TSS Applauds an Expansion of the General Assembly’s Education Reform Champions
November 3, 2020
NASHVILLE – Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) today released the following statement after a successful election night for Tennessee General Assembly candidates who support student growth and improvements in the state’s public education:
“Every election day brings the possibility of changing course in the Tennessee General Assembly and tonight’s results speak to the continued commitment to improving and reimaging public education across the state,” said Tennesseans for Student Success President & CEO Adam Lister. “Despite national trends and a complex political environment, the education reform movement remains strong in Tennessee. Ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed is paramount, especially among the upheaval in education brought on by COVID-19. Every state policymaker must be committed to work that prioritizes and lifts up all students. Through this year’s primary and general elections, voters have made clear that Tennessee kids must be second to no one and no groups when elected leaders are making important policy decisions.”
In July, TSS released extensive statewide polling that shows prioritizing improvements in education and supporting Tennessee’s students is a top priority for the people of the Volunteer State. Knowing this, and in keeping with our policy priorities around improving student outcomes and bettering our public schools, TSS launched a comprehensive issue advocacy and voter education campaign engaging voters in HD8, HD37, HD83, HD97, SD4, and SD20 stand on higher standards in education, aligned assessments to those standards, protecting accountability for student success, promoting innovation in schools, and securing economic freedom for all. In each of these districts, education reform candidates outperformed the expected national ticket by focusing on student-focused initiatives.
That campaign garnered nearly 8 million impressions and voter contacts across various mediums focused on 200,000 voters.
Tennesseans for Student Success actively works on behalf of families and children across the state to leverage political influence in the Tennessee General Assembly to promote our policy priorities. Utilizing first-party data-modeling, comprehensive polling, and building an extensive network of voters and advocates, TSS’ work in public education aims to put students first and champion the issues that Tennesseans care about the most as evidenced through tonight’s victories.
Austin McMullen is a practicing attorney and partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. His work is primarily in the area of commercial finance and he is certified as a specialist in creditors’ rights law. Austin graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Law, and earned his undergraduate education at Millsaps College. He is married and have two school-aged children. Austin enjoys working with children, so he teaches the 6th grade confirmation class at First Presbyterian Church, is a TSSAA football official, and coaches girls basketball.
Why I joined the board: With two school-age children attending Tennessee public schools, maximizing the opportunities for student success has been personal for me and my family. I know that academic support and high expectations are of the greatest importance for motivating children and spurring them on to achieve their dreams. I’ve seen that in my own children. Great schools are also important for the success of Tennessee families and the economic development of our State. I joined Tennesseans for Student Success and worked tirelessly because I believe that more educational opportunities and success will help all Tennesseans – students, parents, families, communities, and ultimately, our entire State.
Kurt Faires is a corporate attorney in Chattanooga. Prior to law, he had a career in the business sector including stints as a manufacturing company owner, investment banking for privately-held companies, and turnaround consulting. He is a product of public K-12 education in Indiana and is motivated to help provide a more level educational playing field for Tennessee students, particularly in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Kurt is married to Judge Christie Sell Faires. In their free time, they enjoy spending time with their four children, politics, exercise, the outdoors, and being near the water.
Harry L. Allen is the Co-founder, Executive Vice President and Chief Relationship Officer of Studio Bank. Studio Bank launched in July 2018 to become the first new, “de novo”, locally-headquartered bank in Nashville since 2008. Studio Bank is one of Nashville’s fastest growing companies, employing over 50 and with total assets of over $350 million. As co-founder, Mr. Allen was integral in the formation of the bank including recruiting members of the team, board of directors, completing the necessary regulatory applications and helping raise over $50 million in start-up capital. He serves as the Bank’s lead business development officer, key point of contact for stakeholders and strategic partners, such as the bank’s Founders’ Advisory Board, and manages the Bank’s involvement and investment in community efforts.
A native of Nashville, Mr. Allen is active in the Nashville Community serving on the board of directors for the Center for Nonprofit Management and is a Trustee of Belmont University. He is also the Immediate Past-President of the Rotary Club of Nashville, the world’s third-largest Rotary Club, and a graduate of the 2018-2019 Leadership Nashville Class. He has been listed as a 2014 Nashville Top 40 Under 40, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Power Leader in Finance, and 2019 Nashville Power 100 by the Nashville Business Journal.
Mr. Allen has dedicated most of his volunteer service to improving public education. He has served as founding board chair of Purpose Preparatory Academy, served as co-Chair of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card Committee, and as a member of Mayor David Briley’s “Education Kitchen Cabinet”. In 2018, Mr. Allen was inducted into the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame by the Nashville Public Education Foundation and was honored with Belmont’s Massey Graduate School of Business Distinguished Graduate Award.