Jeremy Kane grew up in South Nashville where he learned Nashville's values of commitment, community, and partnership from his father, a minister, and his mother, a tennis coach and community volunteer.
Following in his family's tradition of public service, Jeremy attended and taught in public and private schools, served as the speechwriter for a United States Senator, and has been recognized as a leader in building partnerships between public schools and community, faith, and business organizations.
Jeremy first put those Nashville values to work by volunteering at the summer basketball league his father helped start in Sevier Park, serving the homeless through Room-in-the-Inn, and chasing his dream of competing in the Olympics as a world-ranked swimmer at Nashville Aquatic Club.
While attending Stanford University on a swimming scholarship, Jeremy continued using those values to volunteer in area schools and study the pioneering public-private partnerships being developed in San Francisco at the time. It was there and, later while teaching in Nashville and completing his Masters in Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, that he developed the concept for a community-based school that focused on connecting education with community resources.
Those plans, and his partnerships with some of the leading schools around the country, formed the foundation for LEAD Academy, one of Tennessee's highest performing schools and the only public school in Nashville to graduate 100% of its seniors and have them all accepted to a four-year college.
In 2006, after mortgaging his house and knocking on more than one thousand doors throughout North Nashville, Jeremy was unanimously approved by the Metro Nashville School Board to open LEAD Academy, Nashville's third public charter school and the first high school.
In April 2010, under Jeremy's leadership, LEAD was approved to open its third school at Cameron Middle School, Tennessee's first and only District-Charter conversion. Following the successful opening of Cameron College Prep, Jeremy and LEAD were approved to convert three more low-performing middle schools, including Brick Church College Prep, which opened in July 2012 and has become one of the fastest-improving schools in Tennessee.
In 2013, Jeremy stepped down as CEO of LEAD, having grown it from his living room to nearly 200 teachers and employees, with an annual budget of $16 million dollars. He continues to serve as a strategic advisor to the current CEO and Board of Directors and also advises businesses and non-profit organizations as a leadership and management consultant.
Jeremy serves on several non-profit boards, has presented around the country on building public-private partnerships, including at the TedX Nashville conference, and, in 2012, he partnered with more than one hundred community, government, non-profit and business leaders to launch the city-wide partnership, Nashville Commits, a commitment through the Clinton Global Initiative to triple the number of low-income, college-ready graduates in Nashville by 2020.
A member of Leadership Nashville's Class of 2011, Jeremy continues to compete in triathlons and has completed over twenty half and full marathons. He is married to Tracy Kane, a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and partner at the law firm Dodson, Parker, Behm & Capparella, PC. Tracy is also an active community volunteer, serving in leadership positions on several non-profit boards, including Sister Cities of Nashville and Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association and is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association's Leadership Law Class of 2014.
The Kanes are members of St. George's Episcopal church and active in their neighborhood. They enjoy running along Nashville's greenways and hiking nearby trails; however, they spend most of their free-time trying to keep up with their two-and-a-half year old daughter, Wells.
What's the single, most important issue facing Nashville?
The next mayor must give purpose to our prosperity. We have been lucky to be named the IT City. By investing in a regional mass transit solution and making education the most optimistic, collaborative, and successful thing we do, we will continue to earn that claim over the next eight years.
Could you identify the top three areas where Nashville needs to see change, and how you can help with the change?
Over the next eight years, we must make Nashville's education system the envy of the country; proactively plan and develop a regional mass transit solution; and, ensure that no neighborhood is left behind by Nashville's growth.
On education, each child deserves a strong start and a secure future. We'll guarantee that by ensuring that each family can send their child to the high-quality school of their choice. Linking the education system with investments in childcare, pre-k, and transit must be the first step.
On transit, we need to follow Wayne Gretkzy's philosophy of skating to where the puck is going to be not where the puck currently is. In the short term, that means improving the user experience and utilizing technology to boost ridership. Over the long term, it means doing whatever it takes to invest and build a transit system that ensures that no one has to wait in a ditch for their bus, that parents can choose the school of their choice, and get to the jobs that help them build the life of their dreams.
Finally, we'll spread growth beyond downtown by targeting incentives for small business development, and job skills training in neighborhoods across the county. We'll work with local developers to build affordable housing in every neighborhood and ensure that no neighborhood is left behind or left out of Nashville's growth.
In what particular area do you stand out as a mayoral candidate? How will this serve you well as mayor?
10 years ago, when I first mortgaged my house to start LEAD Academy, everyone told me I was crazy to think we could graduate 100% of our students and send them to a four year college. Nashville's political leaders and establishment--including several of my fellow candidates--did not support me. I forged ahead--and woke up everyday focused on getting results for LEAD's students. We graduated 100% of our first two classes and sent them all to college. The mayor's job is to wake up every day and get results. I did that at LEAD and I'll do it in the Mayor's Office.
Why should a young person in Nashville consider voting for you?
Young people moving to and living in Nashville feel the energy and momentum of the city. I brought a similar energy to running LEAD. I'm the only candidate who can match the energy of the city--and especially its young people--to maintain our momentum while preserving what makes Nashville such a unique and special place.
Who is your favorite music artist?
My daughter would want me to say Taylor Swift, but I'll say Jay Z. The Black Album is a classic.
"The standards he will set as mayor will not be focused on 'teaching to the tests,' but rooted in high academic achievement and expanding before and after-school programs in partnership with our city's vast network of neighborhood groups, nonprofits, and communities of faith."
On Public Transit:
“Nashville needs a visionary leader with experience tackling tough challenges with creative solutions. We must focus on transit with a multi-dimensional, inclusive solution. Transit must get people where they need to go conveniently and comfortably. Immediate steps can be taken to improve the experience of citizens and visitors who use our transit system, from payment methods and reliability of service, to establishing regional hubs at various places within the county to make it easier and less time-consuming to move around Nashville. We need to improve the quality of our existing roads, bridges, and transit infrastructure. Transit isn’t just about getting people where they need to go, it’s about creating communities. My students had no choice but to withdraw from LEAD due to the burden of transit and that is unacceptable. A good regional transit system will allow students to travel to the school of their choice giving access to opportunities across the county enabling upward mobility.”
On Affordable Housing:
“Affordable housing is increasingly a struggle faced by Nashville families. First, our aging citizens should never be forced out of their homes because of rising land values and rising property taxes, so expanded support and protection is necessary. Second, we will need to address the cost of transportation and the disconnect between where people live and the schools, services and jobs they need to access. We can begin to solve this in a number of ways. I’m the only candidate who has identified a dedicated and consistent funding source—downtown, city-owned parking garages, also known as the Barnes Fund. I would also incentivize local developers, small business owners, and non-profits to build diverse affordable housing options all over the county. I will direct development of housing that meets the respective needs of each community in proximity to the schools, amenities and services that people need. We need a truly county-wide solution, tailored neighborhood by neighborhood.”
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