The Quarterly Newsletter for Class Members, Officers & Alumni

Winter 2018


Vestavia Hills


P.O. Box 660591

Vestavia Hills, AL








Chris Eckroate




Donnie Winningham


Denene Lemke



Penny Lewallyn


Advisory Committee Chair

Pauline Parker


Community Leadership Awards

Leadership Vestavia Hills will honor outstanding local citizens at the  28th annual Community Leadership Awards Banquet on  February 27 at 6 p.m.  at the Vestavia Hills Country Club.
Longtime resident and business owner JoAnne Mote will be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her longtime dedication to Vestavia Hills. Mote's family owns American Pest Control as well as Hollywood Pools, and she has been deeply involved in the community for years. She has played an energetic and active role in many events and organizations past and present, including Viva Vestavia, the Vestavia Christmas parade, I Love America Day, the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce and the Vestavia Hills Historical Society. She is also a longtime board member, advocate and fundraiser for the Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center. 
Entrepreneur and running enthusiast Valerie McLean Cuddy will be honored with the 2018 Distinguished Citizen Award. McLean is owner of the Trak Shak running shops. Her passion for running and for service led her to organize a half-marathon to benefit the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs. That half-marathon evolved into the Mercedes Marathon, which has become a strong Birmingham tradition and has raised millions for local charities, including the Bell Center.  Valerie was successful in winning the bid to host the 2003 US Men's Marathon National Championship and the 2004 US Men's Marathon Olympic Trials during the Mercedes Marathon weekend.  

Tickets may be purchased through the LVH website or at the Chamber Office for $50.

The Community Leadership Awards Banquet is a signature event of Leadership Vestavia Hills. 
Nominations Are Due Now

Leadership Vestavia Hills is now accepting nominations for candidates interested in the 2018-2019 class.  Click here to nominate someone and for more information on the selection process.  Nominations will be accepted until February 28th. 

-Sam Duffy, Recruitment Chair

Wing Ding Donation to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Leadership Vestavia Hills donated the proceeds from Wing Ding, $9028.31, to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Board on December 1. 

Government Day:  Gubernatorial Candidates Forum

As part of December's class devoted to government on December 7, 2017, LVH hosted the 2018 Gubernatorial Candidates Forum that included, from left, Walt Maddox, Scott Dawson, and Sue Bell Cobb. David Carrington, far right, served as moderator. The forum was attended by the current class and was live-streamed to the private Facebook page for LVH alumni. 

Special thanks to the day's moderators: David Carrington, Kim Benos, Robin Morgan, and Lisa Christopher. 

Help the Hills

Help the Hills and the Safe & Healthy Homewood Coalition present Navigating Teen Culture on Monday, March 12, 2018. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Bertha K. Madras, a member of the President Trump's Opioid Crisis Commission, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, and psychobiologist in McLean Hospital's Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Help the Hills is an initiative of Leadership Vestavia Hills. 

Denene Lemke, Secretary

Name: Denene Lemke
Occupation/Job Title: Tax Manager at Samford University 
LVH Class Year: 2016
Vestavia resident since: 2004

In layman's terms or in a concise mission-statement-esque manner, describe your job. Simply stated I oversee tax compliance and research tax-related issues for the university. 

What is most challenging about your job? Currently, anything immigration- or visa-related. 

What was your favorite day of LVH and why? Education Day. We moved to Vestavia Hills for the schools, so actually seeing the different schools in the system was fun. I loved watching the teachers share the new and imaginative ways they are able to interact and engage students in learning. 

Tell us about your class project. My project was Wald Park Recycling. We worked with the city to add recycling receptacles in the park, expand the city's contract with the recycling company, and then educate students on what can be recycled, along with what cannot. It was eye opening to learn what all goes into a project such as that, which I'd never really thought about before. 

How did LVH impact your personal or professional life? I met and developed deep friendships with people that may have never crossed my path otherwise. 

What did LVH teach you? There are opportunities for everyone to get involved in some aspect of the city. Most of us with children know the positive impact of parent involvement in our schools, but there are so many other areas that will further improve with engaged citizens. 

What do you like most about our community? The schools. I'm constantly amazed by the opportunities my daughters have had and what they have learned in our school system.

What do you like to do for fun? Spending time with family and friends, traveling (cruising is my favorite), and watching movies. 

What might people be surprised to learn about you? I never took dance as a child, so I've taken ballet and tap lessons as an adult. I would love to do it again if I could convince a friend to join me.

Finish this sentence: If I could have any superhuman power it would be ... the ability to teleport. 

If you had to choose another career, what would it be? The practical answer is to be an accounting professor, but I'd love to work in a wedding dress boutique. That probably comes from watching too much "Say Yes to the Dress."

What is your greatest accomplishment? With my husband, raising our daughters in a loving, stable family. 

If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself? Create your own definition of success.

-Roddy Taylor

Class Schedule

Team Building Day, November 2017

March 1, 2018
Quality of Life Day
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vestavia Hills City Hall

April 10, 2018
Project Presentations and Graduation Reception
2 pm. to 7 p.m.
Vestavia Hills City Hall

2017-2018 Class Projects
Here's what the current class is working on:

Harvest in the Hills Farm-to-Table Meal
Vision: To plan, organize, and deliver a fundraising event in the spring of 2018 consisting of a meal highlighting the bounty from local (Vestavia Hills and other Birmingham area) gardens and prepared by local chefs. The proceeds of the event will go to the 501(c)(3) organization, Harvest in the Hills, to be used for future garden-related projects.
Mentors: Martha Reeves Cook, Sam Duffey, Rob Belcher

Pop-up/Temporary Parks Project
Vision: To plan, organize, and develop a master plan for the creation of community gathering places created by reclaiming underutilized urban space. Target opening: 2019. 
Mentors: Rebecca Olsen, Tony Renta

Cahaba Heights Tree Canopy Project
Vision: To fundraise, design, and implement a tree planting campaign specifically for the areas in Cahaba Heights hit hardest by the tornadoes of April 2011.
Mentors: Vaughn Sparks, Rebecca Olsen, Alicia Hunsberger, Tony Renta

Vestavia Hills Video Project 2.0
Vision: To create a mini-documentary highlighting an aspect of Vestavia Hills' history, building on 2016-2017 class video focusing on the formation of the Vestavia Hills school system. This video will be used as a teaching and marketing tool for future LVH classes, the schools, and as part of any educational, municipal, and promotional initiatives.
Mentors: Vaughn Sparks, Sam Duffey, Suzanne Scott-Trammell, Lauren Helmer
For submissions for future newsletters,  please contact 
Julie Miller at  or
Lauren Helmer at