Patricia Bell worked with Dr. Richard Arrington on his historic 1979 mayoral campaign, as well as Rev. Jesse Jackson’s historic bid for president in 1984. She became the first female in the history of Birmingham to run for mayor in 1995. Patricia recorded as lead vocalist on a gospel song, “Happy with Jesus Alone” at the age of 15 and was featured on the Carlton Reese Singers album. She became WGRT/WJPC Promotions Intern for radio stations in Chicago from 1974-1976. She began her advertising career with LM. Berry Co. and Yellow Pages from 1978-1980. She has also worked as an advertising executive for WJLD and WAYE Radio Stations from 1993-1995. Bell began her Early Childhood Education Teaching Career in 2000 and continued through 2011 as a classroom teacher and private tutor. She presently operates as an independent promotions consultant, community activist, vocalist, and presenter on topics within her field of experience, such as, early childhood education, vocal music in religious and secular settings, political engagement and its relation to community improvements, charm, modeling, and personality enhancement for career advancement, and products, educational, religious, political marketing and public relation strategies. Bell was born to Mr. Willie Berry Jr. and Mrs. Emma Fail Berry in Orrville, Alabama near Selma (Dallas County, Alabama), on her grandparents’ (Mr. Warren and Mrs. Charlie Mae Fail) farm. She began her primary and secondary education in Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Kingston School and Hayes High School. She also attended Intermediate School 144 in the Bronx, New York and Calumet High School in Chicago, Illinois. Bell studied Music Education at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri and Early Childhood Education at Touro College in New York, New York. She attended South Bay School of Business in Hawthorne, California.
William A. Bell Sr.
Mayor William A. Bell Sr. has served the City of Birmingham as City Councilor and Council President for over 25 years. Bell was elected to a full term as Mayor of Birmingham, the largest city in the state of Alabama, in 2011. He was re-elected mayor again in 2013. Bell is responsible for the recently opened transportation facility built downtown, the multi-use Birmingham Intermodal Transit Facility. Since becoming the 33rd mayor of the largest city in Alabama, Bell has transformed the city by bringing back the Birmingham Barons baseball team, implementing various projects including a new Regions Field baseball facility, the Negro League Baseball Museum, Railroad Park, the Birmingham Crossplex, an international multi-use sports complex, the Uptown district including a four-star Westin Hotel with various shops and restaurants, expansion of the Summit shopping center, Grandview Hospital on 280, Barber Motorsports Facility, and is responsible for the revitalization and refurbishing of various neighborhood parks and recreational centers throughout the city. He is also responsible for Birmingham being named an All-America City. He has done more than any other mayor to make a cleaner and safer Birmingham by working with state legislators on the Land Bank Bill to eliminate abandoned houses and overgrown lots. In 1985 during his third term on the Council, he was elected to serve as the first African-American President of the Birmingham City Council. He was again chosen as president following the Birmingham City Council elections in 1987 and 1997. While serving as president, he was instrumental in implementing the consent agenda and designing the new council chamber which other local governments modeled and integrated into their city’s plans. Bell also worked with the Merchants of the Fourth Avenue Business District to transform that area into a productive business corridor so that blacks could purchase their own building where they worked each day.
Randy Davis grew up in Titusville and West End and attended Central Park Christian and West End High School. Davis studied criminal justice at Northwest Shoals Community College and Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University. He has over 20 years of law enforcement experience, four years with the Birmingham Police Department and the rest with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Davis also received the Medal of Valor with the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office. He is now a production supervisor at an automotive plant. He has seen first-hand, the struggle and neglect parts of our city has received. Lots of issues need to be addressed, he said. Trees need to be cut, roads paved, and lights fixed as well as attention paid to public safety, jobs and community development and transportation.
Ervin Hill II
Ervin Philemon Hill II, 44, is a sports marketing entrepreneur and executive most recently recognized for his negotiation efforts in securing in Birmingham the Magic City Diamond Classic held at Regions Park (April 2017). This Historically Black Colleges and Universities baseball series between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University is an annual sporting event, created by Black College Sports Group (BCSG) in 2015, which attracted an estimated 3,000 plus fans. Hill attended Ephesus Jr. Academy, A. H. Parker High School, Tuskegee University and Clark Atlanta University. Hill announced his candidacy in December 2016 at the historic Carver Theatre. With “Let’s Build a Better Birmingham” as his campaign theme, Hill’s plan for the city focuses on quality public education and leadership development; citizen’s engagement; community revitalization and crime reduction; economic growth and development and fiscal responsibility and ethics/policy reform. Hill said Birmingham currently has a leadership deficit and his experiences as an engineer, entrepreneur and leader have given him the skills to make Birmingham a safe, clean, sustainable and progressive city. Some of his other initiatives include Philemon In The Community a “Shower of Love” Tour which is a mobile hygiene service that provides private showers to Birmingham’s homeless. These services are delivered with hospitality, respect and optimism and provides services to restore dignity, to offer hope with love. Another initiative is Education Beyond the Classroom, a field trip based program created to expose Birmingham City School students to professional career opportunities in professional sports and entertainment industries. Those include Magic City Diamond Classic 2015 – 2017 (Rickwood Field & Regions Park); Legacy Sports Football Academy (2013) at Legion Field, a football camp for Birmingham City School programs, and The Inaugural Magic City Hardwood Classic (February 2018) at Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center Legacy Arena.
Angela Trudy Hunter has served the military, their families, and surrounding communities around the country for 25 years. Birmingham has been her home since Aug. 1, 2007. In 2011, she became the first Hispanic valedictorian from Miles College with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She was named the Daniel Foundation Endowed Scholar of Social Work in Alabama for 2011 and went to continue her education in the Advance-Standing MSW Program School of Social Work at the University of Alabama. Hunter graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Master of Social Work in May 2012. Hunter was conferred in May of 2016 with her Juris Doctor. In May of 2017 she received her Doctor of Juridical Science in advance Legal Research and Writing from Chicago-Kent College of Law-Illinois Institute of Technology. Hunter holds professional license in Social Work, professional certifications in Grant Writing, and ADA Compliance, and will be sitting for the February 2018 Alabama Bar Exam. Hunter is passionate about social work and her motivation for continuing education is to be a strong advocate for the ones who have no voice, to empower people with the knowledge and the tools to say “Yes things can change and yes you can do it.” As a social worker, Hunter has been a strong advocate of community empowerment by being actively involved in her community and other communities to contribute to its improvement also increases her learning. She is married to Daniel L. Hunter Jr., whose family has lived in the Hillman Community on Jefferson Ave SW since 1960. They have been married 14 years and have six children in ages 19 to 27 years of age and six grandchildren from 6 months to 9 years-old. Hunter and her family worship at True Love Church of Ensley.
Raised in Southside of Bessemer Housing Projects, Jackson attended Hard Elementary and Junior High School. He also attended J.S. Abrams High School, graduating in 1972. Jackson enlisted in the United States Army in 1972 and served for 21 years, retiring in 1993 as a First Sergeant/E-8. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Miles College in 2000 and an Associate’s Degree in General Education from Troy University. Throughout Jackson’s army and civilian career, he mastered training in administration and leadership courses. Jackson is currently employed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He has been married to his wife Carolyn for 44 years and they have two adult sons and seven granddaughters. Jackson has lived and traveled throughout the United States and the world including three years as a resident of Hawaii, the most diverse state in the U.S. When it comes to community, Jackson is a Master Mason, Scottish Rite and Shriner.
Frank James Matthews III
Frank Matthews moved to Birmingham around 1989. In response to the spate of homicides at Metropolitan Gardens, he began ministering directly to gang leaders at the housing project. He founded Intercession Ministries, Inc., an anti-gang ministry and accepted the call to lead Hallelujah Center, a congregational ministry that focused on at-risk teens. In 1992, Matthews was appointed by Mayor Richard Arrington to serve as a gang liaison to the city. As a minister, Matthews became known as “God’s Gangster”, producing the “In Your Face” radio talk show. Matthews was able to syndicate “In Your Face” throughout the Southeast. In 1999, he stopped producing “In Your Face”; and, in April, 1999 launched “In Your Ear” radio show and was able to interview Tiger Woods, Florence Joyner, Johnnie Cochran and Heather Whitestone, the former Miss Alabama who went on to become Miss America, Janet Reno and other high-profile individuals. Also in 1999, Matthews founded the Outcast Voters League to engage in political activism and education. Through the Outcast Voters League, Matthews has rallied for body cams for the Birmingham Police Department; the removal of the Confederate monument at Linn Park; bringing attention to the Gate City Explosion, raising a 35-foot Christmas tree so that the devastation of the explosion would not take away from the children’s joy of the holiday season; and, had Trayvon Martin named an honorary citizen of Birmingham. Matthews worked with the late Revs. Fred Shuttlesworth and Abraham Woods to protest the bond granted to Bobby Frank Cherry – one of the bombers of the 16th Street Baptist Church (Cherry eventually died in prison.). Matthews began the “Toy Gun Smashing” in 50 cities across America, beginning in Cleveland where Tamir Rice was murdered by a police officer while playing with a toy gun. He raised awareness of the racial injustice regarding the woman who was body-slammed by police at the Homewood Walmart.
Fernandez “Brother” Sims
Fernandez “Brother” Sims was born and raised in Birmingham and is a product of the Birmingham City Schools system.He attended Kingston and Gibson Elementary Schools, Kennedy Middle School and Woodlawn High School. Sims is a graduate of Southeastern Bible College and a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. After receiving his training as a dental technician and combat medic, Sims served with the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps infantry units, receiving medals for service. Sims is a firm believer in serving God, family, country and community. His 35 years of service includes various businesses, nonprofits, and faith communities such as: Alabama Youth Homes, A.G. Gaston Nursing Home, National AIDS Fund, St. Vincent’s Home Health and Hospice, Oak Grove Baptist Church Hwy 119, Alabama Animal Adoption Society, Firehouse Shelter, Spirit of Luke Ministries, Birmingham Health Care for the Homeless, Care First Hospice, Mission Birmingham, Christian Service Mission, AIDS Alabama, ARC of Jefferson County, Christians Concerned for Prisoners, The Sickle Cell Foundation, and many more organizations. Sims is a local pastor and church planter of Charis Community Church, which is at present, relocating to the Avondale community of Birmingham from Homewood. Sims is currently serving at Impact Family Counseling where he is working with the Family Courts in Birmingham and Bessemer. He is also serving in a Community Care outreach capacity in impoverished areas of the city, and providing case management with the Fatherhood Initiative.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Randall Woodfin is a product of Birmingham City Schools (K-8), Shades Valley High School, and Morehouse College, where he majored in political science and served as president of the Student Government Association. Woodfin went on to earn his law degree from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, Woodfin served as a public servant working with the city’s Division of Youth Services, the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity (JCCEO). In 2009, Woodfin became an assistant city attorney for Birmingham. At the same time, Woodfin ran for a seat on the Birmingham City Schools Board of Education. His loss in his first run for office taught him more about the needs of students, parents, and also shaped his vision for what the schools and the city need. In 2013, Woodfin was not only successful in his second attempt to secure his seat on the school board, but he was also elected president, a role he served in from 2013-2015. In addition to his service as a board member for Birmingham City Schools, Woodfin also serves as a board member of other community-serving organizations, including the Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. He is a former board member of Birmingham Change Fund, American Red Cross, Birmingham Education Foundation, Birmingham Cultural Alliance, S.T.A.I.R., and past President of Morehouse College Alumni Association, Birmingham Chapter. Woodfin is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham class of 2014, Leadership Alabama class of 2016 and served as featured speaker at TEDX Birmingham 2017.
Christopher Woods is a God fearing individual that enjoys solving difficult problems and has an interest in seeing people succeed. Chris is one of 13 children born to Bishop Calvin and Lucille Woods in Birmingham. He attended Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary and graduated from A. H. Parker High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Arts from Auburn University. While at Auburn, Woods played wide receiver and was a four-year letter-man and three-year starter for the Tigers’ football team. During his time at Auburn he had the honor of serving as President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Woods was a first round draft choice of the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1984 Supplemental Draft. In November 1989, Chris returned to Birmingham and started his construction company. After 28 years, C.W. Woods Contracting Services, Inc. has established itself as one of the most credible construction management and general contracting firms in the United States. In addition to building his construction firm Woods served the community for over 20 years as a member of the Huffman Recreation Board (a 501(c)3). He served as president, officer, and little league baseball and football coach. He has also been active in the Birmingham community and has devoted his time to developing character in young men. Woods has been married to his wife Cassandra for 33 years. Chris and Cassandra, who is also a graduate of Auburn University (Industrial Engineering & Auburn Marching Band member), have four children. His heart’s desire is to be a godly man that represents Jesus Christ in his generation, and to be effective in helping young men and women develop their potential. One of his favorite quotes is: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
City Council Candidates
Sherman Collins Jr.
Sherman Collins Jr is a lifelong resident of Birmingham. He is married to Shanta Bender-Collins and the father of three children. Collins is the current District 1 board member where he serves as the Vice President of the Birmingham Board of Education. He has a B.S degree in Business Administration from Samford University and is a graduate of Huffman High School. Sherman is a business owner and the volunteer’s basketball at Sun Valley Elementary. He is also a member of Geometry 410 Masonic Lodge.
In two terms serving as City Council representative for District 1, Lashunda Scales has sponsored legislation for a city-wide payday and title loan moratorium to stop the growth of payday lending, sponsored a social media ordinance that provided public information access via the internet and social media and sponsored a general fund and capital fund budget reporting ordinance, a policy establishing how the city’s annual budgets are presented to the City Council. Scales’ community involvement includes working with the East Precinct to provide greater police presence in local neighborhoods, actively involved with seven eastern area Birmingham City Schools as an official partner in education, regularly hosts informative town hall meetings, sponsors education programs for youth and senior citizens and hosts the District 1 Music and Movie Festival and Holiday Gala. She has secured over $1 billion dollars for economic growth and development. Scales has been a homeowner and active District 1 resident for 22 years. She has been married for 26 years and has two daughters. She was educated in the Birmingham City School System and is a graduate of Jefferson State Community College.
