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MEET OUR STAFF
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Ike Griffith, Ed.D.
Special Assistant to the Mayor and Director of MOYS and Director of OCA

Ike Griffith serves as the Special Assistant to Mayor Jim Strickland and the Director of the Memphis Office of Youth Services where he is responsible for the oversight of all youth programming for the City of Memphis. Director Griffith responsibilities also include the development, implementation and evaluation of the city’s two primary youth programs; the Memphis Ambassadors Program (MAP) the city’s year round youth program, the MPLOY Summer Youth Employment Program, the city’s six week summer experience, and the Memphis Youth City Council which is  a youth member council that serves to represent youth interest in the City of Memphis government by serving as an advisory board to the Mayor and the Memphis City Council. Its’ purpose is to engage Memphis Youth in the political process and create leaders for the future. Managing a 3.5 million budget, Director Griffith assures quality programming is provided for over 1,500 program participants annually. This includes, but not limited to working with parents, program participants, community members, businesses and governmental representatives.

Director Griffith earned a B.A. in Mass Communications and Journalism from the University of Mississippi, a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Union University and an Education Specialist Degree in Education Leadership also from Union University. He has been an instructor with Memphis City and Shelby County Schools for 20 years, board member for the State of Tennessee Selective Service Administration, Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative 2018 participant, member of the Shelby County Democratic Party, member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and former member of the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission.

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Denita Hedgeman, D.Min.

Youth Services Event Coordinator/ Executive Assistant to the Director 

 

Denita has served in various areas of MOYS such as MPLOY Job Developer, Special Events Coordinator, MAP Zone Supervisor, MAP Lead Youth Specialist and Program Specialist. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Advertising, a Masters in Religious Fine Arts and a Doctor of Ministry in Religious Dance.  She was recently the Director of Career Services at LeMoyne-Owen College and is currently a national/international author, motivational speaker, choreographer, entertainer and certified Zumba instructor.  She loves inspiring people to find their life purpose.

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Marquis Robinson

MAP Program Manager

 

Marquis received his Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from the University of Memphis with a concentration in Non-Profit Administration. Marquis enjoys the unique flavor of Memphis culture, especially when giving back to the Memphis community through his role at MOYS. As a hard-working non-traditional student, he had a different perspective on his college courses than his peers, but still relishes in the camaraderie of fandom for the Memphis Tigers. Marquis is inspired by the New England Patriots because of how the former underdogs worked hard to earn their success, relying on one another and cultivating a team-centric mindset.

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Donna Dancy

MPLOY Program Manager

 

Donna received her B.A., in psychology, from Hampton University and a Master of Social Work from Howard University, with a focus on child/family welfare and mental health. Her background consists of working with foster/adoptive children and families, on a local and national level. She has worked with the US Agency for International Development, US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Office of Refugee Resettlement. Donna is a licensed social worker in the state of Tennessee and a very active volunteer in the Memphis and Shelby County community, through her church and sorority. She volunteers in her free time with the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation and a local homeless shelter. Donna’s work with children is driven by the quote,

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men…. “

~Frederick Douglass

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Mary Higgins Brooks

MAP Support Coordinator

 

Mary has served in various capacities at MOYS since 2012, including Community Organizer, Senior Internship Coordinator for MAP, and Accounts Payable Representative. She enjoys the opportunity to engage with youth and enhance their livelihoods throughout Shelby County. According to Mary, the most rewarding piece of her work is the opportunity to collaborate around MOYS programming and bridge the gap for organizing community involvement. Mary attended Melrose High school in Memphis, TN, Lambuth College in Jackson, TN, and also spent time living in Dallas, TX. In her free time, Mary loves watching football (especially the Dallas Cowboys!), as well as bowling, traveling, and spending time with her family and grandchildren.

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Daphne Evans

MPLOY Senior Program Analyst

 

Daphne Jones Evans is a Memphis Native and a proud graduate of Hamilton High School and The University of Tennessee at Martin where she graduated with a degree in Social Work.  Daphne is a former flight attendant with Delta Airlines. She has also served as a substitute teacher and financial secretary in the Memphis City School system, where she worked with teens during school activities such as the Girls Softball Coach at Ridgeway High/ Northside High and assisted at several High School Football and Basketball game activities.

