Thomas W Briggs Foundation Awards

 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

and to

Crosstown Arts

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.

Past Recipients

  • 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.

Teaching Awards

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.


Philip Dean Babin, CPA, CMA, FPC, is an Instructor in the School of Accountancy at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics.  He joined the faculty after 31 years as a practicing Certified Public Accountant working in accounting, payroll and federal and state tax positions at Arthur Andersen, Perkins Restaurants, FedEx, and CBIZ MHM.  He teaches Financial Accounting to sophomore business students of all majors in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics and serves as course coordinator for this introductory accounting course.   He also teaches in the Honors College, and the MBA and Executive MBA programs and is Department Aide for the School of Accountancy.  He recently was awarded the university-wide 2017-2018 Honors Faculty of the Year Award from the Helen Hardin Honors College.  Mr. Babin married his childhood sweetheart, Susan, and they are proud parents of 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.  He loves teaching Sunday School for adults at his home church.  Mr. Babin received his Bachelor’s Degree at Christian Brothers College and his MBA from the University of Memphis.



Past Recipients


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