Nashville 2018 Fellows

Meet the 2018 Nashville Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)

Brenda Ayala

Cashier, Plaza Mariachi

Nashville_IMG_1031_-_Brenda_Ayala.JPGBrenda Ayala, originally from Mexico, arrived in Nashville 18 years ago. As a daughter of working class immigrants, she saw firsthand the mistreatments that went with the American Dream . That’s why soon after she graduated from East Literature Magnet High School, she got involved with Workers’ Dignity, leading worker rights workshops and assisting members in their wage theft cases. From there, she realized her calling in life included lifting up the voices of marginalized groups, especially the immigrant community. She attended Trevecca Nazarene University, majoring in Social Justice with a concentration in Nonprofit and Congressional Leadership. As a full-time student, she has found time to serve on the Workers’ Dignity Steering Committee, intern with both the Alliance for Fair Food in Florida, and Catholic Charities’ Refugee After-School Program.She is a member of Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rights Coalition and FUTURO, an organization for young Latino professionals. She worked as a community organizer for Nashville Fair Food, a non-profit organization that supports the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization of farm workers struggling for fair pay and labor conditions in Florida and throughout the South, including in Middle Tennessee. She later became a survey interviewer for Workers’ Dignity’s Just Hospitality campaign, researching and revealing the reality behind a hotel housekeeper’s working conditions.She is a radio host at 104.1 Radio Dignidad, where she shares news and information about how to join the many diverse groups of the marginalized and their allies in building a more equitable world.

Alandis Brassel

Program Director & Attorney, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville

Nashville_Alandis_Brassel_-_Alandis_Brassel.jpgAlandis Brassel is an entertainment attorney based in Nashville, TN. He serves as Program Director for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, where he manages the organization's core programs: The Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts, Education for Artists, Arts Board Matching, WorkCREATIVE and the Fiscal Sponsorship Incubator. In addition to his role at the Arts & Business Council, Alandis is the Principal Attorney at The Brassel Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm for entertainers, artists, influencers and entrepreneurs. Prior to joining the Arts & Business Council, Alandis served as Counsel for U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), where he advised the Congressman on intellectual property and entertainment industry policy, handled complex casework and represented Cooper in the community. Upon completing his tenure with Cooper’s office, Alandis has continued to advocate for artists’ rights and help the arts community engage in the political process. Alandis holds his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School, a master’s degree in Music Business from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in Music Engineering Technology from Hampton University. Prior to attending Vanderbilt, he owned and operated Go Forth Music, a company that provided project management and audio engineering services to clients such as Bloomberg Television, Warner Music Group, Island Def Jam and Timbaland. Alandis is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and serves on boards and committees for a number of community organizations including the Metro Arts Commission Anti-Racism Transformation Team, Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division & Entertainment and Sports Law Section, Tennessee Youth Courts, Northwest Family YMCA, and Boy Scouts of America Nashboro District and Scoutreach Committees.

Erika Burnett

Principal/Founder, The Burnett Group, LLC

Nashville_Erika_Burnett_-_Erika_Burnett.jpgErika R. Burnett is the founder and principal trainer for The Burnett Group, LLC whose mission is to inspire professionals, deepen impact, and challenge the status quo of service delivery in Middle TN and surrounding areas. She enjoys serving as a master trainer, consultant, and facilitator across a variety of topic including volunteer management and engagement, youth development, team building, leadership exploration, and generational differences. Most recently, Erika leveraged her capacity as the Affiliate Director for Communities in Schools of TN at Nashville (CISTN) supporting a team of direct service providers working to eliminate barriers for our most vulnerable scholars within Metro Nashville Public Schools. Prior to joining CISTN, Erika served as Senior Director of Programs with Hands On Nashville supporting volunteer engagement and nonprofit partnership program. Under her leadership, the curriculum-based youth and urban agriculture programs deepened skill, knowledge, and behavior outcomes of participants through service learning. Previously, Erika worked at the Oasis Center as a Youth Engagement Program Coordinator, overseeing a city-wide coalition for the reduction of youth violence and increased civic engagement of marginalized youth. Nationally, she has lent her expertise towards supporting community organizing programming for current and former teachers across the country with Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). Erika received her B.A. in English Education from Tennessee State University and her M.Ed. in Community Development Action from Vanderbilt University. She is a proud AmeriCorps Alum, Nashville Emerging Leader Alum, and Leadership Donelson-Hermitage participant who has been committed to Nashville’s nonprofit community for over 13 years. She enjoys facilitating restorative justice circles in Metro Nashville Public Schools, directing a summer youth employment program and co-leading a ministry-based creative arts company.

