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Memphis, TN




Posted October 12, 2012

Barbara Prescott Selected To Lead PeopleFirst

MEMPHIS, TN - Barbara Prescott, strategic planning and development consultant and chair of the Transition Planning Commission guiding the merger of city-county school districts, has been named executive director of the PeopleFirst Partnership.

“The work of PeopleFirst is central to economic growth plans for our community, because its goals are to improve educational outcomes and to expand the pool of talent in Memphis and Shelby County,” said Gary Shorb, chairman of the PeopleFirst Partnership and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “We are so fortunate that Barbara has agreed to lead this important initiative because of her personal passion and her professional experience in this strategic area.”


Some key objectives of the PeopleFirst Partnership include expanding PreK education to all at-risk four-year-olds and expansion of early home visitation programs with track records for success, advocating for the unified school board to include the recommendations of the Transition Planning Commission in its plans for the new district, supporting programs to improve access to college such as Memphis/Shelby Achieves, and bolstering talent attraction and retention through the development and expansion of the Recruit/Retain Toolkit, a collection of services to help human resources managers.


“The theme for my entire life, whether it was as a guidance counselor, English teacher, administrator, or an elected official in Memphis City Schools, has been about educating every child in our community and giving them the skills, the knowledge, and the opportunity for a college degree,” said Prescott, vice-president of Allie Prescott & Partners. “We have the chance to leap forward in our results and to unleash new momentum for success and economic growth. PeopleFirst has been and will remain crucial to setting high goals, setting in motion the collective impact to reach them, and providing the framework for action. I am excited to be part of it during this pivotal time in our history.”

Mayor Wharton said: “Economic development is at the top of our agenda in Memphis and Shelby County, but we can’t have successful economic development without successful talent strategies that make our workforce competitive for the good-paying jobs we are seeking to create and attract. We have the ability to transform our educational landscape and to do so much more with Dr. Prescott’s help.”


“There is no one more qualified for this job than Dr. Prescott,” said Mayor Luttrell. “She has long been on the front lines on human capital issues and through her work heading up the Transition Planning Commission, I have seen firsthand her ability to motivate, organize, and complete complex tasks. I look forward to working with her on the PeopleFirst's important agenda.”


The PeopleFirst Partnership, which includes both city and county mayors as members, is an unprecedented collaboration of business, public education, government, philanthropy, nonprofit leaders working to achieve a shared agenda for education and talent strategies. Its four goals are that children enter kindergarten ready to learn, youth graduate high school college-ready, adults earn degrees and certifications that prepare them for careers in local industry, and talent is attracted to and retained in Memphis/Shelby County.


“Memphis Fast Forward has produced important results in its first five years, but everyone understands that the race for new jobs and the imperative for a strong workforce are as pressing as ever,” said Blair Taylor, president of Memphis Tomorrow who coordinates the work of Memphis Fast Forward. “That’s why the Memphis Fast Forward leadership has stepped up plans for the next five years. Barbara Prescott brings knowledge and skills that will produce important progress for PeopleFirst, and more importantly, for our community.


Like all Memphis Fast Forward programs, PeopleFirst mobilizes collective action to achieve game-changing results and measures its impact with a report card issued yearly to the public. Besides PeopleFirst, Memphis Fast Forward is comprised of Memphis Shelby Growth Alliance (Jobs), Healthy Shelby (Health & Wellness), Operation: Safe Community (Crime Reduction), and City-County Government Efficiency.


Dr. Prescott was a member of the Board of Commissioners of Memphis City Schools from 1992-2003, serving as president in 1994 and 2001. She was president of Tennessee Schools Boards Association in 2002. She is a licensed professional counselor specializing in individual, marriage, and pre-marriage therapy, and also a management and human relations consultant with specialties in strategic planning, facilitation, team-building, and leadership.


As chair of the Transition Planning Commission, she has been widely praised for her steady leadership and for inspiring the consensus that resulted in a detailed set of recommendations for the new merged school district. The report and its recommendations can be read at www.ourvoiceourschools.org. The PeopleFirst Partnership unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed the final report of the Transition Planning Commission.


Dr. Prescott will begin work October 15 and will report to the PeopleFirst Partnership Board of Directors. Her office will be at The Urban Child Institute at 600 Jefferson. She will remain a partner in Allie Prescott & Partners, the consulting business she founded with her husband but will be dedicating her full-time attention to PeopleFirst.




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