Tom Ward – President and CEO
Tom Ward joined Oasis in the spring of 2012. Tom brings over 30 years experience working with Nashville’s youth and their families through his decorated career as a principal in the Metro Nashville Public School system.
For the past 6 years, Ward ran the Principal Leadership Academy at the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University. Prior to Vanderbilt, Tom served as the Executive Principal at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, where he helped lay the foundation for the Nashville school to be named by Newsweek as one of the top 100 high schools in the nation and 2nd in the state of Tennessee in 2006.
Tom is a “Hilltopper” alumni, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Western Kentucky University. He received a Master’s degree in educational administration from Middle Tennessee University. Tom and his wife Christina have three children and two young grandchildren.
Kim Reese – Vice President of Operations
VP of Operations, Kimberly Reese’s business acumen instills trust in all of our fund contributors, while accomplishing Oasis Center’s mission of helping youth succeed. Kimberly’s 15 years of financial experience encompasses operational and financial management. Before her current officer position, she served as the Oasis Center’s Financial Services Director for 8 solid years. She holds a BBA with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Memphis and a Masters in Public Administration from Tennessee State University.
Mark Dunkerley – Vice President of Development
Mark was first drawn to Oasis as a volunteer and was immediately blown away by the agency’s work and the staff’s creative spirit. Shortly after beginning as a volunteer, he started a small craft beer company, Jubilee, that donates half of its profit to Oasis. After several months of promoting Oasis as a volunteer, Mark jumped at the opportunity to join the staff in August of 2010. Prior to his involvement with Oasis, Mark spent eight years doing sports marketing and development for college athletics. A native Nashvillian, he did his undergrad at Vanderbilt and received an MBA from the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State. Mark is a big fan of barbecue and is writing a book on his travels across the country in search of the best barbecue. So far it’s the Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis, followed by LC’s in Kansas City.
Judy Freudenthal – Senior Director of Youth Engagement and Action
Dr. Judy Freudenthal has more than 25 years experience working with youth and families, and directs Oasis Center’s prevention services. She attended Metro Nashville Public Schools, and received her doctorate in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University. Judy is a well-respected trainer in her field. Under her leadership, Oasis Center has received many distinctions, including the Model Prevention Program in Tennessee by the Southeastern Center for the Application of Prevention Technology and the Innovation Program of the Year (“Oasis Across Ages”) by the Tennessee Association of Homes for the Aging. Judy herself was named the 2002 Prevention Professional of the Year for Middle Tennessee by the Tennessee Department of Health. She serves on numerous community and statewide committees, and is on the Board of Nashville Prevention Partnership and Homework Hotline. Dr. Judy also is a Vanderbilt Adjunct Professor, teaching multiculturalism and diversity to graduate counseling students.
Cheryl Neville-Mendez – Senior Director of Clinical and Residential Services
Cheryl Neville Mendez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 20 years experience working with youth and families as a teacher, coach, counselor, administrator, and consultant. Her experience spans from pre-schoolers to adults with an emphasis in adolescents, family therapy and group work. Cheryl is recognized for her leadership in innovative programming and curriculum development with juvenile justice involved youth and foster care families. She has worked in residential, outpatient and home-based settings, and is a sought after trainer and group facilitator in such varied areas as advancing youth development, anger management, alcohol and drug prevention, teen court, domestic violence prevention and intervention, and family preservation.
Deniece Ferguson – Director of Youth Action
Deniece Ferguson, M.S., prides herself on being a servant leader and currently serves in the role of Director of Youth Action. She joined the Oasis family in May 2005 as the Program Director of AmeriCorps and has since helped strengthen the youth-adult partnerships through a social justice lens.
In addition to her program development role, she is an adept experiential trainer in youth development and community engagement. Prior to Oasis, Deniece served as an advocate for marginalized communities in various roles (family therapist, child and family advocate, arts education trainer, and program manager). She resides at the intersection of race, class, and gender.
Michelle Hall – Director of Transitional Living
Michelle Hall is focusing her career work on at-risk youth and for the past 19 plus years has helped them to successfully transition into adulthood and learn to thrive. She received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) from Trevecca Nazarene University, where she also minored in Behavioral Sciences with an emphasis in Human Relations and Communications.
