Who we are

ReThink Forward is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, comprised of Board members with many decades of educational experience within the public and charter school realms. 

James Bristol, Chair

James Bristol has more than 30 years of experience representing businesses, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations in all areas of executive compensation and benefits, including Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). His vast experience includes advising healthcare companies, financial institutions and other entities on matters ranging from employment and separation agreements to complex ERISA litigation. Clients value his experienced and practical approach to resolving conflicts and complex issues.

From startup ventures to publicly traded companies, Mr. Bristol advises clients on all types of compensation and benefits. Well-versed in federal and state tax rules, ERISA, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosures and the myriad regulations that surround benefits and compensation packages, Mr. Bristol embraces the challenge of finding solutions that meet the client’s goals.

A creative, convergent thinker, Mr. Bristol recognizes that executive benefits issues are complex not only because of regulatory requirements but also because of the public relations aspect related to shareholder scrutiny. He has also served on several occasions as an expert witness on ERISA matters.

Mr. Bristol joined ReThink Forward and was elected as Board Chair in November 2023. He brings a wealth of knowledge to ReThink Forward after serving as the Board Chair for a Charter School which has served students grades 5-12 in the Antioch Area for more than a decade.

Thomas H. Lee, Secretary

As a member of Frost Brown Todd, Tom practices in the areas of government services and business litigation, concentrating his work on lobbying and government relations, and providing strategic counsel on managing public policy change on state and local levels. Tom is also the member-in-charge for the firm’s Nashville office.

Tom’s approach to serving clients is seasoned by three decades of experience as a lobbyist, attorney, litigator, winning campaign strategist, university educator, and Emmy-award-winning journalist. With this diverse portfolio of experience, Tom is well regarded and sought after in his field. As MSNBC political commentator Harold Ford Jr. has said, “There are lots of people in Tennessee gifted in business or government or media or politics, but no one puts all of it together any better than Tom Lee.  He sees the whole field.”

In an age when the face of government relations is evolving daily due to ethical reforms, increasing transparency, and an electronically engaged electorate, quality and attention to nuance has never mattered more. Getting results in politics involves the accumulation and wise investment of political capital, paired with the experience necessary to navigate the new model. The central focus of Tom’s practice is maintaining the correlation between these crucial parts, an approach that consistently gains success.

Tom holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, where he was Order of the Coif and executive editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review.  Prior to joining Frost Brown Todd, Tom was principal of his own public strategies firm and a partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis.  He holds an AV® rating by Martindale Hubbell®, and served on the Tennessee Judicial Council. Tom won two Emmy awards and numerous other national awards for investigative journalism and documentaries, ranging from health care policy to the aftermath of the first Iraq War. 

Above all, Tom is passionate about the needs of his community and the passions of his clients. He enjoys his work as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches courses on lobbying, legislation, and public advocacy.

Tom is a seventh-generation Tennessean, a native of Nashville whose great-grandfather served in the Tennessee House. He is married to Laurie Sanders Lee, and they are parents of Virginia Carol Zhang Jing Lee. The entire family is active at the West End United Methodist Church, where Tom has taught Sunday School, served as a youth counselor and recently preached his first sermon.

Rebecca Dinda, Treasurer

Ms. Dinda has been a public educator in Connecticut and Florida for the last twenty-one years working to advocate for high expectations for educators to ensure equality in our education systems. She has served students beginning as a substitute teacher and intern in the Miami
Dade Public Schools system, then returning to her home state of Connecticut as a Guidance Teacher in Lebanon, CT and a School Counselor & Teacher in Cheshire, Connecticut. After eight years of teaching in CT, she returned to Miami to join Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) as an
Assistant Principal at Downtown Miami Charter School. Two years later she joined the CSUSA team as a Director of Education supporting all of the schools in the network to develop effective practices to ensure improved quality. After missing the direct contact with scholars and parents, Ms. Dinda returned to Downtown Miami Charter School as the Principal where she spent the last years working with students, staff and parents to become a high performing Title 1 school.

Ms. Dinda currently serves as an Advanced Ed team member for the K-12 school-based accreditation process and was a past Commission Member of the Charter School Appeal Commission (CSAS). She is ecstatic about being a ReThink Forward Board Member where she will continue to support the highest quality efforts in public education.

Ms. Dinda holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and a Master of Science degree in Counselor Education from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She also has a 6th Year Certificate in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut.

Sharon D. Smith, Director

Dr. Sharon D. Smith joined the ReThink Forward board as a Director in 2020. She has extensive experience in federal, state, and private grant program and fiscal compliance as well as policy development and previously worked as the Chief of Federal Programs for the Tennessee Department of Education in Nashville, TN.  Dr. Smith has provided effective leadership and training in the facilitation of grant proposal review/submission, award negotiation/acceptance, budget development and management, and ensuring adherence to institutional policies, federal and state regulations, and sponsor guidelines. Additionally, her broad knowledge and experience in grants/contracts administration includes work in the area of pre-award administration, post-award administration, financial management, proposal/grants development training and compliance.

Dr. Smith is a member of the TN Government Leadership Council (TGL) Toastmasters Club, a Advisory Committee Member for the Tennessee Association of Federal Programs Administrators (TAFPA), a Grant Reviewer for the Unfunded List, and volunteers with the Board Leaders of Color Collaborative (BLOCC) and at the Women in STEM (WISTEM) Center.

Dr. Smith earned a Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from  East Tennessee State University in 2019 and also holds a M.S.C.E. in Counselor Education from the University of West Alabama Livingston, AL and a B.S. in Business Administration 1992 from the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL.

Steve Cherrico, Director

Steve Cherrico is the Executive Director of First Priority Greater Nashville. Each day he works to unite the local Church around a plan to train students to take the Hope of Christ to their peers on the school campus.

He has over 24 years ministry experience in NPO’s across Middle Tennessee, focused on students age 8-25 years old. During that time, he has served as a trainer, pastor, team builder, youth pastor trainer and public school mentor. In each of these scenarios his ability to problem solve and initiate positive change has been used to help the organization move forward. He is comfortable speaking and coaching any size group from 1 to 5,000. He also enjoys the art of helping individuals or groups work through conflict management.

He has been part of a number of for profit commercial sales companies. He and his wife, Jessi, are currently the owner / operators of Nashville Baseball Academy, a baseball and softball training facility in South Nashville.

Steve has been married to his wife Jessi since 1998. They have 3 children ages 17 (Justus), 14 (Nathan) and 10 (Corina). Each of these children were adopted out of the Greater Nashville area through open private adoptions. He is actively involved in coaching his children’s baseball & basketball teams. He is an avid reader, loves to play most sports and snowboards. He also is connected to the every growing world of technology and online media.

Steve started his education at Iowa State University in 1992 and completed his education from 2001-2004 through a partnership with Christ Church Leadership Institute and Oral Roberts University. He is an ordained pastor. For personal growth he has also attended Catalyst, Willow Creek Leadership Summit and Chick-fil-a Leadercast.

Phone: (833) 738-4165 
Mailing Address:  1831 12th Avenue South, Suite 188, Nashville, TN 37203