Dr. Stuart Bell is the 29th president of the University of Alabama, a position he has held since 2015. Bell founded and directed UA’s Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and was an Engineering Department Fellow in the department of mechanical engineering. He is the recipient of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Ralph Teetor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research and Teaching and the T. Morris Hackney Faculty Leadership Award for the College of Engineering. Bell earned undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University.
Dan Blakley is associate vice president for economic and business engagement at the University of Alabama. He previously served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and as president of the Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and he currently serves on the advisory board for Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, the Tuscaloosa National Airport, the DCH Foundation and as ex-officio member of the Chamber board. Blakley is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and served four years as a chemical officer in the U.S. Army.
Michelle Coley is an Allstate agent and owns real estate agencies in Tuscaloosa and Hoover. A Stillman College graduate, Coley is chair of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, serves on the Elevate Tuscaloosa Advisory Council, is a member of the University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies board of visitors and was recently appointed to the City of Tuscaloosa Zoning Board of Adjustments.
Brian Davis is executive director and CEO of the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority (PARA). Earlier, Davis served as director of engineering and public works for Vestavia Hills. Davis served in the U.S. Army Reserves as an administrative specialist from 1992 to 2004. In 2003, he received the Joint Commendation Award for service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the 10th Mountain Infantry Division in Afghanistan. Davis is a University of Alabama graduate with a master’s from the University of West Florida.
Joe Eatmon is dean of community relations at Shelton State Community College, a position he took on last year after serving as head men’s basketball coach since 2016. Eatmon is a graduate of Bevill State Community College with a master’s degree from the University of West Alabama.
Chip Fuqua is chief of staff at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, where he has worked for almost 23 years. Fuqua is also vice chair of education and workforce development at the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University.
Jheovanny Gomez is the co-owner of Jalapeños Mexican Grill, which has three locations in Tuscaloosa and Northport. A native of Colombia, Gomez moved to Tuscaloosa to study at the English Language Institute at the University of Alabama. He also earned an associate degree at Shelton State Community College. Gomez is chair-elect of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and served as the 2022 United Way of West Alabama campaign chair. He also serves on the board of the Alabama Retail Association and the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority.
Donny Jones is executive vice president and chief workforce officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. Jones is on the board of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and is an appointed member of the Alabama Workforce Board. He also serves on the boards of the Tuscaloosa Education Foundation, Tuscaloosa Character Council, Region 3 Workforce Board and Heritage Healthcare board. Jones graduated from the University of Alabama and he is also a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa.
Katrina Keefer is the CEO of the DCH Health System. Prior to coming to DCH, Keefer served as CEO for Augusta University Health and executive vice president of health affairs at Augusta University in Georgia. She also worked in the UAB Health System for 17 years, serving as treasurer and director of financial operations and later becoming senior vice president and chief financial officer for Baptist Health in Montgomery. The Georgia native was raised in South Alabama and earned a bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College and a master’s from New York University.
Walt Maddox was sworn in for his fifth term as mayor of Tuscaloosa in 2021. He also serves as a senior fellow with the Program on Crisis Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Maddox is a Tuscaloosa native and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Jay McPhillips is executive director of Yea Alabama and has more than 17 years of experience in sales and fundraising, a majority in college athletics and at the University of Alabama. He serves on the board of The Arc of Tuscaloosa County. The Cullman native earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business.
Michael Oatridge is executive director of the Alabama Mobility and Power Center (AMP) at the University of Alabama. In 2021, Oatridge retired as senior vice president of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, after working for the Honda Motor Co. for more than 30 years. Most recently, he was owner and president of Strategic Workforce Solution, a company he founded in Birmingham. He has served as executive board member of the Alabama Workforce Committee, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the Birmingham Business Alliance, and has chaired the board for the Japanese American Society of Alabama and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
Dr. Yolanda Page is president of Stillman College. She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, most recently as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Savannah State University. She is a recipient of the Council of Independent Colleges Chief Academic Officer Award (2020) and was recognized by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of 25 outstanding women in higher education (2017). Page earned bachelor’s degrees from Dillard University and a master’s and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.
