Get to Know Pat Shepherd, Beacon Center Board Member


October 5, 2020 8:30AM

For the third part of Beacon’s series of posts to help you get to know our board members, we have an interview with Pat Shepherd.

How did you get interested in public policy, and why have you chosen to work with the Beacon Center?

In the early 1980’s I watched the policies enacted by Ronald Reagan ignite an economy that had been stagnant under the Ford and Carter Administrations.  That is when I first realized that public policy does matter. That policy can make a difference in people’s lives. Before then, I’ll admit, I was oblivious.  That led to an interest in different market systems and what creates the most and best opportunities for people.  So I read a lot of non-fiction.  When I moved from IL to TN much of what I’d read about, the theories, became very real, very obvious.  Less regulation, lower taxes, more freedom gives each individual the greatest opportunity to live their own life, pursue their own liberty, create their own happiness. I was very fortunate to have Joe Scarlett introduce me to the Beacon Center where policy advocacy is producing results for Tennesseans.  It was a natural fit.

What business success are you most proud of?

Starting a business from scratch, Avondale Partners has been extraordinarily challenging, rewarding, frustrating, empowering.  You name the emotion, we’ve have experienced it.  The best part is we’ve been able to create an entity where hundreds of professionals could earn a living, learn and enhance a skill, establish themselves professionally, develop valuable relationships.  In doing that we have pumped more than $200 million of payroll directly into the Middle Tennessee economy.  I like to think that has had an impact.

How do you like to serve your community?

When I think about serving our community or giving back I’ve tried to think about where I and my family can impact the largest group of people.  That is where Beacon comes in. The work of the Beacon staff has had a tremendously positive impact on all Tennesseans.  Elsewhere my wife and I are very interested in education-related issues.  Education is the best equalizer in terms of creating opportunities for all people.    

How have your political/policy views changed over time?

I don’t think my views have changed dramatically over time.  I’ve always been reasonably conservative, especially from a fiscal perspective.  If anything, my increased understanding of the necessity for individuals to be free to pursue their own happiness, has made me more socially tolerant.  The bigger change for me has been that I have learned the importance of supporting policies, not parties.

What do you like to do for fun?

If I don’t say that I love to play golf my wife will accuse me of not being forthcoming.  Fortunately, it is a pretty good COVID compliant activity.  In the days of BC (before COVID) we had enjoyed taking advantage of Nashville’s vibrant restaurant scene and traveling to spend time with our 3 kids all who currently live out of state.  Someday I hope to get back to my bucket list of attending iconic American sporting events. 

What’s your most unpopular opinion?

I don’t like social media.  Some might say that’s because I’m not very social but I don’t think that is so.  While it does have its uses, like keeping distant families connected, it too often is used in totally misleading ways and is particularly insidious to young people and those without a healthy sense of skepticism.  I think the negative, unanticipated consequences outweigh the good.