Leaders of Color Memphis Fellows Running for Memphis-Shelby County School Board

June 13, 2024

We are excited to share that several Leaders of Color Memphis fellows are running for Memphis-Shelby County School Board in the upcoming 2024 election!

These leaders are education champions and community leaders that will bring their extensive community and professional experience to the School Board. As alumni of our program, each of these candidates has received 70 hours of training across all six dimensions of civic engagement as defined by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). While in the program, each fellow engages in issues that are impacting our communities and education right now, while also diving deep into the historical issues that shape our systems and structures today.

Meet our leaders who are up for election:

Dr. Audrey Elion

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 5

Memphis Class of 2023

Dr. Audrey Elion is a Native Memphian and a proud product of Memphis City Public Schools. She received her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling and College Student Personnel from The University of Memphis. Subsequently, she earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at The University of California, Berkeley.

She is the owner of Elion Management Consulting, LLC. Additionally, she is the Co-Director for Sowing Justice, which is a non-profit focused on environmental justice.  Dr. Elion is currently a substitute teacher for Memphis Shelby County Schools, an Arise2Read tutor, a vendor, and Tn Achieves mentor with Memphis Shelby County Schools. 

Dr. Elion was a Prevention Liaison Counselor for legacy Shelby County Schools and worked for the Mental Health Center in the Memphis Shelby County Schools for a combined total of nine years. Thus, she has over fifteen years of experience working for and with the school system. She is a candidate for school board for Memphis Shelby County Schools, District 5.

Dr. Elion is the secretary and member of the Board of Commissioners of Education, Health and Housing in Memphis Tennessee. She is the Regional Chair of the Greater Memphis Region of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and past chair of the Statewide Advisory Council of TSPN. Additionally, she serves as a board member for Freed Life which focuses on addressing human trafficking in West Tennessee.  

Previously, she was the Mental Health Representative for the Memphis–Shelby County Education Association and a member of the Tennessee Education Association. Dr. Elion is the former Executive Director of Trauma Informed Programs and the Special Assistant – Trauma Informed Intervention for Juvenile Court of Memphis/Shelby County.

Dr. Telisa Franklin

Candidate for TN House District 96

Memphis Class of 2024

Dr. Telisa Franklin is an amazing individual whose impact extends far beyond her accomplishments in various fields. Her upbringing and values have played a crucial role in shaping her approach to life. She believes in the importance of family and draws inspiration from the lessons she learned from her grandparents, which guide her actions and decisions.

Dr. Franklin's educational qualifications, including a Ph.D. in Counseling, have equipped her with the knowledge and expertise to make a positive impact within the education sector. She strives to empower individuals and communities by contributing to their growth and development. While maintaining a vast understanding of religion and community, Dr. Franklin has also developed expansive knowledge of the arts.  As an Emmy-nominated voiceover artist, she’s shaped culture and inspired thousands with her positive messages delivered throughout the city. In the business arena, Dr. Telisa Franklin has built success as a motivational speaker, and has served as the President of the Memphis Juneteenth Festival.

Her contributions to the Tennessee community continue to leave lasting impressions that will span generations to come.  As your next Tennessee State Representative for District 96, Dr. Telisa Franklin will bring thoughtful leadership so that everyone can have a thriving future

Danielle Huggins

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 7

Memphis Class of 2022

As an educator and community advocate, Danielle Huggins wants to expand the availability of educational opportunities, hold schools accountable, and improve early childhood education in Memphis-Shelby County.

Huggins’ Memphian existence began in the Alcy Ball Neighborhood Community and her passion for education was fueled by her parents. Huggins attended Dunn Elementary, Alcy Elementary, Corry Middle,  and  graduated from Hamilton High School - a Memphian through and through.

Frank Johnson

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 7

Memphis Class of 2020

Frank W. Johnson is a native of South Memphis. He spent his youth between Cleaborn Homes, South Parkway and Lauderdale (Lauderdale Sub) and in the Alcy/Ball Community. He attended Norris Elementary and Corry Jr. High in this community and was bused to Overton High School where he became a student of the Late Dr. Lulah M. Hedgeman

Frank is an active member of Shelby County Democratic Party (SCDP). He serves on the Primary Board and was elected to the Grassroots Council in 2017 representing Executive Committee Shelby County District 10. Frank has worked as community organizer for The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and Karl Dean for Governor campaign in 2018. Frank also served as  a second. third and fourth grade teacher for Shelby County Schools (LaRose Elementary). He is also a board member for Memphis Artists for Change (MAC).

