Rising Female Leaders in Nashville: Part 1

by Jay Deragon on 06/17/2014

WomenOfInfluence_Logo-304For the last six months I ‘ve studied the rising influence of women on business.  Besides researching the trends I have talked with many women whose rising influence is helping change markets locally and globally.  Subsequently I’ve decided to write a series of post sharing my findings and some of the rising local female leaders.

Lets start with a summary of the influence women are having on business.

Women business owners are starting companies at a faster rate than ever. Today’s women entrepreneurs are making it in spite of any stereotyping labels, but they’re leveraging what we think of as typical female traits to flourish—networking and supporting each other, developing products and services that women want and making “business” meaningful. As of 2013, it is estimated that there are over 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating over $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.8 million people. The growth in the number, revenues and employment of women-owned firms over the past 16 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the very largest, publicly traded corporations in the country. Today’s woman start-up business owner have become one of the fastest growing market segments in the USA today.

The influence of women are changing the behavior of the market. Sixty percent of the world’s university graduates are women, and women control the majority of consumer goods buying decisions.  Women drive 80% of the purchase decisions by consumers in the United States. Women have lots of influence over many things and that influence is rising.

Women’s influence on performance. The Harvard Business Review has previously reported that companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams out-perform those with less. The world is living through one of its most historic and peaceful revolutions: the gradual re-balancing of the genders’ social, educational and economic power.

On The Local Scene: Nashville

Nashville is among the top ten fastest-growing cities in the United States. Nashville now one of 25 largest cities in the U.S.  Forbes says Nashville ranks 2nd for jobs, economic growth. Nashville is in the national spotlight due to its growth, rank and media attention.

Women’s leadership influences in Nashville is growing in all its major market sectors such as finance and insurance, health care, music and entertainment, publishing, higher education, biotechnology, plastics, and tourism/conventions. The Tennessean newspaper published an article titled: 25 Nashville business leaders to watch in 2014. Of the 25 noted 4 were women, only 16%. Those  mentioned included:

  1. Sarah Trahern,CMA president
  2. Connie McGee, CEO, Evolve Women
  3. Heather Rohan, CEO, TriStar Centennial
  4. Sandra Cochran, CEO, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

But there are many other women who are creating significant value for Nashville. These women get some attention by the main stream media but nothing compared to their male counter-parts or other women representing large organizations and brands.  My investigation into next generation female leaders led me to a discovery of outstanding women paving a new path of value creation for their organization’s and those they serve.  The first three women worthy of mentioning include:

Kaye O'NeilKate O’Neill, founder and principal of KO Insights, is a speaker, author, and consultant focused on meaningfulness in business and in life. Kate speaks with characteristic candor and wit on purpose and strength at national conferences, private corporate meetings, association meetings, and other groups and events. She consults with select clients, often adding much-needed context for strategic growth opportunities in data-rich and customer-centric environments. She writes often for a variety of online outlets and is a contributor to publications such as CMO.com and The Tennessean. Kate has been featured in CNN Money, TIME, Forbes, USA Today, and other national media. Kate was featured by Google in their global campaign for women in entrepreneurship — as well as for Nashville as a growing tech center.    Kate can be reached at [email protected]

brittanyBrittany Wegusen, President of Kalatech, is an innovative leader of next generation technology designed for musicians, touring managers and booking agencies.  She has been developing, testing and creating the Kalatech platform for over five years by purposely studying, listening and engaging with artist, publishers, booking agencies and tour managers..  Kalatech, has spent five years quietly under the radar developing their current products and growing their roster to over 40 clients.  kalatech boasts A-list clients: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Smack Songs, Bigger Picture, Conway Entertainment, Neon Cross, Parallel Entertainment, KCA Artists (Keith Case), ARM Entertainment, and many notable others.  Brittany is intensely driven by the detail that go into building robust technology, obsessed with delivering customer service beyond expectations and always looking for better ways to serve the music industry.  Brittany can be reached at [email protected]

kelley boothKelley Boothe is the CEO and Co-founder of SouthernAlpha. Southern/Alpha is an on-line publication focusing on startups,   venture capital, startup profiles, disruptive technology, regional events, startup failures and successes. Kelley has successfully led SouthernAlpha to become a favorite source of news, knowledge and community relations for over 10,000 monthly subscribers and growing. Kelley received a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Advertising from Western Kentucky University in  with a concentration in Graphic Design. She also received aBachelor’s degree, British/Cultural Studies from Harlaxton College, in Grantham, England. She studied abroad there and was able to explore  Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and France.  Kelley is driven, articulate and driven to make Southern/Alpha a valuable media property for the southern regions startup and venture capital community.  Kelley can be reached at [email protected]

There are many more next generation female leaders gaining influence in Nashville and from there nationally.   I will continue to offer a summary of those I found and encourage any reader to reach out and get to know the next generation of female leaders here and elsewhere.

Know other female leaders gaining influence? Send me their name for an interview.


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