A New Promise

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A New Promise Event

Higher Education is a crucial lever to ensuring economic mobility for all Tennesseans, but the rising cost of attending college threatens this promise of equal opportunity, particularly for students from economically vulnerable backgrounds. Tennessee has an opportunity to drive more students towards a postsecondary credential through a financial aid system that acknowledges the economic and personal realities of today’s students. Join The Education Trust – Tennessee as we release our report, A New Promise, Ensuring Equitable Financial Aid Design for College Students in Tennessee. We will present our research findings, uplift the unique perspectives of Pell-eligible students as they navigate various costs and will offer key recommendations for policymakers.

Guest Speakers

Kenyatta Lovett, Ph.D

Kenyatta Lovett, Ph.D

Principal at Education Strategy Group

Kenyatta Lovett joined ESG in 2023 to lead its Postsecondary Attainment portfolio. In this capacity, he advances ESG’s vision and work focused on ensuring that higher education serves as an engine of economic opportunity and mobility, equipping more students with high-value degrees and credentials that lead to well-paying, in-demand careers.

Kenyatta previously served as the Managing Director for Higher Education and Workforce at Educate Texas. In this role, he managed the portfolio of programs to support the organization’s strategic plan to significantly contribute to the attainment goal for Texas. Under his leadership, Kenyatta led statewide initiatives focused on improving outcomes in college access, work-based learning, and transfer and credit mobility.

Prior to joining Educate Texas, Kenyatta served as the Assistant Commissioner for Workforce Services at the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development. Under his leadership, the agency launched the state’s first apprenticeship office and improved collaboration with the state’s higher education systems. In 2016, Kenyatta helped to launch the nation’s first education advocacy group focused on increasing postsecondary attainment, Complete Tennessee, serving as the Executive Director. Prior to joining Complete Tennessee, Kenyatta served as an Assistant Vice Chancellor at the Tennessee Board of Regents and worked in different leadership roles at Volunteer State Community College.

Kenyatta led statewide initiatives for the community college system in Tennessee and played a critical role in the implementation of major higher education reforms, including the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 and Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 Plan. The Tennessean recognized him as one of five key people responsible for the successful launch of Tennessee Promise, the state’s initiative to cover tuition for high school graduates attending a community college.

Kenyatta serves on national advisory boards to advance the growth of credential-to-career strategies and regional collaboration to improve economic mobility. He is an adjunct professor at Tennessee State University and Lipscomb University. Kenyatta has served as a columnist and contributing author for topics related to higher education, public policy, and governance.

Kenyatta has a B.F.A. from Howard University, an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in public administration from Tennessee State University.

Dr. Will Doyle

Dr. Will Doyle

Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy, Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University

Will Doyle is Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy in the department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Doyle serves as Editor-in-Chief of Research in Higher Education. His research includes evaluating the impact of higher education policy, the antecedents and outcomes of higher education policy at the state level and the study of political behavior as it affects higher education. Doyle received a Master’s degree in Political Science and a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Stanford University in 2004.

Harold M. Love

Harold M. Love

Tennessee State Representative

Harold M. Love., Jr. was born in Nashville, TN to the Late Rep. Harold M. Love, Sr. and Mary Y. Love. Love began serving in the TN House of Representatives for the 58th District in 2012. He serves on the following House Committees: Education Administration, Local Government, Finance Ways and Means, Higher Education Subcommittee, Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee.

Love is a member of several organizations and boards, including being a 33° Mason and a Shriner, Board Member of the 18th Avenue Family Enrichment Center, Dr. N. Joyce Payne Center for Social Justice, Tennessee Second Look Commission, Tennessee Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Affairs, and Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc.

Love was educated in Metro Nashville Public Schools and graduated with Honors from Whites Creek High School in 1990. He received his Bachelor’s in Economics and Finance with a minor in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Tennessee State University, and a Masters degree in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University School of Divinity. While in undergraduate school, he marched in the Aristocrat of Bands and pledged the Mighty Rho Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc.

