HALL OF FAME
Ten Memphians named to every "Who's Who" since 1984.
Chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises, one of the South's largest real estate and development firms. A pioneer in developing and managing factory outlet malls, the firm is among the largest nationally in that arena. 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. Includes The Peabody and Hampton Inn and Suites, the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, AutoZone corporate headquarters, apartments, offices (including Belz Enterprises' headquarters), shops, and several restaurants.
Working with the Memphis Housing Authority and Henry Turley Company to develop Uptown, which included demolition of old Hurt Village housing project and redevelopment of Lauderdale Courts housing project, and development of approximately 1,000 new single-family and multifamily units near St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Partner with Turley in Harbor Town, South Bluffs, and other downtown projects. Age 81. Among many other regional and national awards, has received the Leadership Memphis Community Leadership 2000 Award, 2003 Master Entrepreneur Award of the Society of Entrepreneurs and Junior Achievement, 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.
Chairman of the board of Dunavant Enterprises, the world's largest private cotton merchant. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost experts on cotton and commodities prices. Founder of The Racquet Club of Memphis and responsible for bringing the annual professional tennis tournament to Memphis. Avid hunter, sportsman, and financial patron of Ducks Unlimited and the Dunavant Upper School at Memphis University School. Age 76.
Lured to Memphis from his native Arkansas by producer Willie Mitchell in the 1970s and racked up seven top-10 soul hits in a three-year stretch. 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 62. 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. Performed at the White House in 2006. Last year, released a new album, Lay It Down, with sympathetic production from drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the hip-hop band The Roots, that pairs Green in duets with neo-soul stars John Legend and Corrine Bailey Rae.
Mayor of Memphis from 1992 until his resignation — as we go to press — on July 30, 2009, in the middle of his record fifth consecutive four-year term. Never one to lack for surprise announcements, Herenton shocked Memphians earlier in June 2009 by revealing that he plans to challenge incumbent Democrat Steve Cohen for the 9th Congressional District seat in 2010. Since the start of his fifth term in 2007, frequent reports have appeared in the news media that the FBI and a federal grand jury are looking at Herenton's real estate ventures and annual Christmas holiday party backed by $1,000 donations from local movers and shakers. Herenton, 69, would be a formidable candidate although he got only 46 percent of the vote the last time he ran for mayor. His inner-city base is strong, and he can be an energetic and effective campaigner. Anything can happen with Herenton, whose passion in 2008 was becoming city school superintendent, the job he held before becoming mayor.
J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III
Hyde was the founder of AutoZone, one of three Fortune 500 companies with its headquarters in Memphis. After a successful career in business and following his retirement in 1997, Hyde, 66, has become one of the leading philanthropists in the city. He and his wife, Barbara, are active in civic affairs and key supporters of Teach For America and other education reform movements. Also instrumental in the founding of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Memphis Tomorrow, and the National Civil Rights Museum. A minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and helped bring the NBA team to Memphis.
Jerry Lee Lewis
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." First inductee into Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. In 2005, received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. Will turn 74 on September 29th. 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. Performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on the Fourth of July 2008.
Ira A. Lipman
Founder and chairman of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world's largest security services companies, which operates in 400 cities worldwide with more than 19,400 employees and annual revenues of more than $560 million. The 1996 recipient of American Business Ethics Award. In 1997, founding chairman of Memphis Shelby Crime Commission. Recipient of 2002 Stanley C. Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics, from the Ethics Resource Center. The 2002 recipient of Corporate Citizenship Award, presented by the Committee for Economic Development. Age 68. 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 2004 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 39th 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 62. Helped develop Arts Memphis (formerly the Arts Council) Arts Access Program, which provides food stamp recipients with free tickets to arts events. 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 is currently involved in a $15 million capital campaign for a new theatre and arts complex, with construction in progress and the grand opening scheduled for January 2010.
Chairman, president, founder, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, the largest and most important company in the Memphis region. Smith, 65, says FedEx is facing the toughest economy in its history and the current recession is the worst economic crisis since World War II. Smith is an important business voice in steering the United States away from reliance on foreign oil and toward energy efficiency, including electric cars. FedEx reported a loss of $876 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009, due mostly to a write-down of its 2004 purchase of Kinko's, now known as FedEx Office. FedEx has approximately 30,000 employees in the Memphis area. Smith took a 20 percent cut in his base salary in 2009, while other senior executives took cuts of 7.5 to 10 percent. Smith is a minority owner of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. FedEx owns the naming rights to FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers basketball teams.
Pat Kerr Tigrett
Chairman and CEO of Pat Kerr, Inc., a couture design firm, specializing in bridal couture and baby couture. Spearheaded such civic celebrations as the lighting of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, the groundbreaking "Big Dig" party for The Pyramid, and the inaugural Northwest/KLM flight to Amsterdam. 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 prominent retail windows (Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel) as well as in numerous 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 containing gowns from Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Queen Victoria, and King George III. Widow of international financier, John Tigrett; mother of Kerr Tigrett. Serves on (current and past) boards of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission, the University of Memphis, Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum, Memphis Film and Tape Commission, Leadership Memphis, Memphis Orchestral Society, The Orpheum Theatre (Memphis Development Foundation), and NARAS. Chairman/CEO of Celebrations!, an upscale lifestyle events company.
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 26-year 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 state and 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 from Henderson State University and master's from the University of Memphis. Oversees a system with more than 47,000 students, 52 schools, and a $358 million budget. The county school system is one of three of Tennessee's 136 systems to make all "A's" on the last three Tennessee Report Cards.
CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare with responsibility for Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis and Bartlett, as well as the system's surgery center, five sports medicine and rehabilitation centers, nursing home, and senior health-care center. 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 Mid-South e-Health Alliance, the Alzheimer's Association, the Church Health Center, and the Hospital Wing (Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service, Inc.).
Defense attorney known for tackling high-profile — even notorious — criminal cases. In 2009, clients included Jeffrey Scott, convicted of murdering his popular school-teacher wife; and Chris Jones, a former sheriff's deputy, convicted of killing a restaurant deejay.Both clients received second-degree murder convictions. In 2007, Ballin worked with lead counsel Steve Farese to convince a jury to find Mary Winkler, who killed her preacher husband, guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Partner in downtown law firm of Ballin, Ballin, and Fishman. Lifelong Memphian, earned his juris doctorate from the University of Texas.
