Mobile Bay's 2009 Class of Forty Under 40
The inaugural class of young professionals includes some of the Bay area's hottest rising stars.
Honorees and their supporters gather in the ballroom of The Battle House for the 40 Under 40 luncheon and awards presentation.
photo by Dennis Holt
Charles H. Spurgeon once said, “Every generation needs regeneration.” The honorees featured in the following pages have distinguished themselves through their leadership, professional excellence and community service. These are the young men and women who are revitalizing our communities and making an impact on those who have come before them as well as those who follow in their footsteps.
This year’s class is comprised of a diverse group of personalities, including business executives, lawyers, artists and doctors. They were selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of more than 150 candidates and were recognized for their achievements with a luncheon and awards presentation at The Battle House Hotel’s Moonlight Ballroom on Nov. 17.
ANDY ANDERSON, 36
Artistic director, Mobile Opera
Maestro Anderson has been conducting professionally since 1994 and has been featured nationally as a guest conductor.
Education B.A. in music performance, B.A. in conducting, Northwestern State University (LA); M.A. in conducting, opera, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music
First job I owned a Sno-Cone stand when I was 12.
Worst advice you’ve ever received To major in something else while in college
Hours in your work week 50 - 60
Guilty pleasure A good bottle of Bordeaux!
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Giacomo Puccini
Biggest pet peeve People who fail without ever trying
JOHN ARENDALL, 34
Senior Vice President, Regions Bank
Arendall has led the Commercial Real Estate division of Regions Bank for the past four years, and the division has remained in the top-tier performance level for the company. He also serves on several boards, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal School, the Athelstan Club and the Mobile Carnival Association.
Education B.S. in business administration, University of Mississippi
First job Working at a Gulf gas station
Worst advice you’ve ever received Your mom will never know.
Guilty pleasure Lowe’s
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Ray Charles
Your favorite memory from the ’80s My parachute pants!
Favorite quote “You get the best out of others, when you give the best of yourself.”
CHRIS BARRAZA, 34
Assistant Manager, Neighborhood & Community Services, City of Mobile
Barraza has played a major role in events such as Arts Alive!, Market on the Square and LoDa ArtWalk.
Education B.A. in art history, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
First job Phone girl at a Philadelphia pizza parlor
Worst advice you’ve ever received Wear yellow.
Best thing about the Bay area Sunsets on the Fairhope pier
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Benjamin Franklin
If you had to choose another career, it would be Fashion designer
Biggest pet peeve Wrinkled clothes
IRA BATES, 38
Resource Development Manager, United Way of Southwest Alabama
Since joining the United Way in 2005, Bates has been an integral part of fundraising efforts that have raised more than $20 million to fund social services for the Bay area.
Education B.S. in business administration and management, University of Mobile
First job Grocery bagger (paper – not plastic) at Food World
Guilty pleasure Mellow Mushroom pizza
Hobbies Working out, golf, cycling, RC airplanes
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Sidney Poitier
If you had to choose another career, it would be Fighter pilot
Favorite memory from the ’80s Michael Jackson in the “Thriller” video
BRITTEN BRITT, 33
Partner, Lyons, Pipes & Cook, P.C.
Britt volunteers her time and expertise to the Wills for Heroes Project, which offers firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel free basic estate planning services.
Education B.A. in finance, Auburn University; J.D., Cumberland School of Law; M.B.A., Samford University; LL.M. in taxation, Georgetown University
First job Associate lawyer
Worst advice you’ve ever received I take something from every piece of advice.
Last book you read “A Christmas Story” by Jean Shepherd, to my 4-year-old
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Ronald Reagan
Favorite memory from the ’80s Fishing trips with my dad
If you could have one superpower, it would be To remember everything!
MICHELLE HOOBLER COOK, 35
Vice President, BankTrust Financial Services Inc.
Cook has received numerous professional awards, including 1998 Employee of the Year at AmSouth, Outstanding Service Award at BankTrust and Cross Country Coach of the Year at Spring Hill College.
