Michael Skipper:

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!

Ed Cole:

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.

Land Use – Quality Growth and Sustainable Development

Marion Fowlkes:

Marion Fowlkes is president of Centric Architecture. Centric shares a firm wide passion for innovative and sustainable design solutions addressing the needs of Middle Tennessee Communities. Centric places Clients in the center of the practice, and pushes to develop relevant and inspiring design-centric solutions. The firm’s diversified list of clients – educational, religious, financial and corporate – is as detailed as its list of major projects. Marion includes in that list these Nashville projects: Saint Cecilia Motherhouse and Convent, the Tennessee State Capitol, Cathedral of the Incarnation and Tennessee Banker’s Association Headquarters a LEED Certified project and numerous commissions with the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Marion received a BS in Engineering Technology from University of Memphis before earning a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute in NY. He recently served as a Director on the AIA National Board representing Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. He serves on advisory boards to the UT College of Architecture and Design and the University of Hawaii College of Architecture. Marion is Chair of the 2011 AIA National Convention in New Orleans where the theme’s focus is Regional Design.

Marion is active in the Rotary Club of Nashville, Leadership Nashville, Leadership Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Chamber and the Kingston Springs’ Planning Commission. He is a founding director of Cumberland Region Tomorrow and serves a Board Co-Chair.
Rick Bernhardt:
Rick grew up in Nashville and graduated from Glencliff High School. He began his professional planning career here before advancing to a number of other planning opportunities. Over his 30 years of service, Rick has focused on proactive, community-based planning. He has concentrated efforts on issues of affordable housing, neighborhood planning, urban design, sustainability, New Urbanism, linking transportation, and land use built on a foundation of meaningful community participation.

Rick returned to the Metro Planning Department in 2000. Since that time, the department has revised its mission statement and goals to reflect the needs for sustainable development in Davidson County. Rick has expanded public participation in the planning process through increased public meetings, improved notification and charrettes. He has led staff in completing comprehensive and detailed community plans and encourages decisions consistent with these plans.

For 17 years (1982-99), Rick was the Director of the award-winning Planning and Development Department for the city of Orlando, Florida, with a staff of over 150 persons. As Orlando’s Planning Director, Rick instituted an innovative growth management program. He used traditional design relationships in conjunction with multi-modal transportation investments and policies. By coordinating the timing and staging of development, the program led to achievements in specific land use and community objectives. While in Orlando, he founded the Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation.

Rick is a published author, is certified as an expert witness in state and Federal courts in the areas of town planning and land use regulation, and has been a lecturer and advisor at a multitude of universities, state agencies, and land use organizations.

Prior to returning to Nashville, Rick directed EDAW’s international Town Planning Studio focusing on traditional design projects. EDAW is known for integrating community planning, urban design, landscape architecture, environmental planning and natural resource management from 23 offices around the world (

Rick is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Planning Association where he received the Distinguished Service Award. In addition, he is a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism where he received the Catherine Brown award for outstanding work in the field of new urbanism. Among his recognitions are the Distinguished Alumnus Award from The Ohio State University and the Successful Community Award from 1000 Friends of Florida.

Rick has a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Auburn University and graduated first in his class with a Master’s degree in city planning from Ohio State University.

Infrastructure Investment

Everett Cowan:
For four decades, Everett Cowan has led architecture and engineering firms in all stages of growth and development.

Prior to becoming founder and CEO of AE Guidance, Cowan spent 21 years with the prominent Nashville-based AE firm Gresham, Smith and Partners (GS&P). When he retired December 2010, he ended an eight-year tenure as president and chief operating officer of GS&P after helping grow the company from 150 professionals to more than 800.

Prior to joining GS&P, Cowan was president of MCI Consulting Engineers, civil engineering division of The EDGe Group. He also served as the managing director of the Nashville branch of the Louisville, Kentucky-based engineering firm Miller, Wihry & Lee.

Cowan is a member of six professional engineering societies, including the American Council of Engineering Companies, which named him a Fellow in 2008. In 2002, he was named Engineer of the Year by the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineer’s Nashville Chapter.

A graduate of the University of Louisville, Cowan received the Speed School of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2004 and was named an Alumni Fellow in 2000.

Open Space Conservation

Darwin Newton:


Julian Bibb:

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.

Air and Water Quality and Quantity

Larry McElroy:

As General Manager since 1988, Larry McElroy has seen Rutherford County and Consolidated Utility District grow rapidly. CUDRC now serves over forty-one thousand customers. With the completion of over 1,200 miles through Rutherford County and the availability of sewer to an increasingly larger part to the County, it is not unreasonable to believe the growth of Consolidated Utility District may double again within the next ten to twelve years.

Larry is a 2006 graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee, and a 1992 graduate of Leadership Rutherford. At the 1999 TAUD Annual Meeting, Larry was elected to the TAUD Board of Directors. He received the TWWA Middle Section award for water management/ treatment/ distribution in 1990 and is the 1997 co-recipient of the Rosson award for Financial and operational excellence by the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts.

Bob Martineau:

Robert “Bob” Martineau was sworn in as the seventh Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on January 15, 2011. “Bob Martineau is one of Tennessee’s foremost experts on environmental regulation, and I’m thankful he’s come aboard,” Haslam said. “He brings an unparalleled level of knowledge to the field, and he’ll serve Tennesseans well.”

