Ralph Schulz was named president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce by the
Chamber’s board of directors in November 2006, following a 30‐year career in nonprofit management,
marketing and fundraising. In taking the position, he accepted a leadership role at one of Middle
Tennessee’s oldest and largest business federations, an organization dating back to its founding in 1847.
During his tenure, the Chamber has played a key role in helping the region emerge from the 2007
recession to a period of unprecedented growth with a business relocation and expansion strategy
known as Partnership 2020. Additionally, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce was the lead
organization in the creation of the nationally recognized Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the passage
of a public referendum supporting construction of the Music City Center convention facility. Since Schulz
has taken on the role of president and CEO, the Chamber has also led the movement to improve public
school performance through the creation of the Academies of Nashville and developed into a respected
publisher of data on the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area with the annual publication of the Vital
In 2009, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce was named “Chamber of the Year” by the American
Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), recognizing the Nashville Chamber’s organizational
excellence, service to members, development of leaders and volunteers and its impact on key
community priorities. The ACCE award referenced the Nashville Chamber’s role in the creation of
Nashville for All of Us, a campaign made up of community leaders aligned to defeat a 2009 charter
referendum which would have prohibited Nashville city government from conducting business in a
language other than English. The Chamber was also praised for its creation of A Leading Edge, a broad
range of programs aimed at helping Chamber members navigate the turbulent waters of the recession.
Before joining the Nashville Chamber, Schulz spent six years as CEO of the Adventure Science Center in
Nashville, focusing the team on turning around an aging, science‐based nonprofit for children into a
leading destination for young people, with growing attendance, revamped exhibits, successful capital
campaigns and stronger community support. In 2001, the Science Center was recognized with the
Marvin Runyon Leadership Award by the Center for Nonprofit Management for its turnaround efforts.
Schulz’s career in nonprofit management began when he joined the staff of Junior Achievement of
Nashville in 1974, eventually spending 20 years with JA, leading chapters in Jackson, Miss.; Dallas, Texas;
and New York, N.Y. In 1990, he was named national executive vice president for JA, working from the
organization’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. He returned to Nashville in 1996 to take on a
similar national role with the National Federation of Independent Business.
Schulz is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He resides in Nashville with his wife, Leeanne, their
four children and six grandchildren. He currently serves on numerous civic and nonprofit boards,
including the Center for Nonprofit Management, the Nashville Health Care Council, Alignment Nashville,
the Tennessee Business Roundtable and the Board of Trustees of Father Ryan High School. He has been
involved with the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and currently serves on MTA Strategic Plan Advisory Committee. He also served
on the NashvilleNEXT Steering Committee.
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO