Tonya Jones, Kamau Witherspoon and 51 others accepted as 2023 Leadership Birmingham Class

Birmingham Skyline
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Leadership Birmingham announced their Class of 2023 this week, the 39th since the program’s inception in 1982.

53 Leaders Region-wide

Fifty-three leaders will spend the next ten months together from September through June, learning about area challenges and opportunities from experts in education, economic development, government, justice, human services, diversity and inclusion, and quality of life.

“Leadership Birmingham brings influential leaders together who share a deep commitment to making a better Greater Birmingham,” says Libba Vaughan, executive director of Leadership Birmingham. “The collective expertise and experience of the Class of 2023 is impressive.”

The intensive and interactive format enables each class member to:

  • Critically assess area issues
  • Broaden perspectives
  • Exchange ideas
  • Collaborate on local solutions
  • Deepen and expand personal and professional networks

Leadership Birmingham — An honor and opportunity

We recently caught up with two of this year’s participants — Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander and Carlee Sanford, Ruffner Mountain’s Executive Director. Here is what  they had to say about Leadership Birmingham and the opportunity to work with fellow community leaders over the coming ten months..

“It is an honor to be selected for the 2023 Leadership Birmingham class alongside so many amazing individuals who are working to improve the quality of life in our city.  I look forward to working with all of them over the next year and finding ways we can utilize Birmingham’s full potential to take our city and region to the next level.” ~ Wardine Alexander

“Thrilled. I am absolutely thrilled for Ruffner Mountain and thankful, personally, to be given this opportunity.  To learn is to grow. I value the chance to dive deeper with this incredible group of individuals— to learn more about our community’s critical issues and successes— the outputs, purpose, time, and all the other ways we operate. Ultimately, the future of our region is one interconnected system.” ~ Carlee Sanford

The List

Who else is on the list?

Here are the members of the class of 2022-2023:

Ms. Angela Abdur-Rasheed – Communications & Community Engagement Director, Prosper

Ms. Wardine Alexander – President, Birmingham City Council

Ms. Tonya Hill Allen – Executive Director, Diane’s Heart

Dr. Allury Arora-Lal – Chief Medical Officer,  Urgent Care for Children

Dr. Corinne Augelli- Szafran – VP of Scientific Platforms Southern Research

Ms. Rebecca Beers – Partner, Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell

Ms. Katherine Berdy – Director, Youth Leadership Forum, Leadership Birmingham

Ms. Caroline T. Bundy – Director of Development,  AIDS Alabama

Dr. Andrew Butler – Dean, UAB School of Health Professions

Mr. Zebbie Carney – CEO, Eugene’s Hot Chicken

Mr. Matt Carrington – CFO, Brasfield & Gorrie

Mr. Hafiz Chandiwala – EVP & Chief Administrative Officer, Coca Cola Bottling Company United

Mr. Edward R. Christian – CEO/Partner,Burr & Forman LLP

Ms. Cynthia Coyle – Partner,  ArchitectureWorks, LLP

Ms. Tiffany Vickers Davis – Co-Founder,  Nourish Foods

Dr. Paulette Patterson Dilworth, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,


Mr. Jeremy Duckworth – Executive Director,  Central Alabama Redevelopment Alliance

Mr. Tony Feagins, Jr. – President, Ambipar Response OSE, LLC

Mr. Douglas G. Gilmer – Resident Agent in Charge Homeland Security Investigations

Ms. Andrea Haines – VP & General Counsel,  Crowne Partners

 Mr. Andrew Honeycutt – Chairman – Owner, Talladega Castings & Machine Co.

Ms. Elizabeth Hughey – Co-Founder & Program Director, Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO)

Mr. L. Waymond Jackson-CEO, Ed Farm

Ms. Jennifer Jaquess – Managing Director, Red Mountain Theatre Company

Ms. Tonya Jones – CEO, Tonya Jones Salon & Civitas Restaurant

Ms. Zhaundra Jones –VP of Philanthropic Partnerships, Women’s Foundation of Alabama

Mr. Jerry L. Kelly – CEO,  Kelly Road Builders

Mr. Kipp Keown – Vice President of Marketing,  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama

Mr. David Killion – President & General Counsel, Shook & Fletcher Insulation

Ms. T. Marie King – Director of Youth Pathways and Experiences, Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Ms. Libby Lassiter – Principal, Tessa Commercial Real Estate

Ms. Mary Pat Lawrence – SVP, Government Affairs Protective Life Corporation

Mr. John B. Lyda – President, Hoover City Council

Dr. Mark Martin – CEO,  Build UP

Mr. Patrick McClusky – Mayor, City of Homewood

Ms. Jennifer McInerney – Attorney, Law Offices of Jeff W. Parmer, LLC

Mr. Abbas Merchant – EVP, Chief Marketing Officer Regions Bank

Ms. Mariohn J. Michel – Executive Director,  Breakthrough Birmingham

Dr. Tim Mitchell – President, Alabama School of Fine Arts

Ms. Angele Monconduit – Director, Corporate Real Estate Alabama Power Company

Mr. R. Ashby Pate – Partner, Lightfoot Franklin & White

Hon. Charles Price, II – Municipal Judge,  City of Birmingham

Mr. Neil Rafferty – Representative,  State of Alabama

Dr. Ashley Samuels – Executive Director,  Birmingham Education Foundation

Ms. Carlee Sanford – Executive Director,  Ruffner Mountain Nature Coalition

Ms. Keelie Segars – CEO, Markstein

Ms. Susan Sellers – CEO, United Ability

Mr. Mitesh Shah – Vice President & General Manager, Vulcan Materials Company

Ms. Rusha Smith – Executive Director,  Freshwater Land Trust

Mr. Thomas Spencer – Senior Research Associate,  PARCA

Ms. Mashonda S. Taylor – Executive Director,  Woodlawn United

Darlene Traffanstedt, MD – Medical Director, Adult Health & Family Planning, Jefferson County Department of Health

Mr. Kamau Witherspoon – CEO,  Shipt

Learn More

Want to learn more about Leadership Birmingham and the Class of 2023. 


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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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