Education B.S., Spring Hill College
Best advice you’ve ever received Be yourself. Work smart; do your best; love others.
Best thing about the Bay area It feels like living in Mayberry. There are just enough people in Mobile to make it feel cozy. There has been much improvement downtown over the last few years. My family and I enjoy going to activities, such as Market on the Square and LoDa ArtWalk.
Favorite memory from the ’80s Leg warmers, parachute pants, music, and television shows from the ’80s are all memorable.
Favorite quote “You are either ripe and rotting or green and growing.”
Biggest pet peeve Littering
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To cook dinner and clean house at the speed of light
WILL COOKSEY, 27
Project Engineer, Thompson Engineering
Cooksey has been awarded the Thompson Engineering Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award for recognition of his community service and corporate responsibility.
Education: B.S. in civil engineering, Auburn University
New Year’s resolution: To become LEED accredited
Best thing about the Bay area: The fantastic atmosphere for sportsmen and Southern charm
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Teddy Roosevelt
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Fighter pilot
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Riding in the car to the beach with my mother singing oldies
Biggest pet peeve: Dirty dishes
ANGUS COOPER III, 37
President, Cooper/T. Smith
In addition to his duties in leading one of America’s oldest and largest maritime and stevedoring firms, Cooper serves on the board of directors for several local organizations.
Education: B.S., University of Alabama
First job: Painting fences when I was 13 years old
Guilty pleasure: Diet Cokes
Hobbies: Conservation work
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: I’d love to pick President Roosevelt’s brain.
Favorite quote: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” – The Beatles
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To go back in time to learn how things were done
Biggest pet peeve: Being told something at the last minute
Age you’d like to retire: I’m not going to. I will definitely be in an advisory role later in life.
KERI COUMANIS, 34
Assistant Director, Historic Development Commission, City of Mobile
Coumanis is a former Peace Corps teacher. She served in Sri Lanka.
Education: B.A.s in philosophy and English, Loyola University New Orleans; master’s in architectural preservation, Tulane University; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa
Best advice you’ve ever received: Like what you do for a living.
Worst advice you’ve ever received: If you like what you do for a living, you won’t have to worry about anything else.
Guilty pleasure: Depends on my bank balance. It could be something I buy from anthropologie.com or an iced-down can of beer.
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Photojournalism
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Watching a bootleg copy of “Rattle and Hum” over and over again with my best friend the summer before eighth grade.
Favorite quote: ”The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain
NATHAN COX, 28
President, Bellator Real Estate & Development Inc.
Cox was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor for his service as a Marine infantry first lieutenant in Iraq, where he commanded 65 Marines.
Education: Investment finance, with a minor in economics, University of Alabama; currently an M.B.A. student, University of South Alabama
First job: Catching and selling crabs at the beach during the summer
New Year’s resolution: Double my company’s revenues and run a marathon before my knee gives out
Last book you read: “The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull you Apart” by Jeffrey L. Seglin
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: George Washington
If you had to choose another career, it would be: To own a casino
Favorite quote: “Fortes fortuna juvat,” which means “fortune favors the bold”
MARY STEWART CRANE, 36
Executive Area Business Specialist, Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceuticals
In addition to an award-winning career in pharmaceuticals, Crane engages in many volunteer opportunities and is president-elect of the Junior League of Mobile.
Education: B.A. in economics, Vanderbilt University; M.B.A. in strategic management, University of Alabama
Guilty pleasure: Dining at a fabulous restaurant and the “Twilight” series
Favorite memory from the ’80s: The rise of Madonna
Favorite quote: “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill
Biggest pet peeve: Slow drivers in the fast lane
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To be Supernanny. I would love to know that I am providing the ultimate childhood and appropriate discipline for my children, but I know there are no guarantees.
Age you’d like to retire: 40
JENNIFER DAVIS, 25
Lifelines Counselor, Rape Crisis Victim Advocate, Lifelines Family Counseling Center
Davis is a volunteer mentor for the Girl Scouts of America.