A native of Birmingham, Lawrence Conaway has dedicated his life’s work to support the community in which he lives and serves. Conaway has been actively engaged in the community coordinating programs and volunteering with organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Institute for Youth Development (D.C.), Mission Birmingham, Yes We Can! Birmingham, Jimmie Hale Mission, Junior League, Literacy Council, Jefferson County Family Court Adolescent Mentoring Program, Alabama Department of Corrections, Christians Concerned for Prisoners, Guiding Light Church, Roebuck Family Care Center, Cornerstone Christian Schools (Woodlawn), Charity In Action, First Priority, Birmingham City Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Birmingham Youth Services, Birmingham Police Dept., United Way of Central Alabama, and Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham. In 2005, Conaway formed Charity in Action (CIA), a 501 (c) (3) corporation that provides GED preparation, literacy, parenting classes, job preparation, and tutoring for adults and youths. He attended Birmingham public schools and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronics, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Master of Arts in Ministry. Conaway is also a graduate of Leadership Birmingham (2007).
Relocating to the Magic City from South Florida in 2009, Jeanty has found a home in Birmingham. Currently, she is program director for The Community Kitchens of Birmingham. In addition, she is the former South East Lake Neighborhood Association and Roebuck Community president. Jeanty is a former advisor to the MDC Community Development Corporation, East Lake Arts District board member, East Lake Merchant Group president (2015), and volunteers with various other organizations throughout the city. Her passion is community revitalization, more specifically “green, walkable communities”. Jeanty said she has the vision, experience and ability to lead Birmingham’s District 2 into the 21st century. An effective community builder, Jeanty has fostered successful neighborhood and civic initiatives. She is also a passionate advocate of sustainable urban development. As a city councilor, Jeanty said she will work tirelessly for transparency and accountability. She understands the problems facing Birmingham and knows that City Hall can do better. Jeanty said she will create partnerships with citizens, organizations and neighboring communities to create prosperity for growing and changing the city.
Stephen L. Murphy
Growing up as the sixth of nine children, Stephen L. Murphy learned firsthand the value of hard work, diversity and community service. His father, the late Billy A. Murphy, Sr., was a small business owner providing plumbing services to residents throughout the greater Birmingham community. Also, he was a firefighter with Birmingham Fire & Rescue at several stations for over 18 years. Rosalyn D. Murphy, his mother, was a homemaker. At the beginning of his freshman year at P. D. Jackson-Olin High School, Murphy’s father passed unexpectedly and Stephen applied lessons learned throughout his childhood to ensure his survival. During high school, Stephen and his family experienced homelessness; however, he fought through adversity to complete high school. He decided to pursue Social Work due to a desire to help people around him; he obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Master’s in Social Work from the University of Alabama. He is currently employed at a 200-plus bed psychiatric hospital as Director of Risk Management & Regulatory Compliance.
Kim Rafferty currently serves District 2 and works tirelessly to foster development and improvement within its neighborhoods. In her two terms in office, Rafferty was instrumental in the creation of the Birmingham Port Authority, Bank on Birmingham, the creation of a Floodplain Management plan for the Crestline and Eastwood neighborhoods, and the modernization of Birmingham’s Transportation Code. She has actively pursued cooperative projects with District 2 neighborhoods to improve citizen quality of life and to realize the potential of the district for future growth and development. Realizing that cooperation is the key to success, she is active in the Alabama League of Municipalities and the National League of Cities. Rafferty is mother of two children, Jessica and Morgen. Jessica served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Morgen is in the marching band for his school. Rafferty, a fourth-generation resident of the Roebuck Community, holds an associate degree in Human Resources from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Deanna “Dee” Reed
Deanna “Dee” Reed, a native of South Eastlake, has worked in various media outlets in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa area. Not long after graduating from Miles College with a B.A. in public relations and journalism, she became marketing/promotions director for WBHJ 95.7 Jamz and WALJ 105.1 Jamz. There, she used her platform in radio to support and advocate for young people, families and seniors. After a tornado destroyed Center Point Elementary School in 2012, Reed successfully led efforts to replace playground equipment. Also, following a gas explosion in Gate City that occurred right before Christmas, she helped collect over $5,000 in items, including toiletries, toys, clothing and other necessities. Her journey has not been without significant personal challenges. In 2011, her father, the pastor of Old Pentecost was killed by a gunman during an attempted robbery right before the Christmas holiday. Reed has felt the pain experienced by other loved ones in Birmingham and is committed to working with her fellow council members, the mayor and law enforcement to make Birmingham safer.
Jordan Thompson graduated from the University of Alabama in 2013 where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a minor in Civic Engagement and Leadership, and was granted ROTC Commission to become a United States Army Officer. After being commissioned, he attended Infantry Officer School at Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence. In addition to being an Army Officer, Thompson graduated in May 2017 from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law where he was involved with four clubs: PICS (Public Interest and Community Service), the Sports and Entertainment Law Interest Organization, and Treasurer of the Military Justice Society. Additionally, he is the founder and past-president of Samford University’s Campus Veterans Association, whose goal is to focus on solving veteran issues concerning campus, state and national policies. In September 2015, he incorporated a 501(c) 3 called Teams For Troops, which allocates donations to finance sports related care-packages which are delivered to deployed military personnel. Thompson also enjoys organizing charity events and tutoring underprivileged kids. At The Brown House, a non-profit in Northport, AL, he frequently tutored kids living in public housing.
Hunter Williams, Birmingham native and small business owner, has resided in District 2 for almost a decade and during this time he has been actively involved in the community and a strong advocate for change and progress. Williams serves as president of the Crestline Neighborhood Association. As president, he works with neighbors, community leaders and local residents to address the needs of the Crestline neighborhood and identify opportunities to improve commercial and community development. Williams founded and built from the ground up a business that provides medical support and surgical risk mitigation services to local hospitals. He also serves as a deputy sheriff with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office as a sergeant in the Reserve Unit’s Uniformed Patrol Division. Williams graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Finance before returning to Birmingham. He volunteers with community organizations across the city including Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, the American Cancer Society, Ruffner Mountain, Alabama Police Benevolence Association and Independent Presbyterian Church.
Tyrone Williams is a native of Birmingham. He graduated from C.W. Hayes High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State University, a master’s from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University and a doctorate from Miles College School of Law. Williams is very active in his community. He is a member of the Birmingham Business Alliance, on the board of directors of the League of Women Voters; a member of the Birmingham Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Board; Police Community Relations Committee; a part of the Birmingham Retired Education Association and member of Tabernacle Baptist Church where he serves on the deacon board.
Valerie Abbott, current Birmingham City Councilor in District 3, is chair of the Education Committee and a member of the Planning and Zoning and Utilities Committees. With the future of the City of Birmingham at the forefront, Abbott has been a champion of The Comprehensive Plan which will set out a 20-year policy and strategic framework for the City of Birmingham. Her seemingly endless schedule of neighborhood meetings and community events is her way of learning about the needs and concerns of citizens throughout Birmingham and ensures that she is knowledgeable when issues affecting various neighborhoods come before the City Council. She has collaborated with her fellow councilors and city staff to revise ordinances regulating noise, smoking, and fences. An avid gardener and nature enthusiast, her pursuit of neighborhood health and revitalization has resulted in two community gardens, including a national award-winning project in East Avondale. She is a proponent of all things green, including Birmingham’s recycling program, which is experiencing a rebirth. Her credentials include a Bachelor’s Degree from the School of Architecture and Fine Arts at Auburn University and a Master’s Degree in Public and Private Management from Birmingham Southern College.
Rowan Henderson has always lived a short drive from City Hall aside from short stints in Hoover and Gardendale. Henderson is a senior at Birmingham-Southern College, where he studies business, economics, and psychology. Henderson always wanted to try his hand at public service because he’s had an interest in politics. Sometimes life can accelerate your plans. In February, Henderson was shot at while driving. Someone was angry that they’d almost hit him, after they ran through a red light. Now, in America, this could happen anywhere. But Birmingham is different, Henderson said. It deserves better. This city faces real, systemic problems. Hunger, homelessness, lack of access to mental health care, to name a few. If we wait to fix the problems facing our city bodies we will fall further and further behind, he said.
