We’re pleased to introduce the Fellows and facilitators of the 2023 Memphis Workforce Leadership Academy! The Academy — launched in partnership by the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program — brings leaders from across the Memphis workforce ecosystem together for a year-long series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. The Academy provides a forum for local leaders to work collaboratively to identify local and regional systems-based challenges and create shared solutions for economic opportunity for all. Fellows work with leading practitioners throughout the country as they deepen networks; strengthen systems leadership skills; apply race, equity, and systems change frameworks to their work; and increase understanding of effective strategies and programs.
The Memphis Workforce Leadership Academy is one of eight local academies launched in 2023. Alumni of the Academy become part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, joining Fellows from fourteen previous Academies in eleven cities in the US and Canada.
Vice President of Talent Innovation and Community Development, Greater Memphis Chamber
Sondra Howell, Vice President of Talent Innovation and Community Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, is an experienced workforce development, human resource and community advocate with over twenty-five years of combined experience. Her passion for supporting individuals and families reach their personal self-sufficiency goals is evidenced by her success in leading diverse teams of professionals and managing robust portfolios of workforce, economic development and social service programs.
Howell considers herself a life-long learner and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration as well as a Master’s in Adult Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She has also served as a Talent and Education Fellow with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), a Talent Pipeline Management Fellow with the US Chamber Foundation and a Workforce Fellow with Results for America. Additionally, she currently serves on the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering Board of Directors and the TN Department of Education Business Engagement Council.
Director of Community Development, Greater Memphis Chamber
As Director of Community Development at the Greater Memphis Chamber, Jessica contributes to the Chamber’s efforts of strengthening local communities to build a more inclusive economy in Memphis. She works with diverse businesses and community organizations to implement strategies to address neighborhood-level economic needs and improve access to business growth opportunities.
Prior to joining the Chamber, Jessica worked with Self+Tucker Architects as Planning & Marketing Coordinator where she was heavily involved with the Memphis 3.0 – City of Memphis Comprehensive Plan as a consultant. She has worked with a wide range of community organizations, public officials and business owners to help create strategic plans for their neighborhood. Her work included leading focus group discussions and community meetings, analyzing demographic data, and creating presentations and reports based on research and findings.
Jessica has dedicated countless hours to various organizations across the city including: Junior Achievement Young Professionals Board, REACH Memphis Mentors, Greater Memphis Chamber Young Professional Council, New Memphis Institute Embark, St. Jude, and Memphis Urban League Young Professionals.
Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Vice President for Workforce Development, Greater Memphis Chamber
Amity Schuyler brings to her current role (Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Vice President for Workforce Development with the Greater Memphis Chamber) a deep understanding of the importance of economic mobility through creating and accessing quality jobs. While she prefers the titles of Proud Memphian, wife, mamaw, daughter, and sister to an Army Veteran, she arrived to assume a role in the Tennessee Department of Education and then Shelby County Schools (Memphis).
Before relocating to Tennessee, she served as the Chief of Staff and Chief of Strategic Communications for the School District of Palm Beach County. Along with a decade of leadership in substance-abuse prevention efforts in response to Florida’s opioid epidemic, she has also held worthy titles as a forensic interviewer with a Major Crimes/Crimes Against Children Unit, teacher, parks and recreation director, Bible school Kool-Aid maker (the most essential part of Vacation Bible School), waitress, mentor, track coach, and friend. In all roles, she is a fierce advocate for improving systems that improve the lives of children and families.
Amity holds a bachelor’s in English from the University of South Florida, an MPA from Florida Gulf Coast University, and ABD status at the University of South Florida for a Doctorate in Education Leadership.
Chief Administrative Officer, LeMoyne-Owen College
Dr. Balogun brings over a decade of experience in operations and shared governance in higher education, workforce development, and government sectors. Dr. Balogun is an HBCU alumnus from Lane College with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University. Dr. Balogun has studied at Vanderbilt University as a Higher Education Management Fellow and at Harvard Business School Online. She earned her Doctor of Education with a concentration in Entrepreneurial Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. She was the recipient of the Leadership Excellence Award in 2015 from Western Governors University for development of programmatic initiatives to improve mentoring outcomes and student achievement. Dr. Balogun served on the Inclusive Economic Development Committee for Mayor Lee Harris’ “Our Next Era” Planning Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys reading novels, trying new recipes for family dinners, and playing acoustic guitar.
