Building Momentum:
Five Local Change-Makers
You Should Know About

Building Momentum:

Five Local Change-Makers
You Should Know About

By Kevin Dean

Wformer President Gerald Ford first officially recognized February as Black History Month, he called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” In honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating leaders in the Memphis nonprofit sector who are making history themselves and are integral parts of the Memphis nonprofit sector. Take the time to honor and celebrate these local nonprofit leaders during Black History Month and beyond.


If you’re looking for an innovative leader, look no further than Torrey, executive director of For the Kingdom, Inc. This former college athlete has taken the faith-based organization, which provides a host of resources for underserved children at its camp and retreat center in Raleigh, to new heights in his four-year tenure. "Torrey has a great heart for the 38128 community and tries to meet the needs of all residents," says Becky Lloyd, a board member for the organization. Torrey has grown the organization financially, created a program that feeds thousands weekly, and built a free-standing marketplace out of sustainable products in the middle of a food desert. Torrey has led the organization in acquiring an agriculture company as part of his work to build a local sustainable food economy. The organization has also adopted 33 schools and bought an additional 24 acres to build a community that focuses on barrier-free housing for families with no address and young people aging out of foster care.


Hailing from the mountains of Appalachia, Tiffanie has always had an interest in community empowerment. After an accomplished 15+ year career advocating for opportunity and equity at organizations like Boys & Girls Club, Tiffanie now works at the Assisi Foundation of Memphis as their Program Officer. Not only does she shepherd organizations as they apply for millions of dollars of funding from the foundation each year, she also oversees several professional development opportunities for nonprofits provided by one of Memphis’ most well-known philanthropic organizations. Tiffanie sees herself as “a connector in all realms of life, as we are better together.” When asked why Tiffanie is an important part of the Assisi team, Assisi Executive Director Jan Young responded, “Tiffanie is a passionate social justice champion, has strong intuition, is forthright, and likes to have fun!” Tiffanie holds a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology and master’s degree in sociology from the University of Memphis.


When Nikki was tapped to replace the founder of A Step Ahead Foundation as Executive Director three years ago, she didn’t realize she’d be leading the organization through a pandemic! Despite the challenges she faced, Nikki has led the organization to new heights, driving scholarship upgrades and now a new Teen Talk program that will lead to major outreach to help young men and women be part of the conversation of preventing an unintended pregnancy. With 20 years of experience serving the Memphis grassroots community, Nikki is a passionate and purpose-driven leader who has the unique ability to listen to the community's needs while understanding the capacity of her clients and board as Nikki develops programs that provide care, information, and an opportunity to become more involved. In addition to leading the organization, which focuses on reproductive health, this native Memphian is very active in the community. Nikki is involved with several community organizations, including serving as a co-chair of the LeBonheur Nurse Family Partnership Advisory Board. She also serves on the Department of Children’s Services Advisory Board, the Appleseeds, Inc. Board of Directors, Arts Memphis Community Operating Support Grants Review Board, Shelby County Infant Mortality Review Team.


Before joining Literacy Mid-South as the new Executive Director, Sam was already a sought-after community partner and thought leader in the nonprofit sector. Sam served as the Senior Director of Equity & Partnerships for SchoolSeed Foundation, a public education foundation that functions as a community engagement and fund management intermediary with Shelby County Schools. In his role, Sam was a key leader in utilizing racial equity to challenge and change the way non-profits, local government, philanthropy, and public education think, talk, and write about Black men and boys in Memphis, TN. Since joining Literacy Mid-South in August of 2021, Sam has led Literacy Mid-South toward record-breaking success. The organization received a $4.5 million investment, the largest in its history, to develop a high dosage tutoring program across several elementary schools and serve more than 3000 students in 1st through 3rd grade. Literacy Mid-South has shared its book vending machine with several elementary schools and community partners. Sam’s proudest accomplishment, to date, is distributing more than 100,000 brand new, culturally responsive books to children, families, schools, and community partners within their fiscal year. You can see Sam as a featured presenter at the TEDx Memphis event on February 11.


Veronica has a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector, having worked with an impressive list of organizations. Prior to joining the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis as the Vice President of Donor Services, Veronica worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America as Director of Corporate Partnerships for its national office. She also has worked at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Lung Association, ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation. Today, she leads the Donor Services team where they create a space for donors to become philanthropists across generations by connecting them to what they care about most through responsible and flexible services. “Veronica has been an invaluable addition to our team. She brings a heart for our community, know-how, and determination to everything she does. We’re a better organization with her on board,” says Sutton Mora, VP, Chief Operating Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. In addition to her work at the foundation, Veronica is currently an active member of the Beta Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she served on the Educational Advancement Committee and volunteers on a multitude of other committees.

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