Twenty-five women in media — whose jobs range from online news site editor to newspaper to TV and radio to marketing executive — were honored in early November at the Top Women in Alabama Media Awards Dinner in Birmingham.
Emmy Award winning newscaster Sharyl Attkisson presented the keynote address, encouraging her colleagues to pursue the truth — while avoiding the influences of powerful corporate and government interests that would skew the news — and then find a medium that allows them to report it.
Once a national investigative news reporter for CBS, she now hosts “Full Measure” for Sinclair Broadcast Group. She is the author of two New York Times bestselling books: “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think and How You Vote” and “Stonewalled.”
“Sophisticated efforts to shape and skew, censor and stop are still being employed today” in an effort to prevent journalists around the world from telling the stories these powerful interests prefer to keep hidden, she said.
“Who would have thought that the important responsibility to simply tell the truth and reflect reality would become a dwindling commodity in short supply? So the extent that our work in the media, that your work, can reflect reality and diverse opinions and even facts and information that some powerful interests don’t want to be told, it’s crucial work.
“Reporting the facts and telling the truth — it’s actually easy, if only we’re allowed,” she concluded.
Jefferson County Municipal Judge Jeff Gilliam was emcee for the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel.
The event was sponsored by Wind Creek Hospitality, Sims Productions LLC, the University of Alabama Department of Communications Studies, WDJC 93.7 radio, and PMT Publishing.
Special thanks to the following companies for their support of the Women in Media event: At Home (athome-furnishings.com), Cookie Fix (cookiefix.com), Edie Hand (hhentertainment.biz), Hotworx (hotworx.net/studio/vestaviahills), Orange Theory (vestavia-hills.orangetheoryfitness.com), Stock & Trade (stockandtrade.com), Sweet Peas Garden Shop (205-879-3839), Swoozie’s at the Summit (swoozies.com), Village Dermatology (villagedermatology.net) and Weezie B Designs (weeziebdesigns.com).
Meet the Winners
Rebecca Howard Arbour
As a senior account executive for iHeartRadio Mobile, Rebecca Howard Arbour says she wanted a way for her clients to gain face time with potential customers in a low-pressure environment. So she led the team that brought iHeartRadio’s Wine on the River marketing event to her city.
Now in its third year, the annual wine tasting brings Mobile companies and prospective customers together to enjoy live music, food and wines from national and international vineyards.
Arbour, a Birmingham native, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama with dual degrees in advertising and public relations and art history. She started her career as an intern with iHeartMedia in Tuscaloosa before becoming a part-time board operator. Then in 2015, she transferred to the iHeartMedia Mobile-Pensacola market as an advertising executive.
Besides Wine on the River, Arbour has coordinated other iHeartRadio marketing events, including the Sista Strut Mobile breast cancer walk to raise awareness among women of color.
In 2017, the Alabama Broadcasters Association honored Arbour’s work with the Large Market Campaign of the Year award.
“The best part of my job is the relationship I’ve developed with my clients,” she says. “There’s not a single day I take for granted the trust they have in me to help lead their business in the right marketing direction.”
As a senior account executive for Summit Media, Hannah Black, of Birmingham, says that she finds her purpose and passion in helping local, regional and national businesses maximize their advertising dollars by “hyper focusing” on their needs and business goals.
A 1997 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in social work, Black has spent more than 14 years on the job representing six Summit Media radio stations. In addition, she has been a top producer in her cluster each year, was the 2011 CMG President’s Club winner, and she remained in the President’s Club from 2013 to 2018 for consistently billing more than $2 million in revenue annually.
She says the best career advice she received came from a former manager and veteran in the industry.
“She always told me, ‘Hannah, it’s just radio. No one is going to die,’” says Black. “I always think about that when planning a big presentation or losing a big account. Also, always be the hardest worker in the room and out work your competition. It always pays off. I’ve had some wonderful leaders in my career thus far, and I’m forever grateful to them for the opportunities they have given me.”