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 the construction of the UT-Baptist Research Park, an urban revitalization project that will consist of 1.2 million square feet of laboratory, research, education, and business space. Previously held executive roles at International Paper and Hewlett Packard, including co-founding of 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, which provides Christian ministry, guidance, after-school activities, and other services to the youth of the housing projects across the city. In neighborhoods with easy access to drugs and high rates of teen pregnancy, Streets Ministries provides a safe haven for students. Bennett, a graduate of the University of Memphis with a master's degree in counseling, founded Streets in 1987 with little more than a vacant building, a van, and a basketball and goal. The dedication of Bennett and his wife, Debbie, captured the attention of national media and Streets Ministries is now an exemplary program with modern facilities.
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.
Writer and director of Oscar and Sundance award-winning movie Hustle & Flow , filmed in Memphis, and followed it with Black Snake Moan , starring Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Ricci. Age 36. First garnered national attention with The Poor & Hungry , which won the Best Digital Feature award at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival. Received the Governor's Award in 2005 from the Tennessee Film Commission for his contributions to the area's film industry. Currently awaiting production for films Maggie Lynn and Gang Leader for a Day , and will reconnect with Terrence Howard in the lead role of a yet-to-be-titled biopic on Charley Pride. Recently wrapped $5 Cover , a group of webisodes for MTV/Viacom's online and new media division centered around the city's rock-and-roll scene. Currently, Brewer is developing his next feature film, called Mother Trucker , for New Regency Pictures. He lives in Memphis with his wife, Jodi, and son, Graham, and daughter, Wren.
The subprime mortgage crisis came as a surprise to some people when the economy crashed in 2008, but not Brewer, director of advocacy for Memphis Area Legal Services. Since 2005, Brewer and Legal Services have worked with poor people strapped with mortgage payments that suddenly escalated. Has zeroed in on cases where lenders fraudulently misled borrowers. An attorney with a low-key presence, Brewer was something of a voice in the wilderness before the impact of subprime lending and foreclosures were widely felt in Memphis and Shelby County. Brewer, 57, is a graduate of University of Tennessee-Martin and the University of Memphis law school.
Has been the lead sports columnist at The Commercial Appeal for 13 years. Also writes one metro column a week and co-hosts a daily radio show on AM730 FoxSports. Age 47. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1987, decided the legal world was not for him and worked at papers in Anniston, Alabama, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, before moving to Memphis in 1996. Has won national writing awards and has made multiple appearances on National Public Radio and ESPN.
Tournament director since 1999 of the St. Jude Classic golf tournament. Managed transition when title-sponsor Stanford Financial fell under government scrutiny in winter of 2009. Oversaw redesign of Southwind's TPC course in 2005; also involved in development of FedEx Cup points system to determine year-end PGA champion. Total purse at 2009 event was $5.6 million. Age 56. Has been part of tournament for more than 40 years. Received 2003 Charles Thornton Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Memphis. Also involved with media relations for U of M football and Memphis Motorsports Park.
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 health care. Cash, 54, was previously head of accountability for the Miami/Dade County Public Schools in Florida. The mayor's public disparagement of the applicants was yet another hurdle for the new superintendent to overcome, along with the funding conundrum, the system's history of academic under-achievement, and the unresolved issue of city/county consolidation.
General and artistic director of Opera Memphis since January 1992. Led the opera's move to Clark Opera Memphis Center, which has won awards from the American Institute of Architects. Ching's emphasis on education and outreach has resulted in many partnerships, including a songwriting and music video program with Memphis City Schools and Arts Memphis. Graduated summa cum laude from Duke University. Age 51. In 2009-2010 will conduct Cosi Fan Tutte , Gluck's Orpheus , and Madame Butterfly for Opera Memphis. Ching's opera Buoso's Ghost was recently produced at the Lake George Opera Festival in New York.
Founder of Smart City Consulting, a Memphis public-affairs consulting firm and host of the nationally syndicated public radio show Smart City . Coletta splits her time between Memphis and Chicago, where she is president of CEOs for Cities, a national network of leaders in business, universities, and philanthropy dedicated to improving cities. A downtown advocate and resident since the 1970s, Coletta has become a champion of the positive role that the "creative class" of young, well-educated workers can play in a city's cultural life and growth. Her radio program and blog have become widely respected among a general audience as well as influential thinkers and authors who have appeared on the program. Currently working on a book based on her Smart City interviews.
Entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and producer of the documentary film Two Million Minutes, which compares high school education in the United States, India, and China. A Memphian since 1997, Compton earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Started his business career with IBM in Indiana as a systems engineer. An admirer of business visionary L.D. Beard and his orthopedics company Richards Medical, Compton joined the board. Richards merged with Sofamor Danek and was in turn bought by Medtronic in 1999 for $3.7 billion. In addition to education and entrepreneurship, Compton is passionate about broadening foreign language instruction in Farsi, Arabic, and Mandarin to make American students more functional in the global economy.
Since 1985, president of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority operating Memphis International Airport, the world's number-one air-cargo airport 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, expansion of the World Runway to increase international flights, and a $400 million terminal improvement and expansion project. Age 62. 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.
Executive director of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), a 41-year-old, nonprofit, social services agency. Since 1988, Craddock has worked for MIFA and organizations under its umbrella. Has degrees in urban anthropology and law from the University of Memphis and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama. MIFA sustains the independence of seniors with nutrition, transportation, and in-home companionship services and through trained volunteers who protect the rights of nursing home residents; addresses the needs of families in crisis through emergency financial assistance, transitional housing, and life-skills education; and leads efforts to equip urban youth for success. Craddock oversees a $9.5 million budget, 170 employees, more than 4,000 volunteers, and actively works to forge partnerships that can address emerging issues.
Associate producer at Playhouse on the Square, where he has been a resident company member since 1989. Has worked professionally in theater since 1985, appearing in California, Maine, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, and on two national tours. Recipient of numerous Ostrander Awards for his work. Award-winning credits include Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show , Milt in Laughter on the 23rd Floor , Anatoly in Chess , Mendel in Falsettos , Jesus in Godspell , and Tateh in Ragtime . Also a director, taking the helm on such productions as Picnic , Tuesdays With Morrie , A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline , Golf With Alan Shepard , The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , and the award-winning production of A Man of No Importance . Has appeared on-screen in Nothing But the Truth , The People vs. Larry Flynt , The Client , Separated by Murder , and Chasing the Dragon .
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. Estimates impact of game at between $17 million and $20 million. For second straight year, the game will be played after New Year's Day (January 2, 2010), between teams that excelled during the 2009 season. Age 62. Former president of the Colorado Rockies major-league baseball team and former general manager of the Memphis Showboats of the USFL football league.