Senior Vice President, Operations, YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South
Shauna Bateman began her career working as an intern at a YMCA in Charlottesville, VA where she attended the University of Virginia. After graduating, Shauna began work with the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South in a community-based youth program. While in this role, she also received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Memphis. Through her tenure with the Y, Shauna has worked in numerous areas including corporate relations, event management, and branch operations. She was the founding director of the Church Health YMCA at Crosstown Concourse and oversaw YMCA centers throughout the Mid-South. Shauna is serving as the Senior Vice President of Operations and leads youth development across 15 different school districts which serve 13,000 kids per year. A native of Memphis, Shauna enjoys spending time in Memphis parks, watching her kids play sports, and eating at local restaurants with her school teacher husband, Jeremy.
Executive Director, Memphis School of Excellence
Dr. Samuel is a highly regarded educational administrator with a strong commitment to improving public education through STEM integration. He holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, a Master of Education in Educational Administration, a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics, providing him with a unique combination of education and experience. He is well-versed in the latest trends and best practices in education. As the Executive Director of Memphis School of Excellence, he is dedicated to creating opportunities for students to succeed and believes in the power of education to transform lives. His passion for education is evident in all that he does, and he continues to strive for excellence in his field. He and his wife of 20 years, Fatima, are the proud parents of 3 children. He is an active volunteer with his community and public library board member.
Workforce Coordinator, HopeWorks
A professional network-builder with more than 15 years of experience in workforce development roles, Amy is endlessly amazed at the excellent opportunities and incredibly resourced people who just need to find each other. A native of the Memphis area, she works diligently to serve the populations to whom she is called, namely those who are coming out of poverty or incarceration, or the immigrant community in search of better opportunities. She specifically works with employers to identify and recruit HopeWorks students and alumni. She leads the team at HopeWorks which prepares candidates for employment with organizations across the metro area, helping them successfully identify career path choices and nail down those opportunities.
CEO, ProGeny Place
Rhonnie Brewer is an equity-minded professional who has a passion for building strong communities. She advocates daily on behalf of underrepresented groups fostering the belief that all communities deserve access to prosperity. In 2019, Mrs. Brewer launched ProGeny Place, an organization offering support and resources to minority and women-owned businesses, including workforce development and job skills attainment to both unemployed and underemployed residents of the Mid-South. Brewer’s vision is to bring people and resources together in an interconnected network of education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship towards a path to middle income.
Associate Director of Research and Evaluation, Persevere Now
Roshunda is a Nonprofit Leader and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. As a certified workforce and community development professional, Roshunda has proven expertise in grassroots fundraising, organizational start-ups, leadership, nonprofit programming, data administration/compliance, program design & facilitation, and training and development. Roshunda’s work connects people, purpose, and programs through professional development training initiatives while encouraging people to find their vocation.
Chief Strategy and Impact Officer, Seeding Success
Employee Development Manager, Binghampton Development Corporation
Antwoine Clark is the Employee Development Manager at Binghampton Development Corporation. He is an efficient professional who has been consistently praised as hard-working by co-workers and management. Over the course of 13 years actively engaged within the community, he has become more aware of the importance of history, heritage, and local culture. He’s consistently demonstrated problem-solving, interpersonal, and creative thinking abilities in every aspect of his responsibilities. He is passionate about envisioning what can be, organizing community to take positive action and create change.
Director of Workforce Development, Greater Memphis Chamber
Amber is a native Memphian. She is a Vanderbilt University graduate with over 16 years of workforce and economic development experience, previously serving as Project Director at the American Job Center. Amber was featured in Memphis Voyager and Canvas Rebel for her contributions in workforce development. In May 2022, Amber was recognized as a S.H.E. (Strong, Hands-On, and Elegant) Legend for Business and Corporate. In December 2022, Amber received the Workforce Mid-South President’s Award.
Amber is also Vice President of the Board of Directors for Dress for Success Memphis. She is an active member of Riverside Missionary Baptist Church. She is also a member of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc, where she serves as journalist. Amber enjoys spending time with family, sports, traveling, DJing, and culinary arts.
Director of Finance and Strategy, Memphis Education Fund
Binh Doan is the Director of Finance & Strategy at Memphis Education Fund (MEF). In service of MEF’s vision that every child in Memphis has access to quality public education, Binh leads work centered around developing and supporting leaders to found innovative school models alongside the Memphis community. As a first-generation college student and former teacher, Binh understands the relationship between education and opportunity. Binh strives to ensure that every student receives a strong foundation that leads to future opportunities and better outcomes. Although not a native Memphian, Binh is proud to call Memphis home after working in the education space for nearly a decade. In her free time, Binh enjoys binge-watching baking competitions and restaurant make-over shows with her cat.
