Hundreds Of Industry And Education Leaders Gathered Today In Nashville

NASHVILLE — The State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE) hosted the Future Forward Summit in Nashville today, bringing together over 200 of the state’s top business and education leaders to discuss ways to create and expand robust career pathways to improve educational and workforce outcomes for both students and employers.

Tennessee employers have urgent workforce needs. There are currently over 200,000 job openings in Tennessee, and that number is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

Yet, currently, less than one-quarter of Tennessee high school students will attain a postsecondary degree or credential while a majority of the jobs in our workforce require one to meet employer needs.

The Summit spotlighted current innovations at the intersection of education and work, elevated the work of leading Tennessee and national best practices, and identified opportunities for how industry and education can better collaborate to promote learning opportunities so that every Tennessean is prepared for a career that enables economic independence.

“Every Tennessee student deserves an educational experience that prepares them for a successful career,” said SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri. “Innovative business and industry leaders have a critical role to play in reimagining education-to-workforce pathways for students to meet our state’s economic needs. Today’s event helps to elevate leading efforts that provide more students with credentials and degrees that have strong value in the workplace.”

Key leaders and speakers at today’s event included (view full agenda):

  • Senator Bill Frist, MD, Founder and Board Chairman, SCORE
  • Dr. Joseph Fuller, Professor of Management Practice in General Management and Co-Leader of Managing the Future of Work, Harvard Business School
  • JD Hickey, CEO, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
  • Dr. Chauncy Lennon, Vice President for Learning and Work and Senior Strategy Advisor, Lumina Foundation
  • Dr. Stephen Moret, President & CEO, Strada Education Foundation
  • Cheryl Oldham, Vice President of Education Policy at the US Chamber of Commerce and Senior Vice President of the Education and Workforce Program of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Commissioner Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Commissioner Deniece Thomas, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Ted Townsend, President & CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber
  • Anne Wicks, Ann Kimball Johnson Director of Education and Opportunity, George W. Bush Institute  

“We as business leaders must have an active and leading seat at the table if we are going to continue to create the workforce we need and the economic opportunities we want for all Tennesseans,” said Bradley Jackson, president & CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Tara Scarlett, chair of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, president and CEO of the Scarlett Family Foundation in Nashville, and SCORE board member said this more intentional and intensive focus on education-to-workforce pathways is exactly what is needed if we want to prepare and move more students into great jobs, especially in Tennessee’s fastest-growing career fields.

“Tennessee’s high school graduates want to see a tangible return on investment from the additional education and training they want and need. Having employers at the table and in meaningful conversations and partnerships with our schools and colleges is going to be key to guiding this work going forward. Today’s discussion helped surface ideas and solutions and will hopefully help us begin to close any gaps,” Scarlett said.

For more information about today’s Future Forward Summit, and this important work, please visit