Ryan Jones has lived in the Southside community for 20 years and holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jones serves as a junior board member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra , and is a member of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network. He enjoys concerts, hiking, tubing, reading, movies, and gaming. Born prematurely with his twin sister, Jones’s life has never only been about himself. His loving parents, Paul and Jo Ann Jones provided a strong foundation for Jones, his sister, and older brother. Raised in the Bluff Park neighborhood of Hoover, he was taught the importance of treating everyone equally, with kindness and respect. His parents instilled in him that hard work and self-respect are the foundation of accomplishing goals and accepting the repercussions of one’s actions both positive and negative. Jones is running on a platform of restoring accountability to municipal government, creating sustainable economic growth for all citizens of District 3 and the city at large, and empowering neighborhood associations with more authority and responsibility.
William Parker, who currently serves District 4, is chair of the Environmental Justice Committee and a member of Education and Planning and Zoning Committees. In June 2014, Parker was officially elected to represent District 4. The Talladega College graduate has deep political roots. He worked as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Birmingham, before being elected to the State Legislature. The Birmingham City Council appointed Parker to fill his late mother’s, Council President Maxine Herring Parker, term on Nov. 26, 2013. She passed on Nov. 12, 2013. William Parker has vowed to continue her work.
Johnathan F. Austin
Johnathan F. Austin serves as president of the Birmingham City Council. As the youngest person to hold the council president position in Birmingham’s history, Austin governs the largest municipality in Alabama with a $428 million operating budget. On the City Council, Austin has spearheaded efforts behind the passing of numerous city ordinances including the city’s Smoke Free Ordinance, which prohibits smoking in public facilities; the Booting/Towing Ordinance, which regulates predatory booting and towing practices; the changes in the city’s Transportation Network Companies (TNC) ordinance, paving the way for Uber to operate in Birmingham; the Kelyvn Felder Ordinance, an ordinance to regulate, among other things, the operation of certain classes of liquor-‐licensed establishments to reduce safety issues and the Texting While Driving Ban Ordinance, which prohibits the use of texting while operating a motor vehicle. Austin is a Birmingham native and prior to serving as a councilor was president of the Central City neighborhood and Northside Community Association. Austin is an honors graduate of Miles College. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and is studying law at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.
Dorothea Crosby is a lifelong Birmingham resident, raised in the Enon Ridge community and currently resides in the Crestwood area. She was educated in the Birmingham City School system, attended Tuggle Elementary and A. H. Parker High School and also the Southern Junior College of Business. She is an active member of New Pilgrim Baptist Church. Her belief in service is exemplified in her volunteer activities with Children’s Village, Habitat for Humanity and the Pre-K program with the Birmingham City School System. Crosby is the mother of two adult daughters, both of whom are married. She has six grandchildren. For the past 18 years Crosby has worked to hold city leaders accountable to the citizens of District 5. She is committed to serving the communities of District 5 with passion, integrity and transparency.
Chris Davis began volunteering on political campaigns in District 5 in 2000. In 2007 he had become a congressional staffer for Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He worked on the 2008 Presidential Campaign of President Obama. In Birmingham, Davis has participated with Camp Birmingham, Camp Anytown, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Village Creek Society, Cahaba River Society, Norwood Resource Center, and many of the neighborhoods in District 5 and across the city. The experiences learned through volunteerism, and in the political arena have helped shaped Davis over the past 20 years. He is running for City Council because the bar for service is set too low. It’s been so long since some of the neighborhoods have been properly serviced. Average or below average service to the citizens has become the norm. Davis plans to use his skill set shaped by working in some of these same neighborhoods, and a commitment to work with the mayor and colleagues, to produce results for District 5.
Darrell O’Quinn currently serves as president of the Citizens Advisory Board, which represents all of the city’s 99 neighborhoods. Working from his home neighborhood of Crestwood, he has been a tireless advocate of efforts to improve streets, parks and transportation in the city, and recently served as executive director of the Move I 20/59 effort to advocate alternatives to an interstate dividing Birmingham’s Downtown area. He served as longtime president of the North Crestwood neighborhood, is a member of the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Gentrification Taskforce, and is a co-founder of Heart to Table, a feeding project for the Boutwell Auditorium warming station. He holds doctorate degrees in veterinary medicine and pathology and is employed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While O’Quinn supports efforts to attract major businesses to Birmingham, he recognizes that the quickest and most reliable way to promote commerce in the city is to create opportunities for small businesses in neighborhoods, where they provide badly needed jobs.
Erica Robbins is a mother, owner of a nonprofit, daughter of a Birmingham attorney, and current resident of Central City. One of Robbins’s goals is to create a homeless service center that will not only provide basic every day needs but will also equip the homeless community with health services, life skills, job training techniques, and several other essential skill sets. Be a Blessing Birmingham is a pending 501 © 3 organization that was founded by Robbins to forge a community where neighbors help neighbors. Robbins’s heart to serve and her philanthropic ambitions make her more than qualified to represent District 5, not just the people in the high rises, but the ones under the bridge as well. Erica is a graduate of Stillman College, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., vice president of Greater Birmingham National Organization for Women (NOW), Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and Indivisible Birmingham. Robbins worked for corporate America for more than 10 years.
Former University of Alabama football player Jeremy Schatz, born in Birmingham, is now a practicing attorney at The Patton Firm in Avondale. Schatz and his wife Megan, who is a teacher, live in the Crestwood North neighborhood. Schatz has had an eye on Birmingham’s future with the hopes to serve citizens to ensure that everyone in the district shares in the success of the city. He hopes to instill his vision of a more unified Birmingham that will strengthen every community in his district and throughout the city.
Robert Walker is a lifelong resident of Birmingham. He has been involved in the Neighborhood Association since 1985. He is currently the vice president of Wahouma and was formerly president of East Lake Community and a member of the Citizen Advisory Board. Walker has always enjoyed being a community activist and believes that the foundation of any progressive city is a safe, clean neighborhood, a strong workforce with good jobs, a state of the art school system and safe and enjoyable parks for family and friends to relax.
Keith Mims is a lifelong resident of Birmingham. He is the owner of ADBEST Advertising, LLC. He has three sons, Damon, Jason and Adam. He is a 1976 graduate of Ramsay High School and attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was coach of the Birmingham Raptors AAU. Mims enjoys reading, weight lifting and running.
Sheila Tyson, the current District 6 Councilor, is a Birmingham native, business accountant, former president of the West End community and the Birmingham Citizens Advisory Board. Tyson studied business accounting at the Quartermaster School operated by the U.S. Army. She was elected vice president of the Arlington-West End neighborhood in 2006 and became president of the West End Community in 2008. Tyson is one of the former presidents of the Citizens Advisory Board, which includes 99 neighborhoods, and has been since January 2009. Tyson maintains a reputation as a community leader for the people. One of her most proud and notable accomplishments is the act of leading the Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation in its pursuit to concentrate on the formerly incarcerated population and mobilize them to participate in the 2008 presidential election. While serving as councilor, she advocates on the redevelopment of Loveman Village and the refurbishing of Larkway Gardens, Montevallo Gardens, apartments behind Titusville Library and other vacant apartment buildings throughout District 6.