Michelle specializes in working with young people who are overcoming homelessness by applying evidenced-based models for Positive Youth Development and Trauma Informed Care, among other modalities. The majority of her career has been with the Oasis Center where she’s worked at the Emergency Shelter supporting youth and families, assisting youth as they aged-out of foster care, overcome crisis or transitioning from living on the streets. Since 2004, she has served as the Director of Transitional Living & Outreach services which includes the Street Outreach Program, an Outreach Drop-in Center, and a residential program named Harwell Lofts. Michelle brings to her work strong values for long-term staff development and progressive approaches for youth care that minimize the effects of trauma often experienced by at-risk and under-resourced populations. Her personal burn-out prevention plans include photography and playing with her nieces.
Shanda Hampton- Director of Human Resources
Shanda Hampton has called Oasis home for over 15 years. After receiving her BA in Psychology from Western Kentucky University, Shanda came to Oasis Center as a relief counselor at the emergency youth shelter. She continued to work at the shelter for 8 years and served as the Shelter Coordinator before transitioning to the administrative side of the agency in Human Resources. 2 years ago, Shanda took on her current role as the Director of Human Resources. She continues to be amazed every day by her extraordinary co-workers, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Oasis Center.
Ruth Lyman – Director of Resource Development
Ruth Lyman joined the Oasis Center team as our Director of Grants in the summer of 2012. Ruth has an impressive background in grant writing and resource development, generating over 25 million dollars
in the past 9 years for organizations in Tennessee.
A graduate of Athens State University in Athens, AL, Ruth came to us from Motlow College where she served as the temporary Program Manager. Prior to Motlow, she was the Resource Development and Grant Writer for Nashville Career Advancement Center. During her tenure there, Ruth’s responsibilities encompassed policy and program development, establishing strategic partnerships, business planning, and utilizing volunteer resources.
Ms. Lyman is driven to make a difference in her activities both in and out of the office. She worked with the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in the development & planning of the Orphan Milk Project in Thailand. She also developed an animal control plan among the Mexican and ex-patriot communities in Punta Banda, Mexico.
Jenn Garcia – Director of Youth Engagement
Jenn has transformed the lives of hundreds of youth through substance abuse and teen pregnancy prevention, youth leadership development, and service learning for more than 16 years. Her current role is overseeing Oasis Center’s Middle School Teen Outreach Programs (TOP), a positive youth development prevention model that teaches life skills, increases healthy behaviors, and creates a sense of purpose in young people. In this data driven world and under her leadership, the youth served through the TOP program have reduced or delayed alcohol and drug use by 73%.
Jenn spear headed multiple city-wide youth initiatives that have engaged over 1000 teens in service learning; smoking prevention, and celebrations of diversity. Jenn serves as a consultant to schools and community based organizations seeking to increase youth leadership capacity. Jenn has been the recipient of numerous awards including Nashville Prevention Partnership’s Prevention Employee of the Year, Planned Parenthood’s Family Life Educator of the Year, and Oasis Center’s Roy Hutton Vision and Action Award.
Jenn is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has lived in Nashville since 1997.
Tammy Roth – NeuroClarity Services Director
Tammy Roth is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 10 years of clinical experience as well as 15 years of corporate organizational development experience. She earned two master’s degrees from Vanderbilt both focused on human development. Prior to the neurofeedback practice she served as director of the Oasis Center emergency shelter. She also opened the Holistic Growth Center where she spent 6 years in private practice focused on alternative healing methods for mind and body.
Ben Kinghorn – Director of Crisis Services
Ben received his M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University in the Human Development Counseling program. He has been with The Oasis Emergency Shelter since 2006, serving as a Crisis Specialist, a Clinical Counselor, and completed a practicum for grad school in the Transitional Living/Street Outreach Program at Oasis.
Ben has had several years of experience in other residential programs for youth in Colorado, and remains committed to helping young people and their families in crisis in Middle Tennessee. Ben is proud of the work that the Oasis Shelter does, and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else!
Lee Gray – Oasis College Connection Manager
Lee Gray came to Oasis all the way from his home
in Las Cruces, NM. He attended Beloit College in Wisconsin where he received his degree in Psychology. After college, he was the assistant soccer coach for his alma mater, where he played during his time as an undergrad.
Lee discovered early in life that his passion was working with young people. He spent many years working with the Student Support Services (TRiO) program at Beloit Collge in Wisconsin, which focuses helping first generation, low income and students with disabilities graduate from four year institutions. He found his home at Oasis in 2011 where he has had a huge impact on the success of the College Connection program. Lee’s mission is to help increase the accessibility of post-secondary education to under-served youth of Nashville!