Mayor John Cooper Announces Interim Director at Public Works and Next Steps to Create A Department Of Transportation

Nashville, TENN. – Mayor John Cooper today announced two personnel changes today: Shanna Whitelaw will transfer from Metro Water Services to act as interim Director of Metro Public Works, where she will lead the department through a review process to determine the best ways to realign the transportation and solid waste functions of Public Works. Mark Sturtevant, Director of Metro Public Works, will move to Metro’s Planning Department as a Director of Development.

“We are fortunate to have incredibly talented, motivated people in our Public Works department,” said Mayor Cooper. “I have asked Ms. Whitelaw to lead an effort to bring greater customer focus to the mission of the department and determine how to best organize for stronger fundamental service delivery – getting people where they need to go, safely and efficiently, and becoming more sustainable and cost-effective in our approach to solid waste and recycling. Her experience and expertise create the opportunity to better leverage interdepartmental efficiencies and prepare Public Works for a Department of Transportation.” 

Ms. Whitelaw, a professionally licensed civil engineer with 14 years of experience in the private sector and another 14 years of experience in government service, has extensive experience in design and construction management of municipal projects and long-range capital planning and asset management. 

She has demonstrated expertise in administering competitively bid projects, cost-effective project management, and project implementation. Her last five years have been spent in strategic planning and process improvement in Metro Water Services, where she has been a significant contributor to Metro Water Services’ status as a utility that provides exceptional services at one of the lowest costs compared to local and regional peer cities. 

The Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure was formed to set a new course to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the growth in Nashville and the region. This fall, the office will release recommendations on a new transportation plan, which will be the result of public listening sessions, best practice/expert reviews, and learning from past community-based planning exercises, including the Nashville Community Transportation Platform. A Department of Transportation would become the execution path for this transportation plan and bring focus to day-to-day transportation management across Metro Nashville-Davidson County. 

As interim director, Ms. Whitelaw will lead the Public Works Department through a review and planning process to realign the department toward a Department of Transportation. She will work closely with Faye DiMassimo, Mayor Cooper’s Senior Advisor for Transportation and Infrastructure; Jorge Riveros, Public Works Chief Engineer; Sharon Wahlstrom, Public Works Deputy Director; Sharon Smith, Public Works Assistant Director; and Phillip Jones, Public Works Assistant Director. Ms. Whitelaw will also call on colleagues from Metro Water Services to bring strong operational process, financial and engineering capability. 

Before the end of 2020, the group will produce recommendations for the Department of Transportation as well as furthering operational excellence for Nashville’s other critical Public Works functions, including solid waste management, through exploring greater coordination and leveraging of Metro Water Services operational and sustainability competencies.

“I’m grateful to Shanna Whitelaw, and everyone at Public Works and Metro Water Services for their ongoing dedication to serving our community,” said Mayor Cooper. “I look forward to this next step in marshalling our city’s talent and resources around Nashville’s transportation infrastructure and solid waste needs and opportunities.”

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