In July 2012, Dr. Elaine Swafford took the helm as the CEO of the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, the first all-girls public charter STEM school in the State of Tennessee. She and her team are in the 10th year of overseeing a school turnaround process and are meeting expectations of leading exceptional gains in student progress and academic achievement. After being on the brink of closure prior to her arrival, the school has now earned Reward School Status, among other awards. As the Executive Principal, she successfully led the Howard School of Academics and Technology in turnaround reform efforts from 2004 to 2007. She left the Howard School to become Area II Superintendent for the Hamilton County Department of Education. Dr. Swafford was the founding CEO of the Chattanooga Preparatory School in 2016. Most recently, Dr. Swafford and team received approval to open and become the first Chattanooga public charter Montessori Elementary at Highland Park beginning August 2021.
Prior accepting her purposeful impact calling ten years ago to lead CGLA, she returned in July 2008 to assume the position as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Chattanooga State, where she had previously served as Vice President of Economic and Community Development. Elaine is in her 40th year of serving in both public and higher education.
Dr. Swafford’s community involvement during her career includes participation as a member of numerous local community boards and service organizations. Dr. Swafford recently accepted the appointment as chair of the Tennessee Charter School Center Board of Directors. She was a member of Class V of Leadership Tennessee. She served as president of the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary beginning July 2020. She is serving as the 2021-22 United Way Campaign Chair and Chair of the UTC Chancellor's Roundtable.
Dr. Swafford has experience in building and implementing pioneering educational programs, geared to promoting academic progress for at-risk students and those who can achieve, but are often underserved. While at Chattanooga State, she created innovative programs to include Project AHEAD, Diploma Completion Program, the Middle College Collegiate High School, and the Building of Outstanding Service Scholars (Boss). She uses her educational experience, leadership ability, energy, and passion to inspire and motivate young people, while having a positive impact on the community.
Chris Barbic is a partner with The City Fund, an organization across the US that partners with cities in an effort to creative innovative public school systems. In addition to his work with The City Fund, Chris founded YES Prep Public Schools — winner of the very first Broad Prize for best charter organization in the nation — and was most recently the founding superintendent of the Achievement School District, where he led Tennessee’s effort to rapidly turnaround the bottom 5% of schools in the state. Chris is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.
Lydia leads Charter School Growth Fund's work with charter school networks in Tennessee. Previously, she led CSGF’s strategy and knowledge management initiatives. Prior to joining CSGF, Lydia worked as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC, where she covered federal education policy. While at CQ, Lydia published more than 150 articles on early childhood, K-12, and higher education policy. She also worked with New Schools Venture Fund as an Education Pioneers Fellow. Lydia has a BA in US History from Dartmouth College and received an MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Townes Duncan, Founder, has been Managing Partner since Solidus began in 1997. His experience with venture capital began when he was a partner in the securities law practice at Bass Berry and Sims during 1978-1985. In 1985, his growing interest in early stage investing led him to join Massey Burch after having guided them through several venture capital transactions as an attorney. Over eight years as a partner at Massey Burch, Townes invested more than $46 million in 15 companies and returned a total of $145 million—more than 3 times invested capital.
Townes has been a board member of successful, publicly-traded and private companies including: Bright Horizons, Continental Circuits, Inforum, Information America, PMT Services, Cryolife, and Sirrom Capital. Currently he is a director of J. Alexander's Corporation, American Learning Systems, New Constructs, Giant Photos, American Hometown Publishing, Change:Healthcare, Southcomm, Nashville Wire, Covenant Capital, Breathe America and The Documentary Channel. In 2003, Townes was the founding chairman of Nashville Capital Network where he continues to serve as a director.
He earned a B.A. degree in political science from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. summa cum laude from Washington and Lee University.
Born in Memphis, Pitt Hyde received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina in 1965. Later that year, he joined Malone & Hyde, Inc., the wholesale food company founded by his grandfather in 1907, and initiated and developed Malone & Hyde's specialty retailing division.
