Board and Staff

CTC is led by a team of diverse, passionate individuals committed to the work of transforming communities. On this page, meet the members of our Board of Directors and the people who manage our day-to-day operations.



Cynthia Bradford, Baptist Memorial Health Care
Lesley Brown, Memphis Education Fund
Chip Clay, Binghampton Community Land Trust
Kenny Latta, University of Memphis

Joni Laney, Binghampton Shalom Zone
Eureka Pickett, South Memphis Shalom Zone
Dominique Primer, Junior Achievement
Linda Steele, ArtUp
Greg Thompson, Clayborn Temple


Adam Nelson

Operations and Finance Manager

Adam was raised in Memphis and returned here after graduating from the University of Chicago with a BA in Public Policy in 2008. After stints in youth ministry and early childhood music education, Adam served a year with the Episcopal Service Corps. There, he discovered his passion for social justice and shifted into nonprofit organizing. Most recently, he administrated a program for people dealing with homelessness in the Medical District of Memphis, where he lived in community with formerly homeless people for two years. He came to CTC in 2018 to cultivate equitable systems in Memphis neighborhoods.



Alejandro Paredes

Communications and Marketing Manager

Alejandro has a degree in Audiovisual Journalism from the Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela, his hometown. Since coming to Memphis in 2014, he has been linked to social and enviromental causes in the non-profit sector. Currently he also serves as Board Chair for Advocates for Immigrant Rights, a non-profit legal firm. He is also the Technical Director of Cazateatro, the only bilingual theater group in the Mid-South and writes about Latinx-owned restaurants in Memphis for Edible Memphis. He also performs Latin music as a solo artist under the stage name, Alex Walls, which is the translation of his real name.



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Brooke Sarden

Director of Operations and Culture

Brooke Sarden was raised and has lived most of her life in Memphis. Her early career in nonprofit management at Memphis Area Legal Services, Memphis Fair Housing Center, and Mid-South Peace and Justice Center sharpened her focus on the realities of systemic racism and poverty in the City. For the past decade, she has drawn upon her creative skills as a writer, visual artist, theatre practitioner, facilitator, and youth mentor to address those critical challenges, employing arts and culture as tools for accelerating personal empowerment and creating social change. Her blended practice has been shaped by extensive work with the Racism to Reconciliation community at the Memphis School of Servant Leadership and Hattiloo Theatre. She was selected for the 2016 ArtsMemphis Fellows Program, (now “ArtUP”) where she studied arts-based equity programs in underserved communities of Memphis, Chicago, and Boston; the 2018-2019 Theatre of the Oppressed Distance Mentorship sponsored by the Mandala Center for Change in Port Townsend, Washington; and The Orpheum Theatre Group’s inaugural Teaching Artist Training Program in 2019. She came to CTC in 2020 as Youth Director and manager of the organization’s cultural organizing wing, via the Creative Underground. 


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Chase Madkins

Tennants' Rights Connector



Donzahelia Johnson

Neighborhood Connector, Whitehaven



Frank W. Johnson

Neighborhood Connector, South Memphis

Frank W. Johnson. currently serves South Memphis as a Neighborhood Connector within the Center for Transforming Communities network. A native of South Memphis, Frank is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a BA in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations. He also holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. Frank has worked in the areas of Environmental Justice and was a 2019 Candidate for Memphis City Council. Frank has worked as a classroom teacher for Shelby County Schools, Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and is currently the President of the Alcy-Ball Neighborhood Association. Frank has served as a grassroots committee member and primary board for the Shelby County Democratic Party and organizer for 2017 Karl Dean for Tennessee Governor campaign. He is also one of the newest members of Leaders of Colors. Frank has worked in entertainment, banking, education, several arts-based non-profits, and as a professional actor/singer. He hopes to leverage these experiences to serve the CTC mission and generate new narratives for South Memphis, Tn.




Harry T. Cash, III

Mananging Field Director

Harry T. Cash III is the Network Director for the Center for Transforming Communities. Since graduating from the University of Memphis with a BA in Business Administration in May 2000, he has worked in local/state governments, local/national nonprofits, and for-profit organizations focused on education, politics, entertainment, consumerism and community engagement. Previously, he has been recognized nationally by General Mills for a Community Hero Award and locally by the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals as an Agent of Change Educator of the Year. Formerly, he was the host of K97’s OnPoint radio show. He volunteers with service projects like “Room At The Inn”, and spends his spare time sharing memorable moments with people he loves, reading, playing sports, cooking, enjoying cultural events, and practicing yoga. 


He lives his life by his personal mission statement, “I am a spiritual being who seeks to be present in life’s moments, so I can be open to finding mutually beneficial opportunities to share love through thoughtful words and actions with others.”