With a passion for technology and politics, Susan Britt is in her element as co-owner and associate editor of the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), an independent and nonpartisan daily online news site.
Britt and her husband, fellow APR co-owner and editor-in-chief Bill Britt, operate the website that covers state politics with investigative reporting and commentary.
They also host a weekly, half-hour, television show called “The Voice of Alabama Politics” where they and “V team” panelists discuss the state political news. The show boasts some 1.2 million television and online viewers across the state and nationally.
Prior to launching APR in 2011, Attalla native Susan Britt worked as a media professional in New York City, building websites for national charities and newspapers.
But after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the Britts left New York City and moved to Attalla. From their farmhouse, she built the APR news site. Today, the couple oversees a staff of 15 dedicated to helping Alabamians understand state government.
“Along the way, I’ve had the joy and privilege to mentor many young women who have shared my passion for journalism and making a difference by taking a stand on the critical issues that face society,” she says. “Founding APR is the most profound accomplishment of my life.”
A registered dietitian and nutritionist, Anne Cain didn’t expect to go into publishing, but when she saw an ad from Oxmoor House, looking for a cookbook editor, she decided to interview for the position. “I had an interest in layout and in writing,” Cain says. “It ended up being what I should have been doing all along.”
An Auburn University graduate, Cain holds master’s degrees in clinical nutrition and public health nutrition from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Today, Cain serves as the special projects editor for Meredith Corp. in Birmingham. She produces newsstand special edition issues for popular brands including Food & Wine, Cooking Light and Weight Watchers.
“I love the combination of creativity and also the attention to detail,” Cain says. “I really like being in publishing because it is a great way to promote healthy eating.”
One of Cain’s most challenging projects was working on a book called “Wine, Food & Friends,” with Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible.” “She was great to work with. I learned a lot. It took about two years to produce,” Cain says.
Before joining Meredith, Cain was director of communications for the Southeast Dairy Association, after 24 years at Time Inc., where she developed cookbooks and edited Successful Living with Diabetes magazine.
Cain serves as a member of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, the Alabama Dietetic Association and the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.
Dee Ann Campbell
Dee Ann Campbell worked as a lab technician for nearly 20 years, but says her love for writing remained since her days working on her high school newspaper in Collinsville, Mississippi.
Then, in 1998, about seven years after marrying her husband, newspaper publisher Tommy Campbell, she started freelance writing for Decision, a Christian magazine; The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and ParentLife magazine.
In 2001, she went to work for The Choctaw Advocate in Gilbertown, where her husband was editor. Besides writing articles, she also served as ad manager and typesetter. In 2013, she took over as publisher of The Choctaw Advocate, which today is The Choctaw Sun-Advocate, a weekly publication.
In addition to publishing, she also is an Alabama Press Association member and has chaired the organization’s Better Newspaper Contest Committee.
“There’s a mindset out there that newspapers are dying,” says Campbell, “and that’s not true of the community newspaper. In the communities we serve, there’s still strong readership and a desire to hold that printed paper and get the news from a local source. So, any person growing up female or otherwise, who sees a career in that area, there’s still a future here.”
Chandra Clark, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Alabama’s Department of Journalism and Creative Media, is producing a documentary series called “First Informers” in partnership with the University of Oklahoma.
The series examines the role local meteorologists, news reporters and anchors, and government stakeholders play in keeping citizens informed during weather emergencies.
So far, the team has produced more than 30 videos, she says, and is now working on a four-part series combining their collection of work, which includes more than 200 interviews from more than 70 stations in places like Tuscaloosa, Joplin, Missouri, and Moore, Oklahoma.
“The ‘First Informers’ project has already played a role in helping our nation’s leaders understand the importance of journalists and pass a federal law that helps journalists when they’re covering disasters,” says Clark, a UA graduate.
That law, which came into being in 2018, designates broadcasters in federal disaster areas with first responder status and appropriates funding to help them stay on the air.
