TNECD announces departure of Launch Tennessee President and CEO

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced today that Van Tucker will step down from her role as president and CEO of Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN).  

LaunchTN is a public-private partnership that focuses on supporting the development of Tennessee’s entrepreneur ecosystem, with the ultimate goal of fostering job creation and economic growth. Tucker became LaunchTN president and CEO in Dec. 2020 after being appointed interim CEO in July 2020 and serving as chief operating officer prior to that time.  

Effective immediately, the LaunchTN Board of Directors will begin a national search to fill this leadership role in the organization. Bruce Doeg, LaunchTN board member and shareholder, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, will lead the Search Committee. 

In the interim, the Board has appointed Abby Trotter as interim CEO. Trotter is a founding partner at Hall Strategies, a Nashville-based, independent public and government relations firm. 

“Van has been a valuable asset to the LaunchTN team, and her leadership has made a great impact on Tennessee’s entrepreneurial landscape,” Rolfe said. “I have enjoyed working and collaborating with Van during her time at LaunchTN and wish her the very best. I have confidence that Abby will make this a seamless transition as LaunchTN continues its mission to encourage entrepreneurial growth in our state.” 

“Working daily with such a dedicated and talented Board, staff – and along TNECD and our many network partners – has been a highlight in my career,” Tucker said. “Since joining LaunchTN our team has brought Tennessee’s innovation ecosystem to an important phase where we need to capitalize our growth and opportunities. I look forward to assisting in the transition and being a continued supporter of advancing Tennessee’s innovation economy and entrepreneurial spirit.” 

Following the growth seen with Tucker’s leadership, LaunchTN will continue to build on its vision as Trotter assumes responsibilities.  

Trotter brings considerable experience and familiarity with LaunchTN programs to the interim 

CEO position. In addition to her role at Hall Strategies, Trotter serves as the executive director of 

Life Science Tennessee and BioTN, both LaunchTN programmatic partners. Through Life Science Tennessee, she has been a key champion of the state’s SBIR/STTR Matching Fund, administered by LaunchTN. 

“I am humbled to take on the role of interim CEO of LaunchTN, an organization whose mission I am deeply committed to,” Trotter said. “I look forward to working with LaunchTN’s talented staff to continue to serve our Network Partners, industry partners and entrepreneurs to build companies that create high-wage, high-tech jobs in Tennessee.” 

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