A quick guide to our city’s movers, shakers, and other news-makers.
Every year our staff faces one of its toughest challenges — looking back at the events of the past year and selecting those Memphians who played the largest role in our city’s present and future. It is no easy task narrowing the list down to 100 or so. We like to call these our city’s “movers, shakers, and other news-makers” (though we admit we’re not entirely sure what a “shaker” might be), but there’s no question that the people featured on the following pages were prime movers and news-makers in their various fields — politicians, entrepreneurs, business leaders, athletes, musicians, and more.
We begin the list with our special “Hall of Fame” — those nine Memphians who have been named to every “Who’s Who” list since we began compiling them in 1984. The regular “Who’s Who” then begins on page 58, with a special “Out-of-Towners” section on pages 113 through 115.
Hall of Fame
Nine Memphians named to every “Who’s Who” list since 1984.
As chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises, Belz heads one of the South’s largest real estate and development firms. A longtime booster, activist, and participant in downtown development, probably best known for bringing back The Peabody hotel. The driving force behind Peabody Place, a two-million-square-foot mixed-use development stretching for eight blocks downtown and one of the largest single historic renovation projects in the U.S. Has worked with the Memphis Housing Authority and Henry Turley Company to develop Uptown, including the demolition of the Hurt Village housing project and redevelopment of approximately 1,000 new single-family and multifamily units near St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also partnered in downtown projects such as Harbor Town and South Bluffs. Total property holdings include more than 25 million square feet of developed property and more than 30 shopping complexes. Received the Leadership Memphis Community Leadership 2000 Award, the 2003 Master Entrepreneur Award of the Society of Entrepreneurs and Junior Achievement of Memphis, the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center City Commission, and the Kether Shem Tov Award from the Orthodox Union, one of the highest honors bestowed upon members of the worldwide Jewish community.
Lured to Memphis from his native Forrest City, Arkansas, by producer Willie Mitchell in the 1970s and racked up seven top-10 soul hits in a three-year stretch, since selling more than 20 million records. Turned to gospel music after a religious conversion in 1973. Became an ordained preacher and founded the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Whitehaven, where he serves as pastor. Age 65. Multiple Grammy Award winner. Member of the Rock-and-Roll, Gospel, and Songwriters Halls of Fame. In 2003, had albums listed in Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time and released his first new album of secular music in decades: I Can’t Stop, produced by Willie Mitchell. In 2004 and 2005, Rolling Stone named him one of their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” Performed at the White House in 2006. In 2008, released a new album, Lay It Down, with production from drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of famed hip-hop band The Roots. In 2009, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards, and was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. His biggest hit, “Let’s Stay Together,” was voted a Legendary Michigan Song the same year.
An embarrassing four-to-one loser in his underfunded and erratically pursued challenge to 9th District congressman Steve Cohen in the 2010 Democratic primary, Herenton, now 71, seems finally to have accepted that his legendary political career, beginning in 1991 when the former city schools superintendent became Memphis’ first elected black mayor and continuing through four successive reelections, is over. What to do next has preoccupied Herenton, who has at various times indicated he is writing his memoirs; he has also considered a new career as talk show host and has made a few trial appearances in that role on local radio. Mainly he seems to have resigned himself to the role of elder statesman and is a fixture at occasions like the 2011 commencement address by President Barack Obama at Herenton’s alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School.
J.R. “PITT” HYDE
As president of Malone and Hyde in 1968 and CEO in 1972, he was the youngest CEO listed on the New York Stock Exchange for a decade. Founded AutoZone in 1979, one of three Fortune 500 companies with its headquarters in Memphis. After a successful career in business and following his retirement in 1997, Hyde, 69, has become one of the leading philanthropists in the city. He and his wife, Barbara, are active in civic affairs and key supporters of education reform in both the district and at the state level. Hyde was instrumental in the founding of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Memphis Tomorrow, and the National Civil Rights Museum. Hyde is a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and helped bring the NBA team to Memphis.
JERRY LEE LEWIS
Also known as “The Killer,” Lewis is a native of Ferriday, Louisiana. Came to Memphis in the 1950s to record for Sun Studios. Shot to fame with blockbuster hits “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.” Was the first inductee into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. His pioneering contribution to the genre was recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2008 was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Named to Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004, and in 2005 received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. Age 75. Resides in Nesbit, Mississippi, in a ranch house with a piano-shaped pool. Ventures out for a yearly appearance at the Beale Street Music Festival. In 2008 performed with the National Symphony Orchestra on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on the Fourth of July.
Founder and chairman of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world’s largest security services companies, which operates in 400 cities worldwide with 17,500 employees and annual revenues of about $509 million. The 1996 recipient of the American Business Ethics Award. In 1997, founding chairman of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission. Recipient of the Stanley C. Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics, from the Ethics Resource Center. Recipient of the Corporate Citizenship Award, presented by the Committee for Economic Development. Age 70. Author of How To Protect Yourself From Crime, in its fourth edition, published by Reader’s Digest. First chairman of the ethics committee of the board of governors of United Way of America. Honorary life chairman and former national chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Executive committee member and trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international human-rights organization. Chairman emeritus of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Member of the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and recipient of the Wharton School Dean’s Medal. Member of Business Executives for National Security and board member of Ligue Internationale des Sociétés de Surveillance.
Founder and executive producer of Playhouse on the Square, Memphis’ only resident professional theatre company, now in its 41st season, and Circuit Playhouse. Also created Pay What You Can Night at Playhouse and Circuit, and the new TheatreWorks near Overton Square, a performance space for alternative theatre and dance. Age 64. Started an after-school acting program for children and has had 33,000 students emerge from his numerous outreach programs. Past recipient of the Memphis Rotary Club’s Outstanding Community Service Award, the State of Tennessee’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Theatre, and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator Award. Playhouse recently opened its new $15 million Theatre and Arts Complex at Cooper and Union and completed renovations on its old facility, which has become the new Circuit Playhouse at 51 South Cooper.
Chairman, founder, president, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, the world’s largest express transportation company and a vital economic engine in the Memphis region. Has served on the boards of several large public companies and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Mayo Foundation Boards. Smith, 67, is a leading business voice in efforts to revolutionize energy policy and lessen reliance on imported foreign oil. Board member of the Council on Foreign Relations, co-chair of the Energy Security Leadership Council, named to the Aviation Hall of Fame, and winner of the Circle of Honor Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Contributed $10 million to support construction of the Teton Trek exhibit at the Memphis Zoo. FedEx has approximately 30,000 employees in the Memphis area, and is regularly included in surveys for the World’s Most Admired Companies and the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
PAT KERR TIGRETT
Fashion designer, patron of Memphis music, and philanthropist. Chairman and CEO of Pat Kerr, Inc., a couture design firm, specializing in bridal and baby couture. Founder of the Blues Ball, the Jingle Bell Ball, and the Nutcracker Ball benefiting Memphis music, children, and the arts. Her designs have been featured in retail windows of Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel and in books and magazines, including Martha Stewart Weddings, the Tiffany Wedding Book, and The Plaza Hotel Wedding Book. Lived in London for 20 years developing an extensive private royal collection with gowns from Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Queen Victoria, and King George III. Widow of international financier, John Tigrett. Has served on boards of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission, University of Memphis, Memphis Rock ’N’ Soul Museum, Memphis Film and Tape Commission, Leadership Memphis, Memphis Orchestral Society, Memphis Development Foundation, and NARAS. Chairman/CEO of Celebrations upscale lifestyle events company.
Executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, the nation’s largest urban park. The nonprofit agency operates most of the 4,500 acres between East Memphis and Cordova. Adams, 52, was appointed to the job in 2010. As a conservancy, the park gets millions of dollars annually in private funds as well as roughly $500,000 in county funding. It includes bike trails, lakes, horseback riding, a new bridge over the Wolf River, and a playground that are getting lots of attention and favorable reviews. She envisions the park as the centerpiece of an overall environmentally friendly strategy for Greater Memphis. Graduate of George Washington University.
Appointed in 2009 as superintendent of Shelby County Schools, the fourth-largest school system in Tennessee. Has held several positions with the system in his career, including teacher, principal, and administrator. During his 11-year tenure as Houston High principal, the school developed a reputation for academic excellence, its fine arts program gained national recognition, and it won “Best of the Preps” award in athletics for 10 straight years. While at Houston, Aitken was named 2008 State Principal of the Year by the Parent Teacher Student Association, Administrator of the Year by the Tennessee Association of Student Councils, and received the A.F. Bridges Award for Principal of the Year. Holds bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University and master’s from the University of Memphis. Oversees a system that, if merged with Memphis City Schools, would become the 16th largest in the nation. Aitken opposed consolidation, but he is working with city school officials on a transition plan that, he told a judge in June 2011, “could take at least two years to complete.”
CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare with responsibility for Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis and Bartlett, as well as the system’s ambulatory surgery center, five sports medicine and rehabilitation centers, and Saint Francis Med Partners — Physician Practices. Also serves as president and CEO of Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis. Earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Purdue, a master’s in business administration from Columbia, and a master’s in public health from Columbia. Sits on the boards of the MidSouth eHealth Alliance, the Tennessee Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Church Parish Council, and St. Louis School Board, and the Hospital Wing (Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service, Inc.).
President and CEO, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Has been with hospital since 2007. Helped oversee Le Bonheur’s $100 million fundraising campaign and completion of a new $340 million hospital. Le Bonheur was named one of the “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report in 2011. Received the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions Advocacy Award in 2008. Named Communicator of the Year by the Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in 2009. Named YWCA Woman of the Year (Cleveland, Ohio) in 2005, and a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow in 2008. Is also a registered nurse. Board member, Urban Child Institute. Member, Memphis Women’s Forum.
Best known for his role as the homicide commander on A&E’s The First 48, Armstrong was appointed director of the Memphis Police Department in April 2011, taking the reins from former director Larry Godwin. Has pledged to place a greater emphasis on community policing while maintaining the department’s successful data-driven policing model. The Memphis native holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Christian Brothers University. Began his service career in the U.S. Army in 1983 and joined the MPD in 1989. Worked his way up the ranks as an undercover operative, sergeant in the robbery bureau, and colonel over uniform patrol. Has also overseen the homicide unit, the felony assault unit, missing persons, and CrimeStoppers during his years at MPD.
President and executive director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a broad-based public-private alliance focusing on the growth of biosciences in the Memphis region. Specializes in developing the infrastructure, work force, research, and entrepreneurship necessary for a thriving bioscience economy. Spearheading construction of UT-Baptist Research Park, an urban revitalization project that will have 1.2 million square feet of laboratory, research, education, and business space. Formed the Bioworks subsidiary Innova, an early stage venture fund for the state and region. Previously held executive roles at International Paper and Hewlett Packard, including co-founding Sparcom Corp., an engineering software company. Holds B.S., Ph.D., and M.B.A. degrees. Co-founded Tennessee’s first charter school, the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, targeting inner-city children in grades 6-12.
Founder and executive director of Streets Ministries, founded in 1987, which provides Christian ministry, guidance, after-school activities, and other services to at-risk youth. In a neighborhood with easy access to drugs and high rates of teen pregnancy, Streets Ministries provides a safe haven for students at its modern facility on Vance near downtown. Is scheduled in 2012 to open a 35,000-square-foot second location in Graham Heights community. A graduate of the University of Memphis with a master’s degree in counseling, Bennett and his ministry have been featured in publications ranging from The New York Times to Paris’ Liberation. In 2003, won the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Community Service Award. In 2011 received U of M Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Co-founded YoLo Frozen Yogurt with partner Mike McCaskill in 2010. Already operates seven stores in the Mid-South and has license agreements with YoLo owners in Asheville and Cary, North Carolina. Values relationships with local vendors for yogurt toppings, including Dinstuhl’s, Jones Orchard, and Groovy Foods. Memphis native earned bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College, law degree from the University of Memphis, and a master’s in tax law from the University of Washington. Focused private law practice on tax and estate planning. Through Memphis Area Legal Services and with a federal grant, started the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, which assists low-income taxpayers involved in IRS controversies. Now, as head of the self-serve yogurt chain, believes in “creating happy spaces for friends and families to gather over really good desserts.”
CHARLES “CHUCK” BRADY
President/CEO of the Memphis Zoo since 2003. Responsible for overseeing all renovations and expansions at the facility since the late 1980s. Active in conservation efforts for various species and currently serves on the boards of the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation and the Jaguar Conservation Fund. Played a key role in negotiations with the Chinese government that brought a pair of giant pandas to the zoo in spring 2003. Holds Ph.D. from Ohio University.
Film director and screenwriter. Spent most of his childhood and produced his first film, The Poor & Hungry, in Memphis. The film went on to win the Best Digital Feature award at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival and was acquired by the Independent Film Channel. Also filmed the Oscar and Sundance award-winning movie Hustle & Flow, mostly in Memphis; followed by Black Snake Moan, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Age 39. Received the Governor’s Award in 2005 from the Tennessee Film Commission for his contributions to the film industry. Created $5 Cover, a 15-episode series for MTV/Viacom’s online and new media division centered around Memphis’ rock-and-roll scene. His remake of Footloose for Paramount Pictures is set to release October 2011. Developing Mother Trucker, an original screenplay for New Regency Pictures, and working with Warner Bros. to write and direct a new movie about Tarzan.
Executive director and chief administrative officer of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, to promote leadership among women and help women and children reach their potential. Experience includes 26 years in the nonprofit sector, and more than 10 years leading WFGM. Has led the organization in raising $12.6 million, which includes $5.3 million for 331 local programs and $7.3 million for the Memphis HOPE project, a public-private partnership that supports mixed-income housing and urban revitalization. Board chair of the International Women’s Funding Network from 2008 to 2010. Has received the “Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award” in April 2011 by the Women’s Funding Network. Honored by the Memphis Urban League, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the Mid-South, Leadership Memphis, and MPACT Memphis.
Business manager and curator for T Clifton Art Gallery, a position that led her to help revitalize the Broad Avenue Arts District and to her volunteer role as vice-president of the Historic Broad Business Association. Produces Art Walks, which bring thousands of visitors to the district several times a year. Has brought funding for public art installations, support for bicycle and pedestrian trial development, creation of the “New Face for an Old Broad” event that in 2010 attracted national recognition, and several restaurants and businesses to the area. Prior to her role as the unofficial “Mayor of Broad Street,” built a 25-year career at First Tennessee Bank. Earned M.B.A. from University of Memphis.
Tournament director since 1999 of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament. Managed deal that saw FedEx return as title-sponsor for event for first time since 2006. Oversaw redesign of Southwind’s TPC course in 2005; also involved in development of FedEx Cup points system to determine year-end PGA Tour champion. Total purse at 2011 event was $5.6 million. Age 58. Has been part of tournament for more than 40 years. Received 2003 Charles Thornton Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Memphis. Chairman of Germantown Area Chamber of Commerce 1999.
General director of Opera Memphis since January 2011. Has directed shows for Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, and Florida Grand Opera, as well as productions in China, Israel, Italy, and Canada. As festival director of the New York Television Festival until 2010, helped grow it into one of the premier events in the industry. Has taught or lectured at Columbia University, Amherst College, Juilliard, and The Curtis Institute. The 2011-12 season will feature more artists from the roster of The Metropolitan Opera than any since The Met stopped touring in 1986.
After serving for a year as vice chair of the Shelby County Commission, Republican Carpenter was in line for the chairmanship in 2011-2012 but faced unexpected opposition from chairman Sidney Chism, a Democrat who broke with precedent in seeking a second consecutive term. First elected to the commission in 2006, Carpenter fast developed a reputation as an independent-minded doer and conciliator with little interest in hewing to a partisan line — a major reason he may have more support on the commission from Democrats than from his GOP colleagues. A member of several civil and governmental boards, Carpenter served as co-chair of A C Wharton’s transition team in 2009 when Wharton became mayor of Memphis. Handily reelected in 2010 despite opposition from the Republican right.
Upon becoming superintendent of Memphis City Schools in mid-2008 was preoccupied by the continuing dispute, still in litigation, between city, county, and state governments over the issue of funding for MCS. As a result, his first initiatives were relatively modest, though they included innovative approaches to school security and healthcare. Cash, 56, was previously head of accountability for the Miami/Dade County Public Schools in Florida. In 2011, the Memphis school board was abolished, but that decision was challenged in federal court and a ruling is expected in the summer of 2011. Within two years a merger of the Memphis and Shelby County school systems is likely, though Cash unsuccessfully advised the board not to dissolve and to remain a separate school district.
The first woman ever to win the prestigious Malko Competition in 2005, Chen recently completed her first season as music director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and is assuming the music directorship of the Chicago Sinfonietta. Born in Taiwan. Holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan. First student in the New England Conservatory’s history to receive master’s degrees, simultaneously, in both violin and conducting. Worldwide engagements have included all the principal Danish orchestras, BBC Scottish Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Graz Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Tampere Philharmonic, and the Trondheim Symphony. Will debut with the symphonies of Jacksonville, Naples, Nashville, Pasadena, Sarasota, the National Symphony of Mexico, and the Netherlands Philharmonic during the 2011-12 season.
Chairman of the Shelby County Commission in the contentious year of 2010-2011, longtime political broker Chism launched a bid to continue as chairman through 2011-2012, thereby breaking an enduring tradition whereby the chairmanship had annually been rotated by person and by party. An intimate of former Mayor Willie Herenton and a former Democratic Party chairman, Chism has used his clout on behalf of numerous local candidates. An entrepreneur and businessman in his own right, Chism, 71, first became influential as president of a Teamsters local and as an organizer for the union.
