Joyce Vaughn ’15, new MGMWerx director, connects businesses, Air Force projects

A room just above Joyce Vaughn’s head is being converted into an experimental teaching center full of private technology that does not yet exist. The Air Force may someday take those ideas and train people in a similar room. A separate private project is focused on building a prototype “base in a box” complete with communications, security, water generation and power; all of which could be quickly deployed, and then quickly broken down and airlifted away. Vaughn this week was named the new director of MGMWerx, a hub in downtown Montgomery that works with the private sector to develop ideas for Air University.

She was used to being surrounded by innovation and technology before the pandemic, and like many other entities, MGMWerx has expanded their virtual offerings over the past two years. But their downtown Montgomery space is now a busy place again, and Vaughn said she believes in the power of face-to-face connections as part of the process. “We had a Q&A session yesterday for a project and it’s just something about being able to shake the hand of the person that’s responsible for the project and look them in their eye and be like, ‘Well, this might be the person I’m going to do business with.’ … That human connection is really valuable.” MGMWerx opened on Commerce Street in Montgomery in 2019 as a hub for private-sector innovations and solutions to benefit Air University and the U.S. Air Force as a whole. It regularly hosts pitch nights, brainstorming sessions and other events to find new ways to approach problems through collaboration. Vaughn takes over for former director and retired Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards, who left last month. Born to Alabama natives, Vaughn settled in Montgomery after life as a military brat. The 2015 Auburn University at Montgomery graduate spent much of her career here in marketing, including with Baptist Health, before joining MGMWerx and learning under Edwards. She said her focus is on making connections throughout the community and spreading the word about the business opportunities that constantly pop up as they work to solve problems for Air University. “When we get these projects, it’s an opportunity for the community as a whole. … It’s for the small business, it’s for the minority owned business, it’s for whomever is out there in our community or smaller communities all over the US that can solve a problem for Air University. “… If it fits your business, why not consider putting in a bid and seeing if you can do some work for Air University?” In her new role as director, Vaughn will officially oversee administration, programs and all strategic plans. “Joyce has proved to be a valuable asset to MGMWerx and our partner, Air University,” DefenseWerx CEO Brian Liesveld said in a release. “By leveraging her experience and knowledge Joyce, will make a meaningful and lasting impact on the future of MGMWerx.”

Original article from Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brad Harper.

Randy Wilkes ’96 named new superintendent of Orange Beach City Schools

Baldwin County’s newest school system will start its first year of classes with a veteran education at the helm. In a special meeting called Tuesday afternoon in Orange Beach, the city school board approved the hiring of Randy Wilkes as superintendent. Wilkes comes from the Phenix City School System where he was superintendent for the last 8 years but he has spent more than three decades in education. “I’m 33 years in education now and I really feel like I’m at my apex now in my prime and coming and starting made a lot of sense,” says Wilkes “As far as giving a school system that is brand new a vision I think that would be a mistake tonight. I think we need to go in, determine who we are and collectively we need to build that vision together,” says Wilkes. The city school board reviewed twenty-one applicants, interviewed five and School Board President Robert Stuart says the board kept coming back to Wilkes. “You can tell with his passion and his conviction and it just sold every one,” says Stuart.

He was voted superintendent of the year in 2019 for his work in Phenix City. He previously headed the Crenshaw County School System and was a finalist last year in the search for a new superintendent for the Hoover City School system. Wilkes earned his education specialist degree from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1996 and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Troy State University. After signing his contract, Wilkes says he is ready to get to work. “Whatever we create now we want it to be able to be sustained in the future doing it right the first time is imperative.” The City of Orange Beach voted to break away from the Baldwin County School System and form its own independent school district on March 15.

Original article from CBS-5 WKRG (Mobile, Alabama).

Lekishia Richardson ‘12 named principal at Stephens Elementary

Lekishia Richardson has been selected as the next principal of Nathaniel H. Stephens Elementary School. Alexander City Schools announced on Monday, August 1, that Richardson would be filling the position vacated by Clifton Pace, who resigned in July. Richardson had most recently served as the school’s assistant principal before her appointment. A graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery in 2012, she holds a degree in childhood education and master’s degree from Troy University. Of the promotion, Richardson expressed excitement for the opportunity, with plans to prioritize community ties as she transitions into her new position. “I am excited to continue my leadership journey at Nathaniel H. Stephens as the new Principal. I plan to use the love and compassion that I have for SES to build a positive learning environment for our faculty, students, and parents,” Richardson said. “At Stephens, it’s all about community.” Richardson describes herself as a life-long learner, with her most recently obtaining her Education Leadership Certification from the University of West Alabama.

Richardson began her career as a second grade teacher at Southview Primary School in Opelika. From there she became a fourth grade teacher and later an instructional coach before finally assistant principal. Lekishia and her husband, John Richardson Jr., are the proud parents of Ruby, who is a first grader at Jim Pearson. They reside in Alexander City and are active members at Darian Missionary Baptist Church. Superintendent, Dr. Beverly Price expressed confidence in the school district’s new principal, specifically noting her educational expertise and strong investment in the community. “Mrs. Richardson has been a teacher, reading coach and assistant principal at Nathaniel H. Stephens. She has a unique skill set and the experience to meet the current needs of the school,” Price said. “Above all, she has grown to love Nathaniel H. Stephens, the students, the faculty and staff, and the teachers. The passion she has for the school was evident in her interview! I have every confidence that she will be a dynamic leader.”

Original article from National News | kpvi.com.

Guaranty Bancshares, Inc. Announces Promotion of Shalene Jacobson ’03 to CFO of Guaranty Bank & Trust

Guaranty Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: GNTY), the parent company of Guaranty Bank & Trust, N.A. (“Bank”), announced the promotion of Shalene Jacobson to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Guaranty Bank & Trust, replacing Cappy Payne. Cappy will remain as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Guaranty Bancshares. Ty Abston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company stated, “Cappy has been with Guaranty for 38 years and has held the role of our chief accountant for the past 34 years. This move is a part of the Bank’s long-term succession planning as Cappy considers retirement in the next couple of years. It gives the opportunity for Shalene and Cappy to work side-by-side until he retires.

“I am confident that Shalene will do an excellent job as the new Bank CFO as she continues to learn and to develop internal and external relationships that support her in this new role. We spend a lot of time as management in planning for the future of our Company.” Prior to her promotion, Shalene was Chief Risk Officer of the Bank and has worked closely with Cappy to help manage financial reporting and accounting matters since joining the Company in September 2016. She chairs the Bank’s Asset Liability Management and Enterprise Risk Management Committees and serves as a member on several other key operational areas of the Bank. Prior to joining the Bank, Shalene spent 13 years working in public accounting, specializing in financial statement audits and consulting projects primarily for banks and private equity companies, and is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She received her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2003  and a Master of Accountancy degree from Auburn University. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor.

“I would like to thank the board of directors, management, my family and my mentors for this opportunity, which I could not have achieved without each of them,” Shalene said. “I truly get excited about all things finance and accounting, and am very much looking forward to leading the Bank in this new capacity. I could not ask for a better company to work for or better people to work with and look forward to many more years of driving successful performance for all of our shareholders.”

Original article from Business Wire.

2022 Birmingham Business Journal CFO Awards: Katherine Lenn ’03, 04, Greater Birmingham Humane Society

How do you view the role of the CFO? The CFO is a strategic partner aiding leadership by managing financial functions, creating practical risk assessments, and ensuring flexibility in all aspects of organizational planning.

How has Covid-19 changed the dynamics of the CFO role due to new challenges companies are facing? CFOs have had to assess risk factors not considered in the past, such as human capital impacts, technology implementation and legal and societal changes occurring almost daily and continue to evolve. We have taken a more hands-on role in HR, IT and operation planning.

What role should a CFO play when it comes to managing a company’s growth? A CFO should be a collaborator and problem solver. Ask the question “how can we make this happen,” rather than just saying, “no.”

What’s a success story from your time as CFO that helped your company? We were able to implement technological changes leading to automated workflows, consolidated applications, and move processes to the cloud before Covid disruptions that otherwise would have prevented us from completing mission goals.

What is your best advice to CFOs about navigating a crisis? Remain flexible and stay resilient. Keeping a calm head reassures staff and the community that you can get through the crisis together.

What’s your best tip or best practice for leading a company’s financial operations through a challenging economy? It is all about managing cashflows; budget scenario planning is essential.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from a mentor? Learn to accept that nothing is perfect.

What do you think Birmingham is doing right? Birmingham is attracting new industry and is able to retain generational businesses.

Where can Birmingham improve? Birmingham is continuing to grow and we hope all communities in the metro area share in that growth

Original article from Birmingham Business Journal.

Lenn graduated from AUM with a bachelor’s in business in 2003 and a master’s in business administration in 2004.

Alumni Night at the Museum

You deserve a night out! Join us Thursday, October 13, at 6:30pm for a champagne reception with hors d’oeuvres at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts followed by a docent-led tour of the museum’s exhibitions and permanent collections. RSVP by October 6 to attend.

RSVP with Alumni Events.

Alabama House Democratic Caucus names Akiesha Anderson ’12 as new Chief of Staff

The Alabama House Democratic Caucus announced that Akiesha Anderson has been named as the new Chief of Staff for the Minority Caucus. Anderson is an attorney that grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. She received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in Business Management, from Alabama State University, a Master’s in Public Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2012, and a law degree from The University of Alabama. In her most recent role as Policy Director for Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, where she served as a criminal justice reform lobbyist, she focused on policy development, legislative advocacy, coalition building, and engaging with public officials.

In this capacity, she wrote or helped advocate for several key pieces of legislation that have since been enacted into law, including HB95 – Rep. Jeremy Gray’s 2022 “Grace Period Bill” which gives people leaving prison time to get on their feet before having to pay back certain court-imposed fines and fees. According to House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, “We are truly excited to have Mrs. Anderson joining our team because of her extensive expertise, leadership, and character. She has continually demonstrated a passion for improving the lives of the underrepresented and underserved throughout our state. I am confident that she will be a tremendous asset to the Caucus and she has already hit the ground running.”

Original article from Alabama Today.

Diane Castro ’01, owner of Sweet Home Bookstore, “more than a bookstore”

Alecia Diane Castro is the owner of Sweet Home Bookstore in Wetumpka, Alabama. Wetumpka was featured on last year’s HGTV show Home Town Takeover. Diane is always saying the store is “more than a bookstore.” Diane recently organized a book donation drive for the new Redland Middle School so that students could have books at school while they wait for government funding for their library. She also hosts a book club twice a month for the community to gather and get to know each other while discussing great literature. She often gives away books to people who have had a bad day–the money coming out of her own pocket. She has gifted books to those undergoing cancer treatment, expectant moms, foster parents, lonely elderly people, and young children learning to read. Diane makes a difference in others’ lives by encouraging them to love reading or giving them books to help them through unimaginable circumstances.

Diane earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from AUM in 2001.

School Safety, Teacher Retention Among Top Priorities for Incoming Autauga County Board of Education Member Tracye Strichik ’98, ‘08

After 25 years working in various roles and responsibilities in the field of education, Prattville resident Tracye Strichik is now preparing to move into a new field with new challenges after defeating the incumbent for the District 1 seat on the Autauga County Board of Education.

In the recent primary election in Autauga County, Strichik took home 54-percent of the votes cast to Eleanor Ballow’s 45-percent, unseating a longtime board member.

In detailing her experience for the role, Strichik said, “I have worked in education for over 25 years. I am a product of the Autauga County school system, as are my children.”

IRA Qualified Charitable Distributions

The IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) allows you to take the required minimum distribution from your individual retirement account (IRA), skip the tax and make a meaningful gift to support Auburn University at Montgomery.

Each year, those who are 70.5 and older can make a QCD gift to the Auburn University Foundation in support of AUM to lower their taxes and satisfy their required minimum distribution.

To complete this gift, simply ask your retirement account administrator for a QCD form and specify the Auburn University Foundation as the recipient (up to $100,00) by Dec. 31. Because AUM is a nonprofit organization, there is no tax paid on the transfer. All of part of your required minimum distribution may be met, and the money goes straight to work supporting a program or cause you care about at AUM.

Use the following information for an IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution:

Legal name: Auburn University Foundation
Tax ID: 63-6022422
Address: 317 S. College St., Auburn, AL 36849

Melissa Martin ’09 to Lead Alfa Advertising, Corporate Communications Team

Melissa Martin, an 18-year veteran with Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation, has been promoted to director of advertising and corporate communications.

Creative Consultants Inc. (CCI) General Manager and Federation Public Relations and Communications Director Jeff Helms said Martin is a great fit for this position, crediting her proven leadership skills. She is a graduate of the Alfa Leadership Academy and continues to serve as a program adviser.

“Melissa has distinguished herself at Alfa through hard work, a love of learning and personal investment in people,” Helms said. “I’m confident she will provide strong leadership as we work to provide more strategic focus for CCI’s primary partner and client, Alfa Insurance.”

A 2009 graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery, the Montgomery native has been a part of the Alfa family since 2004 when she started with Alfa’s Life Insurance Department. She was hired to work with CCI, the Federation’s in-house advertising agency, in 2009. Later, she served as the Federation’s Cultivator newsletter and website editor before transferring back to CCI as editor for marketing and employee communications. In 2019, Martin was promoted to corporate media director.

In her new position, Martin will oversee employee, marketing and product communication efforts for Alfa Insurance, as well as the company’s social media channels and Alfa Cares initiatives.

Martin said she is excited for this next step in her career, as she supervises Alfa Employee Communications Director Brooke Foster and Digital Content Creator Sara Beth Beals.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue growing within this organization alongside my Alfa family,” she said. “This new role brings with it everything I love — challenge, opportunity, innovation and collaboration. The media landscape is ever-changing, but I’m confident we have the right team in place to yield incredible success.”

Original article from Alfa Farmers.

Alumni Story: Raven Tolbert ‘20

Going into my junior year of high school my love for dance resurfaced when I joined the band. I was a member of colorguard, but I saw other band’s dance teams and fell in love all over again. Not many people know that dance was my first love, but I went with cheer instead due to the fact that my community never had a dance studio. I began to study and self-trained for dance, but everything came so naturally.I know it is my gift from God. Since then when people would ask me what my career plan was, my response was always “I want to open my own dance studio.” From my junior year up until graduating college my response never changed.

When I came to AUM in 2016, I was originally in the Guarantee Program where I was supposed to attend AUM for one year and after completing that one year I would have guaranteed admission into Auburn University. My plan when I got to Auburn was to audition to be in the band. I ended up falling in love with AUM and discontinued the program and completed my degree at AUM. There were days where I found myself sad and wondering if I made the right decision because I have always been one who loves extracurricular activities and being a part of the band was so heavy on my heart. I later realized that I chose the best plan which was God’s plan for my life. I changed my major from Business Management to Entrepreneurship which had just come about the same year I started at AUM. After doing so I never looked back. I found clubs and organizations that were the very best for me. I danced with AUM Talons Dance Team for three and a half years, became Entrepreneurship Club President, served as SGA College of Business Senator, and became a proud member and Soror of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated to name a few.

After graduating in May 2020 and returning to my hometown, I had no plan and quickly and with covid arising, I quickly fell into post-grad depression. I had no motivation to do anything. With my entrepreneurial spirit, I had no desire to work for anyone else, but I did what I had to do and got a local job at a retail store. The environment became very unprofessional and I decided to leave. I did not know what was next for me, but God did. My mom drove past the building that is now my dance studio and told me that “the sun was shining down on it so brightly that I could not help but to see it.” We have been driving past this location for years and never seen it in this light. Now my studio, Mahogany Masterpiece, has been open for 1 year and 2 months. I teach majorette, jazz, hip-hop, and liturgical styles of dance. I also cater to my older students through our line dancing class. I have also incorporated dance fitness into my studio services through MixxedFit where I am a licensed MixxedFit Instructor.

While I have always wanted to teach dance it has been so much more than just that to me. I believe in serving, giving back, and creating opportunities. I recently surprised my students with a trip to Disney World next summer where they will be performing in Disney parades as well as performing our very own choreography on the Walt Disney World stage at their stage show event. We are very excited and preparing through fundraising and accepting sponsorships and donations to help get us to Disney.

I am very thankful that I chose to stay at AUM. Making that decision allowed me to meet new friends whom I now call family. I had some of the best professors who challenged me and helped catapult me to higher networks. They also provided me with many amazing opportunities to expand my knowledge throughout this entrepreneurship journey. I am so grateful for the many ways that AUM helped mold me into the entrepreneur that I am today. I will never forget all of the great and even challenging times that I had at this university.

