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As a social entrepreneur and philanthropist as well as an all-around go-to-guy and trendsetter, Dr. R Lemoyne Robinson serves in many capacities of support to humanity.

Dr. Robinson is the founder and CEO of The Influence1 Foundation. He started the organization from the ground up with his own funds with a desire to help others and the belief that it only takes one individual to influence a positive change amongst a community of people.

Staying true to his focus, as well as, his passion for empowering youth, Dr. Robinson is also the founder and Chancellor of City University School of Liberal Arts and City University School Boys Preparatory. His commitment to these college preparatory institutions and its scholars is unparalleled—as he believes all youth deserve an opportunity of access to a quality education, at all levels.

In all that he does, he remains committed to being an influencer of change—whether in education, economics, entertainment, philanthropy, art, culture or design.


The Influence1 Foundation and City University Schools have received three Telly Awards for its television commercials that were produced during the 2010 recruitment campaigns for the schools.

Since 1978, the Telly Awards have honored the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web.  This year there were over 13,000 entries from all over the United States and 5 other continents.

Each commercial was created from an idea that Dr. R. Lemoyne Robinson had, which became a reality with his work with multi-media production companies in order to produce thought provoking pieces. Robinson stated, “I am humbled for the recognition that these organizations are being bestowed, but I never thought we would receive an honor for doing something I find so exciting.”

Dr. Robinson is currently working with a production company to produce this year’s campaign, as well as, other visually stimulating work that will continue to display the great works of the scholars and staff at City University Schools. He is currently editing the 2011 Graduation footage in order to encapsulate the memory and recognize the great efforts of the graduates—70 scholars with more than $7 million dollars in scholarships and one scholar with more than $3 million by herself.

Dr. R. Lemoyne Robinson, is one of the 2011 reciepients of the University of Tennessee at Martin's Young Alumnus Award. The award is given to an alumnus or alumna in recognition of outstanding achievement is his/her chosen profession in which the recipient is no more than 40 years of age.

Dr. Robinson, of Memphis, is the founder and chancellor of City University Schools (City University School of Liberal Arts and City University School Boys Preparatory). These public charter schools provide academically challenging environments and high-quality programs for urban school children. Since 2008, City University has graduated an average of 67 seniors per year, who have received more than $16 million in scholarships and collectively performed more than 30,000 community service hours. Robinson also serves as the president and CEO of the Influence1 Foundation in Memphis and was honored with the Orchid Award, presented by Justice, Unity, Generosity and Service International-Memphis chapter. 

He was recognized by the Memphis Business Journal as one of the city’s “Top 40 Under 40” and by the Tri-State Defender as one of the “50 Men of Excellence.” Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from UT Martin, a master’s degree in organizational communication from Murray State University and is completing a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Memphis.

Courtesy of University of Tennessee at Martin Office of University Relations News Archive

Resolve Yourself To Getting Involved 

Exercising more. Forgoing french fries for fruit. Putting more money in the bank than into the clothes on our backs. Enjoying a trip to some beautiful locale.

And becoming the best Memphians we can be.

What? You didn't put your civic life on your list of New Year's resolutions?

Well, maybe you should.

I asked several local leaders I respect to weigh in on what they think Memphians should start and stop doing in 2012.

Today, we'll focus on what to start doing. In Thursday's column, I plan to share their advice on what folks should stop doing.

From the merger of the Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County Schools, to our finances, to our role as voters and patrons of the arts, there's a lot we can resolve to do starting now.

Kenya Bradshaw, Tennessee director of Stand for Children, wants to see an "education revolution" in 2012.

We need to "make education a priority and adopt the mantra that all children are our children," said Bradshaw, who is also the secretary of the 21-member Shelby County Transition Planning Commission.

The chancellor of City University Schools echoed Bradshaw's sentiment.

"In 2012 Memphians should consider providing opportunities that will make youth and their development a priority at all levels," said R. Lemoyne Robinson, who is also the president and CEO of The Influence1 Foundation.

"With so much focus on school consolidation, we may have lost sight of the most critical component of the system -- the children," he said.

"We should refocus our city's concentrated efforts on providing ongoing development opportunities (educational, social, cultural, spiritual and professional) for all youth in order to motivate the progression of Memphis."

The cultural component certainly includes the arts, about which Ekundayo Bandele, the founder and artistic director of Hattiloo Theatre, had his own suggestions.

When it comes to the arts, show some of the smaller venues some love.