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. Was 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 Educational Freedom Award. Has written six textbooks and numerous publications in national journals. Serves on eight boards representing various organizations in the community and is 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 33 years, Evans' groundbreaking research has focused on the pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents in children, for which he has received three consecutive NIH MERIT Awards from the National Cancer Institute. Received bachelor's and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and spent a sabbatical year at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Has written more than 300 articles and edited several textbooks and scientific journals; recognized by Institute for Scientific Information as a "Highly Cited Scientist" because citations of his publications are among the top one percentile of scientists worldwide in his field. Was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.
Since August 2005, pastor of the approximately 30,000-member Bellevue Baptist Church, one of the largest Southern Baptist congregations in the country. Took a post held for 32 years by the late Adrian Rogers. Prior to his appointment, served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama. Has held positions with the Southern Baptist Convention, including president of the SBC Pastors' Conference in 2005. Age 51. Received both Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Publications include Morning Manna , a collection of devotional readings. In June 2009, Gaines vocally opposed on religious grounds a Shelby County job-bias ordinance that would protect gays from employment discrimination.
After years of being touted for higher office, the district attorney general for Shelby County became a candidate for governor in 2010. Consistently reelected D.A. after his appointment by former Governor Don Sundquist in 1996, the former city councilman and Shelby County commissioner made public safety the lynchpin of his gubernatorial bid. Accused by his critics of being too P.R.-conscious, with a penchant for highly publicized raids on drug houses and sexually oriented businesses, Gibbons was able to boast some undisputed success in high-profile prosecutions as well. The 59-year-old Gibbons rose from an impoverished Arkansas background to become a key aide to several GOP luminaries in Tennessee before entering politics in his own right.
General manager of Mud Island River Park, the 52-acre recreational and cultural facility centered around the Mississippi River. Employee of the Riverfront Development Corporation. Mud Island includes the 18-gallery Mississippi River Museum, a 5,000-seat amphitheatre, a five-block-long scale-model of the river from Ohio to Louisiana (the Riverwalk, featuring changing water levels), banquet facilities, and special events like overnight camping. Giuntini is a contributing author to The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture . Has also contributed to film and television productions for A&E, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel. Graduate of the University of Memphis.
Director of Memphis Police Services since 2004, making him the longest-serving director under tenure of Mayor Willie Herenton, who told the media, "I finally found a crime fighter." Earned much attention for "Blue C.R.U.S.H" initiative, focusing on guns, gangs, and drugs. Vietnam veteran. Native of Borger, Texas, but raised in Memphis. Served as vice-president and president of the board of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, and as chairman of the Tennessee Public Safety Coalition. Founding Member of Operation Safe Community.
Senior rabbi of Temple Israel, Tennessee's oldest and largest synagogue. A two-time president of the Memphis Ministers Association and presently sits on the executive committee 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.
President of the Memphis Development Foundation, which has restored and operates The Orpheum Theatre. Two-time Tony Award recipient for Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002) and Spamalot (2005). Also president of the Independent Presenter Network, a consortium of Broadway theater executives and producers controlling more than 70 theater markets in North America and Japan. Served on the Memphis City Council 1975-79. Age 66. Founded Big Brothers of Memphis in 1972. Currently serves on the board of directors of Leadership Memphis.
The principal handler and focal figure of several stings in recent years involving governmental corruption. Harrison is the special agent in charge of the Memphis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the first woman and the first African American to hold that rank. Native of Tampa, where she graduated from the University of South Florida, then served in the county sheriff's department as an undercover narcotics officer and internal affairs auditor. Arrived in Memphis in 2005 after 20 years with the bureau in Shreveport, Los Angeles, Houston, and Newark. Focus as of mid-2009 had shifted in the direction of crimes involving drug cases, financial-industry crimes, and police malfeasance.
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 11-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 68 prestigious Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals and Events Association, including multiple Gold Pinnacle Awards. Age 50. 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.
Local and national civil rights pioneer and chairman of the board of the National Civil Rights Museum. Native Memphian who was honored several years ago by having the city's main library renamed the Benjamin Hooks Library. Graduated from LeMoyne-Owen College. Appointed Criminal Court judge in 1965 and became the first black judge of a court of record in the South since Reconstruction. Served on the Federal Communications Commission and as head of the national NAACP. Author in 2004 of The March of Civil Rights: The Benjamin Hooks Story . For 52 years was pastor of Greater Middle Baptist Church; retired in January and is now minister-in-residence. Age 84. In 2009, attended the inaugural festivities of President Barack Obama and was an honoree at the African American Church Inaugural Ball, where he told stories of civil rights pioneers.
Executive director of the National Ornamental Metal Museum. Previously served as executive director of the UrbanArt Commission since its inception in 1997, overseeing public art projects including the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Age 39. Was associate curator at The Dixon Gallery and Gardens and a curatorial fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Holds degrees from Boston University and the University of Washington. Recipient of the 2005 Ellida Fri Leadership Award presented by the YWCA of Greater Memphis, a 2003 recipient of Memphis Woman magazine's "50 Women Who Make A Difference," a 2002 recipient of the Center City Commission's Vision Award, and one of the 2001 Memphis Business Journal 's "Top 40 Under 40."
President of the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation and director of the J.R. Hyde Sr. Foundation, both dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Memphis area. Age 47. 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. Born in California and raised in Atlanta. As a founding member of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, she 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 at Chapel Hill, the Women's Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Leadership Academy, and St. Mary's Episcopal School.
Local community activist and owner of Caritas Village, a rehabbed Masonic Temple in the Binghamton community (most famous for the 2008 Lester Street massacre). Johns, 63, founded Caritas as part of what she called "personal ministry" to bring the blighted community, especially its youngest residents, together through the community center/arts incubator. To help pay for the facility, Caritas serves as a coffeehouse and eatery, as well as a community garden and facility for educational classes on everything from knitting to photography to cooking and dance for neighborhood residents of all ages.
The Shelby County property assessor makes our list because 2009 was a reappraisal year. And not just any reappraisal year, either. State law requires reappraisals every four years. The last reappraisal was in 2005, when home prices were rising and business was booming in Shelby County. The recession knocked the bottom out of the market, and sent thousands of property owners to Johnson's office to challenge their higher appraisals, which mean higher tax bills. It is Johnson's job to put a fair-market valuation on all parcels. Johnson was elected to replace veteran assessor Rita Clark, for whom she worked for ten years as chief administrator. The next reappraisal is in 2013.
