Meet the Board Members
Katie Boyd Britt
Katie Boyd Britt, a 2004 cum laude political science graduate of The University of Alabama who also received the JD from UA in 2013, was named president of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), effective January 2019. Prior to this selection and her return to her home state, Britt served as chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama). Before joining the senator’s staff in September 2016, Britt was an attorney with the Butler Snow firm in Birmingham, where she was a member of the business services and finance and real estate groups, with practice emphasis in corporate law, business reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, commercial lending and estate and trust planning. At UA she was president of the Student Government Association and Chi Omega. Her memberships included the Anderson Society, The XXXI, Blackburn Institute, Mortar Board, Blue Key, Omicron Delta Kappa, Human Relations Council and student member of the board of trustees. She received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the Most Outstanding Student Award and the John Pearson Award. Britt serves as president of the executive committee of the board of advisors.
Joseph D. Bryant, a 2001 UA journalism graduate and the first African-American editor of The Crimson White, serves as director of communication for the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, where he oversees public information and communication strategies. Prior to joining the Housing Authority, Bryant spent 12 years as a reporter at The Birmingham News, where he covered the mayor’s office and city government. At the Capstone, Bryant worked not only for The Crimson White, but also for Alabama Public Radio and the office of communication in the Culverhouse College of Commerce. His honors include Freedom Forum Fellow and Chips Quinn Scholar. Bryant is a native of Dothan and a graduate of Daleville High School, where he was 1997 class president. Bryant serves as vice president of the executive committee of the board of advisors.
Manda Mountain has dedicated her career to making nursing homes less institutional and improving the lives of persons in long-term care. Mountain graduated from The University of Alabama in 2001 with an undergraduate degree in journalism and earned her master’s degree in gerontology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She serves as the facility administrator of Highlands Health and Rehab in Scottsboro and is a board member of the Alabama Coalition for Culture Change, an organization that seeks to improve aging services for Alabamians.
Divya Patel is a 2006 accounting graduate of The University of Alabama and holds a master’s degree in accountancy from Belmont University in Nashville. She earned her 2002 high school diploma from the Alabama School of Math and Science. Patel began her career as an auditor at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and currently works as director of operations in the family business with the Windsor Hotel and Quality Inn in Americus, Georgia. Her current civic activities include board member/treasurer of the Downtown Americus Mainstreet Board and board member of the City of Americus Tourism Council. At UA, she served as president of the International Student Association and was the VP of Recruitment of the UA National Panhellenic Association as well as the 2005 Homecoming court. She serves as treasurer for the board of advisors.
Chair, Global and Community Leadership
Rashmee Sharif earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Alabama, double majoring in management and Spanish as an undergraduate and earning an MBA in 2013. As an undergraduate, she was heavily involved in numerous service and international-related activities on campus. From 2006–2008 she served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied international relations and Spanish. Prior to obtaining her MBA, Sharif was an instructor at the University, teaching courses in global studies from 2008–2012. Additionally, she was a study abroad director, leading Alabama students to Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank for three consecutive summers. Now a change manager with Cigna’s Operational Excellence team, Sharif lives in Birmingham’s historic neighborhood of Norwood and enjoys life in sweet home Alabama with her husband and infant son. She serves on the executive committee of the UA Community Affairs Board of Advisors as chair of the Global and Community Leadership committee. From 2015–2018, Sharif served as vice chair of the Fellows Involvement Network (FIN) of the Blackburn Institute. She currently serves on their Advisory Board.
Chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee
David Bailey is chief executive officer of BTC Media LLC, a leader in digital currency communications. After founding yBitcoin, the world’s leading publication about digital currency, Bailey launched BTC Media, a corporate group that includes bitcoinmagazine.com, the original source for coverage of breaking Bitcoin news and features on people, ventures, deals and developments. BTC Media reaches millions of readers worldwide and represents advertisers ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar Fortune-500 companies. Bailey is advisory board director at College Cryptocurrency Network and serves on the boards of national organizations including Bitcoin Shop. He is entrepreneur in residence at 402 Digital Partners, the leading digital currency investment fund in the Southeastern United States, where he advises on digital currency, emerging trends and investment opportunities. Bailey was a University Fellow at The University of Alabama, where he earned degrees in finance, economics and Mandarin Chinese. A Huntsville native, he now lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee, where BTC Media makes its headquarters. He serves on the executive committee of the board of advisors as leader of the student entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives committee.
Chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee
William Suclupe is an Army officer who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Alabama School of Social Work. While at the Capstone, Suclupe was selected as UA’s first Pat Tillman Military Scholar and was also a Graduate Council Fellow. He launched several veterans initiatives while in various roles as president of the Campus Veterans Association and as UA’s first SGA director of veterans affairs. For exemplary leadership, Suclupe was selected as UA’s inaugural student-veteran of the year. Suclupe is an administrator in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and oversees community-based partnerships between local higher education institutions and the local VA Medical Center. Suclupe is a member of several advisory boards at The University of Alabama and within the Tuscaloosa community. Suclupe received the Colonel Pryce Award, given to the top faculty member in support of student-veterans at The University of Alabama. Suclupe is chair of the Academic Success and Student Retention Committee.
A St. Stephens, Alabama native, Jonathan M. Adams serves as director of Student Conduct and Outreach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He earned a BA in political science (2005) and an MA in higher education administration (2007) from the Capstone. As an undergraduate, Adams served twice as president of the Coordinating Council of Student Organizations and as president of the Student Leaders Council. His involvement also included The Blackburn Institute, Anderson Society, Blue Key, Omicron Delta Kappa and Student Alumni Association. Additionally, Adams was one of the primary authors and developers of the Capstone Creed. As a graduate student, he served as president of the Graduate Student Association and as a graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Campus Activities. Adams was recognized in 2007 as a Capstone Hero and with the Division of Student Affairs’ Outstanding Graduate Student award. Prior to joining UAB in 2018, Adams served as the residence community director and conduct coordinator at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, the assistant director of student conduct and safety outreach at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the associate director of student conduct at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and the associate dean of students and director of student conduct and academic integrity at UNC Charlotte.
