Executive Director

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Sam O'Bryant (sobryant [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) served as the Senior Director of Equity & Partnerships for SchoolSeed Foundation, a public education foundation that functions as a community engagement and fund management intermediary with Shelby County Schools. In this role, he was a key leader in facilitating change in the way community partners perform, think, talk, and write about racial equity in Memphis. Under his leadership, SchoolSeed grew from a pass-through entity for public education to a multi-sector intermediary in such areas as fund management, fundraising, community engagement, strategic planning, and academic strategy. 

Recognized as a leader in Memphis and Little Rock, Arkansas, O’Bryant holds the rare distinction of being twice honored as a Forty Under 40 honoree, named by the Arkansas Business Journal (2010) and the Memphis Business Journal (2015). Additionally, he has participated in several community-based leadership programs, including Leadership Greater Little Rock (2008), Leadership Memphis (2015), Education Pioneers Fellowship Program (2017), Leading Up Non-Profit Leadership Development Program (2019), and New Memphis Fellows (2020).

A native of Mississippi, O’Bryant holds a BS from Alcorn State University, an MPA from Webster University, and a graduate certificate in Urban Education from the University of Memphis, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education. Before moving to the Mid-South, O’Bryant worked at the Clinton School of Public Service at its Center on Community Philanthropy. Prior to this, he led a $4 million federally funded Brownfields program partnership focused on revitalizing the urban core of North Little Rock and Little Rock.

Adult Program Director

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Stacy Early (searly [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Adult Program Director for Literacy Mid-South. Stacy previously worked in the marketing department at Whole Foods where she leveraged community partnerships with local nonprofits for the company's 5% Day fundraisers and hosted the first ever 10% Day. Stacy has also served on the marketing committee for the Memphis Farmer's Market and as Vice Chair of the board of Mid-South Spay and Neuter services. Stacy has completed certificate courses in Community Organizing from Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and in Plant Based Nutrition from ECornell. She has her Associate's Degree in Graphic Design, bachelors in Professional Studies, and is a certified trainer by ProLiteracy and a certified English Forward Trainer by the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas.

Director of Education

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Elisabeth F. Lee (elee [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is Director of Education for Literacy Mid-South. In this role, Elisabeth works to ensure learners across the Mid-South have access to the high-quality literacy interventions and resources they need to support their literacy development. Elisabeth’s efforts towards this goal are multi-faceted, including orchestrating cross-sector partnerships to provide wrap-around services that address the needs of the whole child; creating research-based, preferred practice literacy interventions; and serving as a community and organizational resource for literacy research, development, instruction, intervention, assessment, and policy. 

A native Memphian, Elisabeth has worked as a classroom teacher and interventionist in independent, charter, and public schools in Memphis, New Orleans, and Florida working with historically resilient communities and exceptional students. Elisabeth has designed and implemented reading intervention programs and provided professional development for classroom teachers in language arts instruction.

Elisabeth received her BA in Sociology from Loyola University and her MAT from Christian Brothers University.

Director of Community Impact

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Anasa Franklin (afranklin [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Director of Community Impact for Literacy Mid-South. As a long-time Memphian, Anasa has worked as an educator, community advocate, and leader in the educational and nonprofit sector throughout the Memphis community. Her experience includes developing engaging and innovative solutions for diverse populations, assessing processes for efficiency, and mapping large scale program implementations across organizations and sectors. After seeing the power of reading in her own life, Anasa is committed to empowering the community through literacy. Prior to joining Literacy Mid-South, she worked for Memphis City Schools, Shelby County Schools, and Whole Child Strategies. She enjoys cooking, exploring history through documentaries, and solving puzzles and brainteasers with her family. Anasa received her BA in English from Tougaloo College and MA in Literature from the University of Memphis.

Director of Collaborative Action

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Johnny Blount (jblount [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Director of Collaborative Action for Literacy Mid-South. In previous work with the City of Memphis, Youth Villages, and Christian Brothers University, he has pursued his passion for Memphis and the communities that make it up. Johnny joined the Literacy Mid-South team in 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA to support out-of-school time providers in incorporating high quality literacy interventions into their programming. As Director of Collaborative Action, he serves in four roles at Literacy Mid-South: network facilitator, LMS representative, literacy advocate, and AmeriCorps sponsor. Johnny received his BA in Religion & Philosophy from Christian Brothers University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Memphis.

Adult Program Coordinator

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Lee Chase IV (lchase [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Adult Program Coordinator for Literacy Mid-South.  He has been a volunteer tutor since 2012, and is also a freelance writer and filmmaker.  Before joining Literacy Mid-South, Lee was an Account Manager for Mimeo.com, an online printing company.  He also has experience writing and developing corporate training courses for adult learners.  Lee graduated from Christian Brothers University with a BA in English.  Lee is a certified ESL trainer by ProLiteracy and a graduate of Leadership Memphis' Fast Track program.  In his spare time, he is an avid reader, movie watcher, runner, and wrangler of his wild and crazy cat, Murphy. 

Development Associate

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Mackenzie Pirtle VanAusdall (mvanausdall [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Development Associate for Literacy Mid-South. Prior to moving to Memphis in 2021, Mackenzie worked as an Employment Program Manager for a disability advocacy organization in Louisville, Kentucky, and as a Case Manager for a youth non-profit in Nashville, where she helped her clients meet their educational and vocational goals. Mackenzie has a Master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Belmont University and a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Western Kentucky University. She lives in Midtown with her husband, Ted, and their three dogs and two cats. 

Operations Coordinator

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Lucy Hughes (lhughes [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Operations Coordinator for Literacy Mid-South. A native Memphian, Lucy moved to East Tennessee to attend school at The University of Tennessee Chattanooga where she graduated with a BA in Communications. It was in Chattanooga that Lucy found her passion in working with nonprofits while interning with the local PBS station. Lucy is excited for the opportunity to work with Literacy Mid-South to help foster a love of reading throughout the Memphis area and beyond. Outside of work, Lucy can often be found at Overton Park with her pup, Cooper, and getting reacquainted with her ever growing hometown.

Family Literacy Coordinator

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Sean Moore (smoore [at] literacymidsouth [dot] org) is the Family Literacy Coordinator for Literacy Mid-South. In this role, he works to bridge the divide between the two main constituencies served by LMS, elementary students and adults, through multigenerational literacy support and resources. After two years working in corporate communications and media relations for a Memphis-based home services company, Sean joined LMS as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2021 to begin a career in the nonprofit sector. He received a BA in English Literature from Rhodes College.

We were the people who were not in the papers. 

We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. 

We lived in the gaps between the stories.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale