Nonprofit group Walk Bike Nashville has added a new executive director from Fairhope, Alabama following the departure of longtime leader Nora Kern.
Meredith Montgomery has just taken the helm for Walk Bike Nashville after having worked for the past decade as publisher for Natural Awakenings Magazine Gulf Coast in Alabama and Mississippi as well as a freelance writer for Natural Awakenings Publishing Company. The publication focused on healthy lifestyle topics. She also served a year as director of donor relations for Yoga Health Foundation.
“I am thrilled to join this organization because I feel a strong connection to its vision, values and strategic goals,” said Montgomery, alluding to a background in communications, community engagement, development and fundraising. “I'm impressed by the history and growth of Walk Bike Nashville and I’m motivated by the need to continue our mission to build a more walkable, bikeable and livable city.”
The position has been known in recent years to facilitate organized advocacy aimed at effecting policy change. During Kern’s tenure, she focused the organization’s efforts on the development of its educational programming and vocal advocacy. Kern was an optimistic but vocal critic of Mayor John Cooper’s transportation plan, for example, and a consistent voice in the discourse on other legislation like a 2017 state proposal that aimed to restrict municipalities from compelling developers to transfer land for sidewalk construction.
According to her LinkedIn page, Kern is currently pursuing a master's degree in Colorado.
“We are so thrilled to have Meredith join our already amazing staff at Walk Bike Nashville,” Board President Victoria Cumbow said in a release. “We have been fortunate to have fantastic leadership throughout Walk Bike Nashville’s history and this is such a pivotal time in Nashville’s growth. The city’s attention to infrastructure and multimodal transportation is vital to its success as a city and the board is excited to have Meredith leading this charge.”
That attention on the city’s part has produced the Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure, which just welcomed its new Chief Engineer Brad Freeze this month and heralded the arrival of its first permanent Transportation Director Diana Alarcon to start in January. Transportation and education are the two largest draws on Mayor Cooper’s $568 million capital spending plan, combining to account for nearly half of its expenditures.
Montgomery will serve as director of the nonprofit while NDOT endeavors to channel part of its nearly $200 million budget toward developing new sidewalks, sidewalk repairs and bikeways. To further the Vision Zero initiative, the current spending plan also allocates $5 million from that same budget toward safety improvements including lighting and crosswalks.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this forward-thinking organization and work with its broad stakeholder base,” Montgomery said. “As this city continues to grow, it’s imperative that we accommodate the travel of all people via multimodal transportation in a convenient and safe manner, and we plan to continue driving that conversation in Nashville.”
This also comes amid the expansive Cumberland East Bank redevelopment spearheaded by urban placemaking firm Perkins Eastman, which has been organizing several interactive studies, workshops and community engagement meetings to determine what residents would like to see in the redesign of some 340 acres of downtown Nashville. The massive project currently aims to increase connectivity between East and West Banks.