As you can tell, Daphne loves working with teens.  As a mother of two herself, Daphne knows her job is making a difference in helping mold the future of Memphis.  She realizes the youth that come through the MPLOY program will eventually be the adults that  make the decisions for  Memphis that will make people want to visit or better yet to live in.

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Serita Crawford

MPLOY Project Coordinator 

Serita was born and raised in Chicago Heights, Illinois. She is a single mother to three (now grown) children. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Dance and an Associate’s degree in Psychology. After college, she worked on a task force for the Joliet Public Schools, and coached the 8th grade girls’ basketball team as well as cross country. She moved to Memphis in December of 1999, and began working as a substitute teacher at Frayser High School in Memphis City Schools in February of 2000. Continuing her work in Shelby County Schools, Serita is confident that her career started the day she walked into Frayser High School with a Substitute ID card in hand. She introduced herself to the Assistant Principal, made it known that she was willing and able to begin work as a Substitute Teacher, left her first day of work with an assignment, and stayed a Ram for 13 years. Ironically, the Ram is also Serita’s zodiac sign, and she felt at home. Serita is excited to offer her talents as a Youth Specialist at MOYS, doing her best work, leading young men and women into society with purposefulness, and helping them become Ambassadors for themselves, their parents, and the City of Memphis.

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Audrey B. Coleman

MPLOY Lead Job Developer

 

Audrey B- Coleman, born and raised in Memphis TN. She is a graduate of Melrose High School and studied at Lemoyne Owen College. She retired from the Shelby County Division of Corrections, after 25 years of service. Audrey is currently a Realtor and a licensed  Insurance Claims Adjuster. 

 

She is an excited Grandmother of one and mother of two young adults.  Her heart is very sensitive when it comes to our youth. She's very passionate about recruiting Business Partners to be a part of the team to provide a meaning work experience for the youth of Memphis area.  

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Candy Munn

MPLOY Lead Job Developer

A Memphis native, Candy Munn is currently working towards her Master of Business Administration – Marketing/Social Media Management, as well as studying for her Real Estate license. She is the creator of ‘Keeping Up With Candy’, a blog focused on fashion and travel. She also co-hosts ‘Sunday Mornings With Brother Love’, a local relationship call-in radio show. Her passions include reading, international travel, helping others, planning, and mixology.

Candy believes Memphis is one of the greatest U. S. cities with so much room for improvements. She feels each generation of youth will ALWAYS be the key to Memphis’ future – acting on these improvements, making it a better place for themselves and the next generations. She believes that “we must reach our youth while they are young and show them we care, provide them with love and hope, instill in them that they matter, give them the tools necessary to succeed, let them know manners and morals go a long way, and impress upon them that no matter their present situation, THEY can change it, if necessary, through desire, determination, education, hard work, and helping hands along the way.”

Candy said, “this is why I feel MPLOY is such a precious and valuable program. It gives students hope and a sense of self-worth, teaches them about work ethics, money management, and getting along with others, and gives them training and experience in areas that interests them. Thanks to MPLOY and our business partners, our youth experience self-pride and self-esteem, which is a first for many. And because of this, I am proud and honored to be a part of the MPLOY staff as a Job Developer.”

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Marshall Dezell

MPLOY Lead Job Developer

Marshall received his degree in Graphic Communications from Mississippi Valley State University before relocating to Memphis from Indianola, Mississippi. Marshall retired from his position teaching Digital Arts and Design for Shelby County Schools before joining the team at MOYS. As a Youth Specialist, Marshall appreciates the opportunity for active involvement with students in the community. In addition, Marshall gives back to the community by giving blood to help children with sickle cell diseases. In Memphis, Marshall enjoys the excitement from the diverse people and the culture of blues. In his free time, Marshall loves reading, weight lifting, and traveling.

