The Next Generation!
Memphis is an old city: in five years,we will be celebrating the bicentennial of its founding by Andrew Jackson, John Overton, and James Winchester. And Memphis is an old city in the sense that so many of its luminaries are in our increasingly distant past: Abe Plough, Robert Church Sr. and Jr., Danny Thomas, Clarence Saunders, Kemmons Wilson, John Toof, Willis Campbell, Epsie Jennings, W.C. Handy, Sam Phillips, and Elvis Presley have all left the building, even if their legacies live on.
But Memphis is a young city, too. It’s a city that recognizes and nurtures its greatest renewable resource: talent. You can see the impressive range and breadth of our young professionals’ abilities in our executive offices, in our nonprofit boardrooms, and, critically, on the street, working to address our community’s biggest social needs with their time and energy. MBQ’s Next Gen honors Memphians who are taking the future by the horns. Crucially, they aren’t consigned to repeating the past; they are learning from it and forging their own path beyond the horizon. These are some of the people whose names will be remembered by the generations to come. We can’t wait to see what they will accomplish.
Vice President, Boyle Investment Company
Education: University of Mississippi and Portland State University
Work background: Eleven years in the commercial real estate industry, including seven years at Boyle focusing on mixed-use development.
Civic responsibilities: Treasurer and Executive Board Member of ULI Memphis; Member of Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council
Personal: Spouse: Ashley
How long in Memphis: Raised here and returned seven years ago.
Favorite thing about what you do: Create better neighborhoods and improve our city.
Favorite thing you do outside of work? Travel
What did you want to be when you were a kid? Professional athlete
How are you described by people who know you well? Genuine and loyal, focused yet light-hearted, and always quick to smile.
Any hidden talents? I am pretty good at recognizing voices. I make my wife laugh when I consistently name actors during TV or radio advertisements. It’s useless but fun.
Neighborhood you live in: University District
Favorite pop culture: Movie: Moonrise Kingdom; book: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein; TV show: Most any show on NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation); album: Is This It by the Strokes
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? School vouchers for all primary and secondary school children. Limited options for education exacerbate suburban sprawl, which continues to hollow out our city.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? Memphis has a lot of character and authenticity. Scratch the surface and there is plenty to find. If you want to live in a place where you can effect change, Memphis is a place where you can easily engage in the areas of your civic interest.
Tyree C. Daniels
Senior Vice President, Raymond James
Education: B.S., Christian Brothers University. Series 7 & 63 Licenses
Civic responsibilities: Chapter Advisor Leaders & Learners Mentoring Partnership for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.; Board Chair for Memphis College Preparatory Elementary; Member of Fellows Advisory Board for New Memphis Institute; Member of the Board of Directors for Wolf River Conservancy and Peer Power; Member of the President’s Advisory Board for Christian Brothers University.
Awards and honors: Named to “Top 40 Under 40” by the Memphis Business Journal, and Memphis Finest Young Professionals
How long in Memphis: 17 years
Favorite thing about what you do? I love knowing I have the potential to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the youth in this city.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? An engineer
How are you described by people who know you well? I am often described as being passionate, detail orientated, multi-talented, and empathetic.
Hidden talents? One day my kitchen may be opened to the public.
Neighborhood you live in? Midtown
Favorite pop culture? Mary by Mary J. Blige
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? Instill a strong sense of pride and love in the greater community.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? Memphis is a place where you can create what you don’t see.
V. Latosha Dexter, SPHR
Of Counsel, Rainey, Kizer, Reviere and Bell
Education: J.D., University of Tennessee
Civic responsibilities: Board Chair and mentor for Girls Inc. of Memphis; volunteer with A Step Ahead Foundation; Leadership Memphis Executive Class of 2014
Awards and honors: Super Lawyers Rising Star — Employment Litigation Defense, 2013-14; Girls Inc. of Memphis, Mentor of the Year, 2012-13; Memphis Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, 2011; FedEx Express Human Resources Award of Excellence, 2008
Personal: Spouse: Michael; children: Jazz and Aaliyah
How long in Memphis: 11 years
Favorite thing about what you do? I love working with clients and helping them employ strategies to prevent legal problems and litigation. I also enjoy everything I do with Girls Inc. Girls are a valuable resource, and being able to make an impact in that area in ways that will be felt for years is a great feeling.
