Category: Community Affairs Board of Advisors

Dr. Raphael Bostic Addresses the Challenge and Opportunities of Rural Communities

Raphael W. Bostic headshot

Dr. Raphael W. Bostick, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, addressed how the Federal Reserve is responding to the needs of rural communities on Sept. 23 in a presentation titled “Toward a More Perfect Economy: The Challenge and Opportunity of Rural Communities.” This virtual conversation was held in partnership with the Hale County Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, Stillman College and The University of Alabama Division of Community Affairs.

Community representatives joining the conversation included Felecia Lucky, president of the Black Belt Community Foundation; Dr. Josh Pierce, the Robert Hunt Cochrane/Alabama Banker’s Endowed Chair of Banking in the Culverhouse College of Business; and Alex Flachsbart, CEO and founder of Opportunity Alabama.

Bostic’s responsibilities involve maintaining stable prices and monitoring financial risks to support the economy. With the Federal Reserve, Bostic helps regulate monetary policy through the setting of interest rates. The Atlanta Fed serves as a pipeline for financial lending, investments and small business partnerships.

Bostic said the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a significant drop in spending and a rise in unemployment, as well as concerns about eviction, has drastically changed how the Federal Reserve provides resources for local businesses and families. He said the Federal Reserve has responded with assistance to families and small businesses by creating the Main Street Lending Program to support businesses that didn’t qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Rural areas are especially challenged, he said, to find solutions in gaining access to broadband connections, affordable housing and delivery of healthcare. With the increase of virtual meetings to ensure social distancing, access to the Internet is more important than ever for individuals and small businesses to complete daily tasks.

“What we have first and foremost is a public health crisis, and the thing that will determine the trajectory of the economy is the trajectory of the virus and the nature of that crisis,” Bostic said.

Bostic also addressed the importance of providing financial literacy for rural citizens, saying that every American must know where to find information and receive answers to their questions. For specific resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic, he recommended this website:

Lucky, president of the Black Belt Community Foundation, said the “challenges in the Black Belt are real when it comes to technology.” Outside of the pandemic, rural communities are also widely affected by differences in technological resources. While some areas are in abundance of information and materials, some families and businesses are challenged with finding access to certain assets. To meet these needs, she said, individuals and organizations throughout Alabama, including the Black Belt, are collaborating to evaluate opportunities in rural communities. Flachsbart reported that Opportunity Alabama, a 501c3 organization, is working on an initiative with the Delta Regional Authority to ensure people of the Black Belt have access to technical assistance to support more local projects.

Community Affairs Board of Advisors Welcomes Four New Members

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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

Board of Advisors Reviews Program Achievements, Hears Advice from Veteran Educator Dr. Edward Mullins

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

The Board of Advisors (BOA) of the Division of Community Affairs held its spring meeting March 31 through April 2 on campus and in several locations throughout Tuscaloosa.

The highlight of the spring meeting came on Monday, April 1, during a dinner at Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa, when the Board officers and committee chairs reviewed progress of a variety of projects, discussed ways to continue projects to support University of Alabama students and heard from veteran educator and former dean Dr. Edward Mullins.

“The University of Alabama is a force for good,” said board member Justice Smyth, who gave the welcome on Monday night. He said the University exists primarily to educate students, to conduct research and to improve the quality of life for the people of Alabama. Quoting from the University’s mission statement, he praised the job of the Division of Community Affairs for its work in “advancing the intellectual and social condition of the people of this state, our nation and our world.”

A former Student Government Association president, Smyth now works as outreach director for the Alabama Transportation Institute at the University, and previously worked as director of corporate development for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

Composed of 57 alumni from all over the nation, the Board — in an effort to help students make the most of their undergraduate experience at the Capstone — provides scholarships for underrepresented students, supports entrepreneurship and innovation on campus, and assists students in their desire to conduct service abroad.

The group was created by Vice President of Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt in 2016 as a way to give young professional alumni an opportunity to fulfill its slogan of “Coming Back. Giving Back.”

