Megan Barry won election to the Metro Council as a member at-large in 2007, and was re-elected in 2011 to a second four-year term. On the Council Megan has chaired the Budget and Finance Committee and the Education Committee. She currently serves on the Codes, Fair and Farmer's Market Committee, the Public Works Committee, and the Rules and Confirmations Committee.
Megan plays active leadership roles in civic and community activities that range from schools and neighborhoods to arts and politics. She serves on the boards of the Center for Nonprofit Management, the YWCA, and the Belcourt Theatre, and has also served on the board of the Nashville Rep. She is an advisory board member for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the New Leaders Council, and she sits on the Ethics Advisory Board for Belmont University's Jack C. Massey College of Business. She is a past participant in Leadership Nashville and Leadership Music, has co-chaired the Center for Nonprofit Management's "Salute to Excellence" event, honoring the hard work of all who serve our community, and has co-chaired the Conexión Americas annual "El Cafecito" breakfast in 2013.
Professionally, Megan has almost two decades of experience as a corporate executive, including several years developing and managing ethics programs for a global telecommunications firm, and most recently in the role of ethics and compliance officer for Premier, Inc., a healthcare company. She has also worked as an independent consultant to firms on issues dealing with business ethics and corporate social responsibility. She has taught courses in business ethics, leadership, and human resources as an adjunct faculty member at Belmont University and Vanderbilt University.
Born in California while her father was stationed at El Toro Marine Corps base, Megan grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. She graduated from Notre Dame de Sion, a Catholic girls high school in Kansas City, and she received her Bachelor's degree in elementary education from Baker University, a Methodist college in Baldwin City, Kansas. Megan has been in Nashville since 1991, when she moved here to attend Vanderbilt University. She received her MBA from Vanderbilt's Owen School in 1993, and after graduation decided to make Nashville her home.
She is married to Bruce Barry, a professor of organization studies at Vanderbilt. Their son, Max, is a sophomore in college, and they share their home with two rescue dogs, Hank and Boris.
What's the single, most important issue facing Nashville?
Public education is the most essential work that government does. While we have some great public schools and amazing teachers, we still have opportunities to improve our public education system. For me, that starts at the beginning by making sure every child has access to a high-quality pre-K classroom.
Could you identify the top three areas where Nashville needs to see change, and how you can help with the change?
I think we can improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, build a faster and more reliable transit system, and grow our economy and create jobs through a "complete streets" strategy along our pikes and corridors that will take the economic investment we've made in our downtown core, and spread it out throughout the county. What does a complete street look like? Imagine for example Nolensville Pike, but with the power lines buried below new sidewalks, placed next to protected bike lanes, parking and dedicated high-capacity transit lanes with optimized traffic signals that reduce congestion – that's a complete street.
Studies show that these investments in transit will spur more of the economic activity we want, while creating safe, walkable neighborhoods and pushing our need for density towards areas better equipped to handle it – protecting the character and quality of life in our more residential neighborhoods. This is a vision that is shared by the people of Davidson County through the NashvilleNext program, and is one that I will see realized as your next mayor.
In what particular area do you stand out as a mayoral candidate? How will this serve you well as mayor?
Experience. I have experience in terms of community involvement, starting with my neighborhood association and my son's PTO. I have experience with our Metro Government through the Metro Council, where I've served for nearly eight years, learning how metro government works – and how it doesn't – and I'll be able to apply those lessons in my administration to keep Nashville moving forward. I have experience in business, building a career as an executive in charge of ethics – helping companies to grow and be profitable while making them more open, transparent, and accountable in the process.
Why should a young person in Nashville consider voting for you?
If you believe we need to invest in our future by improving our public schools for kids regardless of their zip code, that we should have a transit system that is fast and efficient, and if you want to see more affordable housing – I have a vision and the experience to make it happen.
Who is your favorite music artist?
"The policy conversation [...] is not about whether we like or don't like charter schools, but about how they fit constructively and effectively within a public school system that must take all comers, offer desirable options for parents, dramatically improve student outcomes, and live within its means." Barry has also stressed the importance of funding, saying, "Money won't automatically buy success, but let's face it: many key elements of success do cost money," and she has advocated for a close relationship between the mayor's office and the school board. On her campaign website, she stated, "Our school system is governed by an elected school board, as it should be, and that does naturally limit the mayor's ability to directly influence education policy. But "limit" doesn't mean "neuter." As the architect of the city's budget the mayor has an ongoing critical opportunity and obligation to shape the school system's approach and priorities."
On Public Transit:
"In order to sharpen our city's focus on transit, I will create an office of transportation responsible for coordinating metro departments and other stakeholders to streamline the process for improving and building new sidewalks, roads, and mass-transit options."
"Short term we must improve upon what we are doing well, such as BRT light and local circulators to ease traffic and parking congestion, with investments in technology and infrastructure that will increase ridership and decrease wait times. It also means creating complete streets along our major pikes and corridors which will encourage investment and infill, and building more sidewalks that create safer, walkable neighborhoods."
"Long term – everything is on the table. We have to identify dedicated funding sources for transit – and we have to have a regional approach to solving our long-term transit issues. That means working with surrounding cities and counties to develop solutions that fit everyone’s needs."
On Affordable Housing:
“When we think about affordable housing, we know that we need to fund it, build it, preserve it, and retain it. During my time serving on the Metro Council, I’ve co-sponsored and passed legislation that created the Barnes Housing Trust Fund and I’ve found new revenue to direct funds from short term rentals into the fund."
As mayor, I will continue to secure diversified dedicated funding mechanisms for the Barnes Fund. However, the Barnes Fund alone cannot address our affordable housing crisis. We must push for innovative ideas that will incentivize the development of more affordable housing units. We can look at using TIF funds, redevelopment districts, and work with planning and zoning on creative ideas such as micro-housing units. Not everyone needs 1000 square feet or more of living space, especially if we provide amenities like open, public, and community spaces along with commercial, retail, and restaurant offerings within walking distance."
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