July | 2020
AGP New Young Professionals Leadership Group
Please help us welcome our new AGP Young Professionals Leadership Group:

  • Carlos Barahona, Universal Logistics Services
  • Felix Faerber, Baker Donelson
  • Victoria Gryska, JamisonMoneyFarmer
  • William Hodges. SWJ Technology - CHAIR

The Young Professionals group is under the AlabamaGermany Partnership umbrella. Its members are interns, co-op or employees of either an Alabama-Germany company or institution. The age requirement is 21 to 39.

William Hodges is taking over the position as chair for the AGP Young Professionals after Pauline Langemann. Pauline moved out of state with her job. We thank her for all the hard work she has invested in growing the group and its activities this past year and wish her all the best in her new ventures.

Carlos Barahona was born in Puebla, Mexico. At age 15, he moved to Mobile, Alabama to complete the remainder of his high school education at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Carlos received both his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Montevallo. He currently works as the Sales and Transportation Director at Universal Logistics Services, Inc. In his five plus years at Universal, Carlos has worked simultaneously in both the sales and operation domains, allowing him to strengthen longstanding relationships and to establish new partnerships. Consequently, Universal has seen significant growth in volume and profit since bringing Carlos on board. Carlos’s interest in German culture dates back to his childhood in Puebla, where Volkswagen is the city’s top employer. Upon returning from a study abroad experience in Düsseldorf, Germany in 2014, Carlos was elated to continue his involvement with the German people, businesses, and culture through membership in AGP. Since becoming involved with AGP, Carlos has developed invaluable personal and professional relationships through the incredible social and networking opportunities that AGP hosts each year.
Felix Faerber was born in Bremen, Germany and grew up in Tuscaloosa. After completing his high school education, Felix attended The University of Alabama, where he studied international business. While at The University of Alabama and realizing the positive effects of community involvement, he volunteered at Boys & Girls Club of America, Habitat For Humanity as well as relief efforts after the devastating tornado in 2011. In 2012, having earned his undergraduate degree, Felix moved to Washington, DC, to enroll in the George Washington University Law School. During his legal studies, Felix interned at a boutique law firm, which assisted German companies seeking to enter or expand operations in the US market. As this internship increased an already existing interest in utilizing his cultural background to provide guidance to clients in the US and having grown up in Alabama, Felix decided to return to the Southeast in 2015. Currently, Felix is an associate at Baker Donelson, where he counsels among others German speaking clients in various legal areas across numerous industries. Following his return to the Southeast, Felix has been passionate about being involved in various community organizations, and especially cherishes the opportunity to exchange ideas as part of the Alabama Germany Partnership.
Viktoria Gryska is an audit and tax supervisor at JamisonMoneyFarmer, PC, where she works with small business corporations in the preparation of financial statement compilations and reviews, preparation of corporate and individual taxes, and in tax planning. Viktoria specializes in assistance to foreign-owned companies. She moved to the United States as an exchange student in 2005 from Dresden, Germany and graduated from a local high school in Tuscaloosa in 2007. During her high school years, she fell in love with Alabama and decided to attend The University of Alabama where she received her undergraduate degree and her Masters in Accountancy. Viktoria started her career at JamisonMoneyFarmer, PC in 2013. In addition to English, she is fluent in German and Hungarian. Due to her background, Viktoria has always been passionate about different cultures. The Alabama Germany Partnership gives her the perfect opportunity to connect with with both American and German individuals and businesses.

In her free time, she enjoys getting outdoors whether it is on her husband's farm or on Lake Tuscaloosa. Her favorite vacation spot is the beach where she can relax and enjoy Alabama's white sandy beaches.

Professional Affiliations
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants
Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance
Civic and Community Activities
Current Board President, Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, West AL Chapter
Current Treasuer, Children's Hands on Museum
Member of the AGP Young Professional Leadership Committee
Volunteer, ASCPA Classroom Blitz
William Hodges was born in Miami, FL to a Cuban mother and American father. Shortly after starting high school, William began studying finance and economics. After school, he founded the stock market club and during his last two summers of high school, hosted weeklong money and business camps. Shortly before beginning at the Florida State University, where he was ultimately admitted for Finance, he was introduced to the field of engineering. Initially taking classes that would satisfy both majors, William decided it would be more advantageous to pursue engineering as the engineer could do the finance work, though the reverse was unlikely.

While in college, William undertook a research opportunity at the High Performance Materials Institute where he worked on a defense project developing novel personal body armor and aircraft ballistic protections. After graduation, William was sought out by SWJ Breilmann (now SWJ Technology) and has since worked on many interesting projects with the firm. During his career at SWJ, William has participated on task force projects at several of Mercedes’ suppliers and is now at MBUSI where he worked with former AGP board member Knut Johannssen and former MBUSI CEO Jason Hoff on a worldwide cost-structure optimization project. He currently works as a Series Planning Engineer for MBUSI’s Body Shop.

