our staff

Chief Executive Officer

Joe Woolley

Pronouns: he, him, his

Joe Woolley has been CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber since August 2018. Since taking the helm, Joe has been relentless in the pursuit of excellence for the Nashville LGBT Chamber leveraging the Chamber members, community partners, staff, and board of directors. A former President of the organization, Joe has pushed for the last 8 years on the work of the Chamber to Advocate, Educate, and Connect. 

Under Joe’s leadership, the Chamber membership has grown 48% to over 500+ members and income has tripled. The Chamber garnered national recognition shortly after Joe became CEO, when Nashville became the first city in the South and the 13th across the country to recognize LGBT business enterprise certification for minority contracting after years of advocacy by the Chamber. Additionally, the Chamber receives Metro appropriations to lessen the disparity of LGBT-owned businesses gaining contracts, and ensuring member representation during the NFL Draft and other major events taking place in the city. In advocating against anti-LGBT legislation, the Nashville LGBT Chamber serves as a de facto statewide chamber. Advocacy is a priority and passion for Joe. Under Joe’s leadership, in 2015 the Chamber helped form Tennessee Thrives, a statewide business coalition against discriminatory legislation. Since 2019 the Chamber organized and led the business coalition to vocally speak out against the discriminatory legislation filed, and pushed to keep Tennessee “open and equal.” Joe pushes that this is key to continued business growth as discriminatory laws make it hard for businesses to attract and retain talent in Nashville and Tennessee as a whole. 

Joe’s dedication to the organization began long before becoming CEO, serving four years on the board of directors including two years as President, pushing for strong operations and governance policies. That work helped him succeed when he took over as CEO after the former CEO he had worked closely with moved. Joe has a long history of LGBT advocacy, he was one of five founders of the Tennessee Equality Project back in 2004. He was chosen for the 2018-19 class of Leadership Nashville and remains active with Leadership Nashville. Joe is currently in Class VIII of Leadership Tennessee. He also serves on the Nashville Area Chamber Partnership 2030 advisory committee, helping shape the economic direction of the city for the next 10 years. He is most proud of the work he did on the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council that was responsible for the Equal Business Opportunity legislation and recognized LGBT certified businesses in city procurement. Joe is also active in Rotary and believes deeply in their motto of “service above self.” 

In 2019, 20, and 21 Joe was named as a Power 100, a list of the 100 most influential people in business in Nashville as a “connector” by the Nashville Business Journal. Joe was named in 2020 as a 40 Under 40 by both; Business Equality Magazine as a top national LGBTQ leader making an impact in the United States, and also by the Nashville Business Journal as an under 40 leader in Nashville.

Joe has lived in Nashville since the year 2000, is a graduate of Belmont University class of 2006, loves to travel, and to entertain friends in his home by Belmont that he shares with his husband Jim Schmidt and their dog Spooner. 

Membership Manager

Lauren Bland

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Lauren Bland is a Nashville transplant, born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. She attended the University of Louisville, where she was active on the executive board of the student LGBT organization and the local rugby club. Before coming to Nashville, she worked at a Catholic elementary school in Lexington where she taught preschool and worked with the administration on fundraising, development, and event planning. Lauren accepted the Membership Manager position with the Nashville LGBT Chamber in January 2019. In her time with the Chamber, she has worked to grow certified LGBT-owned businesses, maintain memberships, build relationships with the community, and orchestrate monthly and annual events. She is active with her Neighborhood Association and volunteers at a local dog shelter. She resides in Old Hickory with her wife Danielle and their two rescue dogs: Dylan & Maisy, and their rescue cat Nancy.

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Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce
41 Peabody Street
Nashville, TN 37210


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