Mario J. Bailey
Mario J. Bailey earned the BA in political science in 2004 from The University of Alabama, where he served as rules committee chairman of the SGA Senate, as vice president of the Residence Hall Association and as the Southern province vice polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He was a member of the Student Leaders Council and furthered his political science education by serving as an intern to former U.S. Congressman Artur Davis. In 2008, Bailey served as a field coordinator on the South Florida congressional campaign for former U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia. He also served as chief legislative aide to former Florida State Representative Dwight Bullard. He was twice appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to the South Florida Regional Planning Council, for which he serves as treasurer. In 2011 Bailey began working as a senior government relations consultant with the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Becker and Poliakoff, P.A., where he supported municipal governments, business and education clients. In October 2019, he joined Converge Government Affairs, Miami, Florida, as a senior government affairs adviser. Bailey is a Leadership Florida Connect Class IX graduate and was recognized with the 2018 South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award. In 2017, Legacy magazine named him one of south Florida’s most powerful and influential black leaders. He is also a Leadership Miami Class XXXII graduate. Current volunteer roles include serving as a member of the executive committees of both the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Miami. He also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists and is a member of 100 Black Men of South Florida.
Galvin Billups is the executive director of the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services, where he manages the Division’s operations and leads the organization toward its mission of building communities through servant leadership by putting youth first. He earned his undergraduate degree in business management from The University of Alabama. Prior to his current role, Billups served as director of Resident Services for the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD), the largest affordable housing agency in the State of Alabama. In this role, he was responsible for the administration of the agency’s Family Self-Sufficiency, Homeownership, Section 3, Community Centers and the Resident Leadership Training Programs. He also served in the roles of vice president of Magic City Housing Development Corporation and vice president of the Naomi H. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Both nonprofits further HABD’s goal to fundraise, build new neighborhoods and create education programs within low-income housing communities. Billups is a graduate of Project Corporate Leadership and serves on various boards and agencies including Family Guidance Center of Alabama, Better Basics and Bancorp South CRA Advisory Board. He and his wife LaTosha, a Birmingham City Schools first-grade teacher, have three children. Billups enjoys volunteering, reading, writing, music, coaching youth sports and family.
Casey Brunson is a 2002 graduate of The University of Alabama and a 2005 graduate of Loyola University New Orleans School of Law (now College of Law). She is licensed to practice law in Alabama and Mississippi but prefers the challenge of leadership development and human resources management. As a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), she has worked in manyFortune- and U.S. News & World Report-ranked organizations as a member of the human resources leadership team. Casey is currently the vice president of learning and people for a growing regional dental services organization in the western United States. She earned a certificate in performance management and organizational development, industrial and organizational psychology from Colorado State University in 2013 and is now pursuing the MBA in finance. Past and future achievements notwithstanding, her proudest accomplishment is being a graduate of The University of Alabama and saying, “Roll Tide!”
Mary Margaret Carroll
Mary Margaret Carroll began her career with Fine Geddie & Associates in January 2013. A native of Ozark, she was born and raised in the Wiregrass region of Alabama. She earned the BA in English from The University of Alabama in 2006. As an undergraduate, she interned for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, served as Student Government Association president and was the student representative to The University of Alabama System board of trustees. Carroll earned the JD from the UA School of Law in 2010. While in law school, she worked part-time for a law firm focused on banking, creditor’s rights and corporate law, and performed pro bono legal work through the law school’s Public Interest Institute and clinical program. A 2010 recipient of the Dean Nathaniel Hansford Award for Leadership, Carroll has government experience on both the federal and state levels, in the legislative and judicial branches. She was the assistant to the chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby from 2006–2007 and, during law school, worked for two federal judges on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Prior to joining Fine Geddie, she served as a staff attorney on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Carroll serves on the Britton YMCA board of directors as an advisor for both the youth judicial and youth legislature programs. She is a member of the Montgomery Junior League and the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, as well as the Alabama State Bar.
A 2003 graduate of The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Prince Cleveland also earned the master of public administration degree from UA in 2006. As a student, Cleveland was involved in numerous organizations. He served as president of the African American Association and as Student Government Association senator and attorney general. He is also an initiate of the Kappa Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He lives in Birmingham, where he is employed by EBSCO Industries. He is a member of New Hope Baptist Church in Birmingham, where he is active in the youth and economic development ministries. He serves on the advisory board of the Blackburn Institute at The University of Alabama and on the young professionals board of the Birmingham Urban League. Additionally, he serves as board president for the young professionals board of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, and is on the staff of American Legion Alabama Boys State.
Rebecca Cornwell earned a bachelor of arts degree at The University of Alabama, receiving her depth study through New College in Interdisciplinary Social Justice and Anti-racist Activism, in 2005. She moved to Boston and joined Match Corps, a one-year urban education fellowship committed to closing the achievement gap. Following time away from education, during which she managed a music venue and toy store, she returned to the field of education through early childhood development. While working at an early education center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cornwell was introduced to applied behavior analysis (ABA), considered to be one of the most effective and evidence-based treatments to support children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She continued her education; taking courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and in 2013 completed the MEd as well as graduate certification in ABA for Special Populations. In February 2014, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Because the demand for BCBAs in Alabama greatly surpasses that of Massachusetts, she committed to moving back to her hometown and serving there. Along with practicing evidence-based applied behavior analysis, she is interested in special education policy and health insurance policy, as well as equal access to education and healthcare. She is currently practicing as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in the Montgomery area. She loves living in downtown Montgomery, and with friends, recently formed the MGM Downtown Neighborhood Association.
Ryan J. Davis
Ryan J. Davis is a vocalist, trombonist and producer who performs under the moniker “Kadesh Flow.” He has provided direct support for artists such as Tech N9ne, Naughty by Nature, Dave East, Phora and numerous others. His music has been played on network television across the U.S. and Southeast Asia, and he has performed at festivals and conventions throughout the U.S. Davis is a member of the NPC (Nerdy People of Color) Collective, through which he is working with founding member Mega Ran and fellow artists to collaborate on fun, relevant content and foster a community for underrepresented nerd and geek enthusiasts. Before taking the leap to work as a full-time musician, Davis was climbing the corporate ladder as a sales operations associate for some of the world’s leading information technology firms, such as Healthcare IT giant Cerner Corporation and global fintech disruptor C2FO. He values both his graduate training from UA’s Manderson Graduate School of Business and the facilitation of his creative self-exploration via New College and Honors College. As a student, his resumé highlights include multiple terms as a creative campus intern and a stint as a founding member of the Honors College Assembly. His involvement in these and other campus organizations allowed him to build both a strong resumé and lasting relationships with other student movers and shakers across campus. Additionally, Davis co-founded the Druid City Arts Festival, successfully passing ownership of the event to the City of Tuscaloosa after demonstrating that its three successful iterations generated strong economic and quality-of-life impact for the city.