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Angela Brown

MPLOY Lead Job Developer

 

Angela graduated from Melrose High School (Golden Wildcats). She received her B.S. in Organizational Leadership & Management with honors (magna cum-laude) from Union University. She served in many capacities during the years but to name a few, life insurance agent writing for various agencies, substitute teacher with Shelby County Schools, and personnel assistant in Recruitment before moving to properties & facilities assistant handling contracts & leases at FedEx Express.

 

Her hopes are that the youth of Memphis will be taught, shown and exemplify how to be the best version of themselves and to represent Memphis with great pride in business, life and community!

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Lametria Gillespie

MAP I Am Included Coordinator

Born and raised in the inner city of Memphis, Tennessee, Lametria has inherited a passion for organized growth and process improvement. Throughout the years, she’s gained business etiquette, quality operations, leadership, and hospitality skill sets to align with those passions from the University of Memphis as an International Business student focused primarily within the medical device supply chain sector.

 

In her personal life, she serves as a bonus mom to several children where striving to instill and build core values are the key focal points and has proven that leading by example is the ultimate staple.

 

Making a difference and being happy to engage directly with our Youth has quickly brought those passions and forefronts to life as the key way to keep them thriving. "Instilling profound life skills in our future leaders is a foundational base and pathway that cannot be ignored while servicing the City of Memphis".

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Taylor Hall

I Am Included Lead Youth Specialist

 

Taylor is a proud graduate of Briarcrest Christian High School. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Sociology and African American Studies from the University of Memphis. She enjoys giving back to her community and has worked at multiple SCS summer camps over the last few years. As a Youth Specialist, Taylor enjoys teaching her ambassadors life skills and helping them grow not only as students but as young adults. "We provide them with a set of skills to navigate through life easier. Then they are able to apply these skills whether it is at school, at home or out in their own communities". Taylor knows that Memphis is a growing city full of youth that want to succeed and it is our job to uplift their voices and help them excel in every aspect of their lives.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

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LaShondra Reed-Miller

I Am Included Assistant Lead Youth Specialist

Dr. LaShondra Reed-Miller has been in education for 23 years.  She is currently serving as a teacher within the Shelby County Schools System with the Department of Exceptional Children. While being an advocate for children with special needs, she is a well-rounded family and friend matriarch.  Dr. Miller’s philosophy is

“You can do anything in life if you’re willing to do things you’ve never done”.  

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Jacqueline Rudd

I Am Included Blind & Visually Impaired Youth Specialist 

 

Vision Specialist Jacqueline J Rudd was born and raised right here in Memphis, TN. She loves to travel, watch sports, shop, and most of all spend time with her family. She attended THE Whitehaven High School where she was a cheerleader and graduated with honors. From there, Jacqueline stayed right here in Memphis to attend LeMoyne-Owen College. There she was co-captain of the cheerleader squad, Miss Sophomore, pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Preschool & K-8th Education. After graduating from LeMoyne-Owen Jacqueline immediately enrolled into a minority research program in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) where she completed her first Master’s Degree. She then begins her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher in the Memphis City School System. Once fully employed, Jacqueline goes on to enroll in graduate school again and graduates with another Master’s Degree, this time in Special Education with an emphasis in Vision Education from Middle Tennessee State. Upon receiving this degree, Jacqueline is hired as a Vision Specialist for the Shelby County School System. She then enrolls in the curriculum & instruction program at Union University and goes on to receive her first Education Specialist Degree.  A few years, she decides to broader her horizons in the field of vision education and obtains her third Master’s Degree specializing in both Rehabilitation Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired and Orientation & Mobility Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. A few months after this graduation Jacqueline is accepted in a doctorate program specializing in Special Education at Northcentral University. Here she was able to complete enough hours to receive a second Education Specialist Degree and is currently at the research and dissertation phase.

Jacqueline is currently a full time Vision Specialist for the Memphis Shelby County Schools System. Likewise, she works part time as a Youth Specialist for Blind & Visually Impaired youth for the Memphis Office of Youth Services.