David Pass is a partner and investor in the Sealy Companies. He is a graduate of Oglethorpe University and holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Harvard Business School. He serves on the board of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and on the Elevate Tuscaloosa Advisory Council and is an ex-officio board member for the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority. Pass is also a member of the Tuscaloosa National Airport Advisory Committee and has been a champion for attracting commercial air service back to the airport.
Jordan Plaster is a private wealth adviser and managing director for Plaster, Scarvey & Shumaker, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services in Tuscaloosa. He has been named to Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors and Barron’s Top 1200 Financial Advisors in America. He chairs Tuscaloosa Rotary Honor Flight and is a past chair of United Way and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. A graduate of Leadership Alabama, he serves on the board for IDA, Business Council of Alabama, Community Corrections, Salvation Army and Black Warrior Council/BSA. The UA graduate is on the board of visitors for Culverhouse College of Business.
Chipper Rabbit is chief financial officer of Parker Towing Co. Inc., where he has worked more than 25 years. A CPA, he is responsible for all finance, accounting and risk management functions at Parker. Earlier, he worked in public accounting for more than 10 years and served as a corporate controller and chief financial officer for various manufacturing industries. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Louisiana Tech University. He is a former board member of UCP of West Alabama.
Rob Robertson is probate judge of Tuscaloosa County. He also chairs the Tuscaloosa County Commission, the Tuscaloosa County Emergency Communication District, the West Alabama Regional Commission and the Tuscaloosa County Special Tax Board. He is an ex-officio board member for the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority and a member of the Exchange Club of Tuscaloosa, Kiwanis of Greater Tuscaloosa, the Marine Corps League, the Alabama Marine Foundation, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Alabama Probate Judges Association. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama.
Kelsey Rush is president and CEO of Visit Tuscaloosa and serves on the executive committee for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama board. She also has a long history of volunteerism, with organizations including Junior Achievement, the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, Theatre Tuscaloosa and United Way. Rush earned a master’s degree from the University of Alabama in 2022 and also holds a travel marketing professional certification.
Justice Smyth is executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority. Earlier, he was interim director of the Alabama Mobility and Power Center and director of strategic partnerships for the Alabama Transportation Institute at the University of Alabama. He serves on the boards of The Arc of Tuscaloosa County and Family Counseling Services of West Alabama, as well as several UA-affiliated boards. Smyth earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UA with additional economic development credentials from the University of Oklahoma.
Kyle South recently was named the president and CEO for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. South had served in the State House of Representatives since 2014, representing District 16, but resigned his seat to start his new role at the chamber. In the House, South served on the Financial Services Committee and Insurance Committee, served as vice chairman of the Ways and Means General Fund Committee and served on the Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee. The Fayette native is a graduate of the University of Alabama.
Cade Warner is chief operating officer at The Westervelt Co. and will assume the role of president and CEO at the beginning of 2024. He also was recently appointed to the company’s board of directors. The Tuscaloosa native earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama and a master’s at the University of Georgia and has completed additional courses through Harvard Extension School. Warner is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst and Financial and Modeling Valuation Analyst professional designations.
Glenda Webb is city administrator for Northport. Earlier, she served as an assistant district attorney for the 6th Judicial Circuit from 1999 to 2001 and then as attorney for the City of Tuscaloosa from 2001 until she was named city attorney in 2013. She chairs the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission and is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Craig Williams is the owner and operator of Avenue Pub and The Wine Market and has been heavily involved in re-launching the Tuscaloosa Downtown Merchants Association. Williams serves on the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama board and is a member of the board of the West Alabama Food Bank. He earned his bachelor’s from the University of Alabama and is a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa.
JacQuan Winters is the founder and executive director of the Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation, an organization that provides suicide prevention and awareness, empowerment coaching, educational outreach and advocacy services to children, young people and their families. Winters started the nonprofit in memory of his sister, Kristen Amerson. Winters earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Alabama with additional credentials related to his work.
Sandra Wolfe is the executive director for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa. Wolfe earned a bachelor’s degree at Capital University, a master’s at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and did post graduate studies at the University of Alabama. She serves on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Edge Entrepreneurship Center and on the Elevate Tuscaloosa Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Arts Education Leadership Team for the Alabama Artistic Literacy Consortium and a flutist in the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra.
This article appears in the September 2023 issue of Business Alabama.