Education: Bachelor’s in human development and family studies, University of Alabama; master’s in community counseling, University of South Alabama
New Year’s resolution: Keep in better contact with old friends as much as new. There’s a reason why each person comes into your life, whether it be big or small.
Last book you read: “Throw Out Fifty Things – Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life” by Gail Blanke
Hobbies: Writing, painting, playing the piano and traveling whenever possible
Best thing about the Bay area: Mardi Gras, living on the water, hot summers and chilly winters. I also love living within driving distance of New Orleans, Biloxi, Destin and Atlanta.
Favorite memory from the ’80s: The Christmas my sister and I got a playhouse and a puppy from Santa
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To pause time so I could get more done throughout the day as well as make some time for myself. Seems like there just aren’t enough hours some days!
SAM DEAN, 29
Director of Operations, Infirmary Health Systems, Diagnostic and Medical Clinic
Dean volunteers at Camp Smile-A-Mile in the summer. He also participates in triathlons.
Education: Biomedical science, minor in business, Auburn University; M.S. in health administration and M.B.A., University of Alabama at Birmingham
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Buy Citigroup, and when I was a kid, my mother told me that husky jeans were cool.
New Year’s resolution: See U2 in concert
Last book you read: “A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works” by C.S. Lewis
Hobbies: Anything outdoors: kiteboarding, wakeboarding, running and cycling
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Musician, but I have zero musical talent
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Mismatching Converse high tops and “The Karate Kid”
KRISTEN DELANEY, 30
Director of Advertising & Marketing, Beard Equipment Company
Kristen has been instrumental in creating and growing the United Way’s Young Leaders Society, and has donated her time and efforts to numerous other charities.
Education: Communication studies, Hollins University
Best advice you’ve ever received: Golden Rule: Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.
Guilty pleasure: My DVR
Last book you read: “Baby Wise” by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Marlo Thomas, outreach director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Favorite memory from the ’80s: One of my favorite memories was my first trip to Disney World, where I had dinner in Cinderella’s castle.
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To freeze time
PETER D’OLIVE, 39
CPA – Partner, Wilkins Miller Hieronymus, LLC
D’Olive is a partner at the largest accounting and consulting firm in the area. He is one of five CPAs in the state to serve on the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy.
Education: B.S. in commerce and business administration, University of Alabama
First job: Jubilee Landscaping
Last book you read: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Paul “Bear” Bryant
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Bar pilot
Favorite memory from the ’80s: High school graduation
Favorite quote: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” – Yogi Berra
Biggest pet peeve: Hypocrisy
TYRONE FENDERSON, 38
President, Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth National Bank
As a standout at the Alabama Banking School at the University of South Alabama, Fenderson was voted most likely to become a bank president. Good call.
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration, Faulkner University; M.B.A., Troy University; Alabama Banking School, University of South Alabama; Graduate School of Banking, Louisiana State University
First job: Fast food cashier
Hobbies: Golfing, gardening and gadgets
Best thing about the Bay area: I enjoy the tangible culture and style of the Mobile community, which provides a quality of life that is unmatched in Alabama.
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Abraham Lincoln
Favorite quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Biggest pet peeve: I am not a fan of excuses.
If you could have one superpower, it would be: Mind reading
DR. GLENN GALLASPY III, 32
Physician, Azalea city Physicians for Women
During his residency at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, Gallaspy received the Golden Apple Award for best teaching resident in the entire medical school.
Education: B.A., M.D.
First job: Landscaping
Best advice you’ve ever received: Marry that girl.
Hours in your work week: 70
Guilty pleasure: Fantasy Football
Your Biggest influence: My children
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Vineyard owner
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: Procrastinate less
Favorite quote: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Biggest pet peeve: Waiting in line
ROBIN HANES, 30
Vice President in Commercial Banking, Whitney National Bank
In his spare time, Hanes serves on committees for United Way Young Leaders, the Senior Bowl and Young Life. He is also a leader for Outback-Mobile.
