Toks Omishakin

In 2011, Toks Omishakin became the youngest person ever to serve as chief for planning and environment for Tennessee and the first member of a minority group to serve in that role. He helped create Tennessee’s new Office of Community Transportation, making connections among land use and transportation, sustainability, and livability.

“Well-planned communities are the key to economically vibrant, sustainable and livable communities,” he says. “Providing multimodal choices and connections are vital to any future positive growth.” He established the Multimodal Access Grants, a $30 million program to aid communities across the state in establishing more transit, sidewalks, and bikeway connections. His department has a $2 billion annual budget and a staff of 3,800.

He was also the first person to serve as director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Nashville Mayor’s Office. He helped create the city’s new Complete Streets policy and the “Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor” movement. Omishakin oversaw the creation of two new bicycle sharing programs: Green Bikes Nashville, a free program targeting underserved communities and major city parks, and Nashville B-cycle, with 250 bicycles and 20 stations across the city.

At Deaderick Street, he helped create the first complete green street in the metro area by bringing together city agencies, including Public Works, Planning, Parks, and Water Services. It was the first of several award-winning examples of collaboration completed during Omishakin’s tenure.