Holly Sullivan (’94, ’98)

Category: Alumni Professional Achievement | Awards

2019 Alumni Professional Achievement Award Winner

Holly Sears Sullivan is a double graduate of UT, earning her BA in urban studies in 1994 and her MS in urban and regional planning in 1998. Since then, she has had a storied career leading to her current role as head of worldwide economic development at Amazon. In her position with the tech giant, she led the company’s HQ2 search that resulted in a new headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, and an operations hub in downtown Nashville that is expected to employ 5,000 people.

Sullivan began her career as a planning director in Wilson County, Tennessee. She soon became executive director of the county’s joint economic and community development board, fostering 2,800 new jobs and $350 million in capital investments. In 2005, she became vice president of economic development in Rutherford County, Tennessee, overseeing projects in fast-growing Murfreesboro, including an Amazon distribution hub that brought 5,000 jobs to the area. Prior to joining Amazon, Sullivan was president of the Montgomery Business Development Corporation in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Sullivan is a member of numerous economic development organizations, including the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, Maryland Economic Development Association, and International Economic Development Council. She was lauded as the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year by the Nashville Business Journal for her role in Amazon’s investments in Tennessee. She continues to support UT by serving on the Haslam College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council.