Alabama’s diverse population is one of its greatest strengths. Using that strength as a resource is key to business success in a booming economy where the consumer base doesn’t stop at the state’s borders but circles the globe.
In today’s interconnected world, leaders who recognize and encourage ideas and individuals from all walks of life and incorporate them into their corporate structure are able to adapt to the ever-changing market dynamics.
Businesses that encourage networking and mentorship opportunities, both within the business and outside in the community, are not only building leaders but also informing future workers of the many opportunities provided by their business and by the state of Alabama.
Business Alabama takes this opportunity to highlight some of the state’s corporate barrier-breakers — those companies that not only say they encourage diversity but actually put the idea into practice. From higher education institutions to agricultural corporations, these Alabama companies are employing and molding one of the state’s best resources — its people — into tomorrow’s leaders.
Global Marketing Director | Aviagen
For the past decade Marla Robinson has served as global marketing director for Aviagen, a large international poultry
breeding company. In this role she ensures worldwide consistency of the company’s communications and marketing strategies. Her more than 30 years of experience encompasses management positions for big names in the high-tech world, such
as Intergraph and Silicon Graphics. Born and raised in rural North Alabama, Marla cultivated a love of farming and agriculture early on, and for this reason has found her home at Aviagen. She says she feels her job enables her to make a difference by contributing to a company that is playing a big part in feeding future generations with a sustainable and healthy source of protein. Her team appreciates her creativity, her passion for the poultry breeding industry, her strong leadership ability, and, more importantly, her positive and caring attitude. Marla holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), as well as a number of poultry industry organizations.
Janet K. Martin
Dean, Institutional Advancement | Calhoun Community College
Uniquely situated in north Alabama’s high-technology corridor, Calhoun Community College exemplifies the community college mission at its best. The largest of the two-year institutions comprising the Alabama Community College System and the sixth largest institution of higher education in the state, Calhoun is recognized among the region’s most successful economic and workforce development engines, providing educational and training opportunities to approximately 10,000 credit students and more than 3,500 non-credit students.
The College is proud of our long and established history within the community, and deeply values and celebrates the diversity among our students, faculty, staff, and the communities we are so very fortunate to serve.
With a student body that truly represents a microcosm of our region, Calhoun’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is clearly evident and is an integral component among the College’s primary values.
Calhoun Community College continues to meet the educational and training demands of a unique and highly diverse population and is proud to serve our community as an active partner in the continued success of the north Alabama region.
CEO / President | Stewart Lodges At Steelwood
The vision of The Stewart Lodges is simple: to create and deliver a private, exclusive, customized experience, whether for a business meeting, golf or fishing trip or family gathering. “Our goal is to take care of our customers with the utmost respect, creating an environment of connection.”
“I believe you earn respect. You gain progress and move forward in your career by having solid integrity and ethics, by having a good attitude, by embracing challenges, by being thankful for every opportunity, and by constantly growing your knowledge in all areas of business. If you can master these traits, no matter who you are, you will be successful.”
Campbell’s favorite part about her job is impacting and making a difference with her employees and her customers.
“I hope I have made a difference in other peoples’ lives by mentoring and sharing through my personal experiences and knowledge as my mentor has done for me,” Campbell said. “It is my time in my life to give back and pass on to the next generation.”
STEWART LODGES AT STEELWOOD
32311 Waterview Drive East, Loxley, AL 36551 • 251-602-1300 • StewartSteelwood.com
Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Officer | Redstone Federal Credit Union®
Yvette Banks inspires others to “let their light shine.”
She often tells new Redstone Federal Credit Union® employees that regardless of their position, they should always strive to do their very best.
“Determination, a passion to serve others, integrity, and team work will take you further than you could ever imagine,” says Banks, executive vice president and chief retail officer at Redstone.
That sentiment has certainly been the driving force in Banks’ career. Hired as a teller 34 years ago, Banks worked her way up the ranks, keeping true to the credit union’s philosophy of “People Helping People.”
Diversity at Redstone is focused across the entire organization through its core values.
Redstone is Alabama’s largest credit union. In 2018, it was named Credit Union of the Year by NAFCU. Money® Magazine named Redstone the 2017 ‘Best Bank’ in Alabama.
Dealer Principal & General Manager | Landers Mclarty Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Fiat & Alfa Romeo
Frank Williams served in the United States Army for three years before transitioning into the automotive world. Following Williams’ military career, he went on to a sales position in the automotive industry, where he quickly excelled up through the ranks to the general manager position, at the age of 26. He served as general manager for multiple stores until the age of 41, when he purchased his first dealership, and now owns and runs three dealerships.
With more than 30 years of experience, Williams strives to excel and exceed expectation. That drive has propelled his dealerships to continuous awards and recognition from industry leaders, as well as customers.
Williams strives to reflect the diversity within the community via his workforce. The automotive industry has, historically, been a male dominated industry. Frank Williams’ dealerships employs more female mangers than most automotive dealers. He encourages employees to communicate and grow within the organization. This leads to the singular goal of Frank Williams Dealerships: Providing superior customer service.
Stephanie A. Bryan
Tribal Chair and CEO | Poarch Band of Creek Indians
In 2014, Stephanie Bryan became part of her Tribe’s history when she became the very first woman elected to serve as tribal chair and CEO for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. She previously served as the Tribe’s vice chair from 2006 until she was elected to Poarch’s top leadership position.
During the years that Stephanie has served in leadership, Poarch’s economy has grown by 1000 percent. Further, the Tribe has become a major driver of economic growth in the state, and its business endeavors have grown to include multiple locations across the United States and the Caribbean. Nationally, Chairwoman Bryan is known as a passionate advocate for Indian Country and serves on numerous regional and national boards. Her most recent distinction was when she was selected as a Woman Warrior by the National Indian Gaming Association. She also has been recognized as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer and Alabama’s Top 40 Over 40 by Alabama Magazine. Bryan attributes her success in shaping policy that affects her Tribe and others to her deep and abiding love for her people.
Stephanie and her husband Keith enjoy spending time with their three children and grandchildren — loving reminders that there is always work that needs to be done to ensure that Poarch remains a healthy, productive sovereign Indian nation for generations to come.
Dr. Patricia G. Sims
President | Drake State Community & Technical College
Dr. Patricia G. Sims was named the fourth president of Drake State Community and Technical College in December of 2018 by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. Under her leadership, Drake State is transitioning to become the premier training destination for businesses in greater Huntsville. She recently served as the dean for the College of Education at Athens State University after 12 years as an administrator for the Alabama Community College System. She has also served as a teacher and principal in the Huntsville City Schools System.
“My career as an educator, administrator, advocate and community leader has prepared me for the role of president at Drake State,” Sims said. “I am passionate about the role Alabama’s community colleges play in preparing individuals for successful futures and I am committed to expanding this mission in the Huntsville community.”
With more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Sims has been recognized by Huntsville Progressive Chapter of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University Alumni and by the Alabama Community College System with awards.
Kim Caudle Lewis & Larry Lewis
CEO/President | PROJECTXYZ
Founded in 2002, PROJECTXYZ is a technical solutions company using its expertise to solve problems and deliver results for federal and
commercial customers at various locations, both domestic and international. Headquartered in Huntsville, PROJECTXYZ provides expertise in the research, design, development, integration and sustainment of innovative solutions in engineering, logistics, information technology and alternative energy.
PROJECTXYZ is a minority woman-owned small business. Kim Caudle Lewis (CEO) and Larry Lewis (President) are the owners. In recent years, the company has started to diversify by investing in real estate and other small businesses.