Mobile Bay’s 2017 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.

Paul Beckmann

Attorney / Member, Hand Arendall LLC

Paul has practiced with Hand Arendall LLC since graduating from law school in 2006. He became a member of the firm in 2014, focusing on litigation issues involving admiralty, transportation and trucking, construction and medical malpractice, among many other issues. Paul was named an Alabama Super Lawyers Rising Star in Transportation / Maritime Law in 2014 and 2015 and is an active participant in the Mobile Volunteer Lawyers Program. Paul is a cub master for the Pack 66 Cub Scouts, coaches CYO sports and serves as a Big Brother.

Alma Mater B.B.A., The University of Mississippi; J.D., The University of Mississippi School of Law
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Kelli; Thomas (9), Grace (6), James (5)
First job Bagging ice at Crystal Ice Co.
Best advice you’ve ever received Don’t be afraid to fail, and learn from your failures.
If I were Mayor, I would…Work on upgrading Mobile’s aging infrastructure.
Hidden talents I can juggle and wiggle my ears.
What word would you use to describe Mobile to someone who’d never been here before? Underrated
What’s been the most rewarding moment as a “Big Brother”? Seeing how excited my Little was to tell me he had been adopted.

Claudia Bjork

Research and Development Engineer, Ingalls Shipbuilding, a Division of Huntington Ingalls Industries

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While in school for her engineering degree, Claudia was recognized as a Distinguished Student Leader. Since obtaining her degree in 2014, she has become an expert in bridge hydraulic studies and, after just a few years, she was promoted to become director of business development, bringing several multimillion dollar projects to the company. Claudia is on the planning committee for GEMS, an organization dedicated to showing girls the opportunities available in STEM fields.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Moss Point, MS
Children Ayden (12)
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Pharmacist
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Dauphin’s – can’t beat the view of the city!
Hidden talents Graphic design
Favorite thing about your job Engineering encourages outside-the-box thinking, especially in R&D. Being part of an organization that builds ships for the US Navy is pretty cool, too!
What is the best way to get kids interested in engineering? Storytelling -— simplifying what engineers do. My daughter used to always ask me what I do during the workday. One day I jokingly replied, “I draw colorful lines that mean something.” From there, she was engaged!

Ben Blackmon

Athletic Director / Head Football Coach, Spanish Fort High School

Ben believes coaching extends beyond the field. As a three-time Coach of the Year for WKRG and ALFCA, Ben also traveled with the Nike Coach of the Year speaking circuit. He helped create the Football Player Mentor Program in Spanish Fort, in which football players become mentors for elementary school students. He also implemented the Character Education Sports Program at Spanish Fort High School, helping students focus on skills and traits important in sportsmanship as well as later in life.

Alma Mater B.S., Troy University; M.S., Auburn University
Hometown Montgomery
Spouse + children Misty; Elle Carolina (11), Cates (10), Mary Beasley (6)
Hobbies Reading, golf,  hunting, fishing, football
First job Cart washer at Bonnie Crest Country Club
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Jesse’s in Magnolia Springs
What word would you use to describe Mobile to someone who’d never been here before? Diverse
What are the top three life lessons you can learn through sports and athletics? Athletics influence one’s character greatly by requiring hard work, discipline, commitment to a purpose that is bigger than the individual, and overcoming adversities.

Lucy Greer Cheriogotis

Corporate Spokesperson / V.P. of Deli Bakery, Autry Greer & Sons, Inc., Greer’s Markets

Since the age of 9, Lucy has pulled her weight at the fifth-generation grocery store bearing her family’s name. Under her leadership, the deli and bakery departments have increased in sales and profits each year, and in her role as corporate spokesperson, she has helped create a deeper connection between Greer’s and its customers. Lucy helps coordinate service projects in all 30 store locations and is the assistant director of the Apples for the Students Community Program. She can also be seen every Wednesday cooking on Fox10.

Alma Mater Auburn University and Culinard
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Spiro; Jack and Nick (2.5 years), Elle (6 months)
Hobbies Cooking, traveling, chasing kids, and, as of late, campaigning for my husband who is running for District Court Judge in Mobile County.
Guilty pleasure Ramen Noodles
First Job Cashier at our store on Florida Street at 9 years old. I had to stand on a milk crate!
Favorite thing about your job Meeting our customers. I especially enjoy hearing stories of those who have shopped with us for generations, growing up going to Greer’s with their grandparents, parents and now bringing their children.

Latisha Rhodes Davis

Attorney, Armbrecht Jackson LLP

Latisha has distinguished herself as a talented and hardworking litigator, handling a wide range of employment-related cases on behalf of employers located throughout the Southeast. She has also demonstrated stellar networking skills, often resulting in new legal work for her firm, and she provides coaching to employers about their human resources departments. In 2014 and 2015, Super Lawyers Magazine named her an Alabama Rising Star. Since entering the legal profession in 2009, Latisha has shown, time and time again, an admirable commitment to her firm and community.

Alma Mater B.A., Stillman College; J.D., The University of Alabama School of Law
Hometown Prichard, Ala.
Spouse + children Kantonio; Angela and Kendarius (17), Alivia (12), Kantonio, Jr. (6)
First job Star Cast Member (waitress) at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Lawyer/ FBI agent
Best advice you have ever received What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Felix’s Fish Camp
If I were Mayor, I would…Work with the Mobile County Public School System to improve educational equality.

Erin Delaporte

Customer Service Manager, Alabama Power Company

Erin has demonstrated again and again her aptitude for leadership in the workplace. She was one of 20 Alabama Power Company employees selected in 2009 to participate in the APC Leadership Development Class. In 2013, she was appointed to the APC Maximizing Leadership Potential Program. Slated to be Alabama Power Service Organization president in 2018, Erin has also helped produce an operations optimization study, in which she and a team evaluated APC’s customer service practices to increase efficiency. Additionally, she is a member of the 2018 class of Leadership Mobile.

Alma Mater Auburn University; University of Alabama-Birmingham
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Chris; Will (14), Owen (13)
First job Cashier at Delchamps Grocery Store
Hidden talent Sewing, a treasured talent my grandmother taught me many years ago
Best advice you have ever received Growing up, my mom always said, “Be the ‘I girl’: Take the initiative and get the task done.”
How do you incorporate your leadership training into your job? As a leader, it is the passion for making a difference that keeps me motivated when faced with challenges. It’s also knowing there is normally more than one way to solve a problem.
What word would you use to describe Mobile to someone who’d never been here before? Revitalized!

Sam Dennis

Director of Operations,

After earning a master’s degree in urban planning from Auburn University, Sam conceived the idea for the Midtown Mobile Movement in 2014. Within a year, the nonprofit was established and a board of directors was assembled. The organization has since raised $62, 000 for the Design Old Shell Road plan and received $500, 000 in federal funding. As director of operations for the Mobile-based, which hand-selects its customers’ cigars “based on your unique taste, ” Sam has directed his efforts towards building the website’s brand from the ground up.

Alma Mater B.S., The University of Alabama; M.A., Auburn University
Hometown Mobile
Spouse Mae
Hobbies Anything related to American History, exploring, exerting energy, bluegrass and The Crimson Tide
If I were mayor, I would…Tear down the Civic Center, reconnect the street grid, and build an urban ballpark within that grid — complete with a manual scoreboard and Dew Drop hot dogs.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Bo Jackson
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Bluegill or Callaghan’s because they are each quintessentially Mobile.
How did come about? Started by Mobile’s own Jeff Zeiders and Chris Yockley. I am just riding their coattails! The response has been tremendous. Dollar Shave Club, watch out!

Kendrick T. Dunklin

Director of Admissions, Spring Hill College

Hired in 2010 immediately after his graduation from Spring Hill College, Kendrick truly rose through the ranks of the Office of Admissions to his current role as director. This year, he led the recruitment team in welcoming one of the largest and most academically talented freshman classes in the college’s history. Kendrick works diligently with prospective students, ensuring that all have access to financial aid options to help make their college dreams a reality that they can afford and enjoy.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College
Hometown Mobile
Guilty pleasure Reality television, because it makes me feel like I have this thing called life figured out (although, I’m still a work in progress).
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Hart’s Fried Chicken and Rodgers BBQ
Hidden talents I’m secretly a comedian… I can tell some great jokes. I also think I’m a decent rapper, but that’s a hidden talent for a reason.
Best advice you’ve ever received “If someone tells you you can’t do something, do it anyway. However, make sure you do it better than the person who told you that you wouldn’t be able to do it.” – My mom, Cynthia Shinn
Favorite thing about your job Giving young students the opportunity to experience the nurturement of a holistic learning environment that I experienced. To see the transformation and growth of students through their four years of Spring Hill College is fascinating.

Natalie Fox, DNP, PNP-BC

Director of Nursing for Ambulatory Services, USA Health

With her recent promotion as director of nursing for ambulatory services, Natalie manages and mentors members of the clinical team and oversees the analytical functions necessary to support quality initiatives. Although this new title puts her in an administrative role, she chooses to continue seeing patients every week. Natalie also serves as adjunct faculty at USA and has also developed and implemented a new trifold approach to HIV testing in the USA adolescent clinic that has increased the rate of HIV tests completed by 47 percent.

Alma Mater Undergraduate, masters and doctorate: University of South Alabama
Hometown York, Ala.
Spouse + Children Leah Nichols; Hayes (6)
What did you want to be when you grew up? Professional basketball player in the WNBA
Guilty pleasure Binge-watching my favorite shows on Hulu
Hidden talents Appliance repair. I’ve taken apart and fixed my dryer, washing machine and dishwasher.
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? I would do a progressive dinner starting at Red or White for drinks and appetizers, head to Von’s for dinner and finish the night at Dauphin’s for dessert.
When did you decide to go into nursing? As a teenager, I went on several mission trips to Honduras and volunteered in my Sumter County community with Alabama Rural Ministry. During these experiences, I realized that I had an undeniable compassion for those in need.

Jeremy Fletcher,  DPT, OCS, CSCS

Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama; Major, U.S. Army

Jeremy, a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve and doctor of physical therapy, has been active in multiple nonprofits throughout Mobile. As an active member of Veteran Recovery Resources, Dance Without Limits and Transitions EEAT, he helps those with special needs find assistance and resources. He’s also in the process of collaborating with the Fuse Project to create a coalition to assist families with special needs. While deployed in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, he provided physical therapy to more than 15, 000.

Alma Mater University of Louisiana at Monroe; University of South Alabama
Hometown Baton Rouge, LA
Spouse + Children Cherish; Ruth Jamison (11), Isabelle (6), Ford (5)
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A professional baseball player
First job Cabinet installer
Guilty pleasure Peanut M&M’s (I’ve asked my wife to stop buying them, but I secretly want her to continue)
If I were mayor, I would…Continue to focus on diversity and inclusion — it is our strength.
What effect does a community have on someone in need? The effect of community is bidirectional. Each member of a community has something to offer, and every life has value. When a community serves those in need, the entire community is made stronger, more resilient, and quality of life is enhanced through a sense of connection to others and God.

