Challenges facing children within the state of Alabama have been a particular passion for Christy Cain Mehaffey. She grew up in LaFayette, AL where small town life influenced her greatly. She attended Auburn University where she studied Family and Child Development. During her time at Auburn University she volunteered for a non-profit program that served unwed teenage mothers and her first job after college was Lead Teacher in a Head Start program. These experiences brought into focus for her the issues of poverty and the plight of children and families in Alabama. It became clear to her that her life’s work would involve shaping the lives of young individuals and also assisting their family members as needed.
Ms. Mehaffey has held numerous positions within the field of education and has taught or interacted wi students from 6 weeks old to college age. She received her master’s degree from Troy University in Public Management so that she would better understand the processes and agencies that directly affect the lives of children within the state. This led to her interest in politics and how state agencies provide the services children and families need.
Christy has been Executive Director of Children First since March 2006. Her hope and the hope of Children First board is that substantive change can be made in the lives of Alabama’s children by helping to shape legislative policy and by insuring that monies designated towards children’s programs are well-spent.
John Hall was born in Birmingham. He is currently the owner of the Law Office of Hall & Hall, LLC, LLC. In the three years between 2006 and 2009, he took a leave of absence from his 24 year law career to return to his previous profession of teaching public high school.
Prior to returning to teaching, he was founder and partner of the law firm Hall & Hall in 1998. Before starting his own firm, he was shareholder and partner with the law firm of Rives & Peterson for 16 years. Previous positions also include Social Studies teacher in the public schools of Birmingham and Denver, Colorado; Director of an inner-city day camp (Camp Fire Boys and Girls of Birmingham and JCCEO); and Director of male staff and camp counselor with the South Carolina Camp for Mentally Retarded Children.
John received his J.D. degree from the Cumberland School of Law, engaged in post graduate studies work at Colorado State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in secondary education and history. He graduated from the University of Georgia with an ABJ degree in Journalism (Public Relations).
In 2003, for the second time, Mr. Hall received the “Alabama Citizen of the Year Award” from the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence and was appointed by the Governor to Chair the Alabama Council on Violence against Women in 2002. This Council developed and published the Alabama’s first ever Plan to Combat Violence against Women. He served as Co-Chairman and Moderator of the 1996 Alabama Media Summit, “The Media and Our Children – The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions,” held in Montgomery and sponsored by the Governor; and served on the Board of Directors for the United Way agency, the Central Alabama Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls (serving as President from 1998-1999), and the A+ Research Foundation (working for education reform), and the Summit Children’s Foundation.
He has received numerous awards for his dedication and service to the poor children, women, and families of our state, including the “1996 Children’s Advocate Award,” by Childcare Resources; the “1996 Jefferson Award,” for public service from WBHM, Channel 42 in Birmingham; the “1996 Good Shepherd Award,” from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham; the “1998 Child Advocacy National Certificate of Recognition from the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division;” and was chosen by The Birmingham News Editorial Board as one of six 1996 “Unsung Heroes” in recognition of volunteer community service. John also received the “1997 Distinguished Service Award,” from the Alabama Chief Probation Officers’ Association. In 1987, he received the “Alabama Citizen of the Year Award” from the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence.
John is a graduate of the 1996-97 class of Leadership Birmingham. Other notable honors include working as a Special Assistant Attorney General and serving as Chairman of the Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s Task Force, between 1987 and 1990, which resulted in the passage of 19 laws and was hailed as a “Model for the Nation”. Statutes John drafted protected the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, spousal rape, drunk driving, child abuse and elder abuse.
Between 1988 and 1990, he helped lead a team of physicians, forensic experts, and district attorneys to revamp and develop the “Alabama Rape Evidence Collection Kit,” which was utilized in all Alabama hospitals that performed sexual assault exams in Alabama. In the late 1990’s, John chaired a group at the request of Democratic Governor Siegelman and Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor, to update the Evidence Collection Kit in order to make it compatible with the new use of DNA evidence.
As an attorney, John was awarded membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2002, an honorary forum in which membership is extended by invitation only to attorneys throughout the U.S. who have won one or more multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Since becoming an attorney, John has contributed well over 3,500 pro bono hours on behalf of numerous public service efforts. These include authoring and working on the Children First legislative program, co-founding and serving as Chairman and President of Children First Foundation, Inc., Co-Chairman of the Lt. Governor’s School and Youth Violence Task Force, working with the Alabama Senate Education Committee to enhance the 1995 Alabama Education Accountability Act, working with the State Department of Education to help construct a pilot Alabama Adult Literacy Program, and serving as Chair of the Alabama Council on Violence Against Women.
In 2010, he helped found and was chosen to be the first Board Chair of the Children First Alliance of Alabama, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporations.
Currently, he is working weekly to lead a Bible study in a prison ministry at Bibb County Correctional facility.