“While first responders are the most crucial people in the time of a disaster,” says Clark, “we wouldn’t know the measures taken by the first responders if not for the journalists who’re sharing and telling the stories of those impacted by a major event.”
Cordova native Jennifer Cohron is the features editor at the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper.
Cohron started out in journalism when she joined the staff of the University of Alabama at Birmingham student-run newspaper, The Kaleidoscope. There, she learned page layout “on the fly” and became the features editor and later the opinion page editor. Acquiring those skills, she says, prepared her for her internship at the Daily Mountain Eagle in 2007 and for leadership in the years to come, too.
After graduation in 2008, she went to work as a full-time reporter at the Daily Mountain Eagle. And, because versatility is important at a small-town paper, her page-layout skills helped position her for promotions, she says.
The paper named her news editor in 2014, editor of its quarterly Walker Magazine in 2015 and features editor in 2017.
Cohron says, “I’m a writer at heart. I haven’t been trying to build a resume. However, I know I can serve in these leadership roles as well as anyone else. Being in a leadership position is important not because it builds my resume, but because it has allowed me to effect change that I wouldn’t have if I had remained a writer.”
Ann Collister is a pioneer for women in radio in the South, getting her start at WHHY-AM in 1951. “My neighbor insisted that I go for an interview and I finally went and got this job and just loved it,” Collister says.
Since then she has tackled some of the hardest jobs, becoming president of Montgomery’s first FM radio station, WHHY/Y-102 in 1962, a position she held until the stations were sold in 1995. She moved on to be president of Montgomery Broadcast Properties until it was sold in 2004, when she went to the Bluewater Group as national sales manager until 2007. Today, she is president of Stroh Communications Corp., Montgomery’s contemporary Christian radio station and WTXK AM/FM, the city’s only FM sports/talk radio station.
“I still love it,” Collister says of her job. “I love the changes that have been made in the industry and I enjoy the community activities I have become involved in.”
Collister is active in American Women in Radio and Television, the Montgomery chapter of Women in Communications and the Montgomery chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives. She was inducted into the Alabama Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2014.
She is also active with civic organizations, such as the Capitol City Club, Montgomery Baptist Association, the March of Dimes and her church. “My job has allowed me to serve the community, and I just love people,” Collister says.
Collister has been married to her husband, Bill, for 62 years and they have two children and five grandchildren.
At 82, Glenda Curl is still likely to be found at the office, putting the Wilcox Progressive Era newspaper to bed for the week.
Curl, publisher of the paper, says she started in the newspaper business in 1962 when her husband, Hollis Curl, applied for and won the job as editor of what was then the Choctaw Advocate in Butler. Curl soon found herself lending a hand, compiling copy and photographs for the newspaper’s inside pages, she says.
The Curls later acquired newspapers in Demopolis, Marion and Montevallo. Then in 1969, they sold the Choctaw Advocate and purchased the Progressive Era in Camden.
She remembers difficult days after Hollis Curl died in 2010 and she had to take on responsibilities for the newspaper. But she kept going.
Today, Curl remains active, managing the paper alongside her grandson, Ethan Van Sice, which she says she enjoys. And, she still writes editorials and her column, “Glenda’s Glibs,” where she shares her musings with readers. She is also an Alabama Press Association board member.
For now, Curl says she has no plans to retire.
“I think that’s probably what keeps me going,” Curl says, “getting up every morning and coming in here and facing whatever there is to face.”
Tapeka Fennell is the founder and CEO of the Fennell Media Group, a corporate consulting, television and multimedia production company headquartered in Chelsea and specializing in branding and content development across several platforms.
Fennell, a native of Gordon, set her sights on a career in media soon after she graduated magna cum laude from Miles College in 2015 with a degree in accounting. She started producing and hosting her own talk show on the NOW Network, as well as a podcast that airs on Stationhead Social Radio.
