Click the names to learn more about each of our wonderful board members.

Click here to view our 2018-19 Board Policies

+ Al Bright, Jr., Founding Board Member

Partner, Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis, LLP

Al Bright leads a diverse and varied legal practice, providing assistance and advice on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and capital raising activities along with the negotiation of licensing and development collaborations and supply, distribution, and sales agreements. Mr. Bright’s experience also includes serving as company counsel in a number of international transactions. Mr. Bright attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where he earned his Juris Doctor degree before returning to Memphis. He has served as founding board chair of Freedom Preparatory Academy, the first BES school to open in Memphis. Since opening its doors in 2009, Freedom Prep has consistently been one of the strongest and highest performing schools in Memphis, serving the Westwood community. Mr. Bright comes to Believe Memphis Academy to make a positive difference in the community he loves and leverage his skills toward empowering our children.

+ Kacy Coble, Founding Board Secretary

Attorney, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Union University, Kacy Coble changed her career path to pursue justice through law and attended the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. After law school, Ms. Coble built a strong track record of accomplishment at various law firms in Texas and California but eventually sought out opportunities to return to Memphis because she believes in the city’s potential and its people. Her passion for justice continued as she worked within organizations like Stand for Children, the Fair Housing Center and The Office of the Advocate for the Non-Custodial Parent. In addition, Ms. Coble spent several years representing undocumented immigrants before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She currently practices labor and employment litigation and HR compliance. Ms. Coble strongly supports the mission of Believe Memphis Academy and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the success of the school.

+ Elana Cole, Founding Board Member

Managing Director, Instructional Coaching, Teach For America - Memphis

A graduate of Capella and Drury Universities with a Master of Science in K-12 Education and an English/History dual major Bachelor of Arts respectively, Ms. Cole began her education career in Memphis as a teacher at Fairley Senior High School. Ms. Cole’s students far outpaced the district, with 86 percent achieving proficiency or advanced ratings on the state exam. From there she transitioned to teaching English and Advanced Placement courses at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE). While looping up with her students each year, her students’ performance outcomes once again were exemplary, with 98 percent of her students scoring proficient or advanced on the state assessment and the highest number of students at her school to score between a 3 and 4 on the Advanced Placement tests. After seeing her students of four years graduate from MASE, she then joined the founding team of New Consortium of Law and Business as an associate executive director and master teacher where she spear-headed the culture and academics of the school. Ms. Cole joined Teach For America as a manager, teacher leadership development before assuming her current role as managing director of instructional coaching for over 150 first-year teachers across the city. She regularly works with the senior leadership team of TFA-Memphis in developing strategic plans and setting vision for the corps member classrooms, Memphis region, and the national TFA organization. Ms. Cole has a passion for serving the children of Memphis and joins Believe Memphis Academy with a shared dedication to raise the bar for excellence in education for students and families across the city.

+ Patrick Hendricks, Founding Board Member

Advisor, Foundation Relations, St. Jude Research Hospital

Patrick Hendricks is a native Memphian, Central High School graduate. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lake Forest College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis. Mr. Hendricks brings extensive development experience to the Board of Believe Memphis Academy, having worked on national fundraising campaigns while based in New York City and Memphis. Mr. Hendricks also worked as Project Manager of Mayor Wharton’s Innovation Delivery Team, where he secured $1.8 million in matching funds through public-private partnerships to advance the Mayor’s chief priorities. Prior to his current role at St. Jude’s Research Hospital, where he serves as relationship manager for approximately 200 family, corporate, and private foundations, Mr. Hendricks spent two years working for Shelby County Schools as Community Relations Manager. Mr. Hendricks brings a deep passion for education equity and wants to see education in his hometown thrive. Mr. Hendricks believes quality education should not be a luxury, nor a rarity. He brings his skills to ensure that Believe Memphis is equipped with the resources necessary to make the school a model for quality public education for years to come.

+ Lori Kirkpatrick, Founding Board Member

Chief Financial Officer, Commercial Advisors

Lori Kirkpatrick is a strategic and results-driven leader experienced in driving organizational change and delivering innovative process improvements within fast-paced, rapidly changing environments. A Memphian for over 30 years, Ms. Kirkpatrick holds a Business Administration degree from the University of Mississippi. Bringing experience in commercial real estate and finance from both local and multi-national corporations, Ms. Kirkpatrick leverages a combination of strong business and technical acumen as well as expertise in hands on financial management and shared service operations delivery to ensure quality and commitment to her work. With a wide-range of expertise in areas such as operations management, project management, financial analysis, compliance and risk management, she has a track record of leadership capable of building and guiding cross-functional, performance-oriented teams while facilitating complex, high-value projects.

