Agency Leadership

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.


Prior to coming to Oasis, 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 are parents to three and greatly enjoy spending time with their five grandchildren.


Kim Reese – Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Kim oversees all financial and accounting processes for Oasis Center. Kim’s business acumen instills trust in all of our fund contributors, while accomplishing Oasis Center’s mission of helping youth succeed. With more than 20 years of financial experience, her expertise encompasses operational and financial management. 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 – Chief Strategy Officer

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 –  VP of Youth Engagement, Action and Program Evaluation

Dr. Judy Freudenthal has nearly 30 years of experience working with youth and families. She oversees all of Youth Engagement and Action Programming as well as leading external program evaluation.

Judy attended Metro Nashville Public Schools, and received her doctorate in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University. She 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 –  VP of Clinical Services and Data Integrity

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.  Mendez oversees Oasis Center’s Clinical and Residential Services as well as the organization and analysis of agency data.

Cheryl is recognized for her leadership in innovative programming and curriculum development with youth involved with juvenile justice and foster care families. She has worked in residential, outpatient and home-based settings. Often sought after for training and group facilitation, Cheryl insight into areas such as advancing youth development, anger management, alcohol and drug prevention, teen court, domestic violence prevention and intervention, and family preservation are tremendous assets to Oasis and the youth and families we serve.


Shanda Hampton- VP of Human Resources

Shanda has called Oasis home for nearly 20 years, coming to us first as a relief counselor at the Emergency Shelter. With a BA in Psychology from Western Kentucky

University, Shanda was a huge asset at the shelter for 8 years before transitioning to the administrative side of the agency in Human Resources. In her current role as the Director of Human Resources, Shanda manages HR policies, designed our Employee Development Program, and manages all training programs.

An avid Titans fan, Shanda enjoys spending game day with her family. Always rooting for her team, Shanda continues to be amazed every day by her extraordinary co-workers, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Oasis Center!


Michelle Hall – Director of Transitional Living


For 20 years, Michelle has focused her work on helping at-risk youth transition into healthy adulthood. 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.

Hall 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. She serves as the Director of the Street Outreach Program which includes the Street Outreach Drop-in Center and Street Outreach Services.

Michelle also brings 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 populations with lack resources or access to resources.

A talented photographer, Michelle is rarely without a camera. Therefore, her personal burn-out prevention plan includes photography, spending lots of time with her nieces and nephews, and taking care of the pets that find themselves lucky enough to be in her care.


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 nearly 20 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 1500 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. She 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.



LaSherrie McKinnie-Bates – Director of Oasis Transitions

LaSherrie came to Oasis Center in 2014 after having worked in Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Illinois and Baltimore, Maryland where she was responsible for directing workforce development programs to prepare both youth and adults with the skills training needed for the workplace of today.

LaSherrieLaSherrie is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, she has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has 25 years of experience preparing individuals with education, training and skills needed to compete successfully for employment for the 21st century workplace. LaSherrie has always been passionate about helping and assisting others to succeed. This passion and the mission of Oasis Center is the reason she choose to apply for the Director of Transitions position with Oasis Center after she knew that she would be returning to live in her home state of Tennessee. LaSherrie’s interests after work still involves improving the lives of others in the community where she volunteers countless hours conducting service projects along with other sorority members helping youth develop self-esteem, motivation and leadership skills to transition into successful adults.

Jane Fleishman – Statewide Training & Development Director

jane cropped

Jane has an extensive history in youth and young adult programming that encourages learning & civic engagement. Additionally, her skills in group facilitation are often sought out in the community and within the Oasis organization. Jane was part of the development of Nashville’s “After Zone” programs for middle schools, a collaborative project with Martha O’Bryan Center and the Nashville Mayor’s Office.

In her current role at Oasis, Jane is leading the “YDLC”, a state-wide effort to disseminate the Teen Outreach Program™ (TOP) in congregate care homes serving foster care adolescents. The Youth Development Learning Collaborative is a joint project with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center of Excellence for Children In State Custody.


Michael Centi – Director of Resource Development


Michael first came to Oasis as part of a graduate project and walked away saying “I have to work here.” Centi joined Oasis part-time in 2013 and has since transitioned into his current role managing the agency’s grants. A native of Metro Detroit, Michael holds a degree in post-secondary education from Michigan State University and comes to Oasis with diverse experience in youth development – from summer camps at the zoo to managing a tutoring program for out-of-school youth to teaching high school social studies.

These experiences, his passion for improving young people’s lives, and commitment to advancing the work of nonprofits led him to Nashville to complete his M.Ed in Leadership and Organizational Performance at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. Like many new transplants, Michael spends much of his time exploring the vibrancy of Nashville and the region’s beautiful green spaces.


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 College in Wisconsin. The TRiO Program focuses on helping students graduate from 4 year institutions who are first generation college students, low-income students or students who have disabilities.

Lee has made it his mission to increase the accessibility of post-secondary education and training to under-served youth. He’s doing just that through daily management of 7-10 OCC staff mentors who work in high schools across Nashville as well as additional program offerings throughout the community. Gray’s “can-do” attitude is a major asset to the program mentors and youth in need of support.


Carlee Smith – Volunteer & Community Relations Coordinator

CarleeCarlee is a graduate of The College of William and Mary & Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. The majority of her career has focused on engaging those who wish to serve with fulfilling and rewarding opportunities. Carlee connects Oasis volunteers and community partners in ways that inspire and empower. Her extensive leadership training, prior work with young people, and her passion for having fun are invaluable to our team!

A native of Virginia, Carlee pursues her love of the great outdoors regularly. She enjoys hiking, running, and an easy chair on the porch of her new home.