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VOL. 130 | NO. 200 | Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Heading Up DMC Is Next Chapter in Terence Patterson’s Memphis Story

By Madeline Faber

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“He’s impressive, and I like him.” So summed up Downtown Memphis Commission president Paul Morris about the general sentiment in electing Terence Patterson to take over the post when Morris steps down next month.

“We’re at a point where there’s a lot of things going on,” said DMC board chairman Bob Lundy at a Sept. 22 meeting of the executive search committee. “Terence fits this job very well. He’s got educational and career experience that really give him skills that, from what I’ve seen in the past five years working with Paul, I think a leader needs to make this organization successful.”

“But now it feels like Memphians are walking with a renewed sense of pride...”

–Terence Patterson
Downtown Memphis Commission

Late this year, Terence Patterson will leave his position as education program director with the Hyde Family Foundations to become the next president and CEO of Downtown’s independent development agency.

“It is almost like being honored that my hometown is giving me the opportunity to do this work,” said Patterson, who stood out among more than 50 national and local candidates for the position.

Patterson always knew he wanted to return to Memphis, but he didn’t believe it would be so soon.

In late 2010, Patterson caught the attention of Barbara Hyde, board president with the Hyde Family Foundations, and the energy that he poured into Memphis during his high school years before attending Harvard University came full circle.

Patterson was touted in a newsletter for the Memphis Challenge, a pipeline program designed to bring high school students back to Memphis. The Hyde Family Foundations, as founders and backers of the program, knew that featured alumni Patterson was needed in the Memphis fabric.

In 2011, he left his position as a cabinet member of Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the country, to continue his work as an education program director with the Hyde Family Foundations.

“I took a step back and said, wait a minute, there are lots of folks that could do this work in Chicago or New York or San Francisco,” he said. “How many folks want to come to my hometown? If someone from Memphis doesn’t want to do it, what does that say?”

Patterson graduated from Harvard University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in government. He also holds a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing as well as a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University.

He worked as a senior financial analyst with the Walt Disney Co., as an NFL-certified contract adviser and as an associate with major law firm Kirkland & Ellis LP.

He said that he was drawn to work in education for many of the same reasons he’s drawn to work in the DMC.

“For me, it’s a homerun having the benefit of working in the private sector, in the public sector and in the philanthropic sector. It’s all very cyclical,” he said.

“All of it sort of drives for the same thing. Economic development, education, micro-level community development – it’s all for the improvement and betterment of our cities. I think I have a perspective that this is not just about streetlights or real estate. This is about how can we lift up Memphis and Shelby County.”

Since Patterson left Memphis in the late 1990s, the DMC has invested nearly $4.3 billion in Downtown. The DMC has 27 employees and an annual budget of $11.4 million.

He said that the area is unrecognizable to the Downtown he knew during his years at Germantown High School.

“For me, it felt like Memphis had grown from being a town to a city,” he said. “It seemed like when I was growing up, we were always our toughest critic and maybe to some extent we still are. But now, it feels like Memphians are walking with a renewed sense of pride and some type of energy that’s in the city that maybe wasn’t here when I left in the 90s.”

Patterson is no stranger to Downtown’s revitalization agency. Since 2012, he’s served as treasurer to the Center City Development Corp., a DMC affiliate board.

Tanja Mitchell, president of Uptown Memphis, also joined the board in 2012.

“Since I’ve known him, I’ve been impressed with his intelligence, his passion and his enthusiasm for Downtown,” she said. “We are fortunate to have him.”

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