“Dr. Pruitt sought campus leaders from a wide variety of academic disciplines and experiences, with the common denominator being that they were all socially conscious, ethical and well-rounded,” Smyth said to the gathering at Embassy Suites. “Not only has it given me an opportunity to reconnect with old classmates and make new friends, but this board has given us all an opportunity to serve and be a blessing in the lives of others.”

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Edward Mullins, former dean and department chair in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. He is currently a director of Research and Communication in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs.

“The major outcome of your success, as you come back and give back to our institution, is that you are breeding future success,” Mullins told the group. He shared stories related to his theme of “Family, Faith and Team,” about his time as a student, faculty member and administrator at the Capstone.

His first advice to the young alumni was to make family a high priority in their lives. Second, to make their religious faith a major part of their lives, and third to become part of a team.

Mullins intertwined other pieces of advice into his message, including staying in shape, getting out of your comfort zone, reading newspapers and books, being flexible, not being a clock-watcher, making friends with their blue-collar service providers, and finding a mentor as well as becoming one.

“You deserve a pat on the back for what you did at UA to prepare yourself for the real world. And you deserve a round of applause for what you are doing today,” Mullins said after running down the accomplishments of the group of 57 board members based on a spreadsheet he created that revealed exceptional diversity in travel, careers, majors, collegiate honors and current residence.

Representatives from the standing committees — the Global and Community Leadership Development Committee (reported by Sevanne Steiner), the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee (reported by Nicholas Beadle), and the Academic Success and Student Retention Committee (reported by William D. Suclupe) — provided updates to the board members and Community Affairs staff.

Steiner, a senior planner for the city of Fort Worth, Texas, introduced the two recipients of the Study Away Scholarship. They are civil engineering major Elizabeth Cleaver, who will go to Ecuador, and first-year law student Alicia Gilbert, who will attend a law clinic at Harvard Law School. The committee’s purpose is to help students develop leadership skills and to communicate, compete and succeed in a culturally diverse world.

Beadle, an attorney-advisor specializing in workforce development at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, is co-chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee. He reported on how his committee has launched a business law clinic within the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law at UA. His committee’s purpose is to support innovative and entrepreneurial student business ventures.

Army officer and combat veteran Suclupe, an administrator for the Department of Veterans Affairs, reported that his committee is close to endowing a scholarship in honor of U.S. Navy Commander Charles Keith Springle, who earned his doctorate in social work from UA. Additionally, Suclupe reported that veterans now have priority registration through the efforts of the BOA. His committee will also work with elementary students to help them with study skills, while exposing them to the University at an early age. His committee’s purpose is to support the recruitment, mentoring and career development of future, current and past UA students.

The dinner was the culmination of spring meeting events that took place March 31 and April 1, including work meetings and a tour of The Edge, the University’s entrepreneurial center.

To learn more about the BOA visit:

Community Affairs Board of Advisors Hosts Fundraising Gala

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs Board of Advisors (BOA) undertook a new endeavor on Sept. 10, holding its first fundraising gala in downtown Birmingham at the Harbert Center.

The group utilized the theme “Coming Back, Giving Back,” which has been its mantra, for this occasion. Nearly 400 people attended the event, which raised $10,000 in advance of the evening while also collecting additional donations at the event. All will be used to support student-centered initiatives of the board.

Community Affairs Vice President Samory T. Pruitt, PhD, established the board in 2016. It is composed of UA graduates who, as students, provided exemplary leadership and service to the University during a period of accelerated growth and change in the student body from 2003–2013.

“Dr. Pruitt had a vision before any of the rest of us did to bring young leaders together who wanted to go ahead and plug back in and make a difference,” said Board President Katie Boyd Britt, a former UA Student Government Association president, who earned her undergraduate degree in 2004 and her UA law degree in 2013. Currently, she serves as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

“I know a lot of us were lost in our efforts to reconnect, to know what was going on so that we could be able to make a difference and an impact,” Britt continued. “You changed that for all of us,” she said to Dr. Pruitt from the podium. “This is a group of change agents. You hand-picked this group. You believed in us. You have funded it and made sure that you gave us a voice again. Your leadership is unparalleled and we are so grateful for the time, energy and political capital that you spent to make this group happen. Thank you for believing in us, Dr. Pruitt.”