Third-term U.S. congressman, first elected to the open 9th District seat after 16 years as an influential member of the state Senate, where he midwifed the Tennessee state lottery into being. After earning the chairmanship of a Judiciary subcommittee in 2009 in the wake of President Obama’s election, Democrat Cohen, who gained international recognition after sponsoring a House resolution apologizing for the history of slavery in America, saw himself become a member of a House minority after the Republican wins of 2010. The 62-year-old Cohen seemed to have a secure long-term hold on his seat after successive 4-to-1 primary drubbings of primary opponents Nikki Tinker and Willie Herenton. But he now faces a potential 2012 challenge from fellow Democrat Tomeka Hart, a member of the Memphis City Schools board and a prime mover in the ongoing movement toward merger of city and county schools.
Since 1985, president of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority operating Memphis International Airport, the world’s largest air-cargo airport between 1992 and 2009, and facilitator of $28.6 billion in economic activity and one in three jobs in the Memphis region. Career milestones include initiating Memphis’ first nonstop international passenger service to Europe, expanding the World Runway to increase international flights, and a $400 million terminal improvement and expansion project. Age 64. Inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005. Past chairman of the 4,000-member American Association of Airport Executives and recipient of FAA’s Airport Manager of the Year honor.
The 19-year-old Booker T. Washington high school student who introduced President Barack Obama as the school’s commencement speaker in May 2011. During his remarks, Dean mock-groused that everyone in the Memphis Cook Convention Center audience already knew about Obama’s job, his wife, and — hear this, birthers! — where Obama was born. In the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge video BTW students produced prior to graduation, Dean is shown crying as the Cleaborn Homes public housing complex was torn down earlier this year. He, along with about 20 percent of BTW students, grew up in the housing project that’s being reinvented as a mixed-income development. Has been offered college scholarships and acceptance letters. Also began his own foundation to help 20 of his former classmates succeed.
Born in Connecticut, came to Memphis in 2007 as president of Smith & Nephew’s Orthopaedic Reconstruction and Trauma division. Holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Richmond. Serves as chairman of the board for the Greater Memphis Chamber. Member of Memphis Tomorrow and co-chairs the Memphis Fast Forward Economic Development Plan. Also serves on the board of Advanced Medical Technology Association. Over 20 years of marketing, development, sales, operations and executive leadership experience. Previously served as president and CEO of RITA Medical Systems, Inc., a pioneer of radiofrequency ablation technology. Also served as president and COO of medical robotics company Computer Motion, Inc. Age 44.
Executive director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic, one of the oldest annual postseason games in college football. Contest features teams representing Conference USA and the Southeastern Conference. Impact of game estimated at between $17 million and $20 million. Game will be played on Saturday, December 31, 2011 (and televised nationally on ABC). Age 64. Former president of the Colorado Rockies major-league baseball team and former general manager of the Memphis Showboats of the USFL football league.
A native of Southern Louisiana, English opened the acclaimed Iris Restaurant in 2008. Iris swept Memphis magazine’s 2011 restaurant poll, winning “Best Restaurant,” “Best Service,” “Best Wine List,” “Best Ambience,” “Best Place to Impress,” and “Best Chef” for his delicately balanced French-Creole cuisine. Named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, and Restaurateur of the Year by the Memphis Restaurant Association in 2010. Graduated from Culinary Institute of America at the top of his class, and studied both in Spain and France. Yet, majority of his culinary education came under the direction of award-winning chef John Besh of New Orleans. Named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs for 2009.” Recently announced a partnership with Harrah’s St. Louis Casino & Hotel: Kelly English Steakhouse, to open later this year.
World-class Memphis-based soprano diva, who won the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition in 1985 shortly after graduating from the University of Illinois. Made her debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1989 as Mimi in La Boheme opposite Placido Domingo and since then has performed in the world’s premier opera houses. Career highlights include performances at Bologna, London’s Covent Garden, Barcelona, Milan, and with the New York Philharmonic. As one of “The Three Sopranos” (with Cynthia Lawrence and Kathleen Casselo), has toured Europe and frequently sang with Luciano Pavarotti. On her own recording label, has produced and recorded folk music and American standards. Recently appointed Artist in Residence for 2011-2012 at the University of Mississippi’s department of music.
NATHAN L. ESSEX
Became president of Southwest Tennessee Community College, the state’s largest community college, after coordinating the merger of Shelby State Community College and State Technical Institute at Memphis in 2000. Holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. Previous experience includes area head of leadership and planning at the University of Alabama and dean of the college of education at the University of Memphis. Named Distinguished Administrator of the Year at U of M, College President of the Year by Alpha Beta Gamma international honor society, and the University of Memphis Society’s Educator of the Year. Received Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keepers of the Dream Award and the Educational Freedom Award, and the Hobson Goodlow Foundation Phi Beta Sigma African American Male Image Award. President of the Community College Council and Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association.
Director and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also holds the St. Jude Endowed Chair of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee — Memphis. For more than 30 years, Evans’ groundbreaking research has focused on anticancer agents in children; has earned three consecutive NIH MERIT Awards from the National Cancer Institute. Received bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the UT Memphis. Has written more than 300 articles and edited several textbooks and scientific journals. Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. Serves as vice chair of Rhodes College Board of Trustees, member of the board of directors for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, on Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Cancer Institute of NIH, chairs Board of Tennessee Technology Corporation, and is a member of Memphis Tomorrow. Under his leadership, St. Jude has been ranked the No. 1 children’s cancer hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Report and Parents magazine, consistently ranked as one of the “Best Places to Work in Academia” by The Scientist magazine, and listed as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune magazine in 2011.
First-term city councilman after a 2007 victory in tight multicandidate race for the Super-District 9, Position 2 seat, the 38-year-old Flinn rapidly became one of the most vocal and influential members of the fractionated 13-member Council. As the body’s budget chairman, Flinn immersed himself in the issue of the city’s $57 million court-ordered debt to Memphis City Schools and helped broker a budget agreement for fiscal 2011-2012 that included the restoration of an 18-cent property tax reduction dating from 2008.
President and CEO of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra since 2003. Has led the organization’s transformation into one “that creates meaningful experiences through music” with an emphasis on community relevance. Has garnered funding and national attention for the Orchestra, including a prominent case study titled “Fearless Journeys” published by the League of American Orchestras. Previously ran the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, and worked for the New York Philharmonic and Boston Ballet. Originally from New York, graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s in economics. Serves on boards of Greater Memphis Chamber and Omni Schools, a charter school initiative.
President and CEO of the Tunica County, Mississippi, Convention & Visitors Bureau, the driving force promoting the casino gambling destination less than 30 minutes south of Memphis. The agency has an annual budget of $3.6 million and plenty to sell in addition to casinos including the Tunica Airport, Tunica Arena and Expo Center, three golf courses, and Tunica River Park. A graduate of the University of Mississippi. In 2011, Franklin had to deal with the Great Mississippi River Flood that closed the casinos for the first time since legalization in the early 1990s. Within a few weeks, the waters receded and the casinos were back in business.
After a funding problem caused him to abort his 2010 race for governor, Gibbons resumed his duties as district attorney general for Shelby County and became a resource on law-enforcement issues for other candidates but was ultimately called upon by former Republican primary rival Bill Haslam, who had been elected governor, to become state Safety Commissioner. The 61-year-old Gibbons had risen from an impoverished Arkansas background to become a key aide to several GOP luminaries in Tennessee before entering politics in his own right, serving both on the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission.
Senior rabbi of Temple Israel, Tennessee’s oldest and largest synagogue. A two-time president of the Memphis Ministers Association and executive committee member of the National Civil Rights Museum. Greenstein served as president of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis and teaches future area ministers at Memphis Theological Seminary. The only rabbi selected as principal speaker for Major State Day at the Washington National Cathedral and the first rabbi to preach at the Calvary Lenten Series. A Memphian since 1991, Greenstein has served on the boards of United Way, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Before entering rabbinical school, was a Cornell National Scholar and named a Kennedy Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration.
In January 2011, was named president and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank, which fights hunger in a 31-county service area. Has worked for the organization since 1996 as agency relations director, director of programs, and vice president and chief operating officer. Among her accomplishments: Initiating childhood hunger programs, starting the Mobile Pantry program to increase food distribution to rural counties, and streamlining warehouse and distribution operations while upgrading safety standards. Prior to joining the Food Bank, taught at Christian Brothers University and the University of Memphis, and later worked in marketing and public relations. Holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the U of M.
