NASHVILLE, TN — To make certain Metro is intentional about achieving an inclusive agenda, Mayor David Briley today announced by executive order the formation of a Minority Business Advisory Council and named Ashford Hughes Sr. the city’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
“Nashville is experiencing incredible economic growth, but not everyone is enjoying the benefits of our success. I am committed to listening, building trust and implementing meaningful measures to create opportunities for all business owners to prosper without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or zip code. This group of business leaders will help Metro Government lead by example, and the results of their work will create greater equity and enhance Nashville’s overall economic success,” said Mayor Briley.
The Council will meet quarterly and is charged with submitting an annual report outlining the challenges and opportunities for minority business growth as well as proposals to improve, among other areas, contracting opportunities with Metro, entrepreneurship, access to workforce training and talent, technological support, and access to capital.
The Advisory Council, which will be chaired by Ashley Northington, director, DENOR Brands and Public Relations, includes at least one member of each ethnic group identified in the definition of Minority/ Women Business Enterprise.
“This is a critically important step for the minority business community, and I am ready to get to work on improving opportunities for all of Nashville’s diverse communities and residents,” Northington said.
Mayor Briley also announced that Hughes, who has been Senior Advisor of Workforce, Diversity and Inclusion in the Mayor’s Office since 2015, will implement the Mayor’s diversity and inclusion goals across Metro Government and lead the city’s efforts to attract, develop, promote, and retain a diverse government workforce at all levels.
Hughes will oversee improvements to the city’s procurement practices and policies to further increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned companies to do business with Metro. He also will ensure collaboration across Metro departments and continue to prioritize community-focused initiatives that promote and improve economic inclusion for all Nashvillians.
“I am honored that Mayor Briley has empowered me to build on a culture of equity inside Metro Government that will foster increased diversity and inclusion,” Hughes said. “It’s a great opportunity to bring a community voice to city policy and procedure, and I am committed to making certain the Mayor’s vision of a more inclusive Nashville comes to light.”
Hughes, who also will serve on the Minority Business Advisory Council, was already working with Metro Purchasing Agent Michelle Hernandez-Lane and Metro Human Resources Director Shannon Hall to address the responsibilities of the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer before his appointment.
The members of the Minority Business Advisory Council are:
• Ashley Northington, Director, DENOR Brands and Public Relations (Council Chair)
• Jennifer Carlat, Vice President of Metropolitan Policy, Nashville Area Chamber
• Toby Compton, President/CEO, Associated Builders and Contractors
• Yuri Cunza, President/CEO, Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Bryan Gleason, member, Metro Business Assistance Office
• Marcela Gomez, President, Latin American Chamber of Commerce
• Lisa Howe, Executive Director, Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce
• Ashford Hughes, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Mayor’s Office
• Sam Kirk, Founder, Youth About Business
• Josh Mundy, co-owner, The Lab
• Luis Parodi, Business Banking Relationship Manager, Fifth Third
• Councilmember Tanaka Vercher, Chair, Metro Council Budget committee/
member of the Minority Caucus
• Carolyn Waller, President, Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce
• Nancy Youssef, President, Curves with Purpose
• Representative to be announced, Nashville Chapter of the National Association
of Women Business
• Representative to be announced, Metro Finance Department
The following are appointed to serve as advisors to the Council:
• Macy Amos and Nicki Eke, Attorneys, Metro Legal Department
• Patrick Combs, Executive Director, Nashville Career Advancement Center
• Don Hardin, President, Don Hardin Group, member of the Procurement
• Michelle Hernandez-Lane, Chief Purchasing Agent, Metro Government
• Audra Ladd, Small Business/Creative Economy Manager, Mayor’s Office of
Economic and Community Development