Spotlight on Calhoun & Talladega: Movers & Shapers

The individuals who help shape the communities of Calhoun and Talladega counties

Jason Alderman is market president for Calhoun and Cleburne counties for Southern States Bank, headquartered in Anniston. Alderman has been in banking for more than 25 years, starting his career in 1995 with Compass Bank in Anniston. He holds undergraduate and MBA degrees from Troy University. Alderman is a native of Adel, Georgia, and has been active in numerous business and civic organizations in Calhoun County, serving as chair of Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, chair emeritus of The Sunny King Charity Classic and the Calhoun County QB Club and now serving on the Alabama PACT board.

Brent Cunningham is interim dean of the College of Business & Industry at Jacksonville State University. Cunningham led the college through the move into the newest facility on campus, Hugh Merrill Hall, home to the Regions Bank Finance Lab and the Wakefield Behavioral Research Lab. He earned his bachelor’s degree from JSU, master’s degree from the University of Alabama and doctorate from the University of Mississippi. He has received numerous teaching, research and community service awards.


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Michele Eller is superintendent of Sylacauga City Schools, appointed in May 2021. She has worked in public school education for more than 20 years as a teacher and administrator in rural and suburban school districts. During Eller’s first year as superintendent in Sylacauga, the district has had significant gains in student achievement in literacy and math. She serves on the executive advisory board of the Alabama Association of Career Technical Education.



Seddrick Hill Sr.  is Talladega city manager. Appointed in May 2021, he has initiated capital improvement projects, beautification programs and helped enact ordinances and resolutions that promote economic growth. He spearheaded the revival of the Talladega Walk of Fame. Earlier, he served as executive director of institutional advancement and community relations for Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and vice president of institutional advancement for Talladega College. A Talladega College graduate, he holds an MPA from Jacksonville State University and added credentials in philanthropy. He is pursuing his Ph.D. at Hampton University.

Chad Jones is president, CEO and board member of Alabama’s oldest, continuously operated bank, First Bank of Alabama. He also serves as a board member for First National Bankers Bank based in Louisiana. He is active in Alabama Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America. Earlier, he was director for Alabama Banking School. He is a member of the Talladega County Economic Development Authority, MGH/AIDB Board, Citizens Baptist Medical Center advisory board, Talladega First board and is president of KNOX and the Anniston Country Club. He is a graduate of Troy University and Graduate School of Banking at LSU.

Donna Bowden Jones is owner of The Bowden Companies/Bowden Properties LLC, a commercial and residential investment company. She is the former owner of Bowden Oil Co., a wholesale and retail gasoline distribution company. She is a graduate of Samford University and served four years on the Samford Parent Advisory Board. She has served the last four years on the board of directors of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce and is its current president.


Don Killingsworth Jr. is president of Jacksonville State University. A two-time graduate of the university, he has dedicated most of his professional career to his alma mater — first as an academic advisor, then director of government relations, and finally chief external affairs officer. He is chairman of the Calhoun County Area Chamber and Visitors Center board of directors.



Jeff Lynn is president of Central Alabama Community College, which has campuses in Talladega and Childersburg. He also is vice chancellor for aerospace and aviation, as well as vice chancellor of workforce and economic development for the Alabama Community College System. He serves on the Aerospace Alliance Four State Board, the Alabama Germany Partnership board and the Alabama Robotics Technology Park executive board, among others. He is a graduate of Auburn University. He previously served as the executive director of workforce development programs for Louisiana Economic Development in Baton Rouge.

Col. Eric McCoy is commander of Anniston Army Depot. A graduate of Morgan State University, his education includes a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, a master’s from Georgetown University and a master’s from the U.S. Army War College. During his military career, he has served as an executive officer in Operation Enduring Freedom and director of the subsistence supply chain, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support. He has many awards and decorations.


Corey McWhorter is Anniston-Gadsden market executive/commercial relationship manager for Regions Bank. A Jacksonville State University graduate, he has completed extensive professional development work at Regions and other banks where he worked earlier. He is board member and chair elect of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and active in Main Street Oxford, Empty Stocking Inc. and United Way. He was appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey to the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways Finance Technical advisory committee.


Laura Strickland is executive director of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Auburn University and began her career with Russell Corp. After working at a Birmingham advertising agency, she joined her brother as co-owner of a Sylacauga business. She will receive her IOM designation from the U.S. Chamber Foundation Institute of Organization Management this spring. She was twice recognized as volunteer of the year for the Sylacauga School System. She serves on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement and Sylacauga City Schools Foundation.

Phil Webb is owner of Webb Concrete & Building Materials, with locations in Oxford, Pell City, Heflin, Roanoke, Centre and Birmingham. He serves on the boards for many organizations, such as Alabama Power, Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders, Calhoun County Home Builders Association, University of Alabama President’s Cabinet, University of Alabama Capital Campaign Cabinet, JSU Foundation, JSU School of Business & Industry, Calhoun County Economic Development Council, NobleBank & Trust, The Donoho School and The Right Place. He also is chairman and board member of the McClellan Development Authority. He has served on the Habitat for Humanity board, the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama and serves on the board of Great State Alabama.

This appeared in the July 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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