2010 Summit Speaker Biographies


Matthew Kisber – State Commissioner, TN Economic & Community Development

Matthew H. Kisber serves as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). Appointed January 18, 2003, Commissioner Kisber has led Tennessee’s efforts that resulted in four $1 billion dollar projects within a one-year time frame: German automaker Volkswagen in Chattanooga, polycrystalline silicon manufacturers Hemlock in Clarksville and Wacker Chemie in Cleveland and Japanese automaker Nissan in Smyrna.

Under Commissioner Kisber’s leadership, 49 corporate headquarters have located in Tennessee, including Nissan North America, International Paper, Louisiana Pacific, Clarcor, Service Master, Asurion and others. Since his appointment as commissioner, Tennessee has seen more than $32 billion in new capital investment and more than 184,173 new jobs created. In May 2008, Site Selection magazine recognized the state’s accomplishments by naming Tennessee the most competitive state in the country for economic development.

Prior to his appointment as commissioner, Kisber served 10 consecutive terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives and as vice president of Business Development for First Tennessee Bank. In the Tennessee General Assembly, Kisber served as chairman of the powerful Finance, Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for the state’s budget.

Kisber began his career as a successful small businessman in Jackson, Tenn. He was first exposed to business when he began working at Kisber’s Department Stores, Inc., his family’s business, at the age of 12.

Kisber received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and was one of 36 state legislators from 21 states to successfully complete the inaugural Program for Emerging Political Leaders at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. In 1989, Kisber received a scholarship from the Southern Legislative Conference to attend the Leadership Development Program conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership and later that year was selected as one of 32 state leaders to participate in a Toll Fellowship Program by the Council of State Governments.

In his current role as commissioner of Tennessee Economic and Community Development, Kisber was charged by Governor Phil Bredesen with developing the infrastructure and resources of Tennessee communities and fostering a business-friendly atmosphere, while attracting new industries and assisting existing industries as they expand. Commissioner Kisber has worked to strengthen partnerships both domestically and internationally. His keen focus on high-level customer service has proven successful in working with local governments, chambers and other economic development groups.

Governor Bredesen’s customer service philosophy led the governor to sign an Executive Order creating Tennessee’s FastTrack program, which provides timely responses and services to companies seeking to invest in Tennessee. Under Commissioner Kisber’s leadership, FastTrack has quickly become established as one of the governor’s top economic development initiatives.

Additionally, Commissioner Kisber leads the Governor’s Jobs Cabinet team, which brings local officials, community leaders, state agencies and other entities with job creation responsibilities together to identify challenges and opportunities for economic and community growth.

Commissioner Kisber has further been successful in establishing the state’s first director of technology development position with the goal of leveraging Tennessee’s technological resources to attract technology-based businesses and encourage entrepreneurial growth. His focused drive toward a thriving Tennessee economy is helping to equip Tennessee communities for economic success today and tomorrow.

Kisber is also active in various civic and cultural causes, including service on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, Tennessee Tomorrow, Inc., WestStar Leadership Program, Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant and the Tennessee State Museum Foundation.

Born January 31, 1960, Kisber and his wife Paige Lowe Kisber reside in Nashville with their son, Harrison and daughter, Katherine.

Geoff Anderson – President & CEO, Smart Growth America

Geoff Anderson is the President and CEO of Smart Growth America. Geoff came to his current position in January 2008 after 13 years at the US EPA where he headed the Agency’s Smart Growth Program. During his tenure at EPA, he was instrumental in creating the Agency’s Smart Growth program, he helped to found the Smart Growth Network, the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, and the popular web site www.smartgrowth.org. In addition, he provided seed funding for and helped to catalyze the creation of the National Vacant Properties Campaign, The LEED for Neighborhood Development Certification program, and the Governors’ Institute for Community Design.

He has co-authored numerous publications including: This Is Smart Growth, Getting to Smart Growth Volumes 1 and 2, Protecting Water Resources with Higher Density Development, The Transportation and Environmental Impacts of Infill vs. Greenfield Development and many others. His work also included direct technical assistance, helping with smart growth implementation in communities nationwide including Cheyenne, WY, Prince George’s County, MD, and the flagship smart growth project Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Ga. Geoff received a Masters Degree from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with a concentration in Resource Economics and Policy.