These tremendously successful and talented alumni have come together not just to raise funds in support of campus-wide initiatives that will increase student success and retention, but also to facilitate student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovation, and to develop thoughtful global and community leaders. The group has funded scholarships for undergraduate students and continues to seek new ways to support the University in other capacities.

“Everybody here on this board obviously has day jobs, but each of them is trying to find ways to use what they do during the day to make an impact on the University by night. People are coming from not only all over the United States, but all over the world, to make sure they have an opportunity to give back in this way,” Britt said.

To date, members of the Board have donated personally — both in financial resources and time. The group offered its first study-abroad and domestic-study opportunities earlier this year to two UA students to help them develop leadership skills and cultural competency. Additionally, one member has committed to endow a scholarship for underrepresented students from the Birmingham area.

“From day one, this has been an impressive group of servant leaders,” said Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs. Agomo, who oversees the group’s members and subcommittees, said, “I remain impressed by the leadership shown by the members of this group, as well as by their willingness to serve. The success of this event is but one example of the good things this group has accomplished.”

The gala was attended by alumni and supporters of the University, including Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who brought greetings on behalf of the Magic City and spoke about the city’s partnership with the BOA and Community Affairs.

“We are all here today because we share the same passion for education, for workforce development and the development of the next generation of leaders. You all keep a finger on the pulse of global trends to help our emerging leaders remain competitive,” said Woodfin, 37, who was elected mayor in 2017.

Woodfin said he joined the group in their passion to keep the best and brightest young people working in Alabama, and applauded the group’s ability to open doors of opportunities to our next generation of leaders.

“I imagine that’s not an easy task, but this advisory group was created for that challenge,” he said.

Woodfin explained that he has partnered with Community Affairs to bring students to Tuscaloosa in a shared effort to expose young people to additional college choices outside of Birmingham.

“The success of our students is not their burden to bear alone. We all have a stake in this,” he said. “I applaud you in your continued efforts to invest in our young people and our students, not just for the University’s future, but for their future as well.”

The evening was not only a celebration of new initiatives; it also was a time to reflect on the successes of the board’s first three years.

“It has been incredible to see from the first day we gathered until today, how far we’ve come as a board,” said BOA Treasurer Divya Patel, a 2006 UA graduate who currently works as director of operations for Windsor Hotel and Quality Inn in Americus, Ga. “Dr. Pruitt told us we were paving the road and going over it at the same time. Today, we can successfully say we have built a road. It’s very exciting to be at this point, but this is just the beginning on our journey of coming back and giving back.”

Among the guests at the gala were several UA vice presidents and deans. The evening ended with a performance by UA graduate, Grammy-Award nominee and Motown singer-songwriter Sebastian Kole, who entertained the audience with original songs and upbeat popular covers.

In speaking about the makeup of the board, BOA Vice President Joseph Bryant shared, “The board is not political, it’s not self-serving, we are from diverse backgrounds, we have different views and live in different locations, but we are all gathered here because of our love for the Capstone and our home state of Alabama.” Bryant, a 2001 UA graduate who served as the first African-American editor of The Crimson White, is now the interim vice president of Community Engagement for the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District.

Community Affairs Thanks Inaugural Board of Advisors, Welcomes New Board Members

By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator

Since its inception in 2016, the Division of Community Affairs Board of Advisors has positively affected numerous students and future students of The University of Alabama with its substantial reach and influence. Whether raising funds to provide study abroad scholarships and support for business startups, mentoring current and future students, or committing to fund an endowed scholarship — as one member has done — this group of young alumni has continued the legacy of excellence that personified its members when they were students at the Capstone.

“I have been amazed by the accomplishments of this group,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. “We anticipated that the members would do great things — that was their collective track record when they were students at The University of Alabama — but never imagined how much they would achieve in such a short time.