President and CEO of the Memphis Development Foundation, which operates the Orpheum Theatre. During his tenure the Orpheum has undergone two major renovations for a total expansion of $20 million. Holds degrees from the University of Nebraska and the University of Miami. President of the Independent Presenters Network, a consortium of over 100 theaters across North America and Japan which present touring Broadway productions and concerts in their communities. As a producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, received a personal Tony Award in 2003 and another in 2005 for Spamalot. In 2010, Pat received a third Tony, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Award for the musical Memphis. In 2011, received the Governor’s Arts Award for arts leadership. Author of The Orpheum: Where Broadway Meets Beale, a history of the Orpheum Circuit and the Orpheum in Memphis.
Member of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education, president and CEO of of the Memphis Urban League, and an attorney. Hart, 40, and fellow board member Martavius Jones led the successful campaign and public referendum to dissolve the school board with the intention of merging the city school system with the Shelby County school system. The merger has been tied up in federal court for most of 2011 and could take two years to go into effect. In 2011 she announced a run for Congress as a Democrat, but will have to defeat incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the primary. Hart grew up in North Memphis and graduated from Trezevant High School. Graduate of the University of Tennessee. Has an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University in addition to her law degree.
BRYCE D. HAUGSDAHL
President, United Way of the Mid-South. Was appointed to position in 2010 after 38 years with the United Way system in five cities, where he has raised more than $557 million for some 1,000 charitable organizations. Completed the Human Services Executive Management Program, Harvard University. Has increased annual amount raised from $10 million in 1983 to $25.7 million in 2010, and the number of charitable organizations funded in the Mid-South increased from 44 to 105. Chairman of the board, United Ways of Tennessee. Member, Kiwanis Club of Memphis. Supports Leadership Memphis and Task Force on Homelessness.
SALLY JONES HEINZ
Executive director of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) since February 2011. Previously MIFA’s vice president of development. Originally from Memphis and a graduate of Rhodes College. Also has a master’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas. Previously worked as executive director of Memphis Heritage, marketing director at Robert F. Sharpe and Co., and director of development at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art until starting at MIFA in 2007. Her father, Jameson Jones, was a dean at Southwestern at Memphis (later Rhodes) and uncle Paul Tudor Jones served as longtime pastor of Idlewild Presbyterian Church, co-founding MIFA in 1968 with other local clergy.
A native of McDonald, Pennsylvania, with degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne, the 61-year-old Holder completed a longish stint as Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2010. The first woman to hold that position, she continues to be a member of the five-member state High Court, to which she was appointed by then-Governor Don Sundquist in 1996. Previously, she had served as editor of the Memphis Bar Forum, chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Commission on Women and Minorities, and secretary of the Tennessee Bar Foundation, among other honors, and had been elected a Circuit Court Judge in Shelby County. Holder also holds an advanced black belt in karate and regularly competes in martial-arts tournaments.
Head coach of NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Led team to deepest playoff run in franchise history in 2011, including a first-round upset of the Western Conference’s top seed, the San Antonio Spurs. Griz finished 2010-11 season with record of 46-36 and fell to Oklahoma City in seven games in second round of playoffs. Age 57. With overall record of 99-108, has won more games than any other coach in Grizzlies history (served as interim coach on two occasions). As a player, member of 1977 NBA champion Portland Trail Blazers. Native of Las Vegas and graduate of Arizona State. Established Bowling for Backpacks, fundraiser to help provide school supplies for underprivileged youth.
JAMES L. HOLT
Since 1998, president and CEO of Memphis in May International Festival, one of the nation’s leading civic festivals and Memphis’ largest annual public event. During his 13-year tenure, the organization has attained financial stability and developed assets in excess of $3 million. Under his management, MIM has been the recipient of 90 Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals and Events Association, including an award from the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Age 52. Previously spent 17 years promoting and managing concerts and events. A Certified Festivals and Events Executive, Holt serves on the board of the International Festivals & Events Association. Previously served on boards of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Memphis Chapter of NARAS. Before joining MIM, spent two decades in the entertainment promotion and management business in Memphis and Nashville.
Executive director of the National Ornamental Metal Museum. Previously served as executive director of the UrbanArt Commission since its inception in 1997. Age 41. Was a curatorial fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and associate curator at The Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Holds degrees from Boston University, University of Washington and University of Memphis. Recipient of 2005 Ellida Fri Leadership Award presented by the YWCA of Greater Memphis, 2003 recipient of Memphis Woman magazine’s “50 Women Who Make A Difference,” 2002 recipient of the Center City Commission’s Vision Award, and one of the 2001 Memphis Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40.” Also listed in Memphis Business Quarterly’s Power Players.
President of the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation and the director of the J.R. Hyde Sr. Foundation, both dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Memphis area. Known for her advocacy and involvement in public education reform, she has led numerous efforts to bring innovative education initiatives to Memphis, most notably KIPP Academy, Teach for America, and New Leaders for New Schools. Age 49. Born in California and raised in Atlanta. As a founding member of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, is leading the master planning efforts to transform Shelby Farms into a world-class park for the twenty-first century. Other philanthropic efforts include serving as a trustee for the University of North Carolina, Leadership Academy, and St. Mary’s Episcopal School.
Executive director of Indie Memphis since 2008, the first full-time director for the annual film festival. During his three years at the helm, the festival has doubled in attendance, to more than 7,800 in 2010. The event was recognized in 2009 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and named among the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker magazine (also among “25 Best Film Festival Investments”). Has served on film-festival juries, including the Slamdance (Park City, Utah), South by Southwest (Austin, Texas), and the Biografilm Festival (Bologna, Italy). Has run independent film festivals since 1999, when he co-founded the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham.
President of Summitt Management Corporation, an entertainment consulting firm. Owner and limited partner of NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. Age 63. Founder of the annual Southern Heritage Classic, a weekend of events climaxed by the football matchup between Jackson State University and Tennessee State University. Played annually the second Saturday in September at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the game has averaged more than 50,000 in attendance since first held in 1990. A 1971 graduate of Memphis State University. Recipient of the 2010 Authur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Memphis.
Financial adviser and member of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education. With fellow board member Tomeka Hart, Jones led the successful campaign and public referendum to dissolve the school board and merge the city and Shelby County school systems. The merger has been tied up in federal court for most of 2011 and could take two years to go into effect. Jones is a graduate of Central High School in Memphis and Howard University.
Became the 12th president of Memphis College of Art in May 2011. Previously dean of the College of the Arts of the University of South Florida for 12 years. Holds bachelor’s degree from West Virginia’s Concord University, master’s from Arizona State, and Ph.D. from University of Maryland. Has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and was elected to the National Council for Policy Study in Art, a group of 50 leading art education scholars. Served as president of the Florida Higher Education Network. Past president of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. Has published over 20 professional articles on aesthetics, art education, and criticism.
The face and voice of Memphis tourism. The president and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau directs CVB offices in Memphis, Washington, D.C., and London, as well as the management company that oversees the Memphis Cook Convention Center and the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Dedicated to promoting Memphis’ international reputation in the travel industry. Chairman of Destination Marketing Association International and active board member of U.S. Travel Association. At home, chairman of the Rock ’N’ Soul Museum Board of Directors and active board member of Riverfront Development Corporation, Memphis Regional Chamber, Blues Foundation, and others. Memphis native, U of M graduate, and tireless booster of Memphis sports, music, and entertainment. Age 54.
Director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee, since 2008. Previously served as executive director of the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia. Nationally recognized innovator and leader in the museum field. Professional experience includes projects with the American Association of Museums, where he managed AAM’s complex strategic planning process and headed the field’s national political campaign in support of museums. A 2008 alumnus of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute, and a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. Served as a facilitator for the AAM — Yale School of Management Executive Education Seminar in 2007, and was a member of the AAM Centennial National Program Committee in 2006. Past vice president of the Virginia Association of Museums. Holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and M.B.A. from The College of William & Mary.
Eclectic singer, songwriter, and upright bass player moved to Memphis in 1999. In 2006, released debut album The World Is Not My Home, on local label Archer Records. Followed up in 2007 with Anchors & Anvils, recorded with legendary producer Jim Dickinson. In 2009 released an EP, Died of Love. Performed at Royal Albert Hall, Austin City Limits, and Bonnaroo. Has also worked as an actress, appearing as rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson in the filmed-in-Memphis Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, and garnering a speaking role in Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer’s Black Snake Moan. Re-teamed with Brewer as one of the lead performers in his 2009 MTV series $5 Cover. In 2010, she starred in local filmmaker Brian Pera’s Woman’s Picture and recently wrapped filming her first lead role in The Romance Of Loneliness. In July 2011 released a new record, Stranger Me.
Since 1986, CEO of Youth Villages, one of the nation’s largest private providers of services to children with emotional and behavioral problems, and their families. Serves more than 17,000 children and families at 67 facilities in 11 states, and employs more than 2,500 people (1,000 in Memphis), with an annual budget of $165 million. Produces an 80 percent rate of children living successfully at home two years after completing rehabilitation. In 2006 named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report. In 2009, Harvard Business School began using Youth Villages as part of a course in effective nonprofit organizations, and the White House cited Youth Villages as an example of “effective, innovative nonprofits.” In 2010, Youth Villages was named one of the “Top 50 Nonprofits to Work for” by The Nonprofit Times. Lawler holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Memphis.
Native Memphian, in 1999 appointed executive director of Memphis Housing Authority and director of city’s Division of Housing and Community Development . Also served as city’s chief financial officer from 2005 to 2007. Led the way in procuring over $200 million in competitive federal grants to help revitalize Memphis’ inner city. Also developed the city’s first strategic housing plan along with several major housing initiatives such as the Housing Trust Fund, the Equity Fund, the Down Payment Assistance Program, and the Housing Resource Center. Created The RISE Foundation and The Renaissance Business Center. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration have nationally recognized his housing initiatives. Hold’s a bachelor’s degree from LeMoyne-Owen College and a master’s from the University of Chicago.
Executive producer of Theatre Memphis since 2004. During her tenure, season and single ticket sales have increased 30 percent. In 2011, Theatre Memphis received a national award from the American Association of Community Theatres; the award recognized a member that successfully executed new directions, expanded community services, and furthered organizational development. In 2009 and 2010, three musicals were extended because of sold-out houses. Past positions include director of development for Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Has served on boards of the Memphis Orchestral Society, Theatre Memphis, and the MIFA Development Board. Holds degrees in mathematics (Eastern Kentucky University) and guidance counseling (University of Kentucky).
President of Loeb Properties, Inc. Since 1887, four generations of the Loeb family have run this firm involved in real estate investment and development, convenience stores, restaurants, outdoor advertising, and laundry/dry cleaning. Current emphasis is on management of retail, multifamily, office, single-family, and mixed-use properties. The company’s portfolio includes such high-profile developments as Chickasaw Crossing, Primacy Place, Forest Hill Shops, Trinity Commons, Sanderlin Place, the Belvedere Collection, and others. Presently involved in plans to revamp Overton Square. Holds bachelor’s and M.B.A. degrees from Southern Methodist University. Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Memphis University School and a member of Lambda Alpha International.
Mayor of Shelby County after his election in 2010, Luttrell had previously served two terms as sheriff. Though elected as a Republican, he has frequently stated that county elective positions should be nonpartisan. Perhaps as a result, he encountered opposition early on from GOP members of the county commission to several of his initiatives. An expert in incarceration and a cost-cutting sheriff, he attempted to pursue savings through consolidation of overlapping services as mayor. Launched, in partnership with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, an ambitious industrial recruitment program, helping land plants from Electrolux and Mitsubishi. In 2011 budget negotiations with the commission, he achieved a signal victory in saving from the chopping block several endangered programs, like the Office of Early Childhood Education and Youth.
Founder and producing artistic director of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company, which this past season produced Othello and Romeo and Juliet (the latter performed at The Dixon Gallery and Gardens). For TSC’s upcoming fourth season, the collaboration with Dixon continues (the Southern Exposure Series will include Truman Capote’s Christmas Memory and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie). Spearheading plans to renovate amphitheatre at Shelby Farms Park for productions of Macbeth this fall and The Tempest next spring. A published poet, also teaches Shakespeare master classes around the country. Honored by the Germantown Arts Alliance with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts. Age 44. Graduate of Germantown High School and Temple University.
Executive director of the nonprofit Project Green Fork, which she founded in 2008. The organization’s mission is to help local restaurants become more environmentally sustainable by recycling, composting, reducing energy consumption, and relying less on toxic cleaning products. To date, PGF has certified 36 Memphis restaurants, with more on the way.
President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, which has recruited several top national and international companies to Memphis and Shelby County while helping local companies expand or remain in the market. Successes include Electrolux, Mitsubishi Power, the Delta Queen Steamship Company, City Brewery, and Smith and Nephew. The Chamber also has forged international agreements to foster trade and commercial collaborations with Canada, Mexico, and France. Moore serves on several advisory boards that deal with public safety, education, and utilities. Trustee for LeMoyne-Owen College and member of the Society of International Business Fellows. Also participates in the national CEOs for Cities program. Earned a business degree from the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
President of the Downtown Memphis Commission (formerly the Center City Commission), a public-private partnership devoted to improving the downtown area. Served as chairman of the CCC board from 2007 to 2009 and took over as president in 2010. Holds engineering and law degrees from Vanderbilt. Served on A C Wharton’s mayoral transition team in 2009, and is a former stockholder at Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston, PC. Immediate past president of Memphis Area Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal aid to indigent clients. Age 37. Native Memphian, graduate of Memphis University School.
DR. SCOTT MORRIS
Founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, which opened in 1987 to provide quality, affordable healthcare for working, uninsured people and their families. Age 56. Master of divinity degree from Yale University, M.D. from Emory University. Board-certified family practioner and ordained United Methodist minister. Thanks to financial support from the faith community, and the volunteer help of doctors, nurses, dentists, and others, the Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the country. Currently, it cares for more than 55,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. The Center also logs more than 120,000 annual visits to its wellness facility, Church Health Center Wellness. Author of Healthcare You Can Live With and editor of two books of sermons.
Director of the Shelby County Office of Emergency Preparedness. Came to public attention during the Great Mississippi River Flood of 2011. His good-natured and informative daily briefings got national media attention as the river approached near-record flood stage and water lapped over Tom Lee Park and the lower end of Beale Street and Riverside Drive. Nations oversaw the response to flooded areas and at the same time emphasized that Greater Memphis was not under water and that offices and tourist attractions were open for business.
Majority leader of the Republican-dominated state Senate. Was the primary author of the controversial Norris-Todd bill (co-sponsored by state Rep. Curry Todd), which became the first legislative act of the 2011 Tennessee General Assembly and established guidelines for steering the merger of Memphis City Schools with Shelby County Schools through a two-and-a-half-year process, culminating, at the behest of suburban opponents of the merger, in the lifting of a ban on new special school districts. A seemingly content second banana to Senate Speaker/Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, the 56-year-old Norris is known to have gubernatorial ambitions of his own. A lawyer and farmer living in Collierville, Norris enjoys good relations with the opposition Democrats but is unrelenting in pursuit of Republican goals.
DR. WILLIAM NOVICK
Founder and medical director of the International Children’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to improving the care of children with congenital heart defects in destitute countries since 1994. Has taken surgical teams to 28 countries and operated on more than 5,000 children. In 1998, performed the first open-heart surgery in Bosnia, and in 1999, was operating in Belgrade when NATO bombing began during the Kosovo conflict. Has been awarded three presidential medals since 2002 and was awarded the Frederique Constant Passion Award in 2007. Featured in the 2003 Oscar-winning documentary Chernobyl Heart, and invited to speak to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the effects of the Chernobyl radiation disaster. Age 58. Endowed Professor of Surgery and International Child Health at the University of Tennessee — Memphis. Received cardiac training from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Local historian, storyteller, and tour guide known for such arcane topics as historic manhole covers and the stormwater drainage system. Recently hired by the Riverfront Development Corporation to promote better use of the riverfront, serve as city’s liaison with the Great American Steamboat Company and Memphis Riverboats, and assist with event planning at Mud Island. Formerly served as general manager of Memphis Queen Lines and Mud Island; director of the Rock ’N’ Soul Museum, and deputy director of Memphis Park Commission. Earned bachelor’s degree from Memphis State University. Involved with Memphis Heritage, Cotton Museum, Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, and other civic groups. Recipient of 2008 Spirit of Memphis Award from Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Recently named chairman of Shelby County Historical Commission.
Head men’s basketball coach at University of Memphis. At age 34, among youngest coaches in NCAA Division I. Led Tigers to record of 25-10 in second year at the helm (now 49-20 overall). Tigers reached NCAA tournament by winning Conference USA tourney title in dramatic fashion. U of M lost to Arizona (Pastner’s alma mater) in first round. Served one season as assistant to John Calipari after cutting teeth over six years under Hall of Famer Lute Olson at Arizona. Known as a tireless recruiter, will welcome Adonis Thomas (Melrose High School) to team loaded with sophomores. Member of Arizona’s 1997 national championship team.
Editor of The Commercial Appeal, one of the largest newspapers left in the dwindling E.W. Scripps chain. Peck and publisher Joe Pepe have overseen a newspaper makeover that has trimmed subscribers, shrunk the size of the paper, established an Internet presence, reduced the news staff, and increased the percentage of the print paper devoted to local news, letters, and comment. Peck himself writes a weekly column in the Sunday newspaper. The CA was named in 2009 as the best large daily newspaper in Tennessee by the Tennessee Press Association. Peck, 60, got his start working for his family’s newspaper in Wyoming. Graduated from Stanford University and came to Memphis in 2003 after retiring as editor of the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review.
