The Chattanooga 2.0 Executive Search Committee has named Molly Blankenship permanent Chattanooga 2.0 Executive Director.
Since March 2019, Blankenship has served as Chattanooga 2.0 Interim Executive Director, while simultaneously working as Chattanooga Chamber Vice President, Talent Initiatives. She brings a strong background in education attainment, talent development and diversity, equity and inclusion. Prior to moving to Chattanooga, at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), Molly consulted with communities across the country and supported the successful launch of numerous collective impact initiatives addressing cradle-to-career education outcomes, work-based learning collaborations, and college completion strategies. Molly will continue to direct cross-sector collaboration for true community progress.
“Chattanooga 2.0 is a vital strategic partner with Hamilton County Schools in helping the district work toward goals set by our community,” said Bryan Johnson, Ed.D. Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools. “We are thrilled with the result of this search process, and we look forward to working closely with Molly and the Chattanooga 2.0 team to ensure all Hamilton County children have what they need to be successful in our classrooms and future-ready to take advantage of opportunities that life brings after graduation.”
The position was open from April 15 to May 5 and was posted locally, regionally and nationally. Early in the process, the Executive Committee requested Blankenship submit her name for consideration. Blankenship immediately recused herself from any further involvement with the search process, and participated in both video and in-person interviews. After careful consideration of several strong finalists, the search committee unanimously and enthusiastically chose Blankenship.
“Collectively our search committee felt that Molly is the best candidate to lead our coalition into the next chapter of systemic change,” said Yancy Freeman, Vice Chancellor, Enrollment and Student Affairs, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “I know Molly will work hard to continue convening community partners until talent pipelines are created for every Hamilton County resident, so that all can achieve their highest potential in education and career.”
While Chattanooga 2.0 remains a community partnership, wholly owned and driven by the 150+ organizations vested in its vision and goals, Blankenship will continue on a limited, part-time basis as VP, Talent Initiatives, Chattanooga Chamber, ensuring alignment between Chattanooga 2.0 and the Chattanooga Chamber’s talent activities. The Chamber will create a new senior position to take on Chamber talent division duties under Blankenship’s leadership. In her Chattanooga 2.0 work, she reports directly to the Chattanooga 2.0 Executive Committee.
“Velocity2040 survey results confirmed our community’s desire for more work to be done around education,” said Christy Gillenwater, President & CEO, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “I am confident under Molly’s continued leadership, the Chamber’s work in Talent Development will continue to be a strong contributor to the overarching work of Chattanooga 2.0.”
Blankenship offers a strong plan for advancing the Chattanooga 2.0 movement with a primary focus on systemic work based on well-vetted change theories, and the Search Committee is confident her leadership will continue to effect positive change in our community.
“In a relatively short time, Molly has proven herself to be a tremendous asset to our community. I’m excited for her to take on this role and have full confidence in her ability to lead the coalition to achieve great things,” said Bo Drake, VP, Economic and Workforce Development, Chattanooga State and Executive Search Committee member.
Chattanooga 2.0 is a community-led movement to transform education and workforce opportunities in Hamilton County. By working to double the number of residents with postsecondary degrees and credentials, Chattanooga 2.0 supports local talent in taking full advantage of the workforce opportunities that are available.