President of Summitt Management Corpora-tion, an entertainment consulting firm. Owner and limited partner of NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. Age 61. Founder of the annual Southern Heritage Classic, a weekend of events climaxed by the football matchup between historically black colleges Tennessee State University and Jackson State University. Played annually in September at the Liberty Bowl Stadium, the game has averaged more than 50,000 in attendance since first held in 1990. Began career as a tour manager for Isaac Hayes. Recipient of the 2002 Memphis City Schools Alumni Hall of Fame. A 1971 graduate of Memphis State University.
The face and voice of Memphis tourism. As president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, directs a $9 million budget, with offices in Memphis, Washington, D.C., and London, and three visitor centers in Shelby County. Board member of the U.S. Travel Association and Destination Marketing Association International. Developed Memphis' "Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock 'N' Roll" brand and directed "50 Years of Rock 'N' Roll" and "50 Years of Soul" campaigns. Key player in keeping the Blues Foundation in Memphis. Memphis native, University of Memphis graduate, and tireless booster of Memphis sports, music, and entertainment. Age 52.
An early '90s pioneer of the Memphis hardcore rap style. Helped establish a sound that local followers such as Three 6 Mafia would take to the bank. An underground figure for most of his career, Kapone was reborn as a musical catalyst for Craig Brewer's Sundance-winning, Memphis-set film Hustle & Flow , writing two songs — "Whoop That Trick" and "Hustle & Flow (It Ain't Over)" — for the film and providing another — "Get Crunk, Get Buck" — to the soundtrack. Reunited with Brewer — alongside teen son Young AJ — as a star of Brewer's MTV series $5 Cover and currently performing with a live band, most recently at this year's South By Southwest Music Festival.
Appointed director of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in 2008. Previously held director's position at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia for six years. His experience includes special projects with the American Association of Museums, where he managed its strategic planning process and headed the field's national political campaign in support of museums. Also worked for Economics Research Associates, leading an urban planning team that created Washington, D.C.'s Museums and Memorials Master Plan for the National Capital Planning Commission. Holds a bachelor's from Harvard and an M.B.A. from William & Mary. A 2008 alumnus of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute.
Lawyer and longtime state senator representing a large section of northern Memphis and Shelby County. Kyle is the Senate Democratic leader and the heir-apparent to the speakership of that body and the title of lieutenant governor should his party ever regain a Senate majority. As of mid-summer 2009, however, Kyle seemed to be aiming higher — at the governorship which Governor Phil Bredesen, Kyle's patron, is vacating because of term-limits requirements. A graduate of Arkansas State University and the University of Memphis Law School, Kyle worked his way up the political ladder, serving as an aide in various Democratic campaigns before running for the Senate and winning. Married to Sara Kyle, former Memphis judge and current member of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.
Eclectic singer, songwriter, and bass player moved to Memphis from Nashville a dozen years ago as one half of the country/rockabilly duo The Gabe & Amy Show. Went solo in 2006 with debut album The World Is Not My Home on local label Archer Records. Followed it up in 2007 with the critically acclaimed Anchors & Anvils , recorded with legendary local producer Jim Dickinson. Also enjoying a burgeoning film career, 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 MTV series $5 Cover earlier this year.
Since 1980, chief executive officer of Youth Villages, one of the Southeast's largest private providers of services to emotionally troubled children. Serves 13,000 children and families across 10 states, employs more than 1,800 counselors and staff, and has annual revenues of more than $130 million. Collaborated with Tennessee's Department of Children's Services to establish the Youth Villages Continuum of Care, a nationally recognized model. In 2006, Lawler was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report in conjunction with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2009, Harvard Business School used Youth Villages as a basis for a course in effective nonprofits. Also in 2009, the White House cited the organization as an example of "effective, innovative nonprofits." Holds a master's degree in counseling from University of Memphis.
After the surprise retirement of Memphis mayor Willie Herenton in mid-2009, Lowery, as the current city council chair, was elevated to the position of "mayor pro tem" and, as long predicted, became a formal candidate for the mayoralty in the scheduled special election of October 2009. Elected in 1990, he first came to prominence as an anchor and TV personality with WMC-TV. He is also involved in an abundance of local and national social and civic organizations ranging from the United Negro College Fund's Alumni Council to the board of trustees of LeMoyne-Owen College.
Sheriff of Shelby County since 2002. Made decision in mid-2009 not to run for Shelby County mayor but to seek relection in 2010 instead. Comes from a background and a family tradition in corrections administration at federal and county levels. Fought hard in 2009 against planned budget cuts and won continued commission support for intergovernmental crime-control efforts. The 62-year-old Luttrell practices a largely non-partisan politics of consensus. Major accomplishment has been getting the Shelby County jail released from federal scrutiny because of substandard conditions. Flirted with privatizing jail administration but backed away from it, now focusing on the need for new and bigger facilities for prisoners.
Jenny Odle Madden
Actress, singer, comedian, and storyteller, Madden is the co-founder and executive producer of Voices of the South (VOS). Graduate of the University of Memphis with a B.F.A. in theater. Began career as a company member and director of development for Playhouse on the Square. An eight-time Memphis Theatre Award winner and earned a "Best of the Fringe" award at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in 1997. Was honored by the Memphis Business Journal as one of its "Top 40 Under 40," named one of the "50 Women Who Make a Difference" by Memphis Woman magazine, and in 2008 named one of "12 People Who Make a Difference" by The Commercial Appeal .
Since 1995, director of Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, the largest health department in Tennessee, with more than 900,000 persons in jurisdiction. Previously a public health administrator, health planner, health educator, and administrator with a large federally funded community health center. A graduate of Wellesley College and Wesleyan University; attended the University of Texas School of Public Health. Served as board chair of Tennessee Primary Care Association and the Governor's Healthcare Safety Net Taskforce. Was the founding board chairperson of the Community Institute for Early Childhood (First Years Institute) and serves on the boards of the West Tennessee Area Health Education Center, the Memphis Community Foundation, and the Mid-South eHealth Alliance. Among top priorities as health department director: reducing Memphis' infant mortality rates and increasing community preparedness for public health emergencies.
In 2009, as chair of the Shelby County Commission, became an early entry in the Democratic primary for Shelby County mayor in 2010 and earned the formal support of outgoing county mayor A C Wharton. After her first election in 2002, Malone's first term was carefully bipartisan; she became more outspokenly activist after reelection in 2006, spearheading a controversial move, now under litigation, to create a second Juvenile Court judgeship. Former television news producer and vice president of marketing development for ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Currently president of the Carter-Malone marketing and public relations firm.
