Paul Graden recently began serving as the new Hartsville-Trousdale Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Graden’s experience includes time as a corporate CEO, executive pastor, school headmaster, bible college chancellor, and a Christian business coach.
“I went to NYU (New York University) and got a degree in business,” said Graden. “Years later, just in the course of life, I started taking Bible classes. One day, the dean called me in and said, ‘Do you realize that you have enough courses to not only get a master’s degree, but you are already halfway to a Ph.D.?’ So, I ended up with a master’s in religious education and a Ph.D. in Judeo-Christian studies. Although it had nothing to do with business, it did open a lot of doors in my career, just having those letters after my name.
“I’ve always been pretty busy. I’ve been an executive pastor. I’ve run schools and have run Bible colleges. But none of those really paid the bills. So, at the same time, I was a corporate CEO for most of my career.”
Two months ago, Graden and his wife, Kathy, moved to Sumner County, and he immediately began looking for areas in which he could be involved.
“I just moved to Gallatin from Springfield a couple of months ago,” said Graden. “When I moved to Gallatin, I changed counties, so I looked up William Slater, who is our representative (in the Tennessee House of Representatives) because I’ve known him for many years. Over coffee, we were talking about what’s going on in the community and what I could do. I’m 67, and I didn’t want to just sit home and watch TV. He mentioned to me about Trousdale County and the heart of the people there. It was an environment that he knew I’d appreciate, and he knew about the opening at the chamber.”
Graden is not new to service with the chamber, as he has served with two other chambers of commerce.
“I’ve done a lot of networking and a lot of chamber work and business coaching,” said Graden. “I was on the board of the Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce for five years, and I served as the membership director for two years. As well, I’m on the board of the Tennessee Immigrant Minority Business Group, which is actually a small chamber. So, life’s been pretty full.”
According to Graden, he is trying to establish a vision for the future of Trousdale County.
“I’ve had a vision for a lot of things, but I just have to take them one at a time,” said Graden. “I asked the mayor, ‘What is your vision for tomorrow?’ So, we can work together on how we can get there.”
Trousdale County Mayor Jack McCall added, “I see him (Graden) doing really good things for Trousdale County. He is high energy and really grabs the bull by the horns. Plus, he brings a tremendous amount of experience to the job. We are very excited to have him.”
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