Lisa Howe’s resignation as CEO of Nashville’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce earlier this summer marked the end of an era: Howe began her tenure as the Chamber’s first and only full-time employee, and she remained at the helm of the organization as membership grew and staff was added. Her departure sparked an earnest summer search for her replacement, and the Chamber reports that eight candidates were interviewed.
In the end, the search committee chose Joe Woolley, well known to the Chamber’s board and membership, to lead the organization’s next phase. Woolley, as a past board member and president, also knows well the challenges and opportunities the Chamber faces.
"Lisa and I always joked that we were work spouses when I was the president of the Chamber,” Woolley said, reflecting on the time he spent working side-by-side with Howe, “spending so much time together working on its mission. I am going to miss my work wife and will work my hardest to continue on the hard work she has started."
But Woolley is also ready to move forward with a new agenda, shaped in conversation with the Chamber’s growing membership. "I am so ready to talk to members and the community on what the Chamber can continue to do,” he said, “and what it might change to make the biggest and best impact on Nashville and the whole LGBT community."
One concern Woolley knows the community may have is about Middle Tennessee Pride Community Center—which Woolley was championing. Indeed, Woolley had stepped back from the Chamber for the purpose of devoting his time to bringing a fully functioning LGBT community center to Middle Tennessee.
Woolley wants to reassure the community that the community center project has a strong leadership team. Woolley is confident in the ability of that team to bring the project to fruition, even as he leads one of the community partners and stakeholders in the project.
"The Center was never about one person,” he said. “There is a great group interested in seeing the Center built, and it will take the entire community getting behind it and working together on it. I was just trying to help build the table that others could gather around to make the Center a reality. The table is close to being completed and the hard work will begin. I look forward to representing the Chamber and its member's interests at that new table!"
For more information on the Chamber and upcoming events, visit nashvillelgbtchamber.org.
Nashville’s LGBT community together under one roof? (from June 2018)
Why did OutCentral close so abruptly? (from June 2018)
Lisa Howe resigns from the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce (from May 2018)
A farewell message from Lisa Howe (from July 2018)