Frank became involved with the issue of Environmental Justice during his time as a teacher at LaRose Elementary. He noticed how several students in his classes shared the same health conditions and behavioral disorders shared by many of his friends and family growing up. After getting involved with the Memphis Water Collaborative he discovered that Memphis has a history of contamination issues especially in the older areas of Memphis. These areas also show high levels of lead and other toxins in the soil, air and drinking water. These environmental issues tied directly into many of the health, educational and crime problems that we are seeing in Memphis. 

Currently Frank serves as President of the Alcy/Ball Community Association. He also works as a neighborhood connector for Center For Transforming Communities as the South Memphis Connector and as Executive Director of Depot Communities United (DCU)

Frank believes that we are too focused on making Memphis better for a few but should exists for the many!

Natalie McKinney 

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 2

Memphis Honors Class of 2024 

Natalie McKinney has lived in Memphis, for 19 years, and has had the honor to serve as a leader and advocate for positive educational outcomes through her role as the Director of Policy and Legislative Planning at Memphis-Shelby County Schools, and subsequently, as the co-founder and executive director of Whole Child Strategies Inc. In addition to her leadership roles, I am a loving mother, wife and active community leader. I am married to my best friend and life partner, Dr. Charles W. McKinney, Jr., raised two incredible young men,  Ayodele ( recent magna cum laude graduate of Xavier University) and Chioke ( honors sophomore at Howard University), both graduates of Memphis Public Schools/Memphis Shelby County Schools. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Spelman College, a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and a Master of Public Affairs from the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Sable Otey

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 5

Memphis Class of 2024

As a wife, mother, businesswoman,  former USA Bobsled athlete, and community advocate, Otey understands the critical importance of education in shaping our children's futures. She is committed to promoting general and financial literacy, ensuring our students are equipped with essential life skills for success beyond the classroom.

Tamarques Porter

Candidate for Memphis Shelby County School Board District 4

Memphis Class of 2024

Tamarques Porter is a proud native of Memphis, TN, graduate of Melrose High School, and is part of the Bishop Brandon B. Porter lineage. Mr. Porter's journey from a local high school graduate to a seasoned professional in the field of Information Technology reflects his deep commitment to educational excellence and community empowerment.

After attending Texas Southern University and then earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology and a Master of Science in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix, he embarked on a career dedicated to leveraging technology for positive social impact. 

Currently serving as a Cybersecurity Specialist with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Mr. Porter brings a unique blend of technical expertise and community engagement to his candidacy. His professional background shows his unwavering commitment to leveraging technology as a tool for enhancing learning outcomes and fostering innovation in education.

Porter's commitment to community service is evident in his involvement with organizations such as the Tennessee Higher Education Prison Initiative (THEI), where he advocates for educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals. He also serves as a mentor and facilitator in programs like Dr. Clifford Black's Super Learning Literacy Class, where he empowers students with essential language and computer literacy skills.

He is dedicated to ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success and not failure. Porter is also committed to providing safe, diverse, and inclusive policies that prioritize the needs of students, teachers, and families. With his proven track record of leadership, his deep roots in the community, and his unwavering commitment to educational excellence, Tamarques Porter is the ideal candidate to represent District 4.

More You might like

Alumni in Action: Terrance Brown Jr. Brings Community Together to Solve Problems

Terrance Brown Jr., a Leaders of Color alum in Washington D.C., shares his motivation and drive to bring people together to solve systemic challenges in education and beyond.

January 21, 2022
2024 Mid-Year Impact Reflection

At the mid-way point of 2024, we are taking stock of the incredible progress our alumni have made across our sites in education policy, political and civic leadership, and community engagement. 

January 21, 2022

Stay connected with our work!

Our monthly newsletter provides a snapshot of our work to build Black and Latino civic engagement and political power in our communities.