Last night, Metro Council voted on the members of Nashville’s new community oversight board. The board will investigate allegations of police abuses, advise on disciplinary action, and recommend policy changes. Two nominees from the mayor had already been approved before last night's vote. The eleven-member board includes two people who self-identified as members of the LGBTQ community.
The board's members will be:
- Bob Cooper, a former Tennessee Attorney General and adjunct law professor
- Phyllis Hildreth, a vice president at American Baptist College who held high-ranking criminal justice jobs in Maryland
- Ashlee Davis, who works in diversity and inclusion for Cargill Inc.
- Jamel Campbell-Gooch, an activist who works with Gideon’s Army
- Andrés Martinez, policy director at Conexión Américas
- Brenda Ross, a neighborhood activist and property manager
- Emmett Turner, former Nashville police chief from 1996 to 2003
- Adele Lewis, a medical examiner who frequently provides expert testimony in criminal trials
- Danita Marsh, a former police officer who now works as a mediator
- Matthew Sweeney, an attorney at Baker Donelson and former judge
- Walter Holloway, a retired Metro police officer
Ashlee Davis, an LGBTQ woman of color, received 19 votes, one of the highest counts of the night. She is an attorney, whose experience includes working for the Obama administration.
“She’s quite frankly amazing,” said Councilperson Nancy VanReece. “She’s a five-generation Nashvillian, who left to do some amazing things. including working in the Obama White House. She really impressed me quite a bit—I wasn’t in the group that interviewed her, but I went back and watched some videos. I even sent a message to Chris Sanders and asked him if he knew her—I told him he needed to ‘because she’s a rockstar!’
Andrés Martinez also self-identified. Conexión Américas, which Martinez serves as policy director, forwarded his nomination. “Andres has been a strong voice in the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce,” added the CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Joe Woolley, “He’s been to multiple events, and Conexión has been such a great community partner as well!”
“What is particularly exciting to me,” VanReece said, “is that our community is represented by Ashlee, an African American, and Andrés, who is LatinX. Our community is not only represented, it’s represented in its own inner diversity.”
“To have two out of the total eleven members of the Community Oversight Board is good representation,” said Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP). “It is gratifying that two out of the nine confirmed by the Metro Council are members of our community. LGBTQ people in Nashville will not have to wonder whether our concerns are taken into consideration when issues come before this board.”
“Two LGBTQ people are serving on a board of 11 is pretty accurate representation based on population estimates,” agreed Woolley. “That we have such representation is a testament to Nashville, as is the face of it having such a diverse representation of interests. The two LGBT members represent multiple marginalized communities and bring invaluable insights and perspectives.”
While the Chamber did not endorse any candidates, Woolley did personally lobby Council members for LGBT representation, and says he hopes that the success in populating this committee with such diversity can be replicated in other committees across city government.
“I would love to see Mayor Briley has done a good job of making sure there’s increased representation across many boards, and I’d love to see this diversity replicated on boards across the community,” Woolley explained.
In addition to board members, the oversight committee will have a nine-person paid staff.
See also: Metro Nashville Police Appoint LGBTQ Liaison
VIDEO: Meet Metro Police Officer Catie Poole, MNPD's New LGBTQ Liaison