Outside of work, William enjoys riding both mountain and road bikes, volunteering, data analytics and learning new skills (currently beer brewing and German language). William has continued his financial endeavors and has expanded into real estate investing. In April 2020, he was invited to serve as a guest judge for a Euro Challenge team’s presentation on monetary, fiscal and social policies of Germany’s economy.

Dankeschön to our PATRON Members:
News from Airbus in Mobile
By Business Alabama & AL.com
The first A220 produced at the Airbus assembly plant in Mobile took its maiden flight on June 2, completing a test flight over the Gulf Coast to Louisiana and back to Mobile.

The Mobile plant, which also assembles A320 Airbus aircraft, began assembling A220s in 2019. Read Chris McFadyen's full story for Business Alabama here.

Airbus is laying off an additional 26 subcontractors and temporary staff at its engineering center in Mobile, a company spokeswoman confirmed mid June.

The layoffs follow  an initial 14 subcontractors who were let go in early May.  The layoffs are a result of the industry’s woes in grappling with the ongoing financial devastation to the global aerospace industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Airbus spokeswoman Kristi Tucker. Read John Sharp's full story for AL.com here .
Germany Is Taking Over the Presidency of the Council of the EU
By The Federal Government of Germany
Under the motto "Together for Europe’s recovery", Germany has established its focus areas for the country's Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Federal Cabinet has now approved the draft presidency program.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union is facing the greatest challenge in its history. During Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, the country will do everything in its power to overcome this issue. The objective is to make Europe stronger again by working together and looking to the future.

On 1 July 2020, Germany will take over as chair of the Council of the European Union, what is known as the Presidency of the Council of the EU, for a six-month term. During this period Germany will chair all meetings of the Council and all preparatory bodies such as committees and working groups. Learn more here .
Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Foreign Nationals into the U.S.
By The White House
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation continuing Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020 entitled "Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak" (hereinafter referred to as " the Proclamation ").
The Proclamation suspends the entry of new  H-1B H-2B L-1 , and certain  J-1  nonimmigrants, as well as their accompanying spouses and dependents (i.e.  H-4 L-2 , and  J-2  nonimmigrants), with some exceptions. The nonimmigrant suspension takes effect at 12:01am EDT on June 24, 2020. The Proclamation will remain in place through December 31, 2020, and may be extended as deemed necessary by the Administration.
The Proclamation does  not  affect foreign nationals holding valid U.S. visas or other travel documents, or those already present in the United States as of the effective date of the ban. The Proclamation also does not include other nonimmigrant work visa categories such as TN NAFTA professionals, O-1 individuals of extraordinary ability, and E treaty traders/investors, though travel may still be restricted due to COVID-19.

State of Alabama Employer Survey
By AL.com

Employers in Alabama are being encouraged to participate in a survey to determine how the state can produce a better trained workforce.

Companies have until July 3 to complete a survey from AlabamaWorks! and the Alabama Workforce Council which will help identify what skills companies need from job applicants. The Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways (ACCCP) is one of several initiatives underway to align education in Alabama with what employers are looking for in terms of skills and job certifications. Read William Thornton's full story for AL.com here.

AGP Board & Member News

AGP Executive Committee member Jeff Lynn has been named new acting president for Central Alabama Community College . Lynn has more than 20 years of workforce and economic development experience across several Southeastern states. He brought his distinctive skill set to ACCS in 2016 where he currently serves as the vice chancellor for aerospace and aviation. Prior to his role at the ACCS, Lynn served as the executive director of Workforce Development Programs (LED FastStart) for Louisiana Economic Development.

AGP member Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) has named Kenneth E. Coleman as the new president and CEO of BBA . Coleman will be responsible for developing collaborative efforts between the BBA and its community partners to lead economic growth and expansion for the seven-county region, in addition to the day-to-day operations of the organization. He will begin his new role in Birmingham on July 20. Coleman is currently interim president and CEO for the DeKalb 

AGP member Alabama State Port Authority 's new director John C. Driscoll took over the reins of the organization on June 1. John C. Driscoll was appointed by the entity's board of directors after a nationwide search to fill the director and chief executive officer role.
Dankeschön to our SUSTAINING Members:
German American Trade Magazine
The German American Trade Magazine is the official publication of the German American Chambers of Commerce in the U.S., focusing on German-American topics in the areas of economy and industry, companies and politics. Click here to download the current magazine.

Alabama the Beautiful
By New York Times
Returning, and Awakening, to the Beauty of Rural Alabama

Having traveled to Alabama to wait out the coronavirus pandemic, a photographer reassesses his relationship with his childhood and his hometown. Enjoy the installment in New York Times where Scott Baker shares a collection of photographs from his hometown in Alabama.