He is married to Jane Greene Hall and is the father of five children and three step-children.
Sharon (Sheri) Paulk McKeanwas born in Montgomery, AL and graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Speech Communications. Mrs. McKean is currently a member of the following boards: Junior League of Montgomery Sustaining Advisor; Children First Foundation; Montgomery Area Council on Aging; Montgomery County Department of Human Resources Quality Assurance Committee; Auburn University’s Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority Parent’s Club (Chairman). Mrs. McKean was previously a member of various community boards: Leadership Montgomery President; Success by Six; Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, BONDS (Building Our Neighbors for Development and Success); Montgomery Area United Way Community Council Chairman; Alabama Promise Initiative Chairman; Montgomery Promise Chairman; Junior League of Montgomery President; Trinity Presbyterian School Parent Teacher Organization President; VOICES for Alabama’s Children President; Alpha Gamma Delta Alumnae Province Director; First Baptist Church Youth Sunday School Director; Squires Board; Camellia Ball; Montgomery Area Cancer Society; Children’s Trust Fund Statewide Advisory Committee; State Public Affairs Committee Chairman for Junior League of Alabama and Governor’s Commission on Child Welfare Services.
Mrs. McKean has received numerous awards for her volunteer efforts. These awards include: Girl’s Scouts 2005 Women of Distinction Award; Montgomery Chapter of Daughters’ of the American Revolution Outstanding Community Service Award; Rose Award for Service and Leadership to Alpha Gamma Delta Alumnae; 2000 Mathews-Altheimer-Smith Award from Montgomery Area United Way Community Council; 2000 Friend of Children Award from Child System of Alabama; 2001 Sustainer of the Season for the Junior League; 1997 Alpha Gamma Delta Outstanding Alumnae Award; one of the Jaycees’ “Outstanding Young Montgomerians” for 1990.
Mrs. McKean and her husband, Rory, have two children, Landon and Rory. Landon is a senior at Auburn University and serves as Miss Auburn for 2006. Rory is a sophomore at the University of Mississippi majoring in biochemistry on a baseball and academic scholarship.
Sheri serves on various State Committees dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children and families in Alabama.
Wendy Brooks Crew is an attorney concentrating her practice in Family Law and Civil Rights issues. She is a graduate of Cumberland School of Law and is certified in International Law from King's College London, England. She is one of two lawyers Alabama Board Certified in Matrimonial Law. She is the immediate past president of the Family Law Section off the Alabama State Bar, a Fellow and on the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and a Fellow in the International Academy of Matrimonial Law. Crew represented the original plaintiff in R.C. vs. Alabama Department of Human Resources. She began the Street Law program at Cumberland School of Law and contributed to Play By the Rules, a learning tool used by students in schools throughout the state. Wendy and her husband Richard live in Birmingham.
Judge Aubrey Ford, Jr., a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received his undergraduate degree from Lincoln University, Lincoln Pennsylvania, in 1970. He is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., and a former Assistant Attorney General. Judge Ford practiced law with the law firm of Gray, Seay and Langford in Tuskegee, Alabama until September 2, 1977 when Governor George Wallace appointed him to serve as District Judge for Macon County.
Judge Ford served as President of the Alabama Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association and the Alabama District Court Judges Association. Judge Ford has been recognized as a leader in our judicial system and every chief justice since 1977 has appointed him to serve on a number of committees and task-forces for the improvement of judicial system. Judge Ford is a charter member and former Chair of the Alabama Supreme Court’s Commission on Dispute Resolution and he is the only Alabama trial judge to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is also a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the East Alabama Task Force for Battered Women, and he currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Children’s First Foundation. Judge Ford is the chair of the newly organized Alabama Board of Court Reporters. He is an active member of the Alabama State Bar and he has been appointed to serve on several committees. Judge Ford has been a member of the screening committee for American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for more than 15 years. Judge Ford is a graduate of the National Juvenile College and he has completed several courses presented by the National Judicial College, and he has lectured at a number of state and national meetings on various legal issues.
Licensed to practice law in Alabama and Pennsylvania, Judge Ford is a member of a number of legal and civic organizations and he has received a number of awards for his service to his community, the legal system and the children of the State of Alabama. He has been named Man of the Year by the YMCA, Judge of the Year and he received the Outstanding Service Award from the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. Judge Ford is a Sunday school teacher and Chairman of the Deacon Board of the Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church in Tuskegee. Judge Ford is a family man and he and his wife Barbara are the proud parents of four children and one grandchild.
Ms. Lindsey Allison is on the Shelby County Commission as a representative of District 7. She has served nineteen years (five terms) and has served as Chairperson for six years. She is also a founding member and current secretary of the Shelby County Indigent Defense Council. She has been a member of the Alabama State Bar from 1984 – 2011 and she is a past President of the Shelby County Bar Association.