Allie Esslinger is a filmmaker and entrepreneur living in Brooklyn, New York. She launched Olive Juice Films in 2011 and after five years of writing and producing content independently and for platforms like Major League Gaming, Maker Studios and Above Average, Olive Juice expanded its scope to include digital strategy services for independent content creators, nonprofits and venture-backed startups. In 2013, Esslinger founded Section II, a streaming platform for LGBTQ+ women. Her team of brand strategists and distribution specialists supports content and creators across genres and formats, and the company is producing its first feature film. Esslinger graduated from NYU’s Stern School of Business in 2018 and is currently managing the strategy for Venture Philanthropy and Fortune 500 clients at a creative agency in New York. At The University of Alabama, she was a member of the Blount Undergraduate Initiative and studied abroad five times in pursuit of her international relations degree. She was the leader of Alabama Action and a passionate advocate for the University’s partnership with Tuscaloosa’s One Place. She also served as president of the Honors Programs Student Association and the Other Club. She loves television, big sunglasses, iced coffee and, of course, the Crimson Tide.
Meg McCrummen Fowler
Meg McCrummen Fowler is a 2011 graduate of The University of Alabama and holds a BA in history and French. She also earned the MA in history of art from Tulane University and is a doctoral candidate there, completing an interdisciplinary PhD in art history and society. She currently serves as director of the History Museum of Mobile, located in downtown Mobile. Prior to her current position, Meg completed a fellowship at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and served as both a visiting scholar in the Center for Study of War and Memory and as an instructor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of South Alabama. Additionally, Meg serves as president of the Mobile UA Alumni Chapter. She is a member of Rotary International, a member of the Order of Fuse (Fuse Project), serves on the Mobile chapter of the Junior League, and is the founder of the Art to Life course, a collaboration with the UA Honors College that brings art therapy and life story preservation to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and their caregivers, while offering students a chance to conduct outcomes-based research on participant quality of life and caregiver burden in degenerative diseases.
Martha M. Griffith
Martha Griffith earned a BA in history and public relations in 2009 and the JD in 2012, both from The University of Alabama. As a student, she was active in organizations such as the Campbell Moot Court Board, the Dorbin Association, the Blackburn Institute, The Other Club, The XXXI, Capstone Men and Women, the Anderson Society, Mortar Board, Blue Key, Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Alpha Theta and the Blount Scholars Program. She currently serves as the associate director of development for The University of Alabama School of Law.
Birmingham native Tyrell F. Jordan is a civil litigation attorney with more than a decade of experience litigating cases with and against the region’s largest law firms, and handling matters for and against some of the nation’s largest corporations. After working for a well-known firm for almost 10 years, Jordan formed his own practice in January 2015 to further pursue his passion for meaningful change. His practice focuses on personal injury matters on behalf of individuals who have been injured through no fault of their own, with an emphasis on bringing cases on behalf of children and their parents who have been victims of medical negligence. Jordan earned both his accounting and law degrees from UA, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. He was recognized as a Ronald E. McNair scholar, accounting academic all-star, moot court and trial advocacy competitor and honor court justice. A former intern at the Kettering Foundation, Jordan possesses a deep-seated passion for the promotion of citizen engagement in effecting the changes in our communities necessary to bear out the paragon of the American dream of fairness, justice and equality for all. A product of the Birmingham City Schools, he regularly speaks to youth on the importance of finding their passion and overcoming the odds.
Co-chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee
Elliot Knight is the executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. An Opelika native, Knight holds three degrees from The University of Alabama, including a bachelor of arts in visual communication from New College, a master of arts in American studies and a PhD in interdisciplinary studies. He co-founded and developed the nationally recognized Black Belt 100 Lenses Program, a participatory photography and arts program that worked with high school students in 12 Alabama Black Belt counties in partnership with the Black Belt Community Foundation from 2007–2012. Knight developed and taught several courses in the UA Departments of Art History and American Studies and in the Honors College. He also served as director of the Arts on Campus Living-Learning Community at UA. Knight served as an advisory board member for The Alabama Art Kitchen and the Beauty Amid Destruction project in Tuscaloosa. He serves as a board member for South Arts and the Montgomery Public Art Commission, as well as on the advisory boards of the Alabama Tourism Department and the UA Division of Community Affairs.
Colby Leopard studied public relations and English at the Capstone, graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in public relations in 2013. As a student, Leopard founded READ Alabama, a literacy mentorship program dedicated to developing a love for reading among elementary- and middle-school students in West Alabama. He worked for Creative Campus, a student-centered arts advocacy organization dedicated to building relationships that serve as a voice for the cultural arts, as well as for The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper. Additionally, he worked with Forza Financial, a non-profit, student-run organization that seeks to empower Alabama’s most under-appreciated business and community leaders through the utilization of small-business loans ranging from $500 to $5,000. Since graduating, Leopard has lived in Seoul, South Korea, where he taught English as a foreign language, and in New York City, where he worked for Academy Award®-winning film and television production company FilmNation Entertainment. He now lives in Birmingham and works for the state-wide nonprofit organization Alabama Possible.
Holly Morris Luther
Co-chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee
Holly Morris Luther earned a BA in political science, as well as an MA and a PhD in higher education administration from The University of Alabama. She and her husband Michael — also a UA graduate — and their four children now live in Birmingham following nearly a decade in Albertville. Luther and her husband have spent most of their careers serving rural Alabama in the areas of medicine and education. They have a passion for serving underserved areas and populations. Luther currently works out of their home, caring for their children, but previously was employed in the areas of student life, academic affairs and as adjunct faculty at The University of Alabama. She also worked on the University of British Columbia campus and traveled as an educational leadership consultant for her fraternity. Additionally, the Luther family runs a college ministry group out of their home. As a student at UA, Luther served as chapter president of Kappa Alpha Theta, as a captain of the Bama Belles and as an ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences. She was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Blue Key, Mortar Board, The Anderson Society, Order of Omega and The XXXI. She received the UA Outstanding Junior award and the National Alumni Association Outstanding Senior award, as well as a National Alumni Association fellowship for graduate school and an Outstanding Dissertation Research award from the College of Education.
Karla S. Martin
Karla Martin, a member of The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, earned the BS in elementary education from The University of Alabama in May 2006, and went on to earn the MA and PhD in education from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was chosen as a McNair scholar at UA and as a Royster Scholar at UNC. Martin served as a professor at UNC and at Illinois State University, where she taught history and multicultural education courses, an identity course and graduate-level courses in indigenous studies and educational sociology. In 2013, she was chosen to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at Arizona State University at the Center for Indian Education, where she worked with scholars to conduct research on Native American education and helped prepare fellow educators to work with students representing many tribes. Most recently, Martin has served The Poarch Band of Creek Indians in her role as the cultural director from 2014–2015. She began a new position as the community services division director in November 2016. In this position, she oversees and coordinates the efforts of the education, Boys and Girls Club, recreation and cultural and museum departments.