Johnnie Hatten

Neighborhood Connector, North Memphis

Johnnie Hatten is a current resident of Hollywood and has worked tirelessly in the community and implemented several projects to benefit the residents of North Memphis. She moved from Hattiesburg, MS to North Memphis and has served her community as a social worker in the public school systems, mental healthcare centers, and other well- known nonprofit organizations. Her broad and extensive leadership skills were granted by successful completing Leadership Memphis (2010), Nexus Leadership Program (2011), Memphis Junior LEAD (2011), City of Memphis Community Leadership (2015), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (2017), Momentum Nonprofit Partners-Executive Directors Boot Camp (2019), and New City Builders Cohort (2019).


Johnnie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Frayser Community Development Corporation and Raleigh Community Council. In addition to working with CTC, Johnnie also runs a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that focuses on providing career advancement opportunities and supportive services to families impacted by domestic violence, known as Restoration Time Family and Youth Services, Inc. 


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Jordan Dodson

Medical District Connector



Justin Merrick

Executive Director

Justin Merrick is no stranger to Memphis. Formerly the Artistic and Operations Director of Stax Music Academy, where he received a Grammy nomination for his work in cultivating the voice of his students, Justin now cultivates authentic voice across our city.  Artist, visionary, servant, and educator, Merrick unlocks the power of civic engagement and ethical storytelling throughout Shelby County to spur equitable practices, economic development, and thriving neighborhood democracies. He crafts an approach based on the conviction that systemic evolution and transitional justice must be informed by personal transformation.  Accolades include featured articles in Ebony and Forbes magazines and most recently Memphis Flyer's top 20 under 30.  Merrick earned his Masters in Opera and Nonprofit management from Indiana University and his Bachelors of Arts from his home by the sea, Hampton University.




Kate Kananura

Special Projects Manager

Kate was born and raised in Uganda and moved to the U.S. in 2007. She attended Union University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership in 2010, then joined University of Memphis to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Administration. While in graduate school, Kate got opportunities to work with city government and nonprofit agencies that are leading community development efforts in Memphis. After completing her degree in 2014, she worked for the US Census Bureau focusing on Housing and Urban Development projects. 


Her passion for community building led her to join the CTC team in 2016.



Kathy Yancey-Temple

Neighborhood Connector, North Memphis

Kathy Yancey Temple comes to the CTC family with over 25 years of experience in community organizing and social services. Born in Memphis and raised in Memphis and Los Angeles, Kathy started her career in Los Angeles as a Community Social Worker with the City of Los Angeles in the early 90s which led her deeper into the world of community activism. After returning home to Memphis in 1999, Kathy settled in her old neighborhood, Douglass, and now works as a Community Connector in the Douglass, Bungalow, Crump & Nutbush areas of North Memphis.


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Kayla Smith

Neighborhood Connector, Orange Mound



Lexus Phillips

Cultural Programs Fellow

Lexus Phillips is a teaching artist and cultural organizer born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Her passion is strategizing how individuals and communities can maximize the powerful relationships between creativity, culture, and healing. As a teaching artist, she is currently a youth coach for LiveSeed Inc., a local organization that supports young poets creating and competing at a national level. As a cultural organizer, she has facilitated workshops at the local and national level on somatic healing through the arts, and poetry as a tool for social reimagining.

Academically, Lexus focuses on the ways communities can name, navigate, and liberate themselves from oppressive social systems that impact their personal and social wellbeing. With a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Women’s Studies from Spelman College, she seeks to understand where the corrupt use of power currently is and clarify what must take place for the equitable redistribution of that power to occur. As a Connector Fellow with CTC, she is supporting local 2020 Census campaign efforts through the summer and will be offering additional support to community resilience hubs through the fall.


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Shahidah Jones

Organizing Director


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Sumi Montgomery

Data and Development Coordinator

Sumi has lived in Memphis most of her life and is the Data and Development Coordinator for CTC. She has a commitment to helping people and the idea of equitable prosperity. During her time at Rhodes College, she was a fellow for Crossroads to Freedom, a fellowship which began her relationship with CTC and subsequent passion for asset-based community development (ABCD). Sumi served on CTC’s board while in school, and CTC offered her a job after completing her degree. While at CTC, she learned more about ABCD and realized that the next step would be to further her education. In May of 2020, Sumi graduated from the University of Memphis with a Masters in Applied Anthropology with a focus on community development. Her graduate research examined the policy around how neighborhood-based community development organizations such as CTC find entry points and access resources within the community development ecosystem in Memphis.                                 


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Zyanya Cruz

Neighborhood Connector, North Memphis