Education: Bachelor’s in finance, Auburn University
First job: Selling Cutco knives
Last book you read: “Journey of Desire” by John Eldredge
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: George Washington
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Something in the medical field
Favorite quote: “Every man dies – not every man really lives.” – William Wallace
Biggest pet peeve: When things are done incorrectly due to lack of effort
AMANDA HEMBREE, 30
Counselor, Bayside Academy
When Hembree is not counseling students, she is busy serving as president of the Mobile Opera’s Vivace! or volunteering with the Junior League, where she earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Education: B.A.s in psychology and sociology, Georgia State University; M.S. in counseling, Loyola University New Orleans
Worst advice you’ve ever received: You only need to show up for the midterm and the final.
Your biggest influence: The Jesuits
Hours in your work week: 24/7 with a little sleep here and there
Last book you read: “The Cases That Haunt Us” by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
Favorite quote: “Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied.” – Eudora Welty
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: My worry factor. I’ve been worrying about the world since I was five years old!
JENNIFER JENKINS, 35
Vice President Public Relations, Red Square Agency
Jenkins’ public relations work has received more than 40 awards. Her community involvement is equally impressive. Many organizations have recognized her service work.
Education: B.A. in communication, minor in marketing, University of Alabama
First job: Flower shop delivery girl
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Getting a drastic haircut when I was pregnant with my second child. It is amusing to look back at the photos!
Hours in your work week: 50 - 60 hours a week, 70 - 100 hours a week including volunteer hours
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Elvis Presley
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Country music vocalist
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: To be taller. Being as tall as Heidi Klum wouldn’t be bad at all.
DR. CLAYTON LANE, 36
Orthopedic Surgeon: Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery, Alabama Orthopaedic Clinic
Lane has gained local and national respect in sports medicine. He has treated professional athletes with the New York Mets, New York Giants and New York Knicks, and now serves as the team physician for the BayBears.
Education: B.S. in biology, Wake Forest University; master’s in medical sciences, Boston University; M.D., Boston University School of Medicine; orthopedic surgery residency, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; sports medicine and shoulder surgery fellowship, Hospital for Special Surgery
First job: Maintenance at a local gas station
Hours in your work week: 60
Hobbies: Outdoor activities, like age-group triathalons, fishing and wakeboarding
Best thing about the Bay area: Down-to-earth, friendly people
If you had to choose another career, it would be: National Geographic photographer
Favorite memory from the ’80s: The movie “Top Gun”
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: To take life a little less seriously
DR. JOéL P. LEWIS, 34
Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama Administrator, Youth Leadership Mobile
Lewis is a woman of many hats. She is an administrator with Youth Leadership Mobile and also is an assistant professor for the University of South Alabama’s College of Education. While she was at it, she earned a Ph.D. in instructional design and development.
Education: B.S. in human resource management, M.S. in instructional design and development, Ph.D. in instructional design and development, University of South Alabama; Associate of Arts in culinary arts, Bishop State Community College; American Culinary Federation
First job: Shoe City sales associate
Best advice you’ve ever received: My grandmother always said, “Don’t throw away your old bucket until you know your new bucket will hold water.”
Hobbies: Trying to find time to have one person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Cudjo Lewis, one the last survivors of The Clotilde, the last slave ship to import slaves to the U.S. (I am seventh generation.)
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Restaurateur
Biggest pet peeve: Underutilized human potential
VICK LOCKETT, 38
Sales Consultant, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
You may remember Lockett as a linebacker for Alabama’s 1992 National Championship team. He has earned several company-wide awards at Novartis.
Education: B.A., University of Alabama
First job: Porter with Lerner Women’s Clothing
Best advice you’ve ever received: Be willing to take risks and change with the times or the times will pass you.
Last book you read: “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
Hobbies: Pro football, air shows, kite flying
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Jesus Christ
Favorite quote: “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.” – Gene Stallings
TREY MAYHALL III, 36
President, First Financial Group of the South
Mayhall won Lincoln Financial Advisors’ Career Club Award, given to the top new planner based on his or her first year in business.
Education: B.S., M.B.A., Spring Hill College
First job: Bag boy at a grocery store
Best advice you’ve ever received: Always make time to take vacation every year to be with your family.