Holly McCorkle received the BA in psychology from The University of Alabama in 2004. She returned to the University in 2006 and went on to earn both the juris doctor from The University of Alabama School of Law and the MBA from the UA Manderson Graduate School of Business in 2010. Holly has served as the director of Legislative and Constituent Affairs at the State of Alabama Department of Mental Health since October 2017. Prior to that time, she served as chief counsel for the Alabama State Senate for almost six years. Holly shares that she is careful not to fall into the partisan divide, preferring to build bridges and educate and enlighten those who may not view politics or policy the way she does. Holly has a passion for understanding the rules and how best to apply them and encourages other attorneys to consider a career in the public service sector. She lives in Montgomery.
Co-chair, Global and Community Leadership Committee
A native of Mobile, Stephen McNair received a BA in history from The University of Alabama in 2004. While a student, he served as vice president of academic affairs for the Student Government Association and was elected as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and The Jasons. Following graduation he relocated to New Orleans, where he earned a master’s degree in historic preservation from Tulane University and accepted a position for the City of New Orleans as an architectural historian. He relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2009, where he earned the PhD in architectural history from The University of Edinburgh and lectured within the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the School of Architecture. After returning to Alabama in 2013, he established McNair Historic Preservation, Inc., a national full-service historic-preservation consulting firm. The firm specializes in historic tax-credit projects (commercial and residential), National Register nominations (individual and districts), design, materials, compliance and government relations.
Will Nevin is a visiting assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an adjunct instructor of journalism at The University of Alabama. He previously taught at the University of West Alabama as an instructor of digital journalism and speech. In addition to teaching, Nevin’s legal scholarship has been published in the First Amendment Law Review, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal and other publications. A native of Moundville, he first graduated from The University of Alabama in 2007 with a BA in journalism and political science, which was followed by a JD in 2010 and an MA/PhD in 2014. He also serves as a contributing writer for The Birmingham News and The Oregonian, is a member of the Mallet Assembly Board of Governors and an infrequent actor for Theatre Tuscaloosa productions. As a student, Nevin held various positions at The Crimson White that paid very little but taught quite a bit.
Robin Preussel Phillips
Robin Preussel Phillips earned the BA from The University of Alabama in 2003, graduating summa cum laude and triple majoring in international studies, Spanish and philosophy with a Blount undergraduate initiative minor. Phillips was a member of The XXXI, Anderson Society, Phi Beta Kappa and Gamma Phi Beta sorority and received the Outstanding Senior award. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2006, where she served as a submissions editor for the Yale Journal of International Law and as an editor for the Yale Journal on Regulation. Upon graduation, Phillips served as a law clerk in both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Following her clerkships, she worked in private practice at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in Houston, Texas. In 2014, she accepted the position of senior counsel, corporate for BMC Software, a multi-billion-dollar private software company located in Houston. Phillips is active in professional and community organizations, including serving as a vice chairwoman of the journal committee for the business law section of the State Bar of Texas, and through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program and Bo’s Place, a Houston based non-profit bereavement center offering free grief support services for children, adults and families.
Paul H. Rand
Paul Rand is a 2005 graduate of The University of Alabama, where he majored in English and minored in art history, and was a member of the Mallet Assembly residential honors program. Following graduation, Rand worked for the Centre Georges Pompidou/Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, and for several art galleries in Los Angeles. He returned to Tuscaloosa to attend The University of Alabama School of Law, where he was elected president of the Student Bar Association, held numerous other leadership and community service positions and was a recipient of the Dean’s Community Service Award, the Jerome Hoffman Leadership Award and the Anna C. Curry Leadership Award. Rand was an inaugural hire at the Public Defender’s Office in Jefferson County, Alabama, where he was a trial attorney and held a Clark-Clemon Fellowship. Following his work as a public defender, he clerked for the Hon. Staci G. Cornelius of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Rand is currently an attorney at the law firm of Zarzaur Mujumdar & Debrosse, where he handles a wide range of complex matters including civil rights, criminal, and commercial litigation.
Zac Riddle is a certified public accountant and is currently employed as Assistant Controller with Medical Properties Trust, Inc., in Birmingham. Prior to joining Medical Properties Trust, he was employed with BBVA Compass Bank and KPMG LLP. He serves on the general council of finance and administration for The United Methodist Church and is a member of Canterbury United Methodist Church. Riddle is a 2005 graduate of The University of Alabama with a bachelor of science degree in business and commerce administration and a computer-based honors program minor. He received his master’s degree in accountancy from the University in 2006. As an undergraduate, he was the 2004–2005 chair of the Blackburn Institute and recipient of the Sullivan and Bloom Premier Awards. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, Elizabeth, a speech-language pathologist, and their four children.
Hailah Said is the program manager for Operation Deep Dive, an initiative of UA’s Office of Evaluation. She previously worked with the Office for Academic Affairs at The University of Alabama and with community development programs for the City of Tuscaloosa. Said earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice in 2013 and her master’s degree in public administration in 2015, both from UA. As a student, she interned with the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C., and served as a public research assistant with UA’s MPA program. As a McNair Scholar (2012) and McNair Fellow (2014), she conducted research on Muslim women in the American South. She received the Capstone Hero Award for her positive cultural and academic influence in the community. As a Fulbright grantee, she served as a cultural and language ambassador in Malaysia (2016). She continues to work closely with her former students and community members there. During her free time, she volunteers in the UA and Tuscaloosa communities, fulfilling an important civic responsibility by volunteering as an intercultural learning consultant, working with public teachers and English language specialists to develop family literacy programs for the English Learner community in Tuscaloosa’s city and county schools.
Sevanne Steiner is senior planner for the Downtown Urban Design District of the City of Fort Worth. The district’s goal is to create the most vibrant, walkable, mixed-use urban center in the North Texas region, focusing on exceptional design of both private and public places. Steiner oversees staffing of the Downtown Design Review Board and the administration of the Downtown Urban Design Standards and Guidelines. Additionally, she works on citywide policy for wireless infrastructure, wayfinding and community-initiated and funded art projects. Previously, Steiner served as the downtown plans examiner for the Historic District Landmarks Commission and Central Business District Commission with the City of New Orleans. She has been recognized for her work in historic preservation by The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions and by Historic Fort Worth, Inc. Outside of work, she volunteers at her local YMCA. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from UA and a master of fine arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is an accredited member of the Congress for New Urbanism.