Kristi Galloway

Area Marketing Manager, Regions Bank

In her role at Regions, Kristi manages the marketing department in south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, overseeing brand management, community outreach and internal and external events. Her hyper-local approach to the communities she serves allows Kristi to drive revenue growth for the bank while simultaneously supporting community institutions. Outside of work, she currently serves on the board of directors for the Child Advocacy Center and Distinguished Young Women. She is also a member of the Junior League of Mobile.

Alma mater Meredith College
Hometown Durham, N.C.
Spouse + Children Michael; Will (6), Ellen (3)
Guilty pleasures Chick-fil-A and reading lifestyle blogs
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? The Bluegill
Best advice you have ever received Put your big girl pants on and just get it done.
Favorite thing about your job Part of the Regions mission statement is to improve the quality of life in our communities. My job allows me to play a direct role in executing that vision. I love working closely with community leaders, getting to know the people involved and seeing the impact Regions has in supporting our friends and neighbors.

Elizabeth Garza

Owner / Operator, Foy Superfoods

A native Texan with a love of healthful living, Liz has already made her mark on Mobile. She was co-owner of the paleo meal delivery service Balance and, in 2017, opened a fresh-pressed juicery and restaurant downtown, Foy Superfoods, which has plans to expand in the future. She graduated with a business administration degree from Texas A&M then earned her master’s degree from Spring Hill College. When she’s not serving up inventive, tasty dishes, she donates her time to the Boys and Girls Club, Wesley Dumas Center, Prichard Prep and other organizations.

Alma mater B.A., Texas A&M; MBA, Spring Hill College
Hometown Laredo, TX
Spouse + Children John; John II (5)
First job Lifeguard and swim instructor
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer – I could argue my way out of almost anything.
Hidden talent I’m really good at darts.
Favorite thing about your job I get to pursue my passion with my best friend – my husband.
What is the cornerstone of a healthful life? If I’ve learned anything on my journey to a healthy lifestyle, it’s that food is medicine. When I choose to eat good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, fish and lean meats, my body reaps the benefits. It’s a challenge to break addictions to sugar and processed foods, but I think it’s worth it!

Sean H. Gleason

Executive Manager / General Manager, INFINITI of Mobile, A Joe Bullard Company

Since his hiring in 2005 as a sales consultant with Bullard Automotive, Sean has worked his way up to executive manager of Joe Bullard INFINITI of Mobile. In this role, he oversees every aspect of the dealership’s operations, including sales, service and parts operations. Under his supervision, the dealership has experienced a year over year sales increase of 27 percent in 2017, a testament to his vision and leadership. Sean is a member of the Senior Bowl Committee and attends Grace Community Church.

Alma mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Fallon; Shelbi Drew (6), Meryl (4)
Hobbies Pretty much everything golf related — playing golf, practicing golf, watching golf
First job Full service gas station attendant
Where would you take out-of-town guests to eat? Osman’s Restaurant and have them order the Jager Schnitzel with sauce on the side so they can eat it twice.
If I were mayor, I would… Make strides to move Mobile Regional Airport from West Mobile to Brookley Field
High school superlative “Most Likely to Run for President”
Best advice you have ever received “Treat your employees like family and pay them like royalty, and they will never leave you.” – My dad, Butch Gleason

Hunt Griffith

Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley

In 2011, Hunt joined the Morgan Stanley team as a financial advisor, and he’s been rocketing to the top ever since. He has been recognized in the top 10 of his training class with Morgan Stanley, and he was even invited to New York to train new Morgan Stanley advisors from around the country. Aside from his career achievements, Hunt is also heavily involved in the Mobile community. A 2016 graduate of Connect Mobile, he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama, the Senior Bowl Committee and Autism Avenue in addition to hosting St. Paul’s seniors for weekly Bible study.

Alma mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse Mary Angela
Hobbies Coaching baseball, golf, spending time with wife and family, sports
Hidden talents Impersonations, and I enjoy singing all genres of music
High school superlative Most Outgoing
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Callaghan’s
Best advice you have ever received “Work hard, do the right thing, be genuine, and do what you say you will do … or better.” – Preston Griffith
What is something most people don’t know about your job? The job is nothing like you see in any “Wall Street” movie, and not all financial advisors are alike. Every advisor or team has a unique business model. No two businesses are the same.

Abe Harper, Jr.

President / CEO, Harper Technologies, LLC

Abe has been fascinated by technology since childhood, when he would take apart and put together his electronics. A graduate of ASMS, Harper is the founder of Harper Technologies, which this year will receive the Eagle Award, recognizing outstanding minority businesses, from the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. He participated in Commonwealth Bank’s Hack-a-Thon, an event encouraging students to solve problems with technology, and has donated IT equipment to Penelope House. He has also spoken to students in Murphy High School’s entrepreneurship class as well as Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Alma mater Alabama School of Math and Science; Florida A&M; FSU Engineering; University of South Alabama
Hometown Daphne
Spouse + Children Audra; Natalie Noelle (4)
First job Kool-Aid stand
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A computer engineer – seriously
Guilty pleasures Rubik’s cube and sweet potato pie
Best advice you have ever received “Be on time, do what you say, pay your debts.” Also, “Live by these three Ws — Watch, Word, Wallet.”
Favorite thing about your job I get to consistently solve new problems. Using our technical creativity to resolve a problem plaguing someone is quite rewarding.
What word would you use to describe Mobile to someone who’d never been here before? Enchanting

Ashley Steven Harris

Attorney / Partner, Adams and Reese LLP

As a partner with Adams and Reese, Ashley has brokered some big deals since he joined in 2003. He’s worked on acquisitions as large as three million acres and financing of more than $1 billion. In 2010, he was recognized as an Alabama Rising Star for his work in real estate, and he was a member of the 2010 class of Leadership Mobile. Harris also participated in the Alabama Forestry Association’s Leadership Development Program and is a member of the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program.