Executive director of the Shelby Farms Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that manages 4,000-acre Shelby Farms Park and is overseeing implementation of a master plan. The first stage includes the Wolf River Trails in the southern section of the park and a pedestrian bridge over busy Humphreys Boulevard. Former executive director of the Plough Foundation and, before that, chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis under Mayor Willie Herenton. Masson is highly esteemed for his political experience and skills, integrity, and expertise in fund-raising, philanthropy, and public finance.
Star swingman with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and runner-up for 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year. Third selection in 2008 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves; traded immediately to Memphis for Mike Miller and Kevin Love. Age 21. Averaged 18.5 points in 2008-09 and was named to league's All-Rookie Team. Scored at least 10 points in his first 25 games as a pro, the longest such streak in two decades. On national radar since his high school days in West Virginia. Played a single season at Southern Cal. USC coach Tim Floyd resigned amid allegations Mayo was paid thousands of dollars to play for the Trojans.
Founder and artistic director of Tennessee Shakespeare Company, which debuted in 2008 with production of As You Like It on the grounds of St. George's Church in Germantown. Spent 15 years with Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts, where he served as associate artistic director as well as director of marketing, press, and development. Has performed in and directed more than 200 plays, musicals, films, and commercials. Also a published poet and master teacher of Shakespeare text. Age 42. Graduate of Germantown High School and Temple University. Will direct A Midsummer Night's Dream in October, then an all-woman chamber version of Julius Caesar in spring 2010.
Dr. Frank McGrew III
Director of clinical research at Germantown's Stern Cardiovascular Center. As head of Stern's research team since 1976, has authored numerous leading-edge clinical studies and publications in peer-reviewed journals, helping push forward the depth and breadth of treatment of heart disease and disorders. Educated at Johns Hopkins University, with an M.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Named to the 2009 list of the Top Doctors in America by Castle Connolly. An associate clinical professor at the University of Tennessee College of Health Sciences and a consulting associate clinical professor at Duke University. Chairman of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Committee, sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Memphis and member of the board of directors at Christ United Methodist Church.
Alexis Grace Middleton
The pint-sized Memphis mother of one, singer Alexis Grace began singing at age 7 and was a member of the Concert Choir at the University of Memphis. In 2009 auditioned in Louisville for Fox's American Idol , performing "Dr. Feelgood" by Aretha Franklin. Finished Idol in 11th place, barely missed touring with the top 10 winners, though currently enjoys her new job as an on-air personality for FM107.5's morning radio program. Age 21.
President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, our community's leading economic development organization. In 2008, in spite of the economic downturn, the Chamber generated more than $500 million in capital investments and helped create close to 3,000 new jobs. The Chamber also assisted with 43 relocation and expansion projects in Memphis and Shelby County. Moore represents the Memphis business community nationally by participating on the Committee of 100 for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and in the innovative program CEO for Cities. Earned a business degree from the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
Johnny B. Moore
In June 2009 became the first African-American president of SunTrust Bank. Most recently served as executive vice president and head of the Memphis region's Commercial Line of Business. Prior to joining bank in 1992, was a senior accountant at Ernst and Young. Board member of Memphis & Shelby County Port Commission and on board of directors for Rhodes College, Greater Memphis Chamber, and National Civil Rights Museum. Graduate of Melrose High School and Rhodes College.
Dr. Scott Morris
Founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, which opened in 1987 to provide quality, affordable health care for working, uninsured people and their families. Age 55. Master of divinity degree from Yale University, M.D. from Emory University, board-certified family practitioner, and or-dained 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, the Center cares for more than 55,000 patients of record without relying on government funding.
University of Memphis law professor and member of the Shelby County Commission. Since his election in 2006, Mulroy hit the public consciousness with a rush as a multitasking advocate of numerous causes ranging from voting-machine reform to salvaging the Zippin Pippin. Never bashful in commission debate, Mulroy provides the body's Democrats with a swing vote and with lucid commentary based on his legal background. In mid-2009 launched the initiative that led to the first anti-discrimination resolution in local government history covering gays, lesbians, and the transgendered. Native of Brooklyn and a former attorney with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Mulroy is considered a likely future candidate for higher office.
Patrick and Gina Neely
Hosts of television hits Down Home with the Neelys and Road Tasted with the Neelys on the Food Network, co-owners of Neely's Bar-B-Que (two locations in Memphis and one in Nashville), and authors of the bestselling cookbook Down Home with the Neelys . Their flagship show — the Food Network's highest-rated series debut when it aired in February 2008 — is filmed in the Neelys' Memphis home and now airs seven days a week. In addition to their restaurants, the Neelys sell barbecue and other products online and in grocery stores across the U.S. Pat is a board member of the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy Board, is a former chairman of the board of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was named 2007 Restaurateur of the Year by the Memphis Restaurant Association (MRA). Gina is on the steering committee for the Women's Empowerment Summit for the Memphis Housing Authority, and is a member of the MRA and Dreamers Club for the National Civil Rights Museum.
Originally from New York City, became tenth president of Memphis College of Art in 1991. Under his direction, MCA has seen unprecedented growth, its largest enrollments, and the greatest fund-raising success in the college's history. Through his leadership a new Midtown campus has been assembled, including unique artists' residence halls. An advocate of creative cooperation in higher education, he helped found the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design, works with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and is past chair of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. Serves on the Shelby Farms Master Planning Committee and is also a member of the Joint Advisory Board of the Qatar Foundation.
Dr. William Novick
Founder and medical director of the International Children's Heart Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the care of children with congenital heart defects in destitute countries since 1994. Has taken surgical teams to 23 countries and operated on more than 4,000 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 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 55. Endowed Professor of Surgery and International Child Health at the University of Tennessee, Memphis. Received cardiac training from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Head men's basketball coach at University of Memphis. At age 32, second-youngest coach in NCAA Division I. Inherited program from John Calipari, who left for Kentucky after nine seasons and unprecedented four-year run of 137-14. Served one season as assistant on Calipari's staff. Before coming to Memphis in 2008, spent six years as assistant to Hall of Famer Lute Olson at University of Arizona. Known as a tireless recruiter. Enters first head-coaching gig with program under NCAA investigation concerning a recruit's SAT performance prior to the 2007-08 season. 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, sounding off on such hot-button issues as handgun carry permits, crime, and political corruption. The CA was named in 2009 as the best large daily newspaper in Tennessee by the Tennessee Press Association. Peck, 59, 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 .
