A giant in life and a giant in public service, Edward Menifee founded and worked with several community-based organizations designed to provide uplift for individuals in need. Edward Menifee has held management and leadership positions in Metropolitan, Urban and Rural Economic Development Programs with emphasis on motivation, education, and business. His professional and civic involvement included: President and Senior Consultant of Southeastern Management and Business Development Company; Bar Association Support to Improve Correctional Services (BASICS) Program’s Director with the State Bar of Georgia; Founder/Director of Southwest Atlanta Youth Business Organization (SWAYBO).
Menifee was a person who lived his life as an instrument of God. His instruction, loving support and guidance helped children and adults in his programs to create their own powerful life plans, see their strength, and push past mistakes, shortcomings and fear to pursue those life plans. He constantly worked toward making the world a better place one smile and venture at a time. Many sought his counsel for matters in their personal lives, businesses and communities; and he generously shared his knowledge, faith, experience and love. His daily mantra, “It’s the Best Day of My Life” reminded all who heard him to proclaim daily, in good times and bad, to find joy in the day and to make the best of it.
Edward came to Atlanta as an experienced youth and professional educator and business developer. He used his talents to teach Entrepreneurship to youth in Southwest Atlanta Youth Business Organization (SWAYBO) and to adults in Georgia’s Bar Association Support to Improve Correctional Services (B.A.S.I.C.S.) program. He served on the leadership team of the Atlanta Business League and helped people in the business community develop needed skills, locate resources, people and capital to help their business and the community thrive. If all Edward ever shared with us was his entrepreneurial instruction, it would have been enough but he shared so much more. His programs sustained themselves for nearly 40 years and continued to thrive as a testament to the quality and goodness of his work, generosity and his ability to bring other talented people together to join in his efforts. He helped people develop camaraderie, and confidence, and created a safe space for people to dare to think big, plan one’s work and work one’s plan.
In May, SWAYBO will celebrate its 45th anniversary. As Founder & Director, Edward trained and motivated youth in life, education, and business. Weekly training sessions provided young people an opportunity to learn and earn. In 40 years, his work with over 1,000 youth has turned $25.00 into over $8 million in revenue. He has taken these young people on educational excursions that cover 40 foreign countries and 40 states within the United States of America.
As Program Director of BASICS, Menifee provided effective instruction, guidance, and employability counseling to inmates in the State of Georgia, which gave participants the tools and support to successfully transition back into society fulfilling their roles as citizens, employees and employers. The BASICS Program was initiated in 1976 by the American Bar Association in answer to a Supreme Court challenge to attorneys to have a more active role in criminal reform. About 22 Bar Associations around the country started BASICS programs at that time. The State Bar of Georgia’s BASICS World of Work Program, under Ed’s Directorship, is the only one still in existence. BASICS is offered at 23 sites throughout GA and has graduated over 12,000 participants in 43 years! What an accomplishment by all who partnered: the inmates, the attorneys of the Georgia State Bar Association, and Edward Menifee Course Developer, Instructor and mentor. The mission of BASICS is to aid and steer inmates in the direction of self-rehabilitation. During the classes, the instruction team teaches principles of work and entrepreneurship and life management skills, provides assistance with career development plans, educational and /or work plans, preparing resumes, setting goals, and teaching interviewing techniques. Upon release, graduates are assisted with job research, applying for colleges or vocational schools, completing or changing personal action plans, as well as developing financial plans. This decreases the likelihood that these individuals will return to jail and facilitates their return to society equipped to succeed and contribute. That is God’s work.
For his outstanding achievements and his unwavering efforts in educating, training, and motivating youths, prisoners, and professionals both locally and nationally, Menifee received numerous awards. He was given the key to the city on more than one occasion and has been honored by many other organizations, leaders and institutions. Menifee held directorships on the boards of numerous organizations in Georgia including APEX, Fulton County Board of Ethics, Health Planning and Review Board of the State of Georgia, SWAYBO Incorporated, Stepping Beyond, Inc., and the Atlanta Business League. Ed was also a member of Leadership Atlanta.
Menifee’s life in Atlanta and work all started in Adamsville, SW Atlanta. SWAYBO started in Adamsville and still meets at the Adamsville C.T. Martin Recreational Center. The first office for BASICS started there. Menifee was well known by the whole community for doing great things for that community. There is great significance in placing the memorial sign at the bridge located at MLK Dr./ I-285 right in the Adamsville community. This honor is a result of the hard work of his children and the state representative of the area.