Staff Spotlight: Q&A with Courtney McNeal
Courtney McNeal
Aleks Antonío Photography for MBJ

It’s been a big year for Courtney McNeal at Innovate Memphis! Courtney was promoted to Chief of Staff earlier this year with a bigger role in HR, culture-building, and diversity, equity and inclusion functions with our team, the launch of our Rides to Resources program, and an appointment to co-chair Mayor-Elect Young’s Transportation & Infrastructure transition subcommittee. Get to know Courtney’s contributions and insights here with our Staff Spotlight Q&A:

What have you enjoyed working on the most at Innovate in 2023?

Although I have enjoyed all of the work that I’ve been a part of this year, I would have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed stepping into the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion through my Chief of Staff role. DEI not only plays a critical role in how we operate internally as an organization, but it is foundational to how we execute the mission and vision of Innovate Memphis. It is the intentionality behind what we do and how we do it, putting equity in the forefront of all of our work.

What do you hope to see during Mayor-Elect Paul Young’s transition process with the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee?

First, I would like to say that I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Mayor-Elect Young’s transition team alongside amazing people who are passionate about transportation and infrastructure, and most importantly, the residents of Memphis. My hope for this subcommittee is to develop innovative and sustainable solutions that Mayor-Elect Young will be excited to pursue during his administration. I would like for us to find ways to increase advocacy and secure additional funding for Memphis’ transportation authority. This committee holds a unique position, as transportation and infrastructure play a central role in nearly all of Mayor-Elect Young’s transition subcommittees and pillars. Transportation and infrastructure have a major influence on economic development to public safety to strong neighborhoods, and I hope we can consider all relevant areas when mapping out our strategy.

What are some hidden gems in Memphis that more people should know about?

I’m a lover of music, so for those who appreciate music, I would recommend visiting the Listing Lab in Crosstown Concourse. Along the same lines, the Memphis Music & Listening Lounge located in Central Station is a more intimate and immersive experience. It’s always great popping into Eight and Sand with friends for happy hour and hanging out in the Listening Lounge. Another thing to know about me is that I am a foodie. I’m not vegan, but I am pretty adventurous. I highly recommend Shroomlicious Meals, a Black-owned and woman-owned restaurant that just moved into a new location near Crosstown.

Do you have a piece of advice you’d give to someone else who wants to make a positive impact in Memphis?

As the saying at Nike goes, just do it! There is a reason why you want to be the catalyst who makes that positive change. Throughout your entire journey including times when you are doubtful, overwhelmed, or apprehensive, you should always remember your why.

What are you looking forward to in 2024?

There are quite a few things that I look forward to. I’m excited about the growth of the organization’s City Innovation portfolio under the Young Administration. I also look forward to expanding our digital equity work with Shelby County Government and helping more Memphians access affordable broadband services. Lastly, I’m excited about growing in our DEI space as a team.