Degrafinreid named president and CEO of Leadership Tennessee

Alfred Degrafinreid headshot
Alfred Degrafinreid II

Alfred Degrafinreid II, associate vice chancellor in Vanderbilt’s Division of Government and Community Relations, has been named president and chief executive officer of Leadership Tennessee, a statewide cross-sector community leadership program. Degrafinreid will assume the role on July 1. Leadership Tennessee is designed to cultivate a network of business, nonprofit, education and government leaders who are committed to addressing the state’s challenges and opportunities.

Degrafinreid, a lifelong Tennessean, is an experienced leader in public administration and community relations. He was named associate vice chancellor for local government relations and community partnerships at Vanderbilt in March 2019 and has worked closely with university leaders and policymakers to oversee Vanderbilt’s engagement on a number of local issues, including the facilitation of zoning and land-use matters for the institution. Prior to this, he was the chief administrative officer for the Davidson County criminal court clerk and served as counsel to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), coordinating community outreach for Davidson, Dickson and Cheatham counties.

“Alfred’s extremely productive time at Vanderbilt has strengthened our partnerships with local leaders and connected our people and resources to better serve the Nashville community,” said Nathan Green, vice chancellor for government and community relations. “I’m immensely grateful for his efforts on behalf of the university, and I look forward to collaborating with him in his new role to continue growing partnerships between Vanderbilt and leaders across the state.”

As associate vice chancellor, Degrafinreid worked closely with the Office of the Mayor, Metro Council and Nashville neighborhood associations to champion collaboration between the university and local communities. Under his leadership, Vanderbilt hosted dynamic conversations among locally elected officials, Vanderbilt faculty and staff and community members, and developed the Vanderbilt Local newsletter to tell the story of the university’s community relations and local government advocacy efforts.

“Reflecting on my time at the university, I am most proud of leading the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory through the pandemic—particularly how we pivoted to virtual platforms for those offices and will continue to offer virtual programming in the future,” Degrafinreid said. “As a Class VII graduate of Leadership Tennessee, it is an honor to lead the organization because of its commitment to promoting collaboration, nonpartisan dialogue and creating opportunities to effect lasting change across the state.”

Degrafinreid will succeed Cathy Cate, Leadership Tennessee’s founding executive director and president. Developed by Lipscomb University’s Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership, Leadership Tennessee was launched in 2013 and became an independent organization in August 2021. Today, Leadership Tennessee’s network includes more than 400 alumni and 2,000 yearly community contacts.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alfred to the Leadership Tennessee team,” said David Golden, Leadership Tennessee board chair and Class III member. “His experience and broad connections will help elevate the organization’s mission and visibility and will allow us to build upon the tremendous growth we have experienced over the past nine years. Alfred’s leadership will be paramount as we continue to convene leaders dedicated to creating the best Tennessee possible.”