Board of Directors

Calvin Anderson

Calvin​ ​Anderson​ retired as of February 1, 2017 as senior vice president of corporate affairs and
chief of staff for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and executive director of the BlueCross
BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation and Community Trust. In these roles, Anderson
oversaw the public affairs of the company which included Corporate Communications, State and
Federal Government Relations, and the Health Foundation and Community Relations.

Anderson has served on the board of directors in a number of business and civic organizations,
including the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis in May International Festival
and Leadership Memphis. Currently, Anderson serves on the executive committee of Shelby
Farms Park Conservancy and on the board of WKNO-TV (a PBS affiliate).

On a state level, Anderson was a member of the State Election Commission from 1995 to 2007
and served on the State TennCare Advisory Committee in 2002. Served on the board of
Tennessee Business Roundtable 2015-2016 and member of Leadership Tennessee class of
2014-2015. On a national level, he has represented BlueCross as a congressional relations
coordinator with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and on America’s Health Insurance
Plans Policy and Regulatory Committee and Federal Government Relations Group. He has also
served on the Health Industry Council for District Eight of the Federal Reserve.

Meri Armour

In 2007, Meri Armour was appointed President and CEO of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. Le Bonheur has been named one of the country’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and recently the American Nurses Credentialing Center designated it as a MAGNET hospital—a widely recognized seal of  high quality care.
She has served on the Boards of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals, Memphis Research Consortium, United Way of Mid-South, Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, among others.

Meri received a M.S.N./M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and CWRU Weatherhead School of Management.

Monroe Ballard, Jr.

Monroe Ballard is owner of Optimum Studios, a one-stop-shop for media needs, and can assist individuals and businesses of all sizes with their videography, photography, audio, graphic design, and web design needs.

Optimum Learning is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by Monroe in 1999 to give young people an opportunity to learn marketable media production skills that could lead the way to self-sufficiency, gainful employment and higher self-esteem. Monroe instituted a Media Production Program that provides youth with training that can transfer to marketable skills in video production, editing, photography, computer technology, website design, and graphic design.

A life-long Memphian, Monroe graduated from Christian Brothers University in 1998. He majored in Information Technology Management and minored in Computer Engineering.

Monroe completed the Nexus Program in 2010, volunteers for the Neighborhood Christian Centers, and referees high school and NCAA II college basketball.

Kathy Buckman Gibson

Kathy Buckman Gibson is Chairman of the Board of Buckman’s parent company, Bulab Holdings, Inc., following in the footsteps of her father Robert Buckman and grandfather Stanley J. Buckman, who founded the company in 1945.  Buckman Gibson holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a law degree and MBA from Emory University.  Prior to joining Buckman, she worked as an analyst for Citicorp and at Smith, Gambrell & Russell as an associate in mergers & acquisitions.  In 1993, Buckman Gibson joined Buckman Laboratories International, Inc. as Vice President-Legal and Corporate Secretary.  In 2000, she was named Chairman of the Board of the Buckman parent company, and served in that capacity through January 2014.  From February 2014 through April 2017, Kathy was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Buckman International, before once again being named Chairman of the Board. 

Buckman Gibson is a past Trustee of the TAPPI Foundation and past Vice-Chairman of the Board of Executives of the Sloan Center for Paper Business Industry Studies (CPBIS).  She has also served as a board member of TAPPI and PIMA, both associations serving the pulp and paper industry.  Kathy was a member of the Board of Directors of Buckeye Technologies, Inc. from 2004 to 2013, serving on Buckeye’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Audit Committee. 

Kathy is actively involved in a variety of charitable organizations.  She is currently the Chairman of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan (SCECEP) Partnership, and serves on the board of Tennesseans for Quality Early Education.  She is a member of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Circle, and is past chairman of the Circle’s Pre-K Initiative.  Kathy also serves as a Trustee of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, is a Trustee of Lausanne Collegiate School, and is a board member of the PeopleFirst Partnership and the National Civil Rights Museum.  She is a past member of the national board of directors for Girls Incorporated, and is a past Treasurer of that organization. Kathy is a past board member of United Way of the Mid-South, and served as Campaign Chair of their 2008 campaign. She is past co-chair of the Memphis Talent Dividend: College Attainment Initiative, and is a past board member of Girls Incorporated of Memphis, Memphis In May International Festival, Mid-South Reading Alliance, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, the Assisi Foundation, and Memphis BioWorks Foundation. In her leisure time, Kathy enjoys boating, scuba diving, travel and reading.  She and her husband, J.W. Gibson, have two daughters.

Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, Buckman is an ISO certified, specialty chemical manufacturer serving customers in the pulp and paper, water treatment, and leather markets in over 90 countries.  Buckman has facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, Asia, and most recently China.  State-of-the art technical and research laboratories offer customers valuable chemical and biological analyses, as well as innovative new products and application equipment.  Buckman maintains a well-trained team of sales and technical representatives available to provide customers measurable improvements in their output and quality by providing customer-specific services, products and the creative application of knowledge.

Jill Crocker

Jill Crocker is a Portfolio Management Officer for the Southeast region of the Global Commercial Bank for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is serving her second term for the Urban Child Institute (UCI) Board of Directors and was previously a member of the investment committee.  She is the current Treasurer and a past President of the Le Bonheur Club, and served on an appointed committee by former Mayor Herenton in 2010 with an emphasis on education in Memphis.

Jill is a licensed CPA and was a licensed Series 7 and Series 24.  She began her career in public accounting at Touche Ross, but has been in banking for the majority of her career.

James Gurney

James G. Gurney, Ph.D., Dean and Hardin Endowed Professor in Public Health, came to the University of Memphis in 2013 following faculty positions at the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Before his appointment as Dean, Dr. Gurney served in several administrative positions in the School of Public Health, including Director of Research, and Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs.

Dr. Gurney has extensive experience conducting multidisciplinary research on clinical health outcomes among children with chronic conditions. In particular, his work has focused on long-term adverse biomedical and psychosocial effects of cancer treatment among childhood cancer survivors, including brain tumors, neuroblastoma, and acute leukemia. He also has research experience in pediatric epidemiology and health outcomes related to sickle cell disease, complex congenital heart disease, and autism.

Dr. Gurney is an author on approximately 200 scientific publications, chapters, and scientific letters. He is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, a frequent ad hoc member of NIH scientific review committees, and a core member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board for the NeuroNext national clinical trial consortium of the National Institutes of Neurological Diseases and Stroke at NIH.

Jonathan McCullers, M.D.

Dr. McCullers is Chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. He moved to Memphis in 1996 for a Pediatric Infectious Diseases fellowship in a joint St. Jude / Le Bonheur program; in 2000 he joined the St. Jude faculty. He was recruited to UTHSC and Le Bonheur in 2012 to lead the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. McCullers has been honored with multiple awards and has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles.

He attended the University of Virginia as an undergraduate and received his medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Mary Crowley McDonald, M.D.

Dr. Mary McDonald is the Founder and President of MCD Partners, an education consulting firm working with school systems, foundations and institutions across the country. She has received acclaim as an innovative educator, author, and public speaker, and is the recipient of numerous awards for her work and humanitarian efforts.   She has been a professional educator for thirty-eight years as a teacher, principal, and most recently, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Memphis, prior to opening MCD Partners.

In addition to the Urban Child Institute, she currently serves on the Boards of The Society of Entrepreneurs, Goodwill Excel Center, Diversity Memphis, Blue Streak Scholarship Fund, and the Juvenile Intervention and Faith-based Follow-up, among others.

John Pontius

A Memphis native, Mr. Pontius received a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1977. Later that year, he joined the international accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers), where he completed his requirements as a CPA and was promoted to audit manager.

Mr. Pontius left accounting in 1983 to pursue a career in financial management. After three years with manufacturing concerns, he became the Director of Finance and Administration for the City of Memphis in 1986, a post he held until 1991. During his tenure, all six city budgets developed did not require a tax increase.

In 1991, he joined Pitt Hyde, the Chairman and CEO of AutoZone, as a special assistant. He was responsible for investment, family business and philanthropic management for the Hyde family as well as management of the AutoZone Governmental and Community Relations departments and other special projects for the company. In 1998, the two of them formed Pittco Management to concentrate on the growing activities of the Hyde family. Mr. Pontius serves as President. In 2004, GTx, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company with which he had been affiliated for a number of years, began trading on the NASDAQ exchange. He served on its Board of Directors until 2011.

