Mobile Bay’s 2014 Class of 40 Under Forty

This year’s young leaders have professional savvy, big hearts and lots to say - so listen up. Our future’s looking bright.

Dr. Racheal B. Banks, 38

Director of Health Sciences Development and Alumni Relations,  University of South Alabama

As the first person in her family to attend college, Racheal went above and beyond, recently earning her doctorate while still performing exceptionally well in a full-time job at the University of South Alabama. Though she has only been in Mobile since 2012, Racheal is heavily involved in the Junior League of Mobile, nonprofit work and Leadership Mobile.

Alma Mater B.S., University of Montevallo; M.P.A., Virginia Commonwealth University; Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration,  University of Alabama
Hometown Calera, Ala.
Spouse + Children Lee Banks; Maddie (7) and Brantley (3)
Best advice you have ever received My dad used to say that “if” is the biggest word in the dictionary. We all have obstacles in life, but the question is whether or not you are going to let those obstacles hold you back.
Words that you are tired of hearing “I don’t have enough time.”
Words that you don’t hear enough I don’t think anyone gets tired of hearing the words “thank you.”

Joey Bass, 38

Design Consultant, Thompson Engineering & Watermark Design

Throughout his 15 years in construction, Joey has proven himself as a leader in his own right by expanding and innovating business for his company, Thompson Engineering. Going one step further, Joey shares this knowledge and passion by mentoring others in the industry, as well as using his skills to benefit the community through construction-related missionary work.

Alma Mater B.S., Auburn University
Hometown Fairhope
Spouse + Children Laurie Bass; Tiffany Hooper and Mallory Rush
First job Mowing lawns
Guilty pleasure Gummi Bears, lots of them
Autobiography title “30 Going on 50”
Favorite Mobile memory U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Show at Brookley Field sometime in the ’80s
Mardi gras parade spot I mostly watch Fairhope parades and stand in front of JJ Eyes.
Song you hate to admit you like Pretty much all of Elton John’s hits. My buddies give me a hard time about it.
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … continue the commercial development of the waterfront.

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Matthew Baugh, SJ, 38

Assistant Professor of Politics and Law, Spring Hill College

As though a Ph.D. in International Relations, a law degree from Yale and an assistant professorship at Spring Hill College weren’t enough, Rhodes Scholar and Jesuit scholastic Matthew Baugh’s impressive list of accolades also includes his work in worldwide ministries, including service with L’Arche Mobile, a parish in the mountains of El Salvador and a city in western Guatemala.

Alma Mater B.A., Duke University; J.D., Yale Law School; Ph.D. in International Relations, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar)
Hometown Casa, Arkansas (population 179)
Relationship Status Vowed religious
Hobbies Tennis, organ, literature, music and film
Cringe-worthy style moment Spiked hair (actually it was pretty cool)
Guilty pleasure Sleeping in
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … move into a small house in Prichard.
Hidden talents Juggling, funny accents, singing goofy French folk songs
What’s the best part about your job? Helping students come to know beauty, truth and goodness
The worst? Grading papers

Walter J. Brand, Jr., 31

Vice President of Commercial Banking, ServisFirst Bank

Ever since his start as the class president of the Alabama School of Banking, Walter has maintained leadership positions throughout his career, today steering numerous banking initiatives. He applies these skills to the Mobile Bay community at large, through positions such as the Crittenton Youth Services’ Board of Directors and the local Ole Miss Alumni Association’s President.

Alma Mater B.B.A., University of Mississippi
Hometown Jackson, Miss.
Spouse + Children Kathryn Vinson Brand; Anna Harper (7), Emily (4), Thomas and Paul (10 months)
Hobbies I like to hunt, fish, play golf and follow Ole Miss athletics.
First job I started guiding quail hunts when I was 15.
Guilty pleasure Old episodes of “Law and Order”
Favorite Mobile memory Watching my girls catch their first speckled trout in the Delta
Best advice you have ever received Before a fourth grade spelling contest my mother told me to always go with my first instinct.
Five word banking philosophy Create value for your customer.

Christopher B. Conken, 39

Vice President, Trustmark Bank

Since graduating as valedictorian of the Alabama Banking School, Chris has quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder, recently procuring tremendous growth for the Trustmark real estate business. By spearheading the Inshore Fishing Tournament, Chris has raised $45, 000 in gross profit for United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile. He is also an avid outdoorsman, family man and baseball coach.

Alma Mater B.S., University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Christine Nelson Conken; Will (11), Ben (9) and Molly (5)
Autobiography title “My Left Lung” (I had most of my right lung removed because of a lung cancer diagnosis at age 34.)
Favorite local dish Snapper Amandine from Barnacle Bill’s
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … continue to support environmental conservation in the area to ensure future outdoor activities for our children.
What inspired your volunteer efforts? I have a brother with cerebral palsy, so I know firsthand the direct impact of services that agencies like United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile can have on an individual and his or her family.

Amy DeGruy, 35

CPA / Manager, Russell, Thompson, Butler & Houston LLP

As a high-ranking manager, Amy excels at her firm, not only in accountancy, but also in technical know-how, client management and marketing strategy. Energetic, fun-loving and hardworking, Amy is also deeply involved in the community as a board advisor for the Greater Mobile Multiple Sclerosis Society and a member of the Ronald McDonald House Red Shoe Society.

Alma Mater B.S., Mississippi State University; M.Acc., University of Alabama
Hometown Columbus, Miss.
Spouse + children Rob deGruy; Ava (4) and Campbell (1)
Best advice you have ever received “Don’t borrow trouble.” – My wise mother
What did you want to be when you grew up? An accountant and a teacher, and I have now done both!
Autobiography title “From Debits to Diapers”
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … build more play-grounds for our children and focus on balancing the budget and lowering taxes.
Words that you don’t hear enough “Take all the time you need; the deadline has been extended.”

Mark D. Fillers, 36

South Alabama CEO, BBVA Compass

A Mobile native, Mark always looks out for his hometown’s interests, leading the charge to move his company’s headquarters to our burgeoning Downtown. Mark’s work heading the region’s consumer and commercial divisions has led to the recent growth of BBVA accounts. He also serves in roles with United Way of Southwest Alabama, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

Alma Mater B.S., University of Alabama; M.B.A., Auburn University
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Erin T. Fillers; David (8), William (5) and James (3)
First job A coin counter for my dad’s coin and jewelry shop. I remember sorting and counting pennies on the floor of his shop on Moffett Road over 30 years ago. Who knows? That may have had an impact on my career choice.
Guilty pleasure A warm Krispy Kreme éclair doughnut (or two) and Chick-fil-A Cookies & Cream milkshakes
Cringe-worthy style moment Jorts in the ’80s
Autobiography title “A View From the Captain’s Chair”
Best advice you have ever received Always try to under commit and over deliver.

Paul Giardina, 37

Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile

When hired in Mobile in 2010, Paul was one of the youngest executive directors in the worldwide Ronald McDonald charity system. The nonprofit extraordinaire recently founded the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile Red Shoe Society. In his spare time, he manages to serve even more organizations, such as the Mobile Sunrise Rotary Club and United Way Young Leaders Society.

Alma Mater B.B.A., University of Montevallo
Hometown Birmingham
Children Mallory (10) and Caroline (7)
Hidden talent I’m a great baker.
Cringe-worthy style moment All of them?
Best advice you have ever received Inspect what you expect.
Mardi Gras parade spot The back of Government Plaza so my kids can run around to the front and watch it again!
What inspires you to work in the nonprofit field? I think of myself as just the middle man. My job is to connect the very generous community with the people who need their help. I am inspired by the joy I see in those who give and the happiness and relief I see in those who are helped.

Wells Griffith, 32

President/Owner, Arena Strategies

Though his name shot to recognition in a run for Congress last year, Wells’ skills and savvy in the political arena explain why he is here to stay. An attorney and consultant, Wells now specializes in the creation and management of political and public affairs campaign strategies. He has spent years traveling the country working on congressional and presidential campaigns as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee.

Alma Mater B.A., Virginia Military Institute; J.D., Mississippi College School of Law
Hometown Mobile
Soon-to-be spouse Catherine Bray
Hidden talent Playing banjo
Who would play you in a movie? A young Ronald Reagan
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … continue working to recruit new jobs and industries to Mobile to increase employment opportunities.
What convinced you to run for office last year? I never planned to run for office. When the unexpected opportunity arose to follow that path to my home district, it felt like it was the absolute right thing to do – to fight for my family, my friends, our neighbors and our community in South Alabama.

Floyd Grindley, 35

Senior Project Manager, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

Floyd is a supportive, encouraging and appreciative leader, continuing to impress teammates and clients with his ability to assimilate new work processes while improving traditional ones – in addition to managing projects of any scale. He has executed assignments across the globe to include Turkey, India, Canada, Japan and Thailand. Floyd is an ordained deacon at the New Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and he also volunteers with outreach ministry programs.

Alma Mater B.S., University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad Campus
Hometown Mountainside, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, West Indies
Spouse + children Dr. Natoya Barnett-Grindley; Xavier (14) and Quaesi (11)
Hidden talent Proficient grill master with a specialty in Jamaican jerked chicken
Favorite watering hole Jamaican Vibes restaurant on Government Blvd.
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … institute and enforce regulations for appropriate dress code for school kids plus facilitate the partnering of rising star students with professional mentors.
Which countries are your favorite? Outside of the U.S., of course Jamaica! My second favorite is Thailand.

Andrew Grinstead, 39

President and CEO, Leavell Investment Management Inc.

