NASHVILLE – Four new members have joined the board of directors of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp: Eddie George, actor, businessman and former NFL player; Kevin P. Lavender, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Banking at Fifth Third Bancorp; Eric Opron, Managing Director of Omni Nashville Hotel; and Jonathan Perlin, President, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer at HCA Healthcare.
Additionally, Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University, will serve as chair of the board of directors for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. Other members of the Executive Committee include John Esposito of Warner Music Nashville serving as chair-elect; Ronnie Smith of Regions Bank as immediate past chair; Lavender as Finance and Audit Committee Chair; and Kevin Green of Chartwell Hospitality as Sales and Marketing Chair.
“We are proud these four distinguished leaders who represent diverse and important sectors in our community will be part of leading our city’s hospitality industry,” Fisher said. “By recently hosting the most successful NFL Draft in history, Nashville continues its momentum as a top global destination. The hospitality industry employs more than 70,000 Nashvillians, generates enormous tax revenue, and creates exciting events and dining options for visitors and residents that help improve the overall quality of life in Nashville. These new board members bring experience and expertise that will keep the hospitality industry a strong economic engine for Nashville and Tennessee.”
Nashville’s hospitality industry continues to boom. In the past five years, the number of hotel rooms sold in Nashville has grown faster than any other top U.S. city. A record 15.8 million visitors came in FY 2019, and Nashville generated a record $7 billion in direct visitor spending in 2018, a third of the visitor spending generated in Tennessee. The industry employs 71,140 in Davidson County and generates $522 million in state and local taxes.
George, Lavender, Opron, and Perlin join existing NCVC board members for FY 2019-2020: Shannon Bowles, formerly of the Nashville Airport Marriott; Patrick Chaffin, Ryman Hospitality Properties; Maneet Chauhan, Morph Hospitality Group; Max Goldberg, Strategic Hospitality; Ed Hardy, Hardy Media & Entertainment; Ken Levitan, Vector Management; Kimberly Lewis, Emerson Grace; Joelle Phillips, AT&T Tennessee; Ellen Pryor, Frist Art Museum; Brian Tibbs, Moody Nolan; and Marcus Whitney, Health:Further.
Ex officio members include: Butch Spyridon, NCVC; Charles Robert Bone, legal counsel; Howard Kittell, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, who serves as chair of the Metro Tourism and Convention Commission; and Sarah Trahern, CMA.
The 23-member volunteer board are community and business leaders who represent diverse voices in the Nashville area. The board is charged with directing the organization’s work on behalf of the city, the members of the NCVC and the city’s vibrant hospitality industry.
Eddie George is a famed football player, actor, and businessman. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1995 and was a first-round draft choice out of Ohio State, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1996. The running back was a starter for the Tennessee Titans, was selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls, owns virtually every Titans rushing record and led his team to Super Bowl XXXIV. He left the Titans in 2003 and retired after a 2004 campaign with the Dallas Cowboys.
In the business world, he earned an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and developed the Edward George Wealth Management Group. Additionally, he developed The Business of Professional Sports, a course offered at the Fisher School of Business at The Ohio State University. As an actor, he starred on Broadway as Billy Flynn in Chicago and in many theatrical productions, including The Whipping Man, A Raisin in the Sun, Othello and Julius Caesar. He has also appeared in feature films, including The Best Man Holiday and 7-10 Split, and in television roles, including Shooter, NCIS: Los Angeles and HBO’s Ballers.
He lives with his wife, Tamara ‘Taj’ Johnson-George, a GRAMMY®-nominated singer with SWV (Sisters with Voices), and their sons, Eriq and Jaire, in Nashville, Tenn.
Kevin P. Lavender
Kevin P. Lavender is Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Banking at Fifth Third Bancorp. He is responsible for overseeing the National Commercial sales teams which include: Healthcare; Diversified Industries; Energy; Consumer/Retail; International; Entertainment, Leisure, and Lodging; Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Environmental Services and Financial Institutions. Lavender is a member of Fifth Third’s Management Committee, Regulatory Change Management Committee, M&A Council, Capital Returns Committee, Commercial High-Risk Council, Commercial Risk/Concentration Committee and Commercial Credit Policy Committee
Lavender joined Fifth Third Bank in 2005 as Senior Vice President and Head of National Corporate Healthcare Lending. Previously, Lavender served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, with oversight responsibility for all Tennessee state-chartered depository and non-depository financial institutions. He served as co-founder and Executive Vice President of MediSphere Health Partners Inc., a private specialty health care facilities company. He began his Nashville career as Group Vice President of corporate healthcare lending with SunTrust Bank, Inc. in 1986. He serves on the Fifth Third Bank Tennessee Advisory Board.
Lavender has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of Georgia. He attended multiple courses at the Colgate Darden’s School of Banking at the University of Virginia. Lavender also attended multiple sessions with SunTrust Credit University. He is a board member of the Nashville City Club and Complete Tennessee and is a Board Trustee of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. He is Board Chairman of the National Museum of African American Music.
Eric Opron is Managing Director at Omni Hotels & Resorts in Nashville. He has 30 plus years of experience in the hospitality industry, notably 14 years at Opryland Hotel from 1988 to 2002 including as Director of Sales. Opron spent 15 plus years at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, including 10 years as Director of Sales and Marketing and five years as Resort Manager.
He has been married 31 years to his wife, Julie. They have three children, Amanda, Hannah and Matthew, and Opron is a proud grandfather. He enjoys sports and outdoor activities, including golf and fishing.
Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin is President, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer of Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising 189 hospitals and over 1,800 sites of care located in 22 states and the United Kingdom. Dr. Perlin leads HCA’s Clinical Services Group (CSG), which consists of nationally recognized clinical leaders, data scientists, researchers and improvement experts who drive HCA’s clinical excellence agenda.
Before joining HCA in 2006, “the Honorable Jonathan B. Perlin” was Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, as the senior-most physician in the Federal Government and Chief Executive Officer of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Dr. Perlin led the nation’s largest integrated health system.
Dr. Perlin was appointed to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) in 2018 and the Congressional Budget Office Panel of Health Advisors. He also serves as chair of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ Special Medical Advisory Group. Dr. Perlin was the 2015 chair of the American Hospital Association. In 2014, Dr. Perlin took a “sabbatical” from HCA to serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to help improve operations, accelerate access and rebuild trust with America’s Veterans. Dr. Perlin has served previously on numerous Boards and Commissions including the Joint Commission and the National Patient Safety Foundation and currently serves on the Board of Meharry Medical College, a historically black graduate institution (HBGI), and is vice-chair of the National Quality Forum. In 2009, he was appointed as the inaugural chair of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health IT Standards Committee.
Dr. Perlin has faculty appointments at Vanderbilt University as Clinical Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics and at VCU as Adjunct Professor of Health Administration. He resides in Nashville with his wife, Donna, an emergency pediatrics physician.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp
The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at www.visitmusiccity.com and follow us on social media: