Tim Aja is the Opelika City councilman for Ward 3, which encompasses the historic district and other Opelika communities. A resident since 2008, he and his family moved to Alabama while on active duty with the U.S. Navy, assigned to teach ROTC at Auburn University. In 2018 Aja became a licensed financial advisor, worked with a local firm for a couple years, and in 2020 he opened Aja Financial LLC.
Ron Anders Jr. is in his second term as mayor of Auburn. Anders served 20 years as the CEO of Anders Bookstore, a family-owned business established in 1966. Anders grew up working in the store and took over as owner and operator until the family sold the business in 2005. A lifelong resident and supporter of youth athletics, Anders worked to bring the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Super 7 football Championship to Auburn’s Jordan Hare Stadium as part of a rotating schedule. He is a graduate of Auburn University and has served in local civic, community, recreation and charitable organizations.
Jeremy Arthur is executive director of the Government & Economic Development Institute, Auburn University. He began his career at the Economic Development Institute at Auburn and then went on to serve as president of the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. He is a two-time Auburn University graduate and is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Administration & Public Policy. Also, he holds the Certified Chamber of Commerce Executive designation.
Dave Arwood has been with WCGQ Radio and its local group of stations for 25 years. He is the afternoon radio announcer on Q107.3. In addition, he is operations manager for PMB Broadcasting. He is chair of the East Alabama Chamber of Commerce and chairman of The Planning Commission for the City of Smith’s Station. He and his wife own The DJ Company.
Amy Brabham is workforce development director for the city of Auburn’s Economic Development Department. Previously, she served as the economic development director at the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has 18 years of experience in the workforce development, corporate education, and training field as the vice chancellor for workforce development and career technical education for the Alabama Community College System. She has a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, a master’s degree from Troy University and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Alabama.
Robyn Bridges is president and CEO of Auburn-Opelika Tourism. A Focus 40 over 40 honoree, she also has received awards and recognitions from the Southeast Tourism Society, the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, the Alabama Tourism Department and the Southern Public Relations Federation. She is an adjunct professor at Auburn University, teaching classes in tourism PR and media writing. She is a planning commissioner for the city of Auburn and has served on several nonprofits, including United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County, and more.
Jared Clay is president of the Tuskegee Area Chamber of Commerce. He has legacy status since his father, George, is a longtime Chamber member and former president. A native of Tuskegee, Clay is the CFO for the Utilities Board of Tuskegee. When he was elected chamber president in 2021, he acknowledged the 50-year history of the Chamber and vowed to build on that foundation for a strong future.
Chance Corbett is a Russell County commissioner. He started in public service at 15 as a volunteer firefighter before becoming the youngest EMT in the state. Beginning in 2001, he spent seven years as director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Russell County before joining Auburn University to create its emergency management program. Corbett coordinates the Labor Day fair and monthly market in the Crawford community. He is on the boards of Chattahoochee Valley Community College Foundation and the Russell County Education Foundation and active in Phenix City Rotary Club.
Kelli Fischer is in her second year as principal at Opelika High School. She has served as an assistant principal at OHS for six years and has spent 13 years in education. She is an Auburn University graduate with a master’s from Troy University. She serves on the board for 20 Under Forty as well as the Auburn University ELA Program Advisory Board.
Jeremy Gray represents the 83rd District in the state House of Representatives and is minority whip of the Alabama House Democratic Caucus. Gray was honored as the NAACP Legislator of the Year in 2021 and received the Millennial Action Project’s “Rising Star” award in 2022. In addition, he was recognized by Tuskegee United Women Inc. as one of the Influential Men of Alabama. He was a professional athlete, business owner and nonprofit founder.
Laura Grill is president and CEO of the East Alabama Health Care Authority. She serves on the boards of the Alabama Hospital Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation, the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation and AmeriFirst Bank. She has also served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity – Lee County and the Chamber of Commerce of Opelika. She is a nursing graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and holds an MBS from the University of Alabama.
Keith Hargrove is provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs at Tuskegee University. He has worked for other colleges and for three federal research laboratories and General Electric, General Motors and Boeing. He also served as a founder of C&H Consulting Engineers in Nashville. He is a Tennessee State University graduate with a master’s from Missouri University of Science & Technology and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and post-doc work at the University of Michigan. He is a founding board member of a STEM-based charter school in Nashville.
