Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Former Metro Council candidate VanReece finds inclusive workplace at Nashville Symphony

We recently caught up with former Metro Nashville Council candidate Nancy VanReece to find out what she's been up to.  Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Grand Divisions:  You recently took a new position with the Nashville Symphony.  Tell us what you'll be doing.

Nancy VanReece:  I am working with a great Communications team as part of the External Affairs Department. Daily, you can bet that I am busy crafting and managing social media strategies for each event produced by the Nashville Symphony as well as for each department of the Nashville Symphony and Schermerhorn Symphony Center. In addition to doing our best to turn content into conversations in the social-sphere, I am managing the updates to to and  I will also be chief curator for a new blog launching in 2012 that will help share the stories of Nashville's symphony on a daily basis.
Grand Divisions:  You've always indicated that equality in the workplace is an important value to you.  Tell us about what modifications to their employment policies that the Symphony has made since you started working there. 
Nancy VanReece:  Actually, there has been no modification of practice, just an update in the language to their nondiscrimination policy. Back when I was the Executive Director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival I did a quick survey of nonprofit arts organizations receiving funding from Metro Davidson County that had inclusive non-discrimination polices.  Almost all did, including the Nashville Symphony.  I learned at that time that they also allowed domestic partners of employees to receive health benefit options. I tucked that information away back in 2007.  

You can bet that it came back up when I was interviewing for the position 4 years later.  I asked again about both.  I had pledged to not work for a company that didn't have an inclusive policy so it was imperative that what I learned in 2007 was still true.   After reading the policy, however, there was some antiquated language that I asked to be updated.  Jonathan Norris, VP of Human Resources didn't hesitate.  I simply suggested they use the same exact language that our Metro government uses. The policy was quickly updated.  I was proud to add it to the website the first week I was there.  

The domestic partner benefit option, although not inexpensive, was one the factors that encouraged me to leave my growing free-lance work for the opportunity to be part of the NSO team.  Joan, my partner of nearly 24 years, is still under employed part time (She is the food bank coordinator at Martha O'Bryan and fulfills customer orders for Cool People Care). We have been unable to afford 2 individual policies at the rate offered to us. It's still expensive this way and until federal changes are made, we have to pay taxes on her benefit, but it still costs less than buying it directly.

Grand Divisions:  As well as your work with non-profits and your engagement with artistic creativity, you're known as an advocate for the Madison area of Davidson County.  What neighborhood projects do you have in the works?
Nancy VanReece:  I'm an advocate for Nashville and for the development of the Northeast Corridor. The new District 8 is part of Madison, Maplewood, Gra-Mar, Inglewood, It's Dickerson Pike and Gallatin Pike and everything in-between. it's all Nashville. At the request of some folks I met during the campaign this past year, I help start a Facebook Group called the The Blue Star Group. It exist to provide information and facilitate conversation about the corridor that is part of  Districts 7,8 and 9.  Councilmen Pridemore and Davis have participated on occasion.  I'm still waiting to see how many of the 12 of us that started the page will facilitate.  I asked Council-lady Bennett to join and post updates but she told me, "I don't have time for Facebook.". I certainly hope that she will change her mind.
I went to a local coffee chat with Councilman Anthony Davis and there were people there from 7,6 and 8.  We are all in this together.  The success of Riverside Village in 7 will bring confidence to the development of the Madison Village in 8/9. The success of the East-West Connector mass transit line into 5-points in District 6 connects the Rivergate-Madison MTA 56 BRT-Lite directly in a way that can only be productive up the northeast corridor. I still envision a major Madison resurgence with landscaping, park and rides,  local shops and restaurants all coming… and it can't come soon enough.  Meanwhile, the people that live in this area continue to enjoy their escape to a suburban environment only 9 miles away from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Grand Divisions:  Thank you, Nancy, and congratulations!
-Chris Sanders

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