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Walt Disney
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Architecture
Favorite memory from the ’80s: The independence of being an early teenager with a bike. You could take off with some friends without a care in the world.
Biggest pet peeve: People who don’t take pride in their work
MICHAEL MITCHELL, 38
Dean of Students, University of South Alabama
Mitchell, a former SGA president at the University of South Alabama, has now returned as dean of students. He is a stalwart advocate for his students and is active in many organizations on campus.
Education: B.A., University of South Alabama; master’s in education, University of Southern Mississippi
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Apply for every job posting that is out there.
Hobbies: Collecting African and African-American art
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Oprah Winfrey
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Trying to figure out how I could get my hands on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket or the “Billie Jean” jacket. At the time, I would have settled for either.
Favorite quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
Biggest pet peeve: Sagging pants
AMY MUTUAL, 37
Marketing Consultant, previously with Kaiser Realty
Mutual helped lead a multimillion dollar company back from devastating losses due to back-to-back hurricanes. She developed a marketing plan that successfully promotes the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area.
Education: B.S. in finance, University of South Alabama
First job: Writing a teen article for the local newspaper
Your biggest influence: My parents, who have always demonstrated integrity, drive and love
Last book you read: “The Rhythm of Life” by Matthew Kelly
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Jane Austen
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Going to London for three weeks with friends from school ... and tight rolled jeans
Biggest pet peeve: Daylight Savings Time
THOMAS COOKSON MYERS JR., 39
Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, MedWorth LLC, a subsidiary of The SSI Group Inc.
Myers is leading the startup of a new division focusing on healthcare financing and operational efficiency. He also cofounded a nonprofit to redevelop Lavretta Park. Myers is a former valedictorian at St. Paul’s Episcopal School.
Education: B.S., M.S. in electrical engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Best advice you’ve ever received: In business, always question the status quo and look for alternative solutions.
New Year’s resolution: Publish another book in 2010
Hours in your work week: 60 - 70
Hobbies: Writing, urban planning, photography, collecting antique maps, architecture, live music, Gulf Coast history
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: John Colter (explorer and fur trapper in the 1800s)
Favorite quote: “That which needs to be proved cannot be worth much.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Biggest pet peeve: People who are complacent
CRAIG PERCIAVALLE, 38
Vice President of Operations, Austal USA
Perciavalle has 16 years of experience in the shipbuilding and repair industry. He oversees Austal’s facility expansion project, a much-welcomed development for our area.
Education: B.S. in marine engineering systems
First job: Bagging groceries
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Invest in the stock market
Guilty pleasure: Ice cream
Last book you read: “Winning” by Jack Welch
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Abraham Lincoln
Favorite quote: “Acta non verba,” which means “deeds, not words”
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: Not to be so serious. I can use a better sense of humor!
ALEX VALLIER ROBINSON, 25
Special Events Coordinator, City of Fairhope
Robinson, who received the Leadership Scholarship from Auburn University, continues to succeed and serve. She is involved in numerous organizations.
Education: B.A. in mass communication, Auburn University
Best advice you’ve ever received: Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Last book you read: “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I read it to my 1-year-old almost every night at bedtime.
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Princess Diana
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Cohosting the “Today Show”
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Starting kindergarten in 1989, with my pink pony lunchbox and matching backpack
Favorite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
DEREK ROH, 37
Director of IT Services, Baldwin County Public Schools
Roh has implemented strategies and systems that have dramatically improved efficiency within the school system, earning national recognition. Derek was named the top public school chief information officer in the nation.
Education: Bachelor’s in industrial engineering, Auburn University; master’s in industrial and systems engineering, Auburn University
First job: Selling Cutco knives. I still use them!
Best advice you’ve ever received: My mother’s: “When you’re on your deathbed, you won’t be thinking about money.”
Worst advice you’ve ever received: My older brother Joe’s: “Don’t tell Mom!” – despite the fact that I ultimately needed minor surgery to remove a stick from my back.
