Mobile Bay’s 2015 Class Of 40 Under 40

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

LeMaris “L.A.” Alston, 34

Director of IT, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

LeMaris is the cofounder of Gallery 450, a multifunctional space in Downtown Mobile that serves as an art gallery, event hall and office space. He also works as a photographer and a mentor of his own successful Bounce Back Youth Leadership Program.

Alma Mater Alabama State University
Hometown Theodore, Ala.
Spouse Jamelah Alston
Children LeMaris J. Alston Jr. (aka L.J.), 5; Jayel L. Alston (aka J.L.), 2
Guilty pleasure Red velvet cake is my kryptonite.
Hidden talents
 I can draw, which came from my dad. And I can stitch, which I got from my mom.
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would…Turn the Civic Center in to a restaurant, retail and family entertainment hub. With the cruise ship returning to Mobile, I think this could be a main attraction.
What does gallery 450 offer that no other place does? Gallery 450 is a network environment for local artists sharing ideas and concepts.

R. Thomas Ankerson Jr., 37

Assistant Vice President/Branch Manager, Regions Bank

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Under Tommy’s direction, the Regions’ Skyline branch continues to grow each quarter. Outside of work, Tommy has served in leadership roles as cofounder of the Dawes Business Group and a member of the Catholic Social Services of Mobile Advisory Board.

Alma Mater University of Mobile
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Elise Schwarz Ankerson   
Children Henry Thomas, 2
Guilty Pleasure Strawberry Cake from Bake My Day
Song that pumps me up for the work day 
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Hobbies Running, yard work and playing golf
What should people know about banking? It’s not a nine-to-five job. Bankers get there early, and we stay late. People also don’t realize how much bankers can help with financial goals until they’re in a situation and need us.

James L. Avera, 36 

Owner, Avera Designs

James’ company offers full-service marketing for real estate, including photography and virtual tours for bigwigs such as Remax, Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams. He is also passionate about community work, spearheading many projects such as the South Lafayette Street Community Assocation and monthly neighborhood cleanups in his area.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Orange Beach, Ala.
Favorite quote “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” – Maya Angelou
Favorite Mobile memory The day I moved here. I remember it like it was yesterday (it was 1998).   

Hobbies Working on turning my yellow thumb green
If I were Mayor of Mobile… I would create one of the best river walks in the country. Think Santa Monica Pier meets San Antonio River Walk.
Advice for adapting a business to keep up with the times Technology changes daily — you have to stay on top of your game and listen to your clients.

Ryan Beale, 33 

Chief Operating Officer,  Cardiology Associates of Mobile

After starting as an administrative resident, Ryan worked his way up to his current position, where he has implemented several innovative programs. He also serves as a tutor and mentor for Team Focus.

Alma Mater B.S. University of Alabama; M.S.H.A., M.B.A. University of Alabama-Birmingham
Hometown Huntsville, Ala.
Spouse Shannon Beale
Children Greer, 4; Fletcher, 2
First job Photo developer at a one-hour photo shop
Guilty pleasure Mellow Mushroom…weekly

Favorite Mobile Dish Fried shrimp from Ed’s Seafood Shed
Best advice you have ever received “Never accept anything less than your best.”
Proudest accomplishment at Cardiology Associates We just celebrated our 30th anniversary. We started with one doctor; now we have 28. That’s not a personal accomplishment, but it’s something pretty special.

Eunice Mingo Blakely, 39 

Director of Behavioral Health, Franklin Primary Health Center, Inc.

Every day, Eunice works with children and adults struggling with self-esteem and behavioral issues. Her consulting business offers workshops, open to the community, focused on behavioral health, suicide intervention and prevention and crisis management. After office hours, she volunteers with the Junior League of Mobile as well as Youth Leadership Mobile. She also trains counselors for the Mobile Chapter Sickle Cell Disease Foundation. 

Alma Mater B.S. Alabama State University,  M.S. University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Eddie Blakely
Child Marquis, 12 
Best Advice you ever received Pray about it and keep it moving.
Guilty pleasures Sunflower seeds coupled with a “Law and Order” marathon
Song to get you pumped for the work day “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
What makes a good mentor? Someone who believes in what they’re doing and leads by example.

Josh Briskman, 38 

Attorney / Member,  Briskman and Binion, P.C.

After obtaining his law degree in 2002, Josh began practicing with his father, Donald Briskman, in 2008. Josh has been a part of many high-profile cases and also offers his expertise for the Volunteer Lawyers Program and serves on the board for the Ahavas Chesed Synagogue.

Alma Mater Elon College, Cumberland School of Law at Samford University
Hometown Mobile, Ala. 
Spouse Sheridan Briskman
Children William, 10; Mayer, 5 
Best advice ever received “Never get boxed in.” This was from Leroy Millsap, my middle school track coach.
Hidden talents I’m actually a pretty good cook.
Best part of your job Easy: helping people when they need it most. I like to feel I’ve done something for people in difficult situations.  

Tracey Benjamin Burdine, 39

Director of Homeless Prevention Programs, Housing First Inc. The Homeless Coalition

After serving in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, Tracey decided to fight homelessness in Mobile. Her hard work has been recognized by Michelle Obama who commended Mobile for its efforts to establish systems to eradicate veteran homelessness. Tracey also serves as the youth director at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Alma Mater University of Mobile
Hometown Brewton, Ala.
Spouse Roderick Burdine
Children Tony, Jasmine,  Jonathan, Nathan
First job Cashier for Winn Dixie
Hobbies Refurbishing wood furniture
Favorite Mobile memory Attending the Christmas Tree lighting in Downtown Mobile with my Family. Having hot chocolate and walking to Three Georges for treats.
Favorite Mobile Dish
 Shrimp and cheese grits from Pat’s Deli
How much does your military experience inspire your daily work? We have a motto in the Navy: “Adapt and overcome.” So, when we don’t have funding or we run into other obstacles, I make it happen.

Patrick Byrne, CPSM, 31 

Procurement Leader,  Hargrove Engineers + Constructors 

Patrick’s tireless work ethic at Hargrove Engineers + Constructors has a positive impact on his coworkers. As a graduate of Leadership Mobile and volunteer for several local organizations, his selfless dedication to his city is evident. Patrick was also the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 2015 Man of the Year.

Alma Mater Sewanee: The University of the South
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Carolyn Byrne
Children MacGuire, 1
Guilty pleasure Watching “The Bachelor” with my wife
Favorite Mobile dish Crab soup at Felix’s Fish Camp
Hidden talent
 I can wiggle my ears.
If I were Mayor of Mobile… I would work with all parties concerned to move our regional airport to Brookley Field. This is just the next step for Mobile to further position itself as a major player on the national and international stage.

Craig Campbell, 34 

Attorney / Member, Hand Arendall, LLC

After practicing law with Hand Arendall for eight years, Craig became a partner in 2014. He is an active member of Mobile’s pro bono lawyer program, and in 2011, he received the Ben Kilborn Volunteer Lawyer of the Year Award. He also participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters, is a member of the Senior Bowl Committee and sits on the board for Save-a-Stray. 

Alma Mater Georgetown College, Cumberland School of Law
Hometown Mobile, Ala. 
Spouse Kimberly Campbell
Children Evelyn, 5; Maggie, 2
Favorite Mobile dish Pulled Pork Sandwich from Brick Pit
Favorite Mobile Memory Going backstage to meet Tim McGraw when he played the fair in the mid-1990s.
Guilty pleasure Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Title of your autobiography “Holding Court: Experiences and Lessons from a Lifetime of Practicing Law and Tennis.”
If I were mayor of Mobile… I would focus on improving public schools. If the City and County truly want to lure young professionals to live here, that seems to be an important step.

Morgan Carnley, 26 

Youth Services and Special Events Coordinator, Light of the Village

As youth program director of Light of the Village, Morgan has found employment for 37 inner-city youths and led efforts to create a successful eight-week, free-of-charge summer program for 150 children in Prichard.

Alma Mater University of Mobile, University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business
Hometown Enterprise, Ala. 
Guilty pleasures Naps and anything superhero related
Hidden talents Mama jokes and dancing
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would…be a very stressed individual.

Best Mardi Gras parade spot Government Plaza — with the right timing, you can see the parade twice
Song to get you pumped for the work day 
“I Won’t Let You Go” by Snow Patrol
Best advice you ever received People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” I’ve found this to be especially true with kids and crucial in our work in the Alabama Village

Jeff Carter, 35 

Project Manager, Bloomberg Innovation Team, City of Mobile

Jeff serves vital roles for both the Fuse Project, a nonprofit aimed at benefiting Alabama children through health and education, and the Bloomberg Innovation team. In other words, his dream is to make Mobile all it can possibly be. Under his guidance, Fuse is set to reach a goal of raising $1 million every year by 2020. Additionally, he has served on the board of the Grounds since 2010, contributing to the rebanding and financial recovery of the venue.

