Chattanooga, TN (April 21, 2021) – Edward Ellis, III began his work with BBBSGC in 2014. Initially, Edward served as a Match Support Specialist, providing ongoing guidance and support to Littles, Parents/Guardians, and Volunteer Bigs on a regular basis. Match Support Specialists monitor mentoring interactions and offer insights and advice to ensure child safety, facilitate healthy relationship development and promote positive youth outcomes. In October of 2020, Edward was promoted to lead our agency in continued efforts towards DEI progress as the Diversity Partnerships Manager. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga is committed to being intentionally inclusive in who we serve, who we are, and what we represent to the community at large. As such, the Diversity Partnerships Manager position was created with a goal of helping to establish and implement the organization’s DEI strategies. The position is responsible for leadership and creation of our diversity volunteer recruitment, training, and partnership strategies. One of the main responsibilities held by the position was the creation and leading of the Diversity Task Force (DTF).

“I am excited to be leading this transformative work for our agency. The Diversity Task Force is a phenomenal group that will help us achieve our goals by serving our children through recruiting diverse mentors and ensuring a culture and climate at BBBS of diversity, equity and inclusion.” – Edward Ellis, III. The DTF is a group of community leaders, civic champions, and city influencers.  The group will collaborate to recruit and retain underrepresented mentors and philanthropic partners to our agency.  This task force will develop and promote policies and implement recruiting efforts that provide equal access and opportunity for organization volunteers, families, supporters, and staff. The Task Force will foster a culture that values the diversity of every member of BBBSGC’s community and ensures all feel welcome, valued, empowered, and engaged.

Albeit a major and necessary addition to our agency, our mission at BBBSGC remains the same.  We are a one-to-one mentoring organization that seeks to defend the potential of every child, while providing professional support for every match.  A child may enter our program between the ages of 6 to 14.  They may stay matched with their Big until they graduate from high school or turn 18.  In its 116-year history, BBBS of America hired its very first African American President and CEO – Artis Stevens.  His leadership brings forth a distinct racial and cultural perspective, a great wealth of knowledge, insight, and invaluable marketing expertise to our organization nationwide.

Below is current demographic information for our Bigs and Littles.

Current Youth Demographics                                         Current Volunteer Demographics
American Indian – 1%                                                        American Indian – 1%
Asian – 0%                                                                            Asian – 1%
African American – 81%                                                     African American – 18%
Latinx/Hispanic – 4%                                                          Latinx/Hispanic – 2%
Multi-Race – 5%                                                                   Multi-Race – 4%
White – 10%                                                                         White – 73%
Other/Unknown – 0%                                                         Other/Unknown – 1%

Currently we have a total of 63 Waiting Littles including 37 African American boys, 11 African American girls, 1 Latinx/ Hispanic girl, 1 Latinx/ Hispanic boy, 8 White/ Caucasian boys, 4 White/ Caucasian girls and 1 multi-race boy.

While mentors and children are paired on many different factors, shared life experiences are an enhancement to a match relationship. This work ensures all voices are represented and empower our Littles to fulfill their potential. “Building healthy relationships through mentorship is essential as it teaches youth how to navigate social norms, expand their worldview, and exposes them to positive role models.  By increasing the diversity among mentors, the Diversity Task Force will better assist BBBS with fulfilling its mission to ignite the promise and power of youth for all children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.” Dionne Jenkins – DTF Member

We are proud to announce the members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga Diversity Task Force.

  • Tiffany Barnett-Burrows – Manager, Leave Management Center, Unum Life Insurance Company of America
  • Gena Ellis – Content Creator/Facilitator, First Things First
  • Lakweshia Ewing – CEO, Unlearn Everything and Live; We Over Me; Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement
  • Kimberly Perry Gardner – Assistant VP, Accounting Center of Excellence, Unum; Current Big Sister
  • Miles Huff – Senior Director, Talent Initiatives; Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce; Former Big Brother
  • Dionne Jenkins – VP of Diversity and Inclusion, TVFCU
  • Quincy Jenkins – E.D. of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Chattanooga State Community College
  • William Ladd – Pastor FBCE8, Made to Flourish Leader, Current Big Brother
  • Jocelyn Loza – Owner & Marketing Consultant, Hoopla Marketing Now; President of Latina Professionals of Chattanooga
  • Dwayne Marshall – VP of Community Investment, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
  • DeAndre Mercer – Branch Operations Manager, Enterprise; Current Big Brother of the year for the state of TN
  • Oliver Richmond – President, Kingdom Partners
  • Adrienne C. Terry – Business Development, Director of Event Services, Chattanooga Tourism Co.
  • Ricky Thomas – Dean of Community & Brotherhood, The McCallie School; BBBSGC Board Member

This dynamic team has already met virtually and embarked on this crucial journey. We look forward to the work that our Diversity Partnerships Manager and Diversity Task Force will bring to our agency, our organization, and our community.

“I look forward to continued partnership with Edward and the Diversity Task Force. This group is already bringing so many ideas to the table that will ensure our youth can reach their biggest possible future and that our organization represents the communities we serve.” – Jessica Whatley, Executive Director, BBBSGC

For more information about BBBS, visit bbbschatt.org.