The Thomas W. Briggs Community Service Award
In 1985, the Board of Directors established the Thomas W. Briggs Community Service Award to be given annually as a memorial to Mr. Briggs. The award benefits the work of a local Memphis organization in the field of community service. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding leadership provided by an individual in an organization whose creativity, effort, commitment, professionalism and exceptional initiative have enabled the organization to excel in its special mission. Recipients are nominated and chosen by the Board of Directors. It is the hope of the Directors that the recognition from the award will inspire others to reach higher and achieve more than they thought they could.
The 2017 Community Service Award
to Todd Richardson and McLean Wilson for Crosstown Concourse
Crosstown Concourse Development
Dr. Todd Richardson is associate professor of European Renaissance Art History, co-founder of Crosstown Arts, and Co-Leader of Crosstown Concourse. Since 2010, he has co-led the effort to transform the historic, 1.5 million-square-foot Sears Crosstown building into a vertical urban village anchored in arts, education and healthcare. Now known as Crosstown Concourse, the $200 million project recently received an Innovation Award from Memphis Business Journal and the 2015 John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award. Todd has lectured and published internationally on topics ranging from art and architecture to religion and politics. He is a Fulbright Scholar and wrote Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Art Discourse in the Sixteenth Century Netherlands. He is also a founding board member of Explore Bike Share, Crosstown High, and Memphis Bridge Lighting. To better understand the connection between art history and community development, watch his TEDx talk, “The Dilemma of Discovery”. Todd and his wife Leigh live in a parcel in the Crosstown Concourse with their daughters Ava who will attend Crosstown High next year and Corinne a second grader at Campus School
McLean Wilson is a Principal at Kemmons Wilson Companies (KWC). He has been with Kemmons Wilson Companies since 2007. Mclean is responsible for overseeing the operational and development activity of KWC’s real estate endeavors. Since 2011, McLean has co-led with Todd Richardson the efforts to create an entirely new commercial/housing model known as Crosstown Concourse. His main responsibilities reside in the realm of financing, legal, leasing, and project management.
Currently, McLean is a member of Crosstown Arts Board, member of Fellowship Memphis Church, serves Eikon Ministries, President of CORRE, LLC, a Chairman on the Board of the Collegiate School of Memphis, serves on the Board of the Intercontinental Hotel Groups Owner’s Association, Chair for Revenue Deliver Committee, and Board Member and Operations Committee at Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitability and Resort Management. He graduated with a BS from the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce and a MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. McLean is married to Elisabeth “Libby” Yates Wilson and has five children – Grey and quadruplets Mimi, Mac, Yates, and Fitz Wilson.
Crosstown Arts was formed in 2010 with two goals: to create a vision for the redevelopment of the historic Sears Crosstown building and to help cultivate Memphis’s creative community.
When co-founders Christopher Miner and Todd Richardson stood in front of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution center in Midtown Memphis, they saw great potential for a multidisciplinary, contemporary arts center. At 1.5 million square feet of space, they believed the abandoned, art deco warehouse would also appeal to many other types of uses that at the time were unknown.
In 2010, Chris and Todd began working with consultants to complete a feasibility study for the building’s renovation. Meanwhile, Crosstown Arts began hosting a series of arts events —that pointed to the vibe and vision that a contemporary arts center could generate in the future building. The plans included a large gallery and exhibition space, a multidisciplinary artist residency program, and shared art-making facilities amid other programs and events. The values of inclusivity, connectivity, and support for creative exchange among everyone in the creative community, regardless of prior experience, were central to the concept.
The feasibility study concluded that the renovation project of the former Sears building would be possible—but only with a complex mix of funding sources, including city, county, state, federal, philanthropic, and private financing. Most importantly, a large majority of the space would have to be pre-leased in order to secure financing for the project.
Thanks to the overwhelming support of the surrounding community, in part because of so many personal connections with Sears’ 80-year history in the neighborhood, the project continued to build momentum. As more and more Memphians took a personal interest in the potential reuse of the former Sears building, other organizations saw the allure of the vision. By the end of 2012, eight local organizations had committed to lease over 400,000 square feet of space in the building.
The concept of a “vertical urban village” began to take shape as other organizations saw the value of being “better together” and sharing resources alongside Crosstown Arts in the building.
Bolstered by that vision, a team of architects, engineers, designers, attorneys, and real estate professionals began working on the redevelopment project in earnest. Anchored by arts, education, and healthcare, the vertical urban village would include all the elements of a thriving neighborhood, including retail and residential.
In 2013 Crosstown Arts moved into previously abandoned spaces on Cleveland Street alongside several artist studios, recording studios and small businesses that had been in the neighborhood for years. These storefront spaces became home to Crosstown Arts’ first iteration of the contemporary art center, including a gallery space with 10 exhibitions per year for local and visiting artists, as well as a performance and exhibition space at 430 N. Cleveland for local artists and musicians to host their own short-term shows.