A Harvard grad with amazing accomplishments in both academia and the working world, Andrew shows that nice guys finish first. Alongside his impressive career moving up the investment ladder, Andrew served as an adjunct lecturer at Spring Hill College and is director of the Harvard Alumni Association, supporter of the Jesuit Volunteers, a children’s soccer coach and devoted husband and father.

Alma Mater B.A., Harvard College; M.B.A., Kellogg School of Management
Hometown Greenville, Ala.
Spouse + children Julie Grinstead; Milligan and McGowin (10), Julia (9) and Andrews (5)
Guilty pleasure Netflix
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … travel back in time and move the commercial airport to Brookley Field so you wouldn’t have to drive past 30-plus stoplights to get there.
Autobiography title “The Return of the Native”
What’s the best part of your job? The fairly even combination of research analysis and interactions with other people; I wouldn’t want to lose either aspect.
The worst? Not having an unlimited budget

Lance Hallmark, 34

Owner, Rock N Roll Sushi; Owner, Rejuvenate Alabama Restorative Health + Weight Loss

Lance has without a doubt proven his entrepreneurial prowess, starting a restaurant from scratch and duplicating it in multiple cities across Alabama, creating over 60 jobs in the process. His efforts in bringing a restorative health medical clinic to Mobile prove his ability to grow a brand in one market while still excelling in another, and he sponsors a local Woofstock fundraiser for animal shelters.

Hometown Winfield, Ala.
Spouse Gerri Mach Hallmark
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … work on cutting the red tape small business owners have to go through to open.
Best advice you have ever received I was once told to chase the vision, not the money. That was hard to understand as a young, broke entrepreneur.
Why do you think you were you chosen for Forty Under 40? Because I’m passionate about what I do. I like diversifying into new concepts, and I’m always looking for opportunities. I constantly push myself to achieve whatever goal it is I set.
Which tattoo is your favorite and why? The dragon on my chest. It reminds me to keep pushing and to keep focused on my vision.

Katie Hammett Hassell, 35

Member, Hand Arendall LLC

As seen in her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program, Katie is even more than her accomplishments as a “Rising Star” in Alabama’s legal community. In addition, Katie donates her time to the Mobile Museum of Art as a member of the Board of Directors, the Junior League of Mobile, United Way of Southwest Alabama and the Mobile Historic Preservation Society.

Alma Mater B.A., University of South Alabama; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law
Hometown Jacksonville, Ala.
Spouse + children Matt Hassell; Anne Harlan (3) and baby boy (on the way)
Mardi Gras parade spot In between the Battle House Hotel and the Phelps Dunbar building. My husband and his friends lovingly refer to it as “the spot.”
How did mentoring your “little sister” help to enrich your life? I was with her since first grade, and watching her grow into a respectful, very smart young lady was rewarding beyond measure. The experience taught me that all children really want or need from you is for you to simply show up for them. It is something that has helped inform my parenting of my own child.

Brad Israel, 32

Development and Leasing Specialist,
Bender Real Estate Group

Following nearly 10 years as a commander in the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Operations, Brad has returned to Mobile from Afghanistan and quickly shifted his impressive energy and unconventional ideas toward a burgeoning new career in real estate. After just a year back home, Brad has already dedicated time to the Waterfront Rescue Mission committee, the Child Advocacy Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters and more.

Alma Mater B.A., Hampden-Sydney College
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Anna Louise Israel; Lyon (2) and Jackson (1)
What did you want to be when you grew up? Second baseman for the Atlanta Braves
Favorite local watering hole Red or White, but usually my back patio
What did you miss most about Mobile while you were away? This community is an incredible example of what makes America great. After living in more than 15 different places across the world, I always longed to come home. The support network, love and sincerity many in this area display every day makes it hard to not want to recreate such an experience for my children.

Marlon E. Jones, 38

Pastor, Franklin Street Baptist Church; Executive Director, 100 Black Men of Mobile Inc.

Marlon currently balances a full-time schedule as a pastor with his recent appointment as director of 100 Black Men of Mobile, where he has introduced social media marketing and environmentally friendly initiatives. At Franklin Street Baptist Church, Marlon has implemented equally innovative ministry methods as he leads the church into a “spiritual renaissance.”

Alma Mater B.S., University of Alabama; Divinity Studies, Shaw University
Hometown Huntsville, Ala.
Spouse + children Keava B. Jones; Elias (8) and Everett (2)
Hidden talents Graphic design and videography
​How does your faith affect your leadership? My faith serves as the foundation for believing that unobtainable goals are always achievable. Wherever there is a will, God will make a way.
How should the church respond to modern changes like technology? Embrace it, utilize it, and try to stay current. The message of the church will always remain the same, but the methodology in which we communicate should constantly evolve.

