The inspiring Senator Charlane Oliver (also find her on Twitter) returns to talk about her first days in office in the Tennessee General Assembly and what drives her activism for social justice.
Tennessee became her home over 20 years ago when she moved to Nashville as a college student bound for Vanderbilt University. There, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Human & Organizational Development and later a Master of Public Administration from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
She had big dreams and goals, but never imagined the depth of her positive and courageous impact on the lives of others. Step by step, she has blazed her own trail as an award-winning servant leader, community organizer, nonprofit founder, and wife and working mother. Charlane is the co-founder and co-executive director of The Equity Alliance, a statewide 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization whose mission is to unapologetically build independent Black political and economic power and keep government in check. Under Charlane’s visionary leadership, she turned $250 of her own money into a $2.5 million-dollar powerhouse organization in just five years, growing currently with 12 employees and three chapters across the state. Her successes through TEA earned her the prestigious recognition of 2020 People of the Year by The Tennessean and numerous accolades.
Her family’s multi-generational lineage of public service spans two centuries. With ancestors who served in the United States Armed Forces during the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam War, she counts civic, governmental, and political advocacy as her divine calling. The daughter of a veteran public school teacher and Air Force military veteran, Charlane grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas reared with her family’s Christian and working class values. Following her parents’ divorce at the age of seven, Charlane was raised by a single mother and had to overcome poverty, battle with depression and survive sexual assault, portions of her background that developed in her a deep passion to advocate for vulnerable communities, especially those overlooked and undervalued.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Nashville, Charlane made sure Black and Brown communities got our fair share of federal C.A.R.E.S. Act resources to combat the pandemic. She led the Our Fair Share Community Needs Assessment where more than 8,500 Nashvillians were surveyed within 65 days, resulting in Metro Council approving a combined $22 million in relief for Black and Latino residents, people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, and minority small businesses.
As founder and board president of the Power of 10 PAC, she helped to elect Black and Latino candidates for school board, municipal, judicial, and state legislature positions. As owner of OEM Consulting Group, LLC, she has provided community engagement, government affairs, and public relations strategies and solutions for political candidates, nonprofits, universities, and small businesses.
Charlane honed her policy expertise while serving as a congressional aide and communications strategist for U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, where she advised the congressman on voting rights and criminal justice reform issues. She was tapped to lead Project Register, a bipartisan initiative by Rep. Cooper and former State Sen. Steve Dickerson in which she recruited more than 200 companies to encourage their employees to register to vote online. It proved to be one of the most successful voter registration initiatives in Congress. Charlane was later selected to travel with a U.S. congressional delegation to China to learn about foreign diplomacy and international trade policy.
Charlane is a graduate of Leadership Nashville and Young Leaders Council. She holds current membership with Nashville’s Agenda, Nashville CABLE, NAACP Nashville, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and served on the 2020 Metro C.A.R.E.S. Act Allocation Committee and the Mayor John Cooper C.A.R.E.S. Act Advisory Committee.
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Paul Samuel Dolman, author, podcaster, and speaker, presents What Matters Most (the book!) a series of interview transcriptions from more than twenty inspirational Nashville and Tennessee residents, including special guest the journalist and author Bill Moyers.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, former Governor Don Sundquist, Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, Grammy Award-winning entertainer Wynonna Judd, and many more share intimate and inspirational aspects of themselves.
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