Other creative organizations, artists and musicians showed interest in moving into the neighborhood, which prompted Crosstown Arts to rent more space in the adjacent vacant storefronts and help renovate and sublet spaces to an eclectic mix of new neighbors, including Visible Community Music School, metal working artist Yvonne Bobo, Amurica photo studio, The Hi-Tone music venue, Co-Motion Dance Studio, and Church Health Center’s publication offices. Crosstown Arts built out a space for its after-school & literary program, story booth, inside the Cleveland Street Flea Market, which had been operating in the neighborhood for over 15 years.
Since moving into the new storefront spaces, Crosstown Arts has grown from its two co-founders and several multitasking employees to a staff of 18. After three years of fundraising for the redevelopment project, 30 different sources of financing totaling $200 million was secured to renovate the former Sears building. The Grand Opening Celebration was in August.
- 2016 Ken Steorts, Visible Music College
- 2015 David Montague, Memphis Teacher Residency
- 2014 Nancy Coffee, New Memphis Institute
- 2013 Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Ballet Memphis
- 2012 Jackie Nichols, Playhouse on the Square & Circuit Playhouse
- 2011 Jim Duncan, Memphis Botanic Garden
- 2010 Richard Nathaniel Donlon, M.D., Christ Community Health Services
- 2009 25th Anniversary Celebration, Honoring All Previous Recipients
- 2008 Beverly Robertson, National Civil Rights Museum
- 2007 David Loebel, Memphis Symphony Orchestra
- 2006 Margaret Craddock, MIFA
- 2005 Kaywin Feldman, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- 2004 James R. Boyd, BRIDGES
- 2003 Kenneth R. Bennett, Streets Ministries
- 2002 Colenzo J. Hubbard, Emmanuel Episcopal Center
- 2001 Larry B. Lloyd, D. Min., Hope Christian Community Foundation
- 2000 Douglas R. Noble, D.P.A., The Pink Palace Family of Museums
- 1999 Brad F. Baker, Young Life
- 1998 Jeffrey D. Nesin, Memphis College of Art
- 1997 Patrick W. Lawler, Youth Villages
- 1996 Josephine H. Walt, The Neighborhood School
- 1995 Michael J. Labonia, WKNO-TV/FM
- 1994 Eleanor Prest, Thomas W. Briggs Foundation
- 1993 Roger T. Knox, Memphis Zoological Society
- 1992 Gid H. Smith, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
- 1991 JoeAnn Ballard, Neighborhood Christian Center
- 1990 John E. Buchanan, Jr., The Dixon Gallery and Gardens
- 1989 G. Scott Morris, M.D., Church Health Center Memphis
- 1988 Patricia C. Howard, Girls Incorporated of Memphis
- 1987 James C. Carlile, Boys Club of Memphis
- 1986 Virginia L. Dunaway, Memphis Food Bank
- 1985 Father Donald Mowery, Youth Service USA
University of Memphis Awards
For over forty years the Thomas W Briggs Foundation Inc. has supported the University of Memphis. The Foundation began this relationship by establishing The Eleanor O’Neill Scholarship to assist deserving students with their educational goals. The scholarship is named in memory of Ms. O’Neill who was a long standing Welcome Wagon employee and University of Memphis Foundation Trustee.
Based on academic merit, each year a student in the University of Memphis journalism program concentrating in public relations and a marketing student in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics are selected.
In 1995 the foundation established the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching, and the first awards were given in 1997. In 2018 the award was given for outstanding teaching to Phillip Babin.
Mr. Kevin Hagopian English
Dr. Phillip Kolbe Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
Dr. Ruthbeth Finerman, Anthropology
Dr. Thomas R. Caplinger Mathematical Sciences
Dr. Jack Grubaugh Biology
Dr. Mark Timmons Philosophy
Dr. Julia Heath Economics
Dr. David Mason Political Science
Ms. Candace Justice Journalism
Dr. Robert Marcini Physics
Dr. Melvin Beck Biology
Dr. Charles Camp Civil Engineering
Dr. Kantaylieniere Hill-Clark Education
Dr. Nele Hemple Foreign Languages/German
Stephen W. Hancock Theatre and Dance
Dr. Charles J. Biggers Biology
Dr. John Hanneken Physics
Dr. William Jerman Electrical and Computer engineering
Dr. Robert Frankle History
Dr. Lawrette Axley Nursing
Dr. Dennis Laumann History
Ms. Margaret Quinn Family and Consumer Sciences
Dr. Joe Hayden Journalism
Dr. Nancy Mardis Accountancy
Dr. Anna Bess Sorin Biology
Dr. Fred Albertson Art
Dr. Phillip Franceschetti Physics
Dr. Irvin Tankersley Accounting
Ms. Charlotte Spiceland Accounting
Dr. John Haddock Mathematics
Dr. Mark Freilich Chemistry
Mr. Kriangsiri Milasri Computer Science
Dr. Angela Grant Mathematics
Leonard Jackson Hospitality and Resort Management
Ms. Nataliya Doroshenko Mathematics
Jacob Allen Communication & Fine Arts
Dr. Douglas Campbell Economics
Dr. Shirleatha Lee Nursing
Denis Grele French
JoAnne Rhodes Physics
Dr. Scott Marler History