Meet the Speakers

This year’s Urban Summit is focused on creating pathways for our young people to engage meaningfully in the marketplace. We’ve seen that as this happens not only are new ideas introduced but solutions to problems that hadn’t previously been considered pop up. The Urban Summit is for everyone to come and explore how, together, we can achieve economic justice for the at least 30,000 young adults neither working nor in school in Memphis today.

We are grappling with difficult questions as we look at this issue and have assembled some extraordinary speakers, practicioners, and theologians to help break the issues involved and present practical ways forward.

Take a look at the lineup below or just go buy your tickets now.

Lori Spicer Robertson

Since her return to Memphis in 2007, Lori Spicer Robertson has fallen head over heels in love with her hometown, and also fueled by her desire to be part of the incredible change that is happening in her community. Her return home has generated tremendous strides in the community, both professionally and civically.

As you follow her career path it is evident that she takes each day as an opportunity to advance her community; her prior roles included serving as former Manager, Change Leadership for First Horizon National Corporation/First Tennessee Bank; Manager, Community Affairs and Engagement/Volunteer Services for Regional One Health (then known as Regional Medical Center-The MED); and Communications Specialist and Editor-in-Chief of Memphis Crossroads Magazine at the Greater Memphis Chamber. Robertson’s prior roles all allowed her to live out her personal platform of helping individuals and this community attain success. Her most recent calling as Chief Communications and Engagement Officer of United Way of the Mid-South, is doing just that, as she works to drive the dreams of this community. Robertson has imagined a community whose economic status represents the expectation of its greatness, whose educational opportunities are unmatched by any in the nation, and whose health of its community supports the premier quality of life of its people, and her current role affords her the opportunity to bring this narrative to life.

Robertson’s dedication to making Memphis a better city is also reflected in her work with women and area youth. In February 2013, she conceptualized and chaired the inaugural Modern Day Women’s Conference for the Women’s Foundation of a Great Memphis, attended by over 150 women, with two national speakers, from various backgrounds and ethnicities. Robertson has also hosted the citywide Memphis Prom Closet that includes a month-long dress drive and a finale Prom Party that offers financially challenged teenage girls a chance to attend prom.

Additionally, she launched Brown Girl Dreams, a self-awareness program that she developed for high school girls that aims to empower self-esteem, promote leadership skills and cultivate volunteerism in our youth through community service and enrichment programming.

Rev. Earle J. Fisher, Ph.D.

The Rev. Dr. Earle Fisher is pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, a community activist, a frequent guest teacher and lecturer at a number of Memphis institutions of higher education, and has been named the 2019-2020 Henry Logan Starks Fellow at Memphis Theological Seminary.

Dr. Fisher recently completed his PhD at the University of Memphis.  He is also a graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary, where as a recipient of the Starks Scholarship, he earned his M. Div degree. He did his undergraduate studies at LeMoyne Owen College, where he earned a degree in computer science. Dr. Fisher has over nine years of experience teaching in higher education and over six years of experience as senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church. He is known as rising scholar in the area of rhetoric and religion.

Dr. Fisher’s work as a pastor and community activist is well-known in the Memphis area. He brings an interdisciplinary approach to informing, inspiring, and educating persons who seek transformational learning and service opportunities in the classroom, the church, and the public square.


Dr. Stacy Spencer

Dr. Stacy L. Spencer is the Senior Pastor of New Direction Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, a multi-site congregation with church plants in Collierville, TN, and Idutwya, South Africa.

The Olmstead, KY, native is a dynamic speaker, visionary and author. His energetic and culturally relevant messages address the spiritual growth of the individual and issues in society. He has a passion to teach Kingdom living – to equip people with biblical guidelines and practical resources that can transform their lives and the world. Dr. Spencer’s Kingdom mindset led to the development of Eden Square Town Center, a multi-million dollar community model intended to reinvigorate an area of Memphis that is considered a food desert. The mixed-use development project includes a middle school, performing arts center, wellness center, retail spaces and housing.

In 2018, Dr. Spencer released “3D Relationships: Three Relationship Dimensions to Lead You Into Your Purpose.” Dr. Spencer also wrote “U-Turn: A 12 Step Guide to Spiritual Transformation” to help people experience a deeper and more  fulfilling relationship with Jesus.

Dr. Spencer is chairman of the board of directors for Power Center Community Development Corporation. The independent non-profit launched Power Center Academy, a charter school that celebrated the May 2015 high school graduation of its inaugural class of 6th graders. He earned a Doctorate of Divinity from Drew University, a Masters of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelors in Broadcast Communication from Western Kentucky University.

 He and Rhonda Spencer are the proud parents of four sons, Calvin, Omari, Jordan and Jaden.


Sarah Lockridge - Steckel

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel is the CEO and Founder of The Collective in Memphis, Tennessee. The Collective is creating clear pathways to careers, for the over 45,000 youth out of school and work in Memphis. The vision of The Collective is that every young adult has the power to live their best life and the tools to make that a reality. She believes that we fix a broken system by investing directly in the visions and ideas of our young adults. 

 Prior to launching The Collective, Sarah helped design the Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), a citywide $20M youth initiative to increase access to music education. Sarah moved to Memphis in 2011 to work with Youth Villages, a national child welfare organization that supports families in the child welfare and mental health systems in over 20 states. There, she was responsible for helping the organization expand their services in three states (MA, TN, OR). Sarah has also worked as an independent consultant guiding the strategies of local and national organizations. Prior to joining Youth Villages, Sarah was a Senior Associate Consultant at The Bridgespan Group, which specializes in strategic solutions for mission-driven organizations.

 Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Harvard University, where she was President of the Black Students Association and Co-Director of the Franklin I-O Summer Program. She also received the Women’s Leadership Award. In May 2016, she received her MBA from the Yale School of Management, with a focus on nonprofit management and urban poverty. She grew up in Detroit, MI and her family is originally from Mississippi. 


PJ Moore

PJ Moore attended Furman University in Greenville, SC where he studied Political Science and Poverty Studies. After graduation, he served in ministry roles in West Glacier, Montana and community development roles in Nakuru, Kenya alongside community members and local churches. In August of 2012, he was hired by World Relief to help establish the new office in Memphis and build the employment program. He has served as an Employment Specialist, Employment Manager, and Interim Office Director at World Relief Memphis until he was named Director in January of 2017. PJ and his wife are active members of a local church and serve as Foster Parents for the Tennessee Department of Children Services.


Chad Pulliam

Chad Pulliam, Manufacturing Site Director of Bryce Corporation, Memphis, TN, has been in the manufacturing and converting business for over 27 years. He began as a press assistant and has worked his way up through the company, holding such positions as Production Team Leader, Graphic Process Technical Manager, and Printing Department Manager. He has seen the work force change greatly over the past two decades, but the greatest change has been over the past year.

Due in part to events in his personal life, Chad was led to begin working with the Economic Opportunities Program early last year. He has developed a great passion for helping those the world has written off. Over the past year, he is gotten to know a group of men that without this program, he would have never had the privilege of knowing and working alongside of. While a personal hardship brought him to this point, he credits God’s Grace, and that Grace alone with bringing him to the point where he can be a part of making such a positive impact in the lives of these men and hopefully many, many more in the years to come.

Urban Summit