The Commercial Appeal

‘We are going to make it’ spirit is alluring


I was born in Portsmouth, Va., but Atlanta is my home. I attended the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and the Virginia Consortium for Profession­al Psychology for graduate school. After graduation I started as a psychologi­st with the Department of Veterans Affairs and progressed in various roles for the next 21 years. I moved here to serve as the CEO of the Memphis Veterans’ hospital. It was an honor to work with VA but at the threeyear mark it was time to explore other opportunit­ies, which likely meant leaving Memphis. Fortunatel­y an opportunit­y arose within the Methodist system which afforded me the chance to stay in Memphis. Q: What brought you to Memphis? A: I moved to Memphis to serve as the CEO of the Memphis VA. I had never been here before and knew very little about the city. We have chosen to stay here because of the warmth of Memphians. I have lived all over the South and, by far, Memphis has the most friendly and welcoming people (yes even more than Atlanta).

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Serving people! In my role I oversee the delivery of health care to people in and around Whitehaven. I work for an organizati­on that very mission-driven and focused on providing care to all who need it.

Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?

A: Wow, tough question. I have been to a number of great restaurant­s but, right now, I’m loving the chicken and waffles at Flight! Q: Fondest memory of Memphis? A: There are many, but hands down it’s that Jacob Howard Robinson, my fourth child, was born here at Methodist Germantown. Q: What connects you to the city? A: The spirit to exceed expectatio­ns against the odds is what connects me to the city. The Grizzlies come to mind as an example. No true marquee players, but still in the conversati­on as one of the best teams. The spirit of “we are going to make it” is alluring.

Q: In your opinion, what can be done to move Memphis forward?

A: A focus on and commitment to all levels of education. I hate to compare Memphis to Atlanta, but when you look at one area in which Atlanta has thrived is higher education. Good colleges and universiti­es bring good students who sometimes decide to stay and contribute. My sense is that Memphis does not do enough to groom and retain its talent. The good news is that I

Jay Robinson know that the local universiti­es are working hard to improve. That can only be a harbinger for good things to come. “I Choose Memphis” is a biweekly series that spotlights Memphians who are passionate about calling this community home. New Memphis Institute provides the profiles.

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