Phil Cobucci

Owner & Chief Strategist, BAM! Social Business, LLC.

Nashville_Phil_Cobucci2_-_Phil_Cobucci.jpgPassionate about marketing, branding and technology from a young age, Phil Cobucci knew that he was destined for a career in marketing and communications. After growing up just minutes from New York City, Phil attended Liberty University in Virginia and received a B.S. in Communications.

During his college years, Phil held various marketing positions including roles with the university radio station and Warner Music Group, which parlayed into a career in the music business upon graduation. In 2009, Phil moved from New York City to Nashville, in what he refers to as his 'reinvention tour' to start a new life in a new city. In the same year, Phil launched BAM! Social Business, a boutique social media and digital marketing agency. His agency has grown over the past nine years and has thrived thanks to the creative culture and entrepreneur drive seen throughout Nashville.

Phil is a graduate of the Small Business Administration's inaugural Emerging Leaders (Nashville cohort) program, a graduate of the Nashville Emerging Leaders, Class of 2016 and a graduate of Belmont University's MiniMBA program. He is currently embarking on the process of securing his MBA. Phil also serves as President Emeritus of Nashville Pride, Secretary of Nashville Emerging Leaders Board of Directors, a board member of the Davidson County Foster Care Review Board and is actively involved with charities throughout Nashville in variety of volunteer capacities.

Chuck Corra

Grassroots Organizer/Campaign Manager, Cooley Public Strategies

Nashville_-_Charles_Corra.jpgChuck is a native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and now calls Nashville, Tennessee home. His interest in politics and public policy began when he was inspired by, and volunteered for, Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign. He went on to attend Shepherd University to study Political Science and Journalism. His passion for service was shaped significantly by the time he spent volunteering with a non-profit in Amagoro, Kenya - where he was able to teach secondary schoolchildren how to use computers. He went on to attend Michigan State University College of Law. While in law school, Chuck taught First Amendment Law to high school students as a Student Clinician with MSU's Legal Clinic. Upon graduating cum laude from MSU Law, Chuck moved to Nashville and now works as a grassroots organizer and campaign manager for a public affairs firm there. In this capacity, he works to build coalition of support for important public policy issues on a variety of matters he is passionate about. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring Nashville's incredible greenways, travelling, and spending time with his fiance and their coonhound.

Ryan Driscoll

Health Policy Analyst, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Nashville_Ryan_Driscoll_-_Ryan_Driscoll.jpgRyan Driscoll is a Health Policy Analyst at Vanderbilt University and an experienced community organizer. As a Nashville native, her first foray into organizing was against anti-LGBTQ legislation at the Tennessee state legislature, which was just a short walk away from her high school, Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School. Spurred by her experience growing up as an LGBTQ Southerner, Ryan quickly realized the power in organizing and strength in community support. Since then she’s worked on several local campaigns and continues to study LGBT health policy in her position at Vanderbilt.

Ryan received her B.A. in Biology & Government from Claremont McKenna College where she was heavily involved in student mentorship programs as well as policy research, including state level redistricting, water, and healthcare policy. During her time at Code for America, a San Francisco-based non-profit focused on creating more accessible solutions to local government through technology, she spearheaded an effort to collect best practices on state and local technology procurement policies with The Sunlight Foundation.