Lynn Richards – Acting Director, EPA Office of Smart Growth, Development, Community & Environment Division

Richards is currently the Acting Director of EPA’s Smart Growth Program. She focuses on all aspects of smart growth, including the nexus between water quality and land use, public participation, green infrastructure, and transportation issues. In addition to a wide array of articles on smart growth and water resources, in 2006 she published “Protecting Water Resources with Higher Density Development,” and in 2004, “Protecting Water Resources with Smart Growth.” In addition, she was one of the primary authors of “Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation” that was published by the Smart Growth Network in 2002.

Prior to EPA, Richards worked for ICF Consulting and addressed sustainable development, environmental justice, and long-term stewardship. In addition, she also worked with the Government of the Bahamas to establish a Ministry of Environmental Protection. During this time, Richards served on the President’s Council for Sustainable Development Environmental Management Task Force.

Richards holds a MS in Environmental Science and a Masters of Public Affairs from Indiana University.

Shailen P. Bhatt – Associate Administrator for Policy & Gov’t Affairs, Federal Highway Administration

Mr. Shailen Bhatt was appointed as Associate Administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs in the Federal Highway Administrator (FHWA) in August 2009.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Bhatt served as a Special Assistant to the FHWA Administrator. In this capacity he played an instrumental role in assisting FHWA as a key liaison to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation on issues relating to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He also played a key role in leading and managing the smooth transition of the new FHWA political team.

Previously, Mr. Bhatt served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. In this role he had responsibility for advancing transportation projects and addressing regional transportation needs. He also served in other transportation leadership positions, including Director of the Bowling Green/Warren County Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Program Manger of Smart Commute-Black Creek, Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Bhatt received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Western Kentucky University. He has also been actively involved with community activities having served as a board member on Preservation Kentucky, and the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport.

Gerald Nicely – State Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Gerald F. Nicely has been the Commissioner of Transportation for Tennessee since January 2003. Nicely also had the distinction of serving simultaneously in two state cabinet posts. In December 2005 the Governor appointed him Interim Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and he served in that position until January 2007 while still holding the Commissioner of Transportation position.

Nicely joined TDOT after more than 30 years of local government experience and a track record of successfully forging public-private partnerships that helped transform Nashville. He served as Executive Director of Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency from 1979-2002. Under his leadership, MDHA spearheaded a wide range of development and housing initiatives and was viewed as one of the best-run local agencies in the country. He served a two-year term as president of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.

Nicely serves on the Board of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and is currently serving as the Chair of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Water Transportation. He was a founding Board Member of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and a charter Board member of the Nashville Housing Fund. He is an alumnus of Leadership Nashville. Nicely has received numerous awards for public service including: The Tennessee Association of Public Administration’s Public Administrator of the Year in 2006, the Nashville Kiwanis Club’s co-Nashvillian of the Year for 2001 (his wife Donna was the co-recipient), the Nashville Engineering Center’s Distinguished Builder Award in 2007, and the Apollo Award for 2006 by the Nashville Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

He holds both a B.S. and M.S. in economics from the University of Tennessee and is a U.S. Army veteran. Nicely is married to Donna Nicely, director of the Nashville Public Library system, and has two grown daughters and three grandsons.

Julian Bibb – Land Trust for Tennessee, Cumberland Region Tomorrow

Among Julian Bibb’s biggest passions are his law practice and the community of Franklin, Tenn. He joined the firm in 1977 and is the chairperson of the firm’s Real Estate & Banking Service Group. His practice centers largely on banking and includes various credit facilities. Among these are the documentation of syndicated credit facilities, agent-administered loans, asset-based loans, real estate financing, non-profit and charitable institution credit facilities, and the extension of credit to varied types of businesses.

Mr. Bibb is also experienced in real estate law. He has counseled a wide variety of clients on acquisitions, dispositions, financing, zoning, development, planning and leasing. In addition, he counsels not-for-profits and has experience in historic preservation and conservation easements.

