Mike Carpenter

Executive Director

Call: 901-331-0153
Email: mike.carpenter@tqee.org

Mike Carpenter has a diverse background that includes politics as an operative and former elected official; appointed government official; lobbyist and advocate for education reform; president and CEO of a commercial construction trade association and executive director of a private, family foundation.

Most recently, Mike served as Executive Director of the Plough Foundation, a private, Memphis-based, family foundation. In that role, Mike managed more than $100 million in assets and the foundation granted an average $13 million annually. Many of those grants, under Mike’s direction, were made to early learning entities and programs throughout Shelby County, including long-standing support of Shelby County Schools efforts to improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness and Ready, Set Grow, which aimed to improve the quality of childcare.

Prior to his tenure at the Plough Foundation, Mike served simultaneously as the head of Intergovernmental Relations for the City of Memphis and as the project manager for the TIGER grant-funded Main to Main Multimodal Connector – a $30 million federal transportation project. Mike liaised with the City Council on behalf of Mayor A C Wharton and managed contract lobbyists at the state and local levels. As project manager, he successfully secured $15 million in federal TIGER funds, negotiated a complex agreement with Union Pacific Railroad and collaborated with numerous federal, state and local agencies.
In 2011, Mike was hired by StudentsFirst, an education reform advocacy organization. He was named first state director of the nationwide group and established a solid track record of passing state legislation and winning legislative campaigns.
Mike was elected to the County Commission in 2006 and 2010 with 72% and 78% of the vote respectively. As County Commissioner, Mike earned a reputation as a champion for children, women and the marginalized in Shelby County. While Commissioner, he received a Children’s Champion Award from FirstFocus, the Harry Burn Award for advocacy on behalf of women and a Crime Victims’ Advocate of the Year award for his support of domestic violence services and vertical prosecution of perpetrators.
Throughout his career, Mike has been a reliable and trusted advisor to state and local leaders. He co-chaired Mayor A C Wharton’s Transition Team in 2009. Mike was appointed by Governor Haslam to the State’s Taskforce on Aging and selected for the Governor’s inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee. Mike was tapped by the Mayor of Memphis in 2014 to serve as a member of the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce and in 2015 to draft a comprehensive report on the city’s procedure for open records and transparency.
Mike, and his wife, Mary Ann live in Memphis. They have four children, ages 17, 15, 13 and 11. Mike is a graduate of the University of Memphis.


Lisa Wiltshire

Policy Director

Call: 615-517-0353
Email: lisa.wiltshire@tqee.org

Lisa joined TQEE as Policy Director in April 2017, after serving two years as the Executive Director for the Office of Early Learning at the Tennessee Department of Education, a $150 million division overseeing statewide programs serving children, ages 0-5, and their families.

Lisa led multiple strategic initiatives at the department including the creation of a comprehensive, evidence-based definition of program and instructional quality for pre-k; the development and implementation of a competitive grant application for $85 million in pre-k funding for district programs; the development of a kindergarten entry assessment; the collaborative design and successful roll-out of statewide training to prepare 145+ districts to implement the student growth portfolio model in pre-k and kindergarten; and the transformation of the office of school-based support services from a focus on compliance to a model focused on quality program improvements.

Prior to her role at the state department, Lisa served as the Director of Early Learning Innovation for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools where she created three model early learning centers to exemplify best practice in early childhood education and led a collaborative coalition to expand pre-k opportunities for students in Davidson County. Prior to her role in early learning, Lisa was Special Assistant to the Director of Schools, in charge of strategic planning, as well as oversight and management of the district’s Race to the Top grant.
Lisa has a Master’s of Science in Education from the Bank Street College of Education in New York, with a special course of studies completed at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
Lisa worked in the financial services sector for seven years prior to pursuing a career in education where she executed equity and debt offerings, and mergers and acquisitions for companies in multiple economic sectors. Lisa also worked at a private equity fund where she identified, evaluated and negotiated leveraged buyouts and equity investments in middle-market companies.
Lisa devotes her time outside work to her two children, ages 11 and 13, and to a number of community service projects and boards.

Proven Results

You're Making a Difference

We’re proud to champion Tennessee’s Early Childhood Education needs and we’re making a difference! Take a moment to review the results form our recent poll. There’s always more to be done so we thank you in advance for joining us and helping strengthen further!


PreK Quality

Preserved PreK for xx,000 4-year olds while insisting on quality in EVERY classroom.

Parent Engagement

Launched new academic parent-teacher partnerships.


Defended aligned assessments and kindergarten portfolio as critical tools for monitoring and improving student progress.

Great Teachers & Leaders

Initiated two vital and actionable studies with Vanderbilt University and Tennessee Department of Education to drive improvements in early grades instruction.

#MyEarlyEducation to support the Tennesseens for Quality Early Education
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