Hometown Citronelle, Ala.  
Spouse Kathryn Carter
Children Jackson, 10; Zachary, 2
Hidden talent My wife finds it most surprising that I can tie a pretty fancy bow for Christmas presents.
Favorite Mobile memory My mom would always get reservations at Roussos by Fort Condé for Mardi Gras Day. The food was great, but the ticket to a real bathroom was priceless.
Best advice you have ever received It only takes another second to do it right.
How can the everyday person help transform Mobile? As Mobilians, we could benefit from the way we talk about our city. We’ve worked so hard for something, and we don’t allow ourselves to embrace it. We need people talking about the good because there’s a lot of it.  

Kate Carver, 33

Executive Director, Dumas Wesley Community Center

Kate quickly made a lasting impact on Mobile as executive director of Dumas Wesley Community Center. She orchestrated the center’s financial turnaround, and its associated Sybil Smith Village for homeless women and children has shown an 80 percent rate of success in getting women back on their feet and in the workforce.

Alma Mater University of Wisconsin
Hometown Waukesha, Wis.
Spouse David Carver
Children Sophia, 22 months; Baby boy, due in March
Favorite Mobile dish Crawfish from R & R Seafood
Best advice ever received Practice generosity
Hidden talent I can outdo anyone in a handstand contest!
Guilty pleasure Ben and Jerry’s Tonight Dough Ice Cream and Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show.” Preferably at the same time.
Biggest difference between Wisconsin and Alabama? Southern hospitality is so great! I moved back to Wisconsin for a short time, and I missed Mobile’s hospitality and history. Wisconsin suddenly seemed brusque and uncharming!

Ashley Jones Davis, 30 

Executive Director, North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce

Under Ashley’s guidance, the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce grew by 30 percent in just two years with a 90 percent retention rate. Ashley also works to implement networking programs, and she regularly attends development courses to remain current on new trends. In her spare time, she serves on 10 different boards and committees aimed at improving Baldwin County. In 2014, she received both the Heritage Junior Women’s Club Woman of the Year award and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the American Cancer Society. 

Alma Mater Auburn University
Hometown Bay Minette, Ala.  
Spouse Joshua Davis
Guilty pleasures Chocolate and Netflix
Hidden talents
 I can still dance the kick line to my high school fight song
Favorite Mobile memory Being on a boat in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, the views from the river and the Bay are always breathtaking. Even as a kid, I remember thinking ‘wow…’
Best advice you have ever received My high school art teacher, Mrs. Marlene Johnt, would always tell us every Friday to “Make wise decisions, a lot can happen in the blink of an eye, ” and to this day I can hear her voice in my head, and I am grateful for that reminder.
What is your leadership philosophy? Surround yourself with knowledgeable people, and trust in your staff.  

Sharon Davis, 34 

Senior Vice President / HR Director, First Community Bank

From her work with Cintas Corporation, BBVA Compass Bank and now First Community Bank, Sharon has proven her natural skill for human resources leadership, helping to successfully identify those employees who have the capability to move into the company’s key roles. Sharon and her husband also run a snow cone stand on the weekends, donating a majority of proceeds to Relay for Life.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Gulfport, Miss.  
Spouse Darrell Davis
Child Patience, 6
Hobbies Reading, shopping, traveling
Best part of your job
 Being able to impact lives, create jobs, develop futures and influence others
Why did you choose to go into human resources? Because I’m nosy and fascinated by people. The best part is having the ability to offer people benefits that impact their livelihood. 

Chris Elliott, 35 

County Commissioner, Baldwin County

As a business owner and county commissioner, Chris juggles a lot and he does so successfully. He represents Daphne, Fairhope and Spanish Fort, as well as half a dozen other small communities. As president of The Elliott Companies and VP of Elliott Builders, Chris has worked closely with disaster restoration and construction in Baldwin County. His fiscal responsibility and care for the community have aided in the area’s prolific growth. 

Alma Mater University of Richmond
Hometown Josephine, Ala. / Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Alainna Elliott
Children Haley Dae, 7; Brooks, 4
Favorite Mobile dish Raw oysters from Wintzell’s

If I were Mayor of Mobile… I would beg Sandy to come back. Seriously, that guy is doing an amazing job!
Hidden talent Yoga; something my wife and I can do together
Why is community involvement important to you?
 Baldwin County and the region have given me so much. The quality of life in this region is so great — it brought me back after school. To maintain what we value, we have to be involved.    

