Young Memphis professional Mickell Lowery and photography assistant Donta' Mason chill before the shoot.
The June 2011 Issue of Memphis Crossroads Magazine
features a cover story about 10 Memphis professionals under the age of 40 who have made Memphis their home and are relentlessly pushing this city toward greatness. Behind-the-scenes, Jon Sparks sat down with the 10 honorees and discussed their passions, where they get their inspiration, and some of their favorite aspects of life in Memphis.
Young Memphians photography by Troy Glasgow. On Welcome page:
Ballet Memphis dancer Stephanie Mei Hom gets makeup prep from Gould’s Spa.
, the Chamber's quarterly economic development magazine, is available free at select locations throughout Memphis (including Schnuck's markets), via mail for Chamber members and at the Chamber's offices on the 2nd floor of the Falls Building, 22 N. Front Street.
"Memphis is in a really privileged position," he said. "For many years, we were a city that was predominantly black and white, and then suddenly there was this settlement of the Hispanic community. You didn't know what was going to happen, but it was embraced for the most part. That is the most encouraging thing that I have encountered in this job."
Mayor Brings People Together
One of those people he admires is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "I like what he has done with the atmosphere in City Hall and what comes out of that office," Mauricio said. "He brings everyone around the table."
A favorite place to go is Shelby Farms. "We have kids and we do a lot of kid stuff," he said. "One of our favorite places is Shelby Farms with so many family offerings. And it's not just the space, but the dynamic of it — the playground is like the United Nations."
Stephanie Mei Hom
Small company, big opportunity
Stephanie attended Houston Ballet Academy and then, doing what ballet dancers do, auditioned everywhere. "When you're in high school, you imagine being in a big company, but you don't think about smaller regional companies. And yet they have so many opportunities to offer — it's pretty wonderful!"
She likes hanging out at Molly Fontaine's, the Beauty Shop and Young Avenue Deli. Stephanie also enjoys going to the Trolley Stop Market and in fact finds it a source of inspiration.
"Husband and wife farmers Keith and Jill Forrester [of Trolley Stop Market] are revolutionizing the city in terms of making local food really accessible to people," Stephanie said. "That's important to me. I'm a big local food person and for green living. And they exemplify what I believe in my life, trying to live responsibly as I can for the planet. It's who I am as a a person and an artist."
Mickell K. Lowery
Mickell makes an Impact
Mickell is involved with MPACT Memphis. "I recently graduated with the executive class of Leadership Memphis, and that's part of my association with MPACT," he said. The 10-year-old nonprofit cultivates young people to promote the community and bring change to the city."
Everyone can be involved
"It's easy to get involved," Mickell said, who shows the rest of us by example. "I like the strong sense of community here. Memphis has opportunities to be involved, to bring change to the city. It's large enough to have many things to do but also small enough that everyone can be involved."
In his off time (which isn't much), Mickell says, "Midtown and Downtown are always great. I especially like going to the Majestic Grill or to Spindini's to watch a game and get a meal."
Myron Lowery is my Dad
Mickell's father is Myron Lowery, chairman of the Memphis City Council who also served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2009. "He's had a huge impact on my life," Mickell said. "I get my sense of having an impact on the community from the work he's done as a public official in the last 20 years. He's someone who embodies what it means to be involved in the city."
Pique & the Community
"We work with several organizations," she said, "including the Stand for Children community outreach initiative to increase involvement in public education, Freedom Preparatory Academy Charter School to help prepare students to excel at college and close the achievement gap, the Urban Child Institute on community outreach and marketing, and Common Ground to improve race relations."
She has poured her passion into her career. "I am about Civil Rights, public education and civic advocacy. All the projects I'm involved in — whether personal or professional — are for the greater good of the community. In the next five years, I want to be able to see change and progress."
Inspiration in Action
Her inspiration is people who take action. "They do something about the issues that are having a negative impact and negative perception of Memphis. Those who get up and make an effort to make change or progress inspire me most."
His Whole Life
He knew he wanted to be an engineer when he was young. "All those math and science classes put me in that direction," he said. "And the environment interested me."
It pays off for Logan every day, but one project he especially remembers is personal. "I grew up in Carruthersville, Mo. and in 2006 it got hit by a tornado. The house I grew up in was destroyed as was my old high school. We became a part of a project to get funding from FEMA for disaster relief and are putting the final touches now on a new $12 million high school facility in my hometown."
