Mickey Woodham

Mickey’s Mojo includes a story behind every gift

Better grab a box of tissues for Mickey Woodham. She’s ready to tell you about some of the estate gifts she will make through her donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation. And, she said, “Every time I talk about my gifts, I get weepy.”

Tears always start when she talks about the gift she’ll make to the National Civil Rights Museum in honor of Nathaniel Rogers. Back in 1966, when Mickey was a high school senior, Nathaniel Rogers was the first African-American to attend her public high school in Hartsville, South Carolina. While white students jeered and taunted, Nathaniel kept his head high. And Mickey kept silent.

“I didn’t speak out, and I feel so bad about that,” Mickey said. “Nathaniel had so much courage, and I had none. With this planned gift, I want to say how much I admired Nathaniel. I didn’t stand up for him then, but I stand with him now.”

Mickey created legacy gifts to honor people who have influenced her life in significant ways, she said. “The Community Foundation’s sterling reputation is the reason I set my fund up here. I like the Foundation’s stability. I feel confident that my fund is in good hands to carry out my wishes.”

Her gift to a scholarship fund at Syracuse University will honor a former boss and mentor who was a Vietnam veteran. A gift to the Harwood Center that serves special-needs children will honor a friend’s grandson who has Down syndrome. A scholarship gift to Memphis College of Art will honor her good friend Jeff Nesin, the college’s former president. 

“My fund is like a history of the things I’m passionate about,” she said. “I get emotional talking about it because everything on the list is something close to my heart.”

“Mickey’s Mojo,” the title she gave her fund, conveys her attitude about giving. “I wanted a title that wasn’t so serious; I wanted to capture the joy I find in giving,” she said.

Another of the projects Mickey’s Mojo will benefit is the soup kitchen at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Memphis. She’s there most Sunday afternoons, serving up her distinctive cheerful welcome and a hot meal to the dozens of homeless men and women who are regulars. She’s also chairperson of the church’s Outreach Committee that administers the soup kitchen, clothes closet and other projects serving the homeless. 

During her 40-year career in advertising, Mickey served as president of the local American Advertising Federation (AAF-Memphis). Her fund includes a scholarship gift to the University of Memphis to benefit a student majoring in advertising.

In her current job, she is Quality Control Manager at inferno, an advertising and public relations firm. “inferno gives each employee one full week—with pay—that we can use to volunteer for a nonprofit. The company calls this perk “Fuelanthropic.” I took one day off last month to work with a high school group reorganizing the clothes closet at First Presbyterian. Others do things like build houses with Habitat and lead groups at BRIDGES. This is one of the reasons I love working at inferno.”

When she was a child, Mickey’s mother penciled in a telling sentence in her Baby Book: “Mickey wears her heart on her sleeve.” The phrase indicated young Mickey was already demonstrating compassion and empathy, traits she is proud of today.

“I’ve always believed all of us are obligated to help those less fortunate than we are,” she said. “I see organizations working to make things better, and I want to support them. I believe in making things happen. Life is too short for hand-wringing; let’s find a solution. I believe we can all make the world better in small ways.”