Keith Oscar Williams is an associate minister at True Light Missionary Baptist Church in Titusville, a sales associate at Lowe’s Department store, a freelance web designer, and published author. He has over 20 years experience in the customer service industry and nearly 20 years in the information technology industry. Williams served briefly in the U.S. Army in 1997 and moved to Richmond, VA where he founded Greater Works Business Services, a web design company in 1998. Williams became an ordained minister and founded the faith based organization Great I Am Ministries Outreach International in 2003 where goals such as missions, evangelism, and serving the needs of the less fortunate were implemented. Williams has written several books including “Spirit Led, Spirit Fed” and “Lessons for Life.” Williams returned to Birmingham in 2016 to continue his evangelistic and mission work. He was born in Birmingham in 1974 and educated in Birmingham City Schools, attending Washington Elementary and A.H. Parker High School. He continued his post-secondary studies at Alabama State University (Business Management), Miles College (Business Administration), and Liberty University (Finance).
Titus Battle was born in New York and raised in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He moved to Birmingham in the fall of 1984. He lived in the Oakwood/ West End Community. Battle earned a B.S. degree from Miles College in Child Development Education and is currently a graduate student of Psychology with an anticipated graduation date of May 2018. He is a private tutor, founder and chair of a nonprofit organization, The Promise to Children Foundation, Inc. It is a 24-hour human development organization for and about the healthy development of children.
Hosea Eric Lewis
Hosea Eric Lewis was born and raised in Hillman Gardens in southwest Birmingham. He is the youngest child of the late James, Sr. and Eldora Lewis. He was educated in the Birmingham City Schools System and graduated from Wenonah High School. After graduating Hosea attended Alabama A&M University where he received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and a Minor in Criminal Justice. Due to the failing health of his parents Lewis returned to Birmingham with his family to care for both of his parents until their death. He became a member of the Hillman Neighborhood Association. He also served as secretary for Grasselli Community Association. As sole owner of Lewis Industries Management Group he has a view of all the different sides of the community and the needs of the community. As City Councilman for District 7 Hosea will lobby for the implementation of the Southwest Framework plan redevelopment which consists of the Communities of Grasselli, Brownville, and Southwest Birmingham to bring retail stores, job opportunities, and reinvestment opportunities.
Lonnie Malone received his G.E.D and went on to Herzing University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems and a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management. He also attended West Coast Bible College where he received his Masters of Religious Education. Malone has spent 38 weeks providing weekend supplemental meals for school age children, he is a lead teacher at the Artesian Springs Reconnect Hour Bible Study in Brighton, Alabama for residents 55 years or older and was also on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training as a fundraiser and marathon participant. He is a member of Faith Church Oxmoor Valley and a Selective Service Board Member. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and was Omega Man of the Year at both the chapter and state levels.
Birmingham City Councilor James “Jay” Roberson, Jr., current representative for District 7, is chair of the Utilities Committee and member of the Environmental Justice Committee. To enhance the overall visual appearance of the City of Birmingham, Roberson has requested a record number of abatement of property nuisances. He has also collaborated with his colleagues to address public safety legislation involving second-hand smoke and an anti-texting while driving ban. An advocate for young people, Roberson was identified by the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership as a leader “well-poised” to make mentoring a priority. In January 2012, Roberson in partnership with Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., Alabama Power, BB&T, Samford University, Sam’s Club and Samaritan’s Feet, commemorated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as part of the National Day of Service. The civic and corporate leaders hosted a Shoes of Hope Distribution for the National Day of Service. Roberson received his B.A. in Telecommunications from Alabama A&M University in 1996 and was the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1992-1994. He and his wife, Niva, have three children, Lia, Tré, and Ava.
Jeffrey Rowser Jr.
Jeffery Rowser is a graduate of Powderly Elementary, Jones Valley Middle, and Wenonah High School. After he graduated high school he joined the U.S. Marine Corp in January 2002. While serving in the Marine Corp he received medals for humanitarian and combat. Rowser is a father of six that are all in the Birmingham City School System. He is a member of West End Hills Missionary Baptist Church. Rowser worked seven years in car sales and has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for six years. He is committed to being accessible and transparent. He will push for funding for community policing and youth programs and fight to increase minimum wage in Birmingham and more funding to tear down abandoned structures along with cutting overgrown lots in the community. In addition, he also plans to bring economic development to neighborhoods, establish honor roll initiative to reward our students, and improve public transportation.
Steven W. Hoyt
Birmingham City Council President Pro Tempore Steven W. Hoyt is chair of the Public Safety, Transportation Committee and a member of the Administration/Technology and Public Improvements and Beautification & Parks and Recreation Committees. He has spearheaded a number of neighborhood initiatives that have empowered, impacted, and enhanced the quality of lives across district lines. First elected to the Birmingham City Council in 2005, Hoyt is now serving his third term as Councilor. He is credited with assisting with the development of various, multi-million dollar projects in District 8 and across the City of Birmingham. A dedicated community leader, Hoyt has worked for more than 20 years to make change that will yield positive results for the community. A native of Gadsden, Alabama, he is the eighth of nine children born to the late Lula Catherine Hoyt. He was educated in the Gadsden public school system. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Councilor Hoyt graduated from Miles College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and a minor in Sociology. Married to the former Daphne Ann Colvin, the couple has one daughter, Maya Christian Hoyt.
Gerri Robinson is an attorney in Birmingham. She has practiced law for the past 16 years and has her own law firm. Aside from running from courthouse to courthouse, filing divorces and battling paternity and custody cases, trying to keep people out of jail and working long hours, she has continued to do her share of volunteer work. While she is passionate about attending to her clients, she is never too busy to focus on the needs of the neighborhood, where she has continued to serve as president of Fairview Neighborhood Association for more than 10 years. She recalls missing only three scheduled neighborhood meetings in the past 10 years. Gerri has done an enormous amount of volunteer work, including serving as prosecutor and judge. She is on the Board of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Neighborhood Housing Services Birmingham, and Neighborhoods, USA (NUSA). Her connection to “less than fortunate” children has led her to continue to sponsor her annual Christmas social that collects hundreds of gifts, preferably clothing and shoes, to benefit all children up to age 18.
Adlai M. Trone
Adlai Trone grew up in District 8 and was involved in the community through his membership at Sardis Baptist Church, attending the Boys Club, participating on the Harrison Pool swim team, playing football and baseball for Central Park Neighborhood Park. His participation not only provided recreation that influenced his success in sports, but also, attributed to his strong values and vision for the community which focuses on the basic principles of ‘doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’ and, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. After graduating and earning a B.S. in Finance in 1999 and a M.B.A. in 2001 at Auburn University, Trone earned a M.S. in Human Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Family Financial Planning and Counseling at the University of Alabama in 2009. Currently, he works in finance and education as a financial consultant and as an assistant coach for the Wenonah High School Dragons football program.
Angene Coleman is a lifelong resident of Birmingham and currently lives in the Westchester community. Coleman received her B.A in social work from Miles College. She works as a drug prevention specialist concentrating on drug awareness and prevention services for youth. Coleman has a long record for community involvement. She started the Pratt City Red Ribbon Day that occurs annually and was chairperson for 10 years. She volunteers as a Birmingham NAACP youth advisor, a member of the City Crime Reduction project and a member of the NAACP non-violence Block Party. Her career has been focused on working in middle and high schools around the city and with senior citizens- nearly 40 years of service to people of all ages. Coleman’s campaign is centered on not only making things better in her district but also for the city as a whole. She plans to focus on the crime prevention program, building more positive community involvement for youth, job skills and training programs, protecting senior citizens, being visible and available to address issues in the community and building relationships with other local politicians.