Favorite thing you do outside of work? Reading and spending time with my husband, who is truly my best friend.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? An OB/GYN doctor, but I quickly figured out I didn’t really like science that much. My favorite subjects were English and history, and a family friend recommended law based on those interests.
How are you described by people who know you well? A little impatient and frank but practical and down to earth. I’m also a doer.
Hidden talents? I don’t know if I’d call it a talent, but I’ve gotten pretty good at planning children’s parties.
Neighborhood you live in? Bartlett
Favorite pop culture? I’m a big fantasy reader, and right now I’m all into Brandon Sanderson.
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? Our self-perception. Memphians should recognize what a great city we live in. Our rich history in the civil rights movement has placed us in a position to be steps ahead by learning from past lessons that actually impacted this city.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? Memphians are givers. At any event where volunteers are needed, Memphians come out in full force.
Community Investment Manager, First Horizon National Corp.
Education: B.S. in Business administration, Christian Brothers University
Civic responsibilities: New Memphis Institute, Embark graduate; Junior Executive Board member, American Cancer Society
Personal: My parents and oldest brother escaped Vietnam in the late 1970s. Once they immigrated to the states, we settled right into the city of Memphis. We’ve called this place home ever since, and I couldn’t be happier to say that I am a true life-long Memphian.
Favorite thing about what you do? I have the rewarding opportunity of managing our company’s nonprofit relationships. There is never a dull moment in my line of work, and every day there is an opportunity to meet someone new and work with other philanthropic pioneers who are dedicated to this city.
Favorite thing you do outside of work? I love rock climbing and the adrenaline rush from zip-lining over mountains.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? When I was in first grade I dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. Of course, after a few unsuccessful courses in Latin and biology, I knew that there had to be another career path for me out there.
How are you described by people who know you well? One of my friends describes me as a workhorse with show pony qualities.
Neighborhood you live in? Evergreen Historic District.
Favorite pop culture? When I was in elementary school, my brother purchased a VHS of Grease, and I still have it to this day.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? When Memphians have a passion for something, we are loud and proud, and we let it be known — especially when it comes to the Grizzlies. When playoff season comes around, you better have at least one jersey/T-shirt in your weekly wardrobe lineup and a growl towel in your hand at all times.
Qur’an N. Folsom
Chief Administrator, Shelby County Board of Commissioners
Education: B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate, MSQPC/The Quality Center
Work background: Directs daily operations of the county commission office. Former senior executive assistant to the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners.
Civic responsibilities: Women’s Ministry leader, board member, youth council member, and assistant to the treasurer for Longview Heights SDA Church; West TN JDRF Board Member and Executive Committee Member; Member, Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission; team coordinator for STAND for Children; member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Leadership Memphis 2014 Executive Class Graduate; completed Shelby County Citizen’s University in 2013
Awards and honors: Unified Shelby County/Memphis City Schools Board Recognition of Dedication, 2012; Tennessee School Board Association Level 1 Award, 2012; State Farm Grade “A” Award, 1999; Tennessee Higher Education Commission Scholarship, 1998-2000; Marietta Housing Authority Scholarship, 1996-2000.
Personal: Spouse: Charlie Folsom Jr. Children: Charlie III and Caleb. “I was raised like any other Black Southern girl in Atlanta, however, my religion was Islam instead of Christianity. After being exposed to a variety of religions … I decided convert to Christianity. Being raised as a Muslim has allowed me to see people for who they are, and I am a better person because I work hard to not allow my beliefs or thoughts become clouded by prejudging others due to their religious beliefs or cultural differences.
Favorite thing about what you do? I enjoy being able to positively impact the daily lives of all citizens in Shelby County by ensuring that the Shelby County Board of Commissioners are able to carry out their duties with fidelity.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I wanted to be an attorney because I witnessed many injustices that I did not have the ability or knowledge to change.