Director of Community Impact, Literacy Mid-South
Shelby County Government, Office of the Mayor
Jerri Green is Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Harris where she works on issues from Women’s Health and Public Safety to Refugee Assistance and Blight Remediation. Before this, she was the Executive Director of the Community Legal Center. She holds a J.D. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Tennessee. She has practiced public interest law in Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Memphis. She also taught criminal law and juvenile justice for almost a decade. She was named a “Superwoman in Business” by the Memphis Business Journal in 2023 and was honored by the Tennessee State Senate as a change maker. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Girls, Inc. and the Humane Society, and a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. She is a married mother of three and enjoys reading and getting outdoors as much as possible.
Director of Workforce Strategies, Memphis Medical District Collaborative
Latasha Harris oversees MMDC’s Hire Local program to bring workforce opportunities to the district. For over 15 years, Latasha has been a passionate leader in the education and workforce development landscape in Memphis, working for organizations such as Porter-Leath and Communities in Schools of Memphis. Her favorite part of the Medical District is the people. She is fascinated by the stories of the residents, business owners, employees, and visitors to the district and the potential to help them achieve the life they want. When she is not working, Latasha spends time in her flower and vegetable garden and loves music (especially live concerts), entertaining friends, and kayaking. And if you challenge her in a game of Star Wars trivia, she will win.
Administrator of Group Violence Intervention Program, City of Memphis
Jimmie Johnson is a City of Memphis Administrator who oversees the daily operations of the Group Violence Intervention Program (GVIP). GVIP identifies individuals within the city who are at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of gun violence and offers these individuals alternative resources that will reform their behavior and norms. He previously served the city as a Memphis Police Officer, with 13 years of law enforcement experience. Throughout his law enforcement career, Administrator Johnson served communities in Memphis and Bartlett. He was a Crisis Intervention Officer (CIT) and a Field Training Officer (FTO). In his role as a Crisis Intervention Officer, he was responsible for assisting citizens who were experiencing an emotional and mental crisis. Administrator Johnson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of Memphis and went on to receive his Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice: Public Administration from Liberty University.
Director of Grants and Compliance, William R. Moore College of Technology
For 20 years, Kate has been privileged to work alongside Memphians to improve opportunities for under-resourced communities, working primarily through K-12 schools and community-based workforce development organizations. Her favorite work brings together teams from different organizations, and their volunteers, to accomplish big things–like starting the Art for Jobs fundraiser at Advance Memphis and the Memphis Literacy Conference with Memphis Teacher Residency. In her work at Moore Tech, Kate is looking forward to deepening collaborative relationships across Memphis and finding more paths to great jobs for more Memphians. Kate serves on the board for Journey Community Schools and The Collective Blueprint and volunteers with the #GivingTuesday movement. Together with her husband Chris, Kate has two daughters: Meredith will be heading to UT Knoxville in the fall, and Madeline will be a freshman at Crosstown High.
MD Employee Development, Innovation, and Org Strategies, FedEx Express
Tamera Maresh-Carver is the Managing Director of Employee Development and Organizational Strategy at FedEx Express and is responsible for global leadership development, operations management skills training, data analytics, selection, employee development, talent mobility, upskilling programs, organizational effectiveness, and HR systems support. Tamera began her career with FedEx in 1998 as a courier in Irving, Texas, and advanced into management in 2003. She has held numerous leadership positions in operations across the US and, since 2017, has been in HR leading Global Quality-Driven Management and Global Learning and Development Organizations. She has a BA degree in Psychology from Texas Women’s University and a Master of Science in Organizational Psychology from Capella University. In both academic roles, she graduated with honors. Tamera lives in Germantown, TN, with her partner, son, and four rescue dogs.
James E. Moore
Vice President of Workforce Development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis
James Moore is the Vice President for Workforce Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. He has been nationally recognized for creating workforce development programs for at-risk youth. He was honored by the Tri-State Defender Newspaper with the Men of Excellence Award in 2011 and the Memphis Business Journal “Top 40 Under 40” in 1999. He has a professional mission statement: Learn to share and sell your vision. Have a missionary spirit about life and what you do so the people around you can feel your energy and passion.
