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Ken Moody makes move from city government to the U of M

Ken Moody’s 20-year tenure in Memphis city government ends Friday (March 3) as he exits City Hall to take on a new role at the University of Memphis.

Moody, special assistant to Mayor Jim Strickland for most of the last eight years, is set to become director of Local Relations and Partnerships at the U of M.

“When you consider the history, that there was a time when Black students weren’t even allowed to attend and then look at what’s happening today, I believe it is a significant moment,” Moody said.

Moody said the fact that he was a U o M athlete, who will become “one of the faces of the university” is remarkable.

“No other athlete has returned to play the kind of role I will be playing, and U of M is putting its commitment to diversity on the front line,” said Moody. “I have learned so many lessons, working in city government. So many challenges have caused me to grow and learn — even my run for county mayor.”

(Moody unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris in the May 2022 Democratic primary election for county mayor. Harris was re-elected in the August 2022 county general election.)

Strickland received Moody’s letter of resignation 10 months before his tenure as mayor ends. A statement from Strickland’s office called Moody a “long-time public servant who has made “significant contributions during his tenure and helped transform many lives” in Memphis.

“Ken has been an invaluable member of our senior leadership team,” Strickland said. “…By creating and operating our second chance and opportunity youth programs, he has assisted many people with turning their lives around…He has become a close friend, and I am happy that he will devote the next chapter in his life to our mutual beloved alma mater.”

Moody said his work in city government has revealed some important truths about what our city needs to keep moving forward.

“There are two things that people in Memphis need to lift them out of poverty — a strong faith in God and a good quality education,” said Moody.

He continued, “There are the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ There is a wide chasm, but really, we all want the same things for our children — to live in communities where we feel safe, and a good education. We are not really all that different. Racially, and socio-economically, we must keep working toward being one Memphis.”

Moody was director of public services and neighborhoods for Dr. Willie W. Herenton, who became the city’s longest-serving mayor and first African American elected to the office in 1991.

Moody, a Carver High School graduate, was vocal about his faith throughout his tenure and credits the hard work of his mother for teaching him valuable life lessons through her example. She raised 11 children as a single mother, Moody said.

Moody’s career in city government was good. He leaves with no regrets. He feels fully prepared to take on the challenges of his new post.

“It was good, all of it, even my run for county mayor,” said Moody. “I felt that the incumbent administration was inaccessible, unresponsive, and unaccountable. I believe that challenging the county mayor on those points caused his administration to improve on serving better in those areas.”

Moody begins his new job on Mar. 6.

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