Hal Cato

Hal Cato

Longtime local nonprofit leader Hal Cato is stepping down from his position as CEO of Thistle Farms, but he’s not yet ready to say what’s next.

“I’ve let my team here know that I will be moving on next summer to pursue my next opportunity,” Cato tells the Scene. “A potential mayoral run is one of the things I’m exploring, but I have other irons in the fire as well. No decision made.”

He has been CEO of the social enterprise since 2015. Previously he was CEO of startup Zeumo, president and CEO of Oasis Center, vice president at Bright Horizons and founder of Hands on Nashville. The Scene named him a Nashvillian of the Year in 2009 for his work at Oasis Center, a shelter and support center for teens.

Cato was a supporter of Megan Barry’s 2015 mayoral campaign, when he appeared in an ad for the then-candidate. Barry later was one of the officiants of Cato’s marriage to local business executive Michael Burcham. Another officiant was Becca Stevens, Thistle Farms’ founder.

Incumbent Mayor John Cooper can seek another term in 2023. A campaign spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment about his re-election plans.

Local newsletter Public Comment previously reported Cato’s potential interest in a mayoral run.

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