Business And Community Leaders Join Engage Cuba’s Tennessee Council To Show Their Support For Ending Cuba Trade Embargo

WASHINGTON — Engage Cuba, a bipartisan public policy organization dedicated to mobilizing American businesses and non-profit groups to support the ongoing U.S.‐Cuba normalization process, today announced the 16 members of its Tennessee State Council who have joined together to support an end to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. These Tennessee business and community leaders represent a wide array of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, business and the arts. The Tennessee State Council members include Catherine Glover, President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry; David Williams II, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director, Vanderbilt University; Tom Negri, former officer and board member of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association; and Louis Buck, Development Specialist at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

The Engage Cuba Tennessee State Council is the first of many state councils being organized by Engage Cuba to show the grassroots support of community leaders across the nation who believe it is time for significant policy changes to the United States’ relationship with Cuba. This announcement comes on the heels of a recent Atlantic Council poll conducted by prominent GOP pollster Glen Bolger on Tennesseans’ attitudes toward Cuba. The poll found that a majority of Americans, including Tennesseans from both parties, support the lifting the trade embargo and travel restrictions and endorse the restoration of diplomatic relations.

“The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry supports pro-business initiatives and statewide economic growth. It is clear that U.S.-Cuba engagement through trade and travel provide increased opportunities for Tennessee business to expand their customer base and find new opportunities to grow,” said Catherine Glover, President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “Every year, Tennessee typically exports $32.9 billion of merchandise and our export industry supports nearly 159,000 Tennessean jobs. If given the opportunity to expand relations with Cuba, we can only expect this number to increase.”

“We are thrilled to announce our Tennessee State Council, which shows the diverse range of leadership in the state who are calling for increased relations between the United States and Cuba. From small business owners to cultural entrepreneurs, these Tennesseans see the real value in allowing our American exports to reach the Cuban shores,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. “It is time for Tennessee’s elected officials to support policies that empower American companies and entrepreneurs to engage with Cuba to provide real benefits to both communities.”

Engage Cuba’s Tennessee State Council is made up of 16 Tennesseans, who each bring deep expertise on the state’s economic, philanthropic and cultural institutions, among other sectors. The full list of Tennessee State Council members include:

·         Bradley Jackson, Vice President, Tennessee Manufacturers Association

·         Buddy Teaster, President and CEO, Souls for Souls

·         Catherine Glover, President, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry

·         Darek Bell, Owner, Corsair Distillery and Bell Construction

·         David Williams II, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director, Vanderbilt University

·         Geoff Macdonald, Women’s Tennis Coach, Vanderbilt University

·         Jessica Bookstaff Doppelt, Founder & CEO, Pigeon Forge Tourism

·         Joshua Smith, Owner, Standard Club of Nashville

·         Kealie Williams, Vice President, Hands on Nashville

·         Kent Merritt, President, Thunder Road Distillery

·         Lisa Janke, Founder and President of Short Bark Industries

·         Louis Buck, Development Specialist, Tennessee Department of Agriculture

·         Dr. Manny Sethi, Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

·         Stacy Widelitz, Board of Directors, Nashville Opera, Past President of the Nashville Film Festival

·         Tom Negri, former officer and board member of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association 

·         José Angel Rodríguez Fernández, Emerging Markets Development and Strategy