Carla Joyner, 38

Vice President, Commercial Banking Credit Manager, Regions Bank

Carla’s 15 years of banking experience have marked her as an emerging leader in the local world of finance; in turn, Carla has selflessly used her expertise to serve as a mentor to many young professionals starting their banking careers. In an effort to combat the startling statistics of homelessness in Mobile, Carla has also become involved in both Housing First and Habitat for Humanity.

Alma Mater B.A., Auburn University Montgomery
Hometown Hartford, Ala.
Children Carson (8)
First job I worked as a grocery store clerk at 16. But, I started working in a bank the summer after graduating from high school, worked at a bank during college and remain here today.
Hidden talent I can stand on my head. But I guess it’s not hidden anymore.
Autobiography title “That Wasn’t on My Spreadsheet!”
What is it like being a woman in banking? Leadership in banking is still largely a male role, but my experience has been that bright, hard-working, responsible female talent is recognized and rewarded. The real goal is to be respected as a good banker, regardless of gender.

Michelle Powdrill Kane, 34

Consulting General Counsel, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors; Co-owner, Fairhope Brewing Company

As an attorney, mother and small business owner, Michele’s talents are varied and impressive. In addition to developing a successful law career that has taken her from Alabama to Alaska and back again, Michele has exhibited true entrepreneurial and community spirit by opening and operating Fairhope Brewing Company, a beloved local enterprise. She gives back even further as an organizer for Mobile Area Green Drinks.

Alma Mater B.S., University of Alabama; J.D., Louisiana State University
Hometown Shreveport, La.
Spouse + children Brian Kane; Mary McCarthy (4) and William (9 months)
Autobiography title “Babies, Beer and Sleepless Nights”
Best advice you have ever received My dad always said, “If you are going to be a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger you can be.” I know achieving perfection is not realistic, but if you strive for perfection, you just might achieve excellence.
Beer of choice The Causeway IPA. After we brewed our first batch, I had a fleeting fear: What if we don’t like the beer we brew? After Dan Murphy’s first batch was kegged, that fear was gone.

Bryan C. Kerr, 34

Vice President, Infirmary Health System

As executive director of Infirmary Health System, Bryan is responsible for operating five departments at three acute care campuses and more than 600 beds. In this capacity, Bryan has initiated programs to save hundreds of thousands of dollars while still improving the quality of care rendered. Beyond his occupational expertise, his strong character, confident demeanor and attention to philanthropy set him apart from other local business leaders.

Alma Mater B.S., M.B.A., University of West Florida
Hometown Chardon, Ohio
Children Audrey (4)
First job Baling hay
Favorite local dish Wintzell’s red beans and rice
What made you want to get into healthcare? There are few other industries that allow you the opportunity to positively contribute to the lives of so many people on a daily basis. It’s highly emotionally rewarding!
How do you balance such a demanding career with fatherhood? No single parent is perfect at this. I can only say that the most rewarding part of my days is seeing my daughter smile and learn new things. It is hard to put anything else above this.

Kit Perrien Lursen M.D., 37

Neuroradiologist, Alabama Coastal Radiology

An incredible student, Kit was valedictorian at McGill-Toolen, summa cum laude in undergraduate school and at the very top of her medical school, internship and fellowship. Today, she continues to achieve the highest level of success as a neuroradiologist and partner with Alabama Coastal Radiology, serving in leadership roles in the medical field and beyond.

Alma Mater B.S., University of Alabama M.D., University of Alabama Birmingham
Hometowns New Orleans and Mobile
Spouse Vincent Lursen
​First job Sales clerk, Alvin’s Island (three summers in a row!)
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … make Mobile more business friendly.
Best advice you have ever received If it were easy, anybody could do it.
How do you translate past leadership experience into your career? Student government and other roles at Alabama taught me how to facilitate communication and cooperation between disparate groups. On a day-to-day basis, medicine is very similar. I strive to treat others as I would want to be treated, with compassion and fairness.

Dr. Lauren Moore, 37

Pediatric Dentist, Drs. Thomas and Moore Pediatric Dentistry

Rivaled only by her professional skill is Lauren’s dedication to others, as she lends her time and talents as a pediatric dentist to a number of philanthropic organizations, including Donated Dental Services, Healthcare for the Homeless and Annual Dental Awareness for elementary school students. Lauren will soon be the first female president of the Mobile Area Dental Society and is also active in the Junior League of Mobile and her church, Christ United Methodist.

Alma Mater B.S., Spring Hill College; D.M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry
Hometown Mobile
Children Claire-Burton (16) and Kate (6)
Favorite watering hole Noble South
What’s the best part about your job? Working beside my mentor, Dr. Gaines Thomas
The worst? The inability to “cure” a true dental phobic. Also, having to tell kids to lay off the sugar, because I love it too!
Has being a mother affected your work? Definitely – it truly affects how I provide dental care to all children. When making decisions, I want to do for my patients what I would do for my own children.

