December 15 is officially Dr. Dee Day at MMI!
Dr. Dee Lofton is a management consultant here in Memphis. She is the founder of The Doc Shop, a consultancy firm that helps organizations (particularly nonprofits) meet their operational goals and objectives in a variety of ways, including image development, help with messaging to attract funders and supporters, strategy guidance, and more.
Over the years, Dr. Dee has also been an invaluable resource for MMI and the partner arts organizations who are part of our Grantmaking and Capacity Building program. She has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty, devoting hours to MMI and our partners through workshops, one-on-one meetings, and answering questions about everything from changes in nonprofit law to grants and bylaws. She is also MMI’s #1 fan on Facebook! For all these reasons, today, we are honoring Dr. Dee’s contributions to the Memphis nonprofit community. Here’s to you, Dr. Dee! Thank you so much for all that you do.
MMI: Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk to us. Are you a Memphis native?
Dr. Dee: Yes, I am. I was born in Memphis. However, I was a weekend Memphian for about 20 years because I traveled for work when I was a project manager for the IRS, but this is home.
MMI: I know that you run The Doc Shop now, where you provide management and consulting services. Is that something that you've always done, or has your career taken different paths?
Dr. Dee: I am a retired federal employee. I worked for the Department of Treasury for 26 years before I retired. The Doc Shop came about after I finished my PhD and I was looking for a way to use all of my different areas of expertise. I did this exercise where I wrote down every degree, what my major was, my minor, and so on. And I had to write down all the different ways I thought I could use these skills. That's how I ended up with nonprofits as a target audience, doing document development and strategy.
I have a bachelor's degree in economics, a master's degree in operations and strategy, and a master's in project management. I’m also a certified PMP. So, when I went for the doctorate, I was asked, "Which one of these are you going to piggy back off of?" That's how I ended up in management, leadership, and strategy, because that was a better fit for what I had already done. The Doc Shop came about because people kept saying, "You write really well, help us create this document," and the like. So, I started out just doing contract writing and then moving into the nonprofit sector, I just became more interested in helping nonprofits and small businesses grow.
MMI: That is great, and sounds like a useful strategy for figuring out what you wanted to do next—writing it all down and really taking a considered look at things. So have you been involved with MMI in some capacity for a while, or has that been more recent?
Dr. Dee: I'm not sure exactly when I first started working with MMI, but it was after meeting Tawanna [MMI’s Program Manager, Community Music Program Grants]. At the time I was doing business development and grant writing for the Withers Collection Museum. We hosted a summer program with some of the MMI students at the museum, and they wanted to learn collection management and actually how to search in an archive and identify images. That's how I first met her and that was my first involvement with MMI. That was probably 2016, 2017.
MMI: And what kinds of projects have you been involved with since you started working with MMI?
Dr. Dee: I did a workshop for the nonprofits under the MMI Grantmaking and Capacity Building umbrella, to walk through some of the changes in nonprofit law, and to answer questions about startups and even growing a nonprofit. It was a three-hour workshop. And then, I did what we called “office hours,” where different organizations would apply to get an hour with me to answer specific questions—maybe a grant or bylaws—whatever their one thing was that they wanted to use office time for.
MMI: That's great. What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
Dr. Dee: I really enjoy when the people that I help, number one, take the advice. That's always nice. And then when they come back and tell me how the advice helped them to accomplish something. That's the fun part for it, for me.
MMI: And I'm sure you've seen some of the organizations that you've worked with grow quite a bit over the years.
Dr. Dee: Oh, absolutely. I am so proud of [MMI partner] Memphis Youth Arts Initiative. They recently opened the concert for Master P.
MMI: Oh yeah! How cool.
Dr. Dee: Yes. I was really proud of them. I had just worked with their Director, to make sure everything was in compliance and to identify some strategies for identifying grants. I hadn't heard of them before, and then within that same week, they were in Nashville, performing for TSU. Then they were in Memphis opening for Master P. I was like, “So, you’re a star, you just didn't tell me!”
MMI: So, since we are a music organization, I have to ask: Do you have a particular Memphis music memory that stands out to you?
Dr. Dee: Oh my goodness. I'm a music lover from way back. I actually majored in music for half of college—mostly music appreciation for all types and genres. But when I think about music in Memphis, I go all the way back to the Goodwill Review and the Starlight summer concerts. I think about all of the greats who would make their way to Memphis to perform. So, I got a chance to see Smokey Robinson and The Miracles and The Emotions and all these early artists. I'm a big concert lover and over the years I’ve attended a lot of concerts here in Memphis.
MMI: There is so much good music here.
Dr. Dee: And you can't miss Beale Street Music Fest if you're a Memphian—that just has to be on your list of things to care about.
MMI: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Dee. On behalf of everybody at MMI, thanks again for everything that you do, not just for MI, but for all of the organizations in Memphis that you work with.
If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Dee with questions about her work, presentation on grant writing, or nonprofit strategy in general, you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.