About Us


Kate H. Cotton

Executive Director Cell: 205 515-6515

Kate Cotton joined the Leadership Alabama team in January 2018 following a long career at Protective Life Corporation, serving in her last position as the vice president of community relations & executive director of the Protective Life Foundation.  Prior to working with the Foundation, she was the national sales training director and regional sales director of Protective’s payroll deduction products division, obtaining membership in the Million Dollar Round Table and Protective’s “Colonel’s Cabinet,” the highest honor awarded to the top producers in the company. 

She has been involved with numerous organizations and has served on various boards of directors, including PARCA, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Education Foundation, the Woodlawn Foundation, Jones Valley Teaching Farm, Liberty Learning Foundation, UAB’s School of Nursing, the YWCA Central Alabama, the Junior League of Birmingham, Linly Heflin Unit, Women’s Committee of 100, the Advent Episcopal School, McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN and Furman University’s Parent Network.  Additionally, she is a member of Leadership Alabama, Leadership Birmingham, UAB’s Leadership Cabinet, UAB’s Educational Foundation Board and PreSchool Partners’ Advisory Council.  She was named one of the BBJ’s “Top Birmingham Women for 2020,” in addition to being named one of Birmingham’s “Women Who Make a Difference” in 2014 and being honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts.

Kate, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business, is married to John T. Cotton, has three grown sons – Dr. J Ryan Cotton, Ben A. Cotton and Lee H. Cotton – and enjoys spending time at Lake Martin, reading, walking, silently cheering for the Oklahoma Sooners and “organizing!” 

Ashley Whatley

Director of Programs and Membership Engagement Cell: 205 905-9415

Born and raised in Montgomery, Ashley Whatley graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.  She began her career with the Auburn University Foundation in Major Gifts Development, working and meeting strategic alumni across the country.  She returned to Montgomery and served as an admissions counselor at Huntingdon College recruiting students around the state of Alabama.  Ashley joined the Leadership Alabama team in December 2007.  She serves as the director of programs and membership engagement.   

Ashley serves on UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Young Supporters Board, the PARCA Roundtable,  and the YWCA Kids Korner Committee.  She is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and serves on the Kiwanis Connect Committee.  Ashley and her family live in Homewood, Alabama, and they thoroughly enjoy their community and its many activities.  Besides keeping up with her son Tripp and daughter Lexie, she enjoys volunteering at their schools, cooking new recipes, watching football and spending time with family at Lake Martin.