By: Susan Ellis, Memphis Business Journal
Women can move mountains.
Two recent examples come to mind. Stacey Abrams’ organizational might got out the vote in Georgia, which resulted in the seating of two democratic senators. And, country music legend and all-around icon Dolly Parton donated $1 million toward the development of the Moderna vaccine.
For Memphis Business Journal’s annual Super Women in Business, we turn our eye toward the area’s own mountain movers. These women are among the city’s savviest.
They have built buildings and built businesses, led organizations to new heights, and created programs beneficial to all. They are both awesome and awe-inspiring.
So what makes a Super Woman super, according to MBJ? The editorial staff reviewed nominations from the public and took a vote. We were looking for the achievers and those who extended their devotion to the community at large. What we found were a wealth of women who seemed to defy logic. How did they manage to make 47-hours’ worth of accomplishments in just a day?
These women are the heroes in our collective story. We will publishing each of their profiles in the coming days online. The fourth group is below. You can read about the first group here, the second group here, and the third group here. And, the digital edition for subscribers, with all of the profiles, can be seen here.
Up, up, and away!
EVP, University Relations, University of Memphis
In describing her super power, Tammy Hedges said she “Roars!” — which is absolutely perfect for a communications professional. And it is especially apt as a communications professional at the University of Memphis.
Heading up the University Relations division, it’s Hedges’ job to make sure the university shines.
Her nominator wrote, “While our faculty and students are conducting groundbreaking research and advancing in all academic areas and our student athletes are working toward winning national titles, Tammy and her team work diligently behind the scenes to share those stories and showcase the world-class institution that resides right here in the heart of Memphis.”
What was your first job? Selling homegrown garden vegetables from the back of my grandfather’s truck, directly outside of his barber shop. I would put my earnings in an empty cigar box.
Brief description of job role/responsibilities? As the EVP for University Relations, I oversee the Departments of Marketing and Communications, Media and Public Relations, and University Programs and Special Projects. I am responsible for expanding the public’s general knowledge and understanding of the University of Memphis, U of M Lambuth, and U of M Global. My team and I communicate news and publicize activities taking place at, or under the auspices of, the U of M. The division is also responsible for the U of M’s social media engagement, media, public relations, website maintenance, institutional branding, and many of the university’s major events and special projects. In addition, I work closely with Tiger Athletics in marketing and media efforts.
Do you believe equality for women exists in the workplace? If not, what still needs to change? I do not believe it exists everywhere, but it does at the University of Memphis. The U of M currently has the most diverse staff at the executive leadership and college dean level in university history.
What advice do you wish someone had given you when you started your career? Embrace technology — technology is your friend.
Founding partner and president, KQ Communications
As founding partner and president, Renee Malone has led KQ Communications, a full-service public relations, digital marketing, and branding firm, with offices in both Memphis and Atlanta, for the past 14 years.
Malone leads the organization’s business development efforts and serves as the primary spokesperson, while also developing and implementing public relations, strategic communications, and crisis media projects on behalf of the firm.
Even with all those firm responsibilities, Malone has remained active in the Memphis community. She is part of the board of directors for the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South; City Year Memphis; Repairing the Breach; and Vitalant.
And she is involved with the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Small Business Think Tank.
Do you believe equality for women exists in the workplace? If not, what still needs to change? I believe our focus should shift from equality to seeking equity. While more women are now placed in decision-making roles, workplace culture improvements are still needed to ensure each leader’s voice is welcomed, respected, and empowered.
What professional achievement are you most proud of? I’m most proud of launching KQ Communications and convincing a dozen talented professionals to join and teach me as we travel this wild yet rewarding ride together.
What is your next big professional goal? Our firm will soon launch a digital platform that will help journalists and public relations professionals elevate diverse voices.
What super power would best equip someone entering into your profession today? Remain authentically, unapologetically you. We cannot be someone we are not, nor can we be everything to everyone. The best we can offer is our best self. Nobody does that better.
What makes you a Super Woman in Business? I remain calm in most situations, realizing so-called problems disappear with the right perspective. Also, I have a team that includes many other super people who inspire me every day!
President/CEO, Rise Foundation
There’s driven, and then there’s driven, and then there’s Shelia Terrell.
Terrell is president and CEO of RISE Foundation, which provides the tools and the knowledge to help people who are building financial assets.
Her nominator noted Terrell’s devotion to serving others — from her time in the military and as a mother to her climb through the ranks of the RISE organization.
Do you believe equality for women exists in the workplace? If not, what still needs to change? In my opinion, equality for women does not exist in the workplace. Things are improving. However, to shift the paradigm, those in authority must be strong and bold enough to advocate for equality. Women must continue to advocate for themselves. Additionally, our male counterparts must advocate for us. We can do this!
What advice do you wish someone had given you when you started your career? I wish that someone had encouraged me to complete my education immediately following high school.
What professional achievement are you most proud of? RISE Foundation was the first organization to develop and implement “Save Up” — a citywide financial education/matched savings program. “Common Cents” is RISE’s financial education program that is delivered in the workplace. I am proud to have developed and implemented both.
What is your next big professional goal? I truly believe that I am capable of amazing things. I was taught by my mother and grandmother that nothing beats a failure but a try. The possibilities are endless.
What super power would best equip someone entering into your profession today? Anyone entering nonprofit leadership is a super power. However, one must be absolutely fearless, confident, and caring.
What makes you a Super Woman in Business? I can do all things that I am destined to do with God’s help!