Mark Cate

President & Principal

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  • A seasoned executive and political strategist, Mark Cate is adept at helping clients think bigger and build integrated plans for government relations, public relations, corporate positioning and issue advocacy.
  • Mark leverages his extensive relationships with business and political leaders across the state of Tennessee and around the country to help clients connect with influencers and capitalize on opportunities.
  • Served as chief of staff for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, where he successfully advanced legislative reforms to K-12 and postsecondary education, workers’ compensation, and civil service.
  • Provides clients with specialized expertise in education policy; served one of the governor's key liaisons with the Tennessee Department of Education and worked in higher education for 16 years.

Mark Cate is a seasoned executive and public policy/political strategist with extensive experience in strategic planning, economic and community development, issue advocacy and project management. With strong ties to Tennessee business leaders and government officials, a broad network of state and national policymaker relationships, and a wealth of issue expertise, Mark helps clients navigate political risks, launch compelling advocacy campaigns, capitalize on business and engagement opportunities, and strengthen comprehensive public affairs efforts.

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Mark formerly served as Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s chief of staff, where he was his top advisor, strategist and negotiator. He has an extensive network of relationships in Tennessee with business and political leaders, and a network of national relationships through involvement with organizations such as the Republican Governors Association and the National Governors Association.

During his tenure with the Haslam Administration, Mark led several legislative policy initiatives, including K-12 education reform, workers’ compensation reform, civil service reform, an alternative approach to Medicaid expansion, and post-secondary education reform, including the nationally acclaimed Tennessee Promise program. He was also one of the governor’s key liaisons with the Department of Education and the Department of Economic and Community Development, where he worked closely on Governor Haslam’s major education initiatives and helped guide business expansions and relocations.

Prior to serving in state government, Mark successfully managed Governor Haslam’s first gubernatorial campaign in 2010, which led to a record-setting general election victory. He previously worked in real estate management and development and served for 16 years as an executive in higher education. Over the course of his career, Mark has served as a chief development officer, chief planning officer, chief marketing officer, and as a chief financial officer—working on budgets ranging from $10 million to $30 billion.

Mark received his B.S. from Carson-Newman College and his M.S. from the University of Tennessee; he also attended Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. Mark was an elected school board member and has served on numerous other boards, including current service on the boards of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee.

Mark and his wife Cathy live in Brentwood, Tennessee, and have two daughters, Bailey and Abbie. Cathy serves as the executive director of Leadership Tennessee, an initiative of the College of Leadership and Public Service at Lipscomb University.