Rust Felix, 35

President, APHID Industries, LLC

Rust successfully built an algorithmic software company, designed for e-commerce merchants in Mobile, fueling the local economy and attracting the attention of large companies, such as Amazon. He also serves as a board member for both the Bay Area Food Bank and Mobile Food + Wine experience.

Alma Mater University of Alabama-Birmingham
Hometown Birmingham, Ala.  
Spouse Tiffany Felix
Hobbies Winemaking, traveling and spending time with our dogs, Jockamo and Schramsberg
Hidden talent My ballet arch I learned while at Alabama School of Fine Arts is pretty amazing.
What was it like presenting your software to Amazon? It wasn’t as intimidating as I thought. I was actually shocked by their receptiveness to an Alabama redneck like me. I appreciated being taken seriously because of our experience.

Michael Galloway, 37

Vice President of Client Services, The SSI Group Inc.

Michael was responsible for a complete overhaul of the client services group at The SSI Group, which involved implementing new customer relationship software and changing the department’s structure from the ground up. He previously worked as chief of staff for a congressman in Washington D.C. before moving home to Mobile.

Alma Mater University of Alabama
Hometown Mobile, Ala.  
Spouse Kristi Galloway
Children Will, 4; Ellen, 1
Guilty pleasure Taco Bell breakfast (the AM Crunchwrap)
First job Setting up umbrellas and chairs at the beach
Favorite Mobile memory Soft shell crabbing and floundering at the Bay
Best advice you ever received
 From my dad: “Quit complaining and work harder.”
How do you balance your professional life with parenthood? It’s a challenge! SSI, culturally, believes work/life balance is a priority. On moving from Washington, D.C. to Mobile: The community here is very family-oriented, and that’s really helpful.

Jason Gregory, 39 

Managing Partner and CEO,  Willis of Alabama, LLC

Jason boasts over 12 years in the insurance industry, as well as a Certified Insurance Counselor designation. He spearheaded the partnership between Willis of Alabama and local charities, such as Goodwill, Make-A-Wish and Mobile Infirmary Foundation. Additionally, he volunteers his own time to BBVA Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA of South Alabama, among others. 

Alma Mater B.S. University of Alabama, M.B.A. Spring Hill College
Hometown Mobile, Ala.  
Spouse Courtney Gregory
Children Jackson, 9; Virginia, 7
Best advice you have ever received “A goal without a plan is just a wish”
If I were Mayor of Mobile…
 I would create an incentives-based tax corporate mentoring program for companies to engage in mentoring our youth.
Best part about your job I get to relentlessly serve others and have the opportunity to make a difference.   

Emily Hughes, 35 

Nursing Project Coordinator,  University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital

As 2004’s Excellence in Practice award recipient from the USA College of Nursing and 2014 Alpha Omicron Pi Gamma Delta Chapter Alumnae of the Year, Emily proves an asset to her coworkers and community. When not working to keep the hospital in compliance with safety regulations, she devotes her time to charitable causes through the Junior League of Mobile and serving on the Alpha Omicron Pi Alumni Advisory Board at the University of South Alabama. 

Alma Mater B.A. University of Southern Maine, B.S.N and M.S.N. University of South Alabama
Hometown Windham, Maine 
Spouse Chris Hughes
Child Jackson, 5
First job Lifeguard
Guilty pleasures Pedicures, Battle House Spa day and Barre3 classes
Favorite Mobile Memory
 Experiencing a jubilee — it was amazing!
How do you juggle medical and administrative responsibilities? Teamwork. Everyone working together makes it easier to go from one department to the other.

Erin S. Jones, CPA, 35 

Manager, Wilkins Miller, LLC

Through her position as president of the Alabama Society of CPAs and her managerial job, Erin has worked to improve connectivity among area accountants. Additionally, she gives time to her community, volunteering for the United Way Women’s Initiative and serving on the Mulherin Custodial Home Board of Directors, among other outreach efforts.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College
Hometown  Mobile, Ala.  
Spouse Timothy M. Jones
Guilty pleasure ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”
Favorite Mobile memory Feeding the ducks at Municipal Park

Song to get you pumped for the work day “Here Comes the Sun, ” by The Beatles 
If I were mayor of Mobile… I would work on a West Mobile bypass — traffic to and from WeMo can be hectic!
What advice would you give to others on climbing the corporate ladder?
I feel lucky that the environment at Wilkins Miller has given me the opportunity to progress. The company allows us to develop our strengths and use them to our advantage. Having that flexibility makes me want to work more and achieve more.

