Weekly Update

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Eight years ago, our administration started what we call the Ovation Awards. It’s our chance to recognize those employees who work tirelessly to serve our community. This ceremony is special because it's where peers get the chance to honor peers.

It honors outstanding employees who continue to show exceptional customer service, leadership, teamwork, and other distinguished achievements. Awards are given in eight focus areas: accountability, collaboration, customer service, diversity, innovation, management excellence, team excellence, and mentor of the year.

Now, let's see the winners for this year’s 2023 Ovation Awards.  


Sgt. Joshua Stanley—Police Services

When the department sought an innovative way to combat crime, Sgt. Stanley updated the License Plate Reader program.  As a result, countless arrests and vehicle recoveries have been made, and tens of thousands of dollars in stolen property have been recovered. He also headed up the upgrades of over 750 "blue light" camera boxes around the city.  These upgrades were necessary for Memphis to remain a city that hosts millions of visitors annually.


Ebunoluwa Odeyemi—Housing and Community Development

Ebunoluwa Odeyemi employs community engagement strategies that ensure that constituents are informed, educated, and empowered and led the team in creating a workplan that resulted in a $400,000 grant. She collaborated with the Hyde Family Foundation and other philanthropic groups to leverage this community investment. Because of this, residents in Orange Mound will now have affordable housing for years to come.

Customer Service

Abudullah Ginem—Police Services

Officer Ginem received a call regarding an auto theft with a one-month-old baby inside a vehicle. Officer Ginem checked the tags, realized that it was the stolen vehicle, and immediately checked and located the baby in the rear passenger seat. Because Ginem located the child promptly, the situation resulted in a successful recovery.


Lynetra C. Ross—Human Resources

Lynetra has been instrumental in implementing nine Employee Resource Groups that reflect the demographics of our organization. For the first time ever, we have funding from our divisions that support diversity initiatives. Now, there are 200 employees who serve as members of our employee resource groups.


Jonathan Haley—Fire Services

Lt. Haley played an integral role in MFD being awarded over $36 million dollars, making way for funds to be allocated to other critical departmental needs. Lt. Haley created the Alastar dashboard that aided TDOT with real-time data, providing them with greater situational awareness of any incident happening along the interstate. The information from the platform is now used to expedite the TDOT response on the interstate, removing our responders from harm's way and clearing the roadway, leading to fewer secondary accidents.

Management Excellence

Kimberly Jordan-Fluker—Library Services

Kim Jordan-Fluker and her 2-1-1 team serve over 55,000 customers each year with care, compassion, and a determination to help those in need.  She teaches her staff how to treat customers with dignity and models this philosophy with everything she does. Her motto is “It’s about meeting people where they are”. Her servant leadership style has positioned LINC/2-1-1 as one of the premier agencies in the country with many other agencies asking her for advice. This work opens partnership opportunities and reflects positively on the City of Memphis.

Team Excellence

Cossitt Library—Brian Lyles, Blake McVey, Disante Johnson, Ariel Cobbert, Elizabeth Stevens, Merlynn Clemons, Justice Naczycz

The Cossitt Library team’s most outstanding achievement is successfully activating this new space immediately after reopening in April 2023. Cossitt goes beyond books to feature a performance space, café, AutoZone-funded collaborative workspace for programs and independent work, audio recording studio, photography and videography studio, and more.

Since reopening, the staff has hosted over 50 programs with over 2,000 participants. The programs offered are as diverse as the City of Memphis because the team listens to its customers, evaluates community needs, and delivers opportunities for the benefit of all Memphians.

Mentor of the Year

Jared Talbert—Fire Services

Lt. Jared Talbert sets the example by leading from the front and ensuring the standard is surpassed by all he works with. He offers a listening ear and provides guidance or advice, then will follow up with you to gauge progress, whether on duty or off. There is no task that he is not willing to do in support of the goal. He offers prompt and accurate feedback regarding any issue, and periodically follows up to ensure a positive trend. He will sacrifice personal time and money to benefit the morale of those who work with him.

Go here to watch this year’s ceremony.

To all of this year’s award winners and all City employees, I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. The last nearly eight years have been the honor of my professional life and getting the chance to work alongside each of you has been a true pleasure. You are all leaders in City government and in our community.  Keep up the good work. We need you. Memphis needs you.

To Chief Communications Officer, Allison Fouche and Chief Human Resources Officer, Fonda Fouche and both of their respective teams—thank you for all the hard work you put into this year’s event.

Sports Hall of Fame: Last week, several individuals were inducted into the Memphis Sports Hall of Fame.  I want to highlight two of them.

First, I don’t know how many Memphians have won a gold medal at the Olympics, but Sheila Echols-Gross is one!  She ran track at Melrose and Louisiana State University, where she was an All-American and NCAA champion.  She represented us in the Olympics in 1988 and 1992 and won the gold medal in Seoul, South Korea in the 4x100 meter relay.  She was also a gold medalist at the 1987 Pan American Games and was a World Cup champion in the 100 meters in 1989.

I was privileged to join in the celebration of her induction at halftime of a recent Melrose football game by giving her a key to the City.


Second, Allie Prescott’s contributions to the City’s sports scene are massive and decades-long in the making with the University of Memphis, college basketball, the Redbirds, and the Grizzlies.  


I have been honored to get to know Allie and his wife, Barbara, over the years.  Barbara was an effective member of the school board and was a leader in our collective efforts to get universal pre-kindergarten education several years ago. If there was a hall of fame for couples who have had remarkable impacts on our city, Allie and Barbara would be in the first class.

Enjoy your weekend!


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