Alma mater Mississippi State University; University of Mississippi
Hometown Monroeville, Ala. / Starkville, MS
Spouse + Children Jessica; Kathleen (10), Steven (7)
First job Bag boy
Hobbies Hunting, coaching youth sports, golf, watching college sports
If I were mayor, I would: Continue to develop Mobile’s downtown and waterfront and push for the move of the airport to Brookley.
Favorite thing about your job Resolving issues, whether minor or complex, while assisting clients on timberland transactions throughout the U.S.
What is your favorite quality in a leader? The ability to make those that they are leading feel empowered. Great leaders make the members of their team feel like whatever role they have is an important and powerful piece of the team.

Chip Hartin, MD

Surgeon-in-Chief / Chief of Pediatric Surgery, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital; Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Surgery, University of South Alabama

Charles “Chip” Hartin has two major passions – technology and medicine. After receiving his medical degree from the University of South Alabama, Chip trained for 13 years in addition to four years of surgery training. A natural teacher, he initially taught computer classes at local community colleges while in high school and undergrad at UAB. He looks for unique ways to be involved with the current students via the USA College of Medicine’s Surgery Interest Group, which he founded.

Alma mater University of Alabama-Birmingham; University of South Alabama College of Medicine
Hometown Millbrook, Ala.
Spouse + Children Amanda; Abigail (10), William (7), Maddie (5)
First job I started my own computer business at 14
Guilty pleasure Rocky Road ice cream or Krispy Kreme doughnuts
High school superlative Most likely to succeed
Best advice you’ve ever received The key to true happiness is forgiving yourself and others
Besides the obvious, what’s the biggest difference between teaching medicine and practicing? Teaching medicine relies heavily on textbook knowledge; it’s either right or wrong. Practicing medicine requires thinking outside the textbook and exercising prudent judgment. I’ve never met a patient identical to a textbook illustration.

Kasee Sparks Heisterhagen

Attorney / Burr & Forman, LLP

As one of a slowly growing number of women with a specialty in maritime law, Kasee’s work has drawn national attention and appreciation. She was recently selected to serve as secretary to the U.S. Maritime Law Association Young Lawyers Committee, and her work has taken her all across the country. Kasee is single-handedly leading a movement to bring an international group of several hundred women to the Port of Mobile in 2019, an effort that she hopes will help further establish the city as a major player in global trade.

Alma Mater B.A., Washington & Lee University; JD, The University of Alabama School of Law
Spouse + Children Tim; William Crews (W.C.) (3); Teddy (1)
First job Working on my family’s farm. Turns out I am a much better lawyer than farmer.
High school superlative I went to a tiny high school and we didn’t have superlatives, but mine would have been Most School Spirit or Most Opinionated – or both.
Favorite thing about your job My clients are the best in their fields. Nothing is better than doing a great job for them.
Hobbies In our nonexistent free time, my husband and I are researching and restoring a home built in 1855 in midtown Mobile.
What have you discovered about the 1855 home? The original brick staircase has a brick with a dog paw-print in it. I can just imagine the poor 1800s brick-maker shooing a dog away from the wet bricks.

Amanda Jones, ED.D.

Principal, Mary B. Austin Elementary / Mobile County Public Schools

With 16 years of teaching experience in the Mobile County Public School System, Amanda works to build a student-centered approach to help her students succeed. The Mary B. Austin principal’s doctorate dissertation, in fact, focused on real-world study into transitioning to more modern educational methods. In 2016, EntreEd recognized her school as one of America’s Entrepreneurial Schools, citing the implementation of a “kidpreneur” elective class to help students develop communication and critical thinking skills.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Fulton, Ala.
Spouse + Children Ray; Carson (13), Conner (11), Cooper (8)
First job Piano teacher
High school superlative Most Likely to Eat in Class – I enjoyed eating, or maybe I enjoyed being a little rebellious…or both! Some things never change…
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? I enjoy taking out-of-town guests to Causeway restaurants. The view and food are both great.
Favorite thing about your job Children are the absolute best part of my job and give my job purpose.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen come from the “kidpreneurs” elective class? Recently, our third to fifth grade kidpreneurs created and sold Christmas ornaments and donated their profits to our MBA Service Club. Our students are very community service-oriented, which is encouraging for our future!

Melva Lajoy Jones, CMP

Director of University Special Events, The University of South Alabama

Since moving from Washington D.C. in 2015 to accept the role of USA’s first director of university special events, Melva has completely overhauled the way USA plans, manages, executes and follows up on events. Among her many accomplishments, she spearheaded a complete revision of the university’s master calendar system, resulting in a single-source solution for all online calendars. Melva currently serves as co-chair of Empowering Change: Strengthening our Community Connections, to encourage social interaction among different perspectives in Mobile County.