Fennell also has worked as a booking agent for Music World Entertainment and conducted live remote broadcasts on behalf of several Birmingham radio stations. Moreover, she is a contributing writer for the Forbes Coaches Council and a guest contributor to several national business publications.
In addition to her career, Fennell volunteers with Junior Achievement, teaching youngsters lessons such as fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship, and she is active in several other organizations, including the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) and the United Nations Women.
She says her latest project will showcase local “invisible leaders” who work behind the scenes in communities to make positive change happen.
“Our goal is to highlight the contributions of those who serve outside the limelight.”
Edie Hand seeks to inspire others through her television shows, books and a nonprofit foundation.
The actress, television personality, author and filmmaker has starred in daytime soap operas and appeared in national commercials. She has hosted several radio and television shows, including guest hosting for “Rx for Healthy Lifestyles” on FamilyNet Television and other outlets. She also has authored, co-authored or assisted in the publication of more than 20 books.
Moreover, as chairman of Hand ’N Hand Entertainment Inc., she has produced film dramas like “Pursuit of Justice” and documentaries.
Hand is an alumna of the University of North Alabama. She also holds memberships with the Alliance for Women in Media, Alabama Broadcaster’s Association and Faith in Films.
In addition, she has created the Edie Hand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports charities and nonprofits like Children’s of Alabama and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It also supports orphans in Asia through the Ramini Kids Foundation. She says she launched the Edie Hand Foundation to honor her three brothers, who died tragically due to accidents and illness.
“This experience,” says Hand, “led me to be a part of many community efforts to pay life forward.”
Sherri Jackson is an Emmy award-winning journalist and news anchor at CBS 42 News in Birmingham.
With more than 20 years at CBS-42, Jackson co-anchors the news desk on weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
The Alabama Broadcasters Association named her Best News Anchor in Alabama five times. She also has won two Emmys for her reporting, including a 2014 Emmy award for “Hope and Honor: A Tribute to Four Girls.” The story profiled artist Elizabeth MacQueen, who sculpted the “Four Spirits” monument that stands at the historic Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham.
Jackson’s other awards include two Edward R. Murrow awards, an Alabama Broadcaster Association’s ABBY Award and recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists.
She also is active in her community, serving on the boards of several charities and nonprofits, including The Foundry Ministries, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lawson State Community College Foundation, Children’s Aid Society, Childcare Resources and Red Cross Blood Services.
A graduate of Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, Jackson also is a Region 9 director for the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).
Best career advice she ever received? “To be myself,” she says. “I got that very early in my career, and it has helped because you’re the best you that you can be and you can only work to improve yourself.”
Brad Kachelhofer has a flair for words and a head for business as the principal and creative director of The Modern Brand, a full-service branding and advertising agency in Birmingham.
Kachelhofer, a Birmingham native and a 1990 Randolph College graduate, co-founded the agency in 2007 after 11 years as a custom publishing editor at Southern Progress. Since then, she has garnered a client list that includes The University of Montevallo, United Ability (formerly UCP), The United Way of Central Alabama and The Health Action Partnership of Jefferson County.
Kachelhofer has a nearly all-female team, and colleagues credit her for her commitment to identifying and developing young female talent. Eight of her nine employees are females under age 40.
“There’s a disconnect between the way success is defined in school versus the workplace,” she says. “Women are closing the achievement gap in higher education because that system rewards qualities that are generally considered female, while the rest of the world operates on a male standard that women are expected to conform to. That has to change, and not by leaning in harder. So I think creating continuity between academic success and career accomplishments and placing more value on cooperation and connections instead of competition benefits everyone.”
Brenda Ladun is a news anchor at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham.
A native of Philadelphia, she learned broadcast journalism at the school’s closed-circuit television station, then earned a degree in mass communications at the University of South Florida.
She met her husband, sportscaster Doug Bell, while working at a television station in Gainesville. They both worked in Peoria, Illinois, before moving to Birmingham.
