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LaunchTN names Margaret Dolan as next President and CEO

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The Launch Tennessee Board of Directors yesterday affirmed last week’s decision by the organization’s Executive Committee to hire Margaret Dolan as the next President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the statewide public-private partnership.

Dolan has been a Principal in neil Strategies LLC, former President and CEO of LocalShares LLC, former President and CEO of Saint Thomas Health Foundations, and former Vice President for Community Relations for Ingram Industries Inc. All of those positions were based in Nashville where she served in a number of volunteer positions for non-profit organizations.

“I am thrilled to be succeeding Charlie Brock,” Dolan said after the announcement. “Tennessee has a rich array of resources, talent, and capital including a robust network of entrepreneur centers and incubators across the state. LaunchTN is poised to achieve its mission to position Tennessee as the most start-up friendly state in the nation.”

The selection of the Nashville business executive follows a several months search to find the right successor to Brock who is departing after nearly six very successful years as the organization’s longest serving leader. It was an extensive and exhaustive process. I know first-hand, having been privileged to serve as Chair of the eight-member Search Committee, ably supported by seven other very active Committee members.

Those colleagues represented every major stakeholder in the organization. They were fellow LaunchTN Board member Frank Williamson of Oaklyn Consulting in Chattanooga; two entrepreneurs who participated in “The TENN” master accelerator program (Courtney Jones of Knoxville-based MomSource Network and Jessica Harthcock of Nashville’s Utilize Health); leaders of three of the regional start-up accelerators (Ben Ferguson of theCO in Jackson, Marcus Shaw of Chattanooga’s CO.LAB, and Leslie Smith of Epicenter in Memphis); and Abby Trotter, Executive Director of Life Science Tennessee.

The Search Committee was well-served by Landon Preston, Recruiting Manager with Allygn in Jackson.

When the search was officially launched in mid-May, we cast a nationwide net to find the very best candidates we could. I’m pleased to note that we received applications from candidates in a number of states as well as Tennessee. In fact, we received 897 applications which says a great deal about the reputation that LaunchTN enjoys nationally. That’s a credit to Brock’s leadership and the work of his team.

As I wrote in a Monday email to the Board of Directors, “From the outset, Margaret was clearly a top contender, and she continued to shine through three interviews in the exhaustive process. She has a calm and professional presence, a seasoned and diverse set of executive experiences, a strategic approach to the work, and a passion for the organization. Margaret clearly understands the important transition that Launch must make when a new Governor is elected along with a number of face changes in the General Assembly.”

Click here to read the official news release from LaunchTN which quotes both Board Chair Bob Rolfe, the state’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and Brock on the transition.

Yesterday’s Board meeting was the last one for Brock and most likely Rolfe. Both praised the other with Rolfe thanking the outgoing CEO for “six fantastic years. You are handing the baton to Margaret at a perfect time.”

Dolan will assume the position October 29 with a few days of overlap before Brock departs after the annual “Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development” that is set for November 1 and 2.

Here’s a picture of Dolan.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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