University of Memphis’ 39th Annual Distinguished Awards Presented by Lowe’s

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA

Judith H. Edge | BA ’83 Judith H. Edge is Corporate Vice President, Human Resources for FedEx Corporation, a global transportation and business services holding company. She is responsible for leading the Human Resources function for FedEx Corporation, which includes talent development, succession planning, executive compensation, benefits, workforce strategy, and HR operations.

Judith H. Edge

FedEx has been widely acknowledged for its commitment to total quality service and has consistently been ranked on Fortune magazine’s industry lists, including “World’s Most Admired Companies” and “America’s Most Admired Companies.”

Mrs. Edge earned a bachelor of arts from University of Memphis and a master’s degree in business administration from Heriot-Watt University in 

Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a member of the HR Policy Association and The Conference Board’s Council on Executive Compensation, and serves on the Board of Directors for Memphis Botanic Garden, University of Memphis Foundation, and Shelby County Healthcare Corporation.

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS

Cato Johnson | BSEd ’70, MEd ’71 Cato Johnson serves as Chief of Staff & Senior Vice President of Public Policy/Regulatory Affairs for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System; he has provided leadership within the system since 1985. Prior to Methodist, he was Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Regional One. He received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from the University of Memphis. Active in legislative affairs for over three decades; Johnson’s commitment to the healthcare industry and community is evidenced in his extensive involvement in numerous professional and civic organizations. Mr. Johnson is married to the former Georgette Alexander of Memphis, TN; they have a son, Cato III. Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Grace Celebration Lutheran Church.

Cato Johnson

Mr. Johnson’s current appointments include South City Executive Committee, Member/Alumni of Leadership Tennessee – Class IV, Executive Committee of the University of Memphis Board of Trustees, Executive Board of the YMCA Cordova, Chairman of the TennCare Medical Advisory Committee and Co-Chairman of Mayor Strickland’s Community Engagement Committee.

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS*

Wei Chen | MBA ’98 All who knew Wei Chen, a renowned entrepreneur, aviator, author and visionary, felt his incredible love for life. He stirred a sense of inspiration in many.

Wei Chen

Born and raised in Changsha, he moved to the United States in 1996 at the age of 25 to attend graduate school, where he met his future wife Isabel at a new-student welcome party. On May 20th of 1998 he married Isabel in Changsha and then in August of the same year, earned his International MBA at the University of Memphis. At the young age of 27, against many odds and with no capital, Wei founded Sunshine Enterprise, Inc., a North American distributor of Chinese construction and industrial equipment. As CEO, he grew the company from a one-man operation to 400 employees in less than 10 years.

Wei gave much of his time and resources to organizations throughout Memphis, a community that he loved dearly. He sat on the Greater Memphis Chamber Board, University of Memphis Alumni Association National Alumni Executive Board, University of Memphis Fogelman College Dean’s Advisory Board and the University of Memphis Management Department Advisory Board.

As an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) – a global network of chief executives in more than 130 countries, Wei was a leader among leaders, coaching and helping CEOs around the world. He was most passionate about serving as the chairman of the Doing Business with China Network for YPO International, to build a bridge between YPO and China – encouraging them to partner together.

Wei loved giving back in a meaningful way, which is why he and Isabel established the Sunshine Scholars scholarship fund for the University of Memphis International MBA program. The fund provides top students with financial support during the 18-month program. Wei was also actively involved in the Memphis Chinese community and was co-founder of the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association.

Known for having boundless energy and courage, in 2007, Wei became the first Chinese citizen to fly a single-engine airplane around the world. This brave flight raised awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause close to Wei’s heart. This historic flight also marked the first single-engine airplane landing at Beijing Capital International Airport and the first fly-around-the-world trip across China restricted airspace. The experience led Wei to write “Around the World in 69 Days”.

Wei was 47 years old. He is survived by his wife Isabel Xu; daughters Elisabeth, Stephanie and Sabrina Chen; parents Xianjie Chen and Peiming Li; and brother Li Chen.

Wei will perhaps be best remembered for his zeal and fervor – in business and in life. Many family members, friends and colleagues have heard him ask: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” This simple question, introduced to Wei by motivational speaker Dr. Robert Schuller, will remain symbolic of Wei’s passion for life’s experiences. Wei was also fond of sharing another favorite quote, by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”*awarded posthumously

OUTSTANDING YOUNG ALUMNI

Frank D. Scott, Jr. | BBA ’05 Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has dedicated much of his adult life to public service, in the pulpit as an associate pastor, as a mentor to young teenagers, and as a leader in public policy. As a board member of the Little Rock Port Authority and a State Highway Commissioner, Frank rolled up his sleeves and went to work on the local and state infrastructure needed in order to build a stronger city and region.