Mr. Bibb is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® (1995-2010) and he has also been recognized by the 2009 publication of Chambers USA as a leader in the fields of banking and finance law and real estate law. Mr. Bibb also was named in the Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine each of 2006-2009, was named in the Top 100 Lawyers in Tennessee by Mid-South Super Lawyers for the past three years, and was selected to the 150 Best Lawyers in Tennessee by Business Tennessee magazine, 2006-2010. Mr. Bibb has been named by the Nashville Business Journal as one of the attorneys selected as “Best of the Bar” for 2009, a recognition he has received each year since its inception. He is also a Fellow of both the Tennessee and Nashville Bar Foundations. Mr. Bibb is AV® Peer Review Rated in the Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory.

Mr. Bibb has been recognized for his many civic contributions. In the March/April 2010 issue of Nashville Post, he was recognized as one of Nashville’s “difference makers.” In 2008, he received a Certificate of Merit from the State of Tennessee Historical Commission for his work in historic preservation. In 2007, Mr. Bibb received the 2007 Williamson County Impact Award from the Nashville Business Journal for his many contributions to Williamson County. In 2006, Mr. Bibb received the Outstanding Chamber Member of the Year from the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce. Previously he has been named by the Nashville Business Journal and Williamson Works as one of the 25 most influential business leaders in Williamson County. He also is a past recipient of the Patron’s Award (the highest honor presented by The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County) for his work in historic preservation.

Ed Cole – Executive Director, The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee

Ed has just been appointed as the first Executive Director of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee. Most recently, Ed was the first Chief of Environment and Planning, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) from 2003 to 2007. Prior to his TDOT role, Ed was the first Executive Director of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a 10-county regional visioning organization across Middle Tennessee. Before becoming head of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, Ed served nearly 20 years in local and state government, including Deputy Commissioner and acting Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Ed has taught government and planning at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, George Peabody College in Nashville, and the University of Sydney in Australia.

Ed has a BA from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon; an MA from the University of Florida and an MS in Planning from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee.

Ed’s son, Erik, is on the Metro Council in Nashville and his daughter in law, Jen, has just been appointed Executive Director of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission. Ed’s wife, Pat, is scholarship director for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. They delight in their grandchildren, Owen and Alice.

Karl Dean – Mayor, Metro Nashville/Davidson County

Karl Dean is the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. He was elected on Sept. 11, 2007. Dean’s priorities as mayor are education, public safety and economic development. He also works diligently on efforts to sustain and improve Nashville’s high quality of life.

During his two years in office, Dean has acted as a strong advocate for education reform in Metro Nashville Public Schools. In both years, he fully funded the budget for Metro schools despite cuts in most other departments. He formed the Project for Student Success task force to find innovative ways to increase student engagement and reduce high school dropouts. And he has focused on initiatives related to teacher recruitment and school choice

As part of the Project for Student Success recommendations, Dean allocated funding in the Metro budget for an Attendance Center run by Juvenile Court, which provides case management for students chronically truant from school. He also began work on developing a system of quality after school programs for middle school students in Nashville. In May 2009, Dean announced the Nashville After School Alliance, a partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools to create after school zones throughout Davidson County.

In the areas of teacher recruitment and school choice, Dean raised private funds to bring two national teacher recruitment organizations, Teach for America and The New Teacher Project, to Nashville starting in the 2009-10 school year. And Dean was a vocal proponent of charter school legislation passed during the 2009 session of Tennessee’s 106th General Assembly. The legislation greatly expands charter school enrollment eligibility in Nashville.

To further draw community support for education reform initiatives, Dean helped create the External LinkEducation First Fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Contributors to date include individuals, foundations, and faith-based organizations.

2009 marked the sixth consecutive year of overall crime reduction in Nashville. To help the Metro Nashville Police Department continue its progress, Dean has worked to see more police officers protecting our streets. While Dean has been in office, the police department has recruited and trained over 200 new sworn police officers. And with the mayor’s encouragement, the police department applied for and received a federal External LinkCOPS grant to grow the police force by 50 officers. The department now has the largest number of sworn officers ever. Dean also included in the 2009-10 capital spending plan funds to begin planning for two additional police precincts, which will improve police coverage throughout Davidson County.