Dr. Monica Motley, 38

President, Alabama School of Mathematics and Science

After working in nearly every capacity in the field of education, Monica brings 16 years of professional experience to her position at the helm of ASMS, which was recently selected as one of the top 40 high schools in the nation. Monica was the recipient of the inaugural Christ the King Award for service to the church and community, and she is also involved with Leadership Mobile, Mobile United and others.

Alma Mater B.S., Alabama State University; M.Ed., University of South Alabama; Ph.D., Auburn University
Hometowns Detroit, Mich. and Mobile
Spouse + children Terry Motley; Madison (9) and Terry Bradford (4)
Best advice you have ever received My grandfather told me “every knock is a boost.” Basically, do not view a situation negatively as a knock down, but positively as a boost up.
When did you decide to become an educator? In fourth grade, my teacher asked me to tutor a special needs student in reading. I remember the feeling I had when he surprised me and read a book to me. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be an educator.

A.J. Niland, 30

Chairman and CEO, HUKA Entertainment

By following his passion and entrepreneurial instincts, A.J. has proven himself as an innovative leader in the live entertainment arena of the Gulf Coast and beyond. A.J. cofounded HUKA Entertainment, an industry-leading event planning company that has grown to include four offices and 40 full-time employees in only 10 years. He has also cofounded numerous music festivals, including Gulf Shores’ wildly successful and award-winning Hangout Music Fest.

Alma Mater University of Mobile
Hometown Tampa, Fla.
Hobbies Flying airplanes
First job Clubhouse manager for Mobile BayBears
​Autobiography title “How to Live Out of a Suitcase: The A.J. Niland Story”
What’s the best part about your job? The travel. And the access to music.
The worst? Also the travel.
What drives your work? My love of music is the sole reason I work. My talents were not lending themselves to being on stage. Now, I get to contribute behind the scenes.
How did HUKA become such a nationally recognized company? A little bit of luck and hard work. Not to mention doing the right thing no matter the cost.

Daniel Penry, 33

Vice President, Penry Farms Inc.

Daniel is a fourth-generation owner and farmer at Penry Farms, where he has been working since he was 8 years old. Daniel has combined his agricultural knowledge with an enthusiasm for using innovative farming technology that allows the business to produce the maximum yield with the smallest environmental impact. He is also a dedicated supporter of several local arts and faith-based organizations.

Alma Mater B.S., Auburn University
Hometown Daphne
Spouse + children Dr. Katie Penry; Lois Lee (1)
What is the best advice you have ever received? If you are making money in a rat hole, burrow up a little deeper.
Words you are tired of hearing “Gluten free;” “GMO;” “Have you seen Food Inc.?”
Mardi Gras parade spot Sitting on couches we brought to Bienville Square on Fat Tuesday
How do you deal with environmental concerns? For us, caring for the environment is the best thing we can do to sustain our way of life. If you take care of the ground, the ground will take care of you. The biggest challenge is staying economically competitive while doing everything we can to care for the environment.

Frederick Rendfrey, 34

Director of Downtown Economic Development, Downtown Mobile Alliance

Fred has been instrumental in the current redevelopment of Downtown Mobile, serving as a liaison between developers and the City of Mobile, expertly maneuvering the obstacles and challenges of the development process. He is a tireless supporter of local entrepreneurship through organizations such as Springboard to Success and Urban Emporium. He’s also active with the Mobile Historic Development Commission and Restore Mobile.

Alma Mater B.A., Millsaps College; M.S., University of Southern Mississippi
Hometown Pass Christian, Miss.
Spouse + children Leigh Rendfrey; Wilton (20 months) and baby No. 2 (due in January)
First job Janitor at my church. My father paid the church my salary to teach me a lesson.
What’s the best part of your job? It is rewarding to redevelop an awesome 300-year- old historic community.
The worst? Nothing happens as quickly as I would like.
How have your feelings about Mobile translated into your work? I could never work for a community that I do not believe it. I could not dive in and understand a place that I was not passionate about.

Vanessa Reyner, 31

Owner, VMR Agency

At just 28 years old, Vanessa left one of the area’s top advertising agencies and established her own boutique marketing and public relations firm, specializing in campaigns for local businesses. Since then, VMR Agency has hired several full-time employees and is quickly budding as one of the area’s top boutique marketing agencies. Vanessa donates her time and services to pro bono marketing for local nonprofits, mentoring local college students and projects for the Junior League.

Alma Mater B.S. in Marketing, University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Wayne Reyner; Virginia (1)
Guilty pleasure “The Real Housewives” franchise
What is the best advice you have ever received? If you’re making everyone happy, your priorities are not in order.
What’s the best part about your job? The people I work with
The worst? Having to clean my own office
Best advice for those entering the industry? Seek out a mentor that you can shadow and ask advice. That person will become invaluable when job hunting and throughout your career.