Joshua Byrd ’09 Joins River Bank & Trust in Millbrook

Millbrook City President Jon Foshee is pleased to announce that Joshua Byrd has joined River Bank & Trust. Byrd will serve as Assistant Vice President & Relationship Manager, delivering local banking expertise to clients throughout the River Region.

“Josh is deeply immersed in our community and passionate about helping our friends, neighbors, and businesses succeed,” says Foshee. “He will be instrumental in continuing our growth in Millbrook, and we are thrilled to welcome him to our team.”

Byrd has worked in the financial services industry since 2016. The Stanhope Elmore High School graduate earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2009. Later, he attained Series 6, 63, and 7 licensing, allowing him to provide financial planning, investment advisory services, and securities products. Byrd is president and co-founder of the Basketball Alumni Association of Stanhope Elmore and a volunteer financial coach for Gathered by Grace Ministries. He resides in Deatsville with his wife Missy, daughter Kynleigh, and son Kai.

“I believe that when you value people and serve your community, good business will follow,” says Byrd. “Building trusted relationships has always been at the forefront of my career, and I look forward to continuing this path at River Bank & Trust.”

Original article from Elmore Autauga News.

UT Tyler names new Longview University Center director, Rodney Ellis ‘95

In a statement, the University of Texas at Tyler said it has appointed Rodney Ellis as the new director of the Longview campus. Ellis has worked in education for 28 years in Georgie and Louisiana, according to the university. Ellis was chancellor of Southern University at Shreveport, chancellor of Central Louisiana Technical and Community College and provost/executive vice president for academic student affairs at Atlanta Technical College. “Dr. Rodney Ellis brings extensive knowledge and experience in higher education leadership and community engagement to his role as director and is devoted to working closely with faculty, staff, students and the community to expand the resource opportunities the Longview University Center offers to the greater Longview community,’’ UT Tyler President Kirk A. Calhoun said. Ellis earned a doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Georgia, a master’s degree in judicial/legal administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1995 and his bachelor’s degree in political science from The University of Alabama, according to UT Tyler.

He is a certified economic development trainer by the Technical College System of Georgia and certified nonprofit manager by The Advancement Executive Network and the Technical College System of Georgia. According to UT Tyler, Ellis has secured nearly $50 million in federal grant funding and nearly $20 million in private sector and non-state funding and resources to support programs and services. He was also appointed to the White House Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2018.

Original article from the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Save the Date: Young Alumni Holiday Mixer

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Invitation to follow

Class Notes

Kendra Greene ’04

Kendra was recently awarded a spot on the National Black Nurses Association 40 Under 40 list. The National Black Nurses Association is comprised of 308,00 nurses at all levels from student nurses and LPNs to nurses at the doctoral level as well as clinicians, chief nursing officers, deans of schools of nursing, researchers, academics, policy advocates, and entrepreneurs. Kendra now serves as a Senior Consultant of Medical Management at Optum in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kendra earned her Bachelor of Nursing in 2004 from Auburn University at Montgomery.


Rebecca Baker ’05

Rebecca has launched Marble Wealth, an independent Registered Investment Advisor, alongside two business partners. Marble Wealth is an independent advisory firm built to help successful individuals and families preserve wealth, solve complex challenges, and shape legacies. Rebecca will serve as Chief Operating Officer. Rebecca is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional who also holds the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) designation. She received her BS from the University of Alabama and MBA from Auburn University Montgomery. Prior to Marble, Rebecca spent the past six years as a financial advisor at UBS and worked two years at Morgan Stanley and 10 years in the tax and audit areas at a CPA firm in Montgomery, Alabama.

Rebecca earned her Master of Business Administration from AUM in 2005.


Simran Kumari ’20

Simran Kumari is a new reporter with KULR 8 in Billings, Montana. Born and raised in India, Simran is a first-generation immigrant who moved to the US in 2016 for higher education. She first discovered her passion for broadcast news in high school when she interned with a national news channel in India.

Simran earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature with a minor in Journalism from AUM in 2020.

Everhart '83 receives top state award for nurse practitioners

Providing affordable, quality health care for the past decade to the residents of southern Carroll County and northern Surry County (N.C.), Carole Everhart has been awarded with the top honor for nurse practitioners (NPs) in Virginia.

In recognition of her excellence in clinical practice, Carole Everhart, DNP, FNP-BC is being honored by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) as the 2022 recipient of the AANP State Award for Excellence in Virginia. Each year, nurse practitioners across the nation are nominated by their colleagues to receive this prestigious award. Dr. Everhart, who specializes in family practice, is a health care provider at Everhart Primary Health Care (EPHC) in Cana – a business she started with her late mother in 2012.

“It is very humbling. I work with a lot of nurse practitioners across the state and there are such a large number of deserving men and women for this award,” Everhart said. “It was quite humbling that out of all of them, I would be chosen. It really touched my heart.”

Only one person per state per year is recognized by the AANP. Everhart will be recognized for her award at the annual conference to be held this year in June in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Everhart graduated from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, with a Bachelors of Arts in 1980. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama in 1983, her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1988, and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia in 2013.

She has been a nationally certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC) since 1988 and has continued in advanced nursing practice in various locations since that time. In 2012, Dr. Everhart and her mother, Dr. Dee Everhart founded EPHC in Cana. This nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization sponsors a Primary Health Care office whose motto is “We are here when you need us, at a price you can afford” and whose mission is to provide quality, affordable primary health care services to the citizens of Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina which is a rural/medically under-served area. Since opening nearly 10 years ago, EPHC has seen more than 6,000 individuals using NPs to offer its services.

“I love what I do. The thing of it is this is my passion,” Everhart said. “I grew up here and my family was here from the early sixties on and the community did a lot to help me with my career choices and my philosophy and my appreciation of people. I want to give back to the community, and people need health care. If it is a working person and they can’t do a routine check on blood pressure because they have to miss work and pay, I want to be available for them when they are not working and they don’t have to take off work, that kind of stuff. I can’t even begin to give back to this community what they have given to me as a person and to my family. I can’t say enough about Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina and the people that are here are just phenomenal people.”

Everhart describes EPHC as a very unique practice in that is a non-profit that has extended hours and takes care of patients of all ages. Whether it is for a baby, the elderly or everyone in between, EPHC can meet most health care needs with the exception of prenatal care for pregnant women.

“But as soon as baby is here we will take care of the baby. I say that to the limit of my education and training because I am not a physician. I do have a doctorate in nursing, but I am not a physician and don’t claim to be one,” Everhart said. “I want people to understand there is a difference, both health care providers and I come from a nursing focus. I can diagnose and treat both physical and mental illness and can order and perform diagnostic tests, I can prescribe medication, but my focus as a nurse practitioner is to help people get to their maximum state of wellness and maintain it as long as possible. It is real primary care focus.”

Everhart said her big goal now is trying to help NPs across the state get the recognition they need in order to practice to the full extent of their training and education. It’s something that has been up for legislation before, but she hopes to see more advancements.

“That is one of my other big passions, to have the ability to somehow expand the way that nurse practitioners are legislated right now to allow them a little more autonomy in their practice so they can provide this kind of health care to people who are medically under-served and oftentimes not served,” Everhart said. “That is our big problem in our state as well as the nation. Twenty-five states right now have full practice authority for nurse practitioners, but Virginia is not one of them. We have quite a few restrictions on nurse practitioners.”

The AANP State Award for Excellence was established in 1993 and is given to an NP in each state who demonstrates excellence in clinical care. In 1993, the state award for NP advocates was added to highlight the efforts of individuals who have made a significant contribution toward increasing the awareness and recognition of NPs. Awards are distributed to the recipients throughout the year, with recipients honored during the annual AANP national conference. AANP is the largest professional association for NPs of all specialties, with more than 119,000 members and headquarters in Texas and Washington, D.C.

Original article: The Carroll News

Brigadier General Adams '94 receives the President's Volunteer Lifetime Award

Brig. Gen. Terrence A. Adams, Concepts and Strategy Air Force Futures Military deputy director, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, was awarded the President Joseph R. Biden’s Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., March 20.

Adams was nominated by the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, a Charleston, South Carolina-based clearinghouse and partnership builder for activities that explore, reveal, and reclaim the shared cultural inheritance of the Southeastern Lowcountry rice industry as a basis for promoting community development and advancing the cause of human dignity.

Dr. Kim Cliett Long, Lowcountry Rice Culture Project executive director, presented the award to Adams and three other honorees during the ceremony.

“The Lowcountry Rice Culture Project is honored to have played a part in recommending these four highly esteemed individuals for presidential recognition of their volunteer service,” she said. “Their collective commitment and sincerity to public service are highly commendable.”

Presented to those who have completed more than 4,000 hours of community service, the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award was earned by Adams for championing STEM and cybersecurity in the youth community.

Adams explained his desire to serve the community ignited when he was a student and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member at Auburn University at Montgomery in 1994. During the last five years, he has directed his efforts specifically toward establishing the path for future generations who possibly will fill increasing STEM and cybersecurity jobs.

“I believe the nation needs more young individuals in cyber and STEM,” Adams expressed. “I think it is important we develop a nation focused on career fields of the future.”

Beyond his contributions to advance diversity and inclusion within the Department of the Air Force, Adams has invested time into several organizations and programs that aim to inspire future generations to become more involved in cyber and STEM. These include CyberUP, Cyber Patriot, Computer Science for All, and Legacy Flight Academy. His volunteer service extends beyond local efforts and impacts communities nationwide.

Adams discussed his goal to create an infrastructure for future servicemembers — one where children can attend school, particularly in under-represented areas, and explore career paths in cyber and STEM.

“I believe we have a responsibility to help shape America by making a connection to the community and ensuring the nation has what it needs in the next 40, 50 years,” he stated. “[My work] is a long-term strategic plan to get the nation to understand the value of STEM and cyber security for our nation’s defense.”

Original article: Air Force

Nominations open for the 2022-2025 Alumni Professorship

Help us honor the achievements of your favorite outstanding faculty member with an Alumni Professorship nomination! Professorships provide a critical way for the university to recruit and retain exceptional faculty. By celebrating our instructors in this way, we ensure that Auburn University at Montgomery will continue to deliver exceptional research and education at the cutting-edge of innovation and collaboration.

The AUM Alumni Association sponsors an Alumni Professorship to recognize outstanding Auburn University at Montgomery faculty who best exemplify excellence in teaching, research, scholarly and creative accomplishments and service. Current AUM faculty members who have at least 10 years of full-time service at AUM are eligible for this honor. Alumni Professorship recipients will serve a three-year, non-renewable term and receive an annual salary supplement of $2,500.

For more nomination details, visit: Alumni Professorship

2022-23 AUM Alumni Association Graduate Study Merit Scholarships Awarded

The Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association recently awarded its annual Graduate Study Merit Scholarships to four outstanding AUM students. The scholarships require that recipients maintain a GPA of 3.4 or higher, enroll in and complete nine hours each semester and be continuously enrolled for each semester covered by the award.

The $1,000 scholarships, funded by alumni memberships, were awarded by the AUM Alumni Board of Directors to Evelina Avleeva, Margaret Dean, Marcus Robinson, and Olivia Shipp.

Pictured (L to R): Evelina Avleeva, Marcus Robinson, Olivia Shipp, Margaret Dean
  • Avleeva earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management in 2020 from Auburn University at Montgomery, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field. After graduating, she plans to continue her learning with a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management and then becoming a college professor to teach other students about the importance of education.
  • Dean earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2021 from Auburn University at Montgomery, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Psychology at AUM. Dean has a passion for psychology and helping others, and plans to become a therapist and counsel adolescents after she graduates.
  • Robinson earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2021 at Auburn University at Montgomery. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field. After graduating, Robinson plans to become certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist to help others become the best version of themselves through exercise.
  • Shipp earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2021 from AUM, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Auburn University at Montgomery. Her ultimate career goal is to become a counselor at AUM Counseling and Health Promotion Services, and give back a small portion of what the university has given her.

2022 African American Alumni Reception

Auburn University at Montgomery alumni, faculty, staff, and friends gathered at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club on Thursday, April 28, 2022, for the 12th annual African American Alumni Reception. Attendees enjoyed live music, a seated dinner, and reconnecting with former classmates and colleagues. The underlying goal of this annual event is to raise awareness and funds for a scholarship established by four determined AUM alumnae, who wanted to broaden the level of diversity at AUM while providing support to young students.

The 2022 African American Alumni Reception scholarship recipient, Jamese Cain, spoke about her undergraduate journey at AUM and her current goal of completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. As a future RN, BSN, Jamese plans to gain healthcare experience in gynecology and perinatal care. She has a passion for understanding and working to disrupt the current African American mother and infant mortality disparities. Her future as a registered nurse evolves around showing compassion, ensuring her patients are viewed as people instead of tasks, and providing excellent care.

To make a gift to the African American Alumni Reception Endowed Scholarship, please visit: www.aum.edu/AAARS

2023 Travel Survey

Interested in traveling the world with the AUM Alumni Association? Tell us where you want to go!

Complete a brief survey to help us book our trips for 2023!

Class Notes

Kevin Bazemore ‘96

Kevin was recently named Controller for Saint Francis Healthcare in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He has 25 years of accounting and finance experience with 15 years specifically in the hospital and healthcare industry. In his new role at Saint Francis, Kevin will be responsible for certain financial functions of the Healthcare System including accounting, financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, accounts payable and payroll.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1996.


Tonya Chestnut ‘97

Tonya was chosen as Alabama State University’s 122nd Founder’s Day Convocation Speaker. Dr. Chestnut has more than 35 years of instructional and administrative practice. She currently serves as a member of the state of Alabama School Board, representing District 5. Her impact on the field of education is represented by her present and past service as an educational consultant, dean of teacher education, principal coach, federal programs director, curriculum director, principal, teacher, and pastor.

She earned an Education Specialist degree from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1997.


Charisse Stokes ‘00

Charisse was recently elected to the board of directors of Alabama Power. She is president of Tidal IT Solutions, an information technology consulting company headquartered in Montgomery specializing in providing business development, tech and innovation strategy, and support services to clients worldwide.

Charisse earned a Master of Business Administration degree in 2000 from Auburn University at Montgomery.


Ben Wallach ‘02

Ben joined Oliver Wyman, an international management consultancy, as an Anti-Financial Crime Senior Advisor. Co-Founder of Omega FinCrime, Ben is a financial services industry veteran with over two decades of tactical expertise in digital threats faced by the global financial services industry and has been responsible for strategic leadership of company-wide transformational initiatives in the fraud, security & identity space. Most recently, Ben served as EVP & Chief Fraud Director leading BB&T’s enterprise fraud program. Prior to that, Ben was the Head of Fraud at PNC, North America Fraud Prevention Lead at Citi and held senior fraud roles at Wells Fargo and Regions.

He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2002.


Mia Mothershed ‘18

Brookwood Baptist Health named their new Group Marketing Director for the five-hospital health care system. Mia Mothershed has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, business development and health care administration. Mia comes to Brookwood from Jackson Hospital and Clinic in Montgomery, where she led internal and external communications, media relations, digital marketing, and reputation management for the health system.

She earned a Master of Business Administration degree in 2018 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Oral History Project - Your Stories Build A Legacy

Auburn University at Montgomery owes its legacy to you: the people who made the place. The time you spent here, and the memories you made along the way, have left a legacy and shaped the story of our school.

That’s why we’re excited to partner with Publishing Concepts Inc. (PCI) on the Oral History Project to gather stories from our alumni community about their experiences at AUM. As a tribute to past and future AUM generations, we invite you to share memories celebrating the people and events that have impacted your journey. Your stories will be recorded, transcribed, and along with submitted photos, published as a book that will be available for purchase.

How It Works

If you haven’t already, you will receive a postcard and email from PCI, on our behalf, with an important invitation to share your AUM experience. What are your fondest memories from your time at AUM? PCI has a dedicated team ready to record your stories.

The postcard looks like this:
What kind of story should you tell? It’s up to you, but here are a few ideas:
  • Lifelong connections made on campus
  • The impact of receiving or giving a scholarship
  • Faculty or staff members who left a lasting impression
  • Student organization involvement that helped shape you
  • A career-defining experience or moment

For more information, visit www.aum.edu/alumni/oral-history-project

MLK Reflections event features U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Terrence A. Adams

In sharing insights during Auburn University at Montgomery’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Reflections event, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Terrence A. Adams discussed the remaining challenges and opportunities that exist in building on King’s dreams of an equitable and inclusive America.

In his role developing strategy and leading wargaming efforts for the U.S. Air Force, Adams is keenly aware of foreign adversaries’ efforts to sew discord and capitalize on societal divisions through social media campaigns and other mechanisms.