She currently serves on the following boards Shelby County Leadership, Shelby County Arts Council, Mutual Savings Credit Union and The Children First Alliance of Alabama/Children First Foundation. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama 2008, Shelby Leadership 1997, and Leadership Birmingham 2010. She has served on the Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors, the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Family Connection Inc. Board of Directors, Women’s Foundation Board of Directors, CASA Shelby County Board of Directors, Oak Mountain High School Boosters Association Board of Directors and the North Shelby County Library Advisory Board. She is on the State Committee for Women’s/Girl’s Criminal Justice Commission and Community Correction Committee.
Ms. Allison is a member of Asbury United Methodist Church where she works with Sending Ministries. She is also a Sunday School Teacher, Finance Committee member, Staff/Parish Committee member and Building Committee Chairman.
Pam Anders is one of six women responsible for the creation of Southern Living at HOME, the home product division of Southern Living magazine. Pam has built her multi-million dollar sales organization through sponsoring, sales, and leadership development. In 2010, Southern Living at Home became Willow House. Pam and her team continue to achieve numerous top 10 awards in organizational sales, leadership development, personal sales and sponsoring.
Pam prides herself the most on seeing the personal development of her team members as they reach their personal and professional goals in Willow House and in life. Coaching and mentoring are a must for all endeavors, and Pam feels that her training background has been critical in the duplication of efforts throughout her organization. Pam’s previous experience as the Senior Director of Recruiting, Training and Communication for Valley Food Services was invaluable in helping her create a team of entrepreneurial business women throughout the United States. Pam is a Certified Development Dimensions International Trainer and serves as a Master Certified Facilitator for Willow House. Pam received her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Auburn University and her Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Georgia State University. Previously, Pam served as the President of the Mississippi chapter of the American Society of Training and Development and was recognized with national awards during her tenure.
Pam gives back to the community through grass root fundraising efforts that she markets to her customer base. Pam worked with the Phi Mu chapter at Montevallo to raise $2000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. In addition, she has supported the Shelby County Rotary, the Alabama Tornado relief, and numerous mission trips and high school clubs and organizations’ fundraising efforts.
Karen Baynes-Dunning, a former Juvenile Court Judge. is a bold visionary leader who has dedicated over 18 years to improving child and family serving systems. Her ability to convene diverse partners to effectuate positive change is a direct result of her unique perspective and career path through private, public, and non-profit sectors.
While practicing complex antitrust litigation in the headquarters of the nationally-renowned law firm Alston & Bird, Baynes-Dunning began her career of public service by providing pro bono legal assistance to youth charged with truancy. This experience propelled her to serve as the first Executive Director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program and Director of Program Development and Management for the Fulton County Juvenile Court. As a direct result of her leadership, Fulton County CASA was presented an award from National CASA. Baynes-Dunning was also responsible for increased community partnerships, grants, and programs supporting court involved youth and their families, which led to positive outcomes, including decreased recidivism rates. Recognizing her collaborative approaches and keen decision-making skills, Chief Judge Glenda Hatchett appointed Baynes-Dunning to the bench as an Associate Juvenile Court Judge.
Baynes-Dunning’s no-nonsense holistic approach as a jurist helped to reframe the work of juvenile justice and child welfare within the largest juvenile court in the southeastern United States. Her proactive engagement of parents, youth, civic organizations, corporations, foundations, community-based agencies, and volunteers led to innovative prevention and intervention strategies and improved outcomes for young people. Realizing the need to impact policy and system reform at the state level, Baynes left the bench to join the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.
The Vinson Institute is the largest university-based provider of governmental services, research, and training in the world. Baynes-Dunning led all of the Vinson Institute’s governmental services and research efforts. She created the University of Georgia’s Child & Family Policy Initiative - a multidisciplinary effort to bridge policy, practice and research. The initiative has been effective in convening Georgia legislators, judges, state and local agency personnel, non-profits and researchers to discuss, strategize, and implement effective policy and practice. Baynes-Dunning continues to combine her experience working with impoverished and vulnerable populations and her first-hand knowledge of the civil justice system to enhance research and reform efforts.
In 2005, she was appointed by the Federal District Courtto serve as the Accountability Agent for the DeKalb County Consent Decree in the Kenny A class action lawsuit regarding provision of zealous legal representation for children in foster care. As a result of her leadership, mentoring and close working relationship with the Director and staff, the DeKalb Child Advocacy Centerhas completed its compliance requirements and is now recognized as a national model. Baynes-Dunning continues impacting the judiciary as a gubernatorial appointee to the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission and as a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Excellence Standards for the Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She was selected from a national pool of candidates to participate in the 2007-2008 Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellowship program. A frequently requested speaker, Baynes-Dunning earned her B.A. in Politics from Wake Forest Universityand her Juris Doctorate from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the proud parent of two sons, and currently serves as a faculty member in The College of Human and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alabama.
