Mayor David Briley scraps Nashville resilience office

Nashville no longer has a chief resilience office as part of a restructuring of the mayor’s office that started months ago after Mayor David Briley took over permanently in May.

Former Mayor Megan Barry garnered headlines in 2016 by creating the new office as part of Nashville’s selection into the 100 Resilient Cities network led by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Nashville’s involvement included a Rockefeller grant of $325,000 and required the employment of a full-time chief resilience officer.

But Erik Cole, a former Metro councilman who had been serving as chief resilience officer, departed Briley’s administration last June to move to Arizona.

Briley spokesman Thomas Mulgrew said the grant has been “on hold” since Cole’s departure, but that the mayor’s office is continuing the core functions of the resilience office: developing a “resilience strategy,” promoting economic resilience in low-income areas, expanding financial empowerment initiatives and efforts to end homelessness.

“We have restructured the Mayor’s Office and no longer have an office with this formal name,” he said of the resilience office. “However, our work in these areas continues.”

Cole’s position has gone unfilled. Anne Havard, who had been serving as deputy chief resilience officer, is now senior adviser for economic opportunity who reports to Briley’s Chief Strategy Officer Brian Kelsey and oversees the mayor’s efforts around financial empowerment, college access and completion for adults, and homelessness.

At the time of its creation, the resilience office was tasked with helping Nashville prepare for, withstand and bounce back from “shocks” such as natural disasters like floods, tornadoes and fires as well as “stresses.” The latter, the Barry-led mayor’s office said back then, would include “slow-moving disasters” like unemployment, affordable housing, and poverty and inequality.

Barry in March 2017 kicked off a yearlong process to create a “resilience strategy” for Nashville, but she resigned one year later amid a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe and after admitting to a nearly two-year affair with her former police bodyguard.

Although Nashville no longer officially houses an office of resilience in the mayor’s office, the Rockefeller Foundation online lists Nashville as a member city of its 100 Resilient Cities network.

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