Mayor Frank D. Scott

Frank learned about hard work and public service from his father, a retired Little Rock firefighter. So when the opportunity presented itself Frank worked two jobs, one as the night shift supervisor at a Target distribution center for Central Arkansas and a second with the 2006 campaign of Governor Mike Beebe. Frank went on to serve as the deputy policy director and later as the intergovernmental affairs director in the governor’s office.

As an associate pastor, youth mentor, and professional, Frank lives out the values he learned growing up. He recognizes the difference that a values-driven purpose can have in one’s life and is guided by the following – faith, family, community, and cooperation. In fact, he resides in the same area he grew up in, he gives back to the City that invested in him and reminds young people regularly that values are the foundation of a purpose-filled life.

A firm believer in education and the opportunity that it can provide, Frank is a former member of the Pulaski Technical College Board of Trustees (now UA-PTC) and currently serves on the UA-Little Rock Board of Visitors.

Mayor Scott believes that “When we come together, we are more than just a series of neighborhoods and zip codes. We are the people of Little Rock, and we can change course for a better direction for our city if we have the will to do it.”

DISTINGUISHED FRIEND

D. Bryan Jordan D. Bryan Jordan is chairman, president and chief executive officer of First Horizon National Corporation, a financial services company with $40 billion in assets. First Horizon provides financial services through its Capital Bank, First Tennessee Bank, FTB Advisors, and FTN Financial businesses. First Horizon operates approximately 250 locations across the southern U.S. and 28 FTN Financial offices across the U.S. Its banking subsidiary was founded in 1864 and has the 14th oldest national bank charter in the country. Its Capital Bank and First Tennessee brands have the largest deposit market share in Tennessee. First Horizon’s banking subsidiary has been ranked by American Banker as No. 5 among the Top 10 Most Reputable U.S. Banks. Its FTB Advisors wealth management group has more than 300 financial advisors and about $4.8 billion in assets under management. FTN Financial is a capital markets industry leader in fixed income sales, trading and strategies for institutional customers in the U.S. and abroad.

Bryan Jordan

Before joining First Horizon, Jordan was chief financial officer at Regions Financial Corporation. His experience also includes positions at First Union Corporation and KPMG.

Jordan is an active member of the community and serves on the boards of the American Bankers Association, AutoZone Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, Memphis Tomorrow, Mid-Size Bank Coalition of America, Operation HOPE, and Tennessee Bankers Association. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in finance and accounting from Catawba College. He and his wife, Kim, have three children.

Bill Koeneman Bill Koeneman moved to Memphis June 1955 out of High School from Monett, Missouri. He worked for 5 years in construction for his father. In 1960 he moved on and worked for several different companies over the next 20 years. In 1980, he started his own construction company, B & C Construction Company Inc.

Bill Koeneman

In 1963, Bill went to his first Memphis State University football game at Crump Stadium. His first Memphis State basketball game was the last 2 years the Tigers played at the field house. The company he was working for at that time gave him a basketball ticket and he has been a fan since. Bill started watching the Tigers play when they played at the Field House under Coach Dean Ehlers. Bill has been though a long list of coaches: Ehlers, Iba, Barlow, Yates, Kirk, Finch, Price, Jones, Calipari, Pastner, Smith and now Penny Hardaway. 

Harold Byrd of Bank of Bartlett and Lee Fowler took him to lunch and asked him to be financial donator as a season ticket holder. Bill has been a ticket holder and supporter since. The Tigers moved to the Pyramid for 10 or more years and then the Tigers moved to the FedEx Forum for the last 10 years. When they move, Bill follows.

For the last 3 decades, Bill has been asked/ volunteered to work on the golf driving range twice, the soccer field, the football practice fields, the girl’s softball field and the men’s baseball field. Bill has poured all of the concrete slabs (base) for the 100 year Tiger statues around town. He also moved the Memphis tiger {TOM) from Collierville to Mississippi. For the last 10 years or so Bill has worked on the mud ball field each year. Most recently, he has also worked on the UofM Legacy Plaque that was put in front of the Administration Building.

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