Why should we care?
SCS’s ability to provide a quality, equitable education is being undercut by high teacher turnover and year-long teaching vacancies, as well as significant maintenance deficiencies within the schools, all of which leads to higher financial, educational, and health costs. A lack of access to wraparound services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, and nurses inhibits the successful treatment of trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Abuse, neglect, and trauma significantly increase the likelihood of suspensions, juvenile criminal behavior, and incarceration. With a median age four years below the national average, Memphis’s population can support economic development, but only if we provide children in our community access to opportunities and support.
MICAH Staff Members
Rev. Ayanna Watkins (she/her), Lead Organizer & Executive Director
Rev. Ayanna Johnson Watkins is MICAH’s Lead Organizer/ Executive Director. Ayanna is a speaker,
writer, and facilitator focused on building transformative community and nurturing the God-given
purpose of each individual.
She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Yale University before going on to complete both the Master of
Divinity and the Master of Arts in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She has been
an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) since 2004. After graduation, she
served as youth pastor at the long-established Park Manor Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on the
south side of Chicago, IL, and later Lead Pastor of the Family of Hope Christian Church (DoC) in Blue
Island, IL—a multicultural congregation she founded together with a team.
Ayanna has also been an active social worker—serving as a community organizer in southwest Chicago, a
counselor for at-risk youth and mentally-ill adults, and an advocate for public aid clients. Before moving
to Memphis, she was the Director of Community Life at Chicago Theological Seminary where she worked
to foster leadership, to nurture healthy community, and assist students in their spiritual and professional
formation. This education and experience have equipped Ayanna to speak, teach, and write on topics
including leadership, faith practice, community organizing, and domestic violence.
Rev. Ayanna lives in Memphis with her husband and daughters, where she first served as Director of the
Incubate Initiative for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
supporting and fostering the creation of new health and social service ministry nonprofits. Rev. Ayanna
has been involved with MICAH since 2017 and accepted the position of MICAH’s first Lead Organizer in
Meggan Kiel (she/her), MICAH Organizer
Meggan Wurzburg Kiel is a full-time organizer for MICAH. She came to her first MICAH meeting in 2016, before the organization even had a name, and is thrilled to be able to organize so many passionate Memphians to make the changes they want to see in their community through their work in MICAH.
A native Memphian, Meggan earned her B.A. from Duke University before going on to complete a M.Ed. as
part of the first cohort of the Boston Teacher Residency in conjunction with UMass-Boston. While in
Boston, Meggan worked in the program department of Facing History and Ourselves’ international office.
Upon moving home to Memphis, Meggan worked as a facilitator for Facing History and Ourselves and
then as Assistant Director of Admissions at Rhodes College. Taking both her knowledge of the college
process and her passion for high school students, Meggan began her career in college counseling. Her first
position, a college counselor for the Memphis Prep Program, allowed her to work with amazing students
from all across Memphis City Schools to access their college dreams. From there, she was hired to
develop a college counseling program for The Soulsville Charter School (TSCS); because of the planning
and implementation of the College and Alumni Support Team (CAST) at TSCS, the school celebrates 100%
acceptance to 4-year colleges for every graduating class since the first class in 2012.
After living out of the country required her and her husband to homeschool their two children, Meggan
continued to homeschool her children for the next three years before joining MICAH’s staff. Meggan has
served on the Board of Trustees for Temple Israel and St. Mary’s Episcopal School’s Alumnae Board; she
currently serves on the Boards of MIFA, Facing History and Ourselves, and Playback Memphis as well as the East High School PTO.
Gisela Guerrero (she/her/ella), MICAH Organizer
Gisela Guerrero is a full-time MICAH organizer. Gisela first joined MICAH as a delegate for Church Health in 2019 and transitioned to the organizer role in 2021. As a public health advocate, Gisela seeks to connect with others working towards positive social, political, and structural change that will improve the overall health of the community.
Gisela was born in Mexico City and has lived in Memphis since she was five years old. She earned her B.A. from Brown University and is currently working on a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Memphis. Gisela's academic interests include racial health disparities, community-based participatory research, and immigrant and Latinx health.
After graduation, Gisela began working as a Bilingual Wellness Education Coordinator at Church Health focusing on adapting and expanding programming for the growing Latinx and immigrant patient population. In this role, Gisela worked individually with patients and learned more about the various barriers they face to achieving physical and emotional health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gisela has helped coordinate Socios Comunitarios En Respuesta a la Pandemia del COVID-19, a coalition of Latinx-serving organizations and community leaders that formed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Latinx communities. This coalition shares information and resources, strengthens partnerships, and leverages connections to advocate for the communities' identified needs. These efforts have led to broader and ongoing conversations with local decision-makers on how to better serve the Latinx communities during emergencies and beyond.
Gisela currently lives in Memphis, TN with her husband and continues to be involved in the community advocacy and public health advocacy communities.
Andrew Woods (he/him), MICAH Organizer
Andrew is a Memphis native, married to Laura Woods--our Temple Israel delegate. Previously Andrew served in MICAH as our Co-Chair of Operations and Finance as well as Temple Israel delegate. Andrew's professional background is as a CPA with nearly 10 years of accounting experience. Most recently, Andrew worked for Hippo Education and before that as Controller for KIPP Collegiate Schools. Now he's here to turn all of that experience toward organizing! Himself a product of legacy Memphis City Schools, Andrew is deeply familiar with the profound relationship between economic inequity and education inequity and how both can potentially impact our options in life. Andrew's key role on the MICAH staff will be as Community Organizer for Economic Equity,
Ron Davis (he/him), MICAH Field Organizer
In this role, Ron will spend half of his time organizing field work for MICAH and the other half for Stand for Children-Tennessee.
Field organizing is important to our work to connect our issues and actions to communities and residents. Whether around elections or issue campaigns, Ron will work with MICAH leaders to ensure that our work is getting out into the community and meeting folks where they live, work, and have fun.
Ron is no stranger to MICAH, as he has been a member of the Freedom's Chapel Christian Church core team and served as a Chair for MICAH's 2021 Public Meeting. Prior to this role, Ron worked with two MICAH partners-- Wesley Foundation and St. John's UMC. Ron is a proud graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana (New Orleans) and THE Central High School (Memphis).