By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs
The Division of Community Affairs Board of Advisors recently welcomed four new members to the group. They are Mario J. Bailey of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, Galvin Billups of Birmingham, Kechia Davis of Birmingham and Matt Zarzour of Mobile.
“These four new members of the Board of Advisors bring energy and expertise at the highest level in city and state government, corporate leadership, the courts and legal practice, politics, philanthropy, real estate and more,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president of the Division of Community Affairs, who established the board in 2016. “We are indeed fortunate to be able to add such dynamic new members to our Board.”
Bailey earned the BA in political science in 2004 from The University of Alabama (UA). His interest in politics has led him to serve as an intern to former U.S. Congressman Artur Davis, as a field coordinator on the South Florida congressional campaign for former U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia and 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. Since 2011 Bailey has worked as a senior government relations consultant with the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Becker and Poliakoff law firm, where he works with municipal government, business and education clients. Bailey is a Leadership Florida Connect Class IX graduate, as well as a Leadership Miami Class XXXII graduate, and was recognized with the 2018 South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award.
Billups is the executive director of the Division of Youth Services in the office of the Birmingham mayor, where he manages the Division’s operations and leads its mission of building communities through servant leadership by putting youth first. Billups earned his undergraduate degree in business management from The University of Alabama in 2003. Prior to his current position, he served as director of Resident Services for the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, the largest affordable-housing agency in 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. Billups 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.
Davis is a criminal judge with the Birmingham Municipal Court and a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Alabama. Prior to taking the bench, she 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 and earned her law degree from UA in 2003. 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 UA Alumni Association/Jefferson County Chapter.
Zarzour is a 2007 consumer marketing graduate of UA, as well as a 2011 graduate of the Manderson Graduate School of Business with an MBA in real estate finance. He is currently the CEO of Zarzour Companies, a multi-disciplined real estate investment and development firm in Mobile. Zarzour is involved in several philanthropic efforts, including the Fuse Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to children’s initiatives along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. He is also a board member for Innovation PortAL, a business incubator in Mobile, and a member of the University of Mobile Business School Advisory Board. Additionally, he serves on the board of trustees for St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.
The Board of Advisors is comprised of outstanding alumni with a commitment to community engagement and student success. While the members’ areas of study and current professions vary widely, each bears the common attribute of having been an exceptional student leader while at The University of Alabama.
Through the work of three committees—Academic Success and Student Retention, Global and Community Leadership Development, and Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives—the Board supports campus-wide initiatives that increase student success and retention, facilitate student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation and develop thoughtful global and community leaders.
President Stuart R. Bell said of the additions to the Board: “I continue to be impressed by the quality and diversity of the membership of our Board of Advisors. These four new members are some of our most outstanding graduates over the past two-plus decades, and this new platform is an ideal fit for their talents. I offer my congratulations and best wishes to them in their new roles.”
The Board of Advisors executive committee is made up of Katie Boyd Britt, president; Joseph Bryant, vice president; Divya Patel, treasurer; Manda Mountain, secretary; David Bailey, chair of the entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives committee; William Suclupe, chair of the academic success and student retention committee; and Rashmee Sharif, chair of the global and community leadership development committee.
To learn more about the Board and its initiatives, visit http://communityaffairs.ua.edu/board-of-advisors/.