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We honor intention, collaboration, and creativity.

Our paths converged with a desire to focus our energy, dedication, and skills doing more impactful work. We envisioned an opportunity to work together and with a constellation of partners to multiply the impact of the work we wanted to achieve. We founded Chestnut Catalyst to work on innovative projects and with curious people who question convention, apply innovation to social challenges, value diverse perspectives, and thus help create a more sustainable, equitable, and dynamic community.

We hope you join us on this journey.



Liza Soydan


With over a decade as a management and strategy consultant to clients in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, I bring content knowledge, expertise in developing informed strategies, and deep experience in stakeholder and community engagement to the firm. I value the deep relationships I have cultivated in my work and enjoy learning from the impactful activities our clients undertake. Having worked across sectors, I truly value opportunities for collaboration that bring different voices and perspectives to the conversation. In addition to the impactful projects we undertake at Chestnut Catalyst, I am a Fund Partner in Chestnut Opportunity Zone Fund and the Chief Operating Officer at Chestnut Funds. In these roles I steward the impact assessment of our investments and lead key initiatives within the firm.

I am also an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business, where I teach Opportunity Assessment to undergraduate and graduate students. My perfect day includes running in the South’s heat and humidity, a trip to the public library, and an at-home movie night with my husband and children. I received a B.B.A. in Marketing and an MBA from the University of West Georgia. 

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Courtney Watson


I enjoy engaging in projects that span sectors and provide opportunities to explore new ways of thinking. From my experience working at an SF-based tech startup to global internet company AOL to local non-profits, I bring a diverse perspective to the success of client engagements and investment activities. In addition to the clients we work with at Chestnut Catalyst, I am a Fund Partner in Chestnut Opportunity Zone Fund, helping develop fund strategy, discover community-aligned real estate projects, and measure the impact of our investments. I am also a General Partner in the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, a venture capital firm investing in early-stage companies in the Southeast. Having worked in marketing and strategy roles on both coasts, I enjoy calling Chattanooga home.

I am often found on a paddleboard, yoga mat, or wherever my kids' activities take me. In the community, I serve on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga and mentor companies at COLAB. I'm a proud Wahoo and Commodore, receiving my B.S. in Commerce with a minor in French from the University of Virginia and an MBA in Finance and Strategy from Vanderbilt University.

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