I Choose Memphis: Jessica Ball

By February 26, 2015Alumni

“I Choose Memphis” spotlights Memphians who are passionate about calling this community home. New Memphis Institute provides the profiles. See the original article

JBall Headshot

Job title and company: Senior Program Associate for Education, Hyde Family Foundations

Length of time living in Memphis: Five years!

Life history: I graduated from Spelman College in 2009 and proceeded to earn a M.A. from Columbia University. After my time at Columbia, I joined Teach for America – Memphis as a 2010 corps member. After the classroom, I worked as a manager, Teacher Leadership Development with Teach for America – Memphis in Orange Mound and then transitioned to work at the Hyde Family Foundations. My work at Hyde has allowed me to expand my reach within education and experience the unique charm of Memphis. Although I am a proud Chicago native, I am even prouder to call Memphis my (new) home. Go Grizz!

What would be your ideal Saturday in Memphis? I love spending Saturday afternoons at Otherlands Coffee. Between the yummy menu, eclectic customers and perfect reading nooks – it is my favorite place to settle for a long afternoon of reading and daydreaming. If I am feeling really productive, I also try to get in a decent workout at the Kroc Center.

What is your favorite local restaurant? My favorite local restaurant is Alcenia’s – Southern Style Cuisine (317 N. Main St.). Alcenia’s is a family-owned and operated soul food restaurant in the Pinch District. The food is absolutely divine, but the warm hugs and welcoming energy are even better. Every single customer is treated like an extension of the owner’s family, and each time I eat there, I am reminded of why I love Memphis.

Memphis’ most underrated trait? Never have I ever seen summer sunsets more brilliant than those that descend on the Mississippi River. If you’ve had a long day at work or just need a reason to visit the Mississippi River, our sunsets provide the perfect excuse!

Favorite “secret” place or hidden gem in Memphis? The Benjamin L. Hooks Library is one of Memphis’ very many hidden gems. The children’s section is absolutely wondrous and the Teen Learning Lab is an incredible space for teens to connect with each other and stretch their imagination through technology. My go-to place, however, is the used bookstore located right at the entrance. It houses an extensive collection of canonical African-American literature, and I always end up finding (and purchasing) books I never knew I needed.

Who is your favorite local artist? George Hunt is my favorite local artist and I am honored to own two of his pieces. I most appreciate his ability to capture the beauty and conflict of the African-American experience. Indeed, he is one of Memphis’ most treasured gems.