Odessa Kelly — Executive Director, Stand Up Nashville
A native of Nashville, Odessa Kelly works diligently to bring positive and equitable change to the Nashville community by serving as Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville, a coalition of community-based organizations and labor unions that represent the working people of Nashville who have seen our city transformed by development, but have not shared in the benefits of that growth. She also serves as Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), Economic Equity & Jobs task force chair. Her work with NOAH has included building one of the largest and most powerful social justice movements in Nashville. She has advocated for the working class and underserved communities in Nashville, issues ranging from affordable housing to establishing the first ever Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in the state of Tennessee. She believes that Nashville has the potential to achieve a progressive paradigm shift — a cultural shift in how a traditional southern city becomes a leader in the progressive movement across the country.
Charlane Oliver — Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, The Equity Alliance
Hailed as a “Now Generation Activist” by The Tennessean and a 2019 Woman of Influence by the Nashville Business Journal, Charlane Oliver is an award-winning community advocate, respected movement builder, public relations strategist and rising star among Music City’s political scene. She is the co-founder and executive director of The Equity Alliance, a nonprofit that works to build political power among black voters and end voter suppression in a state with one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation.
As a trusted voice on voting rights issues, her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and throughout Tennessee. She has graced the coveted stage at the inaugural TEDxNashvilleWomen and has been a featured guest on various local television broadcasts and national podcasts.
Her organization led a statewide coalition that registered 91,000 Black and brown Tennesseans to vote for the 2018 midterms, increased Black voter turnout by 413 percent, and was responsible for endorsing and electing the most diverse and progressive Metro Council in the city’s history. Previously, Charlane served as the community liaison and on the communications team for U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, where she led one of the most successful voter registration initiatives in Congress called Project Register.
With over 15 years of professional experience in nonprofit management, civil service and communications, Charlane has garnered numerous accolades and awards. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Charlane has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Tequila Johnson — Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, The Equity Alliance
Tequila Johnson is an award-winning cause driven community organizer and strategist whose work focuses on creating equity and increasing civic engagement among Black Americans and other communities of color. She has been recognized for educating communities of color about the political process, relevant economic, social, and political issues, the impacts of impending legislation, and providing people with the tools to exercise self-agency. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, on CNN, MSNBC and around the country. Johnson is the co-founder and Co Executive director of The Equity Alliance, a Tennessee-based nonprofit that equips black and brown citizens with tools and strategies to strengthen their communities and make government work better. In 2018, Johnson served as the statewide manager for the Tennessee Black Voter Project, a statewide coalition of nearly two dozen local nonprofits working together toward the goal of registering 50,000 Black Tennesseans to vote. The group, under Johnson’s leadership, submitted 91,000 voter registration forms. In addition to her involvement in local politics and community organizing, Johnson is also the founder and CEO of The Equity Consulting Group, LLC, a firm specializing in issue advocacy, government relations, community relations and media strategy.
She served as campaign manager and lead strategist for newcomer Christiane Buggs’s successful Metro Nashville School Board election and has provided strategic oversight, analysis and field operations for a variety of political organizations. Her work in and for the community has earned widespread praise and recognition. Her awards include: 2020 Roddenberry Civil Rights Fellow, 2019 Human Rights Coalition Rising Advocate Award, The Nashville Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award 2019; Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Superstar 2019; the NAACP Ella Baker Power Award 2019; the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee’s Movers and Shakers Award 2018; Nashville Business’ 100 Leading African Americans 2018; Nashville Black 40 Under 40 2018; and Nashville Voice’s 2018 Nashvillian of the Year. Johnson was a featured presenter at the 2018 Healthy and Free Tennessee Reproductive Rights Summit, in 2019 at the national Unrig Summit, and in 2019 at the Muslim Women’s Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Johnson is a graduate of Tennessee State University, where she received her master’s degree in counseling psychology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. Additionally she is a certified project manager and holds a graduate certificate in grant writing and nonprofit, public and organizational management. She currently serves on the Metro Nashville Industrial Development Board (2020), the sustainable business coalition, and is a Board Member for Creative Girls Rock. When she’s not working, she enjoys singing in her church choir, doing crossfit, and spending time with her daughter.
Stand Up Nashville is a coalition of community organizations and labor unions that represent the working people of Nashville who have seen our city transformed by development, but have not shared in the benefits of that growth. We believe that development and growth are an opportunity to invest and strengthen our local communities.
The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for Black Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. We are a Nashville-based 501(c)3 nonpartisan, non-profit organization that seeks to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. We believe in using our voting power as a weapon in the fight for social and economic justice.
September 21, 2020