Hyde was the first president of Super D Drugs, and in 1968, was elected President of Malone & Hyde. In 1972, he assumed the additional role of chairman, the position he held until 1988 when Malone & Hyde was sold to Fleming Companies. Under Hyde, the company became the nation's third-largest wholesale food distributor with annual sales of over $3 billion.
In 1979, he founded Memphis-based retail auto parts chain AutoZone as a division of Malone & Hyde. In 1987, AutoZone was spun off as a freestanding company. He served as chairman and CEO until 1996, when he passed on his CEO title.
Hyde is chairman of GTx Inc., a publicly-held biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutics primarily related to the treatment of serious men's health conditions. In addition, he is the owner and president of Pittco Holdings, Inc., a private, institutional investment company. He also serves on the board of directors for FedEx Corporation and Auto Zone.
He is married to the former Barbara Rosser, and the couple has five children. He supports numerous Memphis-based cultural, educational and charitable organizations including the National Civil Rights Museum and Memphis Tomorrow.
Dr. NeShante D. Brown is the Executive Director of The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis, TN, where the team works to demystify access to opportunities amidst obstacles as they prepare students in grades six through twelve to succeed in college and life in an academically rigorous, music-rich environment. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, and a product of Memphis City Schools, NeShante went to Princeton University and earned a B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering.
After graduation, she decided not to become an engineer but to become a math teacher with Memphis City Schools. She later joined Soulsville’s team as the Founding Math Teacher in 2005, proceeded to serve in school administration there as Dean of Students and then School Director, and has remained at Soulsville for sixteen years.
NeShante holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Christian Brothers University and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. When she is not at Soulsville, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, and dog.
With more than 20 years in public finance banking and advisory, community development finance, strategy consulting and senior management in not for profits, Coleman has built a career across private, public and not for profit sectors.
She currently serves as the Program Director for Education for the Hyde Family Foundations (“HFF”). At HFF, she leads education philanthropy and the foundation’s work to transform education outcomes in Memphis.
From 2012 to 2016, Ms. Coleman served as the Chief Financial Officer for Gestalt Community Schools (GCS). GCS is a growing network of high-performing, public, K-12 charter schools in Memphis. With five schools and over 2,000 students, GCS focuses on high academic achievement and efforts to anchor community development projects and to develop and leverage community partners and relationships.
After relocating to Memphis in 2009, Coleman was a partner at BWC Consulting from 2010-12 where she served as financial advisor on several community development efforts in higher education and the not-for-profit sector across the Southeast. Prior to relocating, Coleman served as the chief fiscal and human resources officer for the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Prior to NYU, Coleman was a public finance banker and financial advisor as a Vice President in Prager, Sealy & Co.’s higher education financial advisory practice and a Vice President in Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s higher education practice where she worked on bond financings and derivative transactions for several of the nation’s leading institutions.
Before attending the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Coleman worked as a strategy consultant for Bain & Company in Boston and evaluated and solicited investment opportunities for a $300 million Empowerment Zone community development investment fund in New York City.
Coleman holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Howard University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Yetta Lewis is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gestalt Community Schools. Under Yetta’s leadership, the Gestalt network has grown from one school serving 350 families to 5 schools serving now over 2,600 families. Before joining Gestalt Community Schools, Yetta was the Vice President of Curriculum and Professional Development for The JASON Project, a subsidiary of National Geographic. She worked as a Managing Director of Professional Development for the WorldCom MarcoPolo Internet Content for Classroom Program. Yetta started her educational journey as a teacher in Baltimore City and Harford County Schools, where she taught middle school language arts for eight years and served on the Board of Head Start. She was a 2007 Resident Leader for New Leaders for New Schools.
She has eighteen years of school leadership experience as an assistant principal, principal, and Chief Academic Officer. Yetta holds a B.A. from Salisbury University, an M.Ed. from Loyola University, and a Certificate of Technology in Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is a proud Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. Currently, Yetta serves as a board member for the Tennessee Builders Education Foundation and BeMore Foundation.
