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VOL. 130 | NO. 58 | Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Sweet Potato Baby Cooks Up Awards

By Kate Simone

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Aryen Moore-Alston, executive chef and owner of Sweet Potato Baby, recently received two honors for the boutique catering and baked-goods company she opened in Memphis last year.

Sweet Potato Baby was named a winner of the American Small Business Championship by SCORE, a national organization that mentors entrepreneurs and small-business owners. It was also named to the Greater Memphis Chamber’s “10 to Watch” in 2015 list, which recognized companies and organizations that stood out in 2014 for their leadership in the community.


Hometown: Memphis, Tenn., and Naples, Italy

Experience: B.S. in computer science with a double concentration in mathematics & Japan studies from Spelman College, Atlanta, GA (which means I can code a mean programming algorithm and whip up a serving of Miso Salmon at the same time); chef-in-residence at the Jay Uiberall Culinary Academy at Knowledge Quest – present; season 10 finalist on “Food Network Star”

Family: Partner, Kenon Walker; daughter; Kennedi Walker, 4 years old; father, Gary Alston; mother, Karen Moore; and sister, Keisha Moore-Alston.

Favorite quote: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Favorite movies: “Like Water for Chocolate” and currently “Chef”

What led you to launch Sweet Potato Baby? This constant tugging in the culinary arts direction. I’ve always loved cooking and developing recipes in the kitchen from the age of 7 to now and feel at home the most when I am left alone to create in front of a stovetop. While most young girls were asking for Barbies or Baby Sitters Club books, I was asking for bread makers, Wilton cake decorating tips and cookbooks (loads and loads of cookbooks).

What are your goals moving forward? To open up our first retail/kitchen location in Memphis, expand our corporate catering and wedding divisions and ultimately have some of our specialty pastries sold at local and national retail chains.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? I consider being in business for myself one of my greatest accomplishments thus far. At the end of March, we will be celebrating one year in business and I consider it a badge of honor to have made it through year one.

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? To honor themselves by being their true selves and to live as if no one is watching and keep it sweet.

Dr. Richard W. Phillips, president of Southern College of Optometry, has been named O.D. of the South by SECO International, a nonprofit membership association comprised of optometrists from 12 southeastern states. The annual award is the organization’s highest honor. Phillips is a 1978 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry and has served as its president since 2007.


Jason Ellerbee, vice president and regional office manager for Gannett Fleming Inc.’s Memphis location, has been named a senior associate of the firm. Ellerbee is also a vice president of Gannett Fleming Project Development Corp., an affiliate of Gannett Fleming Inc. He is responsible for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Construction Services Group.

Joan Higginbotham has been named director of sales for Holiday Inn & Suites Memphis Wolfchase Galleria. Higginbotham has 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most recently serving as director of corporate sales at Four Points by Sheraton in Memphis.


James (Andy) Goble of Collierville has been named the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association’s Outstanding Commercial Representative of the Year, an award recognizing an outstanding liaison to the state’s veterinary community. Goble is a sales representative for Zoetis in West Tennessee.

Laura Lee Naron has been awarded Crossroads Hospice’s Caring More award, presented annually to one Memphis-area social worker who goes above and beyond for patients and the community. Naron has been a social worker at King’s Daughters and Sons Home in Bartlett for 15 years and is a past president of the Social Service Workers Association of the Tennessee Health Care Association.


James R. Mulroy II has been named a fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America, a trial lawyer honorary society whose fellows are selected based upon excellence and accomplishment in litigation and superior ethical reputation. Mulroy is the office managing shareholder and litigation manager of the Memphis office of Jackson Lewis PC. He has more than 30 years of trial and litigation experience.

The University of Memphis Alumni Association has announced the winners of its 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Honorees include: Hilliard Crews, Award for Legacy of Visionary Leadership; Wink Martindale, Lifetime Achievement; Judge Diane Vescovo, J. Millard Smith Illustrious Service to the Association; and Andrew Bailey, Outstanding Young Alumnus. Michael Cook, Pitt Hyde and Dave North have been named Honorary Alumni.

Sperry Van Ness International Corp. has been ranked sixth in the Lipsey Co.’s 2015 Top 25 Commercial Real Estate Brand Survey. The annual rankings are based on the Lipsey ballot, phone interviews and focus groups, all evaluating innovation, responsiveness and quality of service. The real estate services firm has a Memphis office, Sperry Van Ness/Investec Realty Services.

PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225