In the summer of 2015, Ryan joined Hillary Clinton’s field team in Iowa. Following the Iowa Caucus, Ryan joined the organizing team in Franklin County, Ohio, where she helped build one of the largest staging locations in Ohio and amassed a team of hundreds of volunteers that knocked over 20,000 doors during the general election GOTV.

Ryan is particularly passionate about addressing disparities faced by the LGBTQ community in the South by combining her research and organizing experience. Since she has returned to Tennessee, her goal has been to improve outreach to LGBTQ teens, with the belief that access to mentorship can help provide support many members of the LGBTQ community lack at home. She also works with the Women for Tennessee’s Future Young Leaders Council to build volunteer capacity for women running for office across the state in her free time. She can also be found on the rugby pitch, hiking, and playing her banjo.

Amber Finlay

Governor's Management Fellow, State of Tennessee

Nashville_Amber_Finlay_-_Amber_Finlay.jpgAmber Nicole Finlay has served as a Governor’s Management Fellow for the State of Tennessee since August 2016. In this capacity, she has both led and supported special projects for the Office of Customer Focused Government, Tennessee Department of Correction, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Amber’s project portfolio includes: producing a report on restrictive housing policy and reform, writing grants submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, and designing a program that utilizes entrepreneurial principles to reduce recidivism. Amber currently leads a project to identify and mitigate cultural barriers to the recruitment and retention of minority talent in business and executive leadership across the state. A native of Richmond, VA, Amber is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she double-majored in Political & Social Thought and African-American & African Studies. At UVA, Amber served as a Public Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, an Orientation Leader, and an elementary school tutor, and was honored for her servant leadership by the UVA Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. Amber’s previous experiences include: interning in the Capitol Hill office of Representative Bobby Scott (VA-3) through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, interning in the D.C. legislative office of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and interning for the University and Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) in Charlottesville, VA. Amber is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, for which she served as president of her undergraduate chapter and has served on multiple national committees. In her free time, Amber enjoys stand-up comedy, singing, mentoring youth, and testing new recipes. She is passionate about economic development, social entrepreneurship, and empowering underrepresented communities. Amber hopes to use what she learns in NLC to embark on a career in federal law enforcement, and eventually run for public office.

Keila Franks

Field Director, Tennessee Justice Center

Nashville_Keila_Franks_-_Keila_Franks.JPGKeila Franks is a native of Nashville, TN, and she currently serves as the Field Director at the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC). In this role, she leads the advocacy team in working to protect and expand Medicaid and in working toward universal health coverage. She has organized and led TJC’s grassroots campaigns against congressional proposals that harm Tennesseans’ health coverage, and these campaigns have resulted in tens of thousands of calls and letters to TN’s congressional delegation. Keila educates the community about congressional threats to health coverage and legislative opportunities to expand health coverage through leading regular conference calls and through sending biweekly emails to thousands of health care advocates across the state. She also has conducted trainings at statewide and national conferences on how to best advocate for universal health coverage.

In 2014, Keila graduated summa cum laude from The George Washington University (GW) with a B.A. in International Affairs. She was named the 2014 Distinguished Scholar of GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, received GW’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. While at GW, she interned at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Human Rights First, and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. She also studied abroad in Beijing, China, and while she was there, she volunteered at the Beijing LGBT Center. Keila wrote her undergraduate thesis on the problems with the proposed repatriation of Karen refugees who are living in Thailand, specifically the concerns that young refugees had about integrating into the education system in Burma. In preparation for writing her thesis, Keila conducted an independent research project on the Thai-Burmese border, and her interviewees included the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand and senior-level representatives of the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency). She presented her thesis at the International Burma Studies Conference in Singapore (2014) and the Pekan International Education Conference in Malaysia (2015).

