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Friday, July 12, 2024

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#ACCESS901: A seat at the table

TSD #Access901 columnist Joy Doss. (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)

We don’t have to tell anyone who reads this newspaper that Black Lives Matter. However, we want to be sure to emphasize that Black Leadership and Black Influence matters as well.

These four young professionals are well-placed and poised to make change in Memphis. They believe in the potential of our city and the power of our voices. There is a lot of chatter about refusal to change the guard and the disaffected nature of the next generations. However, these four young professionals are shifting paradigms and upending those arguments.

Erik Henneghan (Courtesy photo)

Name: Erik Henneghan

Organization/Title: Chair, Shelby County Mayor’s Young Professionals Council

Day job: Project Manager, Dufresne Spencer Group

What is your vision for Memphis? I want to see Memphis elevated to the platform it deserves. We have the culture, the hospitality, and the potential. We have to lean into our strengths to gain a competitive edge by comparison to other major cities. I want to see Memphis become THE place for the long-term – where young professionals are launching successful careers, starting families, engaged in the community, and ultimately retiring right here in Shelby County.

What does this responsibility mean to you?  Achieving a greater Memphis is a team effort. Young professionals have to be willing to claim our seat and have a voice at the decision-making table. That’s why I aspired to be a part of MYPC and why I am so passionate about giving back to the community. There’s a long legacy of trailblazers in Memphis, and the next generation has to be willing to step up, collaborate with each other, and be the ambassadors our city needs to drive progressive change.


Ashlee Hafford (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)

Name:  Ashlee Hafford

Organization/Title: President, Memphis Urban League Young Professionals

Day job: Senior Finance Manager, Baptist Memorial Healthcare

What is your vision for Memphis? From healthcare to hospitality, Memphis has emerged over the years and continues to evolve as a Southern Hub of innovation and culture. From the current healthcare crisis to the lack of hospitality seen in our community’s policing practices, we cannot continue to turn our heads to the reality of injustice and racial inequality in our city and expect to turn the key of progress forward.

Memphis is a city that offers a wide range of possibilities for those fortunate enough to tap into the right networks to benefit from such.  As President of Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, my goal is to identify and expand those networks, strategically target and energize our members to take advantage of the opportunities available here in Memphis, equip them with the tools & skills to continue to build upon and grow the realm of possibilities for others, and empower them to dig deeper and demand better for those areas where opportunity is more of a challenge than reality.

What does this responsibility mean to you? I recognize the great work happening within and through minority-led organizations throughout Memphis and it is my aim to partner with these other organizations to further advance the goal of empowering the Memphis community and changing lives on a much grander scale


Trevia Chatman (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)

Name: Trevia Chatman
Organization/Title: Chair, Keepers of 306
Day job: Senior Vice President – Market Manager for Bank of America

What is your vision for Memphis? My vision for Memphis is that we become a city that thrives in every community. Zip codes will no longer determine access to resources, quality education, and wealth. Our city’s nationally known statistics will move from high poverty rates to high net worth. We will be able to fully answer the question of Where do we go from here and become the city for other urban communities to emulate.

What does this responsibility mean to you? I carry this responsibility as a sprinter would carry a baton. Our forefathers ran a phenomenal leg in this race called freedom. The race is not won! I am dedicated to bring strength to those that are growing weary so that the collective impact can remove barriers. I am energized to collaborate more with change agents that work towards equity and inclusivity for all.

James Ramson (Courtesy photo)

Name: James Ramson

Organization/Title: Greater Memphis Chamber Young Professional Council (YPC)

Day job: First Horizon Bank / Treasury Services – Product Management

What is your vision for Memphis? Memphis is an ideal place to live not only for the cultural experience, but as a place where you can thrive as a professional and entrepreneur. When I think about the future of this city, there are four cornerstones that I believe are key to maintaining Memphis as an epicenter for growth and opportunity in the Mid-South: 1) the ability to attract and retain talent, 2) a strong framework to assist local businesses with driving economic progress and contributing to job opportunities with a livable wage, 3) providing development and educational youth programs that instill community values and progressive job skills, 4) integrating local communities through transportation networks, utilities and technology. It’s through these initiatives that I believe we can continue to make Memphis a great place to call home.

What does this responsibility mean to you? As the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chamber’s YPC organization, it’s a huge honor and responsibility to serve our community by providing opportunities for young professionals to network, drive change and acquire knowledge and skills to be leaders of the future. I hope that our contribution, big or small, will support the collective goal of making Memphis a great place to live, but more importantly, a place where you can thrive.


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