Jan 31, 2022 - News

Scoop: Education nonprofit hires Tanaka Vercher

Tanaka Vercher. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Nashville

The education advocacy nonprofit Opportunity Nashville has hired Metro Councilmember Tanaka Vercher as its first full-time executive director.

  • Opportunity Nashville seeks to facilitate conversations about public education by partnering with community groups to "better reflect the families served by schools."
  • The organization also plans to recruit and train school board candidates.

Why it matters: The new nonprofit comes at a turning point year for Nashville education politics.

  • School board elections will be partisan in 2022 and three incumbents are up for reelection: Rachael Anne Elrod, John Little, and Fran Bush.
  • Board member Gini Pupo-Walker is not seeking reelection.

Context: Charter schools have often served as a divisive issue in Nashville school board races. But Vercher tells Axios that Opportunity Nashville will not use education reform as a litmus test for the candidates it supports.

  • Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, whose administration helped usher in a wave of charter schools, is among the board members at the nonprofit, which has not disclosed its donors.
  • The first order of business for Opportunity Nashville will be feedback sessions for school board candidates, and potential candidates, to listen to parents and other education stakeholders about pressing issues that matter most to them.

What she's saying: Vercher, who represents in the council the rapidly growing Antioch area, tells Axios she thinks Opportunity Nashville "brings additional excitement and opportunity for a higher level of engagement for our education system here in our city."

  • As a former chair of the council budget and finance committee, Vercher has an inside perspective on the issue of education inequality.
  • "I truly believe that Opportunity Nashville has an opportunity to recruit these types of people (for school board) regardless of zip codes, so families have a sense of confidence in the education system," Vercher says.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more