Nick Lawkis, 30 

Associate Director of Governmental Relations, University of South Alabama / University of South Alabama Health System

In his current role, Nick represents the institution to the state’s political leadership. His efforts have contributed to a 1.5 percent increase in the state’s 2016 education appropriation for USA. Nick and his wife also support the Mobile SPCA and Animal Rescue Foundation.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Dallas, Texas 
Spouse Kim Proctor Lawkis
Children Three pups! Dolce, Finley and Trooper
Favorite Mobile dish Café 615 Brunch – Eggs Mauvilla

Guilty Pleasure Car shopping — I’m on car number 19
Hidden talents Cleaning, cooking Greek dishes
What’s one thing most people don’t realize about USA? It’s the largest employer in the City of Mobile with 6, 000 employees, and it has a $2 billion impact on the region.

Lee Lawson, 34 

President and CEO, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance

Since graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism and public relations, Lee has worked in several economic development positions. In Baldwin County, he has created in-house marketing initiatives to develop projects, in addition to those funded by the state. He has also developed a quarterly newsletter for investors and partners, sharing economic development news and statistics.

Alma Mater Troy University
Hometown Montgomery, Ala.  
Spouse Regan Ware Lawson
Children Knox, 6; Greer, 4; McRaye, 2 
First job Video store clerk (when people needed someone to rewind their movies)
Guilty pleasure Chocolate shakes from Stacey’s Drugs in Foley
Hobbies Playing golf with my son, quail hunting
Hidden talent I can dunk a basketball
Favorite Mobile memory Asking my future in-laws for their permission to marry their daughter on their boat in Mobile Bay
Best part of your job 
Every day I get to work with a great team of people to make my community a better place by the creation of high-paying sustainable jobs.

Dr. Peter J. Lindquist, 30

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer,  Providence Hospital 

Peter worked his way up at Providence Hospital from charge nurse to nurse manager to his current position. He has established one of the strongest nursing leadership teams in the hospital’s parent corporation, Ascension Health. The clinical quality and safety scores are among the highest in the region. Outside of Mobile, Peter is involved in numerous local and global initiatives, including Hope for Haiti Children’s Hospital.

Alma Mater B.S. and M.S. University of South Alabama; Doctorates, University of Alabama and University of Alabama-Birmingham
Hometown Mobile, Ala. 
Interesting fact I have 10 brothers and sisters.
Favorite Mobile Dish Foosackly’s chicken fingers
First job
 Car salvage yard parts puller
Hidden talent Classical pianist
If I were mayor of Mobile, I would…Recruit Southwest Airlines to Mobile Regional Airport
What drew you to nursing? What skills have helped along the way? My love for people and having a job where you can do that continuously was my first passion. The best COO/CNO is compassionate for the patients. Of course, you also need strong business, clinical, relationship and communication skills.  

Katherine Loper, 39 

Owner, Gigi & Jay’s

Katherine had been working for American Underwriters for 20 years when she decided to retire, unaware at the time that she would soon start Gigi & Jay’s, one of the Bay area’s top children’s boutiques. She is also a dedicated volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Alma Mater Hollins College
Hometown Fairhope, Ala. 
Children Annie, 14; Jay, 12
Song to get you pumped for the work day 
“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
Best advice you ever received Everything happens for a reason.
Did you always imagine you’d be a small business owner? It came to me as a surprise! I never dreamed I’d own a small business. 
Do your children trust your judgment in clothing? My 14-year-old daughter lives in my closet. She’s always wearing my clothes! My son is not really into clothes, besides Under Armour.

Danisha L. Maye, 34 

Community Consultant, PNC Bank

While working to drive initiatives to help moderate- and low-income families in Mobile, Danisha also spearheaded the PNC School Bank, which launched last spring. The program aims to stimulate an interest in financial planning and teach smart saving tactics to school students. Danisha also serves on the boards of the Mobile Area Education Foundation, Voices for Alabama’s Children and Mobile Works. 

Alma Mater Faulkner University
Hometown Mobile, Ala. 
Spouse Ehren Tucker
Children LeMarcus, 9; Marlee Eren-Grace, 2 months
Hobbies Traveling, gardening and reading books
Guilty pleasure Beignets at Café Du Monde in New Orleans
Hidden talents I am really good at bargain shopping and extreme couponing. I love a deal! 

