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The Jennings & Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning

Michael Skipper

Greater Nashville Regional Council – Executive Director

Michael has more than 20 years of experience in public policy, community and regional planning, and social research.  He served nine years as executive director of the Nashville Area MPO before being hired to lead the 80+ member staff of the Greater Nashville Regional Council.  In 2017 the two organizations were integrated to form a more comprehensive council of governments to serve the planning and community development needs of the region.  Today, GNRC serves as the Nashville area’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, Economic Development District, and Area Agency on Aging and Disability.  In addition, it provides small business lending and assistance through its non-profit arm called the Mid-Cumberland Area Development Corporation.

In addition to his GNRC responsibilities, Michael serves as lead facilitator and advisor to the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus. The Mayor’s Caucus was formed in 2009 in order to provide leadership on important issues facing a rapidly changing regional landscape. Transportation, and particularly the pursuit of a modern mass transit system, served as the early catalyst, but in its brief history the Caucus has served as an effective forum for building personal relationships among mayors and has helped local governments support each other on issues ranging from flood recovery to regional tourism.

Prior to his return to the MPO in 2007, he directed the public transportation work program for an MPO in central Florida where he led regional consensus building efforts and spearheaded state legislative action to provide a dedicated source of funding for public transportation through the creation of the Polk Transit Authority. He was a technical lead in the seven-county Orlando area’s “How Shall We Grow?” regional visioning process and the MPOs representative in the development of legislation that led to the creation of the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority. In addition to his public-sector service, Michael has held senior-level management positions with consulting firms in Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington.  During his time in the private sector, he conducted social and public policy research for numerous local and state governments, planning organizations, and other public agencies across the nation.  

He received his undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas. Recent honors include Nashville Emerging Leaders Award for Government and Public Affairs, Tennessee Planner of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association, the National Award for Outstanding Individual Leadership by the Association of MPOs, and the Transportation Planning Excellence Award by the United States Department of Transportation.  He is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee’s class of 2010 and graduated with the second class of Leadership Tennessee in 2015.  He completed a year-long fellowship with the U.S. German Marshall Fund to study regional governance models across the Atlantic in 2017.

Areas of Interest:

  1. Regional Governance and Policymaking
  2. Economic and Community Development
  3. Transportation and Land Use Planning

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