May 25 2013

Lincoln charged with selling Memphis to the world

Memphis Standout profile for The Memphis Daily News

May 24, 2013

There is a surge these days in Memphis boosterism, but there may be no one else with their pulse more on what is new and exciting and worth celebrating in the city than Rashana Lincoln.

As director of community engagement for the New Memphis Institute (formerly the Leadership Academy), Lincoln is charged with selling her greatest passion: Memphis.

Born and raised in Memphis, the White Station High School graduate went on to Clark Atlanta University, a small, historically black college that shares a campus with Spelman College and Morehouse College. She graduated in 1996 with a degree in business marketing.

Lincoln returned home as the Olympics descended upon Atlanta, and became caught up in the campaign for Harold Ford Jr.’s congressional run. She joined the staff as an advance person moving out in front of the campaign team. Lincoln said the experience was “intense, but phenomenal; it really exposed me to every pocket of the 9th District.”

Lincoln enjoyed working with the big-money donors as well as knocking on doors throughout the district and talking to the residents and those most affected by elections and legislation.

“I love people; that’s just my nature,” she said.

It was during the campaign that the importance of voting was instilled in her and it drove her to the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville. Her father had a background in the law and she’d always seen a juris doctorate as “a great vehicle for any number of careers.”

She graduated law school in 2001, and though she never pursued a career in law she said the experience was invaluable. Her mother was ill when she came back to Memphis so Lincoln took over operations and management for the family business, Mayweather Catering … (read more)

May 13 2013

Family’s values led Bradshaw to life’s mission

Memphis Standout profile for The Memphis Daily News

May 10, 2013

Fittingly, Kenya Bradshaw can trace her life’s mission back to her childhood and a family that valued public service.

As the executive director of the Memphis chapter of Stand for Children Tennessee, it is just such a background that bolsters her in the day-to-day struggle to make education available to everyone as early as possible.

“I feel like, if Memphis is ever to reach its fullest potential, the greatest vehicle through which we can get there is by investing in our children through early childhood education, early home visitation and in also having a strong K-12 public education system,” Bradshaw said.

The Whitehaven High School alum was born in Miami but moved to Memphis at a young age. For college, she went east to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga where she received an undergraduate degree in marketing and international business. The goal, clearly, was to make her mark in the corporate world of products and finance.

“My life’s ambition was to design the next Coca-Cola product or work for FedEx,” she said. “When I went to college I knew that I was going to work in marketing.”

While in school, Bradshaw participated in the program Student Support Services, which helped her to be able to finish school. Once she graduated, she was given the opportunity to work for the program and quickly moved into management.

“It still is one of the greatest experiences of my life because I could directly see the work that I did translated into changing the lives of my students,” she said.

Though she cherishes the education she received at Whitehaven, she felt she was unprepared to be competitive in college and saw the same situation for incoming students at UT … (read more)

Apr 12 2013

Probate Judge Gomes chose legal career to help others

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

April 11, 2013

It was no joke when, on April 1, Kathleen Gomes was appointed by the Shelby County Commission to take the seat being vacated by retiring Probate Court Judge Robert Benham.

Gomes will run next year when the position, an eight-year term, comes up again for vote, but the recent appointment was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream that began when she was a child growing up in Chattanooga.

“My mother was a social worker, so I was raised around the idea of trying to help people,” Gomes said. “But after seeing that she didn’t really have a lot of authority to help people other than what she was restricted to do, when I was in college, I decided that the only way to really help people was to be a lawyer.”

She studied political science at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and then ventured across the state to the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

After the first semester, however, she moved to Washington for the opportunity to work for a new congresswoman from Chattanooga for a year. She returned, finished the first year of law school, and then was asked by state treasurer Harlan Mathews to work for him in Nashville.

She finished her stop-and-go law student career in 1980 and went to work for the law firm representing the William B. Tanner Co. media empire … (read more)

Mar 8 2013

Park It Here

Feature story for MBQ magazine

March/April 2013

Park It Here

The Overton Park Conservancy is the newest caretaker for the city’s 111-year-old oasis

In November of last year, Memphis celebrated Overton Park’s 
111th birthday. On 347 acres of land known as Lea Woods, in what was then considered the northeastern part of Memphis, George Kessler of Kansas City, Missouri, designed a park that was to be connected to downtown via parkways and would eventually be swallowed whole by the city, burning bright in the belly as an oasis among asphalt, concrete, cars and steel.