“Our nation, in some ways, is more polarized than it has ever been,” said Adams, who earned a computer science degree from AUM in 1994. “That’s dangerous as a person who wears this uniform. We need to be smarter than our hate. … The only way they win is if we hate.”

Adams said hatred frequently exists as a by-product of ignorance and frequently disappears when individuals make good-faith efforts to engage in meaningful conversation and actively listen to one another. His grandmother, Minnie Adams, frequently said people have “two ears and one mouth for a reason.” As someone who has commanded airmen and women of different backgrounds, Adams identifies three “Ls” in effective leadership – “listen, lift, love.”

“Dr. King had a way of pausing and listening to all people,” Adams said. “He took his time to listen to individuals and understand their plight. Dr. King wanted to lift people from one plateau to the next plateau. He was uniquely able to hold America accountable for its actions through the lens of looking back at the Constitution and understanding how the Constitution may not have been written for all members of society at the time. But he made America change. He spoke to the conscience of America. This is why Dr. King was so brilliant. He understood that the purpose of his journey was to lift. He wanted to show love for all mankind.”

Adams, who grew up in Tuskegee, chose to attend AUM after six years of service in the U.S. Army. He said he treated AUM as a “learning lab,” becoming involved in Air Force ROTC and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and serving as SGA president. He challenged current AUM students, faculty and staff to consider how they might build on Dr. King’s legacy.

“We know we have come a long way and we have a long way to go,” he said. “What is your responsibility in that long way to go? How do you see America today and how do you see America in the future? What is your dream for America and what are you willing to do to make it materialize? Each one of you has an opportunity to affect change.

“One drop in the ocean can create waves of change.”

Watch a replay of the livestream online.

Original article: AUM Newsroom.

Multiple AUM programs earn "Best Online" recognition from U.S. News & World Report

Five Auburn University at Montgomery academic programs earned national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Online Programs Rankings.

In addition to being recognized in the Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees category, AUM earned recognition in the following programmatic areas:

  • Best Online MBA Programs
  • Best Online (non-MBA) Programs
  • Best Online Nursing Master’s Degrees
  • Best Online Education Master’s Degrees

“We are proud to once again earn recognition from U.S. News & World Report for the high quality of our online programs,” AUM Chancellor Carl A. Stockton said. “This recognition reflects the level of care placed by our faculty and staff in developing online degree options that offer the academic rigor of face-to-face programs and effectively engage the students they serve.”

U.S. News’ Best Online Programs survey evaluates such components as curricula, technological resources, instructor training and services available for distance learners.

In September 2021, U.S. News ranked AUM 32nd among all public regional comprehensive universities in the South and 70th overall among regional peers in its 2022 Best Colleges ranking. AUM’s nursing, business and computer science programs each earned rankings in their respective categories during the fall survey.

Original article: AUM Newsroom.

Cdr. Richard Marcinko, the first commanding officer of SEAL Team SIX, dies at 81

On December 26, 2021, the National Navy UDT SEAL Museum announced the passing of Richard “Dick” Marcinko. Also known as “Demo Dick,” Marcinko was a retired Navy SEAL Commander, Vietnam Veteran, and famous as the first commanding officer of the legendary SEAL Team SIX.

After dropping out of high school, Marcinko tried to enlist in the Marine Corps but was rejected for his lack of a high school diploma. In September 1958, he successfully enlisted in the Navy as a radioman until he was accepted into Underwater Demolition Team/Replacement training in June 1961. Marcinko graduated Class 26 in October that same year. He served with UDT-21 until he was selected for commission as an officer in 1965. Marcinko commissioned through OCS in December 1965 and was reassigned to SEAL Team TWO in June 1966. His education included a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1977 and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

In 1967, Marcinko deployed to Vietnam with 2nd Platoon, SEAL Team TWO for a six-month tour of duty. On May 18, he led his platoon in an assault on Ilo Ilo Hon where they killed a large number of Viet Cong fighters and destroyed six of their flat-bottom sampan boats. The assault would become known as the Navy’s most successful operation in the Mekong Delta. For his leadership in the operation, Marcinko was awarded the first of his four Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Silver Star.

After his first tour in Vietnam, Marcinko served as Officer-in-Charge of 8th Platoon for stateside duty for a few months before he returned to Vietnam in December 1967. During the Tet Offensive, Marcinko ordered his platoon to assist U.S. Army Special Forces at Chau Doc. The SEALs engaged in an urban street battle before conducting a rescue mission to save American nurses and a schoolteacher who were trapped in the city’s church and hospital.

Following his second tour in Vietnam, Marcinko served a two-year stateside staff assignment. He was later promoted to Lt. Cdr. and assigned as the Naval Attache to Cambodia in 1973. Afterwards, Marcinko returned stateside and took command of SEAL Team TWO from 1974 to 1976.

During the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Terrorist Action Team task force. TAT was assembled to develop a plan to free the American hostages in Iran. The plan developed was the ill-fated Operation Eagle Claw. Following the failed rescue, the Navy realized the need for a full-time, dedicated counter-terror team and tasked Marcinko with its creation. Moreover, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Thomas B. Hayward selected Marcinko to serve as the first commanding officer of the new unit.

Marcinko named the new counter-terror unit SEAL Team SIX. At the time, the Navy only had two SEAL Teams. Marcinko reportedly selected the unit’s name to confuse hostile nations, specifically the Soviet Union, into believing that the United States had at least three other SEAL Teams that they were not aware of. To form SEAL Team SIX, Marcinko hand-picked sailors from the existing SEAL Teams and Underwater Demolition Teams including he special counter-terror tactics section of SEAL Team TWO, MOB-6. SEAL Team SIX would serve as the Navy’s equivalent to the Army’s Delta Force. Although the typical command in the Navy at the time was two years long, Marcinko commanded SEAL Team SIX for three years from August 1980 to July 1983.

After leaving command, Marcinko was selected by Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Vice Adm. James “Ace” Lyons to design another new unit. This time, Marcinko’s objective was to develop a unit to test the Navy’s vulnerability to terrorism. This new unit became known as the Naval Security Coordination Team OP-06D, unofficially called Red Cell. Marcinko left the Navy in 1989 as a Commander after 31 years of service.

Marcinko’s impact on the Navy SEALs and American Special Operations is unlike any other. He is considered the United States’ premier counterterrorism operator and leaves behind a legacy of tier-one operators to this day.

Original article: WeAreTheMighty.

Class Act: Floyd Middle's Savannah Finney tackles teaching challenges

Savannah Finney has been teaching at Floyd Middle Magnet School for two years now. She graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2019 and started teaching right after walking across the stage.

“It’s been such a difficult and challenging year, but also it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life,” she said.

She teaches seventh and eight grade English both in person and virtually and has found innovative ways to reach her students.

“Pandemic teaching was so difficult, but I felt like I excelled at it because I’m interested in the technology, I watch things like YouTube that the kids watch. I have a similar humor system that they do,” she said.

Finney says this difficult experience has been rewarding, and as a young and newer teacher she looks forward to the years to come.

“I love that light bulb moment when the kids really learn and catch on to something. I also enjoy interacting with parents, and I really love teaching at Floyd Middle Magnet School. The administration and teachers here are great, and it’s really been a great experience,” Finney said.

Original article: WSFA.

Wetherbee inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame at UWA

Allison Wetherbee became the 94th woman enshrined since the hall’s first class in 1971, joining a group that includes Coretta Scott King, Tallulah Bankhead, Julia Tutwiler and Rosa Parks.

The Hall of Fame has resided at Judson College in Marion since it began five decades ago. Judson College closed last year, and an announcement on the hall’s new site is expected soon.

“(The hall) brings attention to women who have done amazing things,” said Dr. Valerie Burnes, an assistant professor of history at UWA and the Hall of Fame’s acting executive secretary. “Sometimes (they were) just living their daily lives, but they’ve done things to make the lives of other Alabamians better, maybe through social work or through education.”

Wetherbee (1970-2016), was born in Selma without arms or legs as a result of quadrilateral tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Raised in Camden, Wetherbee became the Alabama March of Dimes Child of the Year at age 4 and the state’s Easter Seals Child of the Year as a 10-year-old. She graduated from Wilcox Academy and earned a bachelor of liberal arts degree in 1993 as well as a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1996.

After working as a mental health counselor in Russellville, Wetherbee in 2007 became the public relations director at Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults (Camp ASCCA) at Lake Martin, where she had been both a camper and a public-relations assistant. Speaking engagements she gave across the state introduced Wetherbee and her story to a generation of Alabamians.

Wetherbee published her autobiography, “I Was Born This Way,” in 2009.

“She just led an amazing life,” Burnes said.

The Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1970 to honor the lives of outstanding women from the state of Alabama. Inductees must be deceased for two years and be from or affiliated with Alabama. Women to be inducted are selected by unanimous vote of the board of directors of the AWHF. The board is from a cross section of the state and represents broad areas of interest. To nominate a woman for this honor, use the printable FORM and email to: [email protected]. Neither membership nor honors of the AWHF are determined by the University.

Original article: UWA Newsroom.

Jannah Bailey named new president and CEO of River Region United Way

River Region United Way on Monday announced Jannah Bailey as their new CEO and president in a recent news release. She will succeed Ron Simmons.

Bailey will continue a new strategy to meet the health, basic needs, education and financial stability of the River Region and will allow for more strategic investments in the Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery Counties, according to the release.

“I am both humbled and excited about becoming the next director of the River Region United Way,” said Jannah Bailey, the River Region United Way’s new president and CEO, in a statement. “We are not your grandmother’s United Way!”

River Region United Way plans to become a community hub for area nonprofits, under Bailey, according to the release.

She also plans to expand the River Region Bold Goal Coalition, which is an effort to help children reach reading proficiency by the end of third grade, and associated projects.

Bailey led the River Region United Way affiliate, Child Protect Children’s Advocacy Center, which assists law enforcement in child abuse cases, for more than two decades.

Her work at Child Protect had increased awareness of the organization, diversified its funding and completed two capital campaigns, according to the release.

Bailey had also been on the Montgomery County Board of Education since 2019. She represented District 5 and is not running for re-election. She officially joined the River Region United Way on March 1.

Jannah Bailey was awarded a bachelor of science degree in Justice and Public Safety from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1983.

Original article: Montgomery Advertiser.

Upcoming Alumni Events

Please save the date to join us for live music, fellowship, and dinner with friends and fellow alumni!

Thursday, April 28, 2022
6–8 P.M.

For more details, visit: www.aum.edu/AAAReception

Invitation to follow.

Upcoming Alumni Travel

October 8-16, 2022

Highlights: Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Deadwood, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore

For more information, visit: https://gateway.gocollette.com/link/1099267

November 4-12, 2022

Highlights: Turin, La Morra, Langhe Wine Country, Barolo Winery, Sestri Levante, Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre, Lucca, Tuscan Estate, Florence, San Gimignano

For more information, visit: https://gateway.gocollette.com/link/1081088

Class Notes

Sallie Dawkins ’97

Sallie Dawkins has been ordained as an evangelist and is now serving as a missionary. Dawkins, a self-published author, recently completed her first book series, The Awakening Christian Series, in November 2021.  The first book of the series remains a #1 Best Seller in some categories on Amazon.

Dawkins earned a Master of Education at AUM.


Lakeisha Hood ’05

Lakeisha Hood was recently appointed by President Biden to a position in the USDA. Most recently, Hood served as the Director of the Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). In that role, she managed the implementation of the state’s food and nutrition programs, including oversight of a $12 million operational budget and more than $1 billion of federal pass-through funds. Prior to joining FDACS, Hood served as a legislative assistant in the Florida Senate

A graduate of Alabama State University, Hood obtained her Master of Education degree from Auburn University at Montgomery and has earned law degrees from North Carolina Central University School of Law and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Hood currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida and is a licensed member of the State Bar of Georgia.


Jonathan Avant ’11

Jonathan Avant is an Aldridge Borden accountant and small business specialist by day and a trumpet player by night, helping Montgomery’s revitalized downtown navigate the pandemic as the president of the Downtown Business Association while nurturing its nightlife as an omnipresent band leader. Born on Maxwell Air Force Base and a graduate of both Jefferson Davis High School and Auburn University at Montgomery, Avant is a study in contrasts.

He released his first album, “Discovery,” in February. It’s a title that evokes a personal journey — especially over the past year — of music, business, people and faith, all linked by self-discovery and a willingness to be open to others.


Katelynn Hightower ‘13

Katelynn Hightower received her undergraduate degree at Auburn University at Montgomery in 2013 and her Master’s at the University of Montevallo in 2016.

Since graduating, she has worked as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in the hospital setting and within the school system. While working at the hospital, she learned that she wanted her focus to be on pediatric patients. She transitioned to the school system and realized how integral parents are to a child’s success in therapy. Katelynn Hightower Speech Therapy was born out of a desire to provide high quality speech therapy to children and their families.

Message from the President

I am thrilled to begin my tenure as the Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association President for the 2022-2023 term. It is my pleasure, along with my board of directors, to represent you – our loyal alumni. This year, Alumni Association leadership has made it our focus to elevate the alumni experience and to serve and support our AUM family alongside university staff and volunteers.

Being a member of the Warhawk family comes with an overwhelming sense of pride for our beloved alma mater. In the new year, we hope to bring you new and revitalized opportunities that allow you to strengthen your connection with the university. Whether you attend an alumni eventvolunteer your time, or engage with the Alumni Association virtually, we hope to connect with each one of you.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season,

Catrina Lewis ’05
President, AUM Alumni Association

AUM Alumni Board Welcomes New Members

The Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association is pleased to announce five alumni will join its board of directors. These AUM graduates will serve a two-year term from January 2022 through December 2023. New members are Scott Burbank ’00, Alexis Carr ’20, Saralyn McDade ’94, Teva Stinson ’19 and Steve Williams ’96.

The board’s new executive committee includes Catrina Lewis ’05, President; Janice Marshall ’93, Vice President; and Kalandra Haynes ’06, Secretary/Treasurer.

The new members and executive committee slate were unanimously approved at the Alumni Board of Directors’ last meeting on Friday, October 7, 2021.

We are thrilled to welcome these fellow alumni who represent various generations, industries and talents to the board of directors, and look forward to the association’s work as we return to normal operations and continue to create meaningful and engaging experiences for our more than 43,000 alumni.

Jannah Bailey '83 Fall Commencement Speaker

AUM welcomed alumna Janna Bailey ’83 as the speaker for Fall Commencement ceremonies on December 11, 2021 at the Multiplex at Crampton Bowl.

Jannah has served as executive director of Child Protect, Children’s Advocacy Center since 2001. The mission of Child Protect is to “to provide a forensic interview, counseling, and advocacy to children when there are allegations of abuse.” The agency works with the Montgomery County Department of Human Resources as well as law enforcement and serves the Montgomery community. A native of Montgomery and Lanier High School graduate, Jannah earned her bachelor’s degree in Justice and Public Safety, with an emphasis in Juvenile Corrections, from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1983.

She is active in her community, serving as a member of both the Montgomery Alabama Public Schools Official Site Board and on the Montgomery Sunrise Rotary Club. Jannah is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery and Leadership Alabama, and was selected as the Girl Scouts Leading Woman in 2018.

Jannah and her husband, retired Family Court Judge Bob Bailey, reside in Montgomery and have two sons and five grandchildren.

Laura J. Whatley honored with 2021 Faculty Service Award

The Alumni Association sponsors an annual Faculty Service Award, and Associate Professor of Fine Arts Dr. Laura J. Whatley was recently recognized at the Chancellor’s Convocation in October as the latest of these outstanding educators.

To be eligible for this honor, nominees must have five or more years of full-time service at AUM.  Emphasis is placed on teaching excellence, university and community service, and research.  The recipient will receive a $1,000 prize and certificate.

Dr. Whatley specializes in medieval art and architecture, and has a particular interest in crusade and pilgrimage visual culture in Gothic England. Early in her academic career, she realized what a large role international travel would play in her research. In 2017, she was able to return to one of her favorite destinations in the UK with a group of AUM students. Whatley reflected on the trip, “I had the unique opportunity to introduce them to all my favorite medieval sites from York Minster to King’s College Chapel and even managed to get them punting on the River Cam!”

Dr. Whatley earned a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University where she focused on Greek Art; a Masters degree in Art History with a focus on Medieval and Islamic art from University of Toronto; and a PhD from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Art History with a focus on Byzantine and Medieval art.

Make a difference at AUM!

Dr. Susie Paul, Professor Emerita, taught at Auburn University at Montgomery for over 20 years. She recently published a book featuring collection of poems, spoken through the voice of a 19th-century textile mill worker in Lowell, MA.

