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Local and National Advisory Boards

The National and Local Advisory Boards were in May 2009 to assist the University of Memphis and the Hooks Institute in the strategic development of the Hooks Institute's mission and to promote the work of the Hooks Institute throughout various communities. The National and Local Advisory Boards are composed of accomplished individuals including, attorneys, corporate officials, the clergy, civil rights, and community activists. Members of this board are as follows:

Hooks Institute Advisory Board Officers

Logan Meeks

Logan Meeks is a Partner and Vice President of Operations at A2H, Inc. – the leading Architectural, Engineering, and Planning firm in the Mid-South region and serves on the Executive Committee of the firm as a Partner.

In addition to his service on the Hooks Institute Board of Advisors, Meeks serves as a board member for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, is a member of the Community Foundation of Memphis and the University Club of Memphis. Meeks is also active on several technical engineering boards for local and state organizations.



Vice Chair

Jonathan Watkins, MPA, FACHE is the Interim Chief Executive Officer at Methodist North Hospital in Memphis.  Watkins is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and member of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence Board of Examiners. He holds bachelors and masters degrees from Tennessee State University. Watkins is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and is the President of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Health Service Executives (NAHSE).



Cortney Richardson

Minister Cortney Richardson is an associate minister at St. Paul Baptist Church where he serves as coordinator of collegiate ministry.  He served in such organizations as The U of M Black Student Association, NAACP, Empowered Men of Color (President) and the Student Government Association.  Richardson is employed with The Peer Power Foundation-a private tutoring/mentoring program. He serves as community liaison, hiring coordinator, and spokesperson. He owns London’s Event Planning & Decorating Company.



Hooks Institute Board Members


ekundayo bandele

Ekundayo Bandele is the Executive Director of Hattiloo Theater, Memphis’ black repertory theater company. In addition to serving on the board of The Hooks Institute, he serves on the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. For his contributions to Memphis, he has received visionary awards from the Center City Commission, the United Way of the Mid-south, J.U.G.S, and Impact Memphis, and he has also received a Congressional Certificate of Honor. Memphis Business Quarterly named him a "Power Player" (2010), and in 2008 he was voted one of "12 Who Made a Difference" by The Commercial Appeal.


Dorothy Cleaves

Dorothy Cleaves, First Vice President and Relationship Manager in Private Banking at Paragon National Bank, has more than 25 years of experience in the financial industry.   Prior to joining Paragon, Dorothy worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Dorothy is a 1975 graduate of Leadership Memphis.   In addition to the Hooks Institute Board, she serves on the boards of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, The Crescent Club, and is a Commissioner for Agricenter International.




Michael Flody

Michael Floyd is an attorney practicing in Memphis. He is a member of Avery Chapel A.M.E. Church, a member of Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity, the Memphis Bar Association, Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, Memphis NAACP, Fayette County NAACP, Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, King Frederick Consistory#38, United Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, George W. Lee, I.B.P.O.E.W., and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Attorney Floyd has also served as Grand Attorney for The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee, is currently the Assistant Grand Attorney MWPHGL, was a Charter member and Junior Warden of Benjamin L. Hooks Lodge#229 and is the current Worshipful Master of Mt.Pisgah Lodge#180.




Aashigh Gahlaut



Aashish Gahlaut has been with FedEx 17 years, about as long as he has been in Memphis.  He grew up in India, and came to the US for graduate studies.  He earned his Masters from the University of Alabama before joining FedEx.  He is passionate about making Memphis a better place each day.



Terry Murphy

Terri Murphy works with Red Rover Sales & Marketing. With a background in television and radio, and as a published author of over six books, Murphy has mastered the need to connect with people to help them achieve their best outcomes.  In addition to the Hooks Institute Board, she serves on the St. Jude ALSAC – Memphis Board.



