Nashville’s resilience journey

Nashville is projected to grow by 186,000 residents and 326,000 jobs in the next 25 years, reshaping the demographic and economic landscape of the city. Increasing diversity will require efforts to build social cohesion between new and existing communities. Emerging industries in the city increasingly require advanced skills, but only 32% of residents have a college degree or higher. The city seeks to develop citizens’ workplace skills and align new talent with emerging sectors.

Nashville’s population surge strains a more densely built environment that is more vulnerable to rainfall flooding. The largest waterway and receiving stream for surface runoff in the county, the Cumberland River, is meters away from Nashville’s thriving downtown economic hub. Flooding is estimated to cost the city in excess of $132 million annually in damage and disruption to business. Flood events also impact critical infrastructure including water supply, transportation, energy, and communication systems. Nashville has coordinated past responses through an Emergency Operations Center and opened emergency shelters to house residents displaced by flooding.

Resilience Strategy coming soon

Meet the Chief Resilience Officer

Mary Beth Ikard

Transportation & Sustainability Manager, Chief Resilience Officer

Mary Beth Ikard has two decades of experience in communications and cause marketing on complex issues. She came to the Mayor’s Office via the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization – the lead policy, planning, and funding authority for surface transportation across Middle Tennessee – where she oversaw public involvement in the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan.

She has had a leadership role in producing multiple-signature mayoral agendas for transportation and sustainability, including a 2018 voter referendum for $5.4 billion in transportation capital investments and dedicated funding for transit operations. She earned the Nashville Emerging Leader Award in her industry sector, and was honored by the Nashville Business Journal as a “Woman of Influence” and a “Top 40 Under 40”. She was Walk/Bike Nashville’s 2019 “Government Official of the Year.”

She holds a BA in Journalism and English from Indiana University and an Accreditation in Public Relations. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of the South.

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