The Key to a New Memphis: The New Memphis Institute

Posted on September 1, 2014


By Lees Romano

The New Memphis institute, an organization dedicated to developing the potential of leaders in the Memphis area, is making waves in the city. The roots of the New Memphis Institute originate from the Memphis Jobs Conference, which has revived Memphis’ economy and launched a new era of leadership. The New Memphis Institute continues to support the belief that the greatest catalyst for transformative change in any community is through strong, engaged leaders. The New Memphis Institute, determined to convince workers in the knowledge economy that all roads lead to Memphis, operates with a name that reflects both the mission and the scope of the challenge that confronts it.

The mission: for leaders to develop their personal potential so that Memphis itself reaches its full potential. Everything accomplished through this organization contributes to a purposeful mission, and the leadership that stems from New Memphis’ programs improves all features of Memphis.
The idea of a “new Memphis” speaks to how the group orients its programs and services toward improving the city’s future. The challenge that the organization faces, however, is the difficulty of ensuring the city’s future be retaining plenty of young, creative, and talented professionals who are attached, emotionally and physically, to Memphis. This objective requires getting such young leaders to Memphis and turning them into Memphians.

In order to create an understanding that a city’s potential depends partly on demographics, The New Memphis Institute has wisely chosen Nancy Coffee to spearhead the operation. The group is continually searching beyond the outer edge of its capacity, always making sure that the city searches for new ideas and opportunities.

One example of the organization’s attempts to strengthen Memphis in the area of young leadership is Embark, New Memphis’ newest initiative specifically designed to cultivate and keep a strong talent base of high-performing young adults (20-somethings) in Memphis. Embark includes six bi-monthly sessions with the goal of helping young professionals develop by learning skills like conflict negotiation and building professional relationships. Another fresh idea occurred when New Memphis teamed with CBRE Memphis to launch the first “M-Azing” Race,” a Memphis twist on “The Amazing Race.” Consisting of a high-energy foot race combined with a scavenger hunt through Downtown Memphis, participants began in the morning at the National Civil Rights Museum and ended around noon across from Central BBQ.

Other New Memphis programs include its Fellows initiative, a year-long engagement that provides up-and-coming leaders with what they need to “become change-agents, inclusive leaders, and city ambassadors.” The Leadership Development Intensive is a three-and-a-half day training experience put on by the Center for Creative Leadership. Using a variety of tools and experiential learning methods to empower leaders to better understand and use their strengths, hundreds of business executives and civic leaders have successfully completed this program. In its sixth year, the program “Memphis: The Summer Experience” exposes hundreds of college and graduate students to Memphis’ assets. The Summer Experience puts participants in the same circles as some of the city’s biggest corporate names. Because the years immediately following college are some of the most important for young adults, New Memphis and the business leaders dedicate their time to the summer events in order to help participants make life choices and set into motion long-term decisions.

The whole point of the New Memphis Institute? To have young people love Memphis enough to affect change. With their help, Memphis will certainly grow and thrive.

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