September 10, 2013

The Nashville Public Education Foundation has chosen former Bredesen administration staffer Shannon Hunt to be its new president.

A Nashville native, Hunt will step into her new role Nov. 1. Hunt is now a partner at Washington, D.C., public affairs firm Chlopak Leonard Schechter & Associates, where she has worked for the World Bank, Estee Lauder and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, among others. She was an aide to former Mayor and Gov. Phil Bredesen, serving as the then-mayor's press secretary and one of his chief political strategists during the 1990s. She later served as communications director and special assistant to Bredesen in the formative first year of his gubernatorial administration.

The foundation, which was founded in 2001, acts as a platform for public-private partnerships and has helped funnel more than $25 million of private funding to improve Nashville's public schools.

"The ingredients are here to do something truly transformational with our school system," Hunt said. "The success of our children and our city depend on the ability of Nashville to come together behind a clear, unified blueprint for change, enforce high expectations for student achievement, and ensure an unrelenting commitment of both the public and private sectors to make it happen."

Hunt fills the role formerly held by Natasha Kamrani, who was appointed in early 2012 but early this year moved on to be state director for the Democrats for Education Reform political action committee. Kamrani is a former Teach for America member and wife of Chris Barbic, superintendent of the Tennessee Department of Education's Achievement School District, which works with low-performing schools.

"This foundation has stepped up as a vital funding partner for Metro Schools and the city's broader interest in stronger public schools," said Tom Sherrard, who will soon take over from Margaret Dolan as Nashville Public Education Foundation board chairman. "But looking ahead, our intent is to play a more decisive role as a convener and arbiter of dialogue about how to best bring about serious change and improvement of our public education system."