Julia Rhames, 35

Artist, Julie Rhames

Art Julie Rhames’ creative career has been flagged with numerous awards for both her fine art and jewelry design – including a Nappie Award for being voted one of the city’s favorite artists. Julie has made a point to give back to the community by donating a substantial amount of her work to a number of charity events, including those supporting cancer research, animal shelters and hunger relief.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama; Associate Degree in Jewelry Design, Bishop State Community College
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Daniel Rhames; Harper Grace (2)
Favorite Mobile memory Helping my dad restore the Admiral Semmes statue. It helped me to really understand the pride of being a Mobilian and doing something important for your city.
What is the best advice you have ever received? “Every ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes.’”
When did you know you wanted to be an artist? I remember telling my kindergarten teacher. I don’t look at it as what I do, but who I am. After my daughter was born, I felt more creative and open to showing my work. It’s never too late to follow your dreams and pursue your passions.

Chris Rogers, 28

Founder and CEO, TAP (Together Assisting People)

Following a football career (and 2009 BCS Championship title) at the University of Alabama, Chris has dedicated his life to helping student athletes be successful off the field by mentoring them with everything from on-camera interviewing and spending to relationships and careers. To this end, Chris founded a nonprofit, Together Assisting People, as well as C. Rogers Consulting Group. To date, Chris’ work has reached more than 4, 000 student athletes in only 4 years.

Alma Mater B.S., M.S., University of Alabama
Hometown Lakeland, Fla.
Cringe-worthy style moment The suit I wore to the NFL draft
Autobiography title “Nothing’s Impossible”
Words that you are tired of hearing “There’s a need, but we don’t have any funding.”
Words that you don’t hear enough “Funding is available to donate to TAP.”
What advice do you give to student athletes? 1) Always take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. 2) Always value education and never stop learning. 3) Be respectful. 4) Listen to the advice of people who have been through what you’re going through. 5) Be accountable for your actions.

Rebecca Satterwhite, 36

Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator, Providence Hospital

With dedication, leadership and great organization, Rebecca pioneered the position of clinical pharmacist at Providence and has been instrumental in helping the hospital adopt a modern, multidisciplined approach to medicine. As an affiliated assistant professor at Auburn and a frequent public speaker, Rebecca is a vocal presence in the pharmacy field. She is also active in the Junior League, Mardi Gras organizations and the Fowl River Christmas parade.

Alma Mater Pharm.D., Auburn University
Hometown Birmingham
Favorite local dish Via Emilia’s Eggplant Emilia
Mardi Gras parade spot Pre-parade drinks at the Royal Street Tavern, then crossing the street right before the parade starts to watch
Words that you are tired of hearing That everyone is a winner. No, everyone is not a winner! Sometimes you have to learn, accept and overcome things you cannot do well.
How have you redefined the position of clinical pharmacist at Providence? When I started, we all sat in the basement and entered orders for eight hours a day. Now all of our pharmacists are out on the floor and rarely in their chairs.

Sam Schjott, 29

Business Office Supervisor, Alabama Power Company

Sam is one of the youngest supervisors at Alabama Power, where he’s a member of a team that is currently developing and implementing innovative new management software. Sam also works part-time as an emergency dispatcher for the Dauphin Island Police Department, where he has helped citizens through everything from Mardi Gras parades to natural disasters for over 12 years. Sam has served as president of the Bayou La Batre Chamber of Commerce and as the president of Rotaract Club.

Alma Mater B.A., Huntingdon College; M.A., University of Florida
Hometown Bayou La Batre
​Autobiography title “From the Bayou to the Boardroom”
Mardi Gras parade spot From the float, of course! I am, after all, the great-great-great-grandson of Joe Cain.
Favorite Mobile memory When I was in Boy Scouts we got to spend the night on the USS Alabama. I remember all of us fighting over who would get to sleep in WWII hero and Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller’s bunk.
What is the best advice you have ever received? My grandmother said to me, “Samuel, never be too busy for other people.” That was how she lived, and I try to do the same.

Erin Burns Schwant, 35

Director, Early Education Center,
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Erin successfully established the Early Education Center at St. Paul’s Episcopal, her church and alma mater. In less than one year of operation, under Erin’s direction, the unique, cutting-edge learning environment was voted “Mobile’s Best Nursery School” and has since expanded to serve 80 families. She further serves the community through her involvement with Mirror Lake Racquet Club and Adoption Rocks.

Alma Mater B.A. in Psychology, Rollins College; M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, Reformed Theological Seminary
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Troy Schwant; Jack (7), Charlie (5), Sam (3) and baby No. 4 (due this spring)
Guilty pleasure “Buy now with 1 click” on
First job In middle school, I ran Christmas camps for pre-schoolers out of my parents’ house.
Since attending St. Paul’s, how have you seen education develop? When I graduated in 1998, my friends and I were really excited about new things called “email” and “instant messenger.” It is unbelievable how much technology has changed education and our world since then.

