Women in Government

Megan Barry 2017 HONOREE

Mayor, Nashville, Tennessee

Megan Barry knows she’s in a position to drive change. Nashville has a strong-mayor form of government, and it’s a metro city-county jurisdiction. “[Nashville] is a vibrant place because you don’t have the urban/suburban fight,” she says. “We’re in this together.” 

Since taking office in September 2015, she’s been unafraid to take on persistent challenges like transit and affordable housing. Barry, a Democrat, describes herself as a pro-business, progressive leader who is happy to see Nashville’s unemployment rate at a historically low 2.9 percent.

During 20 years as a corporate ethics and compliance officer, she became interested in the intersection of government and business. Her political involvement began on the neighborhood level, when she and others worked to save a historic school from being torn down. She was elected to the Metro Council in 2007, where she successfully pushed an antidiscrimination ordinance protecting the LGBTQ community. “It was a hard-fought battle,” she says. 

Barry is Nashville’s first woman mayor. “My favorite times are when young women or girls stop me and say, ‘You mean a woman can be a mayor?’” she says. “If you can see it, you can be it.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.