Alma Mater Howard University and Columbia University
Hometown I was born in Prospect, Connecticut, but I consider myself a Washingtonian since that is where I grew up and came of age.
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Osman’s. A new friend took me to this restaurant, and it reminds me of some hidden gems we have in DC.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Honestly, I wanted to be my mother (Joyce) who was a special education teacher for over 30 years.
How is a D.C. event different from a Mobile event? Events in Mobile end early, before I can really show off my dance moves. (Mardi Gras being the obvious exception.) I once coordinated a reception and the guest of honor didn’t show up until almost midnight. If I tried to pull that off here, I think I would be dancing with myself.
What word would you use to describe Mobile to someone who’d never been here before? Charming

C. Michelle Jones, P.E.

Instrumentation Engineer, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors; and Executive Director and Project Manager, HarGIVES

Having joined the Hargrove team more than 11 years ago, Michelle is responsible for managing fellow engineers and designers at Hargrove to develop detailed design while working across multiple disciplines. This includes managing the process electrical effort for local refining and industrial projects worth up to $110 million. She is also the founder and director of HarGIVES (Hargrove Innovative Volunteer Engineering Service) and is pioneering the HAT (Hargrove Adaptive Toy) Project, an initiative which adapts toy cars for mobility-limited children.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Bay Minette
Spouse + Children Matthew; John Michael Jones (9), Chase (6)
Hobbies Alabama football, dragon boat racing, cake decorating, reading
If I were mayor, I would…Continue the effort of making the Port City a beacon of opportunity for industry and small business.
High school superlative Most likely to never stop talking
Why is something like the “Hat Project” important? Studies have shown that the ability to control one’s movement through space has a direct impact on social, cognitive and speech skills. Providing mobility-limited children with access to these adaptive toy EMMAs has the potential for life-changing impacts.

Paul Kleinschrodt, PE, PMP

Project Manager / Constantine Engineering, Inc.

As a civil engineer, Paul is one of the many professionals tackling Mobile’s sanitary sewer issues. Having completed numerous projects with MAWSS, Paul’s expertise includes water and wastewater design, storm water and transportation engineering and project management of public works projects. Among his many accomplishments, Paul helped execute a multimillion dollar sanitary lift station near 3 Mile Creek, thereby eliminating sanitary sewer overflows at that location. He is an avid sailor, and he won the Intercollegiate Sailing Association’s Sportsman of the Year title in 2008.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Ashley; Joie (2)
First Job Sweeping floors at Kleinschrodt Cabinets, my father’s business, family-owned since 1955.
Best advice ever received Eat dessert first
Favorite thing about your job Seeing the community benefit from the improved facilities.
Guilty pleasure Scrolling Instagram
If I were mayor, I would Push for waterfront development
If you could sail anywhere, where would you choose? British Virgin Islands or anywhere in the Caribbean Sea
Which of the capital improvement projects you’ve worked on with the city are you most proud of? Medal of Honor Park Playground

Todd M. Lacour

Client Advocate, Health and Benefits Practice / Willis Towers Watson

Todd has risen quickly through the ranks of Willis Towers Watson, where he’s been identified as an up-and-coming star. As a member of the employee benefits team, he’s had a major impact on the benefits practice and has become the go-to team member for new business relationships and industry educational forums. Todd is also a graduate of the Leadership Mobile class of 2016, serves on the board of directors for Victory Health Partners and is a founding member of the Fuse Project.

Alma Mater Auburn University
Hometown Mobile
Spouse Libby; Lila (5), Margaux (3)
Hobbies Loading the boat for the day and taking my wife and kids out on the water.
First job Lifeguard at Waterville USA
Guilty pleasure Eating real Southern fried chicken,  pork rinds and Klondike bars
Best advice you’ve ever received There are not many things that you can choose in life but you can choose your attitude. Choose the right one.
What was the inspiration behind the Fuse Project? Fuse is all about impacting and serving our community. One of the best ways to do that is empowering our next generation, the children here in the Mobile Bay area. The leadership in the group is tremendous, and Fuse is only scratching the surface of the monetary impact it is going to make.

Jeremy P. Lami

Chief of Staff, Mobile Fire-Rescue Department

Jeremy, a second-generation firefighter with the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department, has been with the department for 15 years. Over that course of time, he has risen through the ranks to his current role as chief of staff, where he oversees the department’s $35 million budget and the logistics division. Jeremy also serves as a safety officer for a federal disaster medical assistance team, tasked with deploying to areas negatively affected by significant events. Prior to joining the department, Jeremy served the U.S. Army overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Alma Mater University of Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Jessica; Zoe (11), Jackson (8), Harper (9 months)
Hobbies Golf and coaching youth sports
Hidden talents My kids are impressed with my ability to create custom pancakes on demand. They love to request odd designs and logos just to see if I can make it happen.
Guilty pleasure Homemade banana pudding
Best advice you’ve ever received In order, your priorities should be faith, family, career
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Tough decision, but Dauphin’s is at the top of my list.
Favorite thing about your job Being a part of a profession that is rich in tradition and filled with determined, compassionate and selfless people.

Erin Langley

Executive Director / Artistic Director, Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre

For theatre director Erin Langley, all the world’s a stage. After receiving her degree in elementary education from Spring Hill College, she taught second and third grade for two years before opening the Jitterbug Theatre in 2005. In 2011, the children’s theatre group became the Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre, which puts on traveling musical productions and competes in national competitions. The theatre reached 16, 000 audience members in the 2016-2017 season. Her students have been named All-Stars at competitions, and she was one of eight national recipients of the Freddie G. Award for Teachers and Directors in 2015.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College
Hometown Portland, ME; Fairhope
Spouse Karl; Ezra (8), Zoë (7)
First job Barista at The Coffee Loft
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Sage Lebanese Cuisine and Cafe
Hidden talents Ambidextrous
Favorite thing about your job I love working with a group of people to create something greater than any one of us could alone. I’m also honored to work with children for many years at a time; I love seeing them grow and thrive as individuals.
What is your teaching philosophy? When people, children and adults alike, feel safe to reach out of their comfort zones, wonderfully creative things happen. Starting with that type of atmosphere propels each show — and each student — forward to its greatest potential.

