LLIdea Speakers

Join us on July 10th in the Continental Ballroom for a welcome dinner and LLIdea talks by our passionate speakers. Short talks prepared to engage and motivate attendees for a full two-days of innovative learning strategies.


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Dr. Lee Allen is an Associate Professor and currently the Interim Chair of the Instruction and Curriculum Department in the College of Education at the University of Memphis.

He is also the Program Coordinator for the School Library Information Specialist program in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Santa Fe, a Master of Arts in Training and Learning Technologies from the University of New Mexico, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Technologies from Pepperdine University. Dr. Allen has served as technology consultant on numerous federal and state grants, and was the Principal Investigator for the Institute of Library & Museum Services’ Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant in partnership with the Memphis City Schools and two rural West Tennessee school districts. He has also served as the online course development director for the West Tennessee Regional STEM Innovation Collaboratory grant.

Dr. Allen’s research focuses on the integration of information technologies in the development and use of knowledge and skills in the classroom, libraries, and everyday learning opportunities and environments.

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Ashley Thomas, an 18 year-old graduate from Lausanne Collegiate School in May 2016, will be attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as a freshman in the fall, and her desired major is Business Management with an Entrepreneurship Emphasis. After attending college for 1 – 2 semesters, Ashley intends to serve a 1 1/2 year proselyting and service mission for her affiliated church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Having been a member of the Greater Memphis community for over 5 years, serving in programs such as Meals on Wheels through MIFA and the Chapman-Woodbury Oral History Program, Ashley feels a deep connection to the people that live in and around Memphis as well as the businesses and organizations that operate therein. Through these programs, Ashley has been able to learn to love the individuals in her community, especially by visiting and singing to elders around the holidays as well as both listening to and recording some United States’ veterans’ stories to preserve their history at the Library of Congress. 

Both a founder and current CEO of the non-profit organization SupportMe, Inc., Ashley Thomas along with her team created and presented the initial business plan for SupportMe during Governor’s School for Business and IT Leadership at Tennessee Tech University in June 2015. SupportMe primarily aims to connect struggling teenagers with the mental health support they need as well as to provide a program through SupportMe’s mobile application to help increase the struggling teenagers’ sense of self worth and their mental strength.


Joseph Adeola is Founder of Fathom, PBC and Head of Strategic Innovations. Joseph has experience in entrepreneurship, small business development and community advocacy. Joseph attended college in Idadan, Nigeria and in returning to Nashville in 2009, Joseph began serving as a business consultant to several local businesses and organizations and has worked closely with historically black colleges and universities and underserved communities to promote entrepreneurship as a tool for youth empowerment, community development and sustainability.

Julie Dunlap is Co-founder of Fathom, PBC and Head of Social Responsibilities. Julie received her Bachelors of Arts in Medicine, Health and Society in 2011 from Vanderbilt University’s College of Arts and Science. Julie received her Masters of Science in Public Health in 2014 with a concentration in Global and Maternal and Child Health from Meharry Medical College. Over the last 5 years, Julie has been working to finding innovative approaches to translate community based- research and interventions to promote the well-being of young people, families and underserved communities.


Ginger Spickler is the Director of Memphis School Guide, an initiative of Teacher Town in Memphis, TN. Even though she’s not originally from Memphis, she is a graduate of Rhodes College and considers herself a Memphian now. She is the parent of two children who attend their neighborhood Shelby County School, and a member of Stand for Children. Since November 2015, Ginger has been leading a diverse team of Memphians in developing a proposal for the proposed Crosstown High to submit to the XQ Super School Project — a competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, to design the high school of the future. The Memphis team’s initial proposal made it through to the semi-final round and the team submitted the second phase in May. They are currently waiting to hear if Crosstown High made it through to the final round, and if it will be one of the contest’s five $10 million winners. All good thoughts are appreciated!