⏳ Nominations EXTENSION, ALI Dothan Recap, and a big LA Welcome 👋🏽

⏳ Nominations EXTENSION, ALI Dothan Recap, and a big LA Welcome 👋🏽

February 22, 2024

Leadership Alabama is thrilled to welcome Lydia Barnett to our team as the Membership Engagement and Alabama Leadership Initiative (ALI) Director on March 1.  Lydia comes to LA from The Hope Institute, where she served as the program coordinator, supporting, planning and executing the Hope Leadership Academy sessions as well as other Hope Institute events.  Additionally, she has 13 years of teaching experience, starting with Teach for America in Memphis, TN and including public/charter school classrooms in four states.

She earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Auburn University and her M.Ed. in administration at Samford University.  She is married to Tyler Barnett, CEO of New Schools for Alabama, and they are parents of two young daughters.

You will be able to reach Lydia via email at

Nominations have been pouring in, and we are thrilled that so many qualified and outstanding leaders are being submitted – thank you!  And, great news – since we are in a Leap Year, we are going to “leap” forward and extend the nomination deadline until next Thursday, February 29.  So, nominations for LA Class XXXIV will remain open for eight more days! Remember, you may nominate more than one person, and your nominees can be from any region of the state, not just your geographic region.

To date, we have received 
96 nominations,
as regionally noted below. 

  • Auburn/East AL – 7
  • Birmingham – 19
  • Cullman/North Central – 1
  • Decatur – 2
  • Huntsville/Northeast AL – 21
  • Mobile/Baldwin County – 13
  • Montgomery – 18
  • The Shoals – 4
  • Tuscaloosa/West AL – 4
  • Wiregrass – 7

Important note –
Last week we discovered the online nomination form’s anti-spam filter on the LA website may have inadvertently blocked some valid nominations from entering the nomination system.  Thankfully, the issue has been resolved.  We have sent a confirmation email today to ALL nominators who successfully submitted a nomination through the online portal.  If you submitted a nomination form but did NOT receive the email with subject Confirmation of LA Nomination, please email us to check the status of your nomination.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and we want to be sure all nominations will be received before the extended deadline, February 29.

Click the buttons below for qualifications, nomination guidelines, and the online nomination form.

Qualifications for Leadership Alabama
Class XXXIV Nomination Form


ALI Class VI at Golden Peanut Company in Headland, Alabama
(photo courtesy of Marlee Jackson)

ALI Class VI recently convened in Dothan/the Wiregrass, and Leadership Alabama was thrilled to host the class in this region (a first for ALI and the first time in 33 years for LA).  The class gathered at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and was enthusiastically welcomed by Linda Young (LA Class XXII and LA Board Vice-Chair). Mayor Mark Saliba (LA Class XXV) offered insights into Dothan and living in the Circle City, followed by a presentation from Phil Clayton (LA Class XXXII) and Melody Lee, Grow Southeast Alabama, about the growth in southeast Alabama and the accompanying career opportunities.  The morning session concluded with Trisha Black’s presentation of “Main Street Alabama: Community Engagement, Revitalization and Investment.”

Walter Hill (LA Class XXX) shared information about The United Way and how it creates opportunities, improves lives and strengthens communities for all areas it collectively serves in the state and challenged the class members to become more involved with their local United Way organizations.  The discussion about engaging with local United Way agencies was the perfect segue way to participating in the Poverty Simulation, an interactive and eye-opening experience.  The class was stunned to learn of the many obstacles that the underserve and those in need face as they try to navigate life in poverty situations.

That evening, local Wiregrass LA members joined the ALI class at the Turner Room at Bob Woodall’s (LA Class XXXI) business, with dinner being catered by KBC and Chef Kelsey Barnard Clark, who was just named a finalist for a James Beard Award – Best Chef: Southeast. What an incredible treat! After dinner, Bob invited ALI class members for a spontaneous visit to one of the Dothan Mardi Gras dens. It was a fun and festive night to end a great day in the Wiregrass!

Friday’s session was dedicated to delving into all aspects of Alabama’s agricultural environment, including being welcomed by Chris Walker, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, and learning from Dean Mitchell (LA Class XXVII) about HudsonAlpha’s research, education and development initiatives in the Wiregrass.  Since Dothan is the “Peanut Capital of the World,” it was only natural for Libbie Johnson, Alabama Peanut Producers, and Emmanuel Bankston (ALI Class V) to present “Peanuts in Alabama: Did you know?”

Following the presentations, the class traveled by bus to the Golden Peanut Company, where they toured the peanut shelling factory (group photo above). Then, Jeff Helms, Alabama Farmers Federation, addressed the opportunities and strengths inherent with agriculture in Alabama.  The session concluded with an engaging, candid class caucus, which the class always enjoys at the wrap-up of each programming session.


As previously shared in several updates, the annual membership dues of only $175, coupled with the incredible support of organizations throughout the state, sustains Leadership Alabama’s operating and regional event expenses.  As we continue to expand statewide activities that will afford all of us the opportunity to be together more often, your annual dues and gifts become even more important to the success of our overall strategies.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so, please remit your annual dues online via the button below or click to print an invoice and send a check to the office.   

Click to pay online.
Click to print invoice.


During March and April, your regional councils will meet to review the candidates for LA Class XXXIV from their geographic regions. In conjunction with these scheduled dates, area membership events are also being planned by your regional leaders. The Shoals Regional Council is targeting a date in April, and the Montgomery Regional Council, in partnership with Leadership Montgomery, is planning a membership gathering in April, as well.  Additional information will be sent very soon.

LA Regional Councils


Ashley Kaplan
Executive Director

Kate Cotton
Operations & Development Director