Matthew Lemond

Owner / Operator, O’Daly’s Irish Pub & Lemon T’s Screen Printing

Matt owns and operates five successful businesses in downtown Mobile, including O’Daly’s Irish Pub, Draft Picks, Dauphin Street Blues Company, Hole in the Wall and Lemon T’s. Due to Matt’s efforts, a previously blighted area of Dauphin Street has seen enormous revitalization at a crucial moment of development for the city. In addition, Matt is a huge proponent for good within the community, often providing free event space for deserving organizations or creating his own fundraising initiatives to meet an immediate need.

Alma Mater Spring Hill College
Hometown New Orleans
Spouse Samantha
Hobbies Crossfit, Crew Fitness, traveling with my wife and spending time with our puppy, Clover
What did you want to be when you grew up? A UPS man. As a kid, I thought it would be so cool to drive a truck with no doors. Instead, I worked to make my first car a Jeep Wrangler, which I still have.
Hidden talent I used to be able to hold my breath for over 3 minutes. Not sure if that’s a talent or a skill.
Best advice you’ve ever received Never doubt your instinct. Follow your gut.
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? O’Daly’s Hole in the Wall of course. Our kitchen is still fairly new, but we have enjoyed WOW-ing customers with the food. I may be biased, but our 504 pizza is something special.

Krystal Lockett, RN-MSN

Co-Owner, Gloria’s Reliable Sitting Service

With over 15 years of experience volunteering, serving and working in the healthcare industry, Krystal has demonstrated a dedication to caregiving matched by very few. The nurse practitioner currently works as a travel nurse in numerous cities and was recently presented with the Moment of Quality Award for outstanding work while on assignment at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. Krystal also assists her mother, Gloria Lockett, in growing a local sitting service designed to match elderly clients with compassionate caregivers. Krystal is a certified Zumba instructor.

Alma Mater Auburn University / University of South Alabama
Hometown Daphne
Guilty pleasure Wine with jazz music and spa days
High school superlative Miss Daphne High School,  Most Talented, Best Smile
Where​ ​would​ ​you​ ​take​ ​an​ ​out-of-town​ ​guest​ ​to​ ​eat? Five, ​ ​Spot​ ​of​ ​Tea, ​ ​Briquettes
Favorite thing about your job Serving and motivating others to strive for complete wellness
Tell us about your work mentoring young dancers It has been extremely rewarding choreographing and mentoring young girls through praise dancing. I have choreographed and led the senior praise team at my church, Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, since 2011.

Chris McCaghren

Provost / Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Mobile

Chris works toward growing the intersection of entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education. He’s also a member of numerous organizations, such as the Association for Study of Higher Education, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the Online Learning Consortium. Since taking office at the University of Mobile, he’s increased the number of degrees offered by the school and worked with the president to improve the financial standing of the institution as well as connect meaningfully with the wider Mobile community.

Alma Mater Samford University; Vanderbilt University
Hometown Montgomery
Spouse Lauren; Callen (2)
First job Little League umpire
Guilty Pleasure Going to the trampoline park and jumping with my 2-year-old
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? NoJa
Hidden talents Movie star: I was the tuba player in the Tim Burton movie “Big Fish.” I made $52 and a Hollywood buffet lunch for four hours on set. If you don’t blink while watching the movie, you might catch a glimpse of me.
Best advice you’ve ever received “It is easier to invent the future than to predict it.” – Alan Kay; and, “We all have the same 168 hours in every week; how we choose to spend them is what makes the difference.” – unknown
Favorite thing about your job The people. I also like working to transform students’ hearts and minds, and helping to shape the future of higher education.

Justin McDonald, P.E.

Senior Engineering Technical Lead for Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District

Justin leads teams of engineers and scientists in the planning, designing and engineering of complex waste-resource-related projects across the Southeast. He currently oversees engineering efforts for over $450 million in construction projects and studies, including the restoration of Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi, a feasibility study concerning a deepening of the Mobile Harbor navigation channel and development of the Alabama Coastal Comprehensive Plan, which aims to identify and achieve the visions of coastal residents over a 50-year planning horizon.

Alma Mater Auburn University
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Kim; Bennett (6), Gaines (2)
First Job Landscaping crew for Laura Kay’s Nursery when I was 15.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor
Hidden talent I can twist my arm all the way around. I know… it’s not really a talent (it’s borderline weird) but that’s the best I have.
Guilty pleasure Ice cream from Cammie’s Old Dutch — usually cherry vanilla or blueberry cheesecake.
Favorite thing about your job The type of work I do, the magnitude of that work and the tremendous people I work with. Being a native Mobilian, I find it very enjoyable to work on projects that improve the ability of our coastal communities and natural environments to respond to future storm events and changing environmental and economic conditions.

William Curry McEvoy, MD

Hematologist / Oncologist, Southern Cancer Center

Curry, a Baldwin County oncologist, is a vocal advocate for improving patient care by shaping and measuring the quality of care around the country. Named among 2016’s “Top Men and Women of Influence” by the American Cancer Society, he also researches treatment options for urological cancer. Curry received his medical degree from the University of Alabama, and is a member of the American Society of Hematology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Since returning to his hometown, he volunteers his time with the Anchor Cross Cancer Foundation, which provides resources and assistance for Gulf Coast cancer patients and their families.

