People of Literacy Mid-South is a column that takes a close look at the folks that make our organization tick.
This week, we’re talking to Knox Shelton, Community Relations guru for Literacy Mid-South. Knox grew up in East Tennessee and is a graduate of Hendrix College in Arkansas. Since he moved to Memphis three years ago, Knox has amassed a lot of experience through his community work. Find out more about him below.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what three words would you choose?
I’d choose: Conscientious, patient, and inquisitive.
What is your role at Literacy Mid-South?
I am Literacy Mid-South’s Community Relations Manager. My role is to engage the public and raise awareness about all of our great work. My job is very exciting and fun, as there is always something happening around the office. One of the first things that I was told by fellow staff when I first joined Literacy Mid-South was that things are constantly changing (always for the better). I’ve found that to be very true. Everyone at Literacy Mid-South is always reexamining a program, an event, or a plan to see if there is a way that it can be improved. This makes my job particularly exciting as there is always something to report. Everyone here is incredibly intelligent and driven, which is very inspiring.
What did you do before you worked for Literacy
I was the Volunteer & Measurement Coordinator the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis. It was my first job when I moved to Memphis and it was a great way to meet a lot of people looking to do great things in our city. I only knew a handful of people when I first moved here three years ago, but I had always wanted to live here since I was a child. Working with individuals who wanted to volunteer in Memphis really gave me an opportunity to hear and see what a lot of Memphians find so great about Memphis and what others view as current obstacles to overcome.
What is one of the biggest challenges that Memphis
Sam Mattson discussed this a bit in his profile earlier this year, but I think there needs to be more of an emphasis on collaboration on all levels throughout Memphis. Collaboration is extremely important because it creates a dialogue between the various people working to achieve similar goals. A lot of the issues that we face (literacy being a good example of this) are complex, urgent and interconnected on many levels with many other issues. One organization can’t solve the problem alone so its important to come together and utilize each other’s resources to achieving one goal.
Tell us about one time where you really felt like your work really helped to make a difference in the Mid-South.
The Mid-South Book Festival 2015 was a huge moment for me. I had basically just started in my role with Literacy Mid-South, and most of my time had been spent getting ready for that week. Seeing the community come together for a week centered around the act of reading, whether it was Literacy Summit, author panels, or the Writer’s Conference, was a truly memorable experience for me.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Television’s “Marquee Moon”
What is your favorite thing about living in Memphis?
The food, for sure. Picking a favorite from amongst the insanely good restaurants here is almost impossible, but some favorites of mine are Uncle Lou’s, Andrew Michael, Second Line, La Guadalupana, and Payne’s to name a select few. There are lots of things that I love about living in Memphis, but I have always felt that the food here is such a great representation of what makes this city great.
What’s the last book you read?
I just finished Dr. Mark Banker’s Appalachians All. Dr. Banker was a professor of mine in high school and has been a role model of mine since. Appalachians All is a great reflection on Appalachian identity, which is important to me as I grew up in Appalachia before moving to Memphis.
Is your office really messy or really organized?
My office is very messy, which I hate. I am typically a bit obsessive when it comes to being organized, but every time I make some progress in my office, another event starts up and things begin to pile up again.
What Literacy Mid-South event are you most looking forward to in
The 2016 Mid-South Book Festival. This is such a fun and unique event. There are so many different components to the festival. This year we already have some great authors booked (more still to come too!). I will certainly have to sneak away from working for a bit to hear Lauren Groff speak. Her book, Fates and Furies, is one of my favorite recent reads.