Sarah Kate Sullivan
Birmingham native Sarah Kate Sullivan earned the BS degree magna cum laude from The University of Alabama in 2007, double-majoring in journalism and Spanish with a minor in political science. She earned a master’s degree in international political economy from the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 2009, while serving as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club. Following her time in Argentina, she spent several years working for the chancellor of The University of Alabama System, during which she managed economic development projects and strategic international initiatives. She returned to Argentina and proceeded to earn her PhD in political science with a focus on international political economy and Latin America from the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, in 2017. At UA, she earned many of the highest honors awarded to undergraduate students, including membership in the Blackburn Institute, Capstone Men and Women, Kappa Delta, Mortar Board, The XXXI, Blue Key, Anderson Society, Omicron Delta Kappa and the University Honors College. As a senior political reporter, she wrote as many as five economic and political stories per week for The Crimson White. Since July 2018, she has served as a projects director for the United States Senate.
Ada Katherine van Wyhe
Ada Katherine van Wyhe is the government relations manager for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, working with Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross. She earned a master of public administration degree from The University of Alabama in 2017 and is a Blackburn Institute fellow. Ada Katherine works with the Governor’s Office, the Alabama Legislature and state and federal entities to coordinate the agency’s internal and external policy communications and public relations strategy. She monitors state and national policy trends, collaborating with partner groups and lawmakers to promote effective birth-through-eight policy. She has extensive experience in education policy and research, government affairs and public administration. Ada Katherine came to Alabama as a 2012 Teach for America corps member in Lowndes County, where she taught secondary English language arts and social studies. She is passionate about ensuring each and every Alabama child has equal access to great schools and great teachers from the start. She serves on the Teach for America Alumni Advisory Board, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s Council, and PARCA (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama) Roundtable. She is also actively involved with the Junior League of Montgomery, Magic Moments of Alabama and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Ada Katherine is from Reedley, California and holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of the Holy Cross.
Justin Zimmerman is a 2007 initiate of the Blackburn Institute. He received a bachelor of arts in political science and philosophy in 2009, as well as a master of public administration with a concentration in organization management in 2011, both from The University of Alabama. For seven years Justin resided in Washington, D.C., where he supported the Department of Treasury Enterprise Business Solutions (EBS) team as an acquisitions consultant with Octo Consulting Group, as well as served in multiple roles with the Department of State. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois, where he is pursuing a PhD in political science from Northwestern University.
Adedeji Akindele-Alo is the lab manager of the Superabsorbent Polymer QA/QC lab at the BASF Corporation, Freeport, Texas site. Originally from Nigeria, Akindele-Alo grew up in The Bronx, New York City. He earned his bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and, upon graduating began working for a start-up medical device company. Several years later, Akindele-Alo returned to school to pursue his MBA at The University of Alabama (UA), which he completed in 2015. Prior to joining BASF, he worked in manufacturing for PepsiCo. Upon joining BASF in 2015, Akindele-Alo was the Freeport site logistics engineer. He is the co-founder of the National Black MBA Association chapter at UA and serves as a mentor with the LOT (Leaders of Tomorrow) Program, which provides leadership development to high school students. During his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, working out, traveling and spending time with his family.
Co-chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee
Nicholas Beadle is an attorney-advisor specializing in workforce development at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In 2018, he developed innovative approaches to addressing the opioid crisis as an economic and employment issue. This led to two first-of-their-kind grant programs providing tens of millions of dollars to states to aid workers struggling with addiction, provide training to increase the availability of addiction treatment services and employ workers to address service shortages. Congress based significant portions of the SUPPORT Act — a bipartisan opioid-relief package signed into law in Fall 2018 — on his work. Beadle is also a performative storyteller who has appeared on stages across D.C., frequently sharing stories about his experiences growing up on public assistance in a single-parent home in rural Alabama. A native of the unincorporated community of Greenhill, Beadle was an investigative reporter before entering law, receiving recognition for his stories on governmental misconduct, natural disasters and hate groups. While a student at the Capstone, he won a National Scholastic Press Association award for his reporting on access to higher education. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife.
Terri Brewer is a 2003 magna cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama with a BA degree in broadcast journalism. She earned her master’s degree at UA, also from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (CCIS). While a student, Brewer was an ambassador for CCIS and served on the College’s Student Executive Council. She also began her journalism career at UA as a reporter for Alabama Public Radio. Since graduating, Brewer has worked as a television news reporter, producer and anchor. Most recently, she was with WBRC FOX6 News, which serves all of central Alabama. Brewer has been recognized by the Alabama Broadcasters Association and Alabama Associated Press Broadcasters Association numerous times for her reporting. She has also earned several Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and has received three Southeast Regional Emmy nominations — one for her work as producer of “Faces of the Storm,” a one-hour documentary on the April 27, 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa. In August 2018, Brewer left WBRC to take her career in a new path. She is now director of public relations for the Tuscaloosa County School System. Brewer lives in Tuscaloosa and is a member of the Junior League of Tuscaloosa. She and her husband, Samuel, are the parents of two boys.
Amber Bradford Buchanan
Montgomery native Amber Bradford Buchanan is a product brand manager for Avanos Medical, a medical device company in Alpharetta, Georgia. In her current role, Buchanan manages the interventional pain product portfolio. Previously she served as assistant director of marketing and business development for Ernst & Young and spent 10 years in healthcare working for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Buchanan earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from The University of Alabama (UA) in 2004, graduating magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in business administration from AUM (Auburn University at Montgomery) in 2007. An honors student while at UA, she served as president of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, was the recipient of the National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Senior Award and was a member of Capstone Men and Women, The XXXI, The Anderson Society, Blue Key and Mortar Board. Buchanan currently serves on the Board of Directors for The University of Alabama Black Alumni Association and the Atlanta chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and is a member of the Junior League of Atlanta. She is married to Keith Buchanan, also a UA graduate, and they have two children — Addison and Davis.