New Year’s resolution: To exercise more regularly
Favorite memory from the ’80s: A family vacation to England in 1984
Favorite quote: “What a man is before God, that he is, and nothing else.” – St. Francis of Assisi
Age you’d like to retire: 60
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: To be able to keep my New Year’s resolutions
HELA SHETH, 28
Director of Marketing and Public Relations, GUlf Coast Exploreum Science Center
Prior to joining the Gulf Coast Exploreum’s staff, she excelled in marketing and public relations for the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Braves and Carolina Hurricanes. She was also the spokeswoman for Six Flags Over Georgia, where she attained media coverage with several national outlets, including the Travel Channel, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CBS’ “The Early Show.”
Education: B.A. in journalism, University of Georgia; M.A. in communications, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
First job: Ladies Workout Express
Best advice you’ve ever received: In life, don’t look in the rearview mirror.
Guilty pleasure: Taco Bell
Last book you read: “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Leggings! So glad they are back in style!
Favorite quote: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To read people’s minds
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: To stop biting my nails
WILLIAM “BRY” SHIELDS III, 25
Agent, Lyon Fry Cadden Insurance Agency Inc.
Shields took it upon himself to start the Rotaract Club – a service club for young adults. The group conducts quarterly community service projects and fundraisers.
Education: Spring Hill College; B.S. in biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Where do I start?
New Year’s resolution: Grow in personal character, give back to the community, and grow my business, in that order
Last book you read: “Rediscovering Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Surgeon
Favorite quote: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Biggest pet peeve: People who think they’re too important for others
If you could have one superpower, it would be: Bilocation
AKAREEM J. SPEARS, 37
Adult Education / GED Director, Bishop State Community College
Under Spears’ guidance since 2003, his department has increased the number of students served by 52 percent and maintained a top five out of 25 statewide ranking.
Education: B.S. in political science, master’s in education in counseling and student development, Tuskegee University
First job: Busboy at Shoney’s Restaurant
Worst advice you’ve ever received: You can do it tomorrow.
New Year’s resolution: Be better at everything
Best thing about the Bay area: The increasing diversity and economic development opportunities
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: Thurgood Marshall
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Talk show host
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Winning the city championship in Little League, 1984
ABBY STIMPSON, 37
Treasurer, A&S LandService
Partner, Treasures Ltd.
President, Flip Flop Investments
Stimpson started the Families in Transition Fund to offer child care financial assistance to families involved in a crisis. The fund helps shelter children from the emotional impact of family stress and need.
Education: Bachelor’s in accounting, University of Alabama
First job: Cheerleading camp instructor when I was 16
New Year’s resolution: Train to run a half marathon and finish reading the Bible
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Dancing to all the popular Madonna songs and the fun pep rallies at Murphy High School
Favorite quote: “You may not be responsible for being down, but you are responsible for getting back up.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Biggest pet peeve: Laziness and excuses. I think they go hand in hand.
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: To be bilingual, but I guess I still have time to learn another language
JAY STUBBS, 32
Sales Director – Gulf Coast, First Protective
Stubbs’ extensive community involvement includes Downtown Rotary, YMCA, L’Arche Mobile, and United Way Young Leaders. He is also the president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors - Mobile.
Education: B.S. in management and finance, Birmingham-Southern College; Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), The American College
First job: Host/expediter at Applebee’s, from ages 15 - 18
Worst advice you’ve ever received: The worst advice I have ever taken is to be a one-third owner of a diesel, twin-engine, 31-foot Blackfin. If you didn’t grow up with a boat, stay away from them as an adult.
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner: I am stuck on Chevy Chase – pure entertainment.
Favorite memory from the ’80s: In my mind, the music is perhaps the ONLY good thing that came from the 1980s – Prince, The Police, Duran Duran, Guns and Roses.
Biggest pet peeve: An unanswered e-mail – mine or theirs
If you could change one thing about yourself, it would be: I am allergic to tree nuts and seafood. I wish I wasn’t.