AUM partnership creates new opportunities for Enterprise State, Central Alabama Community College students

Students at Enterprise State and Central Alabama Community Colleges now have new opportunities to save time and money in pursuit of four-year degrees through Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM).

AUM signed partnership agreements with both members of the Alabama Community College System on Wednesday, November 10, that outlines concurrent enrollment and transfer scholarship opportunities for students on both campuses.

AUM will offer an unlimited number of transfer scholarships to Enterprise State and Central Alabama students who complete their associate in arts or associate in science degrees and earn admittance to AUM by August 1 each year. The annual scholarships will be $500 for students with grade point averages between 2.75 and 2.99 (on a 4.0 scale), $1,500 for GPAs between 3.0 and 3.49 and $2,500 for students with a minimum GPA of 3.5.

“We look forward to welcoming more students from Central Alabama Community College and Enterprise State Community College to Auburn University at Montgomery,” AUM Chancellor Carl A. Stockton said. “Alabama has a vibrant community college system that positions students for success. These new partnerships help address two of the primary concerns students have in their pursuit of bachelor’s degrees – time and cost.

Enterprise State Community College President Matt Rodgers and Auburn University at Montgomery Chancellor Carl A. Stockton signed an agreement covering concurrent enrollment and scholarship opportunities.

“Concurrent enrollment will help students enrolled at Enterprise State and Central Alabama accelerate their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Students at each community college who plan to transfer to AUM can potentially complete their bachelor’s degree within four years. That, along with the transfer scholarships we are offering, can help students realize significant cost savings.”

AUM will also present one Presidential Scholarship covering full tuition and fees to an Enterprise State and Central Alabama Community College transfer student with a minimum GPA of 3.5.

The concurrent enrollment program offers qualified students a seamless process for completing their associate and bachelor’s degrees. All concurrent AUM courses will be taught live on the respective campuses and on the web while students are completing their associate degree programs. Enterprise State students will have 13 concurrent enrollment pathways through AUM, while Central Alabama students will have 15 options ranging within business, education, liberal arts and science disciplines.

Alumni Travel Resumes in 2022

America’s Cowboy Country

July 23-31, 2022


Tuscany & the Italian Riviera

November 4-12, 2022



For more information about alumni travel, please contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or [email protected]

Peter Keith Promoted to President and General Manager of WAPT-TV

Peter Keith, since 2017 the general sales manager of WAPT-TV, Hearst Television’s ABC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi, has been promoted to president and general manager of the station.

“Throughout his entire time at Hearst Television, Peter has demonstrated exceptional leadership, creativity, teambuilding skills, and a strong aptitude for developing sales talent,” said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television president.  “Having worked closely with some of our most talented general managers has prepared him well to lead WAPT into the future.”

Keith originally joined WAPT in 2013 as the station’s national sales manager.  He moved in 2015 to WVTM-TV, Hearst’s NBC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, where he served for two years as local sales manager before returning to WAPT as general sales manager.   At both stations he helped lead teams to heightened sales results.  During his time at WAPT, he established national-advertising share records for the station.   He began his television career as an account executive in the Mobile/Pensacola, TV market, first at WKRG-TV and later at WPMI-TV, where he learned to develop custom marketing campaigns which drove revenue for both stations.

He earned a degree in Marketing from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2004.  Among other industry activities, he has served on the board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) chapter in Jackson.

AUM Family Mourns the Loss of Beloved Alumnus

La’Brandon Tyre ’15 is remembered as a force of nature and a remarkable talent in Theatre AUM. He was a student leader and an active member of several leadership programs on campus and in the community. With a passion for performing arts, Tyre joined productions all over the Southeast throughout his life. Tyre was the founding Chapter President of AUM’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (Upsilon Eta chapter) and a 2012 charter member. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and began his career as a teacher and coach at Eclectic Middle School. As a worship leader at the Catalyst Community church, he was considered a pillar in the community.

Please join us in celebrating his memory and to remembering his impact on AUM’s campus as well as our faculty, staff, and alumni.

Paul Hard receives counseling award for organizing LGBTQ pandemic workshop

Auburn University at Montgomery Associate Professor of Counselor Education Paul Hard has received the Alabama Counseling Association (ALCA) Program Award.

Hard, who also serves as chair of the College of Education’s Department of Counselor, Leadership and Special Education, was honored with the award for organizing the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama’s (ALGBTICAL)  first virtual summer workshop, “Still Family Across the Distance: LGBTQ Community in the Current Pandemic.”

As part of the workshop, Hard presented information about working with LGBTQ clients regarding disaster intervention.

“I was delighted to receive this award under my professional division,” said Hard, who is president of ALGBTICAL. “The pandemic workshop offered by ALGBTICAL was a highly timely and significant contribution to the counseling field. Being able to provide this training during such trying times is an honor.”

The Alabama Counseling Association Program Award is given annually to recognize an ALCA chapter, division or affiliate that provides an outstanding, “unique and/or superior program(s) for its members.” ALCA presents the award to the chapter, division or affiliate president.

Hard said his group’s workshop was originally envisioned to address the needs for community and support of LGBTQ clients in the isolation of the pandemic, as well as addressing the traumatic echoes of the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s within the community. However, due to the more recent unfolding spectacle of violence against the black community, the workshop’s subject was broadened to encompass the impact of racial injustice, violence, and social justice, he said.

“Despite the stress of our current times, relatively few workshops have been offered through Alabama Counseling Association divisions that are particular to the pandemic and to the recent racial violence and unrest,” he said.

ALGBTICAL’s summer workshop featured internationally known speakers, including Physician Nick Van Wagoner, a specialist in infectious diseases who presented on the historic impact of both AIDS and the current pandemic on the LGBTQ community.

Workshop attendees included counseling professionals from Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia and California, as well as graduate and post-graduate students to encourage professional involvement and growth.

“This virtual program was offered to counselors at the height of both the COVID pandemic and also the fight for racial justice during the past year,” Hard said. “The pandemic has particular resonance with the LGBT community in light of the historic AIDS epidemic. Likewise, the fight for social justice has a long history with the community. Offering this training to provide tools for counselors and opening insights was tremendously important. “

Original: AUM Newsroom

Joseph Miller Named Winthrop Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing

Winthrop Interim President George W. Hynd announced that Joseph Miller, vice president for enrollment at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia, will be the new vice president for the Enrollment Management and Marketing division, joining the university on September 1, 2021.

“Winthrop faces a pivotal period as competition among institutions grows and the demographics of prospective students change,” said Hynd. “It was Joe’s depth of experience, knowledge of the challenges and opportunities we are facing, and his positive and enthusiastic approach to enrollment management and marketing that made him the top candidate. I have no doubt that Joe will make a significant contribution to the excellent leadership team we have at Winthrop University.”

Miller said the university’s mission and vision appealed to him and thanked the president, search committee, cabinet and Board of Trustees for the opportunity to serve as the enrollment vice president.

“Winthrop has an inspiring past, a dynamic present, and is poised for a prosperous future,” he said. “I am excited to be a new campus partner and join the creative and talented team of colleagues at the university.”

Miller brings to Winthrop more than 18 years of knowledge in strategic enrollment management, admissions, recruitment and marketing, and financial aid awarding and leveraging strategies in regional higher education. He has led enrollment and marketing plans that have grown undergraduate enrollment by over 15 percent at LaGrange College with growth in graduate programs exceeding 80 percent.

Miller has been LaGrange’s enrollment vice president since 2016. He oversees the offices of College Access & Admissions, and Financial Aid & Affordability. From 2012 to 2016 he was the institution’s dean of enrollment. He also previously served at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. He is a regular presenter, contributor, and researcher to articles and workshops on enrollment management and involving partnerships in student recruitment and retention.

Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Austin Peay State University and a master of liberal arts from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2011. He is currently enrolled in Vanderbilt’s Peabody College doctoral program in leadership and learning in organizations.

The university conducted a national search for the vice president, choosing Miller from a broad applicant pool that the search committee narrowed to three finalists. Each finalist interviewed on campus with board members, faculty, staff, students, and administrators from across the university.

Miller will lead the offices of admissions and financial aid, as well as work closely with the academic colleges, communications and marketing, the Graduate School and University College’s retention efforts, among other areas of the university. He will join the president’s cabinet and executive staff.

Original: Winthrop University Newsroom


Save the date for a FAR OUT time at the annual Alumni Homecoming Celebration! Guests are encouraged to wear their grooviest attire for this 70’s throwback themed event.

Friday, February 11, 2022
AUM Taylor Center 221-223

Mail and email invitation to follow.


African American Alumni Reception

Please save the date to join us for live music, fellowship, and dinner with friends and fellow alumni!

Thursday, April 28, 2022
6–8 P.M.
Wynlakes Golf and Country Club
7900 Wynlakes Blvd

$15 per ticket. The AUM Alumni Association will donate 100% of ticket proceeds to the AAAR scholarship.


Keynote speaker: Tim Ragland ’17

Timothy L. Ragland became mayor of the City of Talladega in a history-making runoff election on November 4, 2019. Mayor Ragland defeated the incumbent mayor by a margin of just 23 votes, making him the first African – American and youngest mayor in Talladega in the last century at 29 years old.

A native of Talladega, Alabama, Mayor Ragland is a graduate of Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Auburn University at Montgomery, and Marion Military Institute. Mayor Ragland served for eight years in the United States Army Reserve as a military policeman.

In his first year in office, Mayor Ragland has successfully led Talladega during the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, an economic crisis, catastrophic weather, and vitriolic political discourse. Despite these unique trials, Mayor Ragland advances a community-centered plan that addresses the city’s most urgent issues and puts Talladega on course to reach its fullest potential.

He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Mayor Ragland and his life partner Chelsea are the proud parents of one daughter.

Create a legacy with a planned gift

When was the last time you updated your estate plans? You can protect your loved ones and have a lasting impact on future generations by including Auburn University at Montgomery in your estate plans.

A gift through your will or living trust is one of the easiest ways to create a legacy at AUM. It can help you save taxes while also accomplishing your philanthropic goals and enhancing the mission of AUM.

For additional information about making a planned gift or to notify Auburn University at Montgomery that you have included the university in your will or estate plan, contact the Office of Advancement by emailing [email protected] or calling (334) 244-3560.

Class Notes

Jennifer Williamson ’14
Governor Greg Abbott reappointed Jennifer Williamson to the Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee. The committee assists in the state’s economic development efforts to recruit and retain aerospace and aviation jobs and investments in Texas.

Williamson of Southlake is General Counsel at Textron Systems. She is a member of the Colorado Bar Association and a volunteer for George W. Bush Presidential Center Military Service Initiative and North Texas Nadadores. Additionally, she served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged. Williamson received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law, and a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.


Jason Deluca ’08
Jason Deluca was named a 2021 Top 40 Under 40 by the Birmingham Business Journal.

Deluca is a hotelier and currently serves as general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn & Home2 Suites by Hilton Hotels in downtown Birmingham. He joined LBA Hospitality in 2007. Since then, he has assisted in opening multiple hotels, stabilized staffing across the company, and collaborated on community initiatives.


Nour ElBadawy ’20
Nour ElBadawy was just named a young Alabama entrepreneur to watch by the Birmingham Business Journal in its Alabama Inno Inaugural Under 25 Class.

ElBadawy is 2020 graduate of AUM’s graphic design program. She has sought out freelance design and fundraising opportunities in Egypt, Mexico, Spain and the U.S. and is fluent in Arabic, French, Spanish and English. In Egypt, ElBadawy engaged with a client in her graduation final project to create a new identity and a multidimensional campaign for an eyewear company.

Message from the AUM Alumni Board

Greetings fellow alumni,

It has been wonderful to see the energy on campus as students returned for fall semester classes and many facilities reopened to alumni and the community. The AUM Alumni Board of Directors has been busy planning for the coming year, and we hope to connect with you sometime soon. In the meantime, I am pleased to share a few exciting updates from campus:

  • For the fourth consecutive year, Montgomery Advertiser readers selected Auburn University at Montgomery as the top university in Alabama’s River Region. AUM emerged with top honors in the awards program’s “Education” category based on online voting for Montgomery, Autauga and Elmore counties.
  • Auburn University at Montgomery’s softball team recently celebrated its 2021 Gulf South Conference regular season and tournament titles with a ring ceremony. Members of the 2021 team received their championship rings last week, highlighting AUM’s first conference championship as a full-fledged member of NCAA Division II.
Joey Taff, President, AUM Alumni Association
  • Warhawk Health Services will host a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination clinic for AUM students and employees, as well as members of the general public, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, from noon-4 p.m. at the Wellness Center. No appointments are necessary. Attendees are asked to bring their identification and, if receiving a COVID-19 booster shot, a copy of their vaccination card

It has been a pleasure to serve AUM’s more than 38,000 alumni over the past two years as President of the Alumni Board of Directors. Although my term will come to an end later this year, I look forward to staying engaged with the Alumni Association and hope to see you at upcoming events. Thank you for your continued support of your alma mater. As always, please feel free to contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or [email protected] with any questions or feedback.

Kind regards,

Joey Taff ’89
President, AUM Alumni Association

AUM and Chancellor Stockton honored for Diversity Status

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail presented a certificate to Dr. Carl A. Stockton, Chancellor of Auburn University at Montgomery, for AUM’s status as one of the most racially and ethnically diverse universities in the South. The certificate noted that minorities comprise 48 percent of the student body and that U.S. News and World Report magazine recognized AUM for its significant diversity. In addition, the organization NICHE awarded AUM and “A” for diversity.

Dr. Stockton was recognized for his commitment to and fulfillment of “graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students” into the nation’s workforce. AUM Alumni Board of Directors President Joseph E. Taff nominated Dr. Stockton for the recognition, which was presented by Rosemary Judkins of Montgomery, chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail marketing alliance.

ASU Detachment 019 Alum Nominated for Brigadier General

Colonel Terrence A. Adams, an alumnus of Alabama State University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 019, has been nominated by the president for promotion to the grade of brigadier general, United States Air Force.

He is the first Detachment 019 alumnus to be nominated to the rank of brigadier general.

“I’m humbled by the confirmation.  As you know, success is never achieved alone,” said Adams. “This is a huge win for my faith, my mom, family, friends, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Air Force Cadet Officer Mentor Action Program, Army ROCKS, the city of Tuskegee, Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama State University ROTC, my mentors, teammates and supervisors. I can’t wait to use this achievement to help more people.”

Adams received his Air Force Commission from Alabama State University Detachment and his undergraduate degree from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1994, a period in which he served as the Student Government President at AUM during the same year that Dr. Quinton T.  Ross Jr. served as Student Government President at ASU.

Adams remarked that the leap from Colonel within the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force to Brigadier General, or from Captain to Admiral in the Navy, is by far the most competitive of all promotions.

“When Colonels or Captains take off eagles and put on stars, their lives change. They assume immensely more authority and are held to higher standards of responsibility,” Adams said.

Adams is now the Chief of Strategic Assessments Headquarters Air Force, Pentagon, Virginia. Before this position, he was the Commander of the 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

Growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama, where his mom, Aretha Adams, served as the source of his tenacious energy and spirit, Adams’ goals and objectives were made possible through strong mentorship and his faith.

“I have been mentored by the best,” Adams said. “They poured love, wisdom and knowledge into me. I feel compelled to pour that into others. I learned leadership skills as the SGA President at AUM, President of my fraternity’s chapter, my AFROTC experience and from being an enlisted member in the Army.”

Adams’s military career started right after high school when he enlisted in the Army as a Private E-1 Food Service Specialist to take advantage of the education and financial benefits.

“I­­­ entered the military because I didn’t want mom working two to three jobs trying to pay for school for me, and I wanted to serve my country,” Adams said.

After serving on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1989, Adams returned to his hometown and joined an Army Reserve unit as a cook/dietitian.

“This gave me the opportunity to focus on school, until I received activation orders in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. When I came off activation orders, I went back to school at Auburn University at Montgomery and joined the AFROTC at Alabama State University. I was commissioned two years later.”

When asked about his leadership philosophy he said it is simple — Listen. Lift. Love!

“Every person’s thoughts have some relevance. I believe in taking care of people, mentoring and paying it forward, having a strong work ethic, and continuing self-improvement. I also believe in encouraging mutual respect, and one way I like to do that is sharing Airmen’s stories with all levels in the unit, and for leaders to in turn to share their stories with Airmen. This will reduce the standoffish gap between senior leaders and younger enlisted.”

Adams has received numerous awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal.

Original article from ALASU.

Tara Fenn rises from Cloverdale Playhouse volunteer to new managing director

When the Cloverdale Playhouse began its first season 10 years ago, no one could have guessed they were grooming a future leader. “I started volunteering during their inaugural year,” said Tara Fenn, a Wetumpka native and Millbrook resident who was announced recently as the community theater’s new managing director.

