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Exciting Fall News Update
featuring LA Class XXX, ALI Class III,
and 30th Anniversary News
Leadership Alabama Class XXX – Opening Retreat
Class XXX’s opening retreat was recently conducted in Montgomery, and thanks to the involvement of the  Honorable Keith Watkins  (LA Class XXI), it was a privilege to start the session at the Frank M. Johnson Federal Courthouse with greetings from  Gordon Martin , LA board chair (LA Class XVII), at the seated, catered lunch. Afterwards, everyone moved to the stunningly beautiful and historic courtroom and heard presentations from the  Honorable Emily Marks , the  Honorable Andrew Brasher , the  Honorable Myron Thompson  and  Dr. Ed Bridges (LA Class VIII) – what an afternoon!  And, as a crowning jewel to a fabulous day, the class enjoyed dinearounds in several Montgomery members’ homes that evening.  

Friday morning was spent at Valiant Cross Academy, a single sex, faith-based private school, where the class participated in its daily Morning Village ceremony with the students, heard remarks from  Anthony Brock , founder and head of school (LA Class XXIX), and  Eddie Welch , board chair of Valiant Cross (LA Class XXVIII).  Following the discussion about private schools,  Drs. Eric Mackey (LA Class XIX) and  Andy Craig  (LA Class XXX) offered updates on the Alabama’s public-school system that specifically addressed the system’s top five goals and its funding procedures.  To complete the conversation about different educational models, four experts in the charter school arena offered facts relevant to charter schools ---  Mr. Tyler Barnett , ED of New Schools for Alabama;  Dr. Tommy Bice,  board chair, I3 Academy (LA Class XX);  Mr. Ryan Hankins , ED, PARCA (LA Class XXVIII); and,  Dr. Jeremiah Newell,  co-founder/superintendent, ACCEL Day and Evening Academy.  

ALFA and its team of leaders graciously greeted the class at its terrific Montgomery campus for a “working” lunch, where a panel of ALFA experts offered different perspectives on the impact and importance of agriculture to our state’s economy.   Mr. Jimmy Parnell , president & CEO  (LA Class XXVII), officially welcomed everyone and introduced speakers  Ms. Angie Bradwell , EVP & general counsel (LA Class XXX),  Mr. Paul Pinyan , ED of Alabama Farmers Federation (LA Class XXIX) and a few others from the governmental, communications and legislative areas of the organization.      

The afternoon was dedicated to gaining a deeper, more realistic understanding of poverty and of the importance to Alabama of the upcoming 2020 census, and  Ms. Kristina Scott , ED of Alabama Possible (LA Class XXI) expertly guided the class through both topics.  As one evaluation noted,  “The afternoon was very eye opening – a much different perspective.  Changed some of my thinking and generalizations about poverty.”   And another,  “Provocative and illuminating.  I really appreciated the comments in the wrap up.  They changed my appreciation and perspective the most.”

Friday evening’s dinner at one of Montgomery’s best restaurants, Jubilee, included an open invitation to all Montgomery area LA members and their guests, and many joined the festivities and appreciated the opportunity to meet and network with Class XXX.  The idea of including area members in dinners during the regional retreats was implemented in Huntsville with Class XXIX, and this tradition will continue in each city with each class.

A retreat in Montgomery would not be complete without a visit to EJI’s Legacy Museum, a presentation from EJI professionals about the founding of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a tour of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the class experienced all of these.   Shocking, somber, inspirational.”  “Powerful – words are not adequate to describe the impact.” “It was my first visit.  It hit home how segregation was enforced.  I think the brutality of the first half of the 20 th  century is lost on us.”                                          

After such an emotional and poignant morning, Leadership Alabama had the great fortune of having  Mr. Chuck Holmes , ED & general manager of WBHM Radio (LA Class XXX), moderate the closing class caucus.  He did a masterful job and was “hired” to lead all of the caucuses moving forward, with the next class engagement being in January 2020 during the Mobile retreat.   
Alabama Leadership Initiative (ALI) Class III
ALI’s third class, which is comprised of 50 outstanding and impressive young professionals, recently gathered at the Alabama State House in Montgomery for its first session together.  They were welcomed by Mr. Spud Seale , LA board member (LA Class VI); Kate Cotton , executive director (LA Class XVII); and Ashley Whatley , director of programs and member engagement.