After graduating from GW, Keila worked at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants as a Pro Bono Coordinator for the Immigrant Children’s Legal Program. She also served as the Interim Director of the non-profit Sunday Suppers. In 2015, Keila served a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a small town in Malaysia. She initiated and taught social and financial empowerment workshops at her school in Malaysia, and she volunteered at a local Islamic orphanage for girls.

In her free time, Keila enjoys reading, meditating, volunteering, and traveling.

Jyoti Gupta

Researcher, Vanderbilt University

Nashville_Jyoti_Gupta_-_Jyoti_Gupta.jpgJyoti Gupta was born and raised in Cleveland, OH. She has benefited from several educational and work experiences as well as mentoring relationships that have shaped her intersecting interests in urbanization, democratic participation, and racial justice. She received her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 2005 and completed a masters degree in public health from Columbia University in 2010. Her work has spanned health policy and health services research in Washington DC; action-research and advocacy for food access and environmental justice in New York City; and the design, facilitation, and evaluation of public engagement and participatory processes on wide-ranging issues (e.g., higher education policy, community college student success, K-12 school reform, early childhood development, and urban/community planning) in institutions and communities around the U.S. Jyoti moved to Nashville in 2013 to study power and participation in decision making about urban space and the racial politics of urban development. Currently a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University in the Community Research & Action program, she has contributed to applied research and evaluation projects related to equitable development, anti-gentrification, interpersonal violence reduction, and HIV workforce development in Nashville and the Southeast region. In 2016, she collaborated with the Nashville Metropolitan Arts Commission and the Vanderbilt University Curb Center to develop the Racial Equity in Arts Leadership program pilot, a nine month program for arts and cultural leaders to learn about, reflect on, and plan for action to address structural racism. Jyoti seeks to leverage the university for inquiry into the systems that reproduce inequity and to advance institutional partnerships and organizing toward transformative social change.

Lindsey Krinks

Co-Founder and Education & Street Chaplaincy Coordinator, Open Table Nashville

Nashville_Lindsey_Krinks_-_Lindsey_Krinks.jpegLindsey Krinks is co-founder of Open Table Nashville, an interfaith homeless outreach nonprofit, and currently serves as the Education and Street Chaplaincy Coordinator. For the last 10 years, Lindsey has worked on the “underside” of Nashville—the streets, encampments, jails, slums, and underpasses—while also working with faith leaders, community organizers, and public officials to make the city more hospitable and just, especially as it relates to affordable housing and racial and economic justice. Lindsey grew up in the foothills of South Carolina and moved to Nashville for college in 2003. After receiving a B.S. from Lipscomb University, she served in AmeriCorps for two years with Park Center’s Homeless Outreach Program. In 2010, she started graduate school at Vanderbilt Divinity School (VDS) and graduated in 2013 with a Master of Theological Studies degree. While at VDS, Lindsey was a Cal Turner Fellow, a Community Engagement Fellow, and a Brandon Scholar and received both the Academic Achievement Award and the Student Government Association’s Service Award. She is currently on the Alumni Council for VDS and was featured on the cover of Vanderbilt Magazine for an article titled, “Divinity Students Leave Large Footprint on Nashville’s Nonprofit Scene.” Lindsey was ordained in 2013 and oversees an interfaith street chaplaincy program in conjunction with Nashville’s Clinical Pastoral Education Partnership. She has also been active in groups like the Nashville Homeless Organizing Coalition, Homes for All Nashville, Workers Dignity, Showing Up for Racial Justice, A Voice, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, and Occupy Nashville. On any given day, she can be found in tent cities, washing feet on the streets, leading student groups around downtown, marching for social and economic change, and foraging for native herbs and plants.

