Young American Leaders Nashville

Preparing emerging leaders to build shared prosperity and economic growth in collaboration with Harvard Business School.


Global Action Platform works with Harvard Business School to prepare new regional economic leaders through the Young American Leaders Program--Nashville. The program grows out of a deep concern and hope concerning U.S. competitiveness. The concern is that the local, shared resources which drive American prosperity are not keeping pace with global standards. As a result, an unsustainable divergence has gripped the U.S. economy: working- and middle-class Americans who rely on such shared resources are struggling, even as firms and individuals who can tap global opportunities are thriving. Prosperity is being generated but not shared.


The Young American Leaders Program model is designed to help local leaders in urban areas create locally-based solutions for shared prosperity.  The Program aims to develop leaders who understand cross-sector collaborations for shared prosperity and, as a result, can implement such collaborations more effectively and spread them more rapidly than in the past.  Over time, the Program aims to develop a cadre of leaders across the US who are able and eager to work across traditional boundaries to help their communities thrive.   Leaders remain connected to each other, to HBS and Global Action Platform, and to future cohorts. In Nashville, engagement with the region's ten major research universities and regional economic programs of Global Action Platform keep local YALP leaders connected and engaged in solutions for Middle Tennessee.


Ten-person teams from Nashville and thirteen other selected cities attend three intense days at the Harvard Business School learning about cross-sector collaborations and shared prosperity– best and worst practices from across the country and around the globe. Through case-method discussions and drawing on the experiences of the young leaders themselves, HBS faculty bring out 

• insight into where America and American cities stand today;

• examples of innovative cross-sector collaborations that improve cities’ standing; and 

• personal lessons about collaborative leadership.

 After the experience on campus, each city team will be encouraged to apply what they have learned to benefit their hometown.

Young American Leaders Program Highlights

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Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Young American Leaders Program was postponed. Therefore the highlights reported below are from 2019.

The 2019 Young American Leaders Program addressed a number of timely issues and practical leadership skills during the sessions at the Harvard Business School.

"Yesterday was an exciting day, Jan Rifkin, one of the program leaders wrote, "three cases, two city sessions, a talk on advanced leadership, a discussion of the changing nature of work and its implications for collaboration in cities, and a fireside chat over dinner with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana. 

The first 28-hours of the program included:

  • a reception to welcome everyone to campus;
  • an opening case on the Columbus Partnership, a case that illustrates both the power and the challenges of cross-sector collaboration;
  • a dinner conversation about personal aspirations;
  • a launch of the “city sessions” in which each city team will envision a new cross-sector collaboration that could make a difference in its hometown;
  • after-hours conversations in the dorm lounges;
  • a discussion of the trajectory of the American economy--the evidence and causes of the lack of shared prosperity in our country;
  • a case on Amazon’s search for its HQ2--a frank discussion about what businesses should ask of cities and what cities should ask of businesses;
  • a lunchtime fireside chat with Massachusetts’ former governor Deval Patrick;
  • a case on an innovative effort to crowdsource bus maps in Mexico City--an opportunity to consider the role of experimentation in cross-sector efforts;
  • a frank conversation about systemic racism in America with Brown University Professor Tricia Rose;
  • a second city session on picking a focus for a new cross-sector collaboration;
  • a fireside chat with Saint Paul’s dynamic and insightful Mayor Melvin Carter; and
  • a dinner to discuss community unity and division.

 As the session wrapped up, the 2019 YALP class reviewed cases on Hartford and Miami, conducted two city sessions, participated in a talk on advanced leadership, a discussion about ways to close the skills gap, a conversation about the design choices that all cross-sector collaborations face, and a fireside chat over dinner with the Honorable Jennifer Musisi, the courageous former executive director of Kampala, Uganda.


The closing sessions also included practical training on negotiating for change--important since every cross-sector collaboration is marked by ongoing negotiation among the involved parties.  The conceptual challenge comes from a new case on testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh.  The case centers on the tough question of how to inspire risky change when the status quo looks safe but isn’t.


2019 concludes with the city teams presenting their project ideas to each other in an “idea fair.” 

 2019 Class of Young American Leaders--Nashville

Nashville; Boston (June 5, 2019) Ten government, business, and nonprofit leaders from Middle Tennessee have been chosen by Global Action Platform for a Harvard Business School leadership program convening representatives from fourteen American cities who are working across sectors to help their communities prosper.


Dr.Scott T. Massey, Chairman and CEO, Global Action Platform, and Mitch Weiss,Co-Director of the Young American Leaders Program and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurial Management, Harvard Business School announced the 2019 Class of Nashville Young American Leaders today at a Leadership Reunion and 2019 class induction held at Harth Restaurant, Green Hills Hilton.  Global Action Platform is the local partner and coordinator of the Young American Leaders Program for Nashville and the regional affiliate of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School.


