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Wilson County leaders participate in fifth Transit Citizen Leadership Academy

- Staff Reports • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:58 PM

NASHVILLE – Middle Tennessee community leaders will meet during the next two months to learn about regional transit needs and options as the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee and Lipscomb University’s Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership launch the fifth Transit Citizen Leadership Academy.

The fifth class includes three leaders from Wilson County. They are Ken Davis, retired from BellSouth Corp.; Brice Rochelle, associate attorney with Rochelle, McCulloch and Aulds; and Steven Smartt, associate dean for academic services and assistant provost for research at Vanderbilt University.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean opened the new session of the TCLA on Feb. 5, stressing the importance of a regional discussion of transportation issues, as well as the need for long-range planning due to projected population growth in Nashville in the next two decades.

“One of the key items that we need to discuss as a city and a region is transportation,” said Dean. “It is a regional discussion and we are slowly moving forward. The population of Middle Tennessee is projected to grow by one million people in the next 20 years. It is crucial that we prepare for this growth. We need real transit solutions now, and academy participants can help lead the way.”

Dean used Denver as an example of a city that has grown rapidly, and has planned for that growth.

“In 20 years we will likely be the size of Denver,” said Dean, who has proposed a full-service 7.1-mile bus transit system that is being planned for one of Nashville’s major corridors. “It is a good example of a city that strategically planned for a population growth and proactively invested in transportation to prepare for that growth.”

The academy will help foster discussion of regional issues.

“An outstanding group of Middle Tennessee community and regional leaders have come together as the newest class of the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy,” said Ed Cole, executive director of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee. “These leaders represent all sectors of our region and will be strong advocates in the future as we select and implement new transit options across Middle Tennessee.  The work of this class will be truly exciting.”

The class includes 24 government, business and nonprofit leaders and one student from Lipscomb University. Local mayors, community leaders and former TCLA students nominated the current group.

"We commend our new academy members for making this commitment to their communities," said Lydia Lenker, managing director of the Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute and director of the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy. "The discussion of transit - like any regional public policy - issue needs everyone at the table to find collaborative solutions."

The Transit Citizen Leadership Academy is a seven-session program that features state and local speakers, as well as transit officials from across the nation, who share best practices and lessons learned.

The Transit Citizen Leadership Academy received a 2013 Regional Thinking and Action Award from Cumberland Region Tomorrow during the Power of 10 Regional Summit in Nashville. The Andrews Institute, through its citizen leadership academies, develops citizens to address community issues and public policy. To date, more than 100 Middle Tennesseans have completed the TCLA.

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