Gicola Lane

Nashville Bail Reform Advocate, Just City

Nashville_Gicola_Lane_-_Gicola_Lane.jpgGicola Lane serves as the Nashville Bail Reform Advocate for the Nashville Community Bail Fund. Gicola is a passionate community advocate and organizer. Prior to joining the Nashville Community Bail Fund, Gicola spent her time serving as a Family Resource Center Director. She worked tirelessly to build on the strengths of neighbors and address the needs of the neighborhood through a coordinated holistic approach to provide services and support to help build community. Gicola has also co-led Participatory Defense Nashville since January 2016, where she regularly meets with families and community members who are facing incarceration in order to transform the landscape of power in the court system. Gicola actively uses her voice to speak out about injustice, and she partners with other local and national social justice organizations to propel others into activism and leadership. Gicola was instrumental in forming the Justice for Jocques Coalition in February 2017, after Jocques Clemmons was killed running from a Metro Nashville police officer. Gicola drew her passion for Jocques and his family from her own family’s experience. Gicola’s uncle, Timothy Lane, was also killed trying to flee from a Metro Nashville Police officer in December 2000. Gicola and other community leaders are influential with the renewed push for police accountability and justice reform in Nashville. Gicola continues to carry all the vulnerable and unheard stories of injustice with her daily to fight for change. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.

Jeffrey Lichtentein

Standardized Patient, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

nashville_jeffrey_lichtenstein_-_Jeffrey_Lichtenstein.JPGJeffrey graduated Yale College in 2008 before working on a global commodities desk for four years where responsibilities included trading, merchandising, and origination. After experiencing first hand the chaos of the market and the psychopathy of ruling people he embraced a vision of socialism, quit his finance job, and became a committed unionist and political organizer. He worked for four years as a salt with United Campus Workers, CWA-3865, Tennessee’s Public Higher Education union, organizing members, developing shop leaders and supporting strategic campaigns. He then worked as United Campus Workers’ Legislative Fellow during it’s #TennesseeIsNotForSale campaign against billionaire governor Haslam’s outsourcing scheme, helping to lead political mobilization, legislative strategy, and policy drafting efforts. He currently serves on CWA-3865’s executive board as its Secretary. In local politics Jeffrey is a founding member of the Our Revolution affiliate, Memphis For All, and works on its steering committee and canvassing team. He is also an alumnus of United Students Against Sweatshops. Born in Philadelphia and raised near Chicago, he lives in Memphis.

Casey Miller

Program Fellow, Vocations in Racial Justice, Vanderbilt University

Nashville_Casey_Miller_-_Casandra_Miller.jpgOriginally from Cincinnati, OH, Casey has called Nashville “home” for five years. She has worked in various fields, including public health, religious ministries, and higher education, to develop cross-sector networks and to facilitate collaboration among diverse parties as they work toward shared goals for social change. In her current role as Program Fellow for the Vocations in Racial Justice initiative at Vanderbilt University, Casey co-manages a trans-disciplinary team of faculty and staff, non-profit community partners, student researchers, and activists. With another fellow, she is ultimately responsible for the design and implementation of new, cross-campus programming that prepares undergraduate students to center racial justice in their personal and professional lives. Casey is also active in local community organizing efforts, and is currently serving on the steering committee for Showing Up for Racial Justice (Nashville chapter). In addition to racial justice, Casey is particularly passionate about interfaith organizing, global economic justice, and immigrant and refugee rights, interests stoked by her previous work with Ulster Project International (Cincinnati, OH), the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development (Cuernavaca, Morelos), the George Washington University Cancer Institute (Washington, DC), and the Nashville/St. Thomas Clinical Pastoral Education Collaborative (Nashville). She has her B.S. in Psychology from Furman University and graduated with her MDiv from Vanderbilt University, where she was a Brandon Honors Scholar. In her free time, Casey explores the beautiful Middle Tennessee landscape and tries to chip away at her ever-growing list of books to read.