Eric LaMar Hall is an associate minister at Peace Missionary Baptist Church, veteran of the U.S. Army, president of the Central Pratt Neighborhood Association, 2016-2017 president of Miles College Political Science Club, director of the Angel Toy Drive, a core leader for the Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter, and community activist and advocate. He graduated from P.D. Jackson-Olin High School in 2000. After graduating he enlisted in the Alabama Army National Guard (2000-2009). During his tenure, he earned several awards including the Army Achievement Award Medal recipient of the United States Department of Defense for dedicated service in Operation Enduring Freedom. Following his service, he enrolled at Lawson State Community College and maintained a 3.0 GPA. He transferred to Miles College where he graduates in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Government. In 2016, Hall received the 12th Annual A.G. Gaston Community Service Award and was nominated for a Fusion Award for his unrelenting commitment to improving the quality of life for residents and citizens of the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan area.
John Hilliard is a lifelong resident of Pratt City and a long time public servant. Hilliard served in the Alabama State Legislature for 10 years and has been a representative on the State Democratic Executive Committee for over 20. He is a graduate of A.H. Parker High School and Alabama State University with a degree in Business Administration management. He has been a part of the Jefferson County Citizen’s Coalition and a number of other community organizations for many years. He also does a great deal of work with foster children and youth organizations. As councilor, Hilliard said he will be committed to keeping a constant, open line of communication. He will work to build relationships with the mayor, his colleagues on the Council, as well as neighborhood officers to move the city in the right direction. Hilliard believes everyone must be honest with one another and find ways to compromise to reach a shared vision, which is to make Birmingham a better place for all citizens. Hilliard’s top priorities are public safety, education, and economic development in neighborhoods.
Wendell Major grew up in Birmingham. After his parents divorced, he was raised by his mother Ellen Major in an area adjacent to District 9. Being raised by a strong, hardworking woman, he learned early the importance of a good work ethic. After graduating from high school, Major joined the United States Marine Corp and absorbed an important lesson: none of us can succeed without the help of others. After graduating from boot camp Major worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department while attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Wendell married Tawanna Williams 1991 and they have raised their two now adult children. Major went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama, a Jurist Doctorate Degree from Birmingham School of Law and become a Certified Polygraph Examiner. Wendell and Tawanna bought an abandoned house on a block in the Dolomite neighborhood. Although there were nicer houses in safer neighborhoods, Wendell and Tawanna chose to live in Dolomite because they both felt that was where they could serve Birmingham the best.
Roderick V. Royal is a former Birmingham City Councilor who served as president of the Birmingham City Council. Royal was born and raised in Birmingham and held elected office early in life, as student council president at Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary School. He went on to hold the same position at A. H. Parker High School. Royal then earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Tuskegee University and a master’s in public administration at Webster University in Saint Louis. He later completed a law enforcement program at the University of Alabama. Royal has served as a youth member of the Fountain Heights Neighborhood Association. He later was elected secretary of the East Thomas Neighborhood Association, serving two terms. Royal has been employed as a statewide coordinator for Job Corps, as an instructor at Miles College, as a police officer, and as an officer in the United States Army during Operation Desert Storm. Royal served for two months (November 2009-January 2010) as the 32nd Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. Royal and his wife have three children.
David Russell, a lifelong resident of Birmingham, graduated from Alabama State University with a degree in Business and Economics. He has over 30 years of community involvement in District 9. He has served as president of The Block Watch in Smithfield which helps watch crime in the neighborhood, served on the committee to help reduce Birmingham Water Works Board customers’ water and sewage bill and implemented bringing celebrities to perform at the Historical Erskine Hawkins “Function at the Junction” Blues, Jazz and Gospel Event. Clarence Carter, The Manhattans, The Temptations and Bobby Blue Bland are a few entertainers he introduced. He is a volunteer at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and has served as Grand Marshal for “Function at the Junction” Parade. Russell is a member of the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee and Alabama County Democratic Executive Committee. He has registered over 50,000 voters — 18,000 during President Obama’s Administration. He also worked with the Democratic Black Caucus in Montgomery to pass several bills including: stabilizing voting polls, and helping inmates receive a state picture I.D. upon release.
Reginald Swanson has been a private residential developer for the Pratt City, Ensley, Bush Hills and Kingston areas. He developed and built Magnolia Terrace Apartments for senior citizens, disabled and veterans. He purchased and redeveloped Pratt City Office Center and purchased and developed Fellowship Hall. He is founder of Pratt Business/Merchants Association and African American Chamber of Commerce. He is an adolescent home night supervisor at Aletheia House and a former laborer for the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board. Swanson worked as a dental practitioner in 1981 in the office of Dr. John Nixon Ensley before moving to Solo Family Dentistry Practice in 1982 where he has been for the last 35 years. Swanson was born and raised in the Ensley/ Pratt Community, attended Birmingham City Schools and the Jefferson County Homebound Program. He graduated in the top three of the 1974 class of Jackson- Olin High School. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a Merit Scholar from 1974-1977 and received his B.S. with Honors in Natural Science (Biology and Chemistry) in 1977. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham Dental School from 1977-1981 and graduated with his Doctorate in Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) in 1981.
James Williams Jr.
James Williams Jr. was educated in the Birmingham School System. After graduating, he joined the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and served a tour of duty in Kuwait during Desert Storm. He returned to Birmingham and opened Homeboy’s Restaurant Delivery, a food service business that delivered food to mostly black neighborhoods. He also started a career in broadcasting on WJLD AM 1400 co-hosting a show called Urban Talk, a community based talk show. After leaving WJLD, he hosted Talkback Live on WBHK 98,7. He currently works at 98.7 as on air personality J.LOVE. He co-founded the Pratt City Youth Athletic Association which focuses on education, mentoring, and sports programs for young men and women. He has worked tirelessly behind the scenes on numerous campaigns locally and statewide.
Board of Education Candidates
Bennie M. Holmes
Bennie M. Holmes is a lifelong resident of Birmingham who attended primary and secondary school as well as college in Birmingham. He is the father of eight and grandfather of 10 and is a retired businessman of 35 years. He is the publisher of the Metropolitan Black Business Network, a free community networking guide to locating African American business owners. He serves on the Board of Trustees for Black Star Academy, the only African American Cultural-centered school in Alabama and is curator of Birmingham’s National Black African Holocaust Library, a private collection of history, anthropology, linguistics and the arts of antiquity. His platform is “A New Way of Thinking about Educating African American Children and Parents.” Bennie is culturally sensitive and plans to advocate for education that is culturally-centered and correct for African American children and families in the Birmingham area.
Douglas Lee Ragland
Douglas Lee Ragland retired as superintendent of the Midfield City School System in 2010 after 34 years in education in four school systems in Alabama. During his career, he served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, personnel coordinator, hearing officer, and superintendent. Prior to being appointed superintendent of the Midfield City School System, Ragland served as superintendent in the Greene County School System from 2004-2007. He served in the Birmingham City School System as hearing officer supervisor (2003-04), personnel coordinator (1998-2003), assistant principal (1989-90), and teacher (1978-89). Ragland received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama where he was named the Most Outstanding Doctoral Student in Educational Leadership. He also holds bachelors, masters, and education specialist degrees, as well as Class A and AA Certifications, from UAB in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership. Ragland is married to the former Ms. Teresa Wiggins, and they reside in Birmingham.
