Special Guests 2015

  • Jeff Edmondson

    Jeff Edmondson is managing director of StriveTogether, a national cradle-to-career initiative that brings together leaders in Pre-K-12 schools, higher education, business and industry, community organizations, government leaders, parents and other stakeholders who are committed to helping children succeed from birth through careers. Edmondson was founding executive director of the Strive Partnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, a partnership of postsecondary, K-12, business, philanthropic, non-profit, and civic organizations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky aimed at increasing educational aspirations, achievement, and attainment of students throughout the region. In 2012, Jeff was named the recipient of the American Express NGen Leadership Award, which honors one accomplished nonprofit leader age 40 and under who has already demonstrated significant impact in addressing society’s critical needs. Currently, he is a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur.
  • Eric McQuade

    Eric McQuade is a fiction writer from Raleigh, NC. He set off to write novels but fell in love with the short story. He is finishing his last year of the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Memphis.
  • Pat Mitchell

    Pat Mitchell Worley has devoted most of her professional life to Memphis, music, and the arts. A Memphis native, she began her career at Memphis in May International Festival, where she helped coordinate media for the country’s largest month-long festival. She followed that with a stint as on-air personality for Flinn Broadcasting’s alternative formatted station WDRE broadcasting to Little Rock and Memphis. In 1996, Mitchell Worley joined the staff of the Blues Foundation, where she oversaw all of the international nonprofit’s communications and educational efforts and helped produce events like the W.C. Handy Blues Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the International Blues Challenge. As an independent producer and presenter, Mitchell Worley worked on events from the Stax Museum’s annual Soul-A-Thon fundraiser, and the Memphis Area Music Awards to publicizing projects for Willie Mitchell, Isaac Hayes, and the BarKays. Pat has been awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for Radio Broadcast Excellence, Mpactmaker Award for Arts and Culture Promotion, and designated as a 2011 Billboard Women in Music and 2010 Memphis Business Journal Top 40 under 40. She is a graduate of Leadership Memphis (EP 2011) and Nexus Leadership program.
  • Betsy Phillips

    Betsy Phillips is the author of the books A City of Ghosts and The Wolf's Bane and blogs for the Nashville Scene‘s political blog “Pith in the Wind.” She occasionally guest blogs at Think Progress. She spends her days being the Marketing Manager for Vanderbilt University Press. Her fiction has appeared in Apex, Betwixt, and Qarrtsiluni. The odd things she discovers about Tennessee history usually make their way to the pages of the Nashville Scene. Her strangest writing-related injury is a sprain she suffered from falling into a two-hundred-year-old collapsed grave while looking for the final resting place of Nashville's most famous spiritualist, Ben Allen, the subject of a story she was working on at the time. Her website is betsyphillips.net.
  • Elaine Scudder-Walters

    Elaine Scudder-Walters is native Midtown Memphian and a graduate of Rhodes College. She has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Alabama where she received the Dean’s Merit Prize. She also worked as an Assistant Poetry Editor for The Black Warrior Review. An award-winning teacher with the Memphis City Schools since 2003, she currently teaches CLUE at Snowden, a school attended by five generations of her family. For the past five years, she has created and taught curriculum for CLUE Camp on subjects ranging from poetry to comic books to Archeology.
  • Michelle Watts

    Michelle Watts is an independent researcher and consultant with over fifteen years’ experience in the Academy and the nonprofit sector. She earned an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and MA and PhD from Rice University. Her current research interests include 19th c. African American literature and African American children’s literature. Michelle has taught at Rice University and Miami University-Oxford and enjoys working with students from elementary school through college, and everyone in between. She is the Vice-Chair of the WordPlay Board of Directors where she focuses on curriculum development, governance, and strategic planning.