatre venture, under the banner of Southern Stage Productions, was the 2012 world premiere of The Nutty Professor musical – directed by Jerry Lewis with music by the late Marvin Hamlisch, book and lyrics by Rupert Holmes.
Mac moved into film & video 15 years ago, bringing the same creative drive and energy into a whole new field. He joined forces with David Earnhardt from 2001-2011, bringing ongoing, long-term productions into the Earnhardt Pirkle mix of projects. His work has recognized with an Ace Cable Award, numerous Telly Awards, a Parthenon Award, and a Gold Pen Award. In addition to Southern Stage Productions, Pirkle is CEO of Creative Communications, a media production and communications company - “helping people see things differently” - that combines client services in visual communications with the creative energy of independent artists from the film and video world. In all of these endeavors the story is the thing - it’s all a matter of how you tell it…or sing it…or show it.