“The inaugural group set the bar high for those who will follow them. The University, the Division and countless students are fortunate to have had the benefit of their leadership, commitment and energy, and as we begin the next chapter of this group, we want to recognize our inaugural members, some of whom are continuing with the board and some who will be rolling off, as well as announce our new members,” said Pruitt.

Inaugural board members continuing to serve include David Bailey (chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee), Nicholas Beadle (co-chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee), Katie Boyd Britt (president), Porcia Bradford Love, Casey Brunson, Joseph Bryant (vice president), Kyle Buchanan, Mary Margaret Carroll, Prince Cleveland, Luke P. Connell, Rebecca Cornwell, Sarah T. Dunlap, Tyrell Jordan, Kendra Key, Elliot A. Knight (co-chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee, Colby Leopard, Holly Luther (co-chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee), Andrea Mabry, Karla S. Martin, Coyn Mateer, Stephen McNair (co-chair, Global and Community Leadership Committee), Reginald Miller (co-chair, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee), Manda Mountain, Divya Patel (treasurer), Robin Preussel Phillips, Elizabeth W. Riddle, Zac Z. Riddle, Anna Catherine Roberson, Chris Sanders, Rashmee Sharif (chair, Global and Community Leadership Committee), Cliff Sims, Justice D. Smyth, Sevanne Steiner, William D. Suclupe, Sarah Kate Sullivan, Justin Zimmerman and Andrew Zow.

Inaugural members rolling off their time of service with the board are Ryan Brown, Kathryn Crenshaw, Emma Fick, David Germany, Calvin Harkness, Calvin Han (secretary), Victoria Javine (chair, Academic Success and Student Retention Committee), Victor Luckerson, Cassandra Mickens, Randall Minor, Melissa Pouncey, Ann Taylor Shaw, Jessica Averitt Taylor, Emily Vaughn, Aimee Vinson and Kate Werner.

New members joining the board include Jonathan Adams, Adedeji Akindele-Alo, Hamilton Bloom, Amber Bradford Buchanan, Will Clayton, Ryan J. Davis, Allie Esslinger, Kevin Garrison, Brandon Green, Martha Griffith, Kristy Kirkland, Aneesa McMillan, Will Nevin, Susan Page, Norma Powell, Paul Rand, Hailah Said, Susan Speaker, Gabriel Warren and Stephen Williams.

The University of Alabama established the Division of Community Affairs Board of Advisors 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.

River Pitch Competition Works to Build Tuscaloosa Entrepreneurship Community

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Correspondent

For junior marketing student Eric Voce, the River Pitch Business Idea Competition was the difference in “thinking about an idea and actually making it happen.”

Voce was one of eight $1,000 winners of a business proposal pitching competition held Nov. 14 at the Tuscaloosa River Market. Each contestant had three minutes to explain their idea, followed by four minutes for questions and two minutes for the judges to grade each presentation.

UA’s Division of Community Affairs served as a sponsor of the event through its Board of Advisors.

Board members Reginald Miller and Andrea Mabry, who serve on the Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee of the board, served as judges for the competition.

“The winners will move on to Business Plan Competition, which will be held next fall,” Miller said.

Mabry said she was impressed with the variety of ideas and the success of the first-year event.

Voce’s winning idea was a venue application called “What’s the Move,” which he came up with to help friends trying to decide on a location of where they would go on a given occasion. “The app works as advertising for the stores and restaurants and for your friends to figure out what to do each night,” Voce said.

This was exactly the kind of idea the organizers had in mind when they decided to hold the competition.

“People here have ideas and we’re just trying to give them a forum to get their ideas out,” said Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and professor of management at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. “We are excited to have UA, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Tuscaloosa community all working together.”

The event attracted 53 contestants, and with judges and facilitators about 90 people in all. It was organized by the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and the EDGE Incubator and Accelerator of the Culverhouse College of Commerce, along with sponsorships from areas businesses, such as Ward Scott Architecture and other Chamber members.