Anthony Norris Anthony Norris is the President and CEO of Worldwide Label and Packaging and is heavily involved with youth swimming programs, both through Memphis Tigers Swimming and Splash Mid-south. Norris has been instrumental in connecting the Hooks Institute, the University of Memphis and the swimming community in advancing the cause of increasing minority participation in swimming.
Cardell Orrin
Vice Chair
Nov. 2011 to Jan. 2014
Cardell Orrin is a principal in Linx Consulting, and a founding Board member of the Hooks Institute.  He is also a founding Board member and current Board Chair of Hattiloo Theater and is heavily involved in local politics.
Carla Peacher-Ryan
Past Immediate Board Chair.
Nov. 2011 to Jan. 2014

Carla Peacher-Ryan is a shareholder in the law office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.   She is the past immediate chair of the Hooks Institute’s Local Advisory Board.  She also serves on the Board of the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. and as legal counsel to the Rise Foundation, Community L.I.F.T. Corp. and River City Capital Corp. As the current Hooks Institute Corporate Fellow, Peacher-Ryan works with the staff to build program infrastructure and to better connect the Institute to non-profit, business, and legal communities.


Stansbury Mark L. Stansbury is a radio personality at WDIA, Memphis’s historic black radio station, and is retired from the University of Memphis where he served as Assistant to the President. Stansbury is a founding member of the Hooks Advisory Board and one of the founders of Diversity Memphis.
Strickland Herman Strickland is a Senior Vice President at First Tennessee Bank, where he has worked since June, 1981. He is the creator and Manager of First Tennessee Bank’s Mid-South Diversity Banking Group, a new initiative focused on providing financial services to the area’s minority community. Strickland has served or is currently serving on the board of alt.Consulting, The Rise Foundation, The Urban League, and River City Capital Corp.
 Brent Hooks

Brent Hooks, a cousin of Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, is a recent University of Memphis graduate, currently working as an Accountant/ Assistant Project Manager with AllWorld Project Management LLC.   Mr. Hooks has also been involved working with Memphis Athletic Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, North Rampart Community Center, New Orleans, LA, Bridges USA and All Children Can Learn in Holly Springs, MS.

 Mike Lauderdale

Mike Lauderdale is the Vice President of Customer Technologies at FedEx Services.  He is involved in strategy planning, FIS Leadership Development, Strategic Messaging, Stakeholder Perceptions, Benchmarking and External Research, and has been with FedEx for 25 years.

Edward Harper

Edward C-W Harper IV is a Sr. Associate Portfolio Manager at Diversified Trust Company’s Memphis Office.  Prior to joining Diversified Trust, Edward attained his MBA and spent several years working in various investment banking, corporate finance and portfolio management roles for Wachovia Securities and Bank of America.   Edward is a 2014 graduate of the New Memphis Fellows Program.


Jennifer Little John is the Tennessee State Director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options
—an education advocacy organization. In this role, Jennifer serves as a Family and Community
Organizer and a Logistics Coordinator, where she sets the organizational strategy for the State of Tennessee. Jennifer lends her expertise to nonprofits in the areas of communications, marketing, and community engagement. Jennifer is a graduate of Tennessee State University, a 2006 New Memphis Institute Fellow, a 2010 graduate of the Leadership Memphis Executive Program, and a past Memphis City Beautiful Commissioner.

Dorian Spears

Dorian Spears currently serves as a Project Manager in Neighborhood Economic Vitality for Mayor Wharton's Innovation Delivery Team. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Christian Brothers University. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Memphis Grassroots Program and The New Memphis Institute Fellows Program. Dorian currently is a member of Give 365, a board member of the Center for Transforming Communities and The Live.Seed. She has also served as a Marshall Memorial Fellowship Host, Gandhi King Conference Steering Committee Member, and member of the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals. 


 Former Board Chairs
No longer serving on advisory board

Patricia Hooks Gray Patricia Hooks Gray, a Hamilton High School graduate, completed her undergraduate degree from Fisk University in Nashville, TN and her graduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The daughter of Dr. Hooks and his wife Francis, her goal for the Institute is to continue, through service, the vision of the late Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks to promote civil rights and social change, which are vital for a successful society.
Nov. 2008 to Sept. 2011
Odell Horton, Jr. was the founding Board Chair of the Hooks Institute Advisory Board.  He practices law with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs. Horton serves on numerous boards, including the Pink Palace Family of Museums, Board of Trustees, Immediate Past President and Former Vice President and General Counsel, the Memphis Urban League, the Downtown Parking Authority, the Economic Club of Memphis, and the Memphis Chamber of Commerce.
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The Hooks Institute for Social Change | 107 Scates Hall | The University of Memphis | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-3974 | Fax: 901-678-0177 | Email: | A-Z Site List
Last Updated: 12/5/14