The first economic development initiative Dean undertook as mayor was to help women- and minority-owned businesses receive a fair share of Metro Government contracts. Dean formed the Mayor’s Minority Business Advisory Council and began work on legislation to address the findings in two past disparity studies conducted by Metro. An ordinance creating the Procurement Non-Discrimination Program was passed in April 2008. The program is administered out of a new Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance in the Department of Finance, which has worked to significantly increase the number of companies approved for Metro’s small business program and the number of minority-owned businesses registered with Metro.

Since taking office, Dean also has strongly advocated for the development of a new downtown convention center in Nashville in order to grow the city’s tourism industry. The Metro Council gave final approval for External LinkMusic City Center in January 2010, and construction of the facility is currently underway. Once the center is operating at full capacity, it’s expected to generate $134.9 million a year in new local spending. Music City Center is scheduled to open in early 2013.

In the spring of 2008, Dean formed the Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability and set a goal to make Nashville “the greenest city in the Southeast.” The committee completed its work in April 2009 and presented a summary report with 16 goals and 71 recommendations. Dean is now working to prioritize and implement the initiatives. Those already underway include planning for mass transit in the Middle Tennessee region and developing an Open Space Plan for Davidson County.

In effort to expand transportation and recreation options for residents, Dean formed the Bicycle Pedestrian and Advisory Committee, which works to further make Nashville a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city.

Dean also addressed Nashville’s need to improve water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure through the creation of the Clean Water Infrastructure Program.

Dean first held public office when he was elected as Nashville’s Public Defender in 1990, a post he was re-elected to in 1994 and 1998. Dean served as Metro Law Director from 1999 to January 2007, when he resigned to run for the office of mayor. Dean completed the program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1999. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt.

Dean is married to Nashville native Anne Davis, who he met in law school. Anne practiced civil and criminal litigation with Bass, Berry & Sims and Neal & Harwell. She has taught at Vanderbilt Law School for nearly two decades, including courses on white collar crime, trial advocacy and legal writing. They have three children: Rascoe, Frances, and Wallen.

Jo Ann Graves – Mayor, Gallatin and Chair of the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus

Jo Ann Graves was elected Mayor of Gallatin in November, 2006 and was sworn in on January 2, 2007. She is the 61st Mayor of Gallatin, which was founded in 1802. Graves is the first female Mayor of Gallatin. Mayor Graves served as Chairman of the Sumner County Council of Governments in 2008. Presently she serves as Vice Chair of the Regional Transit Authority Board, Chairman of the Northeast Corridor Committee and Chairman of the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus.

Before her election as Mayor, Graves served eight years in the Tennessee State Senate representing Robertson and Sumner counties as well as three years on the Gallatin City Council. In her second Senate term, Graves became the Speaker Pro Tempore. She was the first woman to serve in that position which presides over the Senate in the absence of the Speaker. During her tenure in the Senate, Graves received numerous leadership awards from various organizations and community groups across the state. Graves received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is married to Bill Graves who is General Manager for Fleetwood Homes/CAVCO in LaFayette, TN.

Jeanie Nelson – Executive Director, Land Trust for Tennessee

Jean Nelson, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, is the founding President and Executive Director of The Land Trust for Tennessee whose mission is to preserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites for future generations. She also serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Southern Environmental Law Center, headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also serves of the Board of the National Land Trust Alliance.

She served in the Clinton/Gore Administration as the General Counsel for the United States Environmental Protection Agency and as the Director of the President’s Crime Prevention Council. Prior to these appointments, she served as Chief Deputy Attorney General for Tennessee for four years and for thirteen years as a partner with the Nashville law firm of Gullett, Sanford, Robinson and Martin. Her practice was a general business practice, concentrating on administrative law in the health care, transportation and telecommunications areas.

She has been active in numerous professional and non-profit boards including: Board Member of the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Bar; Vice-President of the Nashville Bar Association; Middle Tennessee Governor of the Tennessee Bar Association; Chair of the Organization of Chief Deputies of the National Association of Attorneys General; Member of the Metro Charter Commission for 15 years; President of the Tennessee Environmental Action Fund;Founding Co-Chair of Metro Greenways Commission for Nashville.

