Pathways to Peace: Reimagining the Future of Public Safety for Youth and Communities


The AIR Equity Initiative held its first Working at the Intersections public symposium in October 2023. At Pathways to Peace: Reimagining the Future of Public Safety for Youth and Communities, the AIR Equity Initiative united youth, community leaders, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners for conversations on the urgent topic of youth justice and public safety in Nashville and beyond.

Moderated by Aloe Blacc, Grammy-nominated musician, philanthropist, and advocate, the symposium promoted cross-sector dialogue and highlight community-driven, evidence-informed approaches to reducing violence, equipping youth to thrive, and fostering justice and public safety in communities.

Community members, including young people, were welcomed and encouraged to attend this free public event.  


Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc 
Grammy-nominated musician, philanthropist, and advocate



More than a dozen speakers with diverse expertise and lived experiences in public safety, education, health, workforce, and more defined the challenges we face and offer evidence-based examples of progress and success in building more peaceful and just communities.

Introductory Remarks

Rashawn Ray

Rashawn Ray, Ph.D.

Executive Director of the AIR Equity Initiative and Vice President,
American Institutes for Research



Brandon Taylor

Council Member Brandon Taylor

Metro Councilmember - District 21
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County




Virginia Spinks

Virginia Spinks

AIR Pipeline Partnership Program Intern
Georgia State University and AIR Equity Initiative




Part I: Following the Evidence on Equity in Public Safety

Moderator Aloe Blacc will invite a panel of experts, working at the intersections of public safety, health equity, workforce development, and beyond, to share actionable insights in a series of mini-TED-style talks.

Paula Ioanide

Paula Ioanide, Ph.D.

Qualitative Research Methodologist, Triage Team
Center for Policing Equity




Christy Lopez

Christy Lopez, Esq.

Professor from Practice
Georgetown University Law Center




Nicholas Sensley

Chief (Ret.) Nicholas Sensley

Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Institute for American Policing Reform




Candace Hester

Candace Hester, Ph.D.

Principal Researcher
American Institutes for Research




Ugochi Jones

Ugochi Jones, Ph.D.

Vice President, Data Science
Benchmark Analytics





Spoken Word Poetry

Lochlan Cook

Lochlan Cook

Nashville's 2023 Youth Poet Laureate




Part II: Pathways to Peace in Nashville

Moderator Aloe Blacc will engage local leaders and experts in a conversation to explore the idea of peace in Nashville, highlight examples of hope and progress, and discuss a path forward.

Laveil Allen

Laveil Allen, M.D.

Executive Vice Chair, Department of Radiology
Vanderbilt University Medical Center




Jill Fitcheard

Jill Fitcheard

Executive Director
Metro Nashville Community Oversight




Jennifer Wade

Jennifer N. Wade, Esq.

Court Administrator
Davidson County Juvenile Court



Christina Edmondson

Christina Edmondson, Ph.D.

Principal Consultant, Edmondson Consulting
Truth's Table Podcast




Daniel Singh

Daniel Singh

Executive Director, Metro Arts
Nashville Office of Arts + Culture




Abraham Millan

Abraham Millan

Chief Justice of the Student Government Association
Fisk University

National Issues, Local Conversation

Public safety is at the center of discourse in Nashville, where one of the city’s zip codes tallied the highest incarceration rate in the country in recent years. In the wake of rallies at the Capitol against gun violence following the devastating Covenant School killing, and the brutal murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of police in nearby Memphis, concerned citizens and local leaders are ready to have their voices heard.

Policymakers and elected officials have proclaimed public safety as their number one priority, yet broad calls often fail to highlight the tools and resources required to ensure young people have opportunities to thrive and become architects of peace in their own communities.

At Pathways to Peace, the AIR Equity Initiative will bring together local and national voices to lift up community-driven solutions and pave a path forward for new or underexplored ideas for advancing youth equity and improving public safety.

Venue Partners

When we are building community, where we gather matters. The AIR Equity Initiative is grateful for the partnership of the following venues supporting the main event and surrounding activities.

Community Collaborators

Art, media, and advocacy are vital avenues on the path to social change. The AIR Equity Initiative is proud to welcome the following individuals and organizations to the event as our Community Collaborators.



It is important to AIR that we host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage and participate fully. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please indicate your needs when you register or contact us.

About the Working at the Intersections Symposium Series

Pathways to Peace is the AIR Equity Initiative’s first Working at the Intersections public symposium. With a different focus each year, the series will bring together diverse voices to discuss cross-sectoral strategies for addressing the harms of segregation by race and place. This year, as we explore the root causes of crime and violence, we will think systemically and consider the neighborhoods and communities in which children grow up, their access to high-quality education and healthcare, and opportunities for meaningful jobs.

About the AIR Equity Initiative

In 2021, AIR launched the AIR Equity Initiative, a five-year, $100M+ investment in behavioral and social science research and technical assistance to address the underlying causes of systemic inequities and to increase opportunities for people and communities. By funding inclusive and collaborative research and technical assistance efforts that engage partners from the beginning, the Equity Initiative aims to foster bolder, strategic, and sustained ways to advance equity, especially in areas where investment is limited.

Event Information

October 12, 2023
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM ET

Dr. Wayne Riley Auditorium at the Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education
Meharry Medical College
1011 21st Avenue N.
Nashville, TN 37208