Watch Chief Justice Cobb speak on children's needs in the state of Alabama
Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, who grew up in Evergreen, AL resides in Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated from The University of Alabama, where she obtained a degree in History, receiving the highest scholastic award in that field of study, the Phi Alpha Theta Scholarship Key. In 1981, she earned her Juris Doctor Degree from The University of Alabama School of Law and was a member of the Bench and Bar Honor Society, Farrah Law Society and the Moot Court Board.
Immediately following her admission to the Bar, Chief Justice Cobb was appointed as District Judge of Conecuh County, becoming one of the State's youngest judges. She was elected to that position in 1982 and re-elected in 1988. During her tenure on the bench, Chief Justice Cobb accepted trial court assignments in approximately forty counties. She was elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1994. In 1997, she was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to serve as the Alternate Chief Judge of the Court of the Judiciary. Chief Justice Cobb is also a faculty member in the Alabama Judicial College.
Chief Justice Cobb served as President of the Alabama Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Children's Trust Fund. As a result of her efforts in the field of juvenile justice, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Juvenile Detention Association, the Juvenile Probation Officer Institute Outstanding Service Award, and the Children's Voice Award. She is a founding member of Children First Foundation, which is dedicated to securing direly needed funds for the juvenile justice system and services for children and families. She is also a lifetime honorary member of the Juvenile Justice Association of Alabama and the Alabama Council on Crime and Delinquency. Judge Cobb also weekly tutors two children as a volunteer for Partners in Education.
Chief Justice Cobb is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and is a Stennis Center Pacesetter. She received the 1999 Public Citizen of the Year Award by the Alabama Chapter of National Social Workers Association, the 1996 NAACP Political Achievement Award from the Conecuh County Branch of the NAACP, the 1995 Montgomery Advertiser Woman of Achievement Award and the 1992 Judicial Conservationist Award of the Alabama Wildlife Federation. Judge Cobb was recently named State Winner of the Bishop Barron State Employee Public Service Award. Judge Cobb is a past member and officer of the Evergreen Industrial Development Board. She is a member of the Farrah Law Society Board of Directors, the Montgomery Kiwanis Club, and First United Methodist Church of Montgomery where she plays the piano for the children's choir.
Chief Justice Cobb is the Past Chair of the Board of the Alabama Division of the American Cancer Society. She has held numerous positions with the American Cancer Society and consequently received the Volunteer of the Year Award, the Wes Nowlin Award, and the highest national award, the St. George Medal. She serves on the National Assembly of the American Cancer Society.
She is married to William J. Cobb and they have three children, Bill, Andy and Caitlin.
Heather Coleman started her career in the business community where she managed an international telecommunications company. In 1996 she was recruited to manage a $15 million non-profit organization, Reading Alabama, Inc. This entity was formed to coordinate a partnership between government, business, and educators to provide the most fundamental building block of learning –the ability to read. Capitalizing upon the growing need for technology integrated curriculum, Reading Alabama provided technology rich reading and writing programs to all interested kindergarten through second-grade public schools in Alabama.
As Executive Director, Ms. Coleman awarded grants to more than 460 schools in 101 school systems in Alabama. She provided more than 6,200 computers to Alabama schools. She organized, designed, and conducted curriculum and technology training for more than 7,300 teachers and administrators. She contracted more than 20 trainers to train teachers to integrate technology into curriculum and manage a technology rich classroom. She went on to become one of four individuals to conduct the research to start the Alabama Reading Initiative, a nationally recognized state-wide reading program.
In October 2002, Ms. Coleman was recruited to be the Governmental Affairs Director for Alabama River Pulp Companies and Parsons & Whittemore, Inc. with the responsibility of establishing and organizing this department. In this position she was charged with establishing relationships with state officials, legislators, and other persons influential in state policy, legislation, and regulation. She was responsible for establishing contacts and taking action to influence state government while strategically positioning her companies as industry leaders in the regulatory, government and political arena. Ms. Coleman lead the State Governmental Affairs function on all matters effecting Alabama River Pulp Companies, Parsons and Whittemore, and Independence Renewable Energy and was the sole advocate and direct contact for her companies in the state legislature, executive and administrative offices, and regulatory agencies.
In July 2010, Ms. Coleman was named the Senior Manager for Government and Public Affairs for PowerSouth Energy. She represented her company in Florida, Alabama, and Washington D.C. She was responsible for developing, establishing, and managing her companies’ governmental affairs policies, procedures, plans and programs including prioritizing issues to balance Company needs and political environment. She monitored all legislative and regulatory activity and anticipated policy or political challenges and opportunities and advised internal stakeholders as appropriate. She participated in association activities and influenced association policy setting to ensure that it was in line with Company principals.
In February 2012, Ms. Coleman was recruited to by Parsons & Whittemore, Inc. to direct their External Affairs activities including the Governmental Affairs Division and Public Relations & Marketing Department.