Memphis , like Time magazine, sometimes recognizes people who change our lives for better or for worse. A native of the small town of Baldwyn in North Mississippi, Pendergest-Holt, 34, was chief investment officer for Stanford Financial Company before it crashed in 2009 amid allegations that its founders (and Pendergest-Holt) were operating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Pendergest-Holt was indicted on federal charges of obstruction and conspiracy and has pleaded not guilty. She worked out of Stanford's office in East Memphis and was there when the office was raided. According to the indictment, she supervised Stanford's investment analysts despite her scant experience. The firm's signature product was a "certificate of deposit" that yielded interest rates much higher than average — for a while anyway. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Memphians bought those products.
Attorney and partner of the Memphis office of Ford & Harrison LLP, a national labor and employment law firm. Named in Best Lawyers in America each year it has been published (25 years). Has served as chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority for 13 years. Secretary and counsel for the Greater Memphis Chamber and chairman of its Regional Logistics Council. Other leadership positions held include chairman emeritus of Commissioners Committee, Airport Council International, and past chairman of New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority, which oversaw the construction — on time, on budget — of FedExForum. Recipient in 2005 of the Communicator of the Year Award, conferred by the Public Relations Society of America (Memphis Chapter). Inducted into the Airport Minority Advisory Council's Hall of Fame in 2006. Recipient of the 2006 Diversity Memphis Humanitarian Award. In 2007, decorated by the Government of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, the second highest honor conferred upon any civilian leader. Co-author with FedEx's Tom Schmitt of the highly acclaimed management book Simple Solutions: Harness the Power of Passion and Simplicity To Get Results .
Director of the Pink Palace Family of Museums, which includes Memphis Pink Palace Museum, Sharpe Planetarium, Lichterman Nature Center, Magevney House, Mallory-Neely House in Victorian Village, and Coon Creek Science Center. Reopened Sharpe Planetarium in April. Expects to reopen Mallory-Neely and Magevney historic houses soon. 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, Smithsonian National Associates Program in Washington, D.C. Age 61. Awarded a doctoral fellowship in English at Temple University.
Dorothy Gunther Pugh
Founder and artistic director of Ballet Memphis, which celebrates its 23rd season this year with a nationally acclaimed company of 17 professional dancers. 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 and Paris, and recently lauded by the Ford Foundation Monograph and the Stanford Social Innovation Review for its 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 Centre — serve 75,000 people annually.
Shirley C. Raines
President of the University of Memphis since July 2001, the seventh 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, having written or co-written 14 books and numerous journal articles. Raines holds a doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and completed the Management Development Program from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Past president of the Association for Childhood Education International. Her strengths in development, fund-raising, and government affairs have led to interdisciplinary research and building of corporate partnerships, as reflected in the FedEx Institute of Technology.
Since 1994, president and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care, employer of more than 12,000 in the Mid-South. Immediate past chair of the Healthcare Institute, a national think tank of leading health-care CEOs. Also serves on the boards of The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, University of Memphis, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, University of Tennessee Development Council, and Memphis Tomorrow, and is the national board secretary for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Has served as chair of the National Committee of Quality Health Care, the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Memphis Regional Chamber, among other organizations. 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 from Arkansas State University and a master's from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Union University.
Vice president and general manager of Memphis Motorsports Park since 2001. The 400-acre complex north of Memphis features three tracks, including a ¾-mile paved oval that hosts NASCAR twice each year in June and October. MMP offers more than 150 race days each year, with an estimated annual attendance of over 550,000. Age 34. Honored by Memphis Business Journal in 2000 with "Top 40 Under 40" award. Native of Clarksville, Tennessee. University of Memphis graduate. Serves on the Stadiums Committee of the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), Shelby County Sheriff's Office Advisory Board, and Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors. Deacon at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett.
President of the National Civil Rights Museum since 1997 and a principal at Trust Marketing and Communications Consortium since 1992. In 2007 the museum was 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 . The national spotlight shone on the museum in April last year for the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., with visits from then-presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain, as well as Jesse Jackson. Robertson was featured on CNN's series Black In America and was interviewed by the piece at length by host Soledad O'Brien. The documentary airs throughout 2009.
Founder and chair of Rose Family Foundations private charity, and CEO and principal owner of Electronic Vaulting Services Corporation, a leading data-storage service provider. Consistently works to improve the quality of life in Memphis — especially for women and children living in poverty — through business and economic development, sports, politics, and advocacy projects. Graduate of Harvard University; named a Littauer Fellow for academic achievement and leadership potential. Previously president and CEO of the Chopra Companies, spearheading publishing, television, and telecommunications ventures of author/physician Dr. Deepak Chopra. Was cofounder and chair of the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis. In 2005, named one of Tennessee's 100 Most Powerful People by Business Tennessee magazine. In 2007, was awarded the "Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award," a prestigious international honor given to only two women each year by the International Women's Funding Network. Recipient of 2008 Humanitarian Award by Diversity Memphis.
Mother of three, Memphian Rounds was plucked from obscurity during the 2009 season of American Idol . Auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri, and sang "All I Do" by Stevie Wonder. All four judges voted to send her to Hollywood. She was in the third group of 12 contestants to perform out of the top 36 and was the highest female vote-getter, guaranteeing her a spot among the finalists. Finished the competition in 10th place. Currently traveling the country on the "American Idols" tour, which filled FedExForum here on July 26th.
President since 1998 of the Center City Commission, which promotes the redevelopment and economic growth of downtown. Working with local government and the private sector, has led the CCC through a period of unprecedented growth with development currently valued at approximately $3 billion. Former city council chairman, past president of Memphis in May and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Immediate past chairman of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra board and International Downtown Association, an organization of downtown revitalization professionals. Current member of the Memphis Aerotropolis Steering Committee, MemphisED Advisory Council, and the Riverfront Development Corporation board.
Susan H. Sanford
Since 1991, executive director of the Mid-South Food Bank, formerly Memphis Food Bank, which in its 28-year history has distributed more than 215 million pounds of food and grocery items to needy people in 31 Mid-South counties. Also operates four Kids Cafes, which serve after-school meals to more than 500 children each week; has launched 11 Food for Kids backpack programs, which provide nutritious foods weekly to 1,200 children for the weekend. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Previously held leadership roles with Memphis Arts Council and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Has been the only female chairperson of the board of United Way of the Mid-South and the second female president of Memphis Rotary. Board member of the local Federal Emergency Management Agency, founding member of the Safety Net Collaborative, and was vice chairman of the board of Feeding America, formerly America's Second Harvest — The Nation's Food Bank Network. Received the 2007 Ellida Sadler Fri Leadership Award from YWCA of Greater Memphis. Was nominated by Fox 13 and won a regional Emmy for Community Service in 2008. Was chosen by the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis as one of six Legends Award honorees in 2009.