If I were Mayor of Mobile… I would develop a strategic plan to encourage community collaborations and idea exchanges between the low- to moderate-income areas and the mass affluent areas.

Kelly McCarron, 38 

Director of Development, University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute

Since college, Kelly has shown a natural skill for fundraising in the alumni offices of both Vanderbilt University and Spring Hill College. In her first three years as director of development at MCI, Kelly surpassed fundraising goals despite being hired during a recession. Kelly also serves on the board of Camp Rap-a-Hope.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College
Hometown Opelousas, La.
Spouse Jeff McCarron
Children Anna, 8; Colin, 4
Favorite Mobile dish 
Fried crab claws
First job Babysitting when I was 10 years old. What were these parents thinking? I was still a baby myself!
Favorite Mobile memory Experiencing my first jubilee

What is the key to successful fundraising? Patience. You never just walk in and ask for money on a first visit. You have to develop trust and a relationship and be able to sell your story and why it’s important to support the nonprofit.

Anne Laurie McClurkin, Esq., 36 

Member, McDowell Knight Roedder and Sledge, LLC

Anne Laurie has been a woman with a mission ever since obtaining her law degree in 2004. Practicing in Mobile, she became McDowell Knight Roedder and Sledge’s first female equity member. A 2014 graduate of Leadership Mobile, she also regularly provides pro bono services for McKemie Place, a shelter for women serving three Alabama counties. In addition, she serves on numerous other boards and fundraisers for the community in need. 

Alma Mater University of Alabama
Hometown Birmingham, Ala. 
Spouse Mac McClurkin
Children Francie, 5; Preston, 2
Favorite Mobile memory Easy – both my babies were born at Mobile Infirmary. It makes me happy just driving by the hospital.
Best advice you have ever received “Stop trying to plan the rest of your life today.”

Title of your Autobiography “I Didn’t Have Time to Write This So I Paid Someone Else To Do It.”
How has your approach changed over your career? I know a million things more than when I started, but I’m still learning every day. That said, having some years under my belt gives me a lot more confidence than when I began my career. 

John Mims, 35

Sales Associate, Roberts Brothers Inc. 

After becoming a licensed realtor in 2011, John has repeatedly proven his prowess in the field. He was named Roberts Brothers’ Rookie of the Year in 2011, and in 2013, his achievements landed him a place in the Roberts Brothers President’s Club. His realty successes are compounded by his community work. John serves on a number of charitable boards, including the Executive Committee of the Mobile Museum of Art and the Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Alabama Young Professionals Board. Additionally, he cofounded the Ben Walls Memorial Jam, a nonprofit that raises funds to financially assist families dealing with cancer. 

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Daphne, Ala. 
Hobbies Home renovation, auto restoration, golf and sailing
First job Dishwasher at Papa’s Pizza
Best Mardi Gras spot 
Corner of Broad and Canal, with all my Oakleigh neighbors
Best advice you have ever received “Never compare your successes or failures to anyone else. It doesn’t matter, just do the best you can do.”
How do you recommend other young real estate professionals go about getting noticed? Meet as many people as you can, and let them know what you’re doing. You can pick up business anywhere — a bar, church, the grocery, anywhere. 

Elizabeth Minto, M.D., 39 

Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of South Alabama

A board-certified neurologist, director of neuroimmunology and infusion and director of the neurology clinic operations, Elizabeth has proven that her strong medical and leadership skills go beyond the classroom. From 2011 to 2013, she served as the medical consultant for the Social Security Administration for the State of Alabama, and since 2007 has been a member of the Medical Society of Mobile County, an organization with more than 1, 000 Mobile area medical professional members. Additionally, she has sat on the board of directors for Camp Rap-a-Hope as well as for Shepherd’s Place Adult Day Respite. 

Alma Mater Birmingham-Southern College
Hometown Mobile, Ala. 
Spouse Scott Edward Minto 
Children Louise Harper, 3
Favorite Mobile Memory Serving as an Azalea Trail Maid (I was yellow!)
Guilty pleasure McDonald’s hash browns
Hidden talent Cooking for a crowd. Bad days still make me consider a second career as a caterer.
Why is The Medical Society important to you? Organized medicine has become somewhat taboo, but fostering community with physicians was what current legislation initially intended to do. On a local level, it’s only as successful as its participation.

Phillip Murphy, 36 

Assistant Athletic Director / Head Boys Basketball, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School

As a four-year basketball player and a senior captain at the University of Mobile, Phillip has the skills and experience to lead a basketball team and entire athletic department. Students and parents alike praise Phillip for his positive influence on and deep commitment to his players. He has been named the Optimist Club Coach of the Year for four consecutive years.

