Published Articles

Published articles that I have written. 

Saks' first diversity/inclusion VP is a Memphis original

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue has named Memphian Lori Spicer Robertson as its first vice president of diversity and inclusion. Robertson will be responsible for creating and leading strategic initiatives that foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion. Robertson plans to spend time listening to employees, customers and partners before taking on the task of creating a strategy that aligns with the overall business goals and an action plan. The mainstream fashion industry has been w

Alice Marie Johnson focused on the ‘forgotten’ after presidential pardon

Former Memphis resident Alice Marie Johnson said she was “overwhelmed” by President Donald Trump granting her a full pardon. “It was a great burden lifted off my shoulders,” said Johnson during an interview via email with The New Tri-State Defender about the pardon granted on Aug. 28. “It reminded me that we have a lot of work to do for people who have paid their debt to society. Many people who have served their time are not fully free. “This is why we need to do more work on probation and p

Local push on to make Memphis area count in the Census

With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, local officials are making an all-out push to get as many households as possible to complete 2020 Census forms. The City of Memphis has jumped into the effort big time to make sure communities of color, which traditionally have been undercounted, are accounted for as accurately as possible. The Census Bureau also is aiding in the effort by having Census takers visit homes that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. For a city, whose African-American popul

Lifestyle pharmacist teaches women how to be fit, fabulous & fulfilled

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that there are major healthcare disparities among minorities and that African Americans have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, which has caused growing cases in the community. According to Jeffrey Sterling, MD, MPH, FACEP, there are several interesting reasons for overrepresentation of COVID-19 in African Americans including: Fortunately, there are African American healthcare professionals who are striving to educate our community abo

Akbari rises up, again, at 2020 Democratic Convention

From former first lady Michelle Obama’s compelling speech to the heartwarming stories from everyday people, the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) has been a trending topic on social media this week. The DNC, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years by the United States Democratic Party and administered by the Democratic National Committee. During the DNC, the committee and the Party officially nominat

Harris as VP choice rings like a winner for many

Local elected Democratic officials weighed in on presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s choice of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) as his running mate, expressing excitement at the choice and expectation that she can help carry the party to victory in November. Biden made the announcement Tuesday (Aug. 11) and the two appeared together as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the first time Wednesday (Aug. 12). He earlier had promised to name a woman as his

Black male entrepreneurs are making moves in Memphis

According to , being “ready to be my own boss” was the primary reason African-American survey respondents started their businesses (thirty-four percent ) followed by a “desire to pursue my own passion” (twenty-nine percent). These black male entrepreneurs are certainly pursuing their passions while being their own bosses: Anthony Latiker, Sr., owner of Slice of Soul Pizza Lounge, and Dwayne Chaffen and Rick Askew, owners of Memphis Grindhouse Coffee. After driving trucks for over 15 years, Memp

Starting and managing a nonprofit organization during a pandemic

Starting and managing a nonprofit organization can be a challenge. Imagine doing all of this during a pandemic when donors are not in a position to provide financial resources. According to Memphis has over 13,000 However, for smaller, grassroots organizations and startups, it can be difficult to go through the process of attaining, maintaining a 501(c)3 status along with fundraising and compliance. Myron Mays, founder of, has the expertise and the passion to help nonprofit organ

COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the event planning industry: cancel, postpone, or virtual

The event planning season was set to begin in May with memorable experiences like weddings, graduations, concerts and music festivals. But, due to COVID-19 many event planners are having to find new ways to engage audiences with new options for event experiences. Two notable event planning and coordinating companies, Cynthia Daniels & Co. and LEO Events have great reputations for planning notable and memorable events. They both share how they are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19

Communication Is Key: The Importance of Black Communications Professionals During a Crisis – Black Millennials 4 Flint

As the saying goes, “when you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” especially in times of uncertainty. As a communications professional, it is important for me to always be prepared in the event of a crisis and to help my clients effectively communicate to their audiences. In a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic where African Americans are disproportionately affected according to the CDC, it is significantly important to have a black communications professional [or someone who kno

Credit counseling for emerging & enterprising entrepreneurs

Cash may be king, but credit also plays a major role in your finances especially when you are an emerging or enterprising entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurs still have to live their lives and having a bad credit score can impact your personal life and your business,” said Molly Polatty, program manager for, Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center. The Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center (GMFEC) is a grant-funded Shelby County Trustee program and a partnership with the RISE Foundation.

Entrepreneurial events to attend during Black History Month

New and existing entrepreneurs should always be learning and networking to achieve and meet sales goals. In recognition of Black History month, we want to highlight the following education and networking opportunities in Memphis. Black History is the perfect month to generate black dollars and below are a few events that are focused on entrepreneurship during Black History Month: After this workshop, you will know the differences between conventional bank loans and SBA loans and have a better

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: 100 Years in the Making

Opened to the public as the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery on May 26, 1916, the Brooks Museum of Art celebrates 100 years. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Brooks Museum houses the oldest and largest collection of world art in Tennessee and is among the largest museums of its kind in the country. This is a major accomplishment for a museum in the South considering the fact that there are plenty of notable museums in the northern, western, and eastern regions of the United States. Today, the Muse

Press Releases

Press releases about projects and initiatives that I were involved in. 

Media Placements

Published stories and interviews I have pitched to the media. 

Shelby County launches alert system to ‘keep our residents safe,’ officials say

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — You may receive an alert on your smartphone when there is a major emergency in Shelby County. From severe weather to mass shootings, this new mass communication system will notify you to stay aware and cautious of your surroundings. The new alert system is called IPAWS. It stands for Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and was developed by FEMA in 2006. The Shelby County government made the announcement about the launch Tuesday at Shelby County EMA headquarters.

Shelby County unveils countywide text alert system

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Emergency Management and Homeland Security unveiled a countywide text alert system Tuesday morning, one that leaders feel can increase residents’ safety in times of crisis. “Notices like ‘shelter in place’, notices like ‘dangerous person’, notices like ‘all clear’ have the potential to save lives,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a product of FEMA that was launched in 2006. Director of Shelby C

Shelby County launches new alert system with FEMA partnership

On Tuesday, Shelby County leaders announced the launch of the county’s new Integrated Public Alert Warning System, also known as IPAWS. Example video title will go here for this video SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A new partnership between Shelby County leaders and FEMA is hoping to help people react the correct way in the case of an emergency. “We want to make sure that we have every avenue available to make sure our citizens are safe as possible,” said Brenda Jones, Director of Emergency Managemen

Shelby County to partner with FEMA for new emergency notification system

Shelby County to partner with FEMA for new emergency notification system Shelby County residents will soon have access to a county-wide system that will provide alerts when emergencies strike the area. The system, announced Tuesday, is a partnership between The Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA. Notifications will go out to residents during various major emergencies through FEMA's nation-wide system, the Integr

‘Three G’s’ battle is over: MSCS, Germantown school boards back settlement

The decade-old dispute between Memphis-Shelby County Schools and the Germantown Municipal School District ended Thursday as the two districts’ school boards signed off on a deal that allows Germantown to take over two schools currently operated by MSCS. The resolution, spurred by a new state law, means that thousands of MSCS students who attend the Germantown Elementary, Middle and High schools — known collectively as the “three G’s” — will be able to remain in those schools as the buildings be

Walter L. Bailey Jr. portrait for 201 Poplar unveiled at National Civil Rights Museum

It was an “extraordinary” affair. And that’s straight from the center of attention – civil rights advocate and former Shelby County commissioner Walter L. Bailey Jr. as he watched the unveiling of his portrait Tuesday (Dec. 13) during a ceremony at the National Civil Rights Museum. “I thought the whole occasion was just extraordinary,” Bailey said. “So many came out to see this unveiling of my portrait … and I was happy to share the moment with so many. And the portrait – extraordinary.” The

Shelby County Commission approves pact to transfer ‘three G’ schools to Germantown

The Shelby County Commission Wednesday moved closer to resolving a decade-old dispute over control of three schools in Germantown, approving a deal that would, among other things, provide funding for a new high school in Cordova. But their vote wasn’t a slam dunk. Five commissioners voted against the pact, some of them citing the cost to county taxpayers, and others objecting to the state law that put the future of the Germantown schools and their students in limbo. The proposed settlement was

Shelby County Commission approves agreement for 3G schools plan

The Shelby County Commission voted to ratify the deal – with eight members voting for and five against. MSCS & Germantown Municipal vote Thursday. Example video title will go here for this video MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A deal that would resolve the years-long dispute over the future of Germantown’s three namesake schools has cleared another hurdle. The Shelby County Commission voted to ratify the deal – with eight members voting for and five against. The deal involves investing more than $70-millio

Settlement in Germantown school dispute clears first hurdle with city vote

City leaders in Germantown unanimously backed an agreement Monday that would allow its municipal school district to take over two schools currently operated by Memphis-Shelby County Schools, the first in a series of votes needed to settle a long-running dispute between the two districts. If the Shelby County Commission votes for the deal Wednesday, and MSCS and the Germantown Municipal School District sign off on it Thursday, Germantown would pay MSCS $5 million for Germantown Elementary and Mi

Shelby County Commission pledges $77M toward new school in Germantown schools agreement

Shelby County Commission pledges $77M toward new school in Germantown schools agreement The Memphis-Shelby County School System will receive $77.5 million from the county to fund a Cordova-area replacement for Germantown High School, county commissioners decided Wednesday in a split vote supporting an agreement transferring three Germantown school buildings out of the district. But questions remained as to where the county money will be found — and whether the municipal school districts will r

Portrait unveiling ceremony held for Civil Rights icon

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday, December 13, Mayor Lee Harris and other Shelby County officials held a portrait unveiling for longtime Commissioner and Civil Rights icon, Walter Bailey, Jr. , at the National Civil Rights Museum. His portrait was painted by Memphis native, Carl Hess, who has also painted portraits of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and a 14-portrait series for Tyler Perry.

