Since its inception in 1968 the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Memphis Chapter has made excellent progress in the pillars Growth, Education, Community Relations, and Finance.

Excellent leadership has been a foundation of the Memphis Chapter. While originally founded in 1968, the chapter was revived under the tutelage of Aubrey Howard in 1993. Howard is credited for enlisting other prominent leaders in the Memphis healthcare community to become active in the Memphis Chapter. One such leader was William Jackson who went on to serve as a National President of NAHSE. In recognition of the great works of both Aubrey Howard and William Jackson the Memphis Chapter awarded undergraduate and graduate students with scholarships in their honor. Following Aubrey’s leadership he passed the baton to Chad Pendleton. Under the leadership of Alicia Smith-Steele, Shaun Essex, Cynthia Bardwell and current past-president Jonathan Watkins, the chapter achieved many accomplishments.


In 2006, Alicia led the chapter in developing a strategic platform that focused on membership growth as well as succession planning.  Networking sessions entitled the Healthcare Professional Network (HPN), and the formation of an advisory board which encompassed key leaders in the healthcare community was established to further support the chapter.

In 2009, the Memphis Chapter was awarded the prestigious Chapter of the Year Award.  Through Shaun’s leadership, the chapter formed connections with community leaders including Fred Jones of the Southern Heritage Classic and Luke Yancy of the Mid-South Minority Business Council.   Shaun also served as the Founder and Tournament Chair for the chapter’s inaugural “Highway to the Final Four” basketball tournament which continues to raise funds for the Sickle Cell Institute of TN and scholarships for Memphis/MidSouth students pursuing healthcare careers.  Under the leadership of Immediate Past-President Michael Dexter, the tournament grew to revenue to over $8K annually. 

In 2010, the Memphis Chapter was honored to host the 25th Annual Educational Conference which at that time achieved the highest level of attendees, highest level of sponsorship dollars and highest amount of participation in the case competition.  The Executive Committee, led by Cynthia Bardwell worked hard to ensure the conference attendees received the best southern hospitality available from the warm welcome at the Memphis International Airport to the fabulous food and entertainment throughout the conference.

In 2012, the NAHSE-Memphis chapter partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee to administer their inaugural diversity scholarship. Johnekia Catron, past Education Chair, Cynthia Bardwell, Member-At-Large, and Jamille Bernard, past Community Relations Chair, were integral in establishing this partnership.   The NAHSE-Memphis chapter was involved in the interviewing, selection, and awarding of two $5,000 scholarships to deserving undergraduate minority recipients throughout Tennessee. Because of the work of these amazing ladies, NAHSE Memphis chapter will continue to administer this scholarship in the coming years.

Wellness and promoting healthy lifestyles has become a prominent component of the NAHSE Memphis chapter. Following the lead of the National Conferences, the Memphis chapter has instituted its own annual Fit for NAHSE – Fit for Life Fitness Challenge.






In an effort to reach a broader audience and increase the awareness of others in the city about NAHSE, Jonathan Watkins as led the Memphis chapter in creating a strategic partnership with the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals (MULYP). A partnership with MULYP was a natural choice, as one of their aims is a commitment to empowering communities through Health Literacy and Advocacy.  NAHSE-Memphis equally shares this passion as the chapter’s strategic platform is committed to eliminating health disparities and improving the health of the communities we serve. The chapter continues to partner with MULYP in various networking events and supports their work through sponsorship of their Annual Empowerment Conference.

As an organization, we are committed to developing the next generation of leaders in healthcare and mentoring students to their full potential. The chapter has held four annual health education forums for local high school students. At these forums students are encouraged to consider a myriad of careers in healthcare including human resources, information technology, pharmacy, and administration. Students then have the opportunity to interact with and ask questions of leaders in healthcare that looked like them. 

As a chapter our goal is to make an impact in the community where we reside. Over the years we have been involved with various community involvement initiatives including supporting the Live it Up 5k and sponsoring the Sickle Cell Foundation of TN with annual contributions.  Recognizing the validity to the statement “no margin, no mission” it is with great pride that the chapter is able to report more solvency than has been reported in chapter history.

In 2014, Michael Dexter assumed leadership of NAHSE-Memphis.  During his tenure the chapter made a number of strides and received several accolades.  He was able to enhance the diversity of the Advisory Board by adding Kevin Spiegel, then CEO of Methodist University Hospital, and Denise Burke, a healthcare attorney with Butler Snow.  The chapter also worked more collaboratively with the Memphis chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  This collaboration resulted in the first of many events, including Health Professional Networking (HPN) session and A Night Out with the Grizzlies.  His efforts were recognized in 2015 with the chapter receiving awards for Program of the Year, Chapter of the Year, and NAHSE’s Image Award at the NAHSE national convention.  Also, a member of the chapter, Dr. Michael Ugwueke received the award for Senior Healthcare Executive of the Year.

 NAHSE-Memphis’s community engagement also set a new bar under Dexter’s leadership.  An initiative was developed to become more engaged in Memphis area schools and to expose more students to the options in healthcare careers.  NAHSE-Memphis members visited schools such as Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School, Craigmont High School, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, and Trezevant Vocational and Technology Center.  By serving as speakers and guest lecturers during career days and other special events, NAHSE-Memphis was able to expose more Shelby county youth to the reality that healthcare can be a successful career.  Another new initiative was a partnership with INROADS, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on developing and placing talented underserved youth in business and industry and to prepare them for corporate and community leadership.  NAHSE also made financial contributions to many organizations such as the Benjamin Hooks Institute for Social Change and members served on healthcare-related boards such as Trezevant’s HOSA Advisory Board and Concorde Career College’s Advisory Board.