Movers & Shakers in Madison County

Get to know the community's most notable people.

Masashi Aihara

Masashi Aihara
Aihara is executive officer, general manager, U.S. Production Preparation Office, and president of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA Inc. He has served in several positions in the company, and as president of Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd.

Deborah Barnhart
Barnhart is CEO and executive director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which is the official visitor center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, showcase for Redstone Arsenal and defense programs, an official visitor center for the TVA and a Smithsonian affiliate. A retired Navy captain, she also has worked in industry, government, aerospace and defense and has served as vice president of three Dow 30 aerospace and defense companies. She has received awards from national and state organizations. She earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University and holds degrees from the University of Maryland, UAH and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a Sloan Fellow.

Tommy Battle
Battle is in his third term of mayor of Huntsville. Working to create jobs and diversify the city’s economic base, he has assembled a coalition of regional leaders to recruit industry and bolster workforce development. Huntsville leads the state in new jobs and economic investment. Battle is a former member and finance chair of the Huntsville City Council. He is an entrepreneur and businessman and has more than 30 years of community service. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

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Mark Brazeal
Brazeal is vice president of administration at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA. He is responsible for all administration operations of the new joint venture including HR, safety, production control, environmental, accounting and external affairs. He comes here from Toyota Motor North America. He has served as president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, the Career and Technical Education Commission of the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama Productivity Center. He is a University of Alabama graduate.

Joe Burke
Burke was named interim president of Calhoun Community College in May 2018. He is a career educator with more than 30 years of experience in higher education as an instructor, counselor and administrator. Most recently, he served as vice president and dean of instruction at Northeast Alabama Community College. Burke is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a master’s from Jacksonville State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Paul Finley

Paul Finley
Finley is mayor of the city of Madison. Since he became mayor in 2008, he, the city council and employees have focused on quality of life improvements from the Madison Hospital, Hogan YMCA, James Clemens High School, Historic Downtown redevelopment, Target and the Shoppes of Madison, and most recently the Town Madison development and Multi Use Venue to house the Rocket City Trash Pandas AA baseball team. He also worked on securing more than $100 million in road projects. He chose to not seek re-election in 2012 but was re-elected in 2016. He has 25 years of professional sales and consulting experience focusing on strategic communications and team building. He is a graduate of Murray State University.

Robert Hamilton
Hamilton is the FBI’s senior executive at Redstone Arsenal, where the bureau is expanding operations with plans to move 1,350 employees to Huntsville from other sites. Hamilton also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves and is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas and is a recent graduate of the Harvard Business School general management program. 

Janette Hostettler

Janette Hostettler
Hostettler is vice president of production for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, where she is responsible for production lines for the company, including stamping, body weld, paint and assembly shops. She is responsible for the start-up planning to integrate the two production systems into one company. She has served in several other capacities in Toyota Manufacturing before taking this new post. She also has served as a chemist and supervisor at Red Spot Paint and Varnish Co. Inc. in Evansville, Indiana, and served as a technical expert at different automobile manufacturing plants. She is a graduate of Purdue University.

Hironori Kagohashi
Kagohashi is executive vice president and treasurer of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA. He has served in several capacities with Toyota Motor Corp. He is a graduate of Hitotsubashi University.

David King
King is CEO of Dynetics and a member of its board. King has more than 35 years of experience in space systems development and operations, including service as director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He is a former Space Shuttle launch director and led the Columbia Recovery team following the Columbia accident. An AIAA Fellow, he has been honored with the National Space Club Goddard Memorial Trophy and several NASA awards. He is currently the chairman of the board for The Enrichment Center and the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation and a board member for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the Kairos Foundation in Florida and Leadership Alabama. He is a trustee for the Huntsville Hospital Foundation and is a peer group leader for the AIAA Fellows Selection Committee. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a master’s from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Erin Koshut

Erin Koshut
Koshut is executive director of Cummings Research Park in Huntsville. Cummings is the second largest research park in the U.S., with 300 companies having 26,500 employees, high schools and universities with more than 13,000 students, and a land area of 3,843 acres. She is on the board of the Association of University Research Parks. Previously, she was vice president for client services and special events with the Nashville-based public strategies firm, CRISP Communications. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University.

Kim Lewis
Lewis is CEO of PROJECTXYZ Inc., which she started in 2002. The company provides customer support in engineering, logistics and IT and has been noted for rapid growth by Inc. Magazine, received the U.S. Chamber Blue Ribbon award in 2016 and the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award in 2015. In 2017, PROJECTXYZ was named the US Chamber of Commerce Women-Owned Business of the Year. She serves on the boards of Calhoun Community College Foundation, Cummings Research Park, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Health Establishments at Local Schools, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and the National Children’s Advocacy Center. She is chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the first African-American woman to hold the position.

Col. Kelsey Smith
Smith is commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Redstone Arsenal. A graduate of Gonzaga University, he completed flight school and worked in aviation throughout his Army career. He is a volunteer coach for the Grissom High School mountain bike team and Alabama Brawlers Wrestling Club. He speaks about leadership and mentorship at local schools and serves on the boards of the Huntsville Botanical Garden, U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Dale Strong

Dale Strong
Strong is chairman of the Madison County Commission. A lifelong resident of the county, he graduated from Athens State University. He also attended the University of Alabama and UAB, where he received a license as an emergency medical technician. He has also worked for First Alabama Bank and Solvay Pharmaceuticals. He has served as a 911 dispatcher and worked with Huntsville EMS Inc. and Huntsville Med-Flight. He is a member of the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department. He received the Heart of an Eagle Award in 2018 from the Boy Scouts of America and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2017 from the Athens State Alumni Association.

John Watson
Watson is the president and CEO of Torch Technologies Inc. He also has served the company as vice president of business development and as a board member. Watson has more than 36 years of experience in the defense industry. Previous to Torch, he served as director of new product development for Dynetics Inc. and as vice president of the Florida division for Nichols Research Corp. He is an Auburn University graduate with  a master’s from the University of Florida. He also is a graduate of the Huntsville Leadership L-31 Flagship Program. He currently serves as a board member for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He previously served on the board of the Business Council of Alabama, where he was selected for the Still Ambassadorial Award for membership outreach. He also served as co-chair of the Alabama Department of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee on Mathematics in 2017.

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