Attorney and member of Glankler Brown PLLC. Named in Best Lawyers in America each year it has been published (28 years), and currently one of 20 U.S. attorneys serving on its advisory board. Listed since 2002 in Who’s Who Legal, the international who’s-who of business lawyers. Has served as chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority for 15 years, secretary and counsel for the Greater Memphis Chamber, and chairman of the Aerotropolis Steering Committee. Past chairman of New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority, which oversaw construction of FedExForum. Recipient of the 2005 Communicator of the Year Award from the Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Inducted into Airport Minority Advisory Council’s Hall of Fame in 2006. Recipient of 2006 Diversity Memphis Humanitarian Award. In 2007, decorated by the Japanese government with the Order of the Rising Sun, the second-highest honor conferred on any civilian leader. Co-author with FedEx’s Tom Schmitt of the management book Simple Solutions: Harness the Power of Passion and Simplicity to Get Results.
Chairman of the Shelby County Board of Education and president and CEO of Pickler Wealth Advisers. During the debate over school system consolidation in 2010 and 2011, Pickler was the most forceful opponent of merging the systems and made numerous public appearances. He believes the city and county systems can function more effectively if they remain separate. The issue has been tied up in federal court for most of 2011, with no resolution expected soon. Pickler was elected to the school board in 1998 and has been chairman for the past ten years. He serves on the executive board of the Tennessee School Boards Association and has twice been named Tennessee School Board Member of the Year.
Director of museums for the Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums, which includes Memphis Pink Palace Museum, Crew Training International IMAX Theater, Sharpe Planetarium, Lichterman Nature Center, Magevney House, Mallory-Neely House in Victorian Village, and Coon Creek Science Center. New strategic plan will bring full-dome video to planetarium and a science center focused on health, nutrition, and wellness to Memphis area. Former executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Previously assistant director of the Smithsonian National Associates Program in Washington, D.C. Age 61. Awarded a doctoral fellowship in English at Temple University.
Head football coach at the University of Memphis; 22nd coach in program’s history. Endured 1-11 season in 2010, his first atop the program. Earned reputation as one of country’s top recruiters during stint at LSU, where he helped build the 2007 national champions. Also served as assistant at UT-Martin, Arkansas State, and Oklahoma State. Age 39. Graduate of U of M, where he led Tigers in rushing for three straight seasons (1991-93). One of only seven Tigers to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in his career. Primary focus as assistant was running backs. Named National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com in 2007 and 2009. Native of Jackson, Mississippi.
DOROTHY GUNTHER PUGH
Founder and artistic director of Ballet Memphis, which begins its 25th anniversary season in fall 2010. Graduate of Vanderbilt University. Under her leadership, Ballet Memphis has achieved national prominence, cited by the Ford Foundation as an “exemplary arts institution” and “national treasure.” Company has performed to glowing reviews in New York, Paris, and the Kennedy Center. Lauded by the Ford Foundation Monograph and the Stanford Social Innovation Review for the Memphis Project series. Honored as a Woman of Achievement and an Outstanding Arts Administrator by the Tennessee Art Commission, and recipient of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore initiatives for redefining mid-size ballet companies in the nation. The combined programs of Ballet Memphis — dance company, ballet school, educational enrichment, and Pilates Center — serve 75,000 people annually.
President of the University of Memphis since July 2001, the eleventh in the school’s history and the first woman to hold the position. A past chair of the board of directors of the Memphis Regional Chamber, and the first woman to hold that title. West Tennessee native; returned to Memphis from the University of Kentucky, where she was vice chancellor for academic services and dean of the college of education. An expert in teacher education, has written or co-written 14 books and numerous journal articles. Holds a doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee and completed the Management Development Program from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her strengths in development, fundraising, and government affairs have led to interdisciplinary research and corporate partnerships, such as the FedEx Institute of Technology, Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management, and the new School of Public Health.
Power forward for NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. In 2011 became first player in franchise history to earn All-NBA honors (3rd team). Led team with 20.1 points per game and 12.2 rebounds. Combined with center Marc Gasol to form backbone of first Memphis playoff team in five years. With 53 double-doubles (points and rebounds) ranked fourth in NBA. Played in 2010 All-Star Game. In 2009-10, pulled down 950 rebounds, shattering the Grizzlies’ single-season mark by more than 100 rebounds. Age 30. Nicknamed “Z-Bo.” Signed four-year contract extension during 2011 playoffs.
Since 1994, president and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care, employer of more than 12,000 in the Mid-South. In 2009 played key role in garnering support for the Baptist Trinity Hospice House, the Memphis area’s first residential hospice. Past chair of the Healthcare Institute, a national think tank of leading healthcare CEOs. Currently chair of The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and chair elect of Memphis Tomorrow. Also serves on boards of the University of Memphis, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, and Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation. Has served as chair of the National Committee of Quality Health Care, Tennessee Hospital Association, and Memphis Regional Chamber. Received the B’nai B’rith International Health Leadership Award and the Tennessee Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award, and was named a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow. Earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University and a master’s from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and received Distinguished Alumnus Awards from each institution. Awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Union University.
Chairman and CEO of Auto-Zone, Inc. Holds an accounting degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and an M.B.A. from the University of Memphis. Oversees the nation’s leading retailer and a leading distributor of auto parts and accessories, with more than 4,400 stores in the United States and 200 stores in Mexico. Civic engagements include chairman of Memphis Tomorrow, treasurer of the National Civil Rights Museum, and board member of Youth Programs, Inc. Professionally, is chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and board member of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality.
President of the National Civil Rights Museum since 1997 and a principal at Trust Marketing and Communications Consortium since 1992. Museum has been featured in National Geographic’s Young Explorer magazine, and recognized in Budget Travel as one of the top 15 “Places Every Kid in America Should Visit Before Turning 15.” Formerly served as marketing communications director for Holiday Inn Worldwide, beginning her 19-year career there as a reservations agent. University of Memphis graduate; studied executive development training program at the University of Pennsylvania. Has been featured in Essence, The New York Times, Ebony, Black Enterprise, Dollars & Sense, and Redbook.
JAMES “JAY” ROBINSON III
Appointed CEO of Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2009. Oversees 244 inpatient beds, a 60-bed spinal cord injury unit, 10 community-based outpatient clinics, and a $950 million budget. Served as associate director and chief of mental health and behavioral sciences at VA in Salisbury, North Carolina, and more recently was director/CEO of VA in Dublin, Georgia. Has doctorate in psychology from Virginia Consortium for Professional Psychology. Notable projects include serving as secretary of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to zero out homelessness among veterans. Serves on numerous VA committees including the Secretary’s Committee for the Care of the Seriously Mentally Ill and the Business Process Improvement Committee. Member, American College of Healthcare Executives.
Principal owner and CEO of Electronic Vaulting Services Corporation, a data protection company, headquartered in Memphis. Chairman of the Rose Family Foundations private charity. In 2005 named one of Tennessee’s 100 Most Powerful People by Business Tennessee magazine. Also received the Economic Excellence and Equity Award from Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. Most well-known for landing the NBA Memphis Grizzlies basketball team. Co-founder of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Internationally recognized in 2007 with the Changing Face of Philanthropy Award from the Women’s Funding Network. In 2008, named Humanitarian of the Year by Diversity Memphis. Earned degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and Harvard University. Recently formed Max’s Team, a volunteer organization that honors the memory of her late son.
SUSAN M. SCHADT
President and CEO of ArtsMemphis since 2002. Priorities include increasing funding to arts groups and broadening arts education and outreach in the community. Most significant accomplishment is the Memphis for the Arts endowment campaign, which raised $27.2 million. Schadt spearheaded the successful rebranding of ArtsMemphis (formerly the Greater Memphis Arts Council) in 2007, which increased the organization’s presence as the premier fund-raiser for the arts. With the Assisi Foundation launched ongoing Audience Development Initiative that includes a communitywide interactive arts calendar and first-of-its-kind Arts App for the iPhone. In 2005 ArtsMemphis partnered with Ducks Unlimited to launch the Conservation Through Art initiative, raising nearly $3 million thus far to support wildlife conservation, local arts groups, and free community events. Served as executive editor of 2008’s First Shooting Light and 2010’s Wild Abundance, two volumes celebrating Southern duck hunting club traditions.
STEVE J. SCHWAB
Became chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in June 2010. Joined UTHSC as the first-ever executive dean for the UT College of Medicine in 2006, responsible for three campuses in Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. In 2007, assumed direct responsibility for the College of Medicine Memphis campus. Previously served as interim dean and chief clinical officer of the Medical College of Georgia, where he was also a Regents Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine. From 1985 to 2003, was professor and vice chairman of medicine at Duke University. Internationally recognized in the field of renal disease with more than 150 publications and five books. Received B.S. from Southeast Missouri State University and M.D. from the University of Missouri. Performed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas followed by a fellowship in nephrology at Washington University Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Longtime executive producer of Beale Street Caravan, the Memphis-produced, internationally syndicated radio program that broadcasts blues and Memphis-connected music weekly to an international audience of 2.4 million across 400 radio stations. Acclaimed but infrequent recording artist admired for his versatile folk/roots style and striking vocals. Most recent album is last year’s I Should Be Blue for the local Archer Records label. Member, along with Jimmy Crosthwait and the late Jim Dickinson and Lee Baker, of the cult band Mudboy & the Neutrons, which influenced the city’s modern alternative music scene.
