The ACE Awareness Foundation Board of Directors embodies the spirit of community and the diverse landscape of Memphis. As the highest leadership body of the organization, the board conducts strategic and organizational planning activities as well as fundraising and resource development efforts. It members also serve as ambassadors to the Foundation, working to increase its reach and influence, and enhance its public image.
Dr. Johnson-Williams was an assistant professor in the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University. She began her career as a researcher for the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban school districts located in Washington, D.C. She received a PhD in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MEd in secondary education from George Washington University, and a BA in economics and French from Wellesley College. She is the board chair and co-founder of Whole Child Strategies, Inc., an organization that supports Memphis communities disproportionately affected by poverty. By collaborating with neighborhood schools and businesses, as well as local and national non-profits, the organization seeks to create economic equity for residents, social stability for families, and educational success for students.
Melissa Russell is currently the treasurer for the ACE Awareness Foundation, an operating foundation to educate Greater Memphis about adverse childhood experiences, support families in creating safe and supportive environments for children and change policies and practices to prevent and mitigate ACEs.
In 2015, Ms. Nixon established and served as the inaugural board chair for the ACE Awareness Foundation. Over the years, she has served on a number of state and regional committees that have addressed children’s issues. She served two terms on the board of The Med, now Regional One Health, was a member of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s Books from Birth Cabinet, the board of trustees at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, and the University of Tennessee School of Social Work Board of Visitors.
Ms. Nixon is a recipient of the BRIDGES Community Connector Award and, in 2011, she received the Mary F. Todd Advocate of the Year Award from Memphis-Shelby County Children and Youth Council. In 2015, she received the Jim Pryor Child Advocacy Award from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and the BE THE DREAM Legacy Award, honoring individuals whose lives have embodied the spirit and legacy of service, sacrifice, and hope that defined the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2017, Ms. Nixon received the Legends Award from the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, which pays tribute to innovative women whose work embodies the mission of the foundation—to create a better community through passion for education, the arts, philanthropy, advocacy, social justice, and civil rights.
Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Bush grew up in the South, the son of an Episcopal priest and a public school teacher. After graduating from the University of Memphis School of Law, he joined the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, where he served for more than 20 years. In 2010, Mr. Bush was appointed the 10th Public Defender of Shelby County, leading the largest criminal defense law firm in Tennessee.
He is married to the Rev. Katherine M. Bush, the chaplain at St Mary’s Episcopal School. They attend Grace St Luke’s Episcopal Church and have been active in several Memphis congregations, including Calvary, the Church of the Holy Communion, and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Mr. Bush was active in parish and diocesan youth ministry for more than a decade and led numerous mission trips for youth to live and work among the Lakota in South Dakota.
Ms. Ettingoff has been a practicing attorney in Memphis and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years. In private practice, she primarily focused on labor and employment law and mediation. A graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Ms. Ettingoff is a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, Memphis Bar Association (Alternative Dispute Resolution), and the Association for Women Attorneys (Access to Justice Committee). In addition, she serves as a pro bono mediator through the Mid-South Community Justice and Mediation Center.
Dr. Gill currently serves on the Healthy Memphis U Committee, Undergraduate Council, Dean’s Advisory Committee, PhD Program Task Force, NCLEX Task Force, and Culture of Health Team. She also co-leads LCON’s Student Research Forum for undergraduate and graduate students.
Prior to her current position, Dr. Howard was medical director of emergency medicine at the Germantown hospital. She is also an assistant professor of advanced practice and doctoral studies at the College of Nursing, University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She has more than 29 years of exemplary service in the United States Air Force in the Air National Guard and is currently the senior medical officer for Tennessee. Dr. Howard holds the rank of colonel and serves as the state air surgeon assigned to Joint Force Headquarters in Nashville.