March is Women’s History Month, so we’re highlighting a few young and upcoming women leaders you should know about. In no particular order, here are four women leaders who are paving the for young girls in The Magic City.
1. Jessica Chriesman
First, we have Jessica Chriesman. Chriesman is a local filmmaker and the newly-appointed Director of Education and Outreach at Sidewalk Cinema. She directs, produces and edits her own independent films that focus on telling the stories of individuals in the South. Chriesman told me that the main goal of these films is to show the South in a different light than what is normally portrayed.
How does she do that? She highlights areas in the South through several elements that include:
- Social justice
- Nonprofit organizations
Chriesman has developed and overseen many projects that have landed her the new position with Sidewalk—an organization that she has admired for a long time. When I asked Chriesman for one piece of advice she would give to young girls who want to be where she is, she said:
“I think persistence is definitely key and also being open to meeting people, hearing what they’re about and opening your network to other people. It’s super helpful in this industry.”Jessica Chriesman, Director of Education & Outreach, Sidewalk Cinema
2. Cameron Shevlin
Next, is Cameron Shevlin. As Director of Annual Campaign for United Way of Central Alabama, Shevlin helps leads team of individuals for the single largest social services campaign in Alabama. Their 2021 campaign’s $36 million dollar success is now supporting over 80 UW partner agencies and other programs that play an important role in the quality of life for all of us. She is passionate about fighting for the health, education and financial stability of every person in the community that she helps serve.
Shevlin isn’t new to helping her community. She’s been involved in nonprofit organizations since her college days.
“It was my senior year of college and I took a service-learning class. We were serving in the community and working with free preparation. Even though it was a part of the class, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I looked forward to it every week and eventually realized how great it was and that this was what I wanted to do.”Cameron Shevlin, Director of Annual Campaign, United Way of Central Alabama
She is also the president of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, an organization that develops young professional leaders to be actively engaged in building a better community. Shevlin encourages young girls interested in community work to put themselves out there and get involved any way they can whether that is working with an organization or creating their own space.
3. Alana Frederick
Alana Frederick is a young lady who is making major moves in the local law world. She holds the position as Law Clerk at Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals where she primarily conducts the legal research, writing, opinion-drafting and preparing for court sessions. Plus, she oversees younger attorneys. Frederick sets a positive perception to attorneys and lawyers by pushing the narrative of always treating everyone with respect—no matter the role of the person that you’re interacting with.
“We can learn something from everybody, regardless of their background and whether you went to an Ivy League school or whether you didn’t go to college at all. Always treat everybody with respect and the dignity that they deserve.”Alana Frederick, Law Clerk, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Frederick holds several other positions in local organizations and programs including:
- Alabama Theatre Junior Board
- Birmingham Committee of Foreign Relations
- Adjunct Professor at Cumberland Law
Plus, she’s on the Executive Board for the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and launched a new program called Junior Rotaractors for children of club members to participate in giving back to the community.
4. Leah Davis
Leah Davis is the Director of Development for Red Mountain Park, where she builds relationships and fundraise in efforts to support Red Mountain Park—at only 23 years old. Much like Shevlin, she began her community work in college and gained a lot of experience through internships and volunteer work.
How does she raise money for Red Mountain? By working with corporations, foundations and individuals and telling the story of the park and informing them of the mission of the park. She pushes a community focus of the park and works diligently to engage and connect to the community around us. Although, she’s only been in the position for a short while, she already has big plans for Red Mountain Park.