Vanderbilt launches engagement forum for Nashville community leaders

Vanderbilt University is convening a new community engagement series to help local agencies and nonprofits navigate complex issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest seen over the past year.

Working with Vanderbilt’s Division of Government and Community Relations, leaders and staff members from 20 Nashville-area organizations will participate in seven daylong sessions with Vanderbilt experts over the course of the current academic year.

The inaugural session of the Community Engagement Forum at Vanderbilt is scheduled for Sept. 23 and will include a question and answer session with Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier discussing his academic research on building and maintaining trust in difficult situations.

“Institutions like Vanderbilt occupy an important role within our region and community,” Diermeier said. “This new series provides an opportunity for Vanderbilt scholars to share their latest research and findings on critical topics, while spurring collaborative learning among local organizations that are experiencing many of the same challenges.”

Each organization will send two participants: one who serves in an executive leadership position and the other a staff member who regularly interacts with clients or the public. The other sessions, which will run through April 28, will address topics such as trauma and mental health, using evidence and data, and rethinking work and the workplace.

Kasar Abdulla, longtime equity, diversity and inclusion advocate and facilitator, and Patrick McAnally, an assistant vice president and community engagement manager at AllianceBernstein, will join Vanderbilt staff in facilitating the program.

“Working closely with leaders throughout Nashville over the past year has reinforced the fact that Vanderbilt shares many close bonds with the city,” said Nathan Green, vice chancellor for government and community relations. “This community engagement forum taps into some key areas where we, as a top research institution, can share our strengths with these vital organizations and, in turn, learn from one another.”

“AllianceBernstein is honored to serve as a sponsor for the forum to create space for community, nonprofit and government organizations to collectively reflect, innovate and inspire to make Nashville a better place for all,” said Kate Sherrard Chinn, vice president and head of community and civic engagement at AllianceBernstein.

The following organizations are participating:

  • Community Resource Center
  • Davidson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Family and Children’s Services
  • Metro Homeless Impact Division
  • Metro Juvenile Court
  • Metro Nashville Police Department
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
  • Nashville Food Project
  • Nashville Public Library
  • Operation Stand Down
  • Park Center
  • Raphah Institute
  • Salama Urban Ministries
  • Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
  • The Salvation Army
  • Urban Housing Solutions
  • WeGo (Metro Transit Authority)
  • Youth Encouragement Services