Division of Public Affairs
Beth Fortune, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Beth Fortune is the vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt University. She leads the university’s comprehensive communications, government and community initiatives and serves as the chief spokesperson.
She joined Vanderbilt University as associate vice chancellor for public affairs in September 2000. In that role, she served as the principal deputy to the vice chancellor for public affairs and oversaw the university’s news and communications functions, including the News Service, Vanderbilt View, Science and Research Communications and Creative Services.
Fortune came to Vanderbilt after serving as press secretary to former Gov. Don Sundquist for more than six years. A member of the Governor’s Cabinet and the first female gubernatorial press secretary in Tennessee history, Fortune served as the primary spokesman for the Sundquist administration.
Three times named by Business Nashville and in 2003 by The Tennessean as one of the city’s top young leaders, Fortune also has been recognized by the Nashville Scene as among the most effective and respected public affairs professionals in the city. She is a frequent speaker and panelist for professional, political and community organizations.
Before joining the Governor’s staff, Fortune served as Sundquist’s campaign press secretary in his successful 1994 run for office. She previously worked as a principal in The Fulton Group, a former Nashville lobbying and public affairs firm, and as manager of public affairs for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.
From 1985 to 1992, Fortune was a political reporter for the now-defunct Nashville Banner, where she covered state and Metro government and won an Exceptional Merit Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus for a series on women in Tennessee politics.
Fortune was the recipient of the “Spirit of Leadership” award in 2006 from CABLE, a networking organization.
A 2001 and 2004 Athena nominee, she was one of former Mayor Bill Purcell’s first appointments to the Metropolitan Educational Access Corporation and was elected chair in 2004 and served in that role until 2007. Fortune also serves on the boards of Women in Numbers (WIN), Urban League of Middle Tennessee, Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership, Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity, Belcourt Theatre and as president of Renewal House. She is a past president of the Nashville Women’s Political Caucus, past president of WIN, a former member of the CABLE board of directors and member of the Leadership Nashville Alumni Association. She is a member of CABLE and the Tennessee Women’s Forum.
In 2002, she was nominated by the Tennessee Women’s Forum and was one of 16 women worldwide selected by the International Women’s Forum to participate in its prestigious yearlong fellowship on executive leadership that included programs at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge in England.
A 1985 graduate of Anderson University, Fortune earned an M.A. in journalism and public affairs from The American University in 1990.