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Hal Cato, CEO of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Hal Cato, CEO of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

Wed, Oct 11



Hal Cato, CEO of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

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Time & Location

Oct 11, 2023, 7:00 AM


About the event

Hal Cato founded his first nonprofit organization right out of college and has been working in the Nashville community ever since. He currently serves as the CEO of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee where he is responsible for ensuring the foundation serves as a catalyst for philanthropic activity and a connector for local civic efforts that will lead to a stronger community.

He most recently served as the CEO of Thistle Farms, the nation’s largest nonprofit social enterprise employing women survivors. Since joining Thistle Farms in 2015, he more doubled the size of the organization’s budget, tripled sales revenue, expanded housing options and provided more than150,000 hours of employment to women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction each year.

Between 2001 – 2011, Hal served as the CEO for the Oasis Center, a non-profit organization that works with youth, helping them in times of crisis as well as providing them with opportunities for leadership and service. Under his leadership, Oasis Center grew more than 300%, launched numerous new initiatives including the National College Access Center, JustUS, and the Youth Opportunity Center, and received numerous regional and national awards, including the 2011 “Best in Business” award for nonprofit organizations by the Nashville Business Journal. Hal became widely known as one of the state’s leading youth advocates and helped found the Nashville Youth Alliance, Alignment Nashville, the Nashville Afterzone Alliance, and the Mayors Child and Youth Master Plan.

Prior to joining Oasis Center, Hal was instrumental in helping build Bright Horizons Childcare, where he created hundreds of corporate-sponsored childcare centers throughout the United States, England, Ireland, and Guam. While at Bright Horizons, Hal founded the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, whose mission is to create children’s play spaces in shelters serving homeless families. Today, there are more than 350 “Bright Spaces” across the US.

In 1991, Hal founded Hands on Nashville, a non-profit organization that has grown from 16 to more than 400,000 members. He is also a founding member of the Hands on Network, now known as The Points of Light Institute.

Hal has been recognized as “Best in Business” and “Most Admired CEO” for nonprofit organizations by the Nashville Business Journal, “Business Leader of the Year” by the LGBT Chamber, received the “Community Champion” award by the Human Rights Campaign, and been named “Nashvillian of the Year” by The Nashville Scene.

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