Who We Are

About The Foundation

The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc. serves nonprofit organizations that work to improve Memphis and the MidSouth. Through our partnerships, we address pressing challenges while also searching for root causes with the goal of creating community-wide transformation.


Our guiding principles begin and end with respect, compassion, service, and stewardship for our community and one another. We strive to effectively and to the best of our abilities, allocate resources to support the diverse needs of our community in a way that improves the quality of life for all.

Since our formation in 1994 from the sale of St. Francis Hospital, The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc. (The Foundation) has awarded more than $245 million to nonprofit organizations serving people located primarily in the Greater Memphis area.

Our Staff

The Assisi Foundation staff is available to assist you with questions regarding eligibility for funding as well as qualification for our training and Seminars. Please feel free to contact any of our staff.

Tiffanie Grier

Program Officer tgrier@assisifoundation.org

John I. Mansfield

Director of First Impressions jmansfield@assisifoundation.org

Elise McKelvey

Program Manager emckelvey@assisifoundation.org

Ernestine Berry Smith

Sr. Programs Officer esmith@assisifoundation.org

Taylor Wamble

Director of Grants

Jaclyn White

Director of Accounting & Finance jwhite@assisifoundation.org

Dr. Jan Young

Executive Director jyoung@assisifoundation.org


The Foundation’s leadership team thoroughly and thoughtfully—individually and as a group—weighs requests as they relate to our mission of effective philanthropy.

Working from the notion that serving is a privilege, our diverse group of leaders convenes quarterly to review applications and determine funding approvals. Each leader brings specific and valuable skill sets, as well as professional and personal experiences. Collectively, they strive to make the most responsible decisions for the greatest, most lasting impact. Our leaders are focused, dedicated and motivated—much like our community partners.

Board of Directors

  • Cato Johnson
  • Susan M. Aguillard, M.D.
  • Jack A. Belz
  • Ronald A. Belz
  • Michael J. Bruns, Vice Chair
  • Lee J. Chase III
  • Barbara Daush
  • Marvin Davis
  • Thomas Farnsworth
  • Mott Ford
  • William E. Frulla
  • Robert D. Gooch III
  • Frank Gusmus
  • Ellen Klyce
  • Nancy C. Lanigan, Secretary
  • Beverly Robertson
  • Charles D. Schaffler
  • Thomas W. Scherer, Treasurer
  • Martin F. Thompson
  • Peggy I. Veeser, Ed.D. Board Chair
  • Carol Johnson Dean, Ed.D.
  • Philip R. Zanone Jr.

Community Advisory Council

  • Phil Baker, PharmD
  • Rick Donlon, MD
  • Elizabeth Duncan
  • Marlon Foster
  • Scott Fountain
  • James Gilliland Jr.
  • Cori Grant, PhD
  • Dennis Higdon, MD
  • Brian Janz, PhD
  • Laurie Johnson
  • Wendy Likes, PhD
  • Br. David Poos
  • Sunny K. Ross
  • Mary A. Smith, DDS
  • Waletha Wasson, DDS
  • Russ Wiggington, PhD


    • John D. Canale Jr., former St. Francis Hospital board member (deceased)

    • A. F. “Bud” Dudley, retired chairman of the Liberty Bowl and long-term board member of St. Francis Hospital (deceased)

    • William A. Loewenberg, former St. Francis Hospital board member and long-term Memphis business leader and philanthropist (deceased)

    • John D. Pera, Ph.D., retired chemist from Buckman Laboratories and long-term board member of St. Francis Hospital (deceased)

    • M. Rita Schroeder, founder of St. Francis Hospital and its former president (deceased)

    • Joseph S. Sims, retired First Tennessee Bank executive and long-term board member of St. Francis Hospital. Mr. Sims guided The Foundation's formation in its first two years of operation, serving as chairman during what was an unusually active start for any foundation (deceased)

    • James A. Sweeney, former National Bank of Commerce executive and long-term board member of St. Francis Hospital (deceased)

    • Russel L. Wiener, D.D.S., retired dentist and long-term board member of St Francis Hospital (deceased)

Summer Internships

We hire a limited number of interns for the summer. Applications should be submitted no later than December 31 of each year for the following summer. To inquire about eligibility, please complete the form.

Franciscan Ambassadors

In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the halls of The Assisi Foundation come to life—quite literally. Meet our Franciscan Ambassadors.


Elvis is “in the house.” Very much like Elvira, our very first Francisan ambassador (whom we all miss), he is an imp: Playful, curious, inquisitive, and highly intelligent, he wiggles to win your heart.


Frankie wandered onto the courtyard one day and found us worthy of feeding him and providing shelter when he wants it. If you want to find Frankie, just wait by the side door. As The Foundation’s only cat, Frankie stealthily patrols the courtyard grounds daily, keeping a close eye on his feathered friends who perch peacefully on St. Francis’ statue.

The Story of Francis

Though we are not affiliated with the Catholic Church or any Franciscan organization, we do believe in the philosophy of St. Francis and his lifelong example as one who loved compassionately and lived in service of Christ and his fellow man.

Many of the stories that surround St. Francis deal with his love of animals, his caring for the natural world, and his dedication to the poor and the suffering.

The Prayer Of ST. Francis

  • “Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace,
  • where there is hatred, let me sow love;
  • where there is injury, pardon;
  • where there is doubt, faith;
  • where there is despair, hope;
  • where there is darkness, light;
  • where there is sadness, joy;
  • Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
  • to be understood as to understand;
  • to be loved as to love.
  • For it is in giving that we receive;
  • it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
  • And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”