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Ordondra Tate

I Am Included Youth Specialist

 

Ordondra attended Mississippi State University for 2.5 years studying Social Science. She completed her degree at Ashford University with a BS in Social Science with a concentration in education, later completing a graduate degree in Learning and Teaching with Technology. As a mother of two amazing young men, Ordondra has lived in Memphis for 23 years and is currently an educator for Memphis Shelby County Schools in the Department of Exceptional Children services teaching functional skills. Prior to becoming a special education teacher, Ordondra was a family engagement and behavior specialist. She loves providing service to students and their families daily.

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cheryl henderson 

MAAP Youth Specialist

Cheryl Henderson was born and raised in Memphis, TN.  She is a graduate of Northside High School and a graduate of The University Of Memphis.  She retired from FedEx after 20 years of service.  She has worked with the AmeriCorps Program, CASA, and the Exchange Club Family Center as a volunteer.  She's a devoted mother and Nana to a 2 year old grandson.  She has the gift of service and is excited to be working with youths to help them reach their fullest potential.

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Shaquia Harris

I Am Included Youth Specialist

Shaquia Harris (RBT), is a University of Mississippi graduate where she majored in Psychology with a minor in both Education and Sociology. She is a Registered Behavioral Technician with a focus in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) centering around Autistic children and children with a Developmental Delay. She has passionately worked in the field for 3 years. Ms. Harris also is an employee of the Memphis Shelby County School district as an Educational Support Professional for Chemistry 1. She has joined the “I Am Included” team to further express her passions in making a difference in the lives of those children who have often been overlooked.

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arianna wishropp

All My Children Lead Youth Specialist

 

Arianna is an intelligent, intuitive and inspirational leader. She is a Senior Psychology at the University of Memphis. Arianna’s love for the youth has given her the opportunity to support and be apart of the Memphis Ambassadors Program. She was also a former Memphis Ambassador. 

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Ashley Chapman 

MAP 9th-12th Lead Youth Specialist

 

Ashley was born in Cheraw, SC, the hometown of the famous composer Dizzy Gillespie. She was raised as a military child, which allowed her to be exposed to different cultures. Her childhood was split up between South Carolina, Washington state, Texas, and Hawaii, which helped her find her purpose. 

Ashley is currently a Child Development and Family Studies major at the University of Memphis. Ashley has a passion for empowering youth and serving her community and plans to continue living and working by these values.

Outside of MOYS, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters. Also, she enjoys reading and exploring the city for hidden gems.

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Randi Fason

MAP 9th-12th Lead Youth Specialist

 

Randi was born and raised in Memphis TN. She graduated from Southwind High School and is  currently in pursuit of her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work at the University of Memphis. Randi  has had the opportunity to work with Communities in Schools and Refugee Empowerment Program Organizations. She has always had a passion for working with youth of all ages. 

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Christal Edgeston

All My Children Lead Youth Specialist

 

Christal Edgeston was born and raised in Memphis Tennessee. She received her bachelors in Social Work in 2017 from Tennessee State University and recently received her MSW in May 2022 from the University of Memphis. Christal has always had a passion for helping others and being a caregiver. She has experience working with children and adults in Mental Health and plans to continue her journey of broadening her knowledge and skills in the Social Work field. 

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Brandon Porter 

MAP Support Lead

 

Brandon is a born and raised Memphian. He is a proud alum of the University of Memphis, and also has a master’s degree from Liberty University. Before working for the Office of Youth Services, he worked for the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis where he worked as a fundraiser, social media manager, and vocational rehab job coach. Brandon loves Memphis and is blessed to work for an office that works for the betterment of our city’s next generation. He lives with his wife and two dogs in the Shelby Farms area and spends most of his free time reading, exploring the outdoors, and supporting Memphis sports’ teams. Go Tigers Go!

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Marcus Coleman

MAP Youth Specialist 

 

Marcus is a native Memphian, who had the opportunity to work as an Assistant Director of Camp Porter 12 years ago in which he worked well with kids all ages. Also, he volunteered at SCS and FCP school systems. He is so excited about the new opportunity to engage with the Memphis Ambassadors Program to work with the youth. 

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Rachael White

MAP Youth Specialist

Rachael White is a 2022 graduate from the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She majored in Human Resource Management with a concentration in International Business. She is a Memphis native and is a 2018 graduate of Middle College High School. She is also a proud and active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She wants to make an impact on students and help them find their passion. 

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Takira VanBuren 

MAP Youth Specialist

Takira VanBuren is a 22 year old from the city of Memphis,TN. She is in her last semester at the University of Memphis and will be receiving her Bachelor's degree in Integrative Studies, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership and a minor in African American studies. She enjoys reading, learning about other cultures, and playing volleyball. She has a strong desire to help others and to make sure everyone feels included.

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Donald Daugherty

I Am Included Youth Specialist

Donald Daugherty, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, has over 12 years of experience working with youth.  After graduating from The Galloway School, he attended Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in English. Post-college he has worked as a specialized educational assistant, special education paraprofessional, functional skills teacher, and inclusion/ resource teacher.  A Teach for America Memphis Corps alumna, Donald is passionate about fighting against systematic educational inequality in all student populations.   As a Youth Specialist for the I Am Included program, he looks forward to continuing this work by teaching life skills to youth with disabilities so they can thrive safely and independently as they matriculate through society.  

“Teach me and I will learn. Challenge me and I will grow. Believe in me and I will succeed.” 

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Janeka Jane't

MAP Youth Specialist

Janeka was born and raised in Memphis, TN and graduated high school from Desoto Central High School. Janeka is an intelligent, intuitive and inspirational leader. She is a Public Health major with a minor in early Childhood at the University of Memphis. Janeka love for the youth has given her the opportunity to support and be apart of the Memphis Ambassadors Program.

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Olivia Hammes

All My Children Youth Specialist

Olivia Hammes is a 20 year old from Alexandria, Virginia. She is currently a Senior at the University of Memphis and will be receiving her Bachelors degree in Social Work. She is involved on campus as an Emerging Leader and a member of the Student Social Work Organization.  Olivia previously worked as a peer mentor at Hamilton High School and a Behavioral Youth Counselor Intern at Youth Villages. She is passionate about empowering youth and promoting equity and inclusion in all spaces. In her free time, Olivia coaches a cheer team where she strives to uplift young athletes and provide opportunities for them to grow as leaders and enhance their self-confidence. 

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LeRae Clemons

All My Children Youth Specialist

LeRae Clemons was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She has a bachelor's degree in Biology from Fisk University and a master's degree in Public Health from the University of Memphis. She is passionate about equipping students with the academic and real life skills they need to excel after completing their secondary education. LeRae is also a devoted mental health advocate.

 

"Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn't mean you can, you should, or need to do it alone."-Lisa Olivera

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EVAN Ebenezer

8th Grade Youth Specialist

Evan is originally from India but considers himself a Memphian through and through. He has a vast amount of experience working with young people through schools, tutoring centers and volunteering. He has a Bachelors in Education focusing on Math and has a fondness for Algebra. In his free time, he enjoys constructing puzzles, working out, building things and is a foodie. He thoroughly believes in second chances and wanting everyone to succeed regardless of their background. Currently, he is working on getting his certifications from CompTIA and trying to get into the field of cybersecurity. He is committed to Memphis and wants the city to be better than ever.

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Nicholas McDonald

901 Junior Scholars Youth Specialist

Nicholas McDonald is a native Memphian who believes inspiration is one of the greatest gifts you could give youth. As an artist, Nicholas strives to inspire creativity in others as they pursue their life goals. Traveling since he was young, Nicholas has gained a broad understanding of the importance of expanding one’s perspective and is never afraid to learn something new. He enjoys trying new foods and loves taking care of animals. Being the son of a teacher, Nicholas also gained an appreciation for the opportunities the education system provides the youth. He aspires to create his own art studio, or school, to help young artists have a unique opportunity to develop their skills and broadcast their talents.

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