How are you described by people who know you well? Intelligent, kind, and, while outspoken, at least willing to listen to another’s “rational” point of view.
Neighborhood you live in? Cordova
Favorite pop culture? My favorite TV Show is Scandal.
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? The high poverty rate.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? Memphis is on the cutting edge in music, tourism, education reform, and innovation in healthcare.
Vice President Replenishment, Customer Satisfaction, AutoZone, Inc.
Education: B.B.A. and M.S., University of Memphis
Civic responsibilities: New Memphis Institute Board of Trustees; Secretary and board member, Central Gardens Association; member, University of Memphis LEAD Advisory Council.
Industry responsibilities: Audit Committee Chair, Auto Care Association; Associate, Car Care Council’s Women’s Board
Awards and honors: Multiple recipient, AutoZone’s Extra Miler Award; featured in the “I Choose Memphis” segment in The Commercial Appeal in May 2009.
Personal: The oldest of 3 children
Favorite thing about what you do? I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to move around the organization at AutoZone. I started out in Finance, in Accounting. I then moved to Merchandising, where I really got the opportunity to learn how the organization works. Then 6 years ago I transitioned over to Supply Chain and have learned about yet another aspect of our company. My favorite thing about what I do is being able to help solve problems, and I credit my background and experience for affording me the ability to do that
Favorite thing you do outside of work? Avid Memphis basketball fan. Grizzlies season ticket holder since day one.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? A cosmetologist or an interior designer, but not an accountant.
How are you described by people who know you well? Fairly high-strung and emotional and passionate about what I do.
Neighborhood you live in: Central Gardens
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis: The attitude and perceptions of those current residents who take for granted what a great place this is to live.
When I brag on Memphis, what do you say? The amazing food and the number of great local restaurants we have here; how affordable it is to live in Memphis; how green Memphis is due to all of the amazing trees that still exist in the core of the city; the fun things there are to do here, like Memphis in May, the Memphis Zoo, dancing at Raiford’s, or tailgating in Tiger Lane.
Ellen D. Roberds
Creative Placemaker, Livable Memphis, an initiative of the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis
Education: M.Div., Vanderbilt; B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Work background: Livable Memphis is an initiative of the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis. Current position is a partnership with the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and ioby (in our backyard) and Livable Memphis; former community organizer in Speedway Terrace in Memphis; former Associate Rector, Calvary Episcopal Church (Memphis) and Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church (Memphis); Grow Memphis Community Gardening 101 Training; Certified Birth Doula, DONA International; Ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Civic responsibilities: “Yes, exactly.”
Personal: Spouse: Jarad Bingham; children: Abram, Obed, and Bella
Favorite thing about what you do? Getting lost in my own town when I go meet people to talk about their idea. Despite our remarkable diversity, we Memphians can fall into habits that are sort of monochromatic. It’s nice to work with the whole city.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? “Well, probably a minister or a writer or a humanitarian. (Yes, I was that kid.)”
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? “I come from the pulpit so I think equitable, just society for all living things (including the non-human, non-animated ones). In a way, all change is local. Our kids go to a Title I school, which means a high percentage come from low-income households and qualify for free lunch. My son came home with a cabbage plant from school last spring, but we had a piece of earth to put it in. We picked it last week; it was huge. Maybe my ioby project will be to deliver potted cucumber plants on front porches and playgrounds and school doorsteps around the city. Mobile pieces of earth filled with food.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? “We are the home of the first self-service grocery store. We are a creative bunch almost ex nihilo. If we don’t do it ourselves, who will? Now we are actually getting national recognition for some of our urban innovations. Tactical urbanism, guerilla gardening, creative placemaking — whatever they name it, it’s what we are. It’s the same energy that made the Oblivians.
Courtney Williams Robertson
Special Assistant to Executive Director, Knowledge Quest
Education: Master of Public Administration, University of Memphis; B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, IU-Purdue University Indianapolis
Work background: In current position, provides administrative support and direction on Green Leaf Learning Farm master plan and expansion; serves as primary liaison to external evaluator and organizational representative for Strive Mid-South and Seeding Success Coalition; and provides support and research for development of STEM “Adventure Education.”