“We are very enthusiastic about (Fenn) joining the staff,” said Cloverdale Playhouse President Al Head. He said that Fenn’s “professional background, energy and love of theatre bring a unique set of qualifications to our current team of small, but outstanding staff.”

“It feels really good to go somewhere that already feels like home,” Fenn said. She has been an active force behind the past decade’s playhouse performances, and said she’s preparing to go into “building mode.”

“I actually am super excited about switching from volunteer to being staff, because now I feel like I have more of an influence over the things that happen in the future,” Fenn said. “Instead of a backseat view, I’ll have a driver’s seat view.”

Tara Fenn

It’s a view that’s been fairly shuttered since 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that restrictions are lifting, she’s ready to help guide Cloverdale Playhouse back into live indoor productions.

“I feel like the patronage at Cloverdale Playhouse has always been very strong,” Fenn said. “I can’t think of any productions that I’ve been to that haven’t had lots of people in attendance. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to create things that will invite people to come back, and help everyone feel comfortable to be there.”

Part of that is reaching out into parts of the community that may not have been active theater goers before. “I still feel like there’s people around there that don’t really know or understand what is happening right there at the corner of Cloverdale and Fairview,” Fenn said.

Fenn received her BA in Communication and Theatre from Auburn University at Montgomery, where she was involved in Theatre AUM productions. She’s also a founding member of the AUM’s all-female acappella group, AUMcappella.

Fenn’s local community theater work isn’t limited to Cloverdale Playhouse. She’s also worked with Prattville’s Way Off Broadway Theatre, where she was on the board, and the Wetumpka Depot.

“I feel like I’ve been welcomed into this big family, and it feels really good,” Fenn said. Among Fenn’s many roles, she’s been a director, actor, singer, teacher, costume stitcher, board member, production team member, front of house manager, props master, fundraiser and more.

Though she’s just getting started, Fenn realizes it’s a job she can’t hold onto forever. That’s where another aspect of Fenn’s life comes into play as an educator and a mother. She wants to grow future creatives and community theater leaders from the area’s youth.

“I’ve always loved young people,” said Fenn, who for the last three years served as a high school Spanish teacher in Prattville. “I have five children of my own.” Her precious five have helped her out with productions over the years. “Even the ones who aren’t interested in theater came and helped me build sets, paint or move chairs,” Fenn said. “They’re very much theater kids.”

One of her children, 20-year old Luke, has been following in his mom’s footsteps as a theater student at AUM. “He was just in Theatre AUM’s production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Fenn said. “I know that he still wants to continue doing things in theater.”

Original article: Montgomery Advertiser

Former AUM Professor, Dr. Susie Paul releases book of poems

Dr. Susie Paul, Professor Emerita, taught at Auburn University at Montgomery for over 20 years. She recently published a book featuring collection of poems, spoken through the voice of a 19th-century textile mill worker in Lowell, MA.

"The Whited Air: Mary Paul in the Winter" book cover by Susie Paul

She Represents - Lameka Weeks

Central Dallas is home to a Goddess. One that you will not miss in a crowd. The moment you see her, you instantly understand.

For the beautifully statuesque Lameka Weeks is the founder and CEO of Height Goddess, a fashion clothing line designed for tall women like herself, who stands 6-feet-1-inch sans heels with no inclination to hunch over. Lameka is part of that refreshingly confident generation of tall women who were encouraged from youth to love their height and embrace their uniqueness. Fittingly, what makes Weeks unique is in how She Represents her desire to encourage confidence in others via the Height Goddess Community, a space where women can engage and connect about everything from relationships and careers to fashion and health.

Lameka Weeks

But just how did this lanky dreamer growing up in Alabama transform herself into a cosmopolitan fashionista for those who can reach top shelves? Well, for one, it all started with a lack of choices.

“Yes I know I’m Tall” From the Tall Girl Thoughts Tee Shirt Collection (Courtesy of Height Goddess)

As many of us with, let’s say, non-standard anatomy can attest, there was a time not too long ago when clothes shopping could be a chore. (Author’s note: I am not a tall woman, but even I remember how hard it used to be to find a pair of jeans that fit both my rear and waistline.) Imagine the level of frustration the stylish-at-heart Lameka must have felt having height added to that mix? Either the apparel was too short, ill-fitting or completely unflattering. And, as Lameka likes to say, that was on a good day. On a bad day? She was buying men’s clothes!

Lameka intuitively knew she wasn’t the only tall woman feeling this way, so in 2007, after a brief stint in the corporate world (where her frustration increased over the difficulty of building a suitable corporate wardrobe), Lameka set out to create a clothing line that was stylish, contemporary and specifically designed for a longer frame. She was neither a seamstress nor a designer, but she was an Auburn University at Montgomery graduate with a degree in Communications and corporate sales experience, and so, Weeks put her skills to work.

“Sorry, not everyone can be Tall” From the Tall Girl Thoughts Tee Shirt Collection (Courtesy of Height Goddess)

With the success of her line, Lameka’s vision grew. She didn’t just want to clothe tall women, Lameka wanted other Height Goddesses to connect and share their stories and unique perspectives. Thus, the “From One Height Goddess to Another” podcast was born. It has now blossomed into a community platform for Height Goddesses of all ages and from all walks of life to listen and feel supported and inspired.

Fourteen years later, Lameka Weeks can take pride in the fact that She Represents far more than a fashion line. She is an inspiration to all the Goddesses who see a need and decide to do something about it. And so we close with Lameka’s own description of the impact of her business: More than what you put on your body, it’s about celebrating who you are, inside and out. It’s about your interests, your aspirations, your opinions. Height Goddess is about you…every beautiful inch of you.

Original article: Dallas Weekly

NFM Lending Salutes Arthur Coleman III

NFM Lending is pleased to honor Staff Sergeant Arthur Coleman III, USA, Retired, as the NFM Salute for June 2021.

Coleman grew up in Montgomery, AL. In 1994, Coleman joined the U.S. Army. His father fought in Vietnam, and Coleman cited him as an influence to begin a military career.

Ten years after he joined, Coleman had risen to the rank of Sergeant and was already on his fourth deployment. He was stationed in Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment. On April 11, 2004, Coleman was riding in a convoy truck back to base camp when he heard and felt the impact of an enemy attack. The seconds leading up to the accident were mundane but ones Coleman could not easily forget. “The moments before the explosion, I asked what time it was,” he said. “Once that happened, I saw the shock wave, I felt heat, and I had a burning sensation on the right side of my body.”

The truck had detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), and Coleman and his comrade were ambushed by bullets. Coleman was shot in his right arm, his hand was embedded with shrapnel, and a piece of the truck impaled his foot. As Coleman tried to exit the vehicle, he was shot from behind. The bullet was dangerously close to puncturing his liver. However, a checkbook in his back pocket miraculously buffered the shell and prevented it from reaching the vital organ. Coleman thought he would not make it back to his family alive. Fortunately, he and the driver were rescued and transported to a field hospital. For his bravery in combat, Coleman received a Purple Heart.

In 2008 after 14 years of service, Coleman retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant. As a civilian, Coleman sought new challenges that would allow him to grow professionally and personally. In 2009, he started a political consulting firm where he was the CEO. In 2012, Coleman earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Auburn University at Montgomery but wanted to do more.

Coleman knew he wanted to use his experience in the Army to support other Veterans; he decided the best way to do that was to study law. In 2016 he earned his Juris Doctor and later a Master of Laws (LLM) in 2020. Today, Coleman uses his legal knowledge and community connections to help Veterans in need. “I’m not a caseworker, but I do know a lot of caseworkers in the area, and I know some of the transitional homes in the area. So I make calls, set Veterans up [that are] homeless into a transitional home where they can be vetted and seek permanent housing,” he says. “If it’s a Veteran seeking compensation and pension, I advocate for the Veteran to receive benefits from the V.A. If it’s a Veteran that has an other-than-honorable discharge, I help them get those discharges upgraded to a better discharge.” Despite no longer being in the military, Coleman has never stopped serving his country or supporting fellow Veterans. “My mission is to serve, and I love serving other Veterans. Whether it’s on Capitol Hill or in a courtroom or dealing with the V.A., this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Coleman lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and children. He runs a Maryland chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, where he enjoys spending time with his brothers and sisters in arms.

The NFM Salute is an initiative in which one military member or Veteran is selected each month to be honored as the “Salute of the Month.” Salutes are chosen from nominations on the NFM Salute website, www.nfmsalute.com. The “Salute of the Month” is featured on the website with a biography and information about his or her service. NFM Lending will donate to a non-profit in the Salute’s name. NFM Lending is proud to donate $2,500 to the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) on behalf of Coleman. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military service members and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.

Original article: Finance.yahoo.com

Gadsden State's VP excited about new role

Dr. Tera Simmons has always had a great admiration and respect for community colleges for its accessibility and affordability for students. “I enjoyed the benefits of a community college as a student and, now, it’s an absolute joy to work for a community college as an administrator,” she said.

On July 8, Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State Community College, announced that Simmons has been selected as the executive vice president. She assumed the role on July 19.

“Dr. Simmons brings over two decades of experience as an educator and an administrator to Gadsden State,” said Murphy. “I am so pleased that she is a part of the Gadsden State family.”

Simmons started working in high school as a customer service representative in Alabama Power Co.’s on-the-job training program. She continued working in that position following graduation and enrolled at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, where she earned a scholarship.

Tera Simmons

“I was a first-generation student so, while my parents were so supportive of me, they weren’t sure about the process of enrolling in and attending college classes,” she said. “The scholarship and the assistance I received at LBW really paved the way for me to become a college graduate without a lot of debt.”

As a student at LBW, Simmons earned a transfer scholarship to Auburn University at Montgomery, where she earned a Bachelor of Education in Mild Learning and Behavioral Disabilities in 1998.

“I thought about getting an MBA because I really enjoyed working at Alabama Power but then I got a teaching job and realized that my calling is to be in education,” said the Greenville native.

Simmons landed her first teaching job in special education at Greenville Middle School.

Simmons worked in special education for seven years, and she earned a Master of Education in Collaborative Education for grades 6-12 from AUM in 2000. Four years later, she earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies and a Doctorate of Education followed in 2006. Both credentials are in K-12 School Leadership and were awarded by Regent University.

In 2005, she was hired as the assistant principal at Greenville Elementary School before moving to Greenville High School in the same position the following year. In 2008, she was promoted to principal.

“I eventually moved to the central office of the Butler County Board of Education, where I served as the curriculum director for four years and director of student learning for almost two years,” she said. “I worked a lot with academics, school improvement, curriculum and instruction.”

She said she transitioned from being a teacher to an administrator in an effort to further influence the school district. “As a teacher, I made a difference in my classroom and I truly loved it,” she said. “But, I knew I could make a greater impact on the entire district as an administrator. It is a move that I have never regretted.”

In June 2016, Simmons was tapped as the new assistant superintendent of administration at Hoover City Schools, where Murphy served as the superintendent. Murphy resigned from her position to move to Gadsden State in January and Simmons took on the interim superintendent role until she was named executive vice president at the College.

“I have served on dissertation committees for several years largely to stay involved in higher education,” she said. “Working at a college has always been my ultimate goal.”

Simmons said it was the positive impact LBW had on her life and career that sparked her interest in serving at a community college.

“LBW set the trajectory of my life,” she said. “I believe that I am where I am today because of the influence LBW faculty and staff had on my life.”

As the executive vice president, Simmons assists Murphy with the overall leadership and development of the College as well as assists the deans in developing and meeting division, departmental and programmatic goals.

“My main focus will always be what’s best for our students,” she said. “We want to make students feel welcome at Gadsden State. I want them to realize that whatever credential they receive from our College will impact their life as well as the lives of generations to come. Gadsden State truly strengthens families and communities through education and workforce development.”

When Simmons isn’t working, she enjoys traveling, hiking, exercising and serving the community. She especially loves spending time with her family – her father, two brothers, a sister-in-law and twin nephews.

“I have certainly learned to seize the day,” she said. “During the pandemic, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in June. Losing her taught me a lot…. I’ve learned to enjoy every single day and not to ever take loved ones for granted. Life is so precious.”

Now a resident of Rainbow City, Simmons said she’s excited about her new role serving communities in Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne and Etowah counties.

“I’m very excited about what is taking place at Gadsden State, and I’m even more excited about the potential of great things to come,” she said. “I look forward to working with the faculty and staff collaboratively for all of our adult learners and traditional students. I will work 110 percent to help others. I just want to always make a difference.”

Original article: weisradio.com

Deafened by rare disease at 12, today a VA scientist

Born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, Nicole LaMont comes from a legacy of VA family members and Veterans. She was like any other child growing up: outgoing, adventurous and free-spirited with dreams of one day becoming a scientist at VA.

“My childhood was filled with imagination of adventure and curiosity and I was plain carefree as a child should be,” she said.

“One of my goals is to contribute to the Veteran community treated at the Birmingham VA.”

At the age of 12, tragedy struck when she was diagnosed with Neurosarcoidosis, a rare, life-threatening disease. It’s caused by inflammation and abnormal cell deposits in any part of the nervous system that typically occurs in adults.

The disease robbed LaMont of her hearing in both ears overnight. She was deemed the world’s youngest and only living person with the disease at the time of diagnosis by the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nicole Lamont

“My world was turned upside down,” she said. “I went from being a talkative, joyous child to being quiet, introverted and depressed.” As LaMont battled to survive, doctors informed her family to enroll in the “Make-A-Wish” foundation and prepare for the worst.

LaMont had other plans for her life

“Through the power of prayer, the doctor’s guidance, medical procedures and chemotherapeutic drugs, God spared my life,” she said.

After the traumatic life events, LaMont’s family involved her in intensive therapies and introduced her to American Sign Language (ASL) when it was determined her hearing would not return.

A year later, LaMont received a cochlear implant. The surgically implanted hearing device brought back some light into her life as she learned to navigate her new normal.

It wasn’t until she attended Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, that she fully immersed herself into ASL and the deaf community and culture.

“Becoming fluent in ASL and having total communication allowed me to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance again,” she said. “I found my confidence and ‘Visual Voice’ in the performing arts when I was a part of the Gallaudet Dance Company and another professional dance company called the National Deaf Dance Theater.”

Helped make movie theatre captioning possible

It was then that LaMont started her first petition as a deaf advocate to initiate captioning for movie theaters in Alabama. After much struggle, her efforts proved successful and today nearly all movie theaters in Montgomery and Birmingham are captioned for deaf and hard of hearing accessibility.

That was just the beginning of LaMont’s advocacy for the deaf community. “I lost my hearing but I gained an entire new world.”

LaMont graduated from Gallaudet University with a bachelor’s in biology and minors in chemistry and dance. She continued to use her newfound “Visual Voice” through participating in several pageants. She became Miss Black Deaf DC, Miss Black Deaf Student Union and Miss Deaf Alabama.

“My platform for Miss Deaf Alabama was deaf education for hearing families,” she added. “It’s very important to educate, encourage and support hearing families that struggle with making the best decisions for their deaf child and how to raise them.”

Educate families about cochlear implant devices

LaMont then became an awareness support coordinator with Cochlear Americas to educate families about the option of cochlear implant devices.

After her time with Cochlear Americas, she decided to continue her original career path in science. She attended Auburn University at Montgomery. There, she became the first black deaf student to graduate in the Medical Laboratory Science Program in 2016.

LaMont decided to compete in another pageant and became the first black deaf person to win Miss Elite Earth Alabama 2016.

“That was my first ‘all hearing contestants’ pageant,” she recalled. “I went on to compete for Miss Elite Earth in Washington D.C. While I did not walk away with the title, it was one of my most inspiring experiences. I had a chance to further advocate for the deaf community and spread awareness.”

From there, she attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She graduated with her master of science in clinical pathologist assistant. She is currently the first and only black deaf recipient with a degree of this kind from UAB.

Analyzes all specimens, including COVID-19

Through adversity and persistence, LaMont’s childhood dream of becoming a scientist came true at the Birmingham VA Health Care System where she now works as a medical laboratory scientist who analyzes all specimens, including COVID-19.

“My employment here was intentional,” she said. “I knew without a doubt that I would someday work for VA to serve Veterans alongside my family members. I am so grateful for this opportunity to work at VA and to work in science. One of my goals now is to gain support and find a mechanism whereby I can use my current degree to continue to contribute to the Veteran community treatment at Birmingham VA.”

“Every negative can be turned into a positive.”

Even while working as a scientist, LaMont continues her deaf advocacy work to bring together the hearing and deaf communities. She proves there are no challenges that can stop her from achieving her goals.