Jean received her B.A. in English in 1969 and her J.D. in 1975, both from Vanderbilt University.

Michael Skipper – Executive Director, Nashville Area MPO

Michael has more than a decade of experience in transportation policy, planning, and research, beginning his career with the Nashville Area MPO in the mid 1990s. Prior to his return to the MPO, he directed the public transportation work program for an MPO in central Florida where he led regional consensus building efforts and spearheaded state legislative action to provide a dedicated source of funding for public transportation through the creation of the Polk Transit Authority. He was a technical lead in the 7-county Orlando area’s “How Shall We Grow?” regional visioning process and the MPOs representative in the development of legislation that lead to the creation of the recently formed Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

In addition to his public-sector service, Michael has held senior-level management positions with consulting firms in Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington. During his time in the private sector, he conducted social and public policy research for numerous local and state governments, MPOs, DOTs and transit agencies across the nation.

He received his undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a Masters of Science in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin. Go Vols!

Charles Bone – Summit Moderator, Cumberland Region Tomorrow

Charles W. Bone is the founder and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC. He serves as a classic “Trusted Advisor” to clients seeking advice on corporate and litigation issues, especially for “big deals” or “bet the company” matters. His experience covers many industries and many areas of law, including business formation, mergers and acquisitions, capital creation, joint ventures, financial institutions, media law and government relations.

He was County Attorney for Sumner County, Tennessee, for over 20 years, and has served in leadership positions for both public and private companies and financial institutions. He has personally represented hundreds of banks throughout the country during his career, and served as Counsel to the Independent Bankers of Tennessee. He frequently advises boards and committees on corporate governance matters.

Charles has been recognized by the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar,” most recently in 2009. He has written articles for legal publications and has lectured at educational seminars on legal ethics, business law, and financial institution topics. In 2006, Charles spoke at the Tennessee Bar Association’s Annual Diversity Summit, focusing on recruitment, hiring and retention solutions for minorities at Tennessee law firms. Following this presentation, he was invited to speak the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s event, “Finding a Voice for Women of Color at Law Firms: Unique Challenges and Collaborative Solutions,” as well as the Leadership Academy for Women of Color Attorneys, in Atlanta.

He has worked in Democratic political activities for many years, and has advised and assisted Democrats at every level of politics. Since 1976, he was active in every campaign for former Vice President Al Gore, and worked extensively in the efforts of Gore/Lieberman 2000.

Charles serves in leadership roles for many civic and charitable organizations. He is on the board of directors of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and recently, at the invitation of Mayor Karl Dean and the Middle Tennessee Mayor’s Caucus, coordinated the formation of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee. The Alliance is composed of public and private sector volunteers whose mission is to develop a plan for funding public transit in Middle Tennessee. In August 2009, Governor Bredesen appointed Charles to a six year term on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. He is also a member of Nashville’s Agenda and an alumnus of Leadership Nashville.

A longtime contributor to Nashville’s nonprofit community, he currently serves on the board of directors of Salvus, Inc., an initiative he helped found with a local physician to provide quality healthcare to uninsured individuals. Additionally, he is on the board of directors of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, a nonprofit focused on the expansive growth of Middle Tennessee in recent years. Charles is Chair of the 2010 Campaign for Equal Justice, the annual fundraising drive of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

Charles received his Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University in 1967 and his Juris Doctor from the University Of Tennessee College of Law in 1970. He is married to Baylor Bone, owner of Baylor Bone Interiors with locations in Nashville and Hendersonville. He has two children, Charles Robert Bone, an attorney and member of the law firm, and Baylor Bone Swindell, also an attorney and lobbyist with the Windrow Group in Nashville. He has five grandchildren, Margaret McKay Bone, Anne Carlen Bone, Simmons Louise Bone, Brady Bone Swindell, and Charles Henry Bone.

He has been an avid runner for many years. The highlight of his running career was when he completed the first Country Music Marathon, in 2000, with both of his children. Since then, he has completed half marathons in 15 different states across the country.

In 2002, Charles founded Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, a full-service law firm with offices in Nashville and Sumner County, Tennessee, after leading the Nashville offices of two regional law firms.


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