New Residents Help Make Memphis a More Just City

What does it take to live in Memphis?


That was the question Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck posed to readers in his most recent Sunday column. His answer was not about BBQ, music or even low cost of living. Instead, it invoked one of Memphis’ greatest weaknesses: poverty.  Interestingly, one of our city’s biggest challenges has become a hook for the smart, talented and socially aware.

“There is one other thing moving to Memphis will demand of you. A social conscience.”

Peck went on to mention some of the impressive newcomers, who have come to Memphis with a desire to make a difference.

Listed among these new Memphians was one of our newest Shelby County Public Defenders…

“Katherine Oberembt, a 2012 Yale Law School graduate, . . .  arrived in Memphis as part of the Public Defender Corps, a nationwide program to encourage justice reform.”

Oberembt is one of two new attorneys who have come to Memphis as part of the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office first PD Corps class. Laurie Sansbury, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, has also moved to Memphis as part of this three-year program.

Read more about the PD Corps in this Commercial Appeal article.

The Peck article went on to cite service as a critical recruiting tool that some Memphis organizations are utilizing to attract talented, socially-aware employees.

Choose 901 is another relatively new local recruiting effort. Its key component is a website based entirely on Memphis’ deep service culture as a means to attract U.S. college students and recent grads to the Mid-South.  Earlier this year, Newsweek magazine recognized Rhodes College of Memphis as the nation’s top service-oriented school for the second year in a row.

The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office is proud to be part of this community’s committment to those in need, and we welcome Laurie, Katherine and all of the new Memphians, who are here to make this a more just city!