Jon D. Simmons M.D., 39

Trauma Surgeon and Residency Director of General Surgery, University of South Alabama

By combining quality research with compassionate patient care, Jon’s vision and leadership has garnered national recognition for the USA Trauma Center, where he directs specialized, life-saving treatment. He is an award-winning assistant professor of surgery, as well as an accomplished researcher, praised for translating scientific findings into the patient care environment.

Alma Mater B.A., Mississippi State University; M.D., Ross University School of Medicine
Hometown Rolling Fork, Miss.
Spouse Kimberly Donnellan M.D.
What is the best advice you have ever received? “Treat each patient as if they were a family member.”
Favorite Mobile memory Winning the Alabama State Mixed Doubles Championship with my wife at the Mobile Tennis Center
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … resolve the homeless problem in Downtown. A majority of homeless people have a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or a history of substance abuse. With appropriate medical care, most can become productive members of society. I think many local physicians would donate their time to this endeavor.

Ashleigh Barker Simon, 37

Clinical Director, The Bridge Inc.

Beyond the difficult task of overseeing seven residential treatment centers, numerous education programs and nearly 300 staff members, Ashleigh has expanded The Bridge’s substance abuse treatment philosophy from a fixed, one-size-fits-all model to a much more individualized one. Her efforts have brought about improved recovery outcomes for clients, a better working environment for staff and a more educated public. Ashleigh is involved in and recognized for numerous regional recovery initiatives.

Alma Mater B.S. and M.S., University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Lloyd Joseph Simon III; Juliette Louise (4) and Lloyd Joseph IV (1)
Guilty pleasure Cheez-Its, Diet Coke and Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Preferably at the same time.
Hobbies Running, reading and art
What’s the best part about your job? Our ability to focus on the culture of treatment by acknowledging that through encouraging self-efficacy, our adolescents are gaining the confidence and optimism to change, not just holding their breath hoping it will change.
The worst? When people don’t believe in an adolescent’s desire or ability to change.

Lacey D. Smith, 32

Senior Associate, Armbrecht Jackson LLP

Lacey’s distinguished legal career includes a specialty in complex aviation litigation. She is involved in a number of legal professional organizations including the Volunteer Lawyers Program and the Mobile Young Lawyers Association. She also donates her time once a month to cook at the Ronald McDonald House, and she raised more than $27, 000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society earlier this year.

Alma Mater B.A. Birmingham-Southern College; J.D., Cumberland School of Law
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Glenn Smith; Morris (1 1/2)
Hobbies Reading dorky books. If it doesn’t involve wizards, elves, etc., I’m not interested.
What’s the best part about your job? Learning from the incredible attorneys at my firm.
The worst? Keeping track of my time in six-minute increments.
What’s the most interesting part of being an aviation litigator? Learning the technical knowledge relevant to each specific case. To properly represent clients, I have to keep up with expert witnesses on topics like the metallurgical properties of aircraft-quality steel. I love the challenge, and it keeps things interesting.

Terrance DeShaun Smith,  31

Program Manager, Mobile Area Education Foundation

A totally self-made man, Terrance has dedicated the past seven years of his life to developing community programs that guide and mentor today’s youth. As a leader in the nonprofit sector, Terrance has been especially impactful in minimizing high school dropout rates and cultivating positive expressions of manhood in young boys. Terrance also devotes his time to Pillans Middle School and the Greater Gulf State Fair.

Alma Mater B.A., M.S., University of South Alabama
Hometown Prichard
Spouse + children Johnnice Edwards Smith; TyTerious DeBrion (12)
First job Taking the pet hair from the groomer to the dumpster at PetSmart
Favorite Mobile memory? Shopping at Gayfers with my mother every Saturday and stopping by the bakery to purchase an orange soda and glazed twist
Mardi Gras parade spot The intersection of Broad Street and Springhill Avenue
Why should we work to reengage youth into the education system? Because education has an effect on every aspect of our lives. It is the key to improving quality of life, economic development and healthcare issues.

Christina Stimpson, 31

Director of International Trade, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

Christina has been continually promoted within the economic development department of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce since she started as an administrative assistant in 2009. Constantly learning and broadening her perspective, her responsibilities now include helping numerous Alabama companies enter into the world of international exporting. Under her leadership, the International Trade Department has grown in corporate participation and public exposure.

Alma Mater B.S., Auburn University
Hometowns Andalusia, Ala.; Fergus Falls, Minn.; Waxahachie, Texas; Alexander City, Ala.; and Natchez, Miss.
Spouse + children Sands Stimpson; Jim (2)
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would … change the perception that there is nothing to do in Mobile.
What made you interested in International Trade? While working as an assistant in economic development, I was asked to sit in on a workshop for the trade division. After that, I did everything I could to understand its objectives and what it would take to be a part of it. I’ve always had a wanderlust and to incorporate that into my job is a dream.

