Welcome to The Dean’s List! The Dean’s List will profile up-and-comers in Memphis who are certain to be the next group of leaders in the nonprofit, corporate, government, and faith communities. The Dean’s List is curated by Kevin Dean, the Executive Director of Literacy Mid-South.
Andrew Bartolotta may only be 24, but he already has an extensive and varied career in communications, one which has been honed to serve the Memphis community. Before serving in his new position as the Communications Manager for Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, where he works closely with Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club guru Jeremy Parks, Andrew worked at Leadership Memphis. A Chicago native, Bartolotta has embraced the Mid-South as the place to build his career, make new friends, and–most importantly–give back.
We chose Andrew because we believe he represents a new breed of Memphian, one who is as passionate about making a difference as making a career. Andrew is guaranteed to make a huge impact on Memphis!
Why do you call Memphis home?
I call Memphis home because it has provided me a community of like-minded problem solvers eager to make our city a better place. Ironically, it’s the ‘lived-in’ comfortability that makes it so homey.
What do you think is Memphis’ greatest challenge?
Memphis’ greatest challenge is also its greatest asset; collaboration. I think it’s easy for Memphians to live in silos from neighborhood to neighborhood or by the organizations they affiliate with themselves. While Memphians rally together to support our local sports affiliates, I would like to see Memphians work together more to solve problems through creative solutions. Our community has more than 5,000 nonprofits all fighting for similar dollars. I hope 2016 will be a year we can look back on and see neighborhoods and nonprofits across town helping one another be the best version of our city.
Tell us why your job is important for Memphis.
At Lipscomb and Pitts Insurance and the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, I am fortunate enough to work with a breadth of incredibly talented and passionate Mid-Southerners who are working to reduce risk, maximize security, and create a healthier community. I was nervous transitioning from my career in nonprofits to for-profit but working here, I see first-hand that businesses are an integral part of nonprofit success by way of financial support and partnerships. It’s been an incredible fit for me and I value the workplace culture where they continuously provide opportunities for employees to grow and connect across the city.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen (so far) in Memphis?
I tend to work from coffee shops when I am working on a tight deadline or need a creative resurgence. Ironically, working amongst the noise and clanking of mugs and espresso making, helps me focus. Well, this particular time I was at Bluff City Coffee, and you would have thought this was planned. Prince Mongo, Marc Gasol, Lionel Hollins, a TV journalist, and Miss Ruby Wilson (Queen of Beale Street) all walked in throughout the four hour period. It was so hard to concentrate and it appeared that I was the only one in total disbelief that this was ‘normal’.
If one of your friends was coming to Memphis to visit and wanted you to build their itinerary, what would it look like?
Once they landed at Memphis International Airport, I’d have them take the World Class Tour to go behind-the-scenes inside one of the busiest airports in the world. From there, I’d have BackBeat Tours pick us up and take us on a historic tour of our city. We would then grab milkshakes at A. Schwabb while exploring Beale Street followed by the Peabody Ducks ceremony, lunch in Harbor Town, and dinner at my favorite; Majestic Grille.
What’s the one Memphis restaurant you couldn’t live without?
The one Memphis restaurant I couldn’t live without would be The Majestic Grille. In fact, the very first time I ventured to Downtown Memphis in my teens to see a movie at The Orpheum, I ate at Majestic and have been hooked ever since. I made $5.25 an hour at my first job and would save up enough money to enjoy their pork tenderloin on special occasions. (I’m almost too embarrassed to admit that.) There are so many great restaurateurs in Memphis including the Blondis’ with Central BBQ. Their turkey BBQ nachos on homemade chips are to-die for.
What makes Memphis different from other cities?
I’m an avid traveler and selfishly compare other cities to our own when I visit their downtowns. So much of timeless Americana pop culture is engrained in Memphis. We’re a city whose created history with a rich culture of entrepreneurship and agriculture; we’ve overcome adversity through tragedy from the Yellow Fever and the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and now creating history through strategic tactical urbanism and a cultural renaissance of civic pride and rebirth through strengthening our downtown core.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, my roots here will be even deeper. I hope, by then, to own a home, and continue to be working to create a Memphis my children will be proud to live in. I also see myself spending more time traveling and working to bring leaders across the nation to our city to learn from our successes, not tell us how we can be better.
Name three people in Memphis that you view as mentors.
Michelle Levine, Owner of Mosa Asian Bistro: I met Michelle when I was in high school after volunteering at a Dress For Success Memphis event. I was introduced to her by Kristen Waddell to design a direct mail piece. From there, Mosa became my first freelance graphic design and social media marketing client and our drive to make Memphis a healthier and happier place grew from there. Her husband, Mark, and the entire Pao family have been an incredible asset to my growth both personally and professionally. It truly goes to show the power of networking.
Amanda Hill, Social Media at Choose901: The savvy social media whiz and I have only met a few times but through the power of social media, we connect almost daily about Memphis news, industry content, and various events. Amanda has been extremely helpful in providing me opportunities and chances to share the great things about our city. She is a driving force and provides a platform for so many Memphians who are revolutionizing our city.
Jeremy Park, President at Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club: It seems biased to include your boss on a list like this but it truly is not. I met Jeremy a few years ago and have followed him ever since. He is one of the hardest working Memphians I know and has such a genuine heart in sharing the positives going on across the Mid-South. I love the ‘C-Team’ (communications team) at Lipscomb and Pitts and the collaboration and innovative ideas they bring to our city. It’s a lot of fun to work alongside Jeremy, Allison Carson, Johnny Pitts, and the entire team.
What’s the one misconception people have about Memphis that is simply untrue?
The one misconception people have about Memphis that is simply untrue is that we’re behind the curve. The truth is that we’re creating it. In fact, we have a rich history of creative problem solvers. We must do a better job communicating our success and providing opportunities for everyday Memphians to thrive. After all, we will be known by the problems we solve and if we choose to live here, we must do our due diligence civically to bolster impact.
What area of town is your favorite and why?
I feel most Memphian when I walk from Alcenia’s to the Arcade (yep, for those who know me, you’d be surprised I walk that far). The Main Street corridor brings me so much joy and makes me feel like I’m walking through time. You’re bound to run into someone you know and catch up.
What can Memphians do to make a difference in our community?
Collective impact is key to a city’s success. We have pride about the neighborhoods we live in but truly it’s a domino effect. Meet your elected bodies, invest in nonprofits like Leadership Memphis and New Memphis Institute who are connecting like-minded change makers with community leaders; volunteer at a nonprofit whose issues and mission align with your values (if you don’t know where to start that’s what volunteermemphis.org is for); spend time in neighborhoods unlike yours, and take staycations. From DeSoto County to Germantown, West Memphis to Frayser; we are all a piece in making Memphis the greatest city possible.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This city has been so great to me. I can only hope to return the favor one day.