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Leadership Alabama

Exciting Leadership Alabama Recap from Chair Gordon Martin

Exciting Leadership Alabama Recap from Chair Gordon Martin

Fellow Leadership Alabama members:

As we begin our 30th Anniversary year for Leadership Alabama and finish our first year with our “new” Executive Director, Kate Cotton, I want to share with you a quick update of what Kate and Ashley Whatley have accomplished in the last 12 months.  I think you will be as impressed as I am.

  • Increased Efficiency and Effectiveness.  We have a new, more robust online payment system and streamlined accounting system, an excellent new auditor with reduced fees, a leaner staff with enhanced benefits, better and more detailed financial accountability, and better and cheaper office space in Montgomery.
  • Enhanced Membership Engagement and Communication.  We distributed a membership survey, resulting in more engagement opportunities for LA members, as overwhelmingly requested. We added member dinners in concert with Class XXIX’s programming in Huntsville and Birmingham (which was the inaugural state-wide membership dinner now scheduled for each upcoming year), and plan to add member dinners to all of Class XXX’s retreats this year.  We continually updated the website and enhanced our presence on social media (a total redesign is in the works), invited members to the ALI trip to the Black Belt, and significantly increased communication with the Board of Directors, Regional Council members and the full Leadership Alabama membership.
  • Revised Programming.  All retreat programs were tweaked based on current issues.  Specifically, we revised programming in Mobile, adding an environmental component (Dauphin Island Sea Lab) and a trip to Austal.  (This year we plan to add a trip to Airbus.)   And, we introduced new workforce development issues and proven models of success in Huntsville. We added a ranking system to our retreat evaluations, which has helped us rank-order the experiences.  We also reintroduced dinearounds in Birmingham and integrated ten Class XXIX members into retreat programming.
  • Record Participation.  We had a record number of nominations (183) for Class XXX and will have the largest class we’ve ever had (67).
  • Alabama Leadership Initiative.  Class II was a tremendous success, with an outstanding group of diverse participants, including those from underserved areas, and terrific programming.  We had a record number of nominations for Class III (152).  In just two years, ALI is a well-respected and highly sought after initiative.
  • Record Fundraising.  Kate and Ashley created and implemented a statewide fundraising plan which resulted in exceeding our membership dues/contributions goal, and helped bring in more than $62,000 in new funding from corporations and foundations (an increase of more than 107% over the prior year!).

Leadership Alabama Elects Four New Board Members
During the June meeting of the board of directors, four new board members were unanimously elected to serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2019.  We are thrilled that the following people have agreed to serve:

  • Deborah Bell Paseur 
    Attorney, Florence, Class XII
  • Richard Stabler
    Office Managing Member, Warren Averett, Montgomery, Class XXII
  • Jay Watkins
    Managing Shareholder, Maynard Cooper & Gale, Mobile, Class XXIII
  • Bennet Wright
    Executive Director, AL Sentencing Commission, Montgomery, Class XXIX

We also bid farewell to two board members whose terms expired.  Tommy Battle (Mayor, City of Huntsville) and Liz Huntley (Attorney, Lightfoot, Franklin & White), both of Class XXIII, worked tirelessly on behalf of Leadership Alabama and were passionate about further advancing our state.  We are indebted to them for their service and commitment.

I am grateful to the board for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chair for another year, and I thank David Nast (President & CEO, Progress Bank), Class XX, and Melissa C. Morrissette (Vice President/Co-owner, LLB&B Real Estate, Inc.), Class XXI, for agreeing to serve another year as Vice Chairman and Treasurer, respectively.

Leadership Alabama Elects Five New Regional Council Leaders
Leadership Alabama also elected five new Regional Council leaders:

  • Henry O’Connor
    Partner, Jones Walker, Mobile/Baldwin Co., Class XXIII
  • Stacia Robinson
    Agency Principal, BeneChoice Companies, LLC, Montgomery, Class XI
  • Forrest McConnell
    President, McConnell Honda & Acura, Montgomery, Class XXVI
  • Cynthia Lee Almond
    Attorney, Councilwoman, West Alabama, Class XVIII
  • Mark Sullivan
    Market President, Synovus,  West Alabama, Class XXV

We want to thank incoming board members Richard Stabler and Jay Watkins for serving on their respective regional councils, as well as Jackie Wuska (President & CEO, United Way of West Alabama), Class XXV, who chaired the West Alabama Regional Council for several years.

Please join me in thanking these leaders for their service to our organization and congratulating Kate and Ashley for an outstanding year.


Gordon G. Martin
Chair, Board of Directors
Leadership Alabama