Ms. Coleman received her undergraduate degree in English and her master’s degree in education from Auburn University in Montgomery. She has served as Board President for Alabama World Trade Association, The Family Sunshine Center, Alabama Dance Theatre, The Rotary Club of Montgomery and the Jr. League of Montgomery. She has served as vice-president of the board for the Alabama 4-H Foundation and treasurer of the board for Destin Harvest. She serves on the Children First Foundation Board and has served as Board Vice-President of the Central Alabama United Way. She has chaired the Budget and Allocations Committee for the Central Alabama United Way, the Strategic Planning Committee for United Way and served on the Leadership Council for the American Cancer Society. Mrs. Coleman serves as Vice Chair of the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy –Environment and on the Board of the Alabama International Airport Authority. She also serves on the Board of Directors and Governance Committee for the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama and on the Board of the Capitol City Club. In 2008, Ms. Coleman received the Daughters of the American Revolution Excellence in Community Service Award. Heather Coleman has two daughters, Mary Darby and Katie.
Senator Priscilla Dunn taught in the Bessemer City School System for 29 years after graduating from J.S. Abrams High School in Bessemer, earning a B.S. degree from Alabama State University and a M.A. degree from the University of Montevallo. In 1998 Mrs. Dunn was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives for District 56. When she is not in session in Montgomery, she works as a Homeless Education Coordinator for Bessemer City Schools.
She serves as president of the Humanistic Challengers Federated Club: member of Girl’s Inc. of Central Alabama; President of the Domestic Violence Task Force for the Bessemer Cutoff; Member of the State Democratic Executive Committee; Trustee and teacher as Shady Grove Baptist Church; Instructor in the Jefferson County District Congress of Christian Education; Chaplin of Bessemer Business and Professional Women.
Mrs. Dunn serves on the following legislative committees: Chair of local legislation (one of only three women serving as a chairperson of a standing committee in the House of Representatives): Judiciary (Chair-Children Issues Subcommittee); Education (Chair-Personnel Management Subcommittee); Internal Affairs; Jefferson County Legislation: Interim Committees (Alabama Electronic Voting Rehabilitation Services, SCL-Education, Children Trust Fund, and Department of Youth Services).
Mrs. Dunn is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Among them are Teacher of the Year, 1989-1990; the prestigious Charles A. Long Outstanding Community and Civic Award; the Bessemer Association of Women’s Clubs “Women of the Year” Award, and the Birmingham Business Journal Top Ten Women Award: Legislator of the Year 2004-2005; YMCA Board of Directors; Business and Professional Women- Woman of the Year 2005 and many others.
Paul Finebaum has been the leading authority in Southern sports for over 20 years, writing and commentating on regional and national sports issues. His syndicated radio show is heard throughout the Southeast and his column in the Mobile Register appears in countless newspapers around Alabama. A weekly contributor for Fox 6 Sports (WBRC-TV) in Birmingham, he's also seen regularly on national networks like ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, FOX NEWS, HBO and Court TV.
Finebaum arrived in Birmingham in 1980 from the Shreveport Journal and became a columnist and investigative reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald. Finebaum's work has earned him over 250 national, regional and area sports writing awards, including his investigative stories on the recruitment of Alabama basketball player Buck Johnson. Finebaum joined the Mobile Press Register in 2001 and currently writes a twice a week column for the Mobile Press-Register. Finebaum's articles have appeared in a number of national publications, including the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News.
Finebaum started his radio appearances in the mid 1980's by giving morning commentary on the Mark and Brian Radio Show on WAPI-FM (I-95). After starting his own afternoon radio show a few years later on WAPI-AM, his program quickly became the highest rated sport-talk show in Birmingham. In October of 1993, Finebaum moved his sports-talk show to WERC-AM and quickly broke the story of Alabama football player Antonio Langham signing a contract with a sports agent. He also was the first to report the firing of Auburn University coach Terry Bowden in 1998. His show prospered immensely and in 2001 the show began syndication with affiliates across the southeast. Finebaum's been awarded five consecutive Associated Press Awards for "Best Sports Show" and four straight for the state's "Best Sports Anchor". In 2003, Finebaum was selected for the third consecutive year as the Alabama "Sportscaster of the Year" by the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. In 2008, he was awarded Alabama's Radio Personality of the Year.
His radio show has also garnered numerous accolades. In 2002, Paul was named by The Tennessean in Nashville as "One of the Southeastern Conference's Top Power Brokers." The New York Times in 2003 described Finebaum as ``the state's most influential sports columnist and talk show host." In 2004, Sports Illustrated named The Finebaum Network as "one of the nation's top 12 sports radio shows." In 2008, Columbia University named Finebaum's Show as one of the winners of it's annual "Let's Do it Better!" Workshop on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity. The award singles out newspaper, broadcast and web reporting that fosters coherent, authentic coverage of race reporting. "Finebaum was selected for providing a strong and sometimes controversial view on racial issues in sports through his multi-media contributions that include the 'Paul Finebaum Radio Network,' his Web site, Finebaum.com and a twice-weekly syndicated sports column."
In July of 2009, The Orlando Sentinel named Finebaum as one of the SEC's 10 most powerful people. "With a syndicated show heard in multiple SEC states that also commands a big audience on the Web, the Birmingham, Ala.-based Finebaum has proven in more than two decades of pot-stirring in print and on the air that his barbs can influence a coach's fate."
Finebaum's been seen nationally on television's Larry King Live, CBS' 60 Minutes, Headline News with Nancy Grace, MSNBC's Morning Joe, HBO, Court TV and ESPN's Outside the Lines. He was also showcased in 2001 on the CBS documentary on the late Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Finebaum's local television contributions have included sports director for CBS 42 (WIAT) from 1997-2002 and has co-hosted individual shows on NBC 13 (WVTM) and ABC 33/40.
Finebaum has also been a successful writer, writing over 50 joke books. His compilation of columns titled, "The Worst of Paul Finebaum" was released in 1994. His most recent book, "Finebaum Said", was published in November 2001. He's currently working on a sports novel, which will focus on college athletics in the South. He is also in much demand as an after-dinner speaker outside the Birmingham area and in the past few years has spoke in Memphis, Orlando, San Antonio and lectured at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He's also given keynote speeches at the University of Alabama, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College and Auburn University-Montgomery.
Finebaum, a Memphis native, is a 1978 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He's been married to Dr. Linda Hudson, an internist at St. Vincent's Hospital, since 1990. The couple resides in Birmingham with their dog Trooper.
Judge Brian Huff is a life-long resident of Birmingham. In 2005 he was appointed circuit judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit. He was elected to a full term in 2006. He was the presiding judge of the Jefferson County Family Court until 2012. In that position, he presided over three district judges, three trial referees and a combined case-load of over 50,000 docketed cases annually. He heard a general juvenile docket as well as the state’s original juvenile drug court and gun court and the truancy docket.
Huff is a graduate of Gardendale High School. He received his B.A. from the University of Alabama and his J.D. from the Birmingham School of Law. Following law school, Huff spent nine years in private practice with the firm Boyd, Fernambucq and Vincent, P.C. His practice concentrated on family law and domestic relations.
He has been active with state and local bar associations including the Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar where he has served in numerous positions including section chair in 2004. He has also served as chair of the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts Committee of the Birmingham Bar Association.
Huff is currently involved in many organizations. He is chair of the Jefferson County Children’s Policy Council, a member of the board of directors of the Fellowship House, the St. Thomas Moore Society and an ex-officio member of the board of the Jefferson County Children’s Policy Cooperative. He is an active member of the Cathedral of St. Paul Catholic Church and an advocate for the diocesan tribunal.
He is married to the former Elizabeth Daly with whom he has two daughters, Peyton and Lexi.
Elizabeth “Liz” Huntley was born in Huntsville, Alabama. She received her Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Auburn University and her Juris Doctor from The University of Alabama School of Law. She was also recently appointed to the Auburn University Board of Trustees.
In 1994, while beginning her first year in law school, Mrs. Huntley co-founded Project GEAR in Chilton County. Project GEAR is a non-profit organization which works to remove barriers to learning from at-risk youth. Mrs. Huntley has received statewide recognition for her work with the youth in Chilton County. After being featured in articles in the Alabama Lawyer and the Addendum, the Alabama State Bar adopted a resolution honoring her efforts.
Mrs. Huntley’s drive for creating a program for the youth in her county came from her pre-law school internship with A+, The Coalition for Better Education. While at A+, Mrs. Huntley worked at the grassroots level and traveled the state to promote a better quality of education for the children of Alabama. She also served as the Education Liaison to the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus. Mrs. Huntley won the National Young Careerist Award in 2000-01 for the Business Professional Women/USA Organization. She has worked in various leadership capacities with the Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar and is a member of the Farrah Alumni Law Society Board of Trustees for The University of Alabama School of Law.
Mrs. Huntley and her husband Tony have two children, Ada Ruth and Sarah Beth. They reside in Clanton, Alabama. She currently practices law at Lightfoot, Franklin & White.
Chief Johnnie Johnson, Jr. was born in Birmingham, AL. Mr. Johnson is retired as Chief of Police for the Birmingham Police Department. Chief Johnson dreamed of becoming a police officer, but was told by his father that he would have to leave the south to do so because colored people would never be hired for that position. His father died three years before Chief Johnson’s dream became a reality. He began his law enforcement career in 1966 as the department’s second black officer. He advanced through the ranks as sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and chief.
