Tom Negri — recently retired as managing director of Loews Vanderbilt Hotel — was chosen by the Metro Human Relations Commission as interim director. Negri was the founder of Nashville For All Of Us, the coalition of business types and progressives that defeated English Only.
The mayor is taking quite a bit of credit for Negri's appointment:
Members of the Metro Human Relations Commission today unanimously voted to name Tom Negri as interim director, based on a recommendation from Mayor Karl Dean. Negri, a vocal community leader on issues of diversity and immigration, retired earlier this year as managing director of Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.
Current executive director Caroline Blackwell has accepted a position with the National Association of Independent Schools as vice president for equity and justice. She leaves later this month.
“Tom Negri is a respected leader in Nashville whose business experience at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and background as a founder of Nashville for All of Us will be an asset to the Metro Human Relations Commission as it continues with its important work,” Mayor Dean said. “As long as I’ve known Tom, he has always had Nashville’s best interest at heart, especially in making our city more tolerant, welcoming and diverse.”
Negri is founding chairperson of the Nashville for All of Us, a coalition that promotes Nashville as a welcoming and inclusive city and that worked for a 2009 defeat of efforts to make English the only permissible language for use by Metro government. Negri has served in leadership roles with several hospitality organizations, is past chairperson of the Tennessee State University Foundation and is an executive board member at Conexion Americas. In 2009, he received the Spirit of the Chamber Award from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Outstanding Diversity Leader Award. Also in 2009, he received the Welcoming Tennessee award that recognized outstanding leadership in the promotion of a more welcoming and inclusive state. Negri received the Metro Police Community Service Award in 2010.
“As an award-winning and visionary community leader and ‘king of hospitality,’ Tom Negri is the ideal interim director of the Metro Human Relations Commission,” said Dan Cornfield, chairman of the Metro Human Relations Commission. “Tom is a tireless activist and successful business manager with a proven commitment to diversity, human relations, and human rights.”
Negri is former managing director of Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, where he was responsible for managing day-to-day operations and development of the hotel and adjacent office building complex. He spent 35 years with Loews Hotels before retiring on Feb. 1.
Blackwell has led the Human Relations Commission since March, 2010, and during her tenure organized a nationally-recognized Hate Crime Prevention Forum; presented Celebrate Nashville’s Global Village and launched an annual Student Human Relations Summit; engaged Metro Government in the national Stand Against Racism; sponsored a new Youth Village at Nashville Pride; and introduced Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Practices to the menu of conflict management services available through the Metro Human Relations Commission.
“We should all appreciate Caroline’s commitment to the Metro Human Relations Commission and her deep dedication when it comes to human rights and human relations,” Mayor Dean said. “Her service has moved the Commission forward.”
“Through her outstanding leadership in the field of human relations and human rights, Caroline Blackwell leaves Nashville with a dynamic and professionalized Commission whose momentum sustains Nashville as an exemplary diverse, inclusive, and creative city,” Cornfield said.