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July Newsletter 2021

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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.

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 with any questions or feedback.

Kind regards,

Joey Taff ’89
President, AUM Alumni Association

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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.

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 with any questions.

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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

Questions? Contact the AUM Alumni Association at 334-244-3369 or

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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.

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Pictured (L to R): Allison Stewart, Crystal Mann, Paisley Blackmon Not Pictured: Julie McDaniel, Sheldon Martin

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.

  • 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.
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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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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.”

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:

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.

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.

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