RICHARD SHADYAC JR.
CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, since 2009. Son of Richard Shadyac Sr., who joined the ALSAC board of directors in 1963 and served as CEO from 1992 to 2005. Joined ALSAC board in early Nineties and was reappointed in 2000. Upon being named CEO, moved to Memphis from Washington, D.C., where he’d worked for 27 years as an attorney. Volunteer efforts include support of Memphis Regional Chamber and Memphis Bioworks Foundation. Has led new initiatives for ALSAC in the areas of digital media, multicultural marketing, and sports marketing.
Appointed director of The Dixon Gallery and Gardens in 2007. During his tenure, has fostered collaborations with Ballet Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Playhouse on the Square, and Tennessee Shakespeare Company, while doubling Dixon attendance, expanding membership, and strengthening programming and outreach. On board of UrbanArt Commission and on selection committee for Memphis in May. Instituted pay-what-you-can Tuesdays and free Saturday mornings at the Dixon. The major exhibition, “Jean-Louis Forain: La Comèdie Parisienne,” organized with the Petit Palais in Paris, opened at the Dixon in June 2011, accompanied by a catalogue of the same name.
President and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare since 2001. Company consists of six adult hospitals and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, employing more than 10,000 in the Memphis region. Prior to joining Methodist in 1990 as executive vice president, served as president of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. Currently board member of Memphis Tomorrow, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, University of Memphis Board of Visitors, and Foundation for Evangelism. Served as 2005 board chairman of the Memphis Regional Chamber. Received the Corporate Leadership Award from Memphis’ Corporate Volunteer Council in 2004 and the Alexis de Tocqueville Leadership Award from the United Way in 2005. In 2007 received the Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Founder and director of Bike Walk Tennessee, a statewide biking and walking advocacy organization. Education director for the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, advisor to Livable Memphis’ Walk Bike Initiative, and recently appointed by Mayor A C Wharton to the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Traffic and Transportation Policy Advisory Committee. Native Memphian and graduate of Rhodes College, where he is the community service coordinator in the Bonner Center for Faith and Service. Founded Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop at First Congregational United Church of Christ, providing affordable bicycles and mechanical education. Awarded Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study bicycling cultures and policy in eight countries. Served on Shelby County’s Sustainable Shelby Traffic and Transportation Committee in 2008.
JOHN SMARRELLI JR.
President of Christian Brothers University. Named to position in 2009. Received bachelor’s degree in biology from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York; Ph.D. from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Postdoctoral work in biology from University of Virginia. Received National Academic Advising Association Pacesetter Award in 2006 and Loyola University Outstanding Teacher Award in 1996. Board member of Greater Memphis Chamber, Leadership Memphis, and the Salvation Army. Is a member of numerous local, regional, and national university associations.
Civil rights pioneer who served as executive secretary of the Memphis branch of the NAACP from 1962 until her retirement in 1995. Was refused admission to then-Memphis State University because of her race and later led successful charge to open the school to black enrollment. Received bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and master’s from Middlebury College in Vermont. While heading the local NAACP, coordinated sit-ins that helped open all private and public facilities to blacks, and served on the coordinating committee of the 1968 sanitation strike and 1969 school boycotts. Has served on numerous boards, including Memphis Board of Education, Partners for Public Education, and the Tennessee Board of Regents. Received honorary doctorates from the University of Memphis and Middlebury College, and Southwest Tennessee Community College named a department of extended programs after her. The recipient of more than 200 awards, is the subject of a 2007 authorized biography, Maxine Smith’s Unwilling Pupils: Lessons Learned in Memphis’s Civil Rights Classroom.
ED STANTON III
Recommended by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen for the vacant position of U.S. Attorney of Tennessee’s Western District, named to that position by President Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2010, Stanton would preside over several notable prosecutions, notably of drug traffickers. He had previously served as senior counsel for Federal Express, where he was employed from 2002 to 2010. Age 39. Was a Democratic primary candidate for U.S. Congress in the 9th District in 2006. A 1994 graduate of the University of Memphis, and 1997 graduate of the university’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
BISHOP J. TERRY STEIB
Installed as the fourth (and current) Bishop of Memphis in 1993. Currently the consultant for the African American Catholics Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and serves on the boards of The Catholic Extension Society, Catholic University of America, and Catholic Relief Services. Spearheaded Jubilee program that renovated and reopened several local Catholic schools, with a mission to educate and invigorate the underprivileged, regardless of religious affiliation. A native of Vacherie, Louisiana, received theological degree from Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in 1967 and master of arts in guidance and counseling from Xavier University, New Orleans in 1973. In 1984, ordained Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Titular Bishop.
R. CRAIG STRICKLAND
Founding pastor of Hope Church, which started in 1988 with 23 members and now sees more than 7,000 in weekly attendance. Received Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. Has been a consultant on church planting (establishing new churches) and growth strategies nationwide and is the author of Rethinking Reason: With So Many Different Faiths, Does Someone Have to Be Wrong for Someone to Be Right? Also the co-founder and community liaison for Shelby Cares, Inc., a nonprofit, faith-based initiative that works directly with the Shelby County Office of Preparedness to provide shelters and care for displaced victims of natural disasters. During the historic flood of 2011, Shelby Cares, Inc., opened five emergency shelters that housed, fed, and cared for 600 people for 35 days.
Executive chef and co-owner of Sweet Grass and Sweet Grass Next Door in Cooper-Young. Recently nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s “The People’s Best New Chef” in the publication’s Southeast category. Worked for five years as chef de cuisine at the Grove Grill in East Memphis before striking out on his own. Also worked for Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) in Charleston, South Carolina, for three years. Specializes in dishes from the Carolina Low Country. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Age 31. Earned English degree from Ole Miss and associate’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University.
President of Rhodes College. Established a strategic vision focusing on excellence in the classroom and beyond through student research, service, internship, and study-abroad opportunities. Facilitated new college curriculum, the move from scholarships toward fellowships, a nationally recognized student work program, and a new campus master plan centered around the Paul Barret Jr. Library, for which he secured a $35.5 million gift, the largest in the school’s history. Chaired the American Council on Education, the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program. Named one of America’s most effective college presidents. Received the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.
Downtown real estate developer and spearhead of residential renaissance on banks of Mississippi. With Jack Belz, Turley, 70, developed the upscale Harbor Town residential and commercial center on Mud Island, the low-income and middle-income Uptown residential development north of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and South Bluffs, where he lives. Turley is a board member of Contemporary Media, the parent company of Memphis and the Memphis Flyer. A native of Memphis and graduate of the University of Tennessee, Turley is known for his plainspoken good humor, creativity, and unfailing belief in downtown and the restoration of public spaces in older neighborhoods. He is also an active political supporter of candidates as varied as Democrat U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker.
JOHNNIE B. WATSON
President of LeMoyne-Owen College since 2006. Holds a bachelor’s degree from LeMoyne-Owen and master’s from Indiana University. Former superintendent of Memphis City Schools. Former president of Future Teachers of America and Alpha Pi Alpha. Received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from LeMoyne-Owen College in 2001 for his contributions to education over four decades. Former chair of department of education and distinguished associate professor at Rhodes College. Board member, Community Foundation of the Mid-South, Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and WKNO public television.
JUNE WADDELL WEST
In 2002 appointed executive director of Memphis Heritage, Inc., the area’s largest historic preservation organization. In 2010, lost a hard-fought battle to save the Union Avenue Methodist Church building. Currently leading efforts to save the last one-room schoolhouse in Shelby County, and continues work with Loeb Properties in their adaptive reuse of Overton Square’s existing buildings. Also involved in community push for overlay districts to protect the integrity of historic neighborhoods. A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, spent more than 20 years in the field of gerontology, serving as head of Alzheimer’s Day Services and as an official with American Senior Development Company.
World-renowned jazz saxophonist. Named president and CEO of Soulsville Foundation in April 2010. Toured with Whitney Houston for several years, then returned to Memphis to become the Stax Music Academy’s first artist-in-residence. Attended Texas Southern University, where he composed his first music. In 1998, recorded first gospel album, The Gospel According To Jazz: Chapter I. That same year he made For You, which soared to the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. In 2010, released The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III. Has worked with the likes of Babyface, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Al Green, and Luther Vandross. Has 11 Grammy nominations and won his first in 2011 for Best Gospel Song. Won two Stellar Awards for Best Gospel Instrumental Album. A recent graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary.