+ Thomas Marino, Founding Board Treasurer

Vice President of Mortgage Warehouse Lending, First Tennessee Bank

Thomas Marino is a graduate of White Station High School and attended Mississippi State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. Mr. Marino returned to Memphis where he began building his career in commercial lending at Regions Bank before joining the mortgage warehouse lending division at First Tennessee Bank. He brings his experience in analyzing financial statements, tax returns, and pro forma financials to determine companies’ financial health and readiness for multimillion dollar lines of credit. In addition, he has gained extensive knowledge of financial operations at small and large organizations. Mr. Marino believes that a great education can transform lives and that every child deserves access to a world-class education and takes pride in being part of a city where so many of its citizens actively engage in the betterment of their community through giving of resource, time, and skills.

+ Luke Pruett, Founding Board Member

Recruiting Director, City Leadership

Luke Pruett grew up in Blytheville, Arkansas, splitting time between private and public education. Mr. Pruett graduated from Union University as senior class president with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. After earning his Juris Doctor from Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, he joined the team of City Leadership where he manages its major campaigns of Choose901, Teach901, and Serve901, each of which work to draw workforce talent to Memphis in various nonprofit and for-profit sectors of Memphis. Through his work with City Leadership, he has hosted over 1,000 strategic Memphis recruits in 2016, which included recruiting 201 educators into high priority positions within the ASD, I-Zone, and SCS schools. Mr. Pruett oversaw the launch of Choose901 and Teach901 newsletters that gained over 25,000 subscribers in three months, evidence of invaluable community engagement skills that, coupled with the belief that every child deserves an excellent education, will be an enormous asset to Believe Memphis Academy.

+ Jacque Rowe Fields, Founding Board Member

Assistant Principal, Cornerstone Prep-Lester

Jacque Rowe-Fields is a results-driven leader with a track record of successfully developing, implementing, and evaluating new initiatives that foster student success. Mrs. Rowe-Fields holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Western Union University. Her experience in higher education includes serving as Assistant Director of the Entrada Scholars Pre-College Program at Calvin College where she oversaw course selection, scheduling, and student retention and serving as an Academic Advisor and Assistant Dean of Student Development at the same institution. Her school administration experience includes serving as the Director of Community and Family Engagement for a number of years at Cornerstone Prep-Lester Elementary in Memphis and most recently as the school’s Assistant Principal. Her primary role as parent liaison for the school, with direct oversight of student recruitment and support for talent acquisition, leverages a broad skill set that will be a benefit to the Believe Memphis Academy founding team.

+ Lisa Settle, Founding Board Chair

Chief of School Operations and Climate/Culture, Achievement School District

Lisa Settle graduated from Central High School and has earned two Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Memphis, Union University, and Capella University, respectively. After a successful career in higher education where she taught and chaired a department, she transitioned to elementary education as Co-Founder and Principal of Cornerstone Preparatory School. During the planning year of the school, Ms. Settle completed the Building Excellent Schools Executive Fast-Track Leadership program. She then served as founding principal of Cornerstone Prep-Lester Elementary when it joined the Achievement School District. In both places, she led her teachers and students to incredibly high results in achievement. She is now Chief of Schools within the ASD, managing and coaching principals of multiple schools. With her background in higher education, founding two schools, and the coaching and management of principals, Ms. Settle brings her passion for educational equity and expertise in school leadership to Believe Memphis Academy because she wants to ensure that the children of Memphis have ample opportunities to access educational excellence.

+ Greg Spillyards, Founding Board Vice-Chair

Executive Vice President, Commercial Advisors Asset Services

Greg Spillyards is a native Memphian and graduate of Christian Brothers High School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and Real Estate from the University of Memphis. In his current role, Mr. Spillyards is responsible for the Community Advisors service line of Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Advisors where his primary purpose is to provide brokerage, management, redevelopment, and financial expertise in underserved core city neighborhoods. His work seeks to revitalize areas throughout the city with passion, thoughtfulness, and entrepreneurship as a social and cultural vision is sustained through creative real estate investment and development solutions. Prior to his current role, Mr. Spillyards worked with CBRE Memphis for more than nine years, involved in multiple disciplines of commercial real estate. He joins Believe Memphis Academy to leverage his skills in support of its vision, to be a school where students of all backgrounds are challenged and inspired together as they collaborate and work hard towards a bright future in settings steeped in academic excellence.



Board meetings are open to the public. 2018-19 MEETINGS will be held on the following dates:

*Previously held meeting agendas and minutes are linked by each date.

Board Meetings start at 5:00 p.m. and are located at our school: 1250 Vollintine Ave. Memphis, TN 38107.