MEET OUR STAFF
Ike Griffith, Ed.S.
Special Assistant to the Mayor and Director of MOYS
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.
Denita Hedgeman, D.Min.
Events Coordinator/ Administrative 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 an author, motivational speaker, choreographer and certified Zumba instructor. She loves inspiring people to find their life purpose.
Memphis Ambassadors 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. Marquis is a hard-working student; as a 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.
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.
Interim 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…. “
MPLOY Senior Program Analyst
Daphne Jones Evans is a Memphis Native, 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.
MPLOY Program Analyst
Crystelle, a native Memphian, received her degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Sociology from the University of Memphis. She also studied Spanish at the University of Murcia in Spain, as well as Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. She brings her diverse talents to MOYS through her role as a Job Developer for MPLOY Youth, coaching a team of youth specialists in managing their caseloads of students, as well as building relationships with businesses across the Memphis area for placing students during the summer. For Crystelle, the most rewarding part of her job is seeing her students succeed by bettering themselves and growing as individuals. When she is not working at MOYS, Crystelle enjoys traveling abroad, spending time with her family, and relaxing to jazz music.
MPLOY Data Analyst
Joy graduated from Kingsbury High School, and is currently studying International Business at the University of Memphis. In her position, Joy interacts with all the people who come through MOYS. Joy believes that the citizens of Memphis are good people from all different cultural backgrounds. She enjoys reading, and studying diverse cultures and languages. Her all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump, because the character Forrest is an overcomer who learns to navigate the challenges and events in society.
MPLOY Youth Services Coordinator
A native Memphian with a background deeply rooted in Christian morals and a zeal to push others to success. LaJoyce Harris has a laser-sharp focus that enables her to tackle problems head on, motivate teams to rise above mediocrity, develop winning solutions and produce long-term results. LaJoyce Harris is a graduate of The University of Memphis with a Major in Organizational Development and Minor in Non-Profit Management, along with an Accounting and Biology degree. LaJoyce Harris has obtained a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification to enhance her analytic skills to improve business processes. Her educational foundation has fully equipped her with the vital tools needed to build her local community and empower every man, woman and child along her path.
As Youth Services Coordinator, LaJoyce acts as a career coach to the college students, to help with the transition from education to workforce through internship opportunities and professional development. Her Human Resources and Training Development background of ten years has provided the resources to implement a detailed training program that will be piloted for our non-traditional and technical career paths. As well as the event coordinator for the annual MPLOY Youth Excellence Awards.
“It is my passion to assist others from every walk of life, educate people on how to utilize their gifts and talents and develop/organize systems for effectiveness and efficiency.”
MPLOY 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.”
MPLOY Job Developer
Seria received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Memphis. Born and raised in the Bluff City, Seria has seen the good and bad that the city has overcome or prospered from. Memphis has so many things to offer, from churches on every corner to some of the best BBQ in the country. This city shines bright in its own light. Memphis gives the feel of family with so many different cultures being present and meshing together for the common goal of an onward and upward, thriving city. At MOYS, Seria lauds her work family as one of the best she has ever encountered, with unique personalities coming together daily for one goal in mind: the betterment of the youth in the City of Memphis. According to Seria, what she enjoys most about her role at MOYS is being a mentor to so many youth throughout the City of Memphis, and also making connections with the parents of the youth, seeing their faces light up regarding information about post-secondary opportunities for their child to follow. For Seria, it is truly a blessing to stand behind MOYS’s mantra everyday—“Empowering Our Youth for Positive Results.”
MPLOY 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.
Melba “Diann” Chester
MPLOY Job Developer
Melba is originally from Millington, TN. and received her B.S. degree in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing. Melba also has an A.A.S. degree in Paralegal Studies from Southwest Tennessee Community College.
After working several years as an international flight attendant, she was hired by FedEx. Initially in Customer Service, then working her way into management and subsequently retiring as a Senior Manager responsible for the leadership of eight managers and 136 hourly employees.
After retiring, Melba became a substitute teacher which allowed her to pursue her passion of being a positive influence for young people. She was recently proud to become a Job Developer with MPLOY, after several years as a Youth Specialist with the college group.
Melba’s focus is to now utilize her past expertise and build on the strength of this exceptional team to be effective in the growth and development of our Memphis youth.
MPLOY Job Developer/Media Specialist
Alexandria Baker who also goes by the name of Alex is an Atlanta, Georgia native. She moved to Memphis to continue her education at LeMoyne-Owen College studying Journalism and Advertising. She has a passion for helping her community in new creative ways. During her time working with the MPLOY Youth Summer Experience she has implemented the MPLOY Youth Film Festival where students create short films on various topics. The film festival has provided the opportunity for MPLOY participants to express themselves and showcase their talents. During her free time, she loves to read, sleep, and eat. One day she hopes to really make a difference within her community by giving others the opportunity to express and elevate their voices.
Social Media and Marketing Intern
Jasmine McGill graduated from Hutchison School and is entering her Senior Year in Communication Studies at The University of Memphis. As a native Memphian, Jasmine is also a Memphis Ambassadors Program Alumni. Before attending the University of Memphis, she attended Delta State University where she played soccer her Freshman and Sophomore year of college. She is a member of Lambda Pi Eta, The University of Memphis’ Chapter of the National Communication Studies Honor Society. Jasmine joined the MAP Program staff through The City of Memphis’ Urban Fellows Program and will complete the program in two semesters. Jasmine is glad she was able to join the MAP Program from a different perspective and she is currently helping to create a completely new foundation for the MAP brand and social media presence.