Alma Mater University of Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse Morgan; William (3), James (8 months)
Hobbies Fly fishing, turkey hunting and running
Best advice you’ve ever received The 3 A’s of a successful medical practice are Ability, Availability, and Affability
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Dragon Fly Foodbar
If I were mayor, I would… Focus more efforts on correcting the issues with sewage overflow and cleaning up our waterways.
Favorite thing about your job Forming close relationships with patients and their family as they go through treatment for their illnesses.

Brody Olive

Executive Chef, Perdido Beach Resort

As executive chef of the Perdido Beach Resort, Brody oversees the culinary team of all four restaurant and banquet facilities. In 2008, he took the top prize in the Southern Breeze Gulf Coast Cookoff. The following year, he won the Zatarain’s Annual National Shrimp Festival Challenge. In addition, Brody serves on the board of directors for the NUISANCE group, which raises awareness of invasive sea species in the Gulf. He’s also helped create events such as Grit and Game, a wild game cookoff benefiting Hunting for Healing.

Alma Mater Johnson and Wales University
Hometown Newnan, GA
Spouse Nicole; Baylor (11), Grace (9)
Guilty Pleasure Warm chocolate chip cookies with Cabernet!
High school superlative Most Laid-back
Best advice you’ve ever received Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
If I were mayor, I would Mandate no cell phones while dining! Engage one another!
Food is hugely cultural. What makes Alabama and Southern food so special? It’s wrapped in pride. We honor our food with caring hands, and we also have the “sit and stay awhile” mentality. I am sure there have been many decisions made around the Southern table, both big and small. Kind of a culinary diplomacy, if your will.

Pratt Paterson

Executive Director, Wilmer Hall Children’s Home

With 15 years of experience working within agencies of the Episcopal Church, Pratt brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role at Wilmer Hall. In 2016, he began his tenure as director of development at the children’s home, where he made an immediate impact by increasing the annual fund by 26 percent. He and his family live on the Wilmer Hall campus, where he is able to enhance the safety of residents and staff as a state-licensed and wilderness-certified EMT.

Alma Mater The University of Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + Children Allison; Edie (12), McKee (12)
First Job Sweating in the Rayford’s warehouse when I was 15.
Guilty Pleasure Vinyl records. Lots of them.
Hidden talent I have been a state-licensed and wilderness certified EMT since 2003 and worked on a volunteer ambulance service for 10 years. I am also a firefighter and EMT on the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Favorite thing about your job The clarity and purity of the mission. We help young people meet their basic human needs and then enable them to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness, abuse, etc. They become successful, independent members of our communities who have had instruction on job skills, life skills, personal finance, parenting, healthy relationships, nutrition, and more.

Ashley Petersen

COO, DocRx, Inc.

After nearly seven years with DocRx, Ashley has risen from account manager to COO. She has helped grow it into a multimillion dollar company, from a handful of employees to more than 40. A graduate of the University of South Alabama, Ashley has used her experience in sales to improve efficiency within each department as the company continues to grow. She works directly with healthcare attorneys and maintains HIPAA compliance across the company.

Alma Mater University of South Alabama
Hometown Semmes
Spouse + children Matt; Cole (3), Nolan (2)
First job Gymnastics Coach at Planet Gymnastics
Guilty pleasures Watching The Big Bang Theory and Lickin’ Good Donuts
If I were mayor, I would Put as many resources as possible into improving our public school system
Favorite thing about your job I love the family-first atmosphere. I believe we all work a little harder knowing we won’t ever have to miss the important things with our families.
How has your view of business changed over the years? I have an appreciation for small business owners that I did not have early in my career. I now see that a small business owner carries the weight of all employees and their families on their shoulders, so the business I work for is very personal to me.

Jeremy P. Roberts

Client Advisor, Commercial and Private Banking, Oakworth Capital Bank

Jeremy has over 17 years of experience in the banking industry in trust services, retail banking, and, since 2012, commercial and private banking. Known for his extreme attention to detail, he has also been instrumental in the formation and success of two separate bank franchise operations within the past 10 years. Described by his coworkers as an “invaluable” member of the organization, Jeremy has also demonstrated a passion for civic service and has received numerous service awards throughout his banking career.

Alma Mater Columbia Southern University
Hometown Semmes
Spouse + children Jessica; Greyson (9), Graham (5)
Hobbies Spending time with my family, reading, running, watching baseball and playing musical instruments
What did you want to be when you grew up? Even as a child, I wanted to be a banker. Each Friday, I would go to the bank with my mom, and I would always make sure I was wearing my “clip-on” tie, regardless of the shorts and T-shirt I was wearing.
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? The Dew Drop Inn
Best advice you have ever received My father told me, “Be respectful to everyone, whether they deserve it or not, because you never know what they may be going through.”

Blake Smisson

Landscape Architect, WAS Design, Inc.

With 14 years of experience in landscape architecture and land planning, Blake was specifically selected to establish a Mobile branch of the WAS Design firm in 2013. Since then, the firm has grown dramatically in a short span. He is also a LEED Accredited Professional, marking him as a leader in energy and environmental design. He served as chair of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2015, and he will be the lead designer and landscape architect for the annual Festival of Flowers in March 2018.

Alma Mater University of Georgia
Hometown Fort Valley, GA
Spouse + children Marty; Burton (8)
First job Selling peaches and produce at Lane Southern Orchards
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? An Architect. I used to draw houses and subdivisions with sidewalk chalk in our driveway.
Guilty pleasure Foosackly’s sauce and fries
If I were mayor, I would…Continue with the revitalization of downtown and work to make Mobile a destination city with a strong sense of place.
What is your ultimate goal with the 25th festival of Flowers? The festival theme, “A Celebration Promenade,” provides a strong common thread that ties the entire site design together. My ultimate goal is for the featured attractions and events to provide entertainment, inspiration and education for visitors of all ages.