A month after that auspicious birthday, the Overton Park Conservancy celebrated its one-year anniversary. The Memphis Park Commission was dissolved by the Herenton administration in 2000 and folded into city government. In December 2011, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to allow the Conservancy to take over the management of the 184 acres of public parkland including the Greensward, Rainbow Lake, the formal gardens, Veteran’s Plaza, the 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area, and the East Parkway picnic area. Though the entities share grounds and work together, OPC has no authority over the Levitt Shell, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis College of Art, Memphis Zoo, or the Overton Park Golf Course. The agreement between the city of Memphis and OPC is a 10-year contract … (read more)

March/April 2013

March/April 2013

Feb 21 2013

Ryder up to challenge as counsel for RNC

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

Feb. 21, 2013

John Ryder of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC was recently appointed general counsel of the Republican National Committee.

The appointment is subject to membership approval at the committee’s spring meeting in April.

As general counsel, a volunteer position, Ryder will advise the chairman, Ryan Reince Priebus, and supervise the full-time legal staff, which includes a chief counsel, deputy counsel and an assistant. The committee’s redistricting department also reports through the office of chief counsel and has its own lawyers on staff.

Following the past presidential election, the chairman of the RNC started the Growth and Opportunity Project. Ryder explained it as “a very systematic review of various aspects of the party’s efforts and image and messaging.”

As part of the project, there are eight task forces reviewing different elements, including two that Ryder will be a part of: presidential primaries and campaign finance laws.

Involved with Republican politics for nearly four decades, Ryder is more than qualified for the position of general counsel.

“I’ve done redistricting work since the late ’70s and then I’ve been involved in various election law matters and lectured on election law issues both for the bar association and for the Republican National Lawyers Association since the late ’80s, so I’ve got a history of involvement,” Ryder said.

He began his work with the national committee in 1996 and served two four-year terms, was off for four years, then served again beginning in 2008; he was the director of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held in Memphis in 2006 … (read more)

Feb 11 2013

Lawrence’s background a fit for work at EDGE

Feature profile for The Memphis Daily News

Feb. 11, 2013

Emphasis: Economic Development

It might be said that John Lawrence has a background made to order for looking at the big picture – one of real estate, urban planning, marketing and organization management. Through the course of various career moves, he’s developed the tools necessary for the use in his position as manager of strategic economic development planning for Memphis and Shelby County’s Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE).

But he comes from a family of entrepreneurs as well, his parents were the first TCBY franchisees outside of Arkansas, and his mother and friends began their own decorative dish manufacturing business. Lawrence grew up seeing economic forces work in real time.

EDGE was created when Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell began looking at how economic development was being handled in the community, and decided there needed to be a coordinated effort among several entities operating on their own – the Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board, the Port Commission, Foreign Trade Zone and Defense Depot Redevelopment Agency. These were combined under the umbrella of EDGE to be a unified economic development agency for Memphis and Shelby County.

When the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization conducting independent research and providing innovative recommendations, approached the city and county to work on a metropolitan business planning project as part of a national effort, EDGE was the logical place to coordinate such a thing and Lawrence was brought on to manage the process.

“We really are in the early stages of this, so for the last month or two the mayors have been forming their steering committee to oversee this project,” Lawrence said … (read more)

Jan 29 2013

20<30 (2013)

Annual “20 under 30″ issue highlighting 20-somethings making great strides in the city for The Memphis Flyer

Jan. 24, 2013

These young people have graduated from their teens with a sense of responsibility beyond their years, and it is driving them to do good, to leave Memphis a better place. Within their ranks, there are advanced college degrees and long hours spent learning and perfecting a craft. The members of this group can dribble a ball, carry a tune, cook a meal, tell a joke, take a picture, book a show, raise money, raise awareness, and raise us all up if we put ourselves in their capable, young hands.

Each is an ambassador for our city. They are giving their best to make themselves and their community a better place to live and to visit.

News of violence and scandal can make the future seem bleak, but we can rest easier knowing that these 20 men and women are a part of that future. Keep an eye on them and watch what they can do when they put their minds and hearts to it … (read more)

Flyer cover 2013

Flyer cover 2013

Oct 29 2012

Parental Party fends off young challengers

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

Oct. 25, 2012

Parental Party candidate wins debate

It is the season of debates, when one side goes toe-to-toe with the other, each certain they know best, they have all of the answers, they can fix any problem, right any wrong, cure any ill.

