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One Smart Cookie Celebration Honors Seven Memphis Women

Women contribute so much to their families, their friends, and colleagues and to the Memphis economy. But too often their many achievements and contributions go unrecognized. That’s why Girl Scouts Heart of the South is hosting the third annual One Smart Cookie Celebration to celebrate women who make things happen in Greater Memphis.

This year’s honorees are women who demonstrate qualities of leadership in their professional, civic and service-oriented endeavors and will be recognized at our celebration dinner event on Thursday, September 20, 2018 at the Holiday Inn – University of Memphis. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour and silent auction at 6 p.m. Dinner will begin at 7 p.m. Emcee for the dinner will be Amy Speropolous from WATN, Channel 24/30’s Local Memphis Live. Keynote speaker for the event is Elizabeth Heiskell.

With her passion for food, fun, and adventure, Mississippi Delta girl and Today Show Food Contributor Elizabeth Heiskell started her culinary journey with courses at the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York. Chef Heiskell has prepared food for such notables as the Duchess of York, Former Vice President Al Gore, Chef Thomas Keller, Priscilla Presley and the governors of Mississippi, Texas, and Arizona.

As Lead Culinary Instructor at the Viking Cooking School in nearby Greenwood, world headquarters of the Viking Range Corporation, she represented Viking on exclusive Silver Sea cruises through Spain, Portugal, Hawaii, and has made multiple television and public appearances.

With all her culinary events and classes, Elizabeth adds fun and vitality. Elizabeth and her husband Luke, run Woodson Ridge Farm while also maintaining her catering company, Elizabeth Heiskell Catering, now in its fifteenth year, through which she provides delicious eats for events all over the Southeast. Elizabeth’s latest cookbook, “What Can I Bring?: Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up” hit bookshelves on October 17th, 2017.

The 2018 Selection Committee has chosen seven extraordinary Greater Memphis women who exemplify what it means to be One Smart Cookie:

·       Raumesh Akbari – Tennessee State Representative, House District 91

Akbari has represented House District 91 (Memphis) since the fall of 2013.  Since that time she has been an effective and vocal member of the House Criminal Justice Committee and Subcommittee, the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, and the House Ethics Committee and Subcommittee.  Since the beginning of the current 110th General Assembly, she has served as the House Democratic Floor Leader.

·       Meri Armour – President, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

In 2007, Meri Armour was appointed President of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. She led the hospital during a major fund-raising campaign and opening of a $340 million state-of-the-art facility. Le Bonheur has consistently been named as one of the country’s ‘Best Children’s Hospitals’ by U.S. News & World Report.

She has served on the Children’s Hospital Association Board of Directors and the Child Health Corporation of America Board of Directors. Armour currently serves on the board of directors for the Urban Child Institute, Tennessee Women's Association, UTHSC Research and Technology Development, Hospital Wing, Children's Hospital Alliance of Tennessee and Memphis Research Consortium.

·       Gale Jones Carson – Vice President, Community and External Affairs, MLGW

Carson rejoined MLGW in January 2007, after working as Executive Assistant and Chief Spokesperson for the City of Memphis Mayor for almost seven years. Prior to working for the Mayor, she worked 16 years in Corporate Communications at FedEx. Carson worked in public relations for more than six years for MLGW prior to joining FedEx. Carson serves on numerous boards and is a philanthropist who has raised thousands of dollars for many non-profit organizations for a number of years.

·       Terri Lee Freeman – President, National Civil Rights Museum

Freeman was appointed president of the National Civil Rights Museum in November 2014. As president, Freeman is responsible for providing strategic leadership in furthering the museum’s mission as an educational and cultural institution.

In addition to updating the organization’s vision and mission, Freeman has placed her emphasis on building the museum’s reputation as the new public square.  While stewarding the integrity of the Museum’s historic content, Freeman has expanded the public programming to increasingly focus on contemporary civil and human rights issues such as criminal justice, education, and basic human rights for marginalized populations.  A safe space for difficult conversations, Freeman created “Unpacking Racism for Action” a six-month dialogue program to go deep into issues of implicit bias and structural racism. Through her collaborative approach to the work, she has increased the public engagement four-fold, with visitors to public programs increasing exponentially, more than 300 percent.

·       Betsy Landers – Chairman, GMSD Board of Education, Position 2

Landers serves as Chairman of the Germantown Municipal School District Board of Education. Her tenure as the President of the National PTA was preceded by several years of service to children in Germantown, Shelby County, the State of Tennessee –and lastly, the entire nation.

From the moment she joined her first PTA in 1989, Landers’ dedication to education has been unwavering. When she encountered challenges with her first PTA experience, she stayed with the group to ensure future volunteers had a better experience. Twice she helped form a parent organization at schools her children attended when there was an absence of an organization. She took on increasing responsibilities for Shelby County Council PTA, and the Tennessee PTA. Her goal was to help foster a widespread culture of excellence throughout the county and the state. 

As Tennessee PTA State President, Landers led the organization in collaborating with the State Board of Education and several legislators to write what would become the Parent Involvement Act, a Tennessee law that mandates all school districts to have a written parent involvement policy. In 2002, was named one of the "50 Women Who Make a Difference" by Memphis Women’s Magazine, and in 2004, she was honored with the Shelby County Schools Board of Education Community Service Award.

·       Ursula Madden – Chief Communications Officer, City of Memphis


For more than 17 years we watched her as co-anchor on WMC Action News 5 as an Emmy Award-winning journalist. In January 2016, Ursula made her way from on the scene to behind the scenes, when she accepted the position as the first-ever Chief Communications Officer for the City of Memphis under Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration. Ursula brings her own unique media experience to the position and is working hard to build an entirely new communications department for Memphis. While her predecessors focused on public relations for the mayor’s office, Ursula heads the communications for the city at large, as well as working with the City Council to get their messages out to the public.

·       Lori Turner-Wilson – Founder and CEO, RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy

Turner-Wilson is the co-founder and CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. She’s the award-winning writer behind the popular syndicated “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing” weekly column, published locally in the Memphis Daily NewsNashville Ledger and other Mid-South newspapers. Lori co-created RedRover with the vision of consistently delivering measurable, proven results for our clients – and that vision still drives every decision RedRover makes. Her influence is ever-present in all of our client strategies.

Help us honor the great work these One Smart Cookies do in the Greater Memphis community. Tickets are $100 and Sponsorships are also available.  Both can be purchased at .

All proceeds from the One Smart Cookie Luncheon will benefit Girl Scouts Heart of the South.