Everyone 'made whole' by 3G deal, say county, Germantown mayors

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‘Three G’s’ pact with Germantown would give MSCS $72.5M in county funds for new high school

Shelby County officials have pledged to kick in $72.5 million to build a new high school in the Cordova area as part of a proposed settlement in the long-running dispute over schools operated by Memphis-Shelby County Schools in Germantown. The proposal is the result of mediation efforts led by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris over the last few weeks, according to a joint statement issued Monday by Shelby County, MSCS, the city of Germantown and the Germantown Municipal School District. The agree

Agreement reached over Germantown's '3G' schools, new high school to be built in Cordova

The agreement announced Monday by Shelby County Government still needs to be approved by Germantown leaders, MSCS, and Shelby County Commissioners. MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Under an agreement announced Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, by Shelby County Government officials, two of Germantown’s ‘3G’ schools will become property of the City of Germantown, and a new high school will be built in the Cordova area. According to a news release, Shelby County has agreed to invest more than $72 million to build the new hi
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Academic Research & Projects

Academic research papers and projects from graduate school. 

Diversity in Horror: An Analysis of Representation of Women and People of Color in Horror Movies

The horror genre is a popular genre in the film industry. Even though it is known for scaring its audience and keeping them in suspense, it is also known for the lack of representation among women and people of color. This research analyzed the amount of diversity in the top 210 horror films from 2001-2021. To determine and examine the number of women and people or color, a content analysis was conducted on a sample of films using their IMDB listings. Four themes were discovered during the textual analysis: representation, beauty standards, controversy, and freedom of expression. The research concluded that diversity in horror films have changed overtime in the past 21 years. While female representation in horror films have remained consistent, representation among people of color have slowly increased overtime.

Body Positivity or Body Surveillance? An Analysis of Twitter Reactions to Lizzo’s Positive Presentation of Her Fat, Black Body

On October 11, 2021, Grammy award-winning artist Lizzo attended Cardi-B’s dancehall-themed 29th birthday party in a sheer Matthew Reisman dress, thong, and pasties. Even though Lizzo is no stranger to displaying her body and sparking controversy, this appearance sparked a major debate on social media about the fit and appropriateness of her attire because of her weight. However, other celebrities attended the party in scantily clad outfits, but Lizzo was the only celebrity who was heavily criticized and endured heavy body surveillance. This research analyzed the reception of her proud display of her fat, Black body. To examine and highlight various reactions to Lizzo’s display of her body, a textual analysis was conducted on a sample of tweets about Lizzo’s appearance at Cardi B’s birthday party. Four themes were discovered during the textual analysis: representation, beauty standards, controversy, and freedom of expression.

Season 1 | Episode 1: Body Positivity – What Is It & How to Be Body Positive

Hello, Sharpies! Welcome to the Sharp Lifestyle Podcast, THE podcast for sharp-minded individuals! Sharp Lifestyle Podcast is the place to be for dialogue about life experiences, career advice, and... Hello, Sharpies! Welcome to the Sharp Lifestyle Podcast, THE podcast for sharp-minded individuals! Sharp Lifestyle Podcast is the place to be for dialogue about life experiences, career advice, and lifestyle content for African American women. For the very first episode, we’re going to talk abou

Communications Portfolio

Interviews, Mentions & Features

Jennifer Sharp (’13)

“My experience at CBU is one that I will never forget because the lessons I learned, inside and outside of the classroom, have shaped me into the woman that I am today, both personally and professionally.” Jennifer LaRose Sharp, a native Memphian, came to CBU after graduating from George Washington Carver High School as a member of the National Honor Society. Majoring in English for Corporate Communications and minoring in Business Administration, Jennifer was an involved student, serving as a

ENTRY 10: JUMP START INTO YOUR FULL-TIME BUSINESS THE RIGHT WAY! Come learn from Jen's mistakes! by Dear Diary: Confessions of an Entrepreneur • A podcast on

In this episode of Dear Diary: Confessions of an Entrepreneur, Jen shares her journey of stepping out and starting her full-time Public Relations business! In this episode, she shares her story of learning from her mistakes and thinks about what she wishes she would've done before taking the leap into full-time! These are things we don't always think about as black business owners! Check out this new episode now and subscribe for new episodes EVERY MONDAY AT 7AM EST! Follow us on Instagram for g