“We want to build the entrepreneurship community in Tuscaloosa,” Welbourne said. “It’s really about the networking. The forum helps people learn to pitch their business ideas and to meet people who might be able to help them.”

Before the competition, UA held several workshops open to community members, faculty, staff and students. One of those faculty members, Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, turned out to be one of the $1,000 winners. She is an associate professor in the Department of Community and Rural Medicine and deputy director of UA’s Institute for Rural Health Research. Her idea, which she already holds a patent for, is a beauty aide that attaches to a hair dryer.

“I came up with it while I was sitting at the salon under the dryer and I fell asleep,” Foster said. “My hair dropped out of the hood, so it didn’t dry. I wanted to develop an attachment to keep your head straight.” She developed the idea about 20 years ago. “I still think it is marketable. That’s why I dusted the idea off. It will save time for the client and the hairdresser,” she said.

Voce already has a prototype and a website. He said he will use the funding to continue to develop his website. “I’m going to be pitching to bars and restaurants in the next week or two. I wanted to have a visual for them to see before I went to them to try to pitch an idea,” Voce said. “Everyone seems pretty interested, especially if I can show there are going to be users.”

Voce said participating in the program has encouraged him to continue to work on his innovative ideas. “Even more than the money, it was proof of the concept. That was the most exciting thing for me,” Voce said. “The fact that people actually believed in my idea and thought that I could be successful has motivated me now to flesh it out and keep on going with it.”

Payne-Foster said she will use her funding to update her design and create a prototype using a 3D printer. “I will continue to try to refine it and market it to hair shows and beauty supply retailers. The haircare industry has annual revenue of $62 billion. It’s a big market,” Foster said.

Kirs Irwin, a Culverhouse doctoral student, has served as a facilitator for previous workshops and served as a judge for the pitch competition. “I think it’s good to bring together ideas that can actually build the community. I’m just interested to see how the contestants do and see the variety of ideas,” Irwin said. He hoped to give them good feedback so they can continue to improve their ideas.

Additional winners were Noah Campbell (concussion detection device that could be applied to sports such as football), Slade Johnston (a hunting/outdoor exchange application), Maddie Johnson (a prosthetics idea), Clayton Wagenhals (a personal apparel cooling device), Valencia Winston (flavored popcorn,) and Lauren Gwin (self-defense jewelry).

Board of Advisors Holds Fall 2017 Meeting; Large Number Hear Birmingham Business Executive on 9/11 Anniversary

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The Community Affairs Board of Advisors (BOA) wrapped up its fall 2017 meeting with a breakfast on Tuesday, September 12, following two days of intensive committee meetings and reports. Several offices of the organization assumed overall leadership roles as board president Katie Boyd Britt was unable to attend the September 10–12 meeting.

The highlight of the gathering came on Monday, September 11, on the 16th anniversary of the Twin Towers disaster in New York City (9/11/2001). The evening featured recollections of and memorials to the event, along with a keynote speech by Gadsden native and UA and Harvard University graduate John Johns, executive chairman of Protective Life Corporation in Birmingham. More than 100 board members and their families, University administrators, faculty and staff and their families and other guests attended the Monday night event.

Johns’ talk, entitled “Effective Leadership: The Good Life and the Duality of the Southern Thing,” gave insights into Alabama culture and its historic struggles to “occasionally get good things done.”  He reminded his audience that the lessons of the power of the human spirit over the past decades are somehow more magnified in Alabama than most places, citing the absurdity of “the rabble trying to settle its differences by blowing up a church that killed six children,” a reference to the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Appealing to his young audience, he cited popular songs by Lynard Skynard (“Sweet Home Alabama”) and Neil Young and Drive-By Truckers to illustrate “the duality of the Southern thing,” which Johns said means that although we Southerners do some things right, “we then mess it up by doing something horribly wrong, bringing us back to square one.”