Alma Mater University of Mobile
Hometown Homewood, Ala. 
Spouse Brandi Murphy
Children Myles, 11; Jackson, 9; Basil, 5 
Best advice you ever received “Make a difference every day — small, big, unnoticed. Each time we make a difference, we change the world.”
Was there one coach who had a strong impact on you? There are many coaches. The whole job is to make an impact, and those guys gave me the tools to be successful and to pass it on to the kids I’ve coached.
What’s the best part about your job? Being involved in and watching the maturation of our students through their high school years; it’s amazing and inspiring! Nothing more exciting then when you finally see the light come on.

Brandy Brown Pendleton, 39 

Owner, Brandy Brown Studio for the Performing Arts

Having performed in roles such as Young
Cosette in Broadway’s “Les Miserables” at age 10 (and later as Eponine in the same show) and been a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, Brandy Brown knows the allure of the stage. With connections to the Royal Shakespeare Company and a membership in the Screen Actors Guild, she brings a unique understanding to her own performing arts studio in Mobile.

Training Ormandi Studios, Tisch School of the Arts
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Patrick Pendleton
Children Roman, 14; Landon, 13; Isabella, 10; Jagger, 6
Favorite Mobile dish Old Dutch Hot Fudge Nut Banana Split
What are the differences between performing and teaching? I came into teaching and I thought I had so much to offer, but I had so much to learn. Performing is all about me, and teaching is all about helping others to become comfortable with themselves. 

Marina Simpson, 33

Executive Director, United Way of Baldwin County

A graduate of the Alabama School of Math and Science and USA, Marina spent more than 10 years in the banking industry before being named the executive director of the United Way of Baldwin County, where she is responsible for the overall success of the organization.

Alma Mater B.S. University of South Alabama
Hometown Daphne, Ala.
Spouse Matt Simpson
Children John-Wallace, 8; Elizabeth, 3
Title of your autobiography “Changing Lives and Changing Diapers”
Song to get you pumped for the work day “Alabama Fight Song”
What do you see in the future for United Way of Baldwin County? Baldwin is the fastest growing county in the state. This will bring more economic benefits but also more social problems. We’ll need more services in the community, so we will need to play an even bigger role as population increases and schools grow.

Haymes Snedeker, 39

Principal, Hix Snedeker Companies/Real Estate Development

Haymes’ company, Hix Snedeker, has developed over three million square feet of commercial real estate throughout the U.S. Building one’s own business from the ground up is challenging enough, but Haymes also serves as Fairhope’s municipal judge, as well as Loxley’s part-time prosecutor for the municipal court. Haymes also serves on the board of Future Founders of Thomas Hospital and has served on the Senior Bowl Advisory Board.

Alma Mater University of Mississippi, University of Mississippi School of Law
Hometown Nashville, Tenn.
Spouse Amy Snedeker
Children Ella Gray, 9; Wells, 7
Hidden talents Useless trivia
Best part of your job Working literally all over the country, but being able to raise a family in Fairhope
What skills have you learned as a judge? Being a judge makes you appreciate
everyone from all walks of life.

Matt Spivey, 38

Teacher / Coach, Chastang Middle School

After graduating from college, Matt followed his dream of teaching high school and coaching basketball at Murphy and then Alma Bryant. Recognizing a growing need, Matt left Alma Bryant to teach at Chastang Middle School, located in one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Mobile County, Trinity Gardens. Matt decided to relocate his family to the neighborhood in order to put himself in the best position to serve. Along with three other families, Matt helped create Trinity Family Ministries with the goal to love, serve and share the love of Christ with the residents of Trinity Gardens.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Montgomery, Ala.
Spouse Morgan
Children Hudson, 8; Micah, 6; Lily, 3
Guilty pleasure
Grabbing a dollop of icing from the fridge
Best advice you ever received Whatever you did in your first year of marriage, just keep doing it.
What’s the key to building a stronger, safer community? It starts with individuals being good neighbors. I teach middle school, so every day I’m thinking about where these kids will be 15 years from now and if they’re going to be vibrant members of the community.

Janice Thompson, 38

Process Engineer, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

With nearly a decade of experience in the chemical, oil and gas industry, Janice has been a part owner of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors since 2013. She volunteers with American Heart Association Heart Walk and BEST Robotics, a nonprofit encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering.