Director of HR & Federal Programs Millington Municipal Schools
Director, Institute for Regional Workforce Innovation; Dual & Special Enrollment Programs, University of Memphis
Courtney serves as the Director of the Institute for Regional Workforce Innovation. The Institute’s fundamental mission is to develop and manage a cohesive public educational ecosystem, encompassing kindergarten through post-secondary as well as non-credit credentialing (K-20). The Institute serves the West Tennessee region with special emphasis on addressing the workforce needs of industry sector partners. Additionally, Orians has over 17 years of combined experience in secondary and higher education that includes dual enrollment course design and six years of teaching dual enrollment courses for Memphis Shelby County Schools. Under her direction since 2017, the dual enrollment program experienced substantial growth in the number of students enrolled, high school partners, and course offerings. Courtney’s close relationship with local school systems, teachers, and her commitment to students is a valuable resource and creates a trusting network between secondary and post-secondary institutions.
Dean, School of Business, Christian Brothers University
Dr. Lydia Rosencrants, CPA, CMA is the Dean of the School of Business at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. She assumed this role in July of 2021 after 21 years at LaGrange College, where she served as Director of the Accounting Program and Chair of the Business Department. Lydia has a passion for community-building and has initiated a number of programs to respond to industry needs and provide transformational student opportunities. She oversees partnerships between CBU and several Memphis businesses and nonprofits, including developing a customized MBA for one and certificate programs for others. She also led the university to commit to life-long learning by offering alumni a free for-credit class every year for the rest of their lives. Lydia received her Ph.D. in Accounting from Michigan State University and her B.S.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Richmond.
Director of Human Development, For The Kingdom
My name is Summerjoy Scott, and I am the Director of Human Development at For The Kingdom (FTK). I am a 10-year entrepreneur and business owner that has transitioned into the non-profit world as of 2022. As the Director of Human Development at FTK, I run a majority of the operations, walk alongside our leaders to develop them personally and professionally, as well as direct our youth career pathway program (LEAD Academy). This position has allowed me to fully engage in my passion, which is people and the elevation of their minds, character, and skillset. Leadership for me is not a position but a purpose, and being able to use careers as a vehicle to change the trajectory of someone’s life is my mission.
Senior Director of Programs, Memphis Urban League
Mr. Shawn H. Smith has been an active member of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council for 33 years. Prior to his retirement in 2017, he completed apprenticeship school and served in several positions, including journeyman carpenter, superintendent, licensed contractor, program coordinator for a community-based non-profit organization focused on job placement into building construction, union organizer, field representative, financial secretary/treasurer, apprenticeship training advisory board member, and contract negotiator for Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. Shawn is the first African American Financial Secretary to hold positions in two different Carpenters Union Locals under the NCCRC umbrella. In addition to various officer and delegate positions appointed to and/or voted in by the membership, Shawn returned to the workforce as a Chaplain for a hospice company. His desire is to address the needs of those in underserved communities. Specifically, BIPOC communities drew him to work at Memphis Urban League.
Director of Career Pathways, JaMeko Williams
JaMeko Williams, a native Tennessean with a passion for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, holds bachelor’s degrees from UT-Knoxville in Urban Studies and African/African-American Studies, and an MPA from the University of Memphis.
She spent 15 years with TCAT-Memphis, in various roles where the foundation was laid to become a workforce development professional. As Director of Career Development with the Boys & Girls Clubs, she managed a staff of 13 full and part-time employees who provided direct workforce development training to youth aged 16-22, in 5 vocational skills training areas. As Director of Career Pathways at CISM JaMeko designs programming for students across the region that prepares them to enter, navigate, and advance in the workforce.
On Saturdays in the fall, you’ll find JaMeko cheering on her beloved Volunteers in Neyland Stadium, or enjoying some of the great food that can be found throughout Memphis.
Business Solutions Manager, Equus Workforce Solutions
Roderick Woody was born and raised in Grand Junction, TN. He relocated to Memphis after graduating from Lane College. Roderick began his career at the City of Memphis Second Chance Program and has over 19 years of experience as a workforce development professional, specializing in strategic planning, case management, job readiness/job placement, re-entry, and business engagement/retention. Roderick earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix and became a Certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS), amongst other honors during his 12-year tenure at the City of Memphis.
Roderick is now the Business Solutions Manager, at Equus Workforce Solutions/Greater Memphis American Job Centers. He is a member of the Greater Memphis Economic Development One Stop Shop team, serves on the Re-Entry Work Group with the Memphis/Shelby County Crime Commission, and is an advisory committee member with the Memphis/Shelby County Schools Division of College, Career, and Technical Education (CCTE).