Lagra Newman has a proven track record of transformative academic outcomes for students in district and charter schools. A Teach For America corps member in Los Angeles, she also served as Recruitment Director for TFA’s Atlanta Region.
As a charter leader in Washington, DC, Ms. Newman is the recipient of the Transformer Award as the highest performing teacher in her charter network of over 400 teachers, which marked student academic gains of over two years and the highest percentage of students meeting and exceeding grade level benchmarks.
After Ms. Newman served as Director of Instruction, her school was recognized for achieving the highest percentage of student achievement results within her charter network of 13 schools and for being within the top five charter schools in Washington, DC for academic growth on state assessments. Presently, Ms. Newman is a Fellow with the highly selective Building Excellent Schools.
Ms. Newman earned a BA at Vanderbilt University and MA in Teaching at Loyola Marymount University, and is completing an M.Ed in Public School Leadership from Teachers College of Columbia University.
Terence Patterson is a native Memphian who currently serves as CEO of the Memphis Education Fund and is the past President and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission, the organization charged with advancing Memphis and Shelby County by making Downtown Memphis a better place to work, live, play and invest. Patterson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Harvard University, where he was a two-time All-Ivy League football player and graduated as the school’s All-Time Reception Leader. He also holds an MBA and law degree from Northwestern University in Chicago.
He served as Senior Financial Analyst for The Walt Disney Company, as an Attorney for the prestigious firm Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, and as Deputy Chief of Staff & Interim Executive Officer of New Schools for the Chicago Public School system.
In 2011, the Hyde Family Foundation recruited Patterson back to Memphis to serve as Education Program Director. Through this position, he co-created and managed startup of multi-million dollar initiatives and investment for local education transformation. Patterson is Board Chairman for KIPP Memphis and Vice Chairman for The First Tee of Memphis. He is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Dwayne Tucker currently serves as CEO and Board member of Lead Public Schools, a network of six charter schools serving over 2,800 students in Nashville, Tennessee. Dwayne is founder and CEO of DT Consulting, established in December, 2010 providing executive coaching services to high potential executives.
Dwayne brings a unique blend of leadership in line, staff and executive management experience, as well as significant executive coaching and management expertise. Serving for nearly 30 years as both a leader of human capital and an Operations Executive in the Financial Services and Transportation industries, Dwayne has held the titles Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO), Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), and General Manager with Fortune 500 companies First Data, Northwest Airlines and Alliance Data.
As President of Alliance Data’s Transaction Services business unit, Dwayne annually achieved double-digit revenue and EBITDA growth and successfully led teams of as many as 2,500 colleagues. His business unit profit and loss responsibility totaled $500million+. During his tenure as President Dwayne was responsible for setting corporate strategy and executing for Human Resources, Marketing, Public Relations, Information Technology, and the General Counsel’s Office.
In his corporate CHRO roles, Dwayne was responsible for developing human capital strategies and policy for employee groups ranging from 7,500 to over 50,000. Having a strong interest in the intersection of business and leadership, Dwayne founded and operated his own restaurant and entertainment business while completing his undergraduate studies.
Dwayne’s diverse business background has resulted in a broad understanding of core corporate functions including Sales, Operations, Marketing, Public Relations, Information Technology, Legal, Human Resources and Finance/Accounting. This background also allows him to move from trusted advisor and coach to operator and leader within a broad range of industries. His versatility has been invaluable to organizations facing transition where business courage, leadership, bench strength and scalability were needed. Dwayne “speaks the language of the C-Suite” and is able to coach others in the art of influence that is critical to long term executive success.
Dwayne previously served as Chair of the Board for Lead Public Schools and Tennessee State University’s Foundation Board. He is also co-founder of Educate Nashville, a Non-Profit educational based initiative. Dwayne resides in Brentwood, TN, with his wife Carmen.
They have two children, Brandy, and Dwayne Jr.Dwayne graduated from Tennessee State University with a BA in Business Administration.