Briana Perry

Co-State Director, Healthy and Free Tennessee

Nashville_Briana_Perry_-_Briana_Perry.jpgBriana Perry is the Co-Director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a statewide coalition that works to promote health and sexual and reproductive freedom in the state. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with her B.A. in Sociology (with honors) and Women’s and Gender Studies in 2013. While an undergraduate, Briana developed a passion for feminism and community organizing, particularly with regard to issues that disproportionately affect Black women. Before obtaining her master’s degree, she taught English, science, and social studies for two years in her hometown, Memphis. While teaching, she was also involved in organizing efforts around reproductive health, sexual assault awareness, and racial justice. She also began writing about racial and gender disparities, with a focus on Black women, and her work has been featured on For Harriet, a Black feminist blog. In 2015, she returned to Nashville as a graduate student at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and completed her Master of Education in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies in 2016. She also continued organizing around gender equity and racial justice issues, as she helped to start a Black Lives Matter Chapter in Memphis and has worked closely with the Nashville Feminist Collective and the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt. She has also worked with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program and East Nashville Hope Exchange. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Professional Promise for M.Ed. in Service to Diverse Populations Award from the Department of Teaching and Learning at Peabody College. Briana enjoys writing, traveling, food, and going to concerts.

Ramon J. Ryan

Paralegal, Genesco Inc.

Nashville_Ramon_Ryan_-_Ramon_J._Ryan.jpgRamon J. Ryan, a native of Maryland, has called Nashville home for the past six years. His passion for organizing began during his time as a flight attendant for Virgin America. While there, he led an effort to organize his coworkers into a union. The experience was transformative and Ramon knew that going forward he would be involved in social justice work in one form or another. He left Virgin America to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as an International Organizer. While there, he helped organize EMT’s and Paramedics across the country into AFSCME Local 4911 – United EMS Workers and was nominated by AFSCME for the Public Interest Network’s Young Organizer of the Year Award presented at Netroots Nation 2013. In 2014, Ramon came off the road as an organizer to finish his Bachelor’s degree and get more engaged in local politics. He volunteered on the “No on 1” campaign to keep anti-choice language out of the Tennessee Constitution as well as on Megan Barry’s mayoral campaign. During the 2016 Presidential Primary, Ramon was a volunteer organizer and local surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ Nashville campaign before being elected as one of Tennessee’s At-Large Delegates to the Democratic National Convention. In 2017, he was elected as the Tennessee Young Democrats’ Divisional Vice President of Middle Tennessee. In this role, he has worked to reactivate dormant county chapters as well establish new ones in the region, with a focus on bridging the gap that sometimes exists between electoral politics and community activism. In the Spring of 2018 he will graduate with his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University and has been accepted into Vanderbilt Law School’s J.D. Class of 2021, where he intends to focus on Civil Rights and Public Interest law.

Dana Smith

Organizer, United Campus Workers

Nashville_Dana_Smith_-_Dana_Smith.jpgDana Smith grew up in Michigan and graduated from Purdue University in 2016, where she was active in in feminist organizing through the American Association of University Women, and founded a United Students Against Sweatshop chapter to fight for social and economic justice. At graduation she received the Flora Roberts Award, given annually to the university’s most outstanding senior woman for character, scholarship, and service.

Organizing at a large, public university showed her that good jobs, the public good, and democracy are at stake when corporations gain more influence over public higher education and value profit over people. This led her to work with SEIU Faculty Forward in Washington, D.C. before arriving in Nashville for her current position as the Middle Tennessee Organizer with United Campus Workers, Tennessee’s higher education union. Here she builds a grassroots union of faculty, staff, and students so that ordinary groups of people have the power to change their workplaces and communities.

JC Torres

Associate Director, Development, Conexión Américas

Nashville_JC_Torres_-_JC_Torres.pngJC Torres is originally from Bogotá, Colombia where many of his family members still currently live. He attended Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee as a member of the Cumberland cycling team. In 2012, JC graduated from Cumberland with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences and a double minor in Criminal Justice and Sociology.

JC has been the Director of Community giving for TECHO US, a youth led non-profit that works to overcome extreme poverty in Latin America. Following that position, he was the Executive Director of Ride For Reading an organization that promotes literacy and healthy living among children in low-income communities. While managing Ride For Reading, JC also graduated from Lipscomb University with his Masters in Management in 2016.