Martineau has more than 25 years of experience as an attorney in the field of environmental law. For seven years, he served as senior attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. (1988-1994). At EPA, Martineau provided counsel in developing New Source Review (NSR), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Air Toxics regulations. He continued to build his expertise in air issues and is co-editor of American Bar Association’s The Clean Air Act Handbook and has authored a variety of substantive articles on critical environmental topics. This authorship includes work on drafting administrative rules in Plain English and accidental release prevention programs under the Clean Air Act.

Prior to his appointment, Martineau was a partner at the Nashville firm Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis, PLLC, practicing in the area of environmental law. At Waller Lansden, he had extensive experience working with companies on the development and implementation of corporate environmental management programs and auditing programs. He regularly assisted clients in assessing the impacts of proposed legislative or regulatory initiatives at the federal and state level and developing policy positions with respect to those initiatives. “I appreciate the confidence Governor Haslam has shown in me, and I am proud to be part of his administration,” Martineau said. “I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve the state in this role.”

Martineau is a member of the Air and Waste Management Association and a former council member of the Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law of the American Bar Association. He is also active in the community as past president of First Steps, Inc., a child development center; Tennessee Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; and Community Health Charities, Tennessee Chapter. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and Cumberlands.

Economic Competitiveness

Bert Mathews:

Bert Mathews is one of Nashville’s most astute real estate investors. Behind his disarming smile is an encyclopedic knowledge of the deals that have shaped Nashville’s growth over the past 70 years. Real estate is in his DNA. His grandfather started The Mathews Company. His father ran it for 30-plus years. Now Bert has taken the reins and is leading The Mathews Company into a new era of growth and success.
Bert combines consummate people skills with a keen and decisive business mind. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Business School, Bert’s 20-plus years of experience in commercial real estate services have seen him represent clients as a developer, a broker and a property manager.

Bert joined The Mathews Company as vice president in 1984. He became president of the firm in 1992. As president, Bert oversees development, acquisitions, financing, institutional and investor relations, and supervision of all real estate marketing activities for both portfolio and third-party properties, which total more than 2.5 million square feet.

Not only is Bert a leader in commercial real estate services, he is also a community leader in both civic and professional organizations. He holds leadership roles in many Nashville-area organizations. He is a board member and on the executive committee of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of Cumberland Region Tomorrow, Nashville’s Central Business Improvement District, Nashville Downtown Partnership, and former vice chairman of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and the Metro Transit Authority. He is Chairman of the Nashville District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Bert and his wife, Brooks, are the dedicated parents of five. As a result, Bert also participates in organizations aimed at educating young people. He is a former president and current member of the Adventure Science Center board. He also serves as a board member for University School of Nashville. Bert was named Father of the Year in 2007 by the American Diabetes Association

Susan Whitaker:

Susan Whitaker, a veteran tourism marketing executive, was appointed in January of 2011 to Governor Bill Haslam’s cabinet as Commissioner of Tourist Development. Whitaker was originally appointed to the position in 2003 by Governor Phil Bredesen, and reappointed under his administration in 2007.

In this role, Whitaker is responsible for marketing Tennessee’s tourism industry domestically and internationally. Tourism is one of Tennessee’s largest industries, providing a $13.3 billion direct economic impact and over $1 billion annually in state and local sales tax revenue for the past four years.

Whitaker oversees the development and implementation of statewide tourism’s comprehensive marketing, publicity and promotions campaigns, all designed to stimulate growth of tourism in Tennessee. Of note is the state’s world-class website,, as well as the state’s 14 highly rated Welcome Centers.

In 2008, Whitaker launched Tennessee’s Sustainable Tourism initiative with the Great Smoky Mountain Sustainable Tourism Summit, positioning the state as a national leader in sustainable tourism. Further outgrowth of the Summit has been Tennessee’s launch of a sustainable tourism website, featuring a complete online toolbox. During 2009 and 2010, Tennessee held 10 statewide sustainable tourism workshops as well as a six-part webinar series. Tennessee’s program has been recognized by U.S. Travel Association as a national best practice and included on the website.

In 2009, under Whitaker’s leadership, the Department of Tourist Development launched Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. To date, five trails have been launched, receiving national media attention and widespread community support. When complete, this comprehensive initiative will feature 16 trails and include all of Tennessee’s 95 counties as well as the state’s five National Scenic Byways.

As Tennessee’s Tourism Commissioner, Whitaker serves on the Policy Council and Board of Directors for the US Travel Association, the Travel South USA Board of Directors, the National Council of State Travel Directors, and the University of Tennessee’s Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management Advisory Board. She serves as the co-chair of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and is a member of the Governor’s Jobs Cabinet and the Smoky Mountains Park Commission.

Whitaker is a Chicago native and a direct descendent of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Prior to her state cabinet post, Whitaker served as vice president of marketing for Dollywood, Tennessee’s most visited tourist attraction. Before joining Dollywood, Whitaker worked from 1993 to 1997 as director of marketing and advertising for the Silver Dollar City/Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation properties in Branson, Missouri. In 2000, Whitaker was appointed to serve on the Corporation’s President’s Team, developing strategic plans for all nine properties of the corporation, including Dollywood.

Throughout her career, Whitaker has received many awards and honors. She has earned the Telly and Addy Awards for her broadcast and advertising work and was presented the Pacesetter Award from the Stennis Center for Public Service.


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