Johns gave a haunting/poignant, yet still somehow optimistic picture of our state’s potential, while still acknowledging that “our aim is off; we keep shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again.” He said although there are pockets of successes, of which he counted The University of Alabama one, we have never put enough effort or provided enough funding for education, which he said affects the “number and nature of our police reports.”

Johns urged the alumni group and other members of the audience to recall the hopeful messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, according to Johns, “appealed to the good side of the duality of the Southern thing.”

Vice President Joseph Bryant opened the Sunday lunch meeting by telling the group, “We are diverse in every way you can imagine.” He said the BOA is committed to coming up with ways to enhance the University “on the national stage and the international level as well.” Bryant serves as director of communication for the Birmingham Housing Authority.

Three committees shared their accomplishments at this session. Victoria Javine, chair of the Academic Success and Student Retention Committee, introduced two main initiatives, a mentorship program and recruitment initiative. Javine is a clinical professor in the Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies in UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Nicholas Beadle, co-chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives Committee, said the committee has raised approximately $17,000. The committee’s focus is on funding student initiatives by partnering with other programs on campus and by finding ways to collaborate with the School of Law and the Culverhouse College of Business and Administration to create new tools for students through counseling for small businesses. Beadle is a special assistant in the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor, in Washington, D.C.

Global and Community Leadership Committee Chair Rashmee Sharif said the committee has $5,000 to fund Study Abroad and Domestic scholarships. The committee plans to discuss how to market scholarships, scholarship requirements, and also discuss how to contribute time and other resources for UA students. Sharif, who works from Birmingham, is change manager with Cigna’s operating effectiveness team.

At the Sunday meeting Tyrell F. Jordan was recognized for the successful TFJ Law Firm Endowed Scholarship Fund created in 2016. Jordan is a civil litigation attorney in Birmingham.

On Monday, Dr. G. Christine Taylor, the newly named vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion spoke to the BOA on UA’s diversity goals. Acknowledging that reaching them will take time and hard work, she summarized them, including increasing diversity within the faculty and student body while maintaining high standards and developing a thriving environment for all students, faculty and staff.

Following her talk and referring to the audience, Community Affairs Vice President Dr. Samory T. Pruitt said, “This group represents some of the best in terms of leadership and diversity this University has produced. The future is bright for this campus, because our efforts are collective. Leadership is not just about identifying problems; it’s also about identifying solutions and committing to being part of those solutions. You can count on that commitment from this group.”

Following Taylor’s address, different committees spent the rest of the day with guest experts who facilitated discussion for the initiatives each committee is pursuing.

The specialists were Dr. Peter Johnson, professor of accounting in the Culverhouse School of Accountancy, who outlined a three-pronged approach to minority recruiting; Dr. George Daniels, assistant dean in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, who discussed the GEAR UP project; and Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, which is housed at the EDGE Center in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The Global and Community Leadership Committee discussed plans for two $2,500 scholarships they have created. The scholarship will be named the Board of Advisors Study Abroad Scholarship. One will be awarded for global study abroad and the other for local or domestic pursuit for students focusing on community engagement projects.

Student Government Association President Jared Hunter spoke during the second half of the committee meeting, sharing his plans for more minorities in the assembly.

The next meeting of the Board of Advisors will be on the UA campus in April 2018.

Board of Advisors Announces Progress on Initiatives, Receives Praise and Advice From Former Athletics Director Bill Battle

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Division of Community Affairs’ two-day Board of Advisors meeting culminated in a dinner April 3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, with an inspirational endorsement of their work by former UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle.

The 52 members of the board all earned UA degrees since 2000 and have worked for the past year on a three-pronged mission of increasing student success and retention, promoting student involvement in entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives, and supporting the development of effective leaders in the United States and abroad.

“This group represents our best and brightest younger alumni and I appreciate their work and commitment to this effort,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. “All of the group’s members are very busy, but they each made time and agreed to participate. I also appreciate how the leadership on our campus has embraced and supported their efforts.”

The group came together around the theme “Coming Back, Giving Back,” which epitomizes the purpose of their work.