Currently, JC operates as the Associate Director of Development at Conexion Americas, based in Nashville, TN. This role allows him to interact with the community at large, be a spokesman for the organization, and engage corporate partners. His day to day interactions involve forming relationships with individuals and creating networking opportunities for emerging leaders of all colors and creeds through Conexion Next, a young professional network that JC developed.

JC also serves as the Secretary to the board of directors at Walk Bike Nashville, an organization that works to build a more walkable, bikeable, and livable Nashville.

Thomas Walker

Media and Communications Coordinator, United Campus Workers

Nashville_Thomas_Walker_-_Thomas_Walker.jpgThomas Walker is a lifelong Southerner. Motivated by the anti-war movement in the early 2000s, he got involved in student organizing and politics. He helped lead students in solidarity with campus workers organizing for a living wage and a union at the University of Tennessee, where he later worked for seven years and was a rank-and-file member-organizer and leader in United Campus Workers. Thomas is now the press secretary for UCW, where he also helps lead political education and strategic development, especially on the union’s successful campaign to stop a statewide outsourcing project. He served as the youngest executive board member for the local, where he helped develop the union’s economic and racial justice program; worked with others to lead a campaign for benefit equality and lgbt workplace rights; and helped create strategy for the union’s long-term living wage campaign, which won increases in minimum pay for campus workers across the state.

He is a cofounder of OurRevolution901, now Memphis for All, and is leading work to build a grassroots, multiracial organization that fights for political power for working and oppressed people. Thomas is connecting that work with developing voter engagement and infrastructure to help elect young progressive candidates of color in the South.

Thomas is a revolutionary and a socialist. He stays in Memphis.

Whitney Washington

Operations Associate, Black Lives Matter Global Network

Nashville_Whitney_Washington_-_Whitney_Washington.jpgWhitney Washington has proudly called Nashville, TN home since 2012. Born in St. Louis, MO, she spent most of her life in Alabama. She graduated from the University of Montevallo with a B.A. in History and a Journalism minor before getting certified to teach English as a Second Language in Spain. She worked as a researcher and international statistician for the United Methodist Church for four years. During this time she developed a love for justice, eventually becoming a member and taking on leadership positions in the Nashville Feminist Collective, Christ the King Catholic Church, Workers’ Dignity, and the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter. Her work in BLM eventually paved the way for her to transition this summer into the role of Operations Associate for the Black Lives Matter Global Network. In this position, Whitney’s responsibilities include accounts payable, supporting staff and Network members with logistics and financial support, building organizational infrastructure, and liaising with the Network’s fiscal sponsor. Whitney also evaluates and implements systems and processes and manages the organization’s Operations Committee made up of members and staff.

Nate Zeitlin

Placemaker, Manuel Zeitlin Architects

Nashville_Nate_Zeitlin_-_Nate_Z.jpgNate Zeitlin hails from Nashville, Tennessee where he spends a lot of time thinking about design.

After graduating from Bard College, Nate served as an AmeriCorps VISTA where he developed after school and summer science programs for under-resourced middle school students in the Hudson Valley. Inspired by the sustainable farm community he saw there, Nate moved back to Nashville to develop his family farm. Since then, he has co-founded organizations focused on collaborative and regenerative design: Tennessee Grown, LLC — advocating for regenerative agriculture and farmer-owned goods with a focus on industrial hemp, and MZA | Studio — a collaborative and mission‐focused design firm that engages community development projects centered on equitable and resilient solutions to rapid urbanization, socioeconomic disparities, and climate change.

Currently, Nate serves as a Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps Member; TEDxNashville Society of Fellows Member; Food Forest Advocates of Middle TN, Founding Member; Master Gardener Intern; and Volunteer Fellow with the Tennessee Democratic Party.