Awards and honors: 2014 Beta Cohort Graduate of the Embark Program through New Memphis Institute; Vice Chair of United Way of the Mid-South’s Emerging Leaders
Personal: “The person I admire the most in my family is my 94-year old great-grandmother, who is packed full of life, wisdom, and spunk and is the heartbeat of our family. Ten years ago I was blessed to visit South Africa as an exchange student and meet the late president Nelson Mandela during my stay. This single, brief meeting changed my entire perspective on life and gave my life more purpose. Mandela is one of the individuals I strive to emulate. I am continuously reminded of his quote, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”
How long in Memphis? “[Except for] the five years I spent in Indiana for undergraduate, my entire life.”
Favorite thing about what you do? “Managing the expansion of my organization’s organic learning farm. This project is extremely exciting and allows me to not only learn about gardening and the local food system and the challenges that exist within it.”
Favorite thing you do outside of work? “I run regularly and am involved in theater/acting.”
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I wanted to be a construction worker, a lawyer, a songwriter, a director, and an actor — and this was all before high school.
How are you described by people who know you well? “Extremely hardworking, ambitious, and energetic. They also say I am personable, charismatic, and the life of the party.”
Hidden talents? I know how to play (a little) tuba and piano and am currently in the process of signing up for guitar lessons.
Neighborhood you live in? I currently reside in East Memphis but will always be a resident of Orange Mound in my heart.
Favorite pop culture? Movie: The Color Purple; book: The Giver by Lois Lowry; TV show: Game of Thrones and Scandal; and album: John Coltrane’s Blue Train.
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? Improving public transportation will help to alleviate the pressing issue of concentrated poverty in Memphis, which is also tied directly to race in our case, unfortunately. A person’s success in many regards is tied to the zip code in which they were born into and live. Dependable public transportation increases accessibility to opportunities for people outside of their immediate neighbors, connects people to the city and each other, and more positively impacts environment.
Vice President, Human Resources Compliance, Sedgwick
Education: B.A. and J.D., University of Memphis
Work background: Thirteen years experience in legal, risk management, and human resources.
Civic responsibilities: Immediate Past President of the Junior League of Memphis, and previously served on the board of directors as training director, community director, board member at large; chaired JLM committee that formed G.R.O.W., now in its fifth year benefiting Binghamton with $125,000, 150 volunteers, and a number of events, tutoring, and pre-K readiness activities; former chapter advisor for Alpha Gamma Delta at University of Memphis; former board member and Chair of LEAD Advisory Board at University of Memphis; participant in Leadership Memphis Fast Track program and the New Memphis Institute executive program.
Awards and honors: Junior League of Memphis 90 Women of Achievement honoree and Community Volunteer of the Year; University of Memphis “100 Years, 100 Women” honoree; “Top 40 Under 40,” Memphis Business Journal; University of Memphis Greek Chapter Advisor of the Year; Sedgwick Core Value Award Recipient; Alpha Gamma Delta (Gamma Zeta Chapter) Alumnae of the Year Award.
Favorite thing about what you do? I am grateful to work at Sedgwick, the leader in the claims and productivity management industry. The company has more than doubled in size since I joined, and the growth has given me many opportunities for development.
Favorite thing you do outside of work? Spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and exercising.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? News reporter
Favorite pop culture? Steel Magnolias, and Love Does by Bob Goff
If you could change one concrete thing about Memphis, what would it be? To change the attitude of naysayers about the potential of our great city. Memphis has many inter-related challenges that did not develop overnight and will take time and tremendous effort to solve, but we have countless individuals who are committed to making their community better. When you get off the sidelines and play in the game, you become more invested, and the returns are significant.
When you brag on Memphis, what do you say? Memphis has soul like no other city. The people here are what make it so special. We have large corporations, activities for all ages, and restaurants that are second to none: all the amenities of a large city, but Memphis in many ways has a small-town feel.