2020 Leadership Connect Class Continues Forward Amidst Time of Social Distancing
Similar to other organizations, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has had to adapt to facilitating community leadership and economic prosperity virtually due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Leadership Connect class, comprised of small business leaders, pivoted to a virtual platform to continue scheduled programming and to maintain fellowship and collaboration during this time of change.
In early April, the class had the opportunity to have a virtual meeting with one of Nashville’s distinguished business leaders, John R. Ingram. Mr. Ingram is the Chairman of Ingram Industries, Inc. Board of Directors. He was appointed in 2008, having served as Vice Chairman of the Board since 1999. Mr. Ingram also serves as Chairman of Ingram Content Group, which includes Ingram Book Company, Lightning Source, Inc. and Ingram Digital. In 2017, as lead investor Mr. Ingram spearheaded the effort to bring Major League Soccer to Nashville.
Mr. Ingram is also active as a volunteer in a number of educational and charitable organizations. He is a member of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University and serves on the boards of Montgomery Bell Academy and Harpeth Hall in Nashville, and he actively supports Vanderbilt Athletics and Currey Ingram Academy. Mr. Ingram serves as Vice Chair of the Nashville’s Agenda Steering Committee, and chairman emeritus of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.
Ingram provided his perspective on the effects of COVID-19 in the business industry, as well as inspiration and hope for how this could present an opportunity for the Nashville business community to evolve in the future. He emphasized the importance of taking this time to revise your business plan and prepare for how you will do business once we are out of this crisis. “In business, change has two major components to it -- risk and opportunity. Often the risk gets more attention than the opportunities that could come from change,” says Ingram. “The people who can identify opportunities [during change] and advance these opportunities are best suited for the future.”
Prior to COVID-19, the class participated in a panel discussion held in mid-February focusing on the topic of mobility and transit in the Nashville region. This panel included the following community leaders:
- Nora Kern, Executive Director of Walk Bike Nashville
- Faye DiMassimo, Senior Advisor for Transportation and Infrastructure at the Office of Mayor Cooper
- Suzanne Carlson, Multimodal Transportation Resources Director at the Tennessee Department of Transportation
- Michelle Lacewell, Deputy Director & Chief Communication Officer of the Greater Nashville Regional Council
- Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church and the Chair of the Moving Forward Mobility Plan Task Force
The class and community leaders discussed the public’s growing concern of being behind on the city’s mobility plan. “It’s all about having a bunch of tools and resources in your community tool kit to make a difference and continuously move forward. With good investment and effective resourcing, we can develop a plan for transit that keeps up with our growing community” said DiMassimo.
The class was also encouraged to use public transportation to experience ridership first-hand and hopefully break down the negative stigma. Panelists also shared with the class how the community is working together to develop a transportation plan for the future. Michelle Lacewell encouraged the class to participate in the transit listening sessions hosted by Mayor Cooper’s Office, as well as check out www.solvethistogether.org to learn more about the research done to determine the best plan of action for transit moving forward.