Love was ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) Church in 1999 and was assigned to Pastor Hopewell A.M.E. Church in Columbia, TN. From October 2002 to November 2016 he was the Pastor of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Nashville, TN and in 2015 was also the Presiding Elder of the South Nashville District of the A.M.E. Church. On November 21, 2016, he was appointed Pastor of Lee Chapel A.M.E. Church in Nashville, TN.

Love is married to the former Leah Dupree who is an attorney and serves as the Government Affairs Officer at Tennessee State University. The couple resides in North Nashville.

Amy Moreland

Amy Moreland

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Policy & Strategy, Tennessee Board of Regents

Amy Moreland is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Policy & Strategy at the Tennessee Board of Regents. Amy serves as part of TBR’s Research & Data team, where she leads research projects that seek to identify innovative strategies to support student success at Tennessee’s 37 community and technical colleges. This work includes pilot efforts and research projects about advising, accelerated coursework, financial aid, corequisite learning support, and labor market outcomes for graduates of TBR colleges. Amy also leads the Tennessee Coaching Project, a pilot effort that launched in 2022 to provide course-embedded success coaching and career advising to learning support students and adult learners at community colleges.

Bob Obrohta

Bob Obrohta

Tennessee College Access and Success Network

Bob Obrohta is an expert in college access and success for first-generation/low-income students. His 35-year career spans being a practitioner for thousands of students directly, as well as designing numerous scholarships and access programs for colleges, organizations, and communities across the country. Bob began in college admissions and financial aid at Beloit College (WI) and ran Beloit’s TRIO Upward Bound program. In Tennessee, his career spans leading the Ayers Foundation Scholars Program, and founding both Oasis College Connection (Nashville), and the Tennessee College Access and Success Network. His commitment to access has helped bring numerous federal, state, and corporate resources to Tennessee communities.

A low-income/first-gen student himself, Bob is a recipient of the National College Attainment Network’s (NCAN) Executive Leadership Award of Excellence. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of St. Francis (IL) and is the recipient of its College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni award. He has a master’s degree in Higher and Adult Continuing Education from Columbia University, Teachers College (NYC).

Samantha Gutter

Samantha Gutter

Independent Consultant

Samantha Gutter is an independent consultant working in public policy, education, and workforce development. Sam supports organizations to expand impact and accelerate change to help ensure all learners can develop the knowledge, skills, and agency to thrive in their communities and in the workforce.

Sam previously served as the Chief Access and Outreach Officer at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Postsecondary Impact at the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), and Education Policy Advisor for Governor Bill Haslam. In 2022, Sam launched and supported a statewide campaign to build momentum for increasing the college-going rate and opportunity for students in Tennessee, and in 2017, she led the legislative effort to enact the Tennessee Reconnect Act, which allows nearly all Tennessee adults to attend a community or technical college tuition-free. Sam began her career as an elementary school teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools as a Teach For America corps member. Originally from Alabama, Sam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Auburn University and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University.

Sonny Metoki

Sonny Metoki

Higher Education Policy Analyst, The Education Trust in Tennessee

Sonny Metoki is the higher education policy analyst for The Education Trust in Tennessee. In this role, Sonny analyzes data and research to support equity-driven policies that help students attend and complete an education beyond high school.

Before joining The Education Trust, Sonny worked as a graduate fellow at the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), where he supported convenings of education leaders like the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute and worked on projects to develop SCORE’s postsecondary policy agenda.

Prior to moving to Nashville, Sonny built his passion for education while working as a student affairs administrator at Michigan State University, the University of Illinois–Springfield, and Concordia College–Moorhead. Sonny’s background in student affairs includes developing a pilot first-year student support program, student conduct, and residential education.

Originally from Michigan, Sonny holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Michigan State University. Currently, he is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, where he is a candidate for the master’s of public policy in education policy with a higher education concentration.