She joined the ABC 33/40 staff in 1996.
Ladun has been honored with five Alabama Associated Press Awards for Best Investigative Reporter and Best Specialized Reporter and she has been honored as Best Anchor.
A breast cancer survivor, she is the regional spokeswoman for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and she has written three books about her recovery. She earned the Edward R. Murrow Award for Radio and Television Journalism for a series she aired about breast cancer.
She is also an active supporter of Grace House Christian Home for Girls and is active in her church.
She and Bell have three sons.
When the Alabama Press Association hired Felicia Mason as its executive director in 2000, she became not only the organization’s 11th executive director, but also the first woman to hold the position in what was then its 129-year history.
The Alabama Press Association represents 23 daily and 98 weekly or non-daily newspapers across the state. The organization hosts conventions and workshops, contests, and provides lobbying and legal consultation.
“My goal is to continue this important work for our members and provide guidance as our industry continues to evolve,” she says.
A native of Pine Hill, Mason earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Alabama in 1987 and later an MBA from Samford University.
She started working at APA in 1987 as a sales and marketing representative. The APA later promoted her to advertising manager in 1991 and associate executive director in 1998.
Mason is a member of the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Board of Visitors and the Auburn University Journalism Advisory Council.
“Journalism is a vital part of our democracy,” says Mason, “whether it’s print or digital, newspapers provide the news and information communities need to be informed citizens. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this rich tradition for most of my career.”
Carmelita Palmer is market president for iHeartMedia in Huntsville, in charge of developing and managing partnerships with current and potential clients to grow revenue across IHM platforms, including broadcast, digital and live events and executing market-specific plans to drive sales growth.
Palmer began her career in 1980 as an account executive at McDougald Broadcasting Corp., in Rome, Georgia. Then in 1988, she accepted a job with Winning Team Inc., in Asheville, North Carolina, as director of marketing. In 1994, she joined Clear Channel Communications — now iHeartMedia — in Asheville to become a senior account executive.
In 2000, she transferred to iHeartMedia in Huntsville where she rose from director of sales to her current position.
“There’s a Sheryl Sandberg quote that I love,” Palmer says. “She says, ‘Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ My greatest motivation comes from former employees who tell me that they’re using the skills I taught them in their current position.”
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to have had some great female role models, but we’re in an industry where women are still in the minority when it comes to leadership positions. Together, we can change that.”
Audrey Pannell’s journey to a leadership position in public relations began at Auburn University when she graduated cum laude in 2009 with a degree in public relations.
After gaining experience at a local agency as public relations and social media coordinator, Pannell landed the role of director of public relations and social media at Style Advertising, a boutique agency in Birmingham.
Within five years, in 2016, the firm promoted her to vice president of public relations. As the leader of the department, with more than 60 client accounts in all industry sectors, Pannell has overseen campaigns for leading and emerging brands, including Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies, nonprofit organizations and local businesses. She has also directed public relations for the annual Birmingham Restaurant Week, a 10-day culinary event.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without God opening doors to incredible opportunities and placing remarkable people in my life like Style’s owners, Bill Stoeffhaas and Chuck Cargal, who put their complete trust in me from day one,” she says. “Hard, hard, hard work can also be attributed to where I am today, and a phenomenal team to build you up, back you up and be there when you fall is crucial to success.”
A love for the news has always been part of Deborah Pearson’s life. Since 1992, after attending Alabama State University, she has worked as a reporter and afternoon news anchor for 99.7 WOOF FM.
“Every day is different. I get to tell the stories of the people in my communities. There is never a dull day,” Pearson says.
She has been honored by the Alabama Press Association and the Alabama Broadcasters Association, most recently as Best Reporter for 2019. Other awards include Best Regularly Scheduled Newscast, won in 1997, 2001 and 2003; Best Anchor in 2003; Best Spot News Story in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2002 and Best Public Affairs or Documentary in 1997.