Alma Mater The National University of Singapore
Hometown Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Spouse Michael Thompson Jr.
Children Grant, 8; Trent, 6
Favorite Mobile memory Being a part of Leadership Mobile
If I were mayor of Mobile…I would legalize the lottery to fund the new Bayway Bridge.
What challenges do you face in your leadership role? My pet peeve is a lack of communication. Communication is absolutely necessary for effective leadership.

Alan Tolson, 35

Owner, Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Co.

Alan had worked at Carpe Diem for more than 15 years when he bought the company in 2013. Since then, he has worked to improve Carpe’s already strong foothold in the community, opting to update the lobby area and introducing a new coffee to Lower Alabama called the Nitro Cold Brew. His business degree enables him to maintain a relationship with the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Fair Trade USA, upholding the ideals of the company and the community.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Hobbies Fishing, camping, anything outside or on the water!
Why do you think Carpe Diem is such an ingrained institution in Mobile?
We strive to be a place where everyone feels comfortable and at home. Over time, as people get to know us and we get to know them, we become an extension of their home living room.

Hayley Van Antwerp, 35

Executive Director, Innovation PortAL

Beginning in 2016, Hayley will take on a new role as executive director of Innovation PortAL, a “small business incubator” with a mission to bring more entrepreneurial development to the Gulf Coast. She spends her spare time volunteering for the Mobile Museum of Art as a board member, as well as serving on Providence Hospital Foundation’s Young Professionals Group.

Alma Mater Vanderbilt University
Hometown Albany, Ga.
Spouse Bragg Van Antwerp
Children Thomas, 5; Emory, 3; Charles, 1; Henry (canine), 7
First job Nanny to two wonderful girls in New York City
Favorite Mobile dish Shrimp Jar at The Noble South
If I were mayor of Mobile…I would have Sandy Stimpson on speed dial.

Billy Williams, CFP, ChFC, 36

Owner, Williams Financial Group

Listed in 2008’s guide to America’s top financial planners and a member of the Million Dollar Round Table since 2004, Billy is ranked among the top one percent of financial advisors in the world. He is also a graduate of Leadership Mobile and a member of eight different boards and committees in the community. Not to mention he started his thriving business at the tender age of 22.

Alma Mater Millsaps College
Hometown Chatom, Ala.
Spouse Rebecca Williams
Child Price, 3
Title of your autobiography  “Pinch Me”
First job I grew up working on my grandfather’s farm.
What does it take to reach the top percentage of one’s field? Helping other people reach their goals and not yours. And it definitely takes hard work. We did a lot of marketing, and I had a lot of people who loved me enough to send business my way.

Nancy O. Wood, M.D., 33

Pediatrician, Pediatric Associates of Mobile, P.A.

After graduating from the University of Alabama in three years, Nancy received a
scholarship to attend medical school at the University of South Alabama. She did her
residency at the prestigious Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta and eventually became chief resident. Fulfilling her lifelong dream, Nancy returned home to Mobile and began practicing at Pediatric Associates of Mobile, where she became a full partner.

Alma Mater University of Alabama, University of South Alabama College of Medicine
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
Spouse Staples Wood
Child William, 1
Hobbies Needlepoint and baking
Guilty pleasure Double Rich Chocolate Malt with extra malt from Old Dutch
Favorite mobile memory My first Mobile snow!
Best Mardi Gras parade spot I love parades! Anywhere along the route works for me.
Best advice you ever received “Do it right. Do it now.”
What does it mean to you to help parents raise their children in your hometown? I’ve wanted to be a pediatrician and live in Mobile since I was very small. My mom has told me that since I could speak and knew what a pediatrician was, that was what I wanted to do!

Lauren Woods, 31

Instructor of Visual Arts / Principal Dancer and Ballet Instructor, Spring Hill College, University of South Alabama, Mobile Ballet and Dance Arts South

Lauren is a gifted artist and dancer: her work was recently exhibited in New York at the Mark Miller Gallery, and she danced the title role in Mobile Ballet’s production, “Snow White.” Lauren also teaches with Discover Dance, an outreach program with the Mobile Ballet.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College, The New York Academy of Art
Hometown Mobile, Ala.
If I were mayor of Mobile… I would make sure that funding for the arts and nonprofit community service organizations is secure.
Hidden talents I like to prepare elaborate meals for special occasions.
Did you have a particular teacher who inspired you? Lori Bilbrey Vaghefi is my biggest inspiration and mentor. I’ve known her since I was 11, and now we are close friends.

Photos by Chad Riley

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