Cedric Small, 32, is a resident of the Huffman community and product of Birmingham City and Jefferson County schools. He is a graduate of Samford University. He and his wife have been married for nine years and he is the father of four daughters. Small has volunteered and mentored at Huffman High School as well as with the World Changers and is the Senior Pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where he has served the last five years. Small believes that planting small seeds in children’s education will lead to great change in their future. His plans are to develop creative ways to engage students, keep parents informed, equip educators and promote community involvement. He wants to work on behalf of the students and parents to ensure that the community supports the school system and plays a key role in promoting academic excellence.
Jerry Tate formerly served as PTA Vice-President at Huffman High School. He also serves as vice-president of the Birmingham Council of PTAs for the Birmingham City School System. He has served on the Alabama State PTA Board of Directors, the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee, the Textbook Committee, and the Student Code of Conduct Committee. He was a leader in the fight for a $54 million new Huffman High School, initiated the “Ready Day One” program, campaigned for students to have additional uniform options, and fought to include electronic learning devices in all classrooms. In addition, Tate has gone before city leaders to request funding for a $1 million reading program for students and increased funding for schools and libraries in the city’s budget. He also fought for Birmingham City Schools to be included as a Title 1 District, which resulted in all students receiving free breakfast and lunches and fought to keep afterschool care at local schools. Tate and his wife Barbara are the parents of four children who have attended Birmingham City Schools, including two who graduated from Huffman High School.
Brandon McCray, born and raised in Birmingham, is running for the seat to provide a unified vision to improve education and insure a safe learning environment, he said. McCray plans to collaborate with the superintendent, the principals, teachers, and the community to ensure transparency in the Birmingham City School System. Student education is paramount and will always be the focus in decision making, he said.
As director of Support our Students and co-chair of Moral Movement Alabama, Michal has traveled throughout Alabama bringing attention to subjects as charter schools, vouchers, and institutionalized racism in Alabama’s educational system. She has also been involved in shaping federal education policy concerning the re-authorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act as a member of the National BATs Leadership Team. All four of her children attended public schools in Alabama, three of whom went on to earn education degrees. Her fourth child works on nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy.
Mary Boehm is a lifelong resident of Birmingham and has been involved in education for many years and hopes to follow in the footsteps of her father, who served on the first Birmingham City Council. Early in her career she taught in a Montessori school, resettled refugee children, and led tours of school groups at Ruffner Mountain. As president of the Alabama Power and Bell South Foundations, she was involved in many education and civic initiatives that include establishing Voices for Alabama’s Children/Kids Count and the Rural Studio at Auburn University and launching two downtown daycare centers, including the YWCA Daycare for Homeless Children. She has worked closely with many Alabama governors, state superintendents and the last nine Birmingham City School superintendents to strengthen education across the city and state. From 2008 to 2016, her partnerships with 171 high school principals, over 1,000 teachers and countless students helped Alabama to achieve a number one ranking among all 50 states in the percent increase of qualifying scores on math, science and English Advanced Placement exams.
Larry J. Contri
Larry J. Contri is a graduate of Holman School and Woodlawn High School. He received his B.S. degree from The University of Alabama, masters from Samford University and his doctorate from The University of Alabama. He has served as interim superintendent for Birmingham City Schools and as principal at Fairmont, Curry and Ramsay High School. He was promoted to the Central Office in 1985 as Area Assistant Superintendent and served in a number of positions – director of Research and Planning, IT Officer, director of Schools and Interim Superintendent until May 2, 2017. He successfully led the initiative to attain Advance Ed accreditation for the District as well as the renewal of a $3 million tax referendum. He will work with the superintendent, fellow board members, Birmingham mayor and city council to build a state-of-the art school system. His goals, if elected, include sound financial management, greater parental and business involvement, parity and equity for all schools and provide a safe and secure learning environment for all students.
Amber Courtney resides in the Norwood community. As a member of a military family she was able to travel extensively and has been exposed to a wide-range of educational systems, which is where her passion and dedication to community and educational reform were born. She began her undergraduate studies at the age of 17 at Tuskegee University. Her travels include the mountains of Colorado, where she served within the Department of the Interior as a park ranger and French language interpreter. She completed her master’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012 and has served as grant writer for a small housing nonprofit organization that conducted credit repair, financial literacy seminars, and foreclosure prevention for local residents. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education with a concentration in Social and cultural studies at the University of Alabama.
Daagye Hendricks, represents District 4 on the Birmingham School Board and has a history of service to the civic and business community. She has worked for Wee Care Academy, a 25-year family business. Professionally, she serves children from ages 6 weeks through high school and mentors college students throughout the area. She currently works for University of Alabama at Birmingham as a patient navigator. Hendricks received her bachelor’s degree in Business from Clark Atlanta University in Georgia and executive master’s in Business Administration from the University of Alabama. Hendricks is a founding member of the Birmingham Urban League Young Professionals group and is member of the Birmingham Chapter of the Links, Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. She has a son Noah Harvill and is an active member of the PTA at Phillips Academy. Her motto is “All Children Can Succeed, Provided The Tools And Opportunities To Do So.” During her tenure as the District 4 representative, accreditation was restored for all 44 schools and District 4 reduced schools on the “failing list” by 50 percent.
Buford Lee Burks
Buford Lee Burks began his career in education in 1982 at Booker T. Washington Junior College of Business in Birmingham where he taught English. He also taught English at Miles College from 1998 to 2000 and has taught at Wenonah High School, Woodlawn High School, Hayes High School, Jackson Olin High School, Bush Middle School and A.H. Parker High School. He was an extended substitute teacher at Huffman Middle and High School and Ramsay High School. He was SAT-9 Teacher of the Year and can work with the superintendent of the Birmingham Board of Education. He has also taught in Fulton County, Georgia, New Orleans and several districts in Alabama. He is a retired teacher but has certifications to be a superintendent, principal, and English, History and Social Science teacher.
David T. McKinney
David T. McKinney said his focus is on the educational needs of children. As an educator, his days are often spent talking about education and helping students. McKinney has been an educator in the Birmingham metro area for more than 10 years. He has taught Communication courses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Miles College and Jefferson Sate Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy University, master’s degree from UAB, and an educational specialist degree from the University of Alabama. He will soon complete his Ph.D. work in Educational Leadership in 2018 from the University of Alabama. McKinney decided to run for the seat because he believed he can make a difference in the lives of children by working to open a level of accountability with the community, putting policies in place that allow kids to have a safe learning environment, working to give teachers the support they need to educate our kids and addressing weak areas in schools by implementing programs and educational initiatives.
Mickey Millsap brings 20 years of experience in education, business and public service to the race. Millsap began his career as a corporate banking analyst at Bank of America, and then served on the staff of Democrat United States Senator Tom Daschle. In 2002, Millsap enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin to earn his master’s in Business Administration. In 2004, while a student at Texas, Millsap co-founded technology startup uShip.com with two of his classmates. He has spent the past six years in Alabama working as a public school teacher in Sumter County, Alabama (where he won educator of the year in 2011), a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and founder of K12 Lean Labs, a nonprofit that works with educators who have innovative ideas about how to solve education problems. Millsap is married to Rebecca Millsap, a former special education instructor in the Louisiana public school system. They have a daughter, Maya, who will turn one right before Election Day.
