A farewell in presence, not in spirit

By: Travis Tinnin

Sadly, today (October 14, 2022) marks my last day with City Leadership and Choose901: Alumni after almost five years. It’s nearly impossible to fit into words my gratitude for half a decade of working alongside this community, but I’ll try my best to do it justice.

First, I want to thank every single Choose901: Alumni that I’ve met, worked with and befriended. Y’all didn’t have to embrace me the way you have, and I’m eternally grateful for the compassion, energy and constant checking I received from some of you all (namely, Gregory Stokes). Every single trip, event, lunch/coffee meeting I had with you and the Alumni Team is something I cherish and do not take for granted. These are some of the most fond memories I have experienced thus far in my life, so thank you for being a part of that.

That being said, it wouldn’t be fair not to shout out the team that has made this work happen and who will continue to make it happen. We’ve shed blood (building furniture for the Alumni apartment in Crosstown), sweat (every Alumni event, especially the Takeoff) and tears (building the Talent Studio, working tirelessly on scholarships and new initiatives), and all of it has been worth it for this community. Joi Taylor has been a fierce advocate for her fellow Choose901: Alumni since day one. Luke Pruett provided us with constant energy for the arduous tasks ahead. Keenan Lowery supplied the loyalty needed to carry on. Jasmine Leavy was a much needed voice of hope and compassion. April Pruett with job opportunities and floral arrangement and all the things. Jeff Riddle with the connects. Taylor White and Zakiyah Walker with the much needed support in building the Talent Studio (and realizing when it wasn’t actually being built). All of this would have been worth it to see just one person in their dream job, or Princess realizing that her city, Memphis, was where she belonged to lead and love. Or Breunna leading a classroom of young people to be the next leaders in our city. Or Zearius building whatever he was building. Or Darious being on the big screen. Or Adam running the most powerful social media accounts in the city. Or Ashley saying she wanted to be back in Memphis while sitting in the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Manhattan. Or Keosha coming back to South Memphis to teach and serve her community. The stories and examples are endless, and I can’t wait to continue to see them unfold.

Lastly, thank you to City Leadership for being such an integral part of me and my family’s life the past half decade. Thank you John Carroll for starting this whole thing and for putting people on such convicting mission. Grant Edwards for being the pull-up king, advocate, and most systemically compassionate person I know. Shelby for (eventually) believing in me and Alumni work. And every single other advocate, employee and partner that has made this work possible. Most importantly, shoutout to myself for only being sent to HR once in five years (and for the ones that know, shoutout to Three 6 Mafia).

Memphis is a city worth fighting for. If I’ve learned anything this season it’s how to lock arms and fight for what you love most. This community has provided that for me and my family, and I promise to continue that fight, in love and compassion, for what comes next.

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