Drew Wenzel

Lawyer, Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, PC

Drew has built a career on developing a recognizable and strategic brand. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, after which he served seven years as an aviation officer for the U.S. Army. After his honorable discharge, he went to law school and moved back to his hometown of Foley to found the Caldwell Wenzel and Asthana firm, where he is a trailblazer in identifying new markets. He also actively participates in development efforts in Foley as a member of the Foley Downtown Revitalization Task Force. He sits on the board for the City of Foley Museum Archives and the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.

Alma Mater United States Military Academy, West Point; University of Western Ontario
Hometown Foley
Spouse + children Deepti; Ava (6), Elise (2), Lincoln (6 months)
Hidden talent Juggling
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Veterinarian
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Fisher’s in Orange Beach
If I were mayor, I would Focus on education initiatives to improve and promote academic excellence and work-force readiness
What is the most important thing when branding your company? It is important to have a clear vision of the company’s mission and goals and review and evaluate how successful the company has been at living up to those standards that it has set for itself. This is a continuous process that helps shape and improve the company brand.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf

Co-host of Today’s Homeowner Television / Host of Checking in with Chelsea, Today’s Homeowner Media

A born-and-raised home enthusiast, Chelsea is now a full-time co-host of the nationally syndicated TV series, Today’s Homeowner. In 2014, she launched her own brand called Checking In With Chelsea, a web series aimed at millennial homeowners. Southern Living and Hometalk have featured her projects online, and the series has earned two National Telly awards for outstanding achievement in video production. In addition, she volunteers with many organizations, such as Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and Little Sisters of the Poor.

Alma Mater St. John’s University
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Brandon; Mary Helen (2), Gus (11 months)
Guilty pleasure Eating ice cream out of the carton, although I don’t really feel that guilty about it!
High school superlative Most likely to pick up trash off the side of the road (and turn it into a fabulous treasure)
Best advice you’ve ever received Always take a second to scan an intersection after the light turns green before going. It literally saved my life.
What’s harder: being in front of the camera or the work behind the camera? Like a lot of projects, the prep work is usually the hardest part and can make or break the outcome of your project. In this case, the work behind the camera and the prep work leading up to a video shoot is the hardest!

Ron Yaeger

President / Cofounder, Fulcrum Construction Group

In 2012, Ron cofounded Fulcrum Construction Group and helped turn it into a successful enterprise with a national footprint. Today, Ron oversees 23 building projects across the country, from New Jersey to California. Within five years of the company’s creation, Fulcrum ranked at number 345 in Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies, experiencing a growth rate of 1,300 percent between 2013 and 2016. Ron hopes to eventually work on international projects. An avid runner, he completed the San Francisco Marathon this past summer.

Alma Mater East Carolina University
Hometown Fayetteville, N.C.
Spouse + children Jena; Grant (8), James (5), Janey (1)
Hidden talents Juggling performances for my kids.
If I were mayor, I would…Construct a connecting off-ramp in Spanish Fort to allow traffic to freely flow onto the Causeway and utilize the Africatown Bridge during peak traffic times. We need a band-aid solution while we wait on the bridge.
Favorite thing about your job Getting to work with people all across the country
What are your favorite projects to work on? I enjoy building in new markets and territories for the first time. It’s great to visit somewhere new and start from scratch creating relationships.

Weisi Yan, MD, Ph.d.

Director, Cyberknife Program / Staff Radiation Oncologist, University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute

From China to Alabama, Dr. Weisi Yan has demonstrated his acumen for clinical operations and efficiency. With a medical degree from China Medical University in Shen Yang and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Yan joined the Mitchell Cancer Institute and helped streamline operations. He is a member of the Medical Society of Mobile County, the American Society for Radiation Oncology and is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology. In addition, Yan also has a passion for music. He performed with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra in 2017 and is in the process of building a music therapy program at MCI.

Hometown Shen Yang, P.R., China
Hobbies Meditation, singing, reading, ballet, piano
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? Dauphin’s
Best advice you’ve ever received Be more humble.
What does music offer to those fighting illness? Music is a powerful tool for healing through the mind. Music therapy is noninvasive and free of side effects, so it is integrated into standard care in major cancer hospitals to help relieve physical and psychological pain. If we can heal the body and mind at the same time, we can help patients fight cancer better or at least make the fight more enjoyable.

Grant Zarzour, MD

Total Joint Orthopaedic Surgeon, Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic

Grant has been repeatedly recognized for his achievements in orthopedics. He was one of two fellows selected for a Mississippi sports medicine joint replacement fellowship, and he was one of three orthopedic residents selected for the USA Medical Center after graduating in 2007. In addition, he’s also involved in the startup scene in Mobile. Grant cofounded the Fuse Project and still serves on its board of directors. He also helped with the launch of the Innovation PortAL and works with other local nonprofits, including Go Kickball, Gulf Coast Ducks and The Fort. Beginning in January 2018, he will sit on the board of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce.

Alma Mater University of Georgia; University of South Alabama
Hometown Mobile
Spouse + children Brie; Wyatt (2), Campbell (4 months)
First job X-ray film developer at West Side Bone & Joint
Where would you take an out-of-town guest to eat? The Noble South
Best advice you’ve ever received Choosing a spouse is the most important decision of your life
Favorite thing about your job Helping people walk without pain
As a surgeon, what draws you to also work with local startups? I want to live, work and play in a vibrant community where every kid has the opportunities I was given. Luckily, there are teams of like-minded people helping all of these big ideas come to fruition.

Photos by Matthew Coughlin

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