Will W. Clayton
Will W. Clayton describes himself as an academic at heart who has always had an unquenchable passion for knowledge and learning. Since graduating from UA in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in history, Clayton has worked for Regions Bank. He spent a year as a teller and three years building and growing the video banking department, and has recently transitioned into consumer equity lending. Clayton has been heavily involved with the YMCA Youth in Government Program, first as a participant during high school, and every year since as a volunteer. His interest in government led him to work with and mentor high school students on bill writing, the legislative process and seeing general theories of government put into practice. His background and experience with parliamentary procedure led to him serving as the senate parliamentarian for the SGA during his senior year at UA. Recognizing that his true passion is knowledge and learning, as well as imparting what he has learned to others, he recently (fall 2018) enrolled in the master in secondary education program at Samford University.
Luke Connell serves as both chief communications officer and president of marketing and public relations for The Palladian Group in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he has worked on projects for a diverse client base including universities, hospitals, energy companies and government. In July 2015, Connell traveled to Uganda with a film crew to document the plight of orphans for the short film, “This is Home.” He is currently leading communications efforts for Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, a public art installation funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. A Cullman native, Connell served as editor of The Crimson White before graduating from UA with a journalism degree in 2002. He worked as a reporter in both South Carolina and Alabama and served as city editor of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal for almost a decade. During his journalism career, he received multiple awards for in-depth reporting and feature writing. In 2013, Editor and Publisher included Connell on its list of “25 under 35: The Rising Stars of Newspaper Publishing.” He is married to fellow UA graduate Jenny Blackwood Connell.
Kechia Davis serves as a criminal judge with the Birmingham Municipal Court and as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Alabama. Prior to taking the bench, Davis served as a deputy district attorney with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office for 13 years. She earned the BS degree in criminal justice in 2000 from The University of Alabama and attended The University of Alabama School of Law, earning the Juris Doctor in 2003. While at UA, Davis was a Bama Belle who facilitated introducing football recruits and their families to the Capstone. She participated in the Farrah Law Association, the Black Law Students Association and national trial advocacy competition class. Additionally, she received the Dean’s Community Service Award — Order of Samaritan. Davis is a member of the American Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, Birmingham Bar Association, Volunteer Lawyers Program of Birmingham, Junior League of Birmingham, Leadership Hoover Class of 2019–2020, and is an executive committee member of The University of Alabama Alumni Association/Jefferson County Chapter. She is married to Maurice Davis and they are parents to Kourtney, Trey and Tristian.
An Alabama native, Sarah Dunlap earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, both from The University of Alabama. As a senior research associate at the University’s Institute for Social Science Research, she divides her time between evaluating innovative public health and educational programs and managing grant-funded projects, primarily in the area of gender differences in STEM education. Dunlap and her husband have two sons and share their home with one dog, one cat and one turtle. She reports that her sons enjoy everything from playing sports to nature walks, including her with them on all of their journeys. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking and practicing yoga.
Kevin R. Garrison
Kevin R. Garrison is a shareholder at Baker Donelson, where he concentrates his practice in construction litigation. He is the only attorney in Alabama — and one of only 20 in the world — to be accredited by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional for Building Design & Construction (LEED AP BD+C). This credential allows Garrison to help clients proactively examine and prepare for the unique qualifications and risks involved in green construction projects. Before joining Baker Donelson, Garrison worked in the office of the Governor of Alabama and as a law clerk to the Hon. W. Keith Watkins, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. While at UA, Garrison was a student fellow with the Blackburn Institute and founded the Alabama Students for Constitutional Reform during his undergraduate years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2002 and the juris doctorate in 2007, both from The University of Alabama and both cum laude. He recently joined the advisory board to UA’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. He is married to Jess Garrison and they have four children.
Alex Flachsbart graduated from The University of Alabama with the BA in economics and political science in 2009. He went on to earn the master of arts in economics, also from UA, in 2010, and the doctor of law (JD) from Washington and Lee University in 2015. Alex currently resides in Birmingham and is the president and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to creating an impact-based Opportunity Zones ecosystem to provide access to capital to Alabama’s low-income communities. Prior to founding Opportunity Alabama, Alex was a corporate attorney with Balch & Bingham LLP in Birmingham, specializing in tax credit and economic development-related work. While a student at UA, he served as an O’Connor-Snyder intern for the David Matthews Center for Civic Life, developing a Kettering Institute-modeled deliberative discussions on public policy series at UA. He was a two-time member of the USA Today Collegiate All-Academic Team and a Premier Award winner. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Main Street Alabama and is a member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s Roundtable.
Brandon D. Green
Brandon D. Green is the project manager and special assistant to the CEO at BTC, Inc., a leading blockchain and cryptocurrency technology company. He co-wrote the preeminent feature on initial coin offerings (ICOs), which has appeared in multiple securities regulation briefs as well as on Nasdaq. Additionally, he co-wrote the whitepaper for Po.et, one of the first blockchain applications that seeks to revolutionize the media space by recapturing value for content creators. Prior to his work at BTC, Green served as a University Fellow at The University of Alabama, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2017 with a degree in chemical engineering, studying both on campus and abroad in Ireland, Cuba and Denmark.
Tuscaloosa native Kendra Key is a 2010 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, having earned the bachelor of arts degree in political science. After graduating from The University of Alabama, she worked as the legislative officer to the District of Columbia Public Schools and then as a legislative aide to Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Alabama). Key received her JD degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2015 and serves as a law clerk to a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She is the senior vice president of community economic development at Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union in Birmingham.
Kristy M. Kirkland
Born and raised in Dothan, Kirsty Kirkland was a member of the inaugural class of the Blount Undergraduate Initiative. She earned a BA in political science and journalism in 2003 and the JD in 2008, both from The University of Alabama. She was recruited to the University’s championship individual events debate team and served as president of the school’s Society for Professional Journalists and as president of Students for Life. She was inducted into the Carl E. Elliott Society and the Anderson Society, and was selected as a Vance/Heflin intern with the Alabama Democratic Party during her junior year. As a senior Kirkland was awarded the Buford Boone Memorial Scholarships in both the political science and journalism departments. While studying for the JD, she was a member of the school’s arbitration team, served as a volunteer attorney in the school’s Elder Law Clinic, was selected to be a part of the school’s exchange program with the Australian National University and was selected to the Bench and Bar Honor Society. She earned the Dean’s Community Service Award and was awarded the Order of the Samaritan. She worked for a large law firm in Dothan before opening her own firm in 2010. Kirkland is a past president of the Houston County Bar Association and serves on its executive committee. She is also a member of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, the Dothan Area Young Professionals, the Board of Directors for Healthy You, Inc. and the House of Ruth. She has been a counselor with Alabama Girls State since 2001 and has attended Wiregrass Church since 2010, where she serves as a substitute small group leader in the church’s pre-school ministry.
