Metro Human Relations Commission garners new members

Mayor Bill Purcell proposed and the Metro Council has approved the appointment of three new members to the Metro Human Relations Commission:  Iris Buhl, Hall Cato and Scott Ridgway.

The new members join others in the Human Relations Commission to provide community-wide education to lessen discrimination in public accommodations, employment, financial services and housing as well as to promote respect for diversity, encourage better race relations and other consumer concerns.

"The Commission is extremely fortunate to be the recipient of such a vast array of talent and individuals committed to making Nashville one city for all people," said Kelvin Jones, Executive Director of the Commission. "All three new members have a background in community service as full-time employees and volunteer members."

Iris Buhl has lived in Nashville for 64 years and has spent most of that time as an advocate for the underprivileged and needy. She received her degrees at George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt) a B.S. in English and a masters in Arts/Special Education.

She spent about four years working with a social psycologist understanding racial attitude changes. In 1960 Iris married Mike and later had a son, Michael, now 40.

More work as a research assistant led to work at Peabody again in the areas of intercity and disadvantaged progress and then a preschool program that led to the beginnings of Headstart. In 1970 she was with the Regional Intervention Program training parents with autistic children.

A short retirement led to volunteer work at the University School of Nashville, fundraising for WPLN 90.3 NPR radio and being on the Board of Planned Parenthood (as well as a volunteer) and working full time for Nashville Cares for 18 years, including time as the Development Director and on-and-off time on the board. From 1995 through today she has been with the Franklin Brooks Fund Advisory Board through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Currently she is on several advisory boards including NPR Board of Directors and now the Human Relations Commission. Her resume includes so much volunteer work and as a member of advisory boards it would take up another page just to list them. She is truly a remarkable woman.

Hal Cato is also no stranger to community service as he has served on numerous non-profit boards including Family and Children Services, Nashville Cares, Bethlehem Centers of Nashville and NCCJ.

Hal, also a Nashville native, is currently executive director for the Oasis Center, a 37-year-old non-profit organization that helps youth in times of crisis and providing opportunities for leadership and service. His duties include leadership, fundraising and community relations.

Under his guidance, the Oasis Center was recently named Youth Agency of the Year by the National Network for Youth and a top 10 finalist for the Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation.

Before the Oasis Center, Hal worked for Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the worlds largest developer and manager of employer sponsored childcare services. Hal created over 115 corporate sponsored child care centers in the U.S., England, Ireland and Guam. As past president of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, he developed programs to equip 120 play spaces in shelters throughout the U.S. and U.K. for preschool-aged children whose families are homeless.

Scott Ridgway is the third new member. He currently is the executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, (TSPN), who's motto is "Saving Lives in Tennessee". Scott has a B.A. in Human Services from U.T. and a Masters from Cumberland University in Public Services Management.

He currently serves as president-elect for the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare's Board of Directors. Previous work includes serving as past president of the Board of Directors for the Middle Tennessee Association for Child Care and as a volunteer with Temporary Residents of Adolescents in Crisis, First Steps, Crisis Center and as a founding member of Renewal House.

Amounge his numerous honors are Child Advocate of the Year (twice), Top 40 Under 40 by the Tennessean, Young Leaders in Middle Tennessee, the 2005 I.C. Hope Award and the 2006 Eli Lilly Inc. Heroes In the Fight award.

As a dedicated volunteer he continues to act through Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known as CASA, the Foster Care Review Board, the Nashville Citizen's Police Alumni Association, Leadership Donelson-Hermitage group and by serving as a surrogate parent for Nashville Metro Schools

Scott's involvement with GLBT activities includes Co-chair of Artrageous 20, Nashville Pride, TEP, SMRA and the Grizzlies.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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