“No matter the ‘limitations’ as some may see it, you can still do anything you want,” she said. “Just a little bit differently. You are in control of how you perceive life experiences. With God’s guidance, every negative can be turned into a positive if you allow it. I lost my natural hearing overnight as a child but I also gained an entire new world, the deaf world. I have an entire new outlook on life, an entire experience and a form of wisdom that comes from that experience.”

Original article: blogs.va.gov

Retired professor gifts Warhawk statue to AUM

Retired Auburn University at Montgomery English Professor Bob Evans and his wife, Ruth, recently donated a Warhawk statue to the university. The statue, which symbolizes the university’s mascot, is on display in the AUM Library.

“I had been thinking for a long, long time that when I retired, I would like to donate something memorable to the university, which had treated me so well and supported me so much,” Evans said.

Evans, who taught at AUM for 39 years, discussed the significance of the gift in a Q & A with AUM Library Dean Phill Johnson:

Q: Why did you decide to donate the Warhawk to AUM?
A: For years, I thought it would be great to donate some kind of big fountain, but then it occurred to me that that might be hard to maintain and might eventually need to be shut down. I happened to be paging through ebay, saw the Warhawk (falsely advertised as an eagle!) and said to myself, “Self, that would be great.” All the Warhawk needs to do is sit there — no moving parts.

Q: Why did you ask that the Warhawk be placed in the Library?
A: The Library is the core of the university. Without our fine Library, AUM would not be as fine a university as it is. During my nearly 40 years at AUM, I relied on the Library continuously and was always helped enormously by the librarians. I am forever grateful to them. Despite all my interlibrary loan requests, my failures to return books on time, my tendency to run up enormous fines, and so on, they always treated me with great kindness and indulgence. So the library seemed the best home for the bird. I’m especially pleased that it has been placed so close to the “faculty (and student) publications” display.

Q: How did the bird get placed in that particular spot?
A: I contacted (Library Dean) Phill Johnson, (Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies) Joy Clark, and (Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Faculty) Matthew Ragland and asked if such a gift and such a placement would be acceptable, and all three readily and enthusiastically agreed. This, I should say, is typical of almost all the interactions I have had over many years with administrators at AUM. They have almost always been not only supportive, but enthusiastically supportive. I love AUM and will miss all my students and colleagues.

Class Notes

Allen Brooks ‘89
Brooks was recently appointed to the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Mr. Brooks is currently the Fleet Operations Manager for McLane Livestock Transport, Inc., and he has been with the company since 1997. Previously, he served as a Traffic Engineer II for the City of Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Brooks is a member of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and previously served as Chairman of the Three Rivers Endowment Trust for 3 years. Mr. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies and political science from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1989.

Matthew Burnett ‘97
Burnett was recently named the CFO of Builders Insurance Group. He joined Builders in June 2020 as Director of Accounting and Finance/Controller. In his new role, Matthew will lead the financial operations of the company, including financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, treasury management, actuarial, and premium accounting functions. Burnett earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery; Accountancy in 1997 and Information Systems in 2000.

Anne Esquivel ‘87
Esquivel is one of thirteen members reappointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome Advisory Council. The council advises the commission and the legislature on research, diagnosis, treatment, and education related to pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome. Dr. Esquivel is a clinical psychologist and owner of Mind Works. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1987.

Joseph Miller ‘11
Miller was recently named the VP of Enrollment Management and Marketing for Winthrop University in South Carolina. Miller brings to Winthrop more than 18 years of knowledge in strategic enrollment management, admissions, recruitment and marketing, and financial aid awarding and leveraging strategies in regional higher education. He has led enrollment and marketing plans that have grown undergraduate enrollment by over 15 percent at LaGrange College with growth in graduate programs exceeding 80 percent. Miller earned a Master of Liberal Arts from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2011.

David Pantovic ‘10
Pantovic was recently named the new Tennis and Pickleball Complex Coordinator in city of Daphne, Alabama. Pantovic grew up in Cacak, Serbia where he began playing tennis at the age of six. It there that Pantovic began his professional tennis career, playing in hundreds of tournaments including the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship, Eddie Herr International Championship, and winning the European Team Championship. He was also a member of the Auburn University at Montgomery men’s tennis team winning two national titles during his time there.

Message from the AUM Alumni Board

Greetings on behalf of your AUM Alumni Association Board of Directors,

We’re excited to see most areas of our beautiful campus reopening to alumni, friends, and community members over the summer. We’ve missed visiting with you, and look forward to many opportunities to reconnect in person in the fall.

This summer we’ll be working hard to plan the details of some of our annual events like the African American Alumni Reception and the Young Alumni Mixer. Please follow your AUM Alumni Association on social media and check our website for frequent campus updates, alumni news, and event postings.

As a reminder, the AUM Alumni Association Board of Directors will accept nominations for the 2022-2023 term through September 3rd. Please find additional information and application in the article below.

Joey Taff, President, AUM Alumni Association

Thank you for your continued support of your alma mater. As always, please feel free to contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or [email protected] with any questions or feedback.

Kind regards,

Joey Taff ’89
President, AUM Alumni Association

Nominations open for the AUM Alumni Association Board of Directors

Are you passionate about AUM? Do you want to make a difference?

We invite you to apply for a position on the AUM Alumni Board of Directors.

As the advisory board to the Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association, the Alumni Board seeks candidates who are proven leaders, have demonstrated service to the AUM alumni family, are experienced in working in a collaborative environment, and are committed to serving as AUM ambassadors in their communities.

Board of Directors

The Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Board meets three times per year on campus, and board members serve a term of two years. Board members are expected to be active members of the AUM Alumni Association.

Nominations will close Friday, September 3, 2021. Please contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or [email protected] with any questions.

More Details and Nomination Form

Nominations open for the 2021 Faculty Service Award

The Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association sponsors an Alumni Faculty Service Award to recognize outstanding AUM faculty.  To be eligible for this honor, faculty must have five or more years of full-time service at AUM.  This honor will be conferred during the fall semester and the recipient will receive a $1,000 award from the Alumni Association.

Nominations by AUM faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends must be submitted or postmarked by September 3, 2021.  Nomination letters should be no more than two pages in length, and should emphasize teaching excellence as well as a strong record of service to the university and community.  A vita may be attached, if available.

Send nomination letters to:  Awards Committee, AUM Alumni Association, P.O. Box 244023, Montgomery, AL 36124-4023, or email them to [email protected].

Questions?  Contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or [email protected].

AUM Softball finishes 2021 season ranked No. 21

After a historic 2021 season, the Auburn University at Montgomery softball team has been ranked No. 21 in the final edition of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) coaches poll. The Warhawks were ranked as high as three this season.

AUM finished the year as Gulf South Conference (GSC) champions after appearing in their first-ever Gulf South Conference postseason. AUM had a 40-7 record after finishing as the GSC regular season champions and earning a berth in the NCAA tournament.

The Warhawks join GSC teams Valdosta State, West Florida, and UAH in the national polls. Additionally, the Warhawks are one of seven teams in the top-25 to record at least 40 wins this season.

AUM softball champs

2021-22 AUM Alumni Association Graduate Merit Scholarships Awarded

The Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association recently awarded its annual Graduate Study Merit Scholarships to five outstanding AUM students. The scholarships require that recipients maintain a GPA of 3.4 or higher, enroll in and complete nine hours each semester and be continuously enrolled for each semester covered by the award.

The $1,000 scholarships, funded by alumni memberships, were awarded by the AUM Alumni Board of Directors to Paisley Blackmon, Crystal Mann, Sheldon Martin, Julie McDaniel, and Allison Stewart.

graduate merit scholarship recipients
Pictured (L to R): Allison Stewart, Crystal Mann, Paisley Blackmon Not Pictured: Julie McDaniel, Sheldon Martin
  • Blackmon earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2019 from Auburn University at Montgomery, and is currently pursuing a Master degree in Psychology at AUM. After graduating, she hopes to work in her own clinic or be a part of a mental health clinic. Her dream is to be able to help anyone and everyone become the best version of themselves.
  • Mann earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2020 from Auburn University at Montgomery. She is currently pursuing a Master degree in Public Administration at AUM. Mann has a passion for the work of non-profit and community development organizations. She hopes to work in a field where she can have a positive impact on the community.
  • Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & Marketing in 2014. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at Auburn University at Montgomery. Martin owns a small family business, and hopes to advance and grow it with his foundational business background.
  • McDaniel earned a bachelor’s degree in Business in 2003. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Healthcare Administration at Auburn University at Montgomery. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and earned the AUM College of Business Outstanding Student Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. After graduating, she plans to use her degree to advance her role and succeed where she is currently employed.
  • Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication in 2020 from Auburn University at Montgomery. She is currently pursuing a Master degree in Public Administration at AUM. Her long-term goal is to establish a bridge between her volunteering and communications role.

Lakeshore Foundation President and CEO Jeff Underwood '76 announces retirement

Jeff Underwood, President and CEO of Lakeshore Foundation, announced he is retiring after leading the Birmingham non-profit organization for 30 years. Underwood joined Lakeshore in 1991 serving as its first and only president for the last three decades. Lakeshore is recognized as a leader in fitness, recreation, sport, research, and advocacy for people with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions.

“Jeff Underwood has led Lakeshore Foundation from its humble beginnings to the nationally and internationally acclaimed position it now holds in disability fitness, sport, research, and advocacy,” said Mark McColl, Board Chairman of Lakeshore Foundation.  The Board, staff and the Lakeshore Foundation community will be forever grateful for Jeff Underwood’s devotion and leadership over the last 30 years,” added McColl.

Lakeshore Foundation President and CEO Jeff Underwood '76

Underwood’s visionary leadership led the organization to 30 years of steady growth, including the expansion and construction of the Homewood, Alabama fitness, aquatics, and sports center to include dedicated research facilities and other programs. More than bricks and mortar, his leadership took Lakeshore to the national and international stage including being designated as an official U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site in 2003, which resulted in Lakeshore Foundation’s long history of advancing adaptive sports. As a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site, Lakeshore hosts national team training camps and international competitions. Since the training site designation, Lakeshore has produced 52 Paralympic athletes, coaches and staff, and those athletes have captured 30 Paralympic medals. In addition, Lakeshore is also the High Performance Management Organization (HPMO) of USA Wheelchair Rugby.

Additionally, the Lima Foxtrot program for injured military members and the formation of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) – Lakeshore Research Collaborative, are among the milestone events of his tenure. Underwood also led the development of new facilities, an advocacy department, and many sports and recreation programs for youth and adults.

While the past 30 years have been a period of expansion, Underwood continued to prioritize the Lakeshore members and the work to make an impact on the community. “I am very proud of the fact that, in the midst of all the national attention, our extraordinary staff and board have kept our members, local athletes and community at the very center of all we do.  They are truly the heart and soul of Lakeshore,” Underwood said.

Lakeshore’s mission is to encourage and provide opportunities for people with disability to live a healthy lifestyle through activity, research, advocacy and health promotion.  Supporting this mission included partnerships with many other organizations, such as the collaboration with Apple to develop the activity tracker for wheelchair users and the construction of dormitories and cottages for visiting Lima Foxtrot participants and athletes.

“When I decided to accept the position at Lakeshore, I saw it as an opportunity and a challenge,” Underwood said. “It was opportunity to come into an organization where there was a strong commitment by the board to build a successful program, and a challenge to test myself to see as the first full-time employee, if I could be successful in that situation.”

Underwood is a member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) Paralympic Advisory Council. In 2008 Underwood was named by the United States Olympic Committee as the Chef de Mission for the U.S. Paralympic Team for the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Prior to Lakeshore, Underwood worked at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and served as a Legislative Assistant to former U.S. Congressman Ben Erdreich. He also served as president of the Homewood, Alabama City Council and as a state senator. He has served on the boards of several community and civic organizations including the Homewood City School Board, the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program, and the national Board of Disabled Sports USA. He was a member of the Leadership Birmingham Class of 1998 and the Leadership Alabama Class of 2011.

Underwood received his Master of Science in Liberal Arts and Social Sciences from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1976.

Dr. Michele Eller '98 named Sylacauga City Schools superintendent

Eller will come to Sylacauga from Chickasaw City Schools where she serves as assistant superintendent. She has been director of secondary instruction at Eufaula City Schools, and from 2003-2013 was at Elmore County schools as curriculum/secondary instructional specialist, and English/theatre teacher. She earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Auburn University at Montgomery; master’s as a reading specialist, also from AUM; and Ed.S. and doctorate degrees from Auburn University.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the next superintendent for Sylacauga City Schools,” Eller remarked. “As a pillar of the Sylacauga community, this system has had a long-standing tradition of both outstanding leadership and academic proficiency. I look forward to forging relationships with the community, school board, staff, parents, and students to build upon the current foundation of excellence. Together we will achieve the highest level of success for every student.”

Dr. michele eller AUM Class of 98

Eller’s professional education background and accomplishments are quite impressive. Under her watch at Eufaula, the school won the Champion of Computer Science Award, and each school improved one letter grade on the state report card from the 2018-19 school year. In 2019, she was nominated to serve on the Governor’s Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways where she serves as the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) expert. She also received the Public Relations Award from the Alabama Career Technical Association in 2018 and was nominated to serve on the ACTA board.

Eller’s accomplishments seemingly go on forever. BOE President Amy Price is excited to bring one of the state’s top educators to the Marble City.

“This is an exciting time for Sylacauga City Schools. We’re excited about Dr. Eller’s arrival and look forward to working with her to create an environment of academic excellence and opportunities for every student, ” Price remarked.

Eller earned her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1998 as well as a Master of Education in 2006 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Original article found here.

Nurses spotlight: Sutricia Johnson '00

For Sutricia Johnson, becoming a nurse was a natural fit, a blessing that united her passion for helping people with a meaningful career.

“Nursing has innately been a part of my life’s purpose since I was young,” said Johnson, a graduate of Troy University and Auburn University at Montgomery, who began her nursing career 27 years ago at East Alabama Medical Center. “Being the oldest child gave me many opportunities to be the caregiver for others. The process was natural, so pursuing a career that allowed me to extend my desire to care for others was an easy choice.”

sutricia johnson, Nurse, AUM Graduate

Johnson’s desire to care for others has gained much appreciation, as she’s been nominated by Opelika-Auburn News readers as one of the area’s top nurses. Her biggest reward, however, is the time she spends with up-and-coming nurses.

“While there are many rewarding opportunities in the nursing field, I can truly say one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences as a nurse is the opportunity to share my knowledge with the younger nurses,” Johnson said. “Seeing them connect knowledge with practice is a great feeling.”

As the director of case management at EAMC, among other roles, Johnson is responsible for overseeing duties such as insurance certification and social work discharge planning.

“In my current role, I would say one of the biggest challenges is connecting our patients to the resources in the community that will aid them in becoming self-sufficient,” she said. “Sometimes the resources are scarce and having the opportunity to be a patient advocate can be challenging.”

Despite the challenges, Johnson said, “there is no better feeling than identifying the right blend of resources to get the patient what is needed to succeed.”

“This was particularly challenging during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “I always believe that we should never settle for less when we are pooling resources for our patients and community. I approach each situation as if I am working for my own family. If I would do it for family, I am willing to do it for our patients.”

Johnson earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2000 as well as her Master of Business Administration in 2014 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Original article found here.

Save-the-Date: 2021 African American Alumni Reception

Invitation to follow.

For more details, visit: www.aum.edu/AAAReception

Class Notes

Ashley Reid ‘20
Stamp Idea Group’s newest addition to the creative team, Ashley Reid, is also the 2021 ADDY® Awards Student Designer of the Year. In addition to the coveted Student Designer of the Year Award, Reid also took home a total of six ADDY® Awards in the Student Division for the American Advertising Federation (AAF), Montgomery Chapter 2020 – 2021 American Advertising Awards. Reid earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2020 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Marina Gilmore ‘15
Montgomery Veterinary Associates welcomes its newest member of the MVA Vaughn Road family, Dr. Marina Gilmore, DVM. Her special interests include surgery, emergency and preventative medicine, and she looks forward to serving you and your pet. Gilmore earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2015.

Bradley Bedwell ‘12
Bradley Bedwell, a political newcomer, is running in the District 3 race for a seat on the City Commission of Dothan. Bedwell’s platform is focusing on providing good customer service to constituents. Bedwell, a Selma native, obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Accountancy in 2012 from Auburn University at Montgomery. He opened a CPA firm in Dothan, where he works as a certified public accountant.

