About Taste of Aviation

Taste of Aviation (TOA) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization offering youths and adults of all ages, introductory and limited educational exposure to the aviation and aerospace industries. TOA is the brainchild of a concerned parent, Linda Jeffries and an aviation professional, Thelma Rudd. They both saw and joined together to address the void in thoughtful aviation exposure to young students and others. While celebrating the vast diversity in the skies, TOA also highlights history, civics, society, technology, and employment. Using aviation as the platform, TOA aims to improve communication and leadership abilities as we interact in our ever changing world. Although not everyone wants a career in aerospace, a “Taste of Aviation” will encourage all to “Keep Looking Up!”

Read What the FAA Says About Us Here.

Taste of Aviation Board of Directors

Thelma Rudd, (President) hired with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1980 and has many years of experience as an enroute air traffic controller, enroute automation specialist and conflict resolution mediator. Because it is rare for women to compete successfully in this field, Ms. Rudd is committed to ensuring that youth of all ages understand the value of diversity and the many options in aviation and aerospace. She holds an undergraduate degree in Aviation Management from the University of Memphis and has served in leading capacities in many aerospace organizations. She is completing a book, Beale Street Takes Flight! Aviation in Memphis and the Mid-South!  

Linda Jeffries (Treasurer) is successfully self-employed and has a young son, Justin, who plans to become an airline pilot. When she was looking for aviation activities for eight year old Justin, there were none.  Always the problem solver, Ms. Jeffries went to work and coordinated with Ms. Rudd to create an exciting airspace activity for younger students. Because of Ms. Jeffries’ creative thoughts, the names “Taste of Aviation” and “Saturday Flight School” were born.  She is an active parent and among her kudos, has served as President of Justin’s School PTA.

Celika Caldwell (Secretary/Recorder) brings almost 20 years of outstanding leadership in product development, marketing, and commercialization within large Fortune 500 corporate environments and small technology startups to “Taste of Aviation“. As Vice President, Customer Experience Design at AARP, Celika leads the design, orchestration, and development of enhanced consumer experiences. Prior to joining AARP, Celika led several marketing teams at FedEx along with the global rollout of FedEx’s Customer Experience strategy. Celika holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Taste of Aviation Advisory Board

Epiphany Jones is an 18-year-old student (as of 2017) who hopes to one day become a successful author of her own collection of short stories. In her free time, she likes eating authentic Indian food and binge watching old Brendan Fraser movies. Her likes include Marvel comics and Britney Spears. Her dislikes? The institutionalized hatred for black people worldwide and the color green.

She currently attends Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, TN and met Ms. Rudd at an awards banquet where Ms. Rudd was the keynote speaker. Epiphany’s essay on Bessie Coleman earned her “First Place” at that event. Upon meeting and collaborating with Ms. Rudd, Epiphany was excited to work with someone who was so passionate about her career and the people she gets to work with! Among the places that you can find Epiphany’s writings is online at GRRLPUNCH.com and affinitymagazine.com.  Epiphany says; “I not only enjoy working with her but also with A Taste of Aviation! She is teaching me so much when it comes to business that I can’t help but to be grateful!” 

Tauheedah Madyun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Memphis and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum Development from Nova Southeastern in Fort Worth, Florida.

She has dedicated her life’s focus on the importance of establishing educational opportunities for the youth and young adults. Her overall 30 years of educational experience, ranging from pre-kindergarten to elementary to adult education, and serving in several capacities, has put her in the position of training students and teachers and offering the best possible learning experience for both. She is currently retired from Memphis City Schools and offers her services to the Taste of Aviation and Saturday Flight School.  She says, “There is always room for growth for all ages, so why not go above and beyond and fly high!”

“Zack” Stephney is a licensed pilot and an avid aviation enthusiast.  As a kid growing up he had his first Taste of Aviation when he went to Memphis to see a cousin. It was his first airplane ride with Eastern Airlines. He remembers sitting at the window enjoying the view with the earth below. As he was looking out the window he could see the flaps move and when they landed he knew that he was in love with airplanes.

From elementary to high school, he read a lot on airplanes and on the weekends his mom would take him to watch the commercial planes arrive and depart from Hartsfield airport.  When given the opportunity to get involved in Taste of Aviation, he jumped on board!  Zack says; “ I am glad to be part of this new chapter, because  as a pilot now I can give another youth that Taste of Aviation… Looks like a great day to FLY!!!!”

Shirley Blache is a dedicated Library Media Specialist with the public school system, who is passionate about education and service to her community. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rust College and a Master of Library Science Degree from University of Southern Mississippi.

Upon completing the Aerospace Workshops at the University of Memphis, she left with the feeling of “Wow this is awesome” and the resolve to “do something” with all she had learned. Project Altitude, an aviation education program, was founded out of her “do something” resolution. She says; “In addition to Project Altitude, I am committed to education and service to the community, and I fully support the mission and vision of Taste of Aviation and its Saturday Flight School”.