Vanderbilt taps 26 notable names to democracy project board

Posted at 11:26 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 12:26:11-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Vanderbilt University initiative aimed at bridging the gap of political polarization in the U.S. has named 26 members to its advisory board, ranging from politicians to musicians.

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy on Tuesday announced a panel that includes prominent political and government voices.

Among them are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former U.S. Attorney General and current Belmont University law school dean Alberto Gonzales, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, and former U.S. ambassador to China and governor Washington state governor Gary Locke. Joining them are country music artists Martina McBride, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

"American Democracy rests on the foundational idea that people come together from all walks of life and diverse perspectives to work for the common good of our nation," said Vanderbilt University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. "The advisory board being announced today embodies this ideal and will be instrumental in helping Vanderbilt's Project on Unity & American Democracy achieve its goal of fostering a shared understanding and productive dialogue to help our nation heal its frayed bonds."

The advisory board will be comprised of the following members:

  • Kofi Appentengpresident and CEO of the Africa-America Institute 
  • Allida Black, distinguished visiting scholar at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, adviser to Hillary Clinton, human rights activist
  • Bob Boisturepresident and CEO of the Fetzer Institute 
  • Erskine Bowles, trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former White House chief of staff, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina 
  • David Brooks, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times frequent media contributor
  • Jeb Bush, founder and chair of ExcelinEd, former governor of Florida 
  • Rodney Fergusonpresident and CEO of Winrock International
  • Alice Fisherpartner, Latham & Watkins LLP, former assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division
  • Lt. Gen. Jack GardnerU.S. Army (Retired)
  • Alberto Gonzales, U.S. attorney general under President George W. Bush, dean of Belmont College of Law
  • Warren Gorrell, senior counsel and former CEO of Hogan Lovells
  • Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College, professor of the practice of ministry, director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School 
  • Faith Hill, Grammy Award-winning music artist, actor and TV producer
  • Lt. Gen. Scott Howell, U.S. Air Force (Retired), former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command 
  • Walter Isaacson, biographer, former editor of Time, former president of the Aspen Institute, professor of history at Tulane University
  • Callie Khouri, Academy Award–winning film and television writer, director, producer
  • Gary Locke, former U.S. ambassador to China, former secretary of commerce, former governor of Washington, interim president of Bellevue College 
  • Martina McBride, Grammy-nominated and CMA Award–winning country music artist
  • Ebie McFarland, owner and founder of Essential Broadcast Media 
  • Tim McGraw, recording artist, actor
  • Susan Nadler, former music industry executive, award-winning creator and author
  • Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation 
  • Valerie Rockefeller, chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • Deondra Rose, associate professor of public policy, political science and history; director of Polis: Center for Politics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation
  • Peter Wehner, contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and The Atlantic, former White House speechwriter for President George W. Bush, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center