Memphis Branch NAACP Executive Director Retires

Madeleine Taylor, the executive director of the Memphis Branch NAACP, is retiring after 26 years with the organization, including six in her current position.

Taylor has been integral to the work of the civil rights organization that has been an essential part of the city’s history before, during and after the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“I have had the opportunity to serve my community in a number of different venues whether voter empowerment, employment, criminal justice, health care, education or youth work,” Taylor said in a prepared statement. “This journey has been truly invaluable and I hope that I have been able to make a difference for the many who seek the help of the NAACP daily. It is more than a job. It is a passion. It is an experience.”

Taylor has also served as a Memphis City Council member. She began her career as a social worker at MAP-South, a War on Poverty program in the 1960s. Taylor has also been a teacher with Memphis City Schools and marketing manager for South Central Bell and later AT&T.

– Bill Dries

Memphis Music Initiative Expands With Three Hires

The Memphis Music Initiative has announced an expansion of its team with new hires working with grantee organizations on funding and capacity building.

The new three-member team will be responsible for the stewardship of MMI’s support and investments, in partnership with its funded music engagement organizations.

Kiesha Davis will lead the team as director of grantmaking and capacity building. She brings experience in building and fostering grantee relationships, amplifying collaborations to address community level outcomes and expertise in developing large-scale, multimillion-dollar grantmaking frameworks.

Davis will manage Doug Waddill, program manager for the Memphis Music Initiative Institute for Nonprofit Excellence, and Tawanna Brown, program manager for Community Music Programs Grants.

– Andy Meek

Redeemers Group to Open Little Rock Office

Redeemers Group, a Memphis-based specialty contractor, is preparing to expand with the opening of an Arkansas office in January.

Redeemers Group, which specializes in mold prevention, crawl space encapsulation, basement waterproofing and foundation repair, acquired 7,734 square feet of office and warehouse space at 224 W. 13th St. in North Little Rock on Dec. 1. The location will allow the company to increase its footprint in Arkansas while better serving their current customers in the area.

“Redeemers Group has serviced the state of Arkansas for many years, and the opening of a second office was motivated by many factors,” the company said in a written statement. “The current number of customers in Arkansas alone warrants having a physical location dedicated to the area, and the company’s growth trajectory of 135 percent over the past three years shows no signs of slowing down.”

In addition to transferring staff members from the Memphis location, the company is also looking to hire multiple positions at the new location.

– Patrick Lantrip

Rhodes Professor Awarded Grant to Study WWI Effects

Dr. Tait Keller, an associate professor of history at Rhodes College, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to continue research on the environmental effects caused by World War I.

The NEH announced funding Dec. 14 for 86 grants in the Fellowships category, and Keller’s grant is for the term of January through December 2017.

Keller has been investigating the war’s impact on and off the battlefields, and his book “A Global Environmental History of the Great War” is under contract with Cambridge University Press.

– Andy Meek

Tennessee Launching System To Identify Uninsured Drivers

The Tennessee Department of Revenue is encouraging Tennessee drivers to prepare for a new insurance verification system it’s launching in January.

The new system verifies drivers’ insurance coverage on a continual basis instead of only checking at the time they renew the registration on their vehicle. It was developed as part of the James Lee Atwood Jr. Law, which was passed during the 2015 legislative session and is meant to reduce the number of uninsured motorists on Tennessee roadways.

“Tennessee already has a financial responsibility law that applies to Tennessee drivers,” Revenue commissioner David Gerregano said in a written statement. “The goal of this new system is to efficiently and effectively check compliance in order to reduce the number of motorists who lack insurance or another form of financial responsibility.”

If the system is unable to confirm insurance coverage for a vehicle, a notice will be sent directing the owner to a website where he or she can provide proof of minimum liability insurance or other means of financial responsibility. If a customer does not respond, subsequent notices will be sent. Failure to comply with the notices could result in fines and eventual vehicle registration suspension.

Ahead of the launch, the department says motorists should ensure that proper insurance coverage or other financial responsibility is in effect for their vehicles. In particular, they should make sure their vehicle identification number is correct on registration and insurance documents.

For more information about the new program, visit

– Daily News staff