As Co-Founder, Dan Heller devoted four years to Urban Green Lab as the organization’s first President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, raising the initial seed capital and providing the leadership required to launch. A Nashville native, Dan attended business school at the University of Colorado—Boulder, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. As a commercial real-estate broker in the Denver office of Cushman & Wakefield, Dan represented businesses tenants in lease negotiations with landlords and won C&W’s prestigious Rookie of the Year Award in 1989 for brokerage sales and excellence.
After moving back to middle Tennessee in 1995, Dan took the position of Vice President of Marketing at a small children’s outwear company where he secured license agreements and developed merchandising programs with top NASCAR driving teams and sponsorsKodak, Chevrolet, Mattel, McDonalds, M&M Mars, Turner Entertainment and Warner Brothers. Over a three year period, Dan managed a nationwide sales force consisting of twelve offices and helped build Winning Moves Racing Apparel into the #1 selling brand of American-made children’s racing jackets in the U.S.
In 2005, Dan moved to the Inglewood neighborhood of east Nashville and began making visible improvements to the dingy commercial buildings at Riverside and McGavock. With enthusiastic community support, the once run-down corner blossomed into Riverside Village—a popular destination of 100% locally-owned restaurants and shops. The City Paper described the dramatic transformation as a “textbook example of a small-scale project making a large impact” and, in 2009, Dan was awarded Business Person of the Year by the Historic East Nashville Merchants’ Association. Today, in addition to developing other adaptive re-use projects in east Nashville, Dan is known as a strong advocate for small business, neighborhood beautification and Metro’s recent successful push for comprehensive water rate reform.