RICH SULLIVAN, 33
President/Executive Creative Director, Red Square Agency
Under Sullivan’s guidance, Red Square has seen annual revenue growth of 35 percent in each of the last four years, and it bills about $30 million annually. His work has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, CNBC, The L.A. Times and more.
Education: Biology and political science, University of Alabama
First job: Floor buffer at Springhill Medical Center
Best advice you’ve ever received: Fail harder
Worst advice you’ve ever received: Hey, you should be a doctor.
New Year’s resolution: I don’t really do resolutions. I gave them up for Lent.
Your biggest influence: P.T. Barnum, Lee Clow, Johnny Carson
Guilty pleasure: Filling out surveys. Kidding.
Favorite memory from the ’80s: I remember watching the debut of MTV.
Biggest pet peeve: Surveys that take longer than 3 minutes. Kidding.
If you could have one superpower, it would be: To automatically fill out surveys. Kidding.
WESLEY TRUE, 32
Chef/Owner, True Restaurant
True has racked up national recognition: He received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator and the Award of Unique Distinction from Wine Enthusiast and has been featured in USA Today and Southern Living Magazine.
Education: A.O.S. in culinary arts
First job: Worked for my dad in a warehouse
Your biggest influence: My father, in teaching me how to run a business
Your guilty pleasure: Wine
If you had to choose another career, it would be: Air show pilot
Your favorite memory from the ’80s: John Hughes
Biggest pet peeve: I used to care if people ordered well done meat. Here is a tip: If you want well done stay away from really lean cuts of meat, like filet or venison. Go for lamb or ribeye or chicken. It’s well done anyway; you will have a much better meal. The venison and filet just get dry.
ELYZABETH WILDER, “Isn’t knowing that I’m under 40 enough?”
Wilder was honored with the Osborn Award for an Emerging Playwright, a major national award. The highly acclaimed author of “Gee’s Bend” is completing new play commissions for the Denver Center Theatre and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Wilder also teaches playwriting at Spring Hill College and is the playwright-in-residence at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Education: B.A. in women’s studies and economics, Purchase College; M.F.A. in dramatic writing, New York University
First job: I worked at the Yogurt Shop on Upham Street when I was 16. When I moved to New York, I worked as a Broadway usherette. I saw more than a 125 Broadway shows while working as an usher. Those experiences played a huge role in my becoming a playwright.
New Year’s resolution: My goal is to send a handwritten letter once a week. No one writes letters anymore, which is a shame. They are so much fun to receive.
Guilty pleasure: Since I don’t drink or eat sugar or caffeine, I have become addicted to Goldfish crackers. Many Goldfish have been sacrificed while writing.
Favorite memory from the ’80s: Climbing in and out of the car window like in “The Dukes of Hazzard”
RICARDO WOODS, 31
Attorney, Burr & Forman, LLP
Woods has been excelling since his days at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, where he was the winner of the Haley Trial Competition. He serves on several boards throughout the community, holding many leadership positions.
Education B.A. in political science, University of Southern Mississippi; J.D., Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law
Best advice you’ve ever received Be prepared.
Worst advice you’ve ever received Stop being such a nice guy.
Best thing about the Bay area The people who live in the area
Person with whom you’d most like to have dinner Jesus
If you had to choose another career, it would be Travel writer
Favorite memory from the ’80s The birth of my two younger brothers in 1982
Favorite quote “The time for justice is always right now.”
If you could have one superpower, it would be To stop time
Musician, Mobile Symphony
Yu has been a violinist since age 7. She was accepted as the youngest full-time member of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her role as co-concertmaster of the Mobile Symphony, Yu also finds time to teach her craft to Mobile’s youth.
Education Bachelor’s in music, Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing; master’s in music, University of South Carolina
First job Beijing Symphony
Hobbies Fixing up houses
Best thing about the Bay area Crawfish, strolls in scenic Fairhope
If you had to choose another career, it would be Something that makes more money to support my music making
Favorite memory from the ’80s Definitely not playing violin
Favorite quote “Is this your best?” (to my students or myself)
If you could have one superpower, it would be To fight cancer