He has or currently serves on the board of numerous civic organizations, including The University of Tennessee, J. R. Hyde Family Foundations, Christian Brothers University, ArtsMemphis, Idlewild Presbyterian Church, Riverfront Development Corporation, the Memphis in May International Festival, and the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation. He is married to the former Patricia Bistolfi. They have two sons.

Loretta Rudd

Dr. Loretta Rudd is a passionate advocate for the education of young children and their families. Dr. Rudd is a clinical Associate Professor in the University College at the University of Memphis. She was hired in 2013 to create a program of study in Early Care and Learning that will prepare individuals to work with young children aged birth to 4 years old.

Since her hire, she has worked across disciplines on campus to create 2 new degree concentrations in Early Intervention Specialist and Child Life Specialist. Dr. Rudd is a founding member of the iIMPACT (Institute for Interdisciplinary Memphis Partnerships Affecting Community Transformation) at the University of Memphis. She also currently serves on several boards such as the Libertas School of Memphis (a public charter Montessori school), Girl Scouts Heart of the South Council Board, and is a member of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Consortium Committee (birth-third grade) and Tennesseans for Quality Early Education Committee.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Memphis in 2013, Dr. Rudd was on faculty at the University of Utah with a joint appointment in the Early Childhood Special Education Program and the Department of Family and Consumer Studies specializing in preparing early childhood educators to work in classrooms and home settings. She went to the University of Utah from Texas Tech University. Before joining the faculty at the university level, she taught in public education in Texas and California for 12 years. She taught preschool through high school aged profoundly hearing-impaired children, general education first grade and PreK. In addition, she has worked in Texas as a parent educator for children with special needs.

She has a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Communication Disorders/Deaf Education from the University of Texas in Austin, a Masters in Educational Administration from Tarleton State University, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from Baylor University. Dr. Rudd is married to M. David Rudd, President of the University of Memphis. They have two children – Nicholas and Emma.

Altha Stewart

Dr. Altha J. Stewart is Associate Professor and Chief of Social and Community Psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and Director, Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth. She was previously Director of the System of Care for Shelby County. Her career spans over three decades of work as the CEO of large public MH systems in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. Dr. Stewart is vice-chair of the Memphis/Shelby County Juvenile Justice Board, the advisory body recommending program improvements and policy changes to address the needs of youth in or at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. She was team leader on the SAMHSA/MacArthur Foundation grant, Improving Diversion Policies and Programs for Justice Involved Youth with Behavioral Health Disorders, and the Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Program sponsored by Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and Center for Children’s Law and Policy.

Dr. Stewart is President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association. She is also a past President of the American Psychiatric Foundation, the Association of Women Psychiatrists, and the Black Psychiatrists of America. A native of Memphis, TN she completed Temple University Medical School and residency at Hahnemann University Hospital, both in Philadelphia. She is a recipient of the AWP/APA Alexandra Symonds Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Regis College.

Blair Taylor

Blair Taylor is the president of Memphis Tomorrow, an association of CEOs of Memphis’ largest businesses which partners with government and civic leadership to advance prosperity and quality of life in the Memphis community. Her work has included initiating and leading public-private partnerships, program and policy development, strategic planning and advising, marketing and public relations, fundraising and grants management, issue campaign management, lobbying and advocacy, nonprofit start-up and management and collective impact development and leadership. Her major topics of engagement have included cradle-to-career education and workforce development, public safety, economic development, health and wellness, government efficiency and performance management, and city brand and marketing.

Prior to working with Memphis Tomorrow, she was the founder and president of The Work Place, a not-for-profit workforce development enterprise dedicated to helping low and semi-skilled people learn new skills and gain, and maintain, employment.

She currently serves on the boards of The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, Safeways, Seeding Success, the Memphis Brand Initiative and Tennesseans for Quality Early Education.

She holds master’s degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University, and a bachelor of arts degree in Political and Social Theory from Connecticut College.

Jim Witherington

Jim Witherington, an Advisory Partner at SSM Partners, has been with the company since 1973.  Beginning in 1990, Jim transitioned SSM from an advisory services company to a principal investing company focused on growth equity investments.  He currently serves as a member of the firm’s investment committee.

Jim’s community involvement includes roles on the Boards of Thomas W. Briggs Foundation, The Neighborhood Christian Centers, and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.