A C WHARTON
Elected mayor of Memphis in a 2009 special election following the resignation of Willie Herenton, winning two-thirds of the vote against a lengthy list of other aspirants. The amiable and popular 67-year-old had served previously as public defender and as Shelby County mayor from 2002 until his 2009 victory and subsequent migration to City Hall. As city mayor, showed a penchant for the kind of reassuring middle-of-the-road policies he had pursued at the helm of county government, including regular “town hall” meetings. Began efforts to settle longstanding lawsuits involving the city, including a $57 million claim by Memphis City Schools, and launched, in partnership with county mayor Mark Luttrell, an ambitious industrial recruitment program, landing plants from Electrolux and Mitsubishi. Presided over compromise 2011-2012 city budget involving numerous cuts.
CEO of Duncan-Williams Inc., a Memphis financial firm specializing in bonds. The firm has 170 employees and has undertaken an expansion campaign called “500 by 50” aimed at producing $500 million in annual revenues by 2019 when the company, founded by his father, will be 50 years old. With the demise of Stanford Financial and the announced intention of Regions Financial to sell its Morgan Keegan subsidiary, there will be plenty of churn in the investments business. Age 43. A graduate of the University of Alabama.
Winner of 1991 Best Actress Oscar for her role as deranged fan in Stephen King’s Misery. Began acting career at White Station High School. Age 63. Received Oscar nominations for Primary Colors and About Schmidt. Emmy nomination for HBO series Six Feet Under. Also known for her roles in Fried Green Tomatoes, Titanic, and Revolutionary Road. In 2009 played the part of Michael Oher’s tutor in the Oscar-winning blockbuster The Blind Side. Recently received Emmy nomination for her starring role in David E. Kelley’s newest legal drama, Harry’s Law, which has been renewed for another season.
Starting pitcher for world-champion San Francisco Giants. Starred at Houston High School in Germantown, where he graduated in 2002 shortly before being drafted by the Giants with the 25th pick in the first round. Age 26. Best season to date was 2009, when he won 14 games with a 2.89 ERA and pitched in the All-Star Game in St. Louis. Pitched seven shutout innings against Texas Rangers in Game 2 of 2010 World Series, earning victory on way to first Giants championship in San Francisco. Sidekick of two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
Executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome, which seeks to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. Has played key role in the creation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault near the Arctic Circle, heading the international committee and developing every aspect of its scientific and operational plan. Vault is designed to hold 4.5 million seeds for centuries. Career spans 30 years in international environment and biodiversity studies. In the 1990s he helped produce the UN’s first-ever global assessment of the world’s plant genetic resources, and served as special assistant to the Secretary General of the World Food Summit. Age 61. Grew up in Memphis, attended Southwestern (now Rhodes College), and earned Ph.D. from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Has been profiled by CBS 60 Minutes and The New Yorker, and is the author of several books and more than 75 articles on plant genetic resources. In 2011 received honorary doctorate from Rhodes College.
One of Hollywood’s most acclaimed actors. Born in Memphis and raised in Clarksville, Mississippi. Age 74. Made his acting debut at age 8 in a school play. First major role was as chauffeur Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy. Has appeared in almost 50 major films since, earning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Million Dollar Baby (2004). Distinctive voice has made him a popular choice for narration, including Academy Award-winning 2005 documentary March of the Penguins. Co-owner of Madidi restaurant and Ground Zero blues club in Clarksville. Recent films include The Dark Knight and Invictus, the latter earning him an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela. Currently filming The Dark Knight Rises, the next film in the Batman series.
Born in Memphis, graduated from Lausanne Collegiate School in 1996, and received B.F.A. in acting from Boston University. Trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. Moved to New York and landed small roles on Law & Order and Ed before moving to Los Angeles. Turned heads in 2005 in Mona Lisa Smile, starring Julia Roberts. Portrayed Johnny Cash’s first wife in Walk the Line, filmed in Memphis. Starred in all five seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO series Big Love. In 2009, filmed He’s Just Not That Into You with an all-star cast, which earned her a nomination for a People’s Choice Award in the category of “Breakout Movie Actress.” Played Aunt Bea in Ramona and Beezus, and took a small role in Tom Ford’s A Single Man, starring Colin Firth. Recently starred in Something Borrowed, alongside Kate Hudson. Age 33.
Acclaimed playright. Interned at The Commercial Appeal. Graduate of Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program. Book reviewer, journalist, and essayist for The Boston Globe, Essence, and Newsweek, among others. The 33rd winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn prize for her play Hurt Village, about the problems of families in a decaying Memphis housing project. The Mountaintop, her fictional account of Martin Luther King’s last night, was produced to great acclaim at London’s Theatre 503 and moved to Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End, earning her an Olivier Award for Best New Play. The play will debut on Broadway in the fall of 2011. Currently based in Washington, D.C., as an ARENA Stage resident playwright supported by the American Voices New Play Institute. Inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Hailed as King of the Blues, with more than 100 albums. Came to Memphis in 1947 from Mississippi and landed at radio station WDIA. Turns 86 September 16, 2011. Currently lives in Las Vegas. Awarded 15 Grammys, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. Between 1951 and 1985, wrote 74 songs that made the Billboard R&B charts. Recently bought Club Ebony, a juke joint in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. The B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center opened in 2008 in Indianola. Time magazine recently ranked him No. 3 in its list of “Best Electric Guitarists of All Time.”
Graduated from White Station High School, where he was president of his senior class and a fixture on the high school stage. Attended Harvard and Memphis State Universities. In the mid ’80s, co-starred in several movies including Making the Grade, and Better Off Dead, starring John Cusack. In 1986, became nationally known in the role of Dennis Blunden on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. Began writing and producing a string of successful television shows in 1993, such as The Amanda Show, What I Like About You, iCarly, All That, Kenan and Kel, Drake and Josh, and most recently Victorious, for Nickelodeon. Wrote the film Good Burger, and also wrote and co-produced the film Big Fat Liar which starred Frankie Muniz and Paul Giamatti. Co-president of his own production company, Schneider’s Bakery, Inc, in Los Angeles. Age 45.
East High School graduate named Miss Teenage Memphis in 1966. Breakout role: Jacy in The Last Picture Show (1971). Awarded four Golden Globes for TV series Moonlighting and Cybill. Recently appeared on The L Word and Psych and in movies Another Harvest Moon, Barry Munday, Listen to Your Heart, and Expecting Mary. Portrayed Martha Stewart in two highly acclaimed made-for-TV movies. Also a cabaret singer with five albums to her credit. Outspoken activist for gay rights, and recipient of 2009 National Ally for Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. Age 61.
Perhaps best-known as author of Ghost Soldiers, about the rescue of the survivors of the Bataan Death March during World War II. Published in 2001, the book remained on The New York Times best-seller list for 42 weeks. Graduated from Memphis University School and Yale. Started in journalism as an intern at Memphis magazine. Has been editor-at-large for Outside magazine, a correspondent for NPR, and contributor to The New Yorker, Esquire, Men’s Journal, and elsewhere. Other best-selling books include Stomping Grounds: A Pilgrim’s Progress Through Eight American Subcultures (1992), American Dispatches from the New Frontier (2004), and Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West (2006). Latest work is Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for his Assassin, published in April 2010 by Doubleday. The comprehensive account of James Earl Ray reached #6 on The New York Times bestseller list and has been optioned for a movie by Universal Studios.
Acclaimed singer and songwriter, topping music charts first as a member of N’SYNC, currently as a solo artist. Age 30. Born in Millington, performed at Grand Ole Opry at age 10. Moved to Orlando and in early 1990s was cast member of the Mickey Mouse Club. In 2002, released Justified, a multiplatinum solo debut, and Future Sex/Love Sounds in 2006. Appeared in films Alpha Dog, Southland Tales, Shrek the Third, Black Snake Moan, The Love Guru, The Open Road, and The Social Network. Launched the William Rast clothing line in 2007, and opened two restaurants in Los Angeles. In 2008 won two Grammys for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Dance Recording. The same year, launched the label Tennman Records. In 2009, launched his line of 901 Silver Tequila and opened Mirimichi Lakes eco-friendly golf course in Millington. Latest film is 2011’s Bad Teacher starring former flame Cameron Diaz. In June 2010 became an owner of MySpace, with plans to re-energize the social networking website.
White Station High School graduate, became one of pop music’s breakout stars in 2008 as singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the Brooklyn-based rock duo MGMT. Formed the band at Wesleyan College with classmate Ben Goldwasser. After landing a multi-album deal with Sony/Columbia, the duo released its debut album, Oracular Spectacular, in 2008, scoring international hits with the singles “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” and “Kids.” Rolling Stone ranked Oracular Spectacular 18th on the top 100 albums of the decade. In 2010, MGMT received two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, and Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals for the song “Kids.” Congratulations, the band’s second album, was released in April 2010 and reached number one on iTunes in its first week on the charts.