It’s maddening, isn’t it? The way our kids want to belabor each and every point even when there is no point to be made, not understanding that there is no rebuttal to my order to clean their rooms or remove a bicycle from the driveway.

Just as the president and challenger will stand in front of a national audience to blame someone, anyone, other than themselves for the problems today, so will my kids deny they spilled that milk or lost the television remote. They will rush to tattle on a sibling for the scattered game of Monopoly left on the floor, and argue over whether 82 is too hot for a jacket, until I lock them all out of the house.

What my kids fail to grasp is that this house is not a democracy, there will be no votes on policy, no majority will set a course of hot dogs for supper and cake just before that. This is a one-party system, and that is the Parental Party.

If this population of children wants to hold their own convention to garner support for a contender to the seat of president, the seat at the head of the dinner table, then they are welcome to do so. There will, however, be no debate over who vacuums up all of that confetti and bundles up the dropped balloons.

My writing this is an exercise in diplomacy (some might say futility), but the truth is that I’m slipping in the most current polls. There is a 6-year-old candidate who wants to debate me on the issue of bedtime, meatloaf vs. corn dogs for dinner, choosing what’s on TV and the chance of any homework being done.

And I’ve lost more than my share of showdowns.

To make the situation worse, my moderator has locked herself in our room with a DVR full of “The Voice” and a bowl full of ice cream, leaving me to segue on my own from matters of economics (“Can I get a new iPod?”) to foreign policy (“My friend Susie has one.”).

Any election year can be a lesson in civics and an opportunity to grow and change, just as every other year we have the opportunity to grow and learn as parents, though there is some debate about that. No one is stepping up to challenge us for this job; no one wants an invitation to this parental party.

This debate season, when you tire of the incessant whining, finger-pointing, blame and posturing, then turn off the television, lose the remote, and put the politicians in timeout. Focus more on your immediate constituency, that binder full of children who, at this moment, are holding a caucus, preparing a convention, and planning a coup to unseat you at your very own table.

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Oct 29 2012

Harris’ legal career leans on desire to help community

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

Oct. 25, 2012

It seems like with so many people, Lee Harris’ eventual career interest was sparked by television.

“All I knew was what I saw on TV, and lawyers seemed very, very powerful and able to get things done,” he said.

Of course there was more to it than an infatuation with prime time drama, but Harris has known since middle school that he wanted to be a lawyer and the reality of the profession, he said, has lived up to his expectations.

The Whitehaven native and graduate of Overton High School traveled far from home for his degrees – B.A. in international studies with a minor in economics from Morehouse College, and a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School in 2003 – and then returned home.

“There was no question for me,” he says of his choosing to live and work in his hometown. “Never at any time did even a specter of doubt enter my mind, I always knew that I’d return to Memphis. … I knew this is where I wanted to be to practice law, to raise a family and to try to make a change.” … (read more)

Oct 18 2012

Diverse career brings Spickler back to Public Defender’s Office

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

Oct. 18, 2012

Upon graduating from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 2000, Josh Spickler took a fortuitous first step into his legal career with the Shelby County’s Office of Public Defender under A C Wharton Jr.

It was an experience that ignited a passion for the courtroom and public service in the young lawyer.

“I didn’t have grand dreams to be some Atticus Finch kind of guy, but I did, during law school, gravitate toward the courtroom in trial clinics and trial advocacy classes,” Spickler said.

He clerked for the public defender’s office where he said he “just fell in love with the courtroom, with the clients, with the challenge of trying a case against another lawyer and doing it from the hip sometimes and with surprises around every corner.”

But there are experiences to be had in any young man’s life and after a few years he left the public defender to start his own firm, one in which he was able to continue the same sort of work but “was able to get more trial experience a little quicker,” he said.

A law firm, being a small business, demands attentions outside of the courtroom with overhead and marketing, lean months and fat, and once the first of Spickler’s two sons with his wife, Ginger, came along, it was time for a change.

“I kind of panicked because it’s one thing to starve myself … but it was sort of a wake-up call that this month to month and crazy revenue fluctuations is a big risk, it was just a grind,” he said … (read more)