A Sense of Community
Logan finds his inspiration in the people he's involved with in his various projects, from small nonprofits to FedEx. "Now I'm involved in a project in Hickory Hill with the Power Center Community Development Corp. I've gotten to know Dr. Stacy L. Spencer, the senior pastor at New Direction Christian Church. They want to build a town center in Hickory Hill to be a community focal point for those folks to give Hickory Hill and sense of place and overturn the image that it has in some people's minds. They want to move toward a sense of community — a model more people should wrap their arms around."
Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell
Now, having immersed himself in the creative and business end of music recording, Boo is refining what he wants to do at Royal Studio. One thing is renovations to the almost 100-year-old building on South Lauderdale. But the main thing is to keep the legacy alive.
Big City, Small Town
What Boo loves about Memphis is that it has the character of a big city, but still feels like a small town. "It's a close-knit community, kind of like a family. When I go somewhere, my kids say, 'Daddy, you know everybody,' and I say, 'No, it's just Memphis.' It's a kinship that goes across all boundaries of age, race and financial status."
Boo Loves Sushi
When around town, Boo enjoys going to the Memphis Sounds and Blue Fin downtown, Sekisui Pacific Rim out east, and Rain Premier Sushi Bar & Bistro in Cordova. The music man loves his sushi.
Peter was on a team that developed a regional study for biomass-based economic development in the Mississippi Delta, and that meant working with 50 organizations in 98 counties in five states. Through his work, he's been developing a wide "farmer network" funded by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture that is being copied in other states.
He likes the outdoors
He likes to hang out inside and out. For music, he likes going to Minglewood Hall. And for hiking and other outdoor pursuits, it's Meeman Shelby Forest State Park and the new Greater Memphis Greenline.
His Inspiration, he said, is his dad, Dr. Richard Nelson, an ER doctor at LeBonheur Children's Hospital. "He's always inspired me to do the right thing, to care about the poor and not worry about money or Earthly success." Peter also admires Andy Jordan of the National Cotton Council, "who has been involved in agriculture his whole career and is similar to my Dad in terms of what we're about is to help people and not just help ourselves."
Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba
Jennifer’s Summer Plans
This summer, Dr. Sciubba says she's tracing youth movements worldwide to understand how they're connected and what they mean for democracy. "What's nice about this career is how you interact with students in class, which is a source of energy and fun for me, but also having quiet reflection to think, analyze and publish."
Why Rhodes College
And doing it at Rhodes is something that feels just right for her. "I knew I wanted to become a professor when I attended Agnes Scott College. It had really high caliber professors and students, so I pursued a PhD and looked to work at a place that reminded me of that, and Rhodes College is that place — an excellent college with excellent students, small and intimate, and in a city.
Her local inspiration is history professor Jeffrey Jackson who is director of the Environmental Studies Program at Rhodes College. "He is a great teacher and excellent writer and someone who has guided me."
Rachel has degrees from Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi. She has been in Memphis for two years and feels the city is full of promise.
Embracing Challenges, Investing in the Future
"I'd like to see us embrace and nurture it more. When I moved here I was aware of the negative attitude, but I went for it and was drawn to the city. I love the atmosphere and what we're doing here. With all the Grizzlies hype, I was thinking there's definitely a model to emulate. Invest in passionate, capable young people and let them go. That's what Emerge Memphis and Eric [Matthews] and we are all trying to do here, start something that really ignites and does something great for the city."
Rachel lives in Midtown and loves it, but has also embraced Downtown where StiQRd is located.
Inspiration in Growth
For inspiration, Rachel said, "I appreciate what Eric Mathews is doing with the community. He's the leader behind the Seed Hatchery. He believes in the tech community and is giving us that change. It's really exciting to see what we'll do and a huge thank you goes to Eric for getting that off the ground."
Matt’s First NBA Championship
He recalls that season the Spurs won and he was just getting started. "The rally was in the Alamodome. Now, I'm from a town with 500 people but there were 70,000 in the arena that day. After it was over, everyone had left the stage and my boss told me to grab one of the trophies and take it to the back where there was a party going on. So I'm holding this trophy and high-fiving — and that was my first year in the NBA."
I enjoy the people here in Memphis — and you see it in what we're doing now. The passion in this city is incredible, whether in basketball or music or entertainment or food. And my passions are basketball, family and friends.
Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins is an inspiration for me. This guy has been an NBA All-Star, an assistant coach, an interim head coach, but through the years has persevered and has guided the team to the most success the franchise has ever had. He got this collection of different personalities on this together to play and has inspired the city.