From Staff Reports
NASHVILLE, TN — Nashville native, Lonnell Matthews grew up in the North Nashville and Bordeaux communities, graduated from Martin Luther King High School and Tennessee State University where he studied Accounting and Business Law. His career in youth development began over 15 years ago at the YMCA of Middle TN where he led empowerment programs such as the Y-CAP, Positive Beginnings, Black Achievers, Latino Achievers, Reach & Rise Mentoring, Step Up, NAZA Z and the Davidson County Fun Companies.
In 2007 at age 27, Matthews became the youngest African American elected to the Metro Council, representing District 1. While completing an eight year term, he served as the Speaker Pro Tempore, President of the Black Caucus and chaired the Budget & Finance, Education, and Parks & Recreation committees. While on the Metro Council Matthews sponsored legislation to create the city’s procurement non-discrimination program, establish the NAZA afterschool program for Middle school students of MNPS and implement Metro-wide domestic partner benefits
Matthews currently serves the Metropolitan Government of Nashville as the Director of the Mayor Megan Barry’s Office of Neighborhoods & Community Engagement and as the mayor’s Senior Advisor on Public Safety and Criminal Justice Policy.
Matthews told the Tribune he is running for Juvenile Court Clerk to, “build better support systems for youth and families, while improving public safety through restorative systemic changes in how juvenile justice is administered.”
He also talked about his immediate plans in the office if elected.
“As your next Juvenile Court Clerk, my priorities will be to deliver accurate record keeping and excellent customer service, build strong community partnerships with Juvenile Court and advocate for policy changes that improve the quality of life for youth.”
The former Metro Councilman went on to explain how his professional experience has prepared him for the challenges inherit in the position of Juvenile Court Clerk.
“With 10 years of experience in government and public service, coupled with the 15 years of executive administrative experience in youth development I received at the YMCA, I am uniquely positioned as the most qualified candidate for Juvenile Court Clerk. I know how to administer large institutions and programs, supervise and develop staff teams, create and change policies, build coalitions and serve the public. I know youth development, marriage, parenthood, Nashville’s neighborhoods and youth violence prevention. I am also the only candidate that has actually worked on programs and improvements in Juvenile Court.”
Matthews said the Juvenile Court Clerk has the authority to positively affect individuals, families and the community.
“The Juvenile Court Clerk has the professional responsibility of carrying out the business affairs of Juvenile Court, but I believe the Juvenile Court Clerk also has a social responsibility of helping to create better outcomes for youth, families and our community. This can be achieved by using analysis of the data managed by the Clerk’s office to better inform community partners of how best to distribute resources and serve our youth, families and community.”
As the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods & Community Engagement (ONCE) Matthews served on the steering committee to create the Juvenile Restorative Diversion Pilot program in Davidson County’s Juvenile Court. He is also on the steering committee for the Positive and Safe Schools Achieving Greater Equity (P.A.S.S.A.G.E.) initiative to address ending the school to prison pipeline through school discipline reform. He was a key leader in the Mayor’s Youth Violence Summit where he developed the strategic vision for the program, authored the summit reporting and coordinated with both Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway and Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry to implement the actionable items.
As Mayor Barry’s Senior Advisor on Public Safety and Criminal Justice Policy, Matthews also serves on Metro’s Community Correction Board, Criminal Justice Planning Steering Committee, Office of Family Safety Advisory Board, Juvenile Court Probation System Review Committee, Juvenile Court Master Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group and Youth Violence Prevention Task Force. He successfully organized Metro’s Race Equity and Leadership dialogues, coordinated the Mayor’s Spring and Fall Clean Beautification Initiatives, and launched both the Metro Night Out and Mayor’s Office Shop Talks.
No stranger to public policy and its impact on the community, Matthews coordinated the community advisory group tasked with developing a comprehensive policy for police body worn cameras. He was also the Executive Lead Sponsor of the project team for Nashville’s 3-1-1 reboot called hubNashville.
His commitment to families and young people is partially the result of the trauma he experienced as a young person.
“My younger brother, Firi Matthews, had his life cut short by gun violence, at the hands of a 17 year old kid. That kid should have never had a gun in his hand in the first place, but in today’s society it is easier for youth to buy a gun than it is for them to buy a pack of cigarettes… Because of the tragedy my family experienced, I fully understand the resiliency and resolve needed for a family to survive after a traumatic experience. I absolutely understand the type of supports needed for families in our community.
Matthews said he believes that the community at-large has some responsibility for the well being of all children.
“It really takes a village to raise a child. Please vote for Lonnell Matthews for Juvenile Court Clerk and let’s rebuild the village!”
The primary election in Davidson County takes place Tuesday, May 1. 2018. Residents must register by April 2, 2018 to be eligible to vote. Early voting begins April 11th through April 26th.