“I think every one of us is here because Dr. Pruitt made an impact on our life,” said Katie Boyd Britt, who graduated from UA in 2004 and 2013. “We saw his vision for the campus and his vision to move the campus and community forward and there is not one of us that didn’t want to be a part of that again.”

Britt said that after they formed the group, there was so much interest that they had to turn away some prospective members. Summarizing commitments, Britt said some $25,000 had been contributed or pledged by the group toward fulfilling its mission.

“At this point in our lives, there are not a lot of opportunities to reconnect with campus and to meet other alumni,” said Britt, who serves as president of the BOA executive committee. “This has allowed us to have the opportunity to continue to move things forward and effect change and create a more positive atmosphere on the campus, while at the same time taking and sharing what we have learned with current students.”

Battle, now a special assistant to UA President Stuart R. Bell, walked away from retirement to return to UA in 2013 as director of athletics after experiencing huge success in the licensing of school athletic items popular with university fan bases. He told the assembly: “Leadership is getting someone else to do what you want them to do, as long as it is good for them as well.” He cautioned that success can be a moving target and how you define success depends on where you are in life.

“The American dream to me,” he said, “is to be successful in whatever you do, while leaving the world a better place than you found it. Any organization that you touch, if you can leave it a better place than you found it, then that is the hallmark of success.”

Battle talked about his lengthy sports career as a player, coach and president of an athletic licensing company, before returning to his alma mater. “I’m proud that I hold two records in SEC sports today. I was the youngest head football coach ever named and the oldest athletic director,” said Battle, who was 28 years old when named head football coach at the University of Tennessee and returned to UA as director of athletics after he had retired to succeed Mal Moore.

Battle thanked the group for their contributions to the UA community and challenged them to stay involved. “Thank you for your leadership and what you’re doing,” Battle said. “Give back with your presence … with your prayers. Pray for the University leaders. Ultimately, if you have the means and feel like you can give back financially, it is a great thing to do. Be here with your presence and help us keep our young people in school and help us keep them engaged when they leave.”

“Most of the money that has been raised came from their pockets,” Pruitt said of the group. “I am very proud of these young people and their commitment to helping make UA an even better place.”

Formed in early 2016, the UA Community Affairs Board of Advisors is comprised of young alumni who were campus leaders during their time as students at The University of Alabama. The board members possess a commitment to community engagement and student success, as well as a common desire to serve and a clear understanding of the importance of giving back.

Board of Advisors Announces Grant and Other Support

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By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Scholarships and grants were announced at the wrap-up session prior to the closing dinner of the second annual Community Affairs Board of Advisors meeting Monday, April 3. Along with ideas to expand The University of Alabama’s reach to more prospective students, the board members convened in their respective subcommittees at the Ferguson Center with hopes of finalizing their goals from last fall’s meeting.

The Student Entrepreneurship and Innovative Initiatives committee obtained multiple commitments toward funding scholarships and grants. Led by co-chairs Nicholas Beadle and Reginald Miller, the committee laid out the groundwork for creating and sustaining a scholarship and grant program that would reward a cohort of innovative students during fall and spring semesters.

Beadle’s subcommittee proposed to grant up to $500 in seed funds to an initial cohort of 20 students from The EDGE Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for its business pitch competition in the fall. EDGE is a local business incubator that houses the student-focused Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and provides students with the necessary tools to foster an emerging business. Based on the committee’s predetermined criteria, the committee will select from the group three winners for grants — one $5,000 and two $2,500 awards — in the spring.

These grants would support innovative projects like the one to develop never-freeze water bottles for harsh arctic temperatures. Beadle and Miller called this and several other ideas they heard from student entrepreneurs “phenomenal.”

“Meeting with those students showed me that there is a need for more funding, and a need for more involvement,” Beadle said. “And I’m happy we could make that investment.”

The Global and Community Leadership subcommittee will invest in student travel opportunities. Its two $2,500 Board of Advisors Study Away Scholarships will be available in the fall for university students to use during spring and summer semesters. The travel scholarships will be awarded through Community Affairs and the Capstone International Center.

