President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Cherokee Farms Development Corporation (CFDC)

Cherokee Farms Development Corporation (CFDC)

Knoxville, TN, USA
Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Opportunity

The Cherokee Farm Development Corporation (CFDC) is pleased to begin a national search for its next President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). A not-for-profit organization, CFDC is responsible for the development and support of real estate and innovation assets essential to the research, innovation and workforce development goals of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT).

CFDC currently supports the development of the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, a place-based initiative housing high-tech firms like Volkswagen and CEC, the R&D programs of UT’s Institute for Advanced Materials & Manufacturing, the CFDC-operated Spark Innovation Center incubating and accelerating high-tech start-ups, and The Orthopaedic Institute, a state-of-the-art ambulatory care facility operated by the UT Medical Center and OrthoTennessee and housing UT’s R&D Center for Precision Health. In the Fall of 2024, CFDC will open a new ~90,000 SF mixed-use facility on the UT Research Park supporting research, innovation and workforce development in advanced manufacturing, and is currently entertaining bids from organizations interested in developing an extended stay hotel and conference center on the site.

The CFDC President and CEO will support the expansion of the UT Research Park and explore other place-based innovation initiatives in the greater Knoxville region, including, for example, in the City of Knoxville, Knox County’s Hardin Valley, and in Oak Ridge, where the University enjoys a strategic partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

CFDC is a board-managed 501c3 subsidiary of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF). The CFDC President and CEO serves at the pleasure of the CFDC Board and works in close coordination with the President of UTRF.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The President and CEO will be a dynamic, innovative leader who will perform a broad range of duties including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Lead real estate development initiatives at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm and in other locations in the Knoxville MSA
  • Serve as the Owner’s representative for the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, overseeing negotiations for ground leases and ensuring new developments meet UT’s place-based innovation goals and align with the Park’s Master Plan and Development Guidelines
  • Identify opportunities for new development projects and strategic partnerships to enhance Knoxville’s innovation ecosystem and UT’s contributions to it
  • Engage with local residents, businesses, and community leaders to ensure that real estate development projects align with community needs and priorities
  • Nurture close working relationships with all major stakeholders and financial partners, helping to ensure that support for UT’s place-based initiatives remains strong
  • Work closely with UT to support day-to-day operations at the UT Research Park and at other place- based innovation sites as they are created
  • Support the CFDC Board of Directors, developing agendas, reporting financial performance, recording minutes, and ensuring full compliance with the organization’s charter, by-laws, and non- profit status
  • Develop and continually refresh materials that advance CFDC’s place-based innovation initiatives, and implement an effective marketing and communications strategy to share these materials locally, regionally, and nationally
  • Explore opportunities to expand the reach and impact of UT’s place-based innovation strategies by leading and/or contributing to economic development initiatives at regional, State and Federal levels
  • Lead a team of staff, ensuring excellent communication and coordination between CFDC, UTRF and UT
  • Support the Spark Innovation Center to incubate and accelerate deep-tech startups
  • Promote and support UT’s other innovation and entrepreneurship programs and ambitions,engaging both the UT community and other stakeholders in the region


  • A bachelors degree in real estate, urban planning, business administration or a related field is required; an advanced degree is preferred
  • Experience supporting tech-based entrepreneurial ecosystems and building collaborations among private business and public research organizations
  • Minimum of 10 years of experience in real estate development, with a track record of delivering complex projects
  • Strong leadership and management skills, with the ability to inspire and motivate cross-functional teams
  • Excellent communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills, with the ability to effectively engage with diverse stakeholders
  • Deep understanding of real estate finance, investment analysis and risk management
  • Proven ability to think strategically, analyze market trends, and identify opportunities for growthand innovation
  • Experience working in mixed-use or innovation districts is preferred
  • Knowledge of local zoning regulations, land use policies and permitting processes
  • United States citizen or permanent residentThis position offers an exciting opportunity to make a significant impact on the innovation ecosystem in the Knoxville MSA, and to contribute to the economic, social and cultural vitality of the region. If you are a dynamic leader with a passion for place-based innovation, we encourage you to apply.

Procedure for Candidacy

Applications and nominations should be addressed to Catherine Lane, Search Committee Chair, and submitted via email to

Applications should include:

1). a cover letter;

2). a curriculum vitae; and

3). the names and contact information of five professional references.

Review of applications will begin on April 15, 2024, and continue until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is August 1, 2024.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Additionally, Tennessee residents do not pay a state income tax.

Cherokee Farms Development Corporation (CFDC) is an equal opportunity employer.