Outside work, she is vice president of Les Vingt Socialete Club Inc., which teaches young men etiquette, finance and other life skills while also funding scholarships.
She also serves on the advisory board of the Alzheimer’s Resource Center, is a member of the Dothan Association of Women’s Club and the Dothan Alumni Chapter of Alabama State University and is active in her church.
Pearson also serves as public relations specialist at Abuzz Filmworks LLC, where she served in the play “The Coloring” in 2009, before becoming a part of the team.
“Radio has opened so many doors for me to do so many things,” Pearson says.
Lisa Roxanne Richardson
Roxanne Richardson is a radio and television veteran, currently hosting the “Roxanne and Ace” weekday morning show on 93.7 WDJC, a Birmingham station owned by Crawford Broadcasting Co. In addition, she has appeared on the Fox News Network, The 700 Club and The Learning Channel.
“I wanted to be an actress, but I didn’t want to be unemployed,” she says, “so I thought about what way I could be creative and thought, ‘I can do TV.’”
So, at 19, while working at WBBM-FM in Chicago as an intern, her employer sent her to cover a big murder story, “and I fell madly in love with radio,” Richardson says.
Through her church, Richardson also helped establish The WellHouse, a shelter for trafficked women, and Special Ops, which aids exploited individuals at local motels and truck stops. She also has been honored by My Brother’s Cup, which sells coffee to raise funds for missionaries in Himalayan communities, by having one of the company’s coffees named after her. “It has butterflies on the bag and it smells like Christmas and joy,” Richardson says.
Richardson and her husband, Wayne, have four adult children. When not working, Richardson enjoys traveling, visiting museums and riding in biplanes.
Anne Riley is director of content marketing at Uptick Marketing. “We love getting success stories — being able to use the tools and expertise of our staff to bring success to someone else’s company,” Riley says.
But writing, whether a public relations campaign, a magazine article or a book, has been key to her professional life.
“I have been a writer for a long time,” Riley says. “And books have always been a part of my life. I enjoyed reading so much that I wanted to write, too.”
Riley has written two books for young adults and one book for children.
During that writing process Riley learned a lot about how to navigate the world of publishing, which she now shares with other writers. “The publishing industry is so competitive, and the market is always changing,” Riley says. “It is fun for me to guide people through that process.”
Riley works as a manuscript editor and consultant for other authors. Most recently she worked on Emma Fox’s “The Arrow and the Crown” and Bekah Bowman’s “Can’t Steal My Joy: The Journey to a Different Kind of Brave.”
Riley also writes for Shelby Living and Hoover’s Magazine, as well as for EPIC Media.
She also is a wife and mother to three girls, all under the age of eight.
Carrie Rollwagen is vice president of strategic planning at Infomedia, a role that allows her to follow her passion of advocating for small businesses.
A former coffee and bookshop owner, Rollwagen decided in 2011 to shop exclusively at locally owned businesses for an entire year. “I wasn’t an advocate before, but I am now,” Rollwagen says.
“Most people think of local businesses as neat or quaint, but they are really important,” keeping dollars in the community and making better local decisions.
A Samford University graduate, Rollwagen has written for The Birmingham Post-Herald and Southern Progress and worked as a social media editor at Willow House.
“I like social media when it can be authentic,” Rollwagen says. “I am interested in creating a narrative.”
“Typical training is about manipulating your numbers,” she says of social media work. “I’m not into that. I am more interested in having more influence — followers that are interested in your message.”
Funded through Kickstarter, Rollwagen self-published a a book, “The Localist,” in 2015. Today, she shares her self-publishing experiences through a weekly podcast, Everybody Hates Self-Publishing, which she launched in 2017. It can be found on iTunes and elsewhere.