Ashlee Thompson ‘11
Graduate student Ashlee Thompson presented her thesis exhibition in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery inside Woods Hall. Thompson has been affected by mental illness for 12 years, and her exhibition “Synaptic Transmission” aims to advocate for mental health awareness. Her art featured various colors and shapes birthed from strokes of acrylic paint, some featuring scientific elements like trace outs of brain neuron chemical structures. “I use abstraction because I believe that complex concepts like mental health cannot be represented objectively,” Thompson said. “This is my version of creating something that’s making the invisible visible.” Thompson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a minor in Art History in 2011 as well as a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2013 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Ian Brooks ‘00
Dr. Ian D. Brooks, MS is the chief executive and founder of Rhodes Smith Consulting, leading transformations of people and organizations for over 24 years. His new book, “Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story,” provides a fundamental piece of his approach, switching focus from a single change to a total transformation of self. Dr. Brooks has extensive experience in executive and leadership development, change management, business performance consulting, and communication planning. Brooks earned a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2000.

James Wood, Jr. ‘98
Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of James Wood, Jr. to the Florida Mid-Bay Bridge Authority. Wood is a former Destin City Council Member who served 20 years in the United States Army, receiving an honorable discharge. He has been involved with the Lions Club, Destin Chamber of Commerce, Active Retired Men of Destin, Destin Seafood Festival and the Mattie Kelly Arts Festival. Wood earned a Master of Public Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1998.

Terri Bozeman Lovell ‘92
The Alabama State Bar (ASB) announced the selection of Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell as its new executive director. Lovell will become the first female executive director of the organization since its founding in 1879. “We are thrilled to have Judge Lovell bring her vision, experience and never-ending enthusiasm for the legal profession to the Alabama State Bar. This is an exciting hire for all Alabama lawyers,” said ASB President Bob Methvin in announcing Lovell’s selection. “After an exhaustive national search that produced 80 candidates, Judge Lovell stood out, not only for her abilities, but because of her understanding of the needs of Alabama lawyers and the Alabama legal community.” Lovell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1992 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Craig Nixon ‘82
Castellum, Inc. announced Brigadier General Craig Nixon (Retired) has joined the Company’s Advisory Board. Castellum’s Advisory Board seats individual entrepreneurs and senior cyber security/information technology executives with business, government and technical expertise useful for assisting in identifying, integrating and growing acquired companies. Over a 29-year Army career, Brigadier General Nixon served in a wide range of assignments including seven tours of duty in special operations units. He is a combat decorated soldier whose awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. Nixon earned a Bachelor of Science in Business in 1982 from Auburn University at Montgomery.

Pete Knight ‘81
Renasant Bank announced that Pete Knight was recently promoted to Division President of South Central Alabama. “Pete’s promotion reflects the excellent job he has been doing to enhance Renasant’s presence not only in Montgomery, but also in the South Central Alabama region. He has been an asset and a leader for the South Central Alabama team, and we look forward to watching him continue to grow in this new role and leadership at the bank,” said John Bentley, President of Renasant’s Central Region. Knight earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1981.

Returning to Normal Operations for Summer and Fall

Auburn University at Montgomery will resume normal, on-campus operations for the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters.

The availability of COVID-19 vaccines, coupled with extremely low case numbers on campus, have positioned the university to better meet the needs of students who prefer face-to-face teaching and campus services.

Even with a return to more traditional classroom and work environments, AUM will continue to require students and employees to wear face masks on campus (except when alone in private dorm rooms or work spaces) and observe social distancing. We remain hopeful that these guidelines can be eased as we enter the Summer and Fall semesters.

The university will continue to monitor public health conditions and adjust policies and operational status as necessary. AUM will continue to provide updates as conditions change.

Read the original article.

*Please note: The AUM Wellness Center and Library are open to current students, faculty and staff only at this time. Announcements regarding alumni and community access to campus facilities are forthcoming.

Middle District U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. '83 retires after 3 decades of public service

Franklin joins multiple U.S. Attorneys across the country retiring recently, which is standard following a presidential election where a Republican president succeeds a Democratic one, or vice versa. U.S. Attorneys are appointed positions.

Franklin was appointed to the central Alabama position in 2017, becoming the first African American U.S. Attorney in the state’s middle district. He first joined the office in 1990 as an assistant U.S. Attorney and continued to hold a number of leadership positions, including head of the office’s major drug trafficking task force, criminal chief, and acting U.S. Attorney before his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 14, 2017.

During his time in office, Franklin personally prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases, from large-scale drug trafficking operations to high-profile public corruption cases. He led the prosecution team that brought former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to justice for their involvement in a wide-ranging bribery scheme.

“It has been an absolute privilege to spend my career in this office, serving the people of the Middle District and working alongside so many talented attorneys and staff,” Franklin said. “I know I am leaving the office in good hands, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve in my hometown and make our communities safer for the people of Alabama.”

Franklin received his juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 1987, his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in 1981, and a master’s degree from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1983.

Read the original article.

Cason McDermott Art Gallery Dedicated February 9, 2021

“It is important for us that our students see contemporary art and exhibit their own,” said Will Fenn, Fine Arts Chair and Associate Professor in Photography. “The Cason McDermott Art Gallery is a professional exhibition space that allows our students to receive a good grounding in contemporary art due to our ability to bring in visiting artists. It also provides an opportunity for solo exhibitions for our BFA candidates and group exhibitions for the BA students.”

Formerly named the Goodwyn Gallery, the renovated Cason McDermott Art Gallery was dedicated in 2021 on the AUM campus to engage the university and wider Montgomery community. It is an integral part of the programs and curricula of the Department of Fine Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and features:

  • Works by regionally and nationally recognized visiting artists
  • Works by Fine Arts Department faculty and students
  • Exhibits designed and curated by Art History and Museum Studies students and faculty
  • Exhibits from the University’s collection of paintings and works on paper (with strengths in 20th-century prints)

During her short life, Cason Leigh McDermott (1995-2019) had a momentous impact on those around her. Cason’s laugh was contagious, her smile lit up the room, and her devotion to creativity was inspiring. It is doubtful she realized just how many lives she touched. Cason loved others deeply and without judgement or reservation. Her presence at AUM not only had a positive and lasting influence on the lives of her peers, but she left an impression on the faculty within the Department of Fine Arts that is sure never to fade.

Cason was pursuing her dream of being an artist and wanted to teach at the collegiate level. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from AUM in 2018, and after tireless effort and the creation of a strong portfolio, she was admitted into and awarded a full scholarship for the Master of Fine Arts program within the School of Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Cason wanted to one day return to AUM to teach and give back to the University and its student body. Through the generosity of her parents, Mickey and Mona McDermott, the gallery has been named in Cason’s honor and has been updated to provide students, faculty, and visiting artists the opportunity to display work in a professional exhibition environment.

For more information about the Cason McDermott Art Gallery, please visit www.aum.edu/about-aum/cmag.

Are you All-in for AUM?

The All-in for AUM campaign is a friendly competition between family, friends and alumni of the 11 varsity sports sponsored by Auburn University at Montgomery. This competition among AUM alumni and friends has been established to raise funds to directly support the university’s nearly 225 student-athletes. We have already exceeded our first goal of 150 donors, as well as our second goal of 250! We are so grateful to those who have already contributed, and now we’re aiming for a NEW goal of 500 donors! Every gift counts and will have a significant impact on a student-athlete’s time at AUM.

Go Warhawks!

To make your gift to AUM Athletics, please visit www.AUMAthletics.com/AllinForAUM.

Anderson '14 hired as associate dean at LBWCC

LBW Community College is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Kristina Anderson for the position of Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Quality at the Luverne Center.

Anderson’s background includes more than ten years of related experience in Alabama public education, including serving in roles such as Assistant Principal and Community Liaison for Charles Henderson High School and Lead Teacher/Crisis Management Leader/Summer School Director for Pike County Elementary School.

“Dr. Anderson is one of the most dynamic educational leaders in the state, and LBW is stronger with her addition,” said LBW President, Dr. Brock Kelley. “Her ability to analyze and disseminate data will be essential in moving our college to new academic heights.”

Anderson earned a Doctor of Education in Administration and Teacher Learning from Walden University. She earned a Master of Education with a major in Education and a concentration in Instructional Leadership from Auburn University at Montgomery. She also earned a Master of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Troy University.

“I look forward to working beside the dynamic leaders at LBW to ensure students are provided the best educational opportunities in the state,” said Dr. Anderson.

Read the original article.

Two AUM alumnae join Senator Tuberville's staff

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) announced appointments to his Alabama State Staff and the locations of his Alabama offices. The Senator’s state team is made up of 14 individuals who are located across the state to serve as regional directors, caseworks, and subject matter experts on issues important to Alabamians.

Zandra Wilson ’92 will serve as Montgomery Constituent Services. Wilson is a native of Montgomery, Alabama where she attended Auburn University at Montgomery obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Justice and Public Safety/Judicial Administration. As a veteran Congressional Constituent Service Representative/Caseworker, she has served as a liaison monitoring federal, district, and local agency matter for U.S. Senators Sessions, Strange, and Jones while advocating for the constituency within the Middle District of Alabama. Wilson has served as a U.S. Senate staff member for over 25 years.

Shanderla McMillian ’96 will serve as the Huntsville Constituent Services. McMillian is a native of Troy, Alabama with 22 years of service as a staff member for three United States Senators. A graduate from Auburn University at Montgomery, she has supported 17 counties in the northern Alabama region as a caseworker for Senator Jeff Sessions, as field representative and caseworker for Senator Luther Strange, and as caseworker and service academy coordinator for Senator Doug Jones.

Alumni Homecoming Week Recap

The AUM Alumni Association hosted a full week of activities to celebrate homecoming. We socialized with alumni (from a distance) while enjoying the week’s festivities.

Virtual Book Club
Launched on Monday, February 22 as part one of three faculty-led discussions about the book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy is a New York Times bestseller and now a major motion picture. A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice- from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Men’s Basketball vs. University of West Georgia
AUM alumni cheered on the Warhawks (in person and online) while enjoying alumni swag bags provided by the AUM Alumni Association on Tuesday, February 23.

Food Drive benefiting the AUM Food Pantry
More than 35 alumni donated over 500 non-perishable food and hygiene items for college students during the Alumni Association’s Food Drive on Wednesday, February 24.

Virtual Cooking Class
Alumni came together (virtually) for a two-hour cooking demonstration led by a professionally trained chef on Thursday, February 25. Participants received an ingredient list and an exclusive AUM Alumni apron prior to the event. Alumni started with basic ingredients and made an incredible meal together, all while learning basic culinary skills. This cooking class featured pan-seared salmon, winter risotto, and a lemon beurre blanc sauce!

Virtual Wine Tasting
Alumni joined together from the comfort of their homes for a wine tasting led by a professionally trained sommelier on Friday, February 26. Participants received a wine list prior to the event as well as a set of AUM Alumni wine glasses and food pairings. Participants sampled three varieties of wine while learning about the origins and flavors of each bottle.

Class Notes

  • AUM alumna and Attorney Ashley Mallory ’11 was selected by the Union Springs City Council as the new city attorney.
  • AUM alumna Renee Dickerson ‘08 has been promoted from Assistant Vice President to President at Troy Bank & Trust (TB&T). Dickerson has worked for TB&T for 24 years.
  • AUM alumnus Drew Danner ’05 became the new principal at Dauphin Junior High School.
  • AUM alumnus Robert Pettigrew ’05 was named by Cigna as the new President of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in Alabama, Mississippi, and Northwest Florida. In this role, Pettigrew will oversee the growth of Cigna’s MA plans in the region.
  • AUM alumnus Jason Isbell ‘04 has joined the Governmental Affairs practice as “of counsel” in Maynard Cooper & Gale’s Montgomery office.
  • AUM alumnus Richard Perryman III ’97 was appointed by Georgia Governor Kemp to the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, which includes Atkinson, Berrien, Clinch, Cook and Lanier Counties.
  • AUM alumnus Ben Barnes ’95 is a finalist of the 2021 Alabama CIO of the Year ORBIE Award (Corporate Category). The ORBIE honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership. Barnes is the Chief Information Security Officer for McLeod Software, where he guides the company’s internal systems, product, and customer-centric information security policies, practices, and activities.
  • AUM alumnus William Bowman ’93 is the CEO of the Visually Impaired People, Inc., a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to providing low vision educational programs, support, and mentoring to the blind and visually impaired of Selma and throughout Dallas County.
  • AUM alumna and former Ambassador to Slovenia, Lynda Blanchard ’91, announced that she would likely run for the U.S. Senate seat set to be vacated in 2023 when Republican Alabama Senator Richard Shelby retires at the end of his term.
  • AUM alumnus Kenneth Till ’91 has been named Who’s Who in Birmingham Banking by the Birmingham Business Journal in the February 2021 issue. Till serves as Chief Executive Officer CommerceOne Bank.
  • AUM alumna Debra Warren ‘89 is Network Director of the Montgomery Working Women Network of the National Association for Female Executives (MWWN), Inc. a non-profit organization that helps students and teachers in Montgomery County, Alabama fulfill their academic needs. Warren is currently working with local leaders in the community to raise funds for student resources at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, Jefferson Davis High School, and George Washington Carver High School.
  • AUM alumna Debra Wallace ‘82 was named the CEO of the Alabama Supercomputer Authority.

Message from the AUM Alumni Board

Greetings AUM alumni and friends,

The AUM campus community made a strong start to the fall semester in August, delivering a high-quality education to students in a modified classroom environment. Our faculty, staff, and students continue to work together to follow new health and wellness guidelines, ensuring the safety of those on campus. Over the past few weeks, alumni and friends have reached out with questions regarding the availability of campus resources, and I would like to share the following updates with you:

  • The AUM Warhawk Shop is open to the public Monday – Friday from 7:45 am – 5:00 pm. New face masks and alumni t-shirts are available in-store or online at aumbookstore.com.
  • The AUM Library remains closed to alumni and community users at this time. AUM faculty, staff, and students have access to Library resources in-person and online.
  • The AUM Wellness Center remains closed to alumni and community members at this time.  The Wellness Center staff has been working hard to make some areas of the facility and a limited selection of equipment available to current AUM students for the fall semester.  The Wellness Center hopes to reopen to alumni and friends soon, and we will share more updates as they become available. In the meantime, I encourage you to join the Wellness Center online for virtual fitness classes or keep up your exercise routine on one of AUM’s scenic outdoor walking trails.

We look forward to welcoming alumni and friends back to campus for in-person gatherings as soon as it is safe to do so.  In the meantime, please be sure to check your email often for the latest news and announcements from your AUM Alumni Association, and feel free to contact us at 334-244-3369 or [email protected] if there is anything we can do for you.

Take care and be well,

Joey Taff
President, AUM Alumni Association

River Region United Way Names Ronald Simmons '04 as New CEO

River Region United Way (RRUW) has announced Ronald A. Simmons, IOM, as its new president and chief executive officer.

Ron Simmons is a native of Montgomery and a 1983 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School. He is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Marketing and Military Science in 2004. Simmons was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves from the Auburn University at Montgomery ROTC program in 1987. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Institute of Organizational Management at the University of Georgia.

Simmons joins United Way coming from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, where he served for 10 years – most recently as the vice president of sales for the Destination Montgomery Convention and Visitor Bureau. Previously, Simmons served as the vice president of business development and sports national sales manager for the chamber and CVB.

Simmons’ work in the nonprofit sector is not limited to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. He is the founder of D.A.D.S (Dads And Daughters Saturday) and serves on various boards throughout the community, including the YMCA of Greater Montgomery, East Montgomery YMCA and the Montgomery City-County Public Library. Simmons has also served on the boards of Brantwood Children’s Home and Jubilee CityFest. He is also a member of the Economic Development Association of Alabama and a Leadership Montgomery graduate, Class XXVIII.

“We are extremely excited about Ron Simmons joining the River Region United Way,” shared Dr. Rhea Ingram, RRUW Chair of the Board. “Ron not only brings a wealth of business acumen and marketing savvy, but he is from the River Region, as a lifelong resident. He will be a tremendous asset to our communities, leading our organization toward its centennial in 2023 and beyond.”

As president and CEO of River Region United Way, Simmons will establish a vision that is achieved through the efforts of a diverse team of high-performing leaders, volunteers and staff. He will lead a staff of nine in identifying community needs, finding the resources required to address those needs, and allocating funds where they will make the greatest impact. In this role, Simmons will serve as the chief mobilizer, leveraging the power of relationships and networks, and working across private, public and corporate sectors to improve the conditions in Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery counties.