Cheri Gardner, elected to the Birmingham Board of Education in 2013, graduated from Minor High School and received her B.A. from Spelman College in Atlanta. She also received an executive degree in Banking and Finance from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and her Juris Doctor from Miles College School of Law. She has served as vice president and manager of AmSouth Bank, owner and exclusive agent of All State Insurance Company and director of funeral service at Smith and Gaston Funeral Home. Gardner is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Links Inc., Chum Inc., and a member of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. She is married to Paul G. Gardner, president of Smith and Gaston Funeral Home and they have two sons, Paul G. Gardner Jr. and William M. Gardner.
Wardine Towers Alexander, currently holds the District 7 seat on the Board of Education for the Birmingham City Schools (BCS). Alexander is a product of Birmingham City Schools. She attended Wenonah Elementary, A. G. Gaston Jr. High and is a 1973 graduate of Wenonah High School. She attended the University of Alabama and obtained a B.S. Degree in Medical Technology from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is a registered Medical Technologist with special certification by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. She attributes her passion for public education to her parent’s combined 70-year careers working with BCS students and staff. Her father, Ward Towers, was a teacher and coach at Wenonah High School. Her mother, Thelma Otey Towers, was a secretary at Tuggle Elementary School. Alexander has a son Gregory and grand-daughter MaKenzie. She is a member of Trinity Baptist Church and serves her community through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Omicron Omega Chapter, and The Links, Inc., Tri-County (AL) Chapter. She is a member of the OneRoof Board.
Patricia Spigner McAdory grew up in the Powderly community and received her education in the Birmingham City School System including Powderly Elementary School and Jones Valley and Wenonah High Schools. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Miles College in 1978, her MED from Alabama State University in 1985 and her Certification as a Library Media Specialist from Alabama State University in 1993. McAdory is a retired educator with 32 years in Birmingham Schools, where she taught 16 years and served as a library media specialist. All three of her children were educated in the Birmingham City School System. Kena S. Byrd, E.D.; Rukeya McAdory McCullough, Esq. and Lindsey Noah McAdory, Jr., MBA, PMP. She is currently a member of Trinity A. M. E. Zion Church, where she serves as a member of the Dream Team and a member of the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and has served as the historian for the Omicron Omega Chapter.
Walter “Big Walt” Wilson
Walter “Big Walt” Wilson has a history of serving his community dating back to his teen years growing up in southwest Birmingham. Wilson has over 20 years of service with Birmingham Public Works. He was appointed to serve as Wenonah High School’s Community-Parent Coordinator and has been a Wenonah basketball and football booster for over 20 years and was head junior varsity football coach for 14 years. Wilson was founding president of two of the city’s youth athletic programs — the Wenonah Young Dragons and the Roosevelt City Spartans. He has also coached Piper Davis, Police Athletic Teams, and Partners In Neighborhood Growth teams. Wilson is host of “Sunday Conversation with Big Walt” on WJLD, president of Community First Birmingham, president of the Southwest Alliance Association, and serves on the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee. Wilson and his wife Brenda are Birmingham City School parents and the family attends Hopewell Baptist Church. If elected, Wilson said he will seek innovative funding opportunities for schools and build partnerships with colleges and businesses.
Tyrone Silmon is a native of Birmingham and a product of the Birmingham City School System. He attended Woodlawn High School where he excelled in academics and sports. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track. Silmon often says that it was the support of his mother, grandmother, teachers, coaches and pastor that encouraged him to stay in school and get a good education. This network of support serves as the impetus for Silmon’s motto, “It takes a Village to Raise a Child”. After high school, he attended Lawson State Community College where he obtained three associate’s degrees in Pre-Law, Psychology, and Health Education. After graduating from Lawson State, Silmon attended Texas Southern University on a full basketball scholarship and completed his bachelor’s degree with a double major in Telecommunications and Marketing. After the death of his father, Silmon moved back to Birmingham to be closer to his family. His daughter attends a local elementary school in the Birmingham City School District along with a niece and nephew.
Patricia Bozeman-Henderson is the Job Readiness / G. E. D. Coordinator for the City of Birmingham Municipal Court. She has over 20 years of Case Management experience. Bozeman-Henderson received an Associates of Applied Science in Social Work from Lawson State Community College with a concentration in Clinical Assessment and Case Management and Bachelors of Science in Criminal Law from Miles College with a concentration in Pre-Law and Psychology. She is a past vice-president of the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Executive Board Member. She has volunteered in the area of Voters Outreach city wide and served on several state and local boards and committees. Among Bozeman-Henderson’s awards and recognitions are A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club Tutor and Mentor Service, Saint James Missionary Baptist Church Committee Chairwoman, Outstanding Citizen Service, Birmingham Citizen Humanitarian and N.A.A.C.P. Community Appreciation Service Award. Bozeman-Henderson has been married to Johnnie W. Henderson for 30 years and has three children, Monique Johnson, Seneathea and Johnnie Henderson III and two grandchildren.
Sonja Smith, a native of Birmingham, received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Birmingham-Southern College and continued her studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where she earned a Master’s in Music (MM) with a concentration in Piano. After graduating from LSU, Smith moved to Chicago where she was a music and Freshman Seminar teacher at A.C.E. (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Technical High School on the Southside of Chicago. Recognizing that freshmen girls needed additional support, Smith helped form GRACE, a girls’ group designed specifically for freshmen that focused on self-esteem, career opportunities, health issues, and an appreciation of the arts. Smith taught lecture classes in Music History/Music Appreciation and the applied arts class of Group Piano at Malcolm X College, a City College of Chicago. Upon her return to Birmingham, Smith continued teaching, but merged her passion for students with her love for tennis as the 10-and-Under-Coordinator for USTA Southern.
Sandra Brown, a native of Birmingham, is currently serving District 9 on the Birmingham Board of Education. Brown is a product of the Birmingham City School System (Carver High School and Jackson Olin Vocational School). She retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama after more than 20 years. She is currently employed part-time with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. She has been a volunteer with several local organizations in the city including United Way Crisis Center (Rape Response) YWCA Domestic Violence Program (Soars) and the office of Senior Service (Ship Program). She is former president of the North Birmingham Neighborhood Association, former vice president Citizen Advisory Board. Brown is also a member of the Environmental Protection Agency North Birmingham Coalition.
Lawrence Jackson, pastor of Love Fellowship Baptist Church, has never run for elected office but has a strong background in education and said he knows what is needed to move forward the school system. Jackson believes that each and every child in Birmingham deserves a first-class education and he is committed to doing what it takes to bring critical resources and opportunities to classrooms. Jackson is a graduate of Ensley High School, Lawson State Community College, Alabama State University, and Alabama A&M University where he earned a master’s degree. He is a professor of social work at Lawson State and Alabama A&M. Jackson and his wife own a restaurant known as Sweets and Eats. Their children attend Birmingham City Schools. If elected, Jackson said he will work to connect parents and the community to schools and actively engage them in efforts to improve the system. Jackson is a supporter of enhanced technology, more opportunities for career education and placing social workers in schools to help children address situations that may be barriers to learning.
All bios were submitted by candidates and edited for length. Efforts to reach the following candidates for biographies were unsuccessful:
Board of Education