Walking Tours in Birmingham
What to do for fun in these COVID-19 times? How about a walking tour of Birmingham?

Birmingham is the state’s largest city, a lively center for arts, entertainment, dining, and shopping. It is also rich in history, known for its post-Civil War industrial past and for its role in the Civil Rights Movement. The walking tours that follow invite you to explore some of the most interesting parts of the city —Upper Downtown, Downtown West, Lower Downtown, and the Heart of Five Points South. While you are discovering the buildings and the stories they tell, keep an eye out for popular restaurants and shops that are fun to browse. Be aware that often the best view of a building’s architecture is from across the street, looking above modern signs and ground-floor remodeling, to see ornamentation on the upper floors. Chose one of the four (or them all) suggested walking tours .

Check out Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau's website for more ideas what to do in Birmingham.
Greetings from Berlin
This is the second installment of AGP Young Professional Hannah Mattil's journey that started by moving to Berlin in Germany earlier this year.

Hi there!

I hope you're doing well and having a lovely summer so far! A lot has happened in the world since my last email, so I thought I'd send a little update to let you know how things are going here in Berlin.

Like many cities, Berlin basically shut down starting in March. From then until May, most stores, restaurants and public places were forced by the government to close, and we were restricted to spending time with only one other person in public. Like many of you, we transitioned to working at home and ventured out much less, save for the occasional masked trip to the grocery store. The shutdown coincided almost exactly with my first day of work, but I was able to spend one day in the office before becoming a fully remote employee.

Speaking of the job, it's really great! I like the projects I'm managing, my team and even working from my home office (i.e. my bedroom). It was interesting learning the ins and outs of a new job via Zoom, but after 3 months at work, I feel proud of what I've learned and more confident in what I'm doing. Luckily, I still get to keep my toes dipped in the garden design world, as I'm getting to help my former boss with some tasks remotely, too. What a dream! :D 

I've also done some learning outside of work, from taking a 5-week Python course in May to diving back into German learning this month. My goal to raise my German level enough to be able to enroll in some computer science courses at a local college, thereby improving my German and CS knowledge at the same time ;). 

My most exciting news is I finally have a bike! That may not seem that exciting, but to a girl that spent 2 months walking 10 laps around the same lake every day, it's the best thing that ever happened. I bought her two weeks ago from a friend here in Berlin, who had already named the bike Brigitte, and Max and I have been biking all over Berlin! Here are some pics:
Biking around Berlin... An ivy-covered wine bar in Nöldnerplatz and the Berlin Cathedral in Mitte.
The Charlottenburg Palace, which I will pass every day if I bike commute to work (which would take 1 hour one way, so we'll see if THAT ever happens.)........Biking around town...

My days have been filled with ups and downs, as I'm sure yours have been, too. And while I haven't made too many friends of my own, I've been lucky that Max's friends, Ruben and Felicie, have become mine as well, and that they like all the same things as we do, which are biking, picnicking and playing outside. 

I hope you've been well even though it's been a couple of crazy months with lots of sad things happening. I've been missing everyone back in the US a lot over the last few months, and I've been lucky enough to video call with many different friends, but as we all know, it's not quite the same. I'd love to hear from you if you have a minute to write me a quick blurb.

Schönes Wochenende! 
(That means have a great weekend)


PS - A big thank you to Max, the man behind the camera!
Certified German Teacher Job Posting for Auburn City Schools

Learn more about the open German teacher position at Auburn City Schools here (District 2/Auburn).

Start day for the position is August 2, 2020 with 187 duty days.

Germany's coronavirus tracing app alerts first users.
More than 12 million people have downloaded Germany's new Corona-Warn-App so far. And for the first time since it launched last week, it has alerted users at risk of having coronavirus. Read The Local DE's full story here .

Covid-19 Bigger Second Wave May Stop World Travel Again In 2020
Could a second wave of Covid-19 bring the world, or much of it, to a standstill again towards fall? Barely months, even weeks,   after international travel takes off  again in some countries. Read Forbes' full story here.

German Government Invests Big in CureVac
The federal government in Germany is putting up EUR 300 million to acquire a 23 percent share of biotech company  CureVac . The firm from the southwestern German city of Tübingen is one of the most high-profile enterprises in the world currently researching a vaccine against the coronavirus. Read GTAI's full story here .

Between May 14th and June 1st the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. (GACC South) conducted a survey amongst 101 companies on a wide range of question related to COVID-19 and its business impact. The key takeaway is that, against the national trend, 2/3 of the companies have not laid-off or furloughed any employees and do not plan to do so. View results here .


We have collected a list of resources that can provide information and assistance during these challenging times. You can find them on our website under Helpful Resources.

AlabamaGermany Partnership:

You can continue to reach us by phone: (205) 341-7880 or email:  director@alabamagermany.org . We are NOT open for appointments.

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