A native of Birmingham and a graduate of Hollins College and the University of Texas, Margot Shaw had a watershed moment when planning her daughter’s wedding. Working alongside the floral and event designer, she recognized the artistry and inspiration involved in floral design and apprenticed with the designer. However, when she looked for a publication about floral design, she couldn’t find any. So, she launched her own magazine, Flower, now in its 11th year.
“It was an idea that wouldn’t leave me alone,” Shaw says. “I had no publishing experience whatsoever.” But friends offered nick-of-time advice, and the magazine launched.
“Flower is not just about flowers but about a lovely, gracious lifestyle,” Shaw says. And Shaw loves all aspects of the magazine. “The creative part is so gratifying. I love the challenges of print in 2019 and overcoming those.”
And she speaks to groups around the country, from garden shows to museums, and recently completed a book, “Living Floral,” with Lydia Somerville and Karen Carroll, published by Rizzoli.
She is active in the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville, the Lauritzen Gardens Antique Show in Omaha and the Antiques at the Gardens in Birmingham.
As general sales manager at Summit Media, Natalie Smith loves helping clients achieve success.
“I have always enjoyed creating events and planning things. When I was a Tigerette at Auburn University, we helped to recruit players to come to the university by showing them around campus,” she says.
Family is the foundation of Smith’s life. She credits her job with providing the flextime she needed when her two children, Ryan and Blake, were little.
Smith explains that when she was growing up, she and her dad traveled all over the country to see the Dodgers play. “Both of my sons played baseball, so now, every June, we travel to see a different baseball stadium. We are trying to see all the stadiums in the country, and we are doing pretty good checking off our list,” Smith says.
Making family memories also led her to create a cookbook with her grandmother — a challenge, since her grandmother always follows a recipe, while Smith is “more of a dumper — a little of this, some of that” cook. But they sold about 2,000 cookbooks.
Smith is also active on the Laps for CF board.
Office manager is Dawn Taylor’s title for Uptick Marketing in Birmingham, but her role within the company runs from accounting to event planning.
“My tagline has been ‘Many Hats, All on One Head’,” says Taylor, and she loves the variety.
She started her career with an ad agency in Nashville, who asked her to assist in a commercial production. “I love it. I have been in production since 1983,” Taylor says. That commercial production involved Jim Varney, also known as Ernest, and Taylor has worked on both Ernest movies and their commercials. She also served as the Alabama location manager for the movie “Tallageda Nights.”
Today she funnels that creative side into CrowneWorks, a creative media group that she helped co-found with Jason Lovoy, president of Uptick Marketing.
She has also been executive director of the American Advertising Federation-Birmingham, for 20 years. She also currently serves on the Shades Valley Technical Academies Marketing and Advertising Council and is The Webb School class agent for the class of 1978.
A single mother of two young women, Taylor also has a passion for recycling, which she credits to her time at the University of the South. At each of her employers, Taylor has started a recycling program. “We are a throw-away society, and they don’t make it easy to recycle.”
Sharon Maze Tinsley
A love for theater as a child in Arab led Sharon Maze Tinsley to her degree in broadcast and film communication from the University of Alabama. In 1986, just out of college, Tinsley joined the staff of WVTM-TV in Birmingham, before moving to The Nashville Network.
“I loved live television — the adrenaline rush you get knowing that millions might be watching,” Tinsley says.
In 1997 she transitioned to the music industry, working at Broadcast Music Inc., including several years as senior director of media licensing.
She has been president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association since 2005.
Tinsley has been president of the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations and active with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, mid-South chapter, and the board of visitors for the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences.
She also works with the Alabama Census Committee, the State Department of Education and SkillsUSA board, Jefferson State Community College Mass Communication Advisory Council, Alabama Media Professionals and American Women in Radio and Television.
“I feel so strongly about education and how education can lift a person up,” Tinsley says. “It can be a solution to poverty, crime and is at the core of being successful.”
Tinsley and her husband, John Friend, have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Gail Allyn Short is a Birmingham-based freelancer writer and Erica Joiner West is editor of Business Alabama.