Porcia Bradford Love
Montgomery native Dr. Porcia Bradford Love is a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at The University of Alabama, where she was a member of the Honors Program. Love held a number of leadership positions at UA, including director of the Community Service Center, and was a member of the Blackburn Institute. She was a recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and the William P. Bloom awards. Dr. Love completed her medical degree and dermatology training at Duke University, where she held the honor of serving as chief resident. She also completed a clinical research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Love has served as a state commissioner for Alabama’s Commission on National and Community Service and is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Alabama Dermatologic Society, the public service work group of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons and the leadership advisory board of the American Cancer Society. She is married to J.C. Love III, an attorney in Montgomery, and has one daughter.
Andrea Mabry produces vibrant, resonating imagery as a photographer for University Relations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor of arts degree in photojournalism in 2009 and a master of arts in American studies in 2012. While attending the University, Mabry worked for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships as a photographer and web developer. She also helped create the Homegrown Alabama Farmers Market and managed it for three years. Following graduation, she moved to New Orleans to begin her photography business. Mabry relocated to Birmingham in 2015, where she continues to freelance in addition to her work at UAB.
Coyn Mateer is vice president at BTC Media in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to joining BTC, Mateer worked for Allegiance Capital Corporation in Dallas, Texas, where he began his career as a financial analyst in February 2013. A Mt. Vernon, Illinois native, Mateer earned the BS in finance in 2012 from the Culverhouse College of Commerce at The University of Alabama. Mateer also served two internships at Wells Fargo Advisors. As part of the investment management consulting group at Wells Fargo, he assisted portfolio specialists in building optimal portfolios for top-tier clients. At UA, he was able to gain hands-on experience with financial statement analysis and intrinsic valuation techniques as a member of and key contributor to the UA Culverhouse Investment Management Group, a student-run investment fund managed by select UA students with oversight from an investment consultant and faculty advisors. During his free time, Mateer enjoys following the St. Louis Cardinals and the Alabama Crimson Tide, and stays involved in the community through building houses with Habitat for Humanity and volunteering at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.
Susan Speaker Mateer
After graduating in 2013 with a degree in marketing and Spanish, Speaker moved to Dallas, Texas, to become a Teach For America corps member. She taught in early childhood in South Dallas for three years before moving into a career in sales. Speaker recently relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, where she works for ADP, LLC, a comprehensive global provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions. While a student at UA, she served as president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, was a student ambassador with Capstone Men and Women, served as a sales ambassador and held multiple positions in the Student Government Association, including executive assistant for vice president of student affairs.
Aneesa S. McMillan
Aneesa McMillan is one of the leading political communicators in the nation. She serves as the director of Strategic Communications and Voting Rights at Priorities USA. Prior to this, she served as communications advisor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, assisting with the development of his communications strategy and helping recruit national influencers to support his policy initiatives. During the course of her career, McMillan has worked with the country’s top progressive leaders to effectively develop and deliver their messaging. She began her career as a reporter in her home state of Alabama. She went on to serve as press secretary to congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Alabama). For almost five years, she worked to establish Rep. Sewell as a national voice on voting and civil rights. After her time with Rep. Sewell, McMillan joined U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (Independent -Vt.) presidential campaign as the South Carolina communications director. She was promoted to his national team and managed national surrogates while continuing to support and lead communications efforts. At the end of the Sanders presidential campaign, she worked briefly with a pro-Hillary Clinton Super Pac before becoming deputy communications director for congressman Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.) bid for Democratic National Committee chair. McMillan is a cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science and served as a reporter for The Crimson White. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration.
Co-chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee
Reginald Miller is a board member for WorkforceStrong, Inc., and serves as the organization’s senior management staff for the Alabama region. An acquisitions expert, he also works on market rate and workforce housing developments. In this role he is responsible for asset management, property management, investor relations and land acquisition. Miller brings more than 12 years of experience to the organization and is president of the Edsel Group, a partner to Workforce Strong. There he oversees all capital campaigns, including debt and equity positions for varying projects. He holds a BS degree in business administration with a concentration in real estate finance from The University of Alabama, and conducted post-graduate studies in housing and consumer economics at the University of Georgia. Prior to partnering with Workforce Strong, Inc. Miller worked in various capacities for Atlanta-based multifamily developers such as The Worthing Companies and TriBridge Residential. While on campus at UA, Miller served in the Blackburn Institute.
Susan B. Page
Page, a 2004 public relations graduate of The University of Alabama, is currently the proposal development administrator/grant writer for the Institute for Rural Health Research at UA. Prior to joining the Institute, she spent six years in the Office of Advancement and University Relations and before that was the development director for the Tuscaloosa affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. Page is currently active in the Public Relations Council of West Alabama and is a past president of the organization (2009). Additionally, she is involved in the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, where she served as vice president for community in 2015; P.E.O. International; the Board of Higher Education for the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church; and is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa. While in school at UA, Page was involved in the Wesley Foundation — the United Methodist student organization on campus — serving in numerous leadership roles including president in 2004. She received the Minnie Miles Student Award for Dedicated Christian Service from The University of Alabama’s Wesley Foundation in 2004, the Most Active Member in a Religious Organization recognition in 2002 from UA’s Coordinating Council for Student Organizations, and was awarded the Top Fundraiser for The University of Alabama’s Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) in 2003. She received the Clara Barton Internship Experience with the American Red Cross and served as a public relations and marketing intern in Fort Worth, Texas, during the summer of 2003. During her college years, Page also began her involvement with her professional organization, the Public Relations Council of Alabama.
Norma B. Powell
Norma Powell graduated with both her undergraduate (2012) and masters (2017) degrees in human nutrition from The University of Alabama. While a student, she was involved in and held leadership positions in various organizations around campus. She served as vice president of Capstone Men and Women, as president of Chi Omega and as new member educator of Chi Omega. She volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club of Tuscaloosa and was selected for membership in The XXXI, The Anderson Society, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa and Blue Key. Powell completed her dietetic internship in Dallas, Texas, and now works as a registered dietitian for NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. She has been working with the top medical doctors in urology to conduct research and develop a new outpatient nutrition program at Columbia Medical Center. She lives in the Greater NYC area with her husband, Daniel, their daughter, Chapman, and their two dogs, Ralph and Calvin.
