VOL. 132 | NO. 246 | Wednesday, December 13, 2017
New Memphis Promotes Dakin to Pilot ‘Launch’ Initiative
By Kate Simone
Frankie Dakin has been promoted to director of strategic initiatives at New Memphis, a role in which he’ll pilot the organization’s new Launch: Campus to Career program. The initiative, which builds on New Memphis’ Summer Experience, connects college students with professional opportunities and networks to inspire them to launch careers in Memphis. Dakin will lead the program, encouraging area students to find and prepare for internships with local employers.
Hometown: Millington, Tennessee
Experience: A graduate of Rhodes College, Dakin is a native of Millington, where he currently serves as an elected alderman. He also serves as the board chair for Let’s Innovate through Education (LITE) and as the city liaison to the Millington industrial development board.
Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? Tough to pinpoint any one person, so I have to say the team at New Memphis. Parents are often warned that young people are most influenced by their peers, and I guess I never grew up. I’m just lucky that my peers are the talented, well-rounded team at New Memphis.
Tell us a little about the Launch: Campus to Career program and how it got started. The mission of the program is to connect college students with the networks and professional opportunities that will inspire and empower them to launch meaningful careers in Memphis upon graduation.
Our strategy starts with improving students’ access to career-exploration opportunities, including high-quality, paid internships. That means having an intentional focus on expanding opportunities to first-generation students, students of color and other disadvantaged student groups seeking a post-secondary degree in the greater Memphis region, or from the greater Memphis region.
Since 2009, we’ve been engaging college students through our Summer Experience initiative, a series of events for local and visiting college and graduate students. They get the chance to meet peers, meet established city leaders and, most importantly, meet Memphis. That initiative has grown from a few dozen students to over 1,300 last summer, from over 250 hometowns, 15 different countries and 200 colleges and universities. Many participants had summer internships, representing about 175 Memphis-area employers.
We always survey our participants, particularly at the beginning and end of the summer. About a year ago, we uncovered an alarming opportunity gap between students who have internships and those who don’t have internships. Eighty percent of students who intern in a region remain in that region upon graduation. So if we wanted to move the needle on retaining top talent, we needed to become laser-focused on expanding internship opportunities to more students.
What are your goals as Launch gets underway? We’ve expanded our collegiate programming from summer-only to year-round. We’re focusing on making sure students know that it’s free, and all you have to do is sign up at newmemphis.org. We’re also in the process of democratizing initial access to internships through an online platform: Launch: Campus to Career. Once that platform goes live in the spring, we’ll work with employers to post their collegiate internships, and connect students to those opportunities.
How can Memphis, and specifically the Memphis business community, better attract and retain young talent? Eighty percent of the jobs that will be available to kids that started kindergarten this year have yet to be dreamed. Digital media strategists and app developers barely existed when I was in high school, but now companies have huge needs for them.
My point is, the youth of today are not just our workforce, they are our innovators, future business owners and, most importantly, chief problem solvers. I think our narrative needs to shift on how our young talent is viewed, as valuable contributors, collaborators and assets. What does that look like? Investing in our young workforce through internships and other opportunities.
And what message do you convey to students who are on the fence about staying in Memphis to start their career? This is where you make an impact. Young people want to make an impact and Memphis is the place where you can do that early in your career. So if you’re ready to get to work on real challenges and opportunities, this is your place.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? You’re reading about it. I’m 25, first-generation college grad, and not too far removed from the days of cold-calling and cold-emailing to get interviews for internships. My story is not unique. We have survey feedback from thousands of current college students who are struggling to find opportunity, yet we know of employers who are hungry for young talent to innovate and infuse energy into their office. There’s a gap there, and I’m excited to be working on behalf of an organization with a long history of solving complicated challenges.
What do you most enjoy about your work? If we have a question at New Memphis, we can get it answered by an expert. Our team, board, alumni, and program participants are all on the same page and are passionate about forging a more prosperous and vital new Memphis by attracting, developing, activating and retaining talent.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Invest in experiences and finding purposeful work. That doesn’t mean that all tasks are fun and seem purposeful, so having a clear understanding of your own values and long-term goals are key.
Along with Dakin, New Memphis has promoted three other staff members and made one hire: Calinda Dickerson has been promoted to program manager, responsible for leading New Memphis’ Embark program. Dickerson has supported the program, which is designed to engage high-performing 20-somethings, since 2016. In her new role, she delivers curriculum, drives enrollment of new participants, and ensures Embark meets and exceeds expectations.
Laney Williams has been promoted to development manager. William supports fund development for the organization, alongside the director of development.
Chutney Young is now community engagement manager. She will guide New Memphis’ series of public events that bring people together to learn about the city and find fresh ways to engage in the community. She also continues to organize New Memphis’ First Friend program, aimed at retaining new-to-Memphis teachers.
Mia Saine has joined the organization as creative specialist. In that role, Saine leads New Memphis’ graphic design and branding, working with the team to create visuals to amplify the organization’s message. She graduated from Memphis College of Art in May.
The Tennessee Bar Association has selected 30 attorneys statewide for its 2018 Leadership Law program, known as T-BALL. The nine Memphis attorneys chosen for the program include: Casey Bryant, Latino Memphis Inc.; Tanya Holmes, ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Justin Joy, Lewis Thomason; Keating Lowery, First Tennessee Bank National Association; Laura Martin, Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC; Gary Peeples, Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC; Joshua Wallis, The Landers Firm PLC; Janika White, The Walter Bailey Law Firm; and Jason Yasinsky, Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz PLC.
Unknown Child Foundation has appointed two new members to its board of directors. Peter S. Felsenthal is CEO of Whitmor Inc., a wholesale distributor of storage, organization and laundry accessory products. Martin (Marty) S. Kelman is chairman of Kelman-Lazarov Inc., a financial planning and investment advisory firm. The nonprofit Unknown Child Foundation was established for the purpose of fulfilling its promise to the students who began the project to use their 1.5 million collected pennies to build a memorial telling the story of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.