In addition to finalizing how they would raise funds for the scholarships and who would implement the award program, committee members discussed how to increase intermingling among various student groups with representatives from the International Students Association, Interfraternity Council and Student Government Association.

“They appreciated our interest as much as we appreciated their answers, which is always beneficial,” said Stephen McNair, co-chair of the committee. “Quite a few of them said, ‘when you come back next time, let us know so we can continue this discussion,’ which is extremely encouraging.”

Members of the Academic Success and Student Retention committee expressed similar feelings after speaking with UA Admissions representatives on ways they could be a part of the student recruitment of underserved student populations. Co-chair Holly Luther said that meeting with University staff and actual students who put a face to the committee’s goals was helpful in thinking of ways “to achieve better success” in retention and mentoring.

To ensure success in the latter, all committee members pledged to contact their area recruiter by the end of April. Elliot Knight, who conceived the idea, said that his fellow members would provide alumni support to the recruiters and encouraged other members of the Board of Advisors to do the same.

“This is a way of telling them that if there’s ever a way we can help, please let us know and we will be glad to do that,” he said.

He urged members interested in contacting their local admissions representative to visit and key in their state. The website provides the recruiter’s phone number and email address.

The next official gathering of the Board of Advisors will take place during the fall 2017 semester.

New skin care service opens in east Montgomery


River Region Dermatology is now open in east Montgomery providing comprehensive skin care services on Berryhill Road behind EastChase.

About 10 jobs were created when the doors opened at the practice, which includes two dermatologists, a nurse practitioner, two aestheticians, two nurses, and three other employees.

River Region Dermatology (RRD) provides services in medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and laser surgery, said Dr. Porcia Love, practice founder and medical director.

"In addition to treating common skin conditions in adults and children, such as acne, eczema, hair loss, skin cancer prevention and treatment, we also provide a variety of cosmetic, laser, and spa services," Love said.

The staff can treat wrinkles, pigmentation, thin or dull appearing skin, facial volume loss resulting in folds and jowls, acne and other scars.

Some of these treatments include Botox, Dysport, fillers, chemical peels, facial rejuvenation, microneedling, and a variety of skin care products, Love said. "We also have a variety of lasers and light devices available for laser hair removal, treatment of rosacea, skin tightening, psoriasis, vitiligo, and more," she added.

Love sees many trends in the field that can help patients confronting skin and other problems.

She said many patients are seeking noninvasive (nonsurgical) procedures to assist them in aging gracefully. Major advances in laser surgery and light therapy have revolutionized their use in the treatment of many skin conditions.

"RRD offers the latest technology in laser treatments for a variety of medical and cosmetic skin concerns including acne, rosacea, scars, redness, brown spots, large pores, uneven skin texture, and wrinkles," Love said.

"We have specialized training in treating different skin types with lasers, which is very important when choosing the correct laser."

She said that body conturing is another hot item with many people wanting to tighten and tone a variety of places after losing weight, giving birth, or having stubborn areas.

"We offer Exilis Ultra, the first non-invasive device that delivers radio frequency and ultrasound energy that can be used to tighten skin on the face, around the eyes, neck, and body in a way that is both long-lasting and natural looking," she said.

And platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a method of skin rejuvenation that uses the body’s natural healing growth factors to stimulate skin renewal. "It can be used to correct wrinkles, fine lines, large pores, uneven texture, and skin laxity. PRP is also very effective for hair loss in both men and women," Love said.

The new practice is the vision of Montgomery native Love. An EastChase location was chosen because it is one of the fastest-growing parts of the Capital City, and there is a large demand for dermatology services in the area, she said.

"The response has been overwhelming, and we have received positive responses from patients," she added.

Love received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, and her medical degree from Duke University. She completed her general surgery internship at Vanderbilt University, and her dermatology training at Duke University, where she served as chief resident.

She is also a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Montgomery Regional Medical Campus. For more information on the practice, visit