Raven Harvis began her career in television sales, then after focusing on family, she came back to the workforce joining H&S Commercial and Industrial Supply, a company her parents started. She is an Auburn University graduate with a master’s from the University of Arizona, Phoenix. She serves on the board of directors for the Opelika Chamber, 3D Elite Youth Association, The Curtis House, and is a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustments for the City of Opelika.
Cristen Herring is superintendent of Auburn City Schools. She has served as a teacher, reading specialist, principal, director and assistant superintendent before stepping into her current role. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Auburn University. She has been recognized with such accolades as The Outstanding Administrator Award from Auburn University’s College of Education, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County’s Chairman’s Award, Who’s Who Among American Teachers, and Outstanding Young Women of America.
Gerald Long is general manager of the Utilities Board of Tuskegee. He is CEO of Gerald B. Long & Co., a local CPA firm, and a pastor and CFO of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery. Long, a graduate of UAB, serves on the boards of the Macon County Economic Development Authority and Fresh Anointing House of Worship. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants. Before coming to UBT, he also worked with the international accounting firm KPMG and the Alabama Public Service Commission.
Tommy Miller, mayor of Notasulga in Macon County, is the former deputy chief of the Macon County Sheriff’s Department. He also previously served as the Notasulga Police Chief, a member on the Notasulga Recreation Board and was the president of Dixie Youth. He served in the United States Marine Corps. Miller has served on many boards including Macon E-911 from 1982-2007 and as director since 2007. He is an active member of the American Legion and a Freemason of the Notasulga & Dadeville Masonic Lodge.
Katie Murray is the secondary curriculum coordinator and director of career and technical education for Opelika City Schools. Previously, she taught math for 12 years and served as the instructional resource teacher for seven years at Opelika High School. She is an Auburn University graduate with a master’s from Troy University.
Griffin O’Connor is the talent attraction and retention coordinator for the city of Opelika’s Economic Development department. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, is a graduate of Auburn’s Economic Development Institute, and is a board member of Lee County Young Leaders and co-founder of Opelika Young Professionals. He is a member of the Opelika Workforce Council and the 20 Under 40 2023-2024 class.
Mackenzie Poole is vice president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. She has an undergraduate and master’s degrees from Troy University. She previously worked for the City of Troy in the community engagement and special projects department, as well as Troy University’s Student Involvement Office until she began her role at the chamber in 2019 as the director of leadership and events. She coordinates more than 170 events and programs annually and is the staff leader for the 20 under 40, Lee County Young Leaders, Opelika Young Professionals, REACH Campaign, and all program related committees.
Todd Rauch is a retired U.S. Army military police officer and currently serves on the Opelika City Council. Rauch also serves on the board of directors for the Lee Russell Council of Governments and the Alabama Association of Regional Councils. He was recently named the “Best Government Official” in the Auburn-Opelika area and was selected for a special delegation for the American Council of Young Political Leaders. He was awarded the Purple Heart for service in Iraq. He has an associate degree from Lake Land College and a bachelor’s from Auburn University.
Dionne Rosser-Mims is vice chancellor for the Troy University Phenix City Campus. She completed Harvard’s Women in Educational Leadership Institute and received the 2023 East Alabama Chamber of Commerce Individual Leader of the Year Award. She has a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. She is active with the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, United Way of Chattahoochee Valley and Phenix City Rotary and a Piedmont University trustee.
Jackie Screws is president of Chattahoochee Valley Community College. Her recent awards include the Sister’s Inc. Rosa Parks 2019 Women of Courage and the Courier Eco Latino Lift Her Up Award, and she is a graduate of Leadership Alabama. She is a member of the Phenix City Rotary Club, and a board member for the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, the East Alabama Chamber, Synovus Bank (East Alabama), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Screws has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tuskegee University.
Joe Turnham is director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority, working to attract key new industry. He and his board of volunteers have opened an office, created and executed a five-year strategic plan for industrial and retail development/recruitment. In only six years, MCEDA has established seven industrial sites, including one of only three CSX Select Sites in Alabama, and aided in the recruitment of several new retail and major development. He is an Auburn University graduate.
This article appears in the December 2023 issue of Business Alabama.