A Q&A WITH SOME OF THE CHAMBER’S FEMALE AMBASSADORS
There are women working hard in our community in a diverse array of roles and in a wide range of businesses and industries all the time: day in, day out, all year long. And their multiple contributions call for constant celebration. So, in this issue of MBJ, we’re shining a bright light on some of them—including the Chamber’s female Ambassadors—putting their passion, dedication and accomplishments front and center and letting them share their stories, their wisdom and the praise they have for each other.
Q: What’s the No. 1 challenge you’ve faced as a woman in business?
Balancing responsibilities. Demands from personal and professional commitments can pressure a woman to abandon either her business or family. Our families expect us to be a mother and wife, while the business requires us to be a leader and show commitment. This kind of pressure can become overwhelming for some women. I tell myself every single day to make myself and my family a priority. I love my job and having a career, but if you do not prioritize yourself and your family, then you will burn out and not be an asset to your company. - Courtney Lowry, Membership Director, Capital City Club
Balance. It was difficult to balance my career and my personal life. Women have families, spouses and other responsibilities, so many of us aren’t just leaders or career people. Personal and professional obligations can force a woman to choose between her career and her family. Delegation, shifting and focusing were all skills I had to develop. I don’t take my work home with me, and I don’t bring my personal life to work with me. - LaTisha Simpson-Shelton, Branch Manager, Woodforest National Bank
Gender Equality. To be completely honest, women have to work harder than our male counterparts. It seems as though women aren’t taken seriously most times. I overcome it by working a tad bit harder. No one can deny hard work. It always pays off. - CeCe Savage Broker/Owner, Garth Realty Group
Diffidence. Females who aspire and excel are usually unable to brag about their achievements. Women must be proud of their accomplishments and allow others to do the same. This is not just in the work field but at home as well. To overcome it, I take deep breaths and push forward. I get stronger and stronger every day. Tune out the negativity. - Hannah Lehman Manager, Tile & More Warehouse
Having confidence in my abilities. I’ve overcome it by embracing my own personal growth and development and developing a solid support team of mentors, coaches, accountability partners and mentees. Also, I’m learning to outsource and delegate in the areas of my weaknesses to the dream team I am forming so that I can stay focused and maximize my strengths. - Tasha M. Scott, Owner/Consultant, Maximized Growth, LLC
Q: What’s your No. 1 piece of business advice?
Know your stuff! And if you don’t know, have a network of professionals that can be a resource. - Carol Andrews, Broker/Owner, House & Home Real Estate
Build good, strong lasting relationships with your colleagues and customers. Relationships are such a vital part of success. - Christina Bennett, Senior Media Advisor, exploreMedia
Diverse mindsets create oceans of opportunity. - Melanie Hogan, News Director, WVAS 90.7 FM
Stay focused while at the same time be yourself and let your charisma shine. I believe good business relationships are very important. Personality and charisma when interacting go