MAP Lead Youth Specialist
Jesseca McGhee is a graduate of Whitehaven High School and is currently in pursuit of her Bachelor’s Degree of Public Administration. After completion of her Bachelors, she plans on earning her Master’s Degree in Community Development. Jesseca is a proud alumni of The Memphis Ambassadors Program. Jesseca first started working with youth in The Parks and Neighborhood’s Division of The City of Memphis. After that, she decided to transfer her talents to the YMCA, Bridges USA, AmeriCorp, and The Office of Youth Services. During her time at Bridges, USA, she was awarded The Bridges Alumni Award for the exceptional work she continues to do in the City of Memphis. Jesseca believes the only true way to give back to the City of Memphis is to become fully engrained in the culture and roots of the city itself.
Lead Youth Specialist
Raven Housley is currently enrolled at the University of Memphis and will be graduating FA 2017 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and minor in Chemistry. Raven has a passion for youth of all ages and has spent the last three years working at a Private Daycare in Cordova with pre-k and under. Upon graduation Raven will be studying and preparing to take the MCAT as she hopes to pursue a career as a Pediatrician.
"I AM INCLUDED" Coordinator/ Lead Youth Specialist
Moneice Cheeks graduated from Mississippi State University where she obtained a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and a minor in Business. She was born and raised in Memphis and she is currently a Lead Youth Specialist for the Office of Youth Service’s I Am Included Program. Moneice is also Assistant to Senior Projects.
8th Grade Apprentice Coordinator
Memphis native Nadia Givens is a recent graduate of the University Of Memphis where she received a bachelors in the Professional Studies of Human Health Services. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Arts Counseling program at Colorado Christian University, projected to receive her Masters in 2023. Nadia has a passion for Youth that extends far beyond the work she does for the Memphis Ambassadors Program. Her work with the city’s youth resonates in her dedication and commitment to the young leaders she works to encourage and inspire. She is also a Minister at her home church here in Memphis, which gives her another avenue to serve the upcoming generation of leaders in Memphis .
MAP Youth Specialist
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.
"I AM INCLUDED" Youth Specialist
Deontay, born and raised in Memphis, TN is a graduate of Ridgeway High School. He is currently a senior at the University of Memphis where he is seeking a degree in Business Management. As a youth specialist for the Memphis Ambassadors Program, and former ambassador himself, Deon looks to be an effective, yet positive mentor, elder brother, and safe haven for his ambassadors. His love for the city Memphis, its businesses, and its people drives him to be the best he can, so he can give nothing but the best back to the city.
MAP 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
MAP Youth Specialist
Joshua was born and raised in Memphis, TN. As a graduate of Memphis Central High School, he went on to Morehouse College to receive a degree in Music Composition in May of 2018. Joshua is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc., which is a fraternity based on advancing music in America and providing service to the community through music. As a youth specialist for the Memphis Ambassadors Program, Joshua looks to be a positive role model for the youth of Memphis and hopes to be as impactful to them as his mentors were to him. His love for Memphis and its people drives him to give back wherever and whenever he can through his music and his experiences. Joshua is the youth specialist for District 2, Hickory Hill.
MAP Youth Specialist
Sandi-Marie Sadler is a native Memphian and a proud graduate of Memphis Academy of Health Sciences. Sandi-Marie attended the historic Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas where she received her degree in Psychology. During her time at Philander Smith, Sandi-Marie was a part of the Psychology club, Spanish club, and the Panther Dolls Cheer/Dance Team where she served as the captain all four years. Sandi-Marie has a passion with helping the youth transition from childhood into adulthood while helping them seek their greater purpose and passion. She has worked with youth for six years through summer camps and specialized treatment programs. She believes that we may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can and we must prepare our children for the future.
MAP Youth Specialist
Adora Brownlee is a native Memphian and currently a student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary School where she is majoring in Christian Counseling. Adora loves giving back to the youth and families in her community. She enjoys doing things like working and volunteering with schools, community centers, and non-profit organizations. Adora is also a former Memphis Ambassador and is now serving as a Youth Specialist. Now a Youth Specialist for the program, Adora says that as a leader who is learning, you should never forget that no matter who you are or where you are, you are valuable. She is excited to be apart of the program in a different role and looks forward to where the program is taking the youth, their families, and The City of Memphis.
MAP Youth Specialist
Jonathan was born in raised in Memphis, TN. He is currently enrolled at the University of Memphis, where he will be pursuing a teaching degree. He became a Youth Specialist because he has a passion for working with the youth. Jonathan believes working with youth is quite challenging, yet rewarding; it provides are exposed to a variety of personalities, which all add to his life. Jonathan sees this as an opportunity for both the mentor and mentee gain something from the interaction. Impacting the lives of the youth in any way is what gets him up in the morning.
MAP Youth Specialist
Tabitha Branch is a high school alumna of Overton High Creative and Performing Arts School, where she was in CAPA piano. She was also an alumna of The University of Memphis. While there she obtained a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies. Tabitha’s passions consist of building trust and rapport with at-risk youth through a non-judgmental approach, patient demeanor, and compassionate interpersonal skills. She prides herself in striving to help youth become a better version of themselves everyday. Tabitha finds joy in giving back to God’s people. She is the founder of Gazelle Elise Foundation- where she and others gracefully give their oath to God to serve His people.
315 S. HOLLYWOOD STREET | MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE 38104 | PHONE: (901) 636-6264