Susan M. Schadt
President and CEO of ArtsMemphis since 2002. In 2005, partnered with Ducks Unlimited to launch the ongoing Conservation Through Art initiative, raising over $2 million thus far to support wildlife conservation, local arts groups, and free community events. In 2007, spearheaded the successful rebrand of ArtsMemphis, which has increased the organization's presence as the premier fund-raiser for the local arts. Also launched an ongoing audience development initiative in partnership with the Assisi Foundation for some 40 nonprofit cultural organizations, culminating in the community-wide interactive arts calendar. Serves as executive editor of First Shooting Light , a photographic journal published by ArtsMemphis in 2008 as part of Conservation Through Art.
Appointed director of The Dixon Gallery and Gardens in 2007. Started museum career in 1988 at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1998, became curator of American art at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, Florida. During his tenure at the Dixon, has launched cultural collaborations with Ballet Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Playhouse on the Square. On board of UrbanArt Commission and on selection committee for Rhodes College downtown mural project. Instituted pay-what-you-can Tuesdays at the Dixon, a host of family-oriented education programs, and initiated restoration of Dixon's Woodland Garden. Recent exhibition, based on his book Bold, Cautious, True: Walt Whitman and American Art of the Civil War Era, opened in July 2009.
President of United Way of the Mid-South since 1988, active with the United Way organization over 40 years. In 2008, the United Way managed over $44 million in funds and other goods to charitable programs in the local community. Co-founder and first board chairman for the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence, founded the "Operation Feed" campaign for the Mid-South Food Bank, first board chairman for United Housing, Inc. (which has helped more than 1,000 lower-income people buy a home), and a founding member of the Planned Giving Council of Greater Memphis. Past chairman of the United Ways of Tennessee state organization, a member of United Way of America's "50 Largest Markets Committee," and past chairman of the national United Way President's Roundtable. Has served on United Way of America's National Professional Advisory Council.
President and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare since 2001. Company consists of six adult hospitals and Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, 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 sits on the boards of Memphis Tomorrow, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, University of Memphis Board of Visitors, and Foundation for Evangelism. Served as the 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. Received the 2007 Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Beginning her 23rd year in 2010 as Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commissioner. Under her leadership, MovieMaker magazine selected Memphis for the fourth consecutive year as one of the "Top 10 Best American Cities to Live, Work, and Make Movies." Co-founder (with FedEx's Tom Schmitt) of the Berlin-Memphis and Shelby County Alliance. Co-founder of Memphis & Shelby County Film Commission Production Training Program. Honored with Shelby County Historical Commission plaque on South Main. At WHBQ-TV, was Memphis' first PM Magazine female co-host/segment producer. Continues at Fox 13 with weekly movie reviews. Writes monthly column for VIP-Memphis magazine. Earned bachelor's degree from University of Tennessee, master's in broadcasting and film from University of Memphis.
Civil rights pioneer who served as executive secretary of the Memphis branch of the NAACP from 1962 until her retirement in 1995. 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. While heading the local NAACP, she coordinated the sit-in movement 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. Led charge for a black superintendent for Memphis City Schools and served six four-year terms on the Memphis Board of Education. Has received more than 200 awards and has served on numerous boards, including the National Civil Rights Museum, Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Partners in Public Education, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the NAACP's National Board of Directors. Is subject of 2007 authorized biography, Maxine Smith's Unwilling Pupils: Lessons Learned in Memphis's Civil Rights Classroom. In 2009 was one of six women to receive the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis' new Legends Awards.
Bishop J. Terry Steib
Installed as the fourth Bishop of Memphis on May 5, 1993. Currently serves on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee of Clergy & Consecrated Life & Vocations, serves as a consultant for the USCCB Committee for Cultural Diversity, and is a member of the Commission on Religious Life & Ministry and Sub-Committee of Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Also serves on the board of directors of the Catholic Extension Society. 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 1984, ordained Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Titular Bishop.
Cofounder and cochairman (with Charles "Chip" Dudley) of Independent Bank, which was formed in 1998. Stephenson, 51, is the only female top executive of a Memphis bank, although she has said that the industry is disproportionately female. Independent Bank outperformed some other local and regional banks by avoiding the subprime mortgage business. Real estate assets are only about 15 percent of the bank's portfolio. Stephenson, a native of Chattanooga and graduate of the University of Tennessee, is former chairman of the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis, a nonprofit established in 1995 to encourage philanthropy and foster leadership among women. The organization has awarded more than $4 million in grants.
Handily elected to city council from mid-city District 5 in 2007 after losing first bid in 2003, Strickland became a leader of "Young Turk" council faction in several causes, including enlargement of geographical recruitment area for Memphis police and reducing city funding of Memphis City Schools. An advocate of greater council control of budgetary matters, won public attention with a budget proposal that held the line on employee raises and contained a tax decrease; as a result, the 45-year-old Strickland saw himself boosted as a potential mayoral candidate. Graduate of University of Memphis, where he was student body president, is former chairman of Shelby County Democratic Party and is law partner of David Kustoff, the former local Republican chairman and U.S. Attorney.
President and CEO of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines since 1997. Company provides regional airline services for Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and USAirways, collectively operating over 1,100 daily flights and transporting more than 13 million customers annually. Directed the development of Pinnacle Airlines into one of the nation's fastest growing carriers. Named Regional Airline Executive of the Year in 2000. In 2002, Pinnacle was named Regional Airline of the Year by Professional Pilot magazine. In 2004, Aviation Week named Pinnacle one of the Top Performing Small Airlines in the World, and Aviation Business magazine awarded Trenary the 2003 Regional Airline Strategist of the Year Award. Active in civic and industry affairs such as the Federal Reserve Bank, Transportation Industry Council, Memphis Music Foundation, and the Memphis Regional Chamber.
William E. Troutt
President of Rhodes College, celebrating a decade of service to Rhodes. Established a strategic vision for the liberal arts college focusing on excellence both in the classroom and beyond the campus 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. Served on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Commission, which made recommendations to Congress to dramatically increase the number of American undergraduates studying abroad. 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 driving force behind Fair Ground, a plan to redevelop the old Mid-South Fairgrounds in the heart of the city as a sportsplex. With Jack Belz (see page 50), Turley, 68, 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.