"While we pride ourselves of having several major art institutions, many of the smaller ones like Hattiloo Theatre, Voices of the South, and Hybrid Dance Collective, are producing innovative, thought-provoking works, often in collaboration with their larger peers," he said.

"Increased support will strengthen our city's artistic community, enrich the overall quality of life, and create more opportunities for citizens to participate and develop their talents."

Of course, it's hard to enjoy the arts if you're broke, which is where the advice of Pamela Pitts, a financial advisor with Waddell and Reed, comes in.

"We must take personal responsibility for our own financial future," Pitts said.

"There is no bailout for us. Develop a financial plan and stick to it."

Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad is all about Memphians charting their own future.

"First, I believe in the old adage that there are only three things you can control in life," he said. That's your attitude, how hard you work and the decisions you make.

"My advice to Memphians would be start or keep working hard on your family, profession, and bettering your city, to have or keep a great attitude, and make good life choices and decisions."

A good decision, said Jacob Flowers, executive director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, is to get involved on behalf of yourselves and others who are disenfranchised and marginalized in our communities.

Start something new, join something that is working," Flowers said.

"We have got to build a citizens movement in Memphis that can challenge the lack of equity in local, state and federal government," he said.

"If our communities gripped by poverty could join and speak with a voice for change we can change things for the betterment of all Memphis."

And isn't that what we want for Memphis, for 2012 and beyond? A better future for us all.

Contact Wendi C. Thomas at (901) 529-5896 or e-mail thomasw@

© 2011 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

In 2012, Let's Stop Trashing Our Town

It's been five days. How are you doing on those resolutions?

That good, huh?

If starting something new for 2012 is proving difficult, try stopping something.

Stop eating so much fast food. Stop griping about and to your partner. Stop unnecessary spending.

For some, ending a negative could lead to the birth of a positive, thus this column in which local leaders share what they think Memphians should stop doing this year. (In my Sunday column, they told us what they think we should start doing.)

One goal is a bit self-centered, but an important step in a city where poverty prevails and even the middle class are struggling with increased living expenses.

"Stop procrastinating," said Pamela Pitts, a financial adviser with Waddell and Reed.

"No one else can determine your financial priorities but you. Make this the year you pay yourself first," she said, either by automatically investing via payroll deduction into a 401(k) if you're lucky enough to have one or socking away funds in an IRA or Roth IRA.

For the working and working poor, putting just a little bit of money every paycheck into an emergency fund is a good first step to prevent being financially derailed by a car repair or fridge on the fritz.

Other answers, however, had a common theme of shared responsibility for the city's future.

"Stop believing that you don't have the power to create lasting, meaningful change," said Jacob Flowers, executive director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

"We all have the power within ourselves and within our community to change things here. Let's start exercising it and stop accepting that things have to be the way they are."

Hear, hear, agreed Kenya Bradshaw, Tennessee director of Stand for Children.

This year, she wants citizens to "stop thinking that my actions can't make a difference."

There are great things going on in public education, Bradshaw said, but "they could be greater if everyone actively participated."

And there's more.

"Stop letting elected officials off the hook when they make decisions that negatively impact our children," Bradshaw said, like closing community centers, shortening library hours or not funding schools.

Speaking of children and education, Ekundayo Bandele, the founder and artistic director of Hattiloo Theatre, made this suggestion: "Parents should stop leaving their children at home when visiting the ballet, theater or opera."

"By introducing children to the arts at an early age, they learn to appreciate the various means that civilization has produced to express love, anger and hurt -- the arts."

Advice from R. Lemoyne Robinson, chancellor of City University Schools, made me want to shout.

"In 2012 Memphians should stop being soldiers on the frontline of negativity as it relates to our city," said Robinson, who is also the president and CEO of The Influence1 Foundation.

"With many opportunities at the forefront of the efforts to help in the progression of Memphis, naysayers should find ways to get more involved in the growth of their community and Memphis."

Change, he said, "can include an effort as simple as voting or as far fetched as becoming a committed and responsible neighbor/ Memphian."

If you can't say amen, say ouch.

And while I'm in a shouting mood, consider this admonishment from Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad -- something we can all do immediately, if not sooner.

"Memphians should stop littering," Conrad said.

"This is an example of an area where government can't do it all and I hope in 2012 Memphians will take more pride in their city and show respect for other Memphians by not trashing it."

A worthy resolution for 2012: Stop trashing Memphis -- figuratively and literally.

Contact Wendi C. Thomas at (901) 529-5896 or e-mail thomasw@

© 2012 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.