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Thank you to all of the community members who have supported our past charter authorization cycles—check out their bios below.

Note: These biographies are reflective of the work done by each community evaluator at the time of partnership and may not be current.

Dale Muhammad–2011

Dale Muhammad was a leading contributor in the small academy redesign of high schools in Memphis City Schools. His most recent initiative is AgFYI, an organization which assembles leading thinkers and community strategists to rebuild human and community capital for urban community entities and school districts. He was a member of the committee that received an award from the Gates Foundation at Hamilton High School. He developed Club 1890, a clearinghouse for students to matriculate and graduate from Land Grant and 1890 institutions. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar specializing in research on change agents in communities, and has developed strategies to bridge communities via the Kellogg Foundation Building Communities Through Technology.

Deniece Ferguson–2011, 2012

Deniece Ferguson, M.S., is a Servant Leader and currently serves as the Director of Youth Action at Oasis Center. Since joining Oasis Center in 2005 as the Program Director of AmeriCorps , she has helped strengthen their youth-adult partnerships through a social justice lens. In addition to program development, she is an adept experiential trainer in youth development and community engagement. Prior to Oasis, Deniece served as an advocate for marginalized communities in various roles—family therapist, child and family advocate, arts education trainer, and program manager. She resides at the intersection of race, class, and gender.

Mark Sturgis–2012

Mark served in AmeriCorps for two years in the Mississippi Delta working on issues of substandard housing, rural education, and healthcare. This experience was important in framing the importance of public education as a path out of poverty. Mark then earned his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Memphis and taught in Memphis City Schools for five years. Moving from the classroom to advocacy, he became a community organizer with Stand for Children, and currently serves as the organization’s Memphis Director. He is also currently pursuing a doctorate in Urban Education at the University of Memphis.

Neeraj Shah–2012

Neeraj Shah has been a Tennessean since 2006, when he arrived as a member of the Memphis Charter Corps of Teach for America. A graduate of New York University, Neeraj taught high school biology at Kingsbury High School. Following his time in the classroom, Neeraj became a member of Congressman Steve Cohen’s Memphis District Office staff. As a Constituent Services Representative, he was responsible for Memphis education matters, amongst other issue areas. Neeraj currently resides in Nashville, and will be attending Emory University School of Law in the fall.

Travis Green–2012, 2013

Travis Green is a third generation Memphian and an alumnus of Whitehaven High School. Travis was deployed for a tour of duty in Iraq as an infantryman with Kilo Company 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines. As a decorated combat veteran, Travis returned to Memphis and enrolled at the University of Memphis while attending class during the day and working nights at Ozark Motor Lines. In 2008, he joined Congressman Cohen’s congressional staff as special assistant /field representative focusing on veteran and military affairs. Travis is now serving at his alma mater in the Office of Government Relations at the University of Memphis.

Reginald Davis–2013

Reggie Davis is the site director of Streets Ministries, a Christian ministry dedicated to serving the youth of Memphis, Tenn., in the city’s Graham Heights community. After an extended career in banking, he left the industry to pursue his passion for outreach ministry by joining the Young Life youth outreach organization, serving as the Memphis area director. He joined Streets Ministries in 2010. Davis has been greatly involved in outreach because it gives him the opportunity to achieve his personal mission “to honor God, expand His kingdom, and enhance this city.” He holds a B.S. in finance from Arkansas State University.

Hutton Easley–2013

Hutton Easley is principal of Easley Marketing Services, LLC. For more than 20 years he has been helping small and large businesses launch new products and services. A resident of Memphis, Tenn., Easley hopes to help his city be more competitive on a national basis by focusing his public efforts on education and nutrition to foster a healthier and more prosperous community. He actively works with First Book-MidSouth, the Food Advisory Council of Memphis and Shelby County, and the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South. Easley graduated from the University of Richmond with a B.A. in economics and speech communications.

Joshua Forbes–2013

Joshua Forbes is the executive director of the Alcy Ball Development Corporation. Before becoming executive director, he was the middle school coordinator for Repairing The Breach Outreach Ministry, where he was able to build strong relationships with the students, parents, faculty and staff of numerous schools in the Memphis area. He completed a three year leadership training program with the Urban Youth Initiative and the Memphis Leadership Foundation. He completed his B.A. in social work at the University of Memphis.

James Moore–2013

James Moore serves as field director/administrator of the Scout Reach Division for the Boy Scouts of America. Moore has fifteen years of leadership experience and success in fundraising, membership growth, volunteer recruiting, building strategic alliances, and increasing community support in a non-profit setting. He is committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth and low-income families in Memphis. He was nationally recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with the National President’s Award for developing creative programs serving area at-risk youths. A native of Valdosta, Ga., Moore graduated from LeMoyne-Owen College with a B.A. in political science.

Jared Myers–2013, 2014

Jared Myers is currently working as the Recreation Coordinator and Community Organizer for Streets Ministries in the Graham Heights neighborhood of Memphis.  He is a native Memphian who received his master in urban studies from Eastern University in Philadelphia.  Jared is currently consulting for the Heights CDC on a BNCP grant (Building Neighborhood Capacity Program as part of the NRI) that is working on developing a strategic plan for building neighborhood capacity in the Heights neighborhood of Memphis.  Jared has experience with developing relationship-building strategies used by neighborhood schools, faith-based organizations, and non-profit partners that focus on using neighborhood schools as catalysts for community revitalization.  In 2013, Jared served as an evaluator of experienced operators for the ASD.

Jarita A. Mitchell–2014

Jarita A. Mitchell, Ed.D. holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of TN at Chattanooga, and her administrative certification from Bethel University.  She holds both her Master of Science in Leadership and Doctorate of Education in Reading from the University of Memphis.  Jarita has been an educator for 17 years and is currently an Assistant Principal with Shelby County Schools.  She is a 2013 graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program through Memphis City Schools and a recent participant in the 2013 Common Core Leadership 101 Training Institute.  She is currently participating in the 2014 Common Core Leadership 202 Training Institute.  Jarita was also a 2013 participant of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal’s Leadership Institute.  She holds certifications and licenses in Special Teacher Reading, Elementary Education, Professional Administrator, and Superintendent.  With experience in program initiatives, optimizing the learning atmosphere, staff development, and promoting a safe environment, Jarita has a proven record for exceeding faculty goals through effective internal and external communication, and a firm commitment to student-centered learning.  Jarita has an uncompromising view that all students have the ability to learn given a positive learning atmosphere that welcomes exploration and enhances student confidence.  It is her belief that an educator’s mission is to make school enjoyable and exciting.  She believes if students look forward to attending school, they will want to LEARN.

LaDonna Young–2014

Dr. LaDonna Young Is an Associate Professor of Education at Southwest Tennessee Community College and has nearly fifteen years of teaching, higher and adult education, consulting and strategic planning experience. She has led strategic planning teams and consulted for the City of Memphis, Memphis City Schools, and the State of Tennessee undergoing organizational, professional development, and curricular redesign efforts. She is a designated as an Expert Service Learning Trainer for Volunteer Tennessee (State of Tennessee). Her passion for teaching and highly-sought after consulting expertise has afforded her opportunities to travel in a professional capacity to Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa and Paris, France. LaDonna earned her Ed.D. and M.A. degrees from the University of Memphis and her BA from Christian Brothers University.