Ron Simmons stated, “I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with River Region United Way, the board of directors, staff and partners who are so committed to improving the lives of people in the communities I love! United Way’s purpose of Making Life Better for Everyone mirrors the work of the Chamber in many ways. Both organizations understand that education, financial stability and good healthcare are critical elements for building strong communities. I look forward to continuing to strengthen our communities in this new role.”

Simmons took his post on July 16, 2020. He succeeds Jimmy Hill who served as president and CEO from 2014-2020. Hill left the position to take a statewide leadership role as executive director of Alabama CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Original article: alabamanews.net

Manufacture Alabama appoints Jon Barganier '10 as chief operations officer

Manufacture Alabama announced the appointment of Jon Barganier as its new COO, effective immediately. Barganier comes to Manufacture Alabama with more than 14 years of experience, including a decade of coordinating legislative agendas, developing policy priorities, establishing communication strategies and staff management.

Most recently, Jon served as the primary lobbyist and regulatory analyst for the American Petroleum Institute in Alabama. In his role as executive director for the Alabama Petroleum Council, Barganier represented the oil and natural gas industry on behalf of 13 member companies with in-state assets along with more than 600 additional members across the country.

“Jon is the ideal leader for Manufacture Alabama,” said George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama. “He is a seasoned mover and shaker with significant experience working with elected officials in the great state of Alabama, operating an effective team, and recognizing the future challenges we must confront. We are fortunate to have Jon as our COO.”

Before joining Manufacture Alabama, Barganier served as deputy chief of staff to Gov. Kay Ivey and provided leadership during the transition of authority in April 2017 between the Bentley and Ivey administrations. During the Bentley administration, Barganier served in roles ranging from chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and legislative liaison.

“I am incredibly grateful and excited to assume this role and for the future of Manufacture Alabama,” said Barganier. “I look forward to working with George and the rest of the Manufacture Alabama team to build on the solid foundation that has been laid, to successfully serve our members and to fulfill the vision to make Alabama the best business and political location in the U.S. for manufacturers.”

Barganier has experience working as a government consultant leading the development of state public policy and legislation on behalf of the leadership in the Alabama Senate. Prior to consulting, Barganier spent five years in the Alabama Department of Finance developing and implementing a performance management program for state government agencies and decision makers.

Barganier is a graduate of the University of Alabama and received his MBA from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2010. He lives in Montgomery with his wife, Leigh, and their two children, Nash and Jeb. He is an active member of First United Methodist Church and enjoys coaching youth sports in the community.

Original article: montgomeryindependent.com

Pappanastos '85 receives Troy University's Malone Award

Dr. Ed Pappanastos, a Professor in the Sorrell College of Business and Associate Chair of the Department of Risk Management and Data Analytics at Troy University, has been awarded Troy University’s Wallace D. Malone, Jr. Distinguished Faculty Award.

Dr. Pappanastos was presented the award during the University’s annual Faculty/Staff Convocation on Thursday at the Troy Campus. The award consists of a $1,500 cash prize and a medallion to be worn with academic regalia. The award is made possible through a $100,000 endowment by the SouthTrust Corporation. Wallace Malone, former chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of SouthTrust, served as a TROY trustee from 1975-1995.

“Dr. Pappanastos is one of the most genuine teachers you will ever meet. Ed is selfless in his service to the students of Troy University, the Sorrell College of Business and the Risk Management and Data Analytics Department,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Bohler, Department Chair, who nominated Pappanastos for the award. “He is incredibly knowledgeable in Risk Management and Quantitative Measures, is well published and continuously mentors all members of our department. Ed’s efforts directly contribute to helping our department support the vision of Troy University.”

Dr. Pappanastos said he was both shocked and honored to receive the award.

“It was a complete shock to me to be selected to receive the Malone Award because there are so many qualified faculty members at Troy,” he said. “I am tremendously thankful to be able to work alongside of a group that is so focused on making a positive impact on the lives of the students and each other. The quality of our current faculty and the legacies of the previous award winners makes this a tremendous honor. I am extremely grateful, and somewhat embarrassed, to have been selected.”

Dr. Pappanastos first joined the Troy faculty in 1997, serving for 17 years as a Professor of Quantitative Measures and Risk Management and Insurance. After a twoyear stint as a Professor of Management at Tuskegee University, Dr. Pappanastos returned to Troy in 2016 as chair of the Department of Economics, Finance and RMI, and then Chair of the Department of Risk Management and Data Analytics from 2017 to 2019.

Dr. Pappanastos earned a bachelor’s in 1985 and a master’s degree in 1988 from Auburn University at Montgomery, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

In addition to his service on many committees of the Sorrell College of Business, Dr. Pappanastos is also active within the Montgomery community. He has served on three occasions as chairperson of the Catholic Charities Appeal for the Archdiocese of Mobile, has served as a proctor for the AP Calculus Test for LAMP High School and is a committee member and past chairperson of the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association.

Original article: https://today.troy.edu/news

Virtual Career Workshops Now Available for AUM Alumni

The AUM Career Development Center released the 2020 Fall semester schedule of virtual workshops, available to AUM students and alumni. Registration for all workshops requires a Handshake account.  Upon registration, attendees will receive a Zoom Passcode via email for entrance into the session.

  • Building Your Handshake Profile:  Your Handshake profile is your connection to thousands of employers in your career field.  Learn the steps necessary to create a completed profile in Handshake, and tips for getting noticed by employers.
  • Cracking Your Holland Code: Aligning Interests with Career Options.  A great way to being exploring career options that could be a good fit for you is by measuring the attributes of a career vs. your work interest preferences.  The CDC and Counseling and Health Promotions Services will introduce the principles behind Dr. John Holland’s six work interest categories, and how to research career options using your Holland Code.
  • Preparing for Graduate School Applications:  What makes a strong and memorable grad school application?  This workshop, hosted by the Graduate Admissions Office and the Career Development Center, will introduce tips for creating resumes, personal statements, and other materials that help your application stand out.
  • Career Action Planning:  Developing into a career professional involves education and experiences that build the knowledge and competencies required by the world of work.  Career action planning is the process of establishing strategies and goals during your collegiate years for becoming career ready.
  • Professionalism in the Virtual Workplace:  Remote working has changed the dynamic of the workplace, allowing some flexibility surrounding traditional office etiquette, while introducing new issues.  Understand the concepts central to virtual workplace professionalism and how to avoid missteps.


Tuesday, 10/13/2020
Building Your Handshake Profile (12:10 pm – 12:40 pm)

Thursday, 10/15/2020
Preparing for Graduate School Applications (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)

Thursday, 10/22/2020
Exploring Handshake (12:10 pm – 12:40 pm)

Monday, 10/26/2020
Building Your Handshake Profile (12:10 pm – 12:40 pm)


Tuesday, 11/3/2020
Career Action Planning (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)

Thursday, 11/5/2020
Exploring Handshake (12:10 pm – 12:40 pm)

Monday, 11/9/2020
Building Your Handshake Profile  (12:10 pm – 12:40 pm)

Thursday, 11/12/2020
Professionalism in the Virtual Workplace (12:00 pm – 1:00 pm)

All Workshops will be recorded and placed on the resources section of Handshake for future viewing.

For more information about career resources available to AUM alumni, please visit www.aum.edu/career-resources.

AUM Digital Giftbag

Are you still navigating a virtual version of work, school, and social gatherings? School spirit is alive and strong in the Mighty Warhawk Nation! Show some virtual love to Auburn University at Montgomery and Curtiss the Warhawk.  Take advantage of these campus-inspired and spirit-themed Facebook profile filters and Zoom backgrounds. Visit this page to download images and learn more tips and tricks on how to use zoom: http://www.aum.edu/digitalgiftbag

Alumni Embrace Virtual Events

AUM alumni from coast to coast gathered via Zoom for a Virtual Paint Party hosted by Montgomery’s local Wine & Design studio on Thursday, August 6. Supplies, including a canvas, easel, paints, and brushes, were shipped to participants, which allowed alumni to participate from the comfort of their own homes. The group enjoyed catching up with each other while painting AUM’s iconic Library Tower.

On Tuesday, September 15, alumni experienced a battle of the brains during a Virtual Trivia Night. Players were encouraged to meet new alumni friends in our randomized teams for three exciting rounds of trivia. The winning team even won an AUM alumni swag bag and bragging rights!

Don’t miss out on future events by checking our alumni events page frequently for updates.

The AUM Alumni Association is currently looking for innovative virtual event options, and we would love your input! Please take a moment to complete a brief survey. This survey, while completely anonymous, will help us improve future events for alumni!

Virtual Grad Preview

There will be a Virtual Grad Preview Night on October 22 at 5-7 p.m.

If you’re ready to start building the next phase of your career or considering changing careers,  it’s time to begin a master’s degree. Auburn University at Montgomery’s Grad School Preview event gives you the opportunity to identify the best graduate program for your field and your future — and for your professional timeline.

Class Notes

Carina Harrison ‘00
Degree: Biology
Your Current Occupation: Military
Employer: USAF

How did your AUM experience benefit you? My time at AUM was a long time ago, but I can truly say my time at AUM was instrumental in my success today! While attending AUM, I learned teamwork through collaboration with other students, I gained an understanding of when it’s time to try something new, and I learned to never give up no matter level of difficulty!

Share Your Story: I currently serve in the USAF as a Force Support Officer stationed At the Pentagon managing the AF budget.  I have served in the military for 19 years having travelled to various locations across the world. I did all this while raising my now 17-year-old daughter!

Brandon Taylor ‘13
Degree: Physical Science

Taylor switched gears from biochemistry to pursue his passion for writing through a fellowship from the Tin House summer writing workshop. His novel, “Real Life,” is now on The Booker Prizes 2020 shortlist. Read more about his fascinating journey here.

2019 African American Alumni Reception

Auburn University at Montgomery alumni, faculty, staff and friends gathered at Wynlakes Golf and Country Club on Thursday, October 10, 2019, for the 11th annual African American Alumni Reception. Attendees enjoyed live music, a seated dinner, and reconnecting with former classmates and colleagues. The underlying goal of this annual event is to raise awareness and funds for a scholarship established by four determined AUM alumnae, who wanted to broaden the level of diversity at AUM while providing support to young students.

This year’s reception featured keynote speaker, Larry Thornton, who shared his story as one of six students to integrate Goodwyn Middle School in 1967. The self-made author and entrepreneur went from making $5 an hour painting signs at Coca-Cola, to becoming the first African American owner of a McDonald’s franchise in Birmingham, Alabama in 1992. Thornton published an autobiography entitled Why Not Win? in 2019. Proceeds from the book sales established the “Why Not Win Foundation,” which promotes achievement and leadership, and has funded scholarships through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Tom Joyner Foundation.

The 2019 African American Alumni Reception scholarship recipient, Teva Stinson, spoke about her undergraduate journey at AUM and her current goal of completing a Master of Accountancy. Teva plans to pass the CPA exam after obtaining her graduate degree. “My dream is to make a positive impact on every person I encounter, and to lead by example. I believe that success is not measured by how much money you make or the amount of awards you win, but by the impact you make on those you meet along the way,” Teva shared.

To contribute to the African American Alumni Reception Endowed Scholarship, visit: www.aum.edu/AARS

New Alumni Association Board of Directors

On October 18, the AUM Alumni Association Board of Directors gathered for their last meeting of 2019. At this meeting, six of the board members were recognized for their service to the board as they completed their two-year term of commitment: Jodi Henley ’02, Annamarie Jones ’94 (President), Karlen McCree ’13, Ben McNeill ’76, Mark Spencer ’88, John Varnado ’75.

The approved slate for 2020-2021 Board of Directors is as follows:

Returning members

  • Joey Taff ’89 – President
  • Catrina Hollins Pettway ’05 – Vice President
  • Elizabeth Fritz ’97 – Secretary/Treasurer
  • Janice Marshall ’93 – Director
  • Vanessa Warren ’87 – Director

New members

  • Caleb Conner ’15, Assistant to the Commissioner – Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries
  • Angela Harris ’01, Restorative Coordinator, RN – Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Amy Ingram ’10, UNIV Program Manager – Auburn University at Montgomery
  • Kalandra Haynes ’06, Docket Clerk – United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama
  • Mariah Scarver ’18, T.E.A.C.H. Counselor – Alabama Partnership for Children
  • Carl Viars ’11, Assistant Director – Community Corrections Division, Department of Corrections

The mission of the Auburn University at Montgomery Alumni Association is to foster and strengthen the relationship between AUM and its alumni and friends; to preserve and promote the university’s traditions, purposes, growth and development; and to keep alive the spirit of affection and respect for our alma mater.

We look forward to working towards this on-going mission with the new slate of 2020-2021 Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Alumni Professorship 2019-2022 awarded to Dr. Keren Deal

The Alumni Association sponsors an Alumni Professorship to recognize outstanding Auburn University at Montgomery faculty who best exemplify excellence in teaching, research, scholarly and creative accomplishments and service. Current AUM faculty members who have at least 10 years of full-time service at AUM are eligible for this honor. Alumni Professorship recipients serve a three-year, non-renewable term and receive a $7,500 award and certificate.

Joey Taff, President of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, presented the 2019-2022 Alumni Professorship award to Professor of Accounting, Dr. Keren Deal at Fall Convocation in October.

Deal’s colleagues, students and friends would agree that her work ethic is legendary. Despite her tremendous efforts in the classroom, she still finds time to work on research and additional projects. She has published in many journals, most often on topics where she has earned a national reputation. Deal played an active role in AUM’s State Initiative Program, which allows state employees to receive a formal education, qualifying them for enhanced job classifications. She has received consistent recognition throughout her career and her recent honor of Alabama Society of CPAs Educator of the year in 2018, attests to her statewide reputation.

Rolling Out the R.E.D. (Remember Everyone Deployed) Event

AUM alumnus Jody Fuller ’01 performed a live comedy show on campus November 12, for AUM students, alumni, and the community. Although he named himself “the stuttering comic,” Jody is also a writer, speaker, and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in 2001.

Openers for the night’s event were local musician Ben Norris and AUM student Sarah Katherine Barnes.

AUM’s Veterans Appreciation Week, November 11-15, honors the commitment and recognizes the sacrifices of the men, women and families that are part of our university and community. This annual week of events included a variety of activities open to active duty military, reservists, and veterans, as well as AUM students, faculty and staff:

  • Challenge Coin Presentation
  • Rolling Out the R.E.D. (Remember Everyone Deployed)
  • Picnic with the Patriots
  • Movie & Game Night
  • Breakfast with the Brave

Happy Holidays from your Alumni Association Board of Directors

On behalf of your Alumni Association Board of Directors, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a joyful new year!
Thank you for your continued support of your alma mater.

How can you make a difference at AUM?

You have the power to strengthen Auburn University at Montgomery – by giving back. With every contribution, you are advancing the work of students, athletes, artists, and industry leaders. You are equipping labs, hiring top academics, and pushing the boundaries of higher education. You are essential to our future.

There is no greater gift than giving! You can give the gift of scholarships, program support, assistance for faculty and staff, and so much more when you participate in our year-end campaign. A gift of any amount – no matter the size – to the AUM Annual Fund makes a big impact in the lives of students currently following in your footsteps.

This is your opportunity to set an example and show today’s students that AUM alumni care about their alma mater, so please submit your gift before the December 31 year-end deadline (and you’ll be able to count your contribution toward your taxes in the spring. Talk about a win-win!).

Create a legacy with a planned gift

If you are looking for opportunities to give back to Auburn University at Montgomery, please consider including a bequest in your will. With your planned gift, you will become a member of the George Petrie Society.

After providing for family, friends and others, many alumni include a meaningful bequest to AUM in their will to continue their lifetime support. Including the Auburn University Foundation as a beneficiary of your will, is one of the easiest ways to provide for future generations of AUM students and faculty.

For more information about planned giving, contact Auburn University at Montgomery’s University Development office at 334-244-3560 or [email protected].

AUM Day of Giving 2020: a special 24-hour fundraising initiative

Mark your calendars for AUM Day of Giving on February 14, 2020! Show your love for Auburn University at Montgomery by supporting the many projects and programs from the colleges and departments seeking private support.

AUM Day of Giving is a social media based initiative, and will utilize Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share information about special AUM projects. Keep an eye out on these social media platforms for more details about projects that need your support!

In January, you can visit www.aum.edu/dayofgiving to check out all the AUM projects highlighted for this special day.

Office of Alumni Affairs

Technacenter, 2nd Floor
75 Technacenter Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117
Call Today
(334) 244-3369
[email protected]

Let’s GO!

Virtual Map of Campus.

Start your adventure to campus life by clicking on our interactive map. Discover the AUM scene and its unique work-life balance. Take a virtual tour of featured facilities that provide comfort, convenience, exercise, and relaxation. Join a community of independent living and group activities that offset the challenging work week.