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Senior Leadership Team

In keeping with his pledge to apply “new eyes to old problems,” Mayor Jim Strickland created a senior leadership team for the City when he was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2016. This team, patterned after a corporate “C-suite,” meets weekly to advise the mayor and tackle significant issues.

In addition to Mayor Strickland (bio), members include:

CERELYN “CJ” DAVIS, Police Chief

Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has over 35 years of experience in the law enforcement profession. She was named the chief of MPD in 2021, committed to working with the community to combat crime by utilizing community policing, upholding the law, and preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities. Davis began her career with the City of Atlanta Police Department and before coming to Memphis, was the police chief in Durham, N.C.

SHIRLEY FORD, Chief Financial Officer

Shirley was appointed by Mayor Strickland and confirmed by the City Council in January 2018 to serve as the City’s CFO. Prior to being named CFO, Shirley served as City comptroller for three years. She has served on the Pension Board, the Healthcare Oversight Committee, and the Pension Investment Committee. Shirley has more than 30 years of financial, accounting, and managerial experience. She is a certified public accountant and a certified municipal finance officer as designated by the state comptroller. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Memphis.

Communications Chief Allison Fouche

ALLISON FOUCHÉ, Chief Communications Officer

Allison Johnson Fouché has helped to shape the political landscape in Memphis through strategic marketing, adaptive planning, and the creation of effective messaging. A civil servant backed by over 25 years of experience, Fouché has worked in the office of four City of Memphis mayors and has developed a reputation as a “straight shooter” who specializes in solutions. She is tasked with branding City Government, overseeing and working with her team of marketing professionals to positively impact citizens’ ideas about government. Fouché has helped recruit over 800 officers for the Memphis Police Department with the city’s Join MPD campaign. She also helped lead the communications for the COVID-19 pandemic as a member of the Memphis and Shelby County Joint Taskforce. She has a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications (magna cum laude) from West Virginia University and Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications (cum laude) from Middle Tennessee State University.

Chandell Ryan sits for an official photograph at the City of Memphis.

CHANDELL RYAN, Chief Operating Officer

Chandell Ryan became the first female Chief Operating Officer for the City of Memphis in 2022 and is responsible for directly managing and overseeing all city departments and related agencies. Prior to this appointment, Ryan served as Deputy Chief Operating Officer providing strategic day-to-day service delivery, resource allocation, and policy development for all City divisions. She became the first female Solid Waste Director (Interim) in 2021 while also serving as DCOO and she instituted new technology, route optimization, and on-the-job CDL and Picker Operator training to the Solid Waste team. As an 18-year veteran at City government, Ryan held a total of 8 various attorney, human resource management, and operations roles across 4 divisions, including her service as the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer where she launched the City’s overall D&I strategy. Her experience outside of City government includes general civil litigation, management, and human resources.

Ryan obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, in 2001. She is a New Memphis Leadership Development Intensive Alum (2017) and Leadership Memphis Executive Program graduate (2020). The Memphis Business Journal recently added Ryan to their 2023 Power100 list created for the most powerful people in Memphis Business. A native Memphian, Ryan is deeply involved in the Memphis community, serving on several boards including New Memphis Institute, Innovate Memphis, Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Memphis Convention Center Commission, and the Tennessee Labor-Management Foundation.

JENNIFER A. SINK, Chief Legal Officer

Jennifer A. Sink was appointed Chief Legal Officer / City Attorney for the City of Memphis in January 2020, after serving as the Deputy Director of the Legal Division.  As Chief Legal Officer, she provides legal advice and counsel to the Mayor, divisions directors, and city officials on a broad range of legal matters and provides strategy and legal problem solving.  Sink manages over 60 employees in the Legal Division, which includes attorneys and employees of the claims, permits, risk management, and metro alarm departments.   Before joining the City’s legal division in 2016, she was a Shareholder at the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.  She graduated cum laude from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 2003, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. Sink was elected to the position of Secretary/Treasurer of the Memphis Bar Association in 2021, and will serve as the President in 2023. She is a Memphis Bar Foundation Fellow, and is an ethics panel hearing member for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

Alex Smith

ALEX SMITH, Chief Human Resources Officer

Alex is the architect behind the mayor’s initiatives involving talent management, training, employee relations, compensation, benefits, and diversity initiatives. Prior to her service for the city, Alex was the Director of Human Resources for Brightstar Device Protection, a subsidiary of Brightstar Corporation, where she led key culture and organizational development projects. She has also served in HR management roles for industry leaders such as Target Corporation and Microsoft Corporation, building a career of being a strategic HR partner for key business leaders. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in economics, and earned a master’s degree in human resources and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota. 

Gina Sweat

GINA SWEAT, Fire Chief

Gina Y. Sweat began her career as a firefighter with the Memphis Fire Department on May 26, 1992. She was promoted through the ranks of the department as a driver, lieutenant, battalion chief and division chief. Beginning in 2014, she assumed the duties of the deputy chief of logistics and deputy director on an interim basis. On January 1, 2016, Gina was appointed by Mayor Jim Strickland as fire chief for the Memphis Fire Department. She earned a bachelor’s of business administration degree in marketing from Freed-Hardeman University in 1988 where she also played collegiate basketball. After joining the Memphis Fire Department, she continued her education by obtaining a bachelor’s of professional studies in fire administration in 2000 and a master’s of professional studies in strategic leadership in 2013, both from the University of Memphis. During her tenure as chief, the Memphis Fire Department has focused on initiatives to improve operations which helped raise their Insurance Services Office Public Protection Classification from a Class 2 to a Class 1.

Maria Fuhrmann

MARIA FUHRMANN, Chief of Staff

Maria Fuhrmann has served as Mayor Jim Strickland’s Chief of Staff since January 2020. Fuhrmann has served in several roles since she began her career with the City of Memphis in 2006, including Legislative Research Analyst for the Memphis City Council, Grant Coordinator for the Executive Division, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Strickland in 2019. She grew up in Murray, KY, and is a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has lived in her adopted hometown of Memphis, TN, since 1991. Says Fuhrmann: “I love the culture of Memphis – its music, food, outdoor spaces, architecture, neighborhoods, and most of all the people. Memphis has been very good to me. It is my honor to serve the City and help Mayor Strickland execute his vision for Memphis and provide support to our leadership team.”