Chief Johnson is a graduate of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Criminal Justice Program, FBI National Academy and the National Executive Institute (NEI). His past professional experiences include: Civil Defense Officer; member of the Alabama Board of Pardon’s and Paroles; and Bessemer Chief of Police. He is a founding member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Birmingham Guardians Association (past president and treasurer), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Leadership Birmingham Alumni Association. Other organizations of which Chief Johnson is a member include: Community Affairs Committee (CAC); Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education; Children First Foundation Board of Directors; Leadership Birmingham Steering Committee; Birmingham Rotary Club; and Northeast Branch of YMCA. Chief Johnson has received the following awards for his dedication and service to the community: Police Officer of the Year; Excellence Citizen’s Award; Community Service Awards; Police Outstanding Achievement Award; Man of the Year, 1993; and 1998 NAACP Honors Award.
Chief Johnson and his wife, Brenda, have four children: Natalie Woodall; Johnnie, III; Geoffrey; and Dawn. They have five grandchildren. They are life long members of Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church where Chief Johnson serves as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, church financial secretary and chairman of the church’s building program.
Marian Loftin served as the Director for the State of Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, which oversees the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama (CTF) funding 200 community-based prevention programs. After 17 years as an elementary classroom teacher, Mrs. Loftin worked in government relations for the University of Alabama for 13 years. Prior to her appointment to the current position with CTF, she was Director for the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mrs. Loftin has long been actively involved in child and family advocacy. She served on the founding boards of the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center of Dothan, the first “one stop” for human services in the state of Alabama, and the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center. In March 2004, Alabama Governor Bob Riley appointed her to his Task Force for Strengthening Alabama Families. In April 2007 Mrs. Loftin was awarded the Commissioner’s Award from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families for Alabama for her significant contribution toward the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Other Board memberships have included VOICES for Alabama’s Children, the Alabama Partnership for Children (the state’s zero-5 initiative), the A+ Education Foundation; the Children First Foundation; and on a national level she is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.
Mrs. Loftin, a Rotarian (first woman inducted into the Dothan-Houston County Rotary Club) and a Paul Harris Fellow, has also been involved in her state and community as past chairman of the Wiregrass United Way; Alabama Citizens for Constitution Reform Board; the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation Board (Volunteer Hall of Fame, 1998) and Past Chairman of the American Heart Association, Alabama Affiliate. Due to her civic involvement, Mrs. Loftin ran as an Olympic Torchbearer in the 1996 Olympics and was selected for Leadership Alabama in 2002.
An Alabama native, she holds a BS in Education from the University of Alabama (named the Distinguished Alumna in 1988) and a MA in Education/Reading from Troy University Dothan (named the Outstanding Alumna in 1993). She is a graduate of John Carroll High School (recognized as Outstanding Alumna 2002). Marian Loftin has 4 children and 6 Grandchildren. Her husband of 46 years, Jim Loftin, is deceased.
As an enrolled member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Robert McGhee has been involved in an advocate for Native American issues at all levels of government. Mr. McGhee is currently serving his second term on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council. In this capacity Mr. McGhee is honored to represent his people "government-to-government" at the Local, State, and Federal levels regarding issues of Education, Health Care, Economic Development and Sovereign Immunity.
Prior to moving back to Atmore, Robert McGhee worked in Washington, D.C. for approximately five years at the Department of Interior-Beureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Troutman Sanders LLP-Indian Law Practice Group.
Before accepting the position of Governmental Relations Advisor for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mr. McGhee served in several capacities for the Tribe. He was employed by the Tribe as the Tribal Administrator, Governmental entity of the Tribe, and President of Creek Indian Enterprises (CIE), the Economic Development entity of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Mr. McGhee received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Alabama and a BSW from the University of Alabama. He also holds a MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Mr. McGhee has also completed the Georgetown Executive Leadership Program in Washington, D.C. and a course at American University Public Policy Institute regarding Congress and Effective Lobbying Practices. During his tenure in DC and here at the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mr. McGhee has had the opportunity to serve on numerous White House Initiatives and boards. Currently he serves on the Tribe's Governmental Affairs/Rules Legislative Committee, the Budget/Finance Committee, the Creek Indian Enterprises Board and the United South and Eastern Tribes as Secretary. Civically, he has served as the Vice President of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and the Vice Chairman of the Episcopal Council of Indigenous Ministries.
Robert McGhee currently resides in Atmore, Alabama.
Representative John Merrill was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives on November 2, 2010. He is the son of Horace and Mary Merrill of Heflin, and is married to the former Cindy Benford of Phil Campbell. They have two children, Brooks and Allie Grace.
Representative Merrill is a graduate of Cleburne County High School and The University of Alabama, where he served as President of the Student Government Association. He has worked at Randall Publishing Company, Tuscaloosa Industrial Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, and Tuscaloosa County Board of Education. Representative Merrill is a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church and is active in numerous civic organizations.