Lucy E. Tufts, 32

Partner, Cunningham Bounds LLC

A tenacious litigator who cares about the wellbeing of her clients, Lucy truly earned her position as the first female partner in the history of Cunningham Bounds. She has already tried eight cases to a jury verdict with great success, earning the respect and confidence of her peers in a very short time. She is also devoted to the community at large, fundraising for McKemie Place, Our Sisters’ Closet, and the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program, among others.

Alma Mater B.A., University of Alabama at Birmingham; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
Hometown Huntsville
Spouse + children David Tufts; Abigail (2) and baby No. 2 on the way
What’s the best part about your job? Holding people accountable for their wrongdoing and ensuring that victims are made whole again
The worst? Searching and sorting through thousands of pages of documents to find the critical evidence that is often buried somewhere in the middle
What inspires you to be so involved with women’s groups? I want to be a part of a support system for young girls who are currently forging their own path and for other women who may be changing theirs.

Bragg Van Antwerp, 37

Financial Advisor, Mitchell McLeod Pugh & Williams Inc.

After 13 years on Wall Street, Bragg returned home to Mobile, where he has assumed a position as vice president of an investment advising and wealth management company. His climb up the financial ladder has been marked by his high integrity and indefatigable work ethic. Bragg is also active in the Rotary Club, the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, Distinguished Young Women and the Floral Parade Committee.

Alma Mater B.A., University of Virginia
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Hayley Lewis Van Antwerp; Thomas (4), Emory (2) and Charles (2 months)
Words that you are tired of hearing “We can’t depart from doing it that way because this is how it’s always been done.”
Words that you don’t hear enough “I’d like to live in Mobile, Alabama.”
How does working in Mobile compare to working on Wall Street? I can actually make a difference in the lives of my clients in Mobile. The fact that I can combine that with the ability to go home for lunch, never miss a school play, or help coach my sons’ T-ball teams is almost too good to be true.

Doug Whitmore, 32

Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors

In a move from his hometown of New Orleans, Doug has successfully parlayed his talent for wealth management to a lucrative financial advising position at Wells Fargo Advisors. Since returning to Mobile where he attended college at the University of South Alabama, Doug has been extremely involved in the community, lending his expertise to a number of organizations close to his heart, including the Mobile United and Mobile Bay Food Bank.

Alma Mater B.S., University of South Alabama
Hometown New Orleans
Guilty pleasure Sno-balls to-go from Rouses
First job Picture taker at the DMV. “No, we are not Glamour Shots. You only get one chance.”
Favorite Mobile memory First Jags football game. It was a long time coming.
Who would play you in a movie?  Jason Alexander as George Costanza as me  
What’s the best part about your job? My clients are awesome and they support me 100 percent.
The worst? The current geo-political environment
What was the best part of attending the University of South Alabama? I lived an hour from the beach!

Breanne S. Zarzour, 27

Associate, Phelps Dunbar LLP

Only two years out of law school, Brie has shown incredible skill at balancing both a burgeoning career at a large corporate law firm with major philanthropic undertakings, namely her work with the FUSE Project, a wildly successful local charity of which she is a cofounder and co-executive director. Brie is also deeply involved with the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds, Christ Church Cathedral and Mobile Volunteer Lawyers.

Alma Mater B.A., University of Georgia; J.D.,  Cumberland School of Law
Hometown Peachtree City, Ga.
Spouse + children Grant Zarzour; first baby on the way (due in May 2015)
What did you want to be when you grew up? Oddly enough, a lawyer
Cringe-worthy style moment Seventh grade, the choker necklace era
What is the best advice you have ever received? “Good things come to those who hustle.”
What does Fuse Project offer the city of Mobile? FUSE Project offers an ability to support specific local projects that have an immediate impact on children in our area. We fund a variety of projects and allow our community to fund-raise through unique events.

Kristy Lee, 34

Singer / Songwriter / Musician / Promoter, Kristy Lee Music LLC

With only the help of a small local team, Kristy Lee has grown from a hometown music favorite to an accomplished international performer who has played with the likes of Zac Brown Band, Michael Franti, G Love and others. Kristy has also produced and hosted Pensacola Unleashed, an LGBT-friendly music festival, for the past 11 years. Kristy is an ambassador for the Do It for Love Foundation, a nonprofit wish-granting foundation.

Hometown Bay Minette
Spouse Melissa Sebastian
Favorite Mobile memory In 2011 at Soul Kitchen when many wonderful friends showed up to support a big showcase I had with Atlantic Records
Guilty pleasure Cornbread with milk and sugar
Who would play you in a movie? Elvis
What musical instruments can you play? Acoustic and electric guitar, lap steel guitar and percussion
Who are your favorite local musicians? All of them … Eric Erdman, Ryan Balthrop, The Mulligan Brothers, Lee Yankee, Josh Ewing, legendary Donna Hall, The Delux Trio…
What can Mobile expect in its musical future? An uprising. It will be the new New Orleans!

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