WHO WE ARE

 

TANAKA VERCHER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Tanaka Vercher has spent her professional and political career working to increase educational opportunities for young people in Nashville. As a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a mother of two former MNPS students, Tanaka knows first-hand the significant impact education has in shaping a person’s opportunities in life. 

Prior to joining Opportunity Nashville, Tanaka served as the Associate Director of Operations within the Office of Financial Aid at Tennessee State University. She has more than a decade of experience in higher education, administering federal financial aid funds and Tennessee’s lottery scholarship program.

Tanaka has also served on the Metro Council since 2015, representing District 28 in Southeast Davidson County. Beyond her service as a Metro Council member, Tanaka actively invests her time in the community through a variety of organizations, including a number of education-related initiatives. She has been an elected member on the Metro Nashville Public Schools Parent Advisory Council, MNPS Leadership Taskforce, MNPS Calendar Committee, and is often requested as a Presenter for MNPS Parent University. Tanaka has also participated in the Metro Nashville Youth Transit Summit, K-12 Alignment Nashville College Access/Readiness Committee, “Read Me” days, Southeast Science Fair, Crossings Nashville Action Partnership (CNAP) Education Committee, and Young Leaders Council. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for several local nonprofit organizations, including CASA, Knowledge Academies, and the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra. Tanaka is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Nashville chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Tanaka has her B.S. in Management Information Systems and M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from Trevecca Nazarene University; additionally, she has a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tennessee State University and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Administration.

Headshot of Tanaka Vercher

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

HARRY ALLEN, BOARD CHAIR

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Studio Bank

“As the son of a retired public school teacher, graduate of MNPS, and now parent of MNPS students, I have been a long-time supporter of our public school system. For me, leadership and vision are critical to any organization and our education system is no exception. Advocating for equity in education has long been a passion of mine, and I’m happy to invest energy into this work.”

TIZGEL HIGH, SECRETARY

Deputy Chief Compliance Officer at LifePoint Health®

Tizgel High is the proud mom of three students. She is a dedicated education advocate and believes in the power and impact of great teachers on the lives of children. Her mother and many family members are active or retired educators who instilled in her a respect of the teaching profession. She understood early the high value of a great education and the opportunities that follow education. 

JIM FLAUTT

CEO of Asia-Pacific, Asurion

“I believe that a high-quality public education is the most critical component to building and sustaining a democratic community that maximizes equity, justice and opportunity for all. Outside of my family and professional interests, educational equity is my top priority.”

LONNELL MATTHEWS

Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk

“From being the youngest African-American elected to Nashville’s City Council at age 27 to being appointed to the cabinet of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, I have spent my entire career in public service, focused on what I can do to help improve the lives of Nashville’s young people. Most recently, I was elected as Nashville’s first African-American Juvenile Court Clerk in 2018, and prior to that, I spent 15 years in youth development at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. Improving opportunities for students in Nashville has always been important to me, but even more so now as my wife and I raise our own two MNPS scholars.”

KARL DEAN

Mayor of Nashville from 2007-2015

Improving the city’s school system and making sure families have access to high-quality education choices was Karl Dean’s top priority during his tenure as Nashville’s mayor from 2007 to 2015. His administration increased the school system’s annual operating budget by $212 million over the course of his eight years in office (a 36 percent increase), including a significant raise in teacher pay. The city also invested $629 million in capital funds to improve facilities and technology. As a result of Mayor Dean’s commitment to investing in public education, MNPS increased the graduation rate, decreased the dropout rate and improved test scores. 

DORSEY HOPSON 

Former Superintendent, Shelby County Schools

“Education is the great equalizer and provides students, particularly those living in poverty, an opportunity to dramatically improve their life circumstances. I know that all students can achieve at a high level if they are afforded the proper supports in rigorous, student-focuses learning environments. I am also a staunch advocate for student equity and equity requires that all students, regardless of their zip code, have access to high performing schools. During my tenure as Superintendent in Memphis, we oversaw the largest school merger in U.S. history, improved student test scores, increased graduation rates and dramatically reduced the number of priority schools in Memphis. I am excited to serve on the Board of Opportunity Nashville.”