Dr. Marsha Raulerson, came to Brewton in 1981 and began a pediatric practice. At that time, there was a real need for an organized Child Health Services program in the Escambia County Health Department. The Alabama Medicaid program left many children in rural areas without the advantage of pediatric services. She volunteered to conduct a free monthly child health clinic at the Health Department in Brewton and began what continues to be the medial home for hundreds of children in the county. The open door policy at her office has enabled many children to receive care who otherwise would not have access to pediatric services. She never turns anyone away. Funding availability is not the major question with which she or her staff are concerned.
In 1990, she began a county wide visitation program for newborn infants and established the “Partners for Tomorrow” program. The program makes available prenatal and postpartum home visits by community workers during which parenting skills are taught to new parents. This program has fostered positive early childhood development for the parents of newborns in the county. Known as the pediatrician that mothers an entire community, those who work with her say that she and her work are “awesome.” Her generous contributions of her time, insight and pediatric expertise continue to enrich this important program.
Four years ago, in view of her great concern over the dentally under-served children in the area and state, and aware that there would soon be a new health department constructed in Brewton, she initiated the involvement of two local foundations. Working with the local and area health department staff, the foundations contributed approximately $400,000 to add a three operatory dental clinic as a part of the new building. Further, through the collaborative efforts of a federally qualified health center in the area, funds were obtained for the staff, including an experienced dentist and support staff. The dental clinic began operations on March 19, 2001. This is a tremendous addition to the public health services offered in this public health area and Dr. Raulerson was at the helm of the planning effort.
She has also been, throughout her tenure in the state, a major support for and advocate of the public health system, both organizational public health and community based public health activities. She is a charter member of the Coalition for Healthier Escambia County, and has been instrumental in identification of major activities, which have served to improve the quality of life for citizens of Alabama and Escambia County. Her philosophy and the motivation for all that she does, simply stated, are that “every child deserves to be wanted and loved, and a family needs to see their child as a wonderful gift from God to be nurtured and cherished.”
Marc Reynolds was born in Fairfax, Alabama. He received his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Auburn University and his Juris Doctor Degree from the Jones Law Institute.
Marc began his employment with the Retirement Systems of Alabama in 1975 with the teacher’s benefits section and moved to the position of Legislative Counsel in 1979. In 2001 he was named Deputy Director and recently retired from RSA in 2012.
Marc serves on the Board of Directors of the Capital City Club and the Alabama Prescription Cost Initiative Board. He has also served on the Board of Directors of The Children’s First Foundation and the Capital City Senators Girls Softball Program.
He has one child, Joanna.
Leslie D. Sanders, born in Tuscaloosa, AL, is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in Public Relations. Mrs. Sanders is Vice President of the Southern Region for Alabama Power Company.
Mrs. Sanders is a board member of numerous organizations: Alabama Department of Human Resources, Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association, Montgomery Riverfront Development Foundation, St. James Performing School Arts Guild and the Nellie Burge Center. In addition to her current board positions, Mrs. Sanders has served on the following boards: Alabama Women’s Leadership Consortium (President), Brantwood Children’s Home, Partners in Education, Safe Kids Coalition, Public Relations Council of Alabama, March of Dimes, Alabama Council of Child Abuse, FACTS (Family & Child Training System), Coordinator for the 45th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott for Montgomery Improvement Association, Faith & Politics Institution, Washington, D. C., Department of Children’s Affairs Task Force and Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics Forum Steering Committee
Mrs. Sanders, her husband, David, and their two children, Brittany and Blake are members of Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church.
Dale Wisely, Ph.D. is Director of Student Services at Mountain Brook Schools (Alabama) and is a clinical psychologist. At the school system, he directs counseling and guidance, nursing and student health, at-risk programs and parent and community education, among other duties.
Dr. Wisely earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Memphis. He also holds a Master's in Theological Studies from Spring Hill College. He served his clinical internship in psychology at West Virginia University's Department of Behavioral Medicine in Charleston, West Virginia. Subsequently, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama and, for 14 years, the senior psychologist at Children's Hospital's Vaughan Clinic. He practiced clinical psychology including assessment, psychotherapy, and pediatric psychology in Birmingham from 1983 to 2006 before joining Mountain Brook Schools. Dr. Wisely has taught and held adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Spring Hill College.
He is a past President of the Alabama Psychological Association and was long a member of its Executive Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Crisis Center / Mental Health Association of Central Alabama, the Jefferson County Children's Policy Cooperative, and the Alabama Child Death Review System. Dr. Wisely writes and operates a public service website, Parenting Teen Drivers, which includes a free parent-teen contract which has been in wide use for 10 years. He is a popular adult educator and speaker on family matters, parenting, and provides workshops and other professional development to a range of professional groups.
John Hall was born in Birmingham. He is currently the owner of the Law Office of John Hall, LLC. In the three years between 2006 and 2009, he took a leave of absence from his 25 year law career to return to his previous profession of teaching public high school.