The ten Nashville leaders selected to participate in the leadership program a tHarvard this June are


1.      Harry Allen, Chief Relationship Officer,Studio Bank

2.      Malika Anderson, Chief of Organizational Development,Instruction Partners

3.      Beth Seigenthaler Courtney, Managing Partner,Southeast, Finn Partners

4.      Joe Flynn, AVP, Community Engagement, HCA;President, HCA Hope Foundation

5.      Andrew Goldner, Founding Partner, GrowthX

6.      Nathan Green, Vice Chancellor for Governmentand Community Relations, Vanderbilt University

7.      Tony Niknejad, Policy Director, Office of the Governor,State of Tennessee

8.      Lisa Purcell, Vice President of Development,Education, and Community Outreach, Country Music Hall          of Fame ® and Museum

9.      Joyce Searcy, Director of Community Relations,Belmont University

10.   MarthaSilva, Senior Director of Economic Integration, Conexion Americas



The Young American Leaders Program grows out of a deep concern and a great hope shared by Global Action Platform and the Harvard Business School’s ongoing project on U.S. competitiveness. The concern is that the local, shared resources which drive American prosperity are not keeping pace with global standards. U.S.workforce skills, schools, and infrastructure, for instance, are not improving fast enough or, in too many cases, are deteriorating. As a result, an unsustainable divergence has gripped the U.S. economy: working- and middle-class Americans are struggling, even as firms and individuals who can tap global opportunities are thriving. Prosperity is being generated but not shared.


Our hope springs from the local level. In cities and regions across the country, we see local policymakers, business people, nonprofit leaders, educators, clergy,and others coming together across sectors to build skills, improve schools,restore infrastructure to build a foundation for economic growth and shared prosperity.


Ten leaders from fourteen cities across the U.S. are selected by senior community leaders in those cities to go to Harvard each June for an intensive case study workshop on urban and rural regional collaborations and strategies for economic resilience.  Other participating cities include Boston, Columbus, Detroit, Miami,Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City, and Seattle, among others.  The program was launched to develop leaders who understand cross-sector collaborations for shared prosperity and can implement them more effectively and spread them more rapidly than in the past.


“Global Action Platform is committed to advancing local innovation cluster economic growth for shared prosperity,” notes Dr. Massey.  “We are pleased to be the regional affiliate of Porter’s Institute at Harvard and to be working with them on the Young American Leaders Program and other projects.  Through this collaboration, we hope to help enable emerging and established local leaders to work together for the shared growth and prosperity of our region in today’s global economy.”  Lipscomb University’s Linda Peek Schacht, andAlexander Assouad, Assistant Professor of Management and International Business, Belmont University help advise the group, which receives ongoing local program support from Global Action Platform.


Nashville leaders who have participated in the Young American Leaders Program in theprevious years include (titles based on currently available information from the internet, which may be subject to more recent changes):




Jon Ayers,Executive Vice President, Ayers Asset Management

Landon Gibbs,Managing Partner, Altitude Ventures

Caleb Graves,Director of Business Development, Staffing as a Mission, LLC

Penny Judd,President, PenAvenue Strategies

Stacey Levine, Regional Director, The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness

Shaka Mitchell, Tennessee Director, American Federation for Children

Laura Moore,Senior Advisor, Education, Office of the Mayor, Metro Nashville

Gabe Roberts,Director, TennCare

Melissa Waddey, President, Ambulatory and Operations Group, LifePoint Health

MarcusWhitney, Founding President, Jumpstart Foundry




Agenia Clark,President, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee

Lucia Folk,Vice President for Public Affairs, CMT

Clay Jackson, Jr., General Manager, Sonder, Inc

John Lowry, Vice President for Development and External Affairs, Lipscomb University

LonnellMatthews, Davidson County Clerk, Davidson County Juvenile Court

Mendy Mazzo, CorporateSenior Vice President, National Business Development Skanska

Tim Ozgener,President and CEO, Oz Arts

Renata Soto,President (Retiring), Conexion Americas

Mario Avila,Director, Turner Center for Social Ventures, Owen Graduate School of Business,Vanderbilt University

LesleeAlexander, Immediate Past Director of International Programs, TennesseeDepartment of Economic and Community Development




Jeff Albee,Principal, Innovation and Technology, Stantec

Samar Ali,International Counsel, Bass, Berry & Sims

Kate Chinn,Vice President and Head of Community Relations, AllianceBernstein

Lesia Crumpton-Young, Vice President of Research and Institutional Advancement,Tennessee State University

Ryan Doyle,General Manager, oneC1TY, Cambridge Holdings

Hank Ingram, Financial Analyst, Ingram Industries

Joelle Phillips,President, AT&T Tennessee

Jay Turner,Managing Director, Marketstreet Enterprises

Caroline Randall Williams, Author, Poet, and Academic

D. J. Wootson, Principal, Titus Young




Monica Clayton Fawknotson, Executive Director, Nashville Sports Authority

Dr. Alex Jahangir, Medical Director, Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn, and Emergency Surgery

Peter Thompson, Vice President Wealth Management, Regions Bank

David Hanson,Managing Partner, Hillgreen

Elizabeth McAlister, Owner, Speak Spanish Nashville

Wendy Thompson, Vice Chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness, Tennessee Board of Regents

Henry Hicks, CEO,National Museum of African American Music

Karen Thompson, Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, HCA

Andres Martinez, Director of Communications, Conexion Americas

Laura Berlind, President, Sycamore Institute


About GlobalAction Platform


Global Action Platform is the leading university-business alliance to advance scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant food, health, and prosperity.  Global Action Platform is the lead convener for the Tennessee Innovation Hub for urban innovation solutions, and strategic development partner with GPSS on comprehensive rural development projects. The goal is to create a world of abundance for all people, so that every single individual has a chance to thrive.


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