The program year began with Dr. Ed Bridges ’ (LA Class VIII) renown presentation about Alabama’s storied economic and political history, which definitely set the stage for the following tour of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, as well as the remaining presentations throughout the entire session.  One class member remarked, "This context was so powerful for the ensuing two days - and I imagine the next six months." Rep. (D) Anthony Daniels (LA Class XIX) and Rep. (R) Mike Jones (LA Class XVII) offered an update about the upcoming legislative session, and the class appreciated their candid, civil and respectful conversation.  The first day concluded with inspiring remarks from newly elected Mayor Steven Reed , Montgomery’s first African American mayor and Leadership Alabama member, Class XXVIII.   
The following morning, we welcomed Mr. Bill Graham , president of Graham Corporate Communications, who presented his powerful and engaging presentation on effective communication and the factors & determinants of “likability,” especially as related to professional and workplace settings.   "Wow... Bill is a wealth of knowledge. How valuable to have a seminar from him directly. Great context and exactly what I want from a leadership session." Afterwards, the class enjoyed a lovely lunch in Old Alabama Town, followed by a tour of EJI’s Legacy Museum , a session with EJI professionals at the new conference building at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice , and a walking tour of the outside exhibit.  The day concluded with a very thought-provoking, passionate and stimulating class caucus discussion relevant to the experiences of the first session.

The relationships and conversations developed in this first session will definitely lead to greater dialogue and meaningful experiences throughout their time together.  We are already anticipating another incredible session when Class III reconvenes in February 2020 in Birmingham. A few notable class members' evaluation remarks -  "Incredible conversations and made me think about how others think about the same experiences." "I learned that as diverse as our class is, we all have a ton in common, and if we worked together, we could lead our state toward great things."
ALI Advisory Board
In 2017, the Leadership Alabama Board of Directors expanded the Alabama Leadership Initiative to involve three two-day sessions over a six-month period.  To align with the expanded programming, “The Initiative” was also established in order to provide ALI members a structured group for remaining involved after completing their ALI program year.  Just as graduates of each Leadership Alabama class become members of a statewide, well-connected organization and continue to interact with other leaders throughout Alabama, this, too, is the objective of “The Initiative.”  We want to assist ALI members in remaining connected as they continue to pursue their careers and engage in civic endeavors.  

This fall, an ALI Advisory Board was formed to help launch “The Initiative” by bringing together members of ALI Classes I, II and III for regional and statewide events.  It is an exciting time at Leadership Alabama to watch this new membership grow each year as the expanded ALI program fulfills the board’s mission of keeping our young professionals connected and invested in our state.
We are thrilled to welcome the following ALI members to the first ALI Advisory Board: 
Harrison Diamond
Business Relations Officer
City of Huntsville

Precious Freeman
Managing Partner
BFC Management

Brian Hamilton
Trillion Communications Corp., Bessemer

Jon Hegeman
Greenway Plants, Anniston

Cooper Killion
Business Development & 
Marketing Manager
Shook & Fletcher Insulation Co., Birmingham
Melissa McInnis
Civic Volunteer

Ashley Morrow
Entrepreneur & Speaker
Green Bananas, LLC,
Click Synergy

Taylor Norton
South Shore Insurance

Andrea Oliver
Foundation for Marshall Medical Centers

Rusty Prewett
Prewett Allstate

 Grits Morris, LA Board Liaison   
Sales Executive
Ryan Richards
Director of Workforce Development
Southeast AlabamaWorks

Ashley Smith
Miller Smith, LLC

Terrance Smith
Innovation Team Director
City of Mobile

Mashonda Taylor
Chief Community Relations Officer
Woodlawn Foundation

Jessica Thomas
Public Finance Relationship Manager
PNC Bank
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Class XXXI
will open Monday,
January 6, 2020.