Executive director, Memphis Branch NAACP, the second largest NAACP branch in the nation (second to Detroit.) Former teacher and administrator in the Memphis City Schools. Chief goal is to implement the NAACP's strategic plan to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons, and to fulfill the organization's mission to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination. Describes her organization as "the biggest, baddest, boldest, oldest, most feared, and most revered civil rights organization in the world." Serves on the boards of the Public Building Authority and Leadership Memphis Alumni Association, among others. Holds bachelor's degree from LeMoyne-Owen College and master's degree from the University of Memphis.
Dr. Hershel P. Wall
Chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center since February 2008. Responsible for planning and executing the strategic direction of the statewide academic health care system, which comprises six colleges and campuses in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis. Oversees an ambitious five-year master plan and a $130 million capital campaign to renovate and expand clinical, research, and educational facilities. A 1960 graduate of the UT College of Medicine, with a residency in pediatrics, he is a longtime member of the faculty and administration and has received numerous teaching, professional, public service, and alumni awards.
As executive director of the UrbanArt Commission, Weeden works to further the organization's mission to create a dynamic, vibrant, and nurturing arts community in Memphis. Received his B.A. in art history from Rhodes College in 1997. Completed an M.A. in contemporary art at Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, and a second M.A. with the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Has worked with organizations in London, Paris, New York, Scotland, and Memphis in the field of contemporary visual art, including Delta Axis and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. From 2004 to 2006 served as founding director of the Memphis-based international artists residency program, Lantana Projects.
June Waddell West
In 2002 appointed executive director of Memphis Heritage, Inc., the area's largest historic preservation organization. West recently spearheaded efforts to save the facade of the Cumberland Presbyterian Archives Building in Midtown after working out a compromise with Chick-fil-A. Is currently leading preservation efforts to save the historic Overton Square area. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, West 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.
Head football coach at University of Memphis. Led team to fifth bowl appearance in six seasons in 2008, finishing with record of 6-7 after loss in St. Petersburg Bowl. Eight-year record at U of M: 47-51 (win total is third in program history). Longest tenured coach at Memphis since Billy Murphy (1958-71). Led Tigers to victory over rivals Southern Miss and UAB each of last two seasons. Age 55. Has coached 19 players to first-team all-conference honors. Previously coached five seasons at Clemson.
World-renowned jazz saxophonist. Toured with Whitney Houston for several years, then returned to Memphis to become a Stax Music Academy artist-in-residence. Age 51. Attended Texas Southern University, where he composed his first music. In 1998, recorded first gospel album, Gospel According To Jazz, Chapter One . That same year he made For You , which soared to top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Memphis-inspired, Grammy-nominated Roundtrip was released in 2007. Has eight Grammy nominations and two Stellar Awards for Best Gospel Instrumental Album.
A C Wharton
Mayor of Shelby County since 2002 and candidate for Memphis mayor, the acknowledged front-runner for that position. When Herenton announced a July 2009 retirement, Wharton found himself faced with a host of possible opponents in an October 2009 special election. The amiable 65-year-old former public defender knows his way around most political factions and interest groups. Like Herenton, a public advocate of city/county consolidation and had been devoting efforts to getting a consolidation referendum before the voters.
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 61. Made film debut in 1971's Taking Off . Received Oscar nominations for Primary Colors and About Schmidt . Emmy nomination for HBO series Six Feet Under . Also known for her role in Fried Green Tomatoes, Titanic, and Revolutionary Road . Currently in production for The Blind Side , for release in 2009.
Second-term U.S. congressman and former state senator. On the heels of a bashing of Democratic primary opponent Nikki Tinker in 2008 and his shepherding of an epochal apology for slavery through Congress, seemed set for a long reign. But then came news of the one 2010 challenger who might give him trouble — five-term mayor Willie Herenton. Has kicked off big-ticket fund-raisers with former foes like ex-congressman Harold Ford Sr. and becoming a cynosure of Judiciary Committee hearings. President Obama's praise of Cohen for his support of military re-authorization gave the incumbent a mid-summer boost.
One of Hollywood's most acclaimed actors. Born in Memphis and raised in Clarksville, Mississippi. Age 72. 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 .
Graduated from Lausanne Collegiate School in 1996 and studied theater at Boston University. Moved to New York and landed small roles on Law & Order and Ed before moving to Los Angeles, her current residence. Appeared in 2004's Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and 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 with Chloe Sevigny and Jeanne Tripplehorn in HBO series Big Love . In 2009, filmed He's Just Not That Into You with an all-star cast. Currently in production for Ramona and Beezus . Age 31.
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 84 September 16th. Currently lives in Las Vegas. Awarded 14 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 purchased Club Ebony, a juke joint in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi. In 2008 released album titled One Kind Favor . The B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center opened in 2008 in Indianola.
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 Psyche and in movies Another Harvest Moon and Barry Munday . Portrayed Martha Stewart in two made-for-TV movies. Also a cabaret singer with five albums to her credit. Age 59.
Acclaimed singer and songwriter, topping music charts first as a member of N'SYNC, currently as a solo artist. Age 28. 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-selling solo debut, and Future Sex/Love Sounds in 2006. Appeared in films Alpha Dog , Southland Tales , Black Snake Moan , and The Love Guru . Launched the William Rast clothing line in 2007, and opened two restaurants, Southern Hospitality and Destino, in Los Angeles. In 2008 won two Grammys for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("What Goes Around . . . Comes Around") and Best Dance Recording ("LoveStoned/I Think She Knows"). Timber-lake's Mirimichi Lakes eco-friendly golf course opened in 2009 in Millington.
The son of Memphis Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden, White Station High School graduate Andrew VanWyngarden became one of pop music's breakout stars in 2008 as the singer/songwriter/guitarist for the Brooklyn-based rock band MGMT. The band formed at Wesleyan College as a partnership 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" and "Kids."
Robert "Red" Gene West
Born in Bolivar, Tennessee, and raised in Memphis. Actor and stuntman best known as a close friend of Elvis Presley and a member of the Memphis Mafia. Appeared in The Rainmaker and Glory Road . Recently starred in Goodbye Solo , which won the International Critics Prize at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. Currently in pre-production for TBK: The Toolbox Murders . Served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Worked as a movie stuntman and appeared in 16 Elvis Presley movies. Songwriter for Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, and Johnny Rivers, including the song "Separate Ways," for which Elvis won a BMI award. Wrote Elvis: What Happened (1977). Appeared in TV series The Wild Wild West , Baa Baa Black Sheep , and The Riches . Currently resides in Biloxi Mississippi, with wife Pat.