Elizabeth Watson Riddle is a speech-language pathologist for Encompass Health at its Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital in Birmingham. She serves on the Beaker Bash committee for the McWane Center and the administrative council of Canterbury United Methodist Church, where she and her family are active members. She has previously served on the junior board of visitors for the School of Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Riddle is a 2003 graduate of The University of Alabama with a bachelor of arts degree in communicative disorders. She received her master’s degree in speech pathology from the University in 2005. As an undergraduate, she was the 2002–2003 president of Capstone Men and Women, a member of Kappa Delta sorority and a member of The XXXI. Riddle lives in Birmingham with her husband, Zac, and their four children, Camilla, Watson, Emmaline, and Adelaide.
Anna Catherine Roberson
Anna Catherine Roberson is a 2009 cum laude graduate of The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, having earned a BA in public relations. While a student at UA, Roberson was active in SGA and was a member of Freshman Forum, PRSSA and Phi Mu sorority. Roberson serves as the communications specialist and public information representative for Alabama Power’s western division. In this role, she handles all public relations, communications, media relations, charitable giving and community development for the 14 counties in Alabama Power’s western service territory. Roberson is civically active by serving as a member of the Freshwater Land Trust Junior Board, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, the Junior League of Birmingham and the Ballet Guild of Birmingham, and is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy.
Chris Sanders is the communications director at Alabama Arise, a nonprofit coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the lives of low-income Alabamians through public policy. Sanders previously worked as Arise’s tax and budget analyst and is co-author of the 2015 edition of “The Alabama Tax & Budget Handbook.” He is also an attorney and serves on the editorial board of The Alabama Lawyer. A native of Smoke Rise in Blount County, Sanders earned two degrees from The University of Alabama: a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science in 2004 and a JD in 2007. He is a 2002 Blackburn Institute fellow, served as an articles editor for the Alabama Law Review and interned at The Birmingham News. As a student, Sanders worked as the editor, news director and metro/state editor for The Crimson White, where he covered everything from city and state politics to the disturbingly large number of squirrel-induced power outages during the early 2000s. He still misses the old CW newsroom, and that’s why the green space near the Bear Bryant statue will always be his favorite place on campus.
Justice Smyth is the outreach director for the Alabama Transportation Institute (ATI) at The University of Alabama. Prior to joining ATI, he was director of corporate development with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, where he was responsible for managing the new industry recruitment projects and marketing efforts on behalf of the City of Montgomery and Montgomery County. During his time at the Chamber, Smyth was involved in the recruitment of more than 7,500 new jobs and $1.5 billion in capital investment. He earned both a master’s and a bachelor’s degree from UA. While an undergraduate, he was elected president of the Student Government Association and was selected for membership in the Jasons Men’s Honorary and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. He is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. Smyth previously served as a member of the board of directors of the Economic Development Association of Alabama (EDAA) and is actively involved with many civic and charitable organizations in the Tuscaloosa community, including the United Way of West Alabama and the board of directors of Family Counseling Service of West Alabama.
Cecelia "Cessie" Spearing
Cecelia "Cessie" Spearing graduated from The University of Alabama in 2008 with a BA in Digital Media. Since then, she has built her career in global development, including living and working in East Africa for nearly five years. She has led communications strategies for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Tanzania and a global surgery nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spearing now lives in Washington, D.C., where she works in strategic communications for Chemonics International, a global development firm that primarily implements projects for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Spearing is an alumna of the Blount Scholars Program, a member of Chi Omega sorority, and a former Peace Corps-Tanzania volunteer. She speaks Swahili.
Gabriel E. Warren
Dr. Gabriel Warren is an assistant professor of marketing at Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota. In addition to his academic duties, Warren serves as a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Bemidji. Prior to his work in higher education, he worked for numerous companies in corporate America for a dozen years. During his 12-year tenure working outside higher education, Warren filled roles is sales, marketing, sales management, retail and banking. He attended UA from 2001 until 2005, and during his time at the capstone was a student-athlete for the men’s track and field program. He earned an athletic scholarship to compete in the high jump for the Crimson Tide. Warren was a letterman each of his four years competing. Additionally, he served as the team co-captain for the men’s track team during his senior year. He has written two self-published books. His first book, “No Regrets! Living Your Life to The Fullest,” was published in 2008, and his second, “Push For The Journey,” was published in 2017. Warren has had the opportunity to speak to various groups on topics centered around pursuing purpose. He resides in Bemidji, Minnesota, with his wife and two boys.
Matt Zarzour is a 2007 consumer marketing graduate of The University of Alabama, as well as a 2011 graduate of the Manderson Graduate School of Business with an MBA in real estate finance. While at UA, he was involved with SGA, Rho Epsilon Real Estate Fraternity and the Alabama Center for Real Estate. Zarzour is currently the CEO of Zarzour Companies, a multi-disciplined real estate investment and development firm located in Mobile. He is involved in several philanthropic efforts, including the Fuse Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to childrens’ initiatives along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The organization’s goal is to support tangible, realistic projects that will benefit children by promoting their health, fitness, education and social responsibility. Since its inception, Fuse Project has raised more than $1.4 million and has provided grants in support of 37 local projects ranging from existing philanthropies with specific project ideas to grassroots efforts by motivated members of the community. Zarzour is also a board member for the Innovation PortAL, a tech incubator in Mobile, and the University of Mobile Business School Advisory Board. Additionally, he serves on the board of trustees for St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.
Andrew Zow is the head football coach at Sylacauga High School. Prior to joining Sylacauga, he served as the head football coach at Bessemer High School, as head football coach and associate athletic director at Calera High School, and as head football coach at Montevallo High School. Additionally, he is president of Andrew Zow & Associates, Inc., a corporation that associates itself with manufacturers and suppliers in the utility and automotive industries. A native of Lake Butler, Florida, Zow was a standout athlete at Union County High School, where he received varsity letters in football, basketball and track, and where he won three state titles. He continued his athletic legacy at UA, earning his BS degree in sports fitness management from The University of Alabama in 2001. He lettered for four years as a quarterback for the Crimson Tide football team and was named an Academic All-SEC student-athlete. His company was awarded the Chairman’s Partnership Award in September 2003 from the U.S. Department of Commerce/MBDA in Birmingham, as well as the 2009 MRO Supplier of the Year award, presented by Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. Zow was named Class 4A Coach of the Year in 2015. He and his wife, Amebriss, have three sons: AJ, Avry and Ashton.
The University of Alabama established the Division of Community Affairs Board of Advisors (BOA) in 2016. The board, consisting of former students who provided exemplary leadership and service to the University during a period of accelerated growth and changes in the student body from 2003–2013, developed its mission to support campus-wide initiatives that will increase student success and retention, facilitate student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation, and develop thoughtful global and community leaders.