Daphene R. McFerren
Daphene R. McFerren is the Director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social
Change at the University of Memphis. McFerren is a 1984 graduate of Yale College and
a 1989 graduate of Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the Hooks Institute, McFerren
practiced law in the Washington, DC area and was an attorney for the United States
Department of Justice and counsel to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno from
December 1999 to January 2001.
In 1995, McFerren was awarded a summer stipend grant from the National Endowment for
the Humanities (NEH). The NEH summer grant funded, in part, McFerren’s efforts to
collect primary source materials on the Fayette County, TN, civil rights movement.
She is the daughter of John and Viola McFerren, two leaders of that movement. The
collected materials were donated to the University of Memphis Libraries, Special Collections,
where they are now available to the public.
From June 2006 to May 2007, McFerren was a Visiting Scholar at the Hooks Institute
and was responsible for creating the symposium “The Fayette County, Tennessee, Civil Rights Movement: How African-Americans Changed
Themselves, Their Community, and Their Nation by Demanding the Right to Vote." In addition, McFerren worked with a team that included Robert Hamburger, Producer,
New Jersey City University faculty and students, and the University of Memphis, among
others, to produce the documentary titled Freedom’s Front Line: Fayette County, Tennessee. This documentary recounts how, beginning in 1959, African Americans struggled to
gain the right to vote in Fayette County and how their efforts evolved into a sustained
civil rights movement.
Esra Ozdenerol, Ph.D.
Esra Ozdenerol is the Associate Director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social
Change at the University of Memphis. She also serves as Associate Professor in the
Department of Earth Sciences and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Memphis in addition to her position
as Adjunct Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health
Science Center in Memphis, TN. Ozdenerol holds a degree in Geography from Louisiana
State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and has been with the University of Memphis since
2003, where she teaches GIS and its applications to health disparities.
In 2009, Ozdenerol was awarded a research grant to create a GIS-mapping website that
will disseminate information about pivotal civil rights events and their locations
in West Tennessee. The GIS-mapping website will have electronic visualizations, such
as animated maps, that allow exploration of recreated landscapes, hyperlinked stories,
photographs, and video interviews of those involves in the Civil Rights Movement.
Ardella M. Jeffries
Ardella Jeffries is the Administrative Associate of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute
for Social Change. Jeffries received a Bachelor of Professional Studies Degree with
a concentration in Health Services Administration from the University of Memphis in
2007. She also received an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Northwest Mississippi
Community College. Ardella was formerly an Administrative Assistant in the College
of Arts & Sciences at the University of Memphis in Memphis, TN.
Deborah Hester Harrison
Deborah Hester Harrison is the April 2014 Event Coordinator for the Hooks Institute
fundraiser, The Civil Rights Movement and its Influence on Music, Fashion, and Self Expression. (Check our website for updates on this event.) She holds a Bachelor of Business
Administration degree in Finance from the University of Memphis and has spent the
majority of her career as a National Bank Examiner in the banking industry. She has
also served as the President of Girls Incorporated Memphis, an organization that improves
the interpersonal skills of young girls through extracurricular programs and summer
camps. Deborah has worked on a variety of community projects, including the Urban
Youth Initiative, Seedco, and the Memphis Business Academy. She was recently recognized
as one of Memphis Woman Magazine’s “50 Women Who Make a Difference.”
Carla Peacher-Ryan is a shareholder in the Memphis law office of Baker, Donelson,
Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. As the Hooks Institute Corporate Fellow, Peacher-Ryan
will work with the staff over the next six months to build program infrastructure
and to better connect the Institute to non-profit, business and legal communities.
Peacher-Ryan has practiced law for 29 years in the areas of commercial finance and
real estate transactions. She has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in real
estate law, securitization and structured finance law and banking and commercial finance
law since 2007. She was named the 2013 Best Lawyer - Memphis Securitization and Structured
Finance Law and 2012 Memphis Real Estate Law “Lawyer of the Year.”
A 2010 graduate of Leadership Memphis, Peacher-Ryan is committed to community engagement.
She is chair of the Hooks Institute’s Local Advisory Board. She also is on the board
of directors of the Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corp. and serves as legal
counsel to the Rise Foundation, Community L.I.F.T. and River City Capital Corp.
Felecia Malone began working as a Graduate Assistant with the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute
for Social Change in August 2012. She will be a candidate for a Master of Public Health
Degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Memphis in 2014.
She also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from Clark Atlanta
James Conway began working as a Graduate Assistant with the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute
for Social Change in July 2013. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in History with
a concentration in the U.S. and the Civil Rights Movement. James plans to complete
a PhD in History in 2014. He also holds a Master of Arts in History from the University
of Memphis and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas.
Cem Akkus is a Research Assistant at the Department of Earth Sciences. He received
a Bachelor of Mapping Engineering from Karadeniz Technical University in Trabzon,
Turkey and Master's degree of Mapping Engineering with a concentration in Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. He
also holds a GIS Certificate from University of Memphis. He is a PhD candidate in
the Department of Earth Sciences, at the University of Memphis. Cem is a coordinator
of the Hooks GIS mapping website for the Civil Rights Movement.
Eugene Tee is a Graduate Assistant with the School of Accountancy. He is assisting
the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute with accounting and financial statements for 10 hours
a week starting February 2013. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Accounting
and CPA certification. Eugene is a MSc candidate in 2014. He received a Bachelor of
Science degree in Chemistry and Biology from Campbell University.