Katie Midgley’s infectious sense of humor and passion for the city of Memphis make her a force to be reckoned with as she strives to make changes in the Bluff City. Working for the Plough Foundation as director of research and evaluation allows Katie to find creative ways to support our most vulnerable populations. During her off time, she enjoys the culture of Memphis and all the unique activities the city has to offer, especially in her beloved Midtown neighborhood. A native of Starkville, MS, Katie received her undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and attended graduate school at the University of Alabama. It was her graduate school adviser, who had previously worked at the University of Memphis, who recommended her for a research associate position at the U of M, and she relocated to Memphis from Alabama in 2008. Katie and her husband, Tom, who is from England, met while both worked at Walt Disney World in college; they married in 2010 at the Madison Hotel. Tom is an instructor in hospitality and restaurant management at Southwest Tennessee Community College, and they live in the Evergreen district of Midtown with their pug, Roxie, and cat, Tuxedo Cat. We welcome Katie as today’s FACE of Memphis!
Describe your early career. Where did you work, and what were your jobs?
My first job post-grad school was at the Urban Child Institute, a nonprofit organization consisting of a coalition of community researchers, strategists and practitioners dedicated to the well-being of young children in Memphis and Shelby County. From there, I headed to the Plough Foundation in 2011 where I was a program associate until becoming director of research and evaluation in 2014.
What Memphis causes are near and dear to your heart?
I’ve served on the board of Books from Birth for years; I truly believe that promoting early literacy is key to ready our children for school and make them successful later for life. Through the privilege of working for the Plough Foundation, I have had the pleasure of helping develop a funding strategy to address the needs of older adults in our community. A community that supports the elderly is a community that is good for everyone. I have become incredibly passionate about this work, and I am thrilled to work with so many partners who are committed to working with our greatest generation. I am lucky enough to have a grandmother who visits me regularly from Little Rock [AR], and we play canasta and have so much fun together. I have the utmost respect for the wisdom and knowledge that our seniors can contribute. Lastly, the Overton Park Conservancy — I am a co-founder of Overton Park Roots.
What are your hobbies, and how do you unwind?
Tom and I enjoy entertaining friends at our home and taking in all the Bluff City has to offer young professionals, such as Redbirds games and festivals, especially Crawfish Fest. Most weekends you can find me on my porch with a group of friends, figuring out the world’s problems.
Where’s the first place you take an out-of-towner when they come to visit you in Memphis?
The Levitt Shell. I love attending the diverse concerts there in the spring and fall. The family-friendly atmosphere and fun vibe really help build a sense of community.
What’s your favorite Memphis attraction, and why?
The Bar-B-Q Shop. People who visit my Memphis don’t leave without the smell of the most heavenly pork barbecue on the planet lingering in their clothes and hair.
What would your ideal Memphis weekend entail?
There are so many great nonprofits in Memphis which hold events; we love to do something that supports a cause, such as the Books from Birth Carnival Bash or the Porter-Leath Crawfish Fest. Love to sleep in and have breakfast at Bob’s Barksdale. To be honest, I do have an affinity to spend $20 or $30 at Southland Casino in West Memphis occasionally. Dinner at Restaurant Iris or Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen with friends, followed with a conversation on my porch swing. There’s often great music playing at Minglewood Hall. And if I can get some tasks ticked off my list before returning to work on Monday, it would be a perfect weekend.
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
I’m a redhead … What’s your superpower?
What one word describes you?
What inspires you?
A fresh pedicure and my love for the city of Memphis
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
Don’t take yourself too seriously, and you can’t go fixin’ crazy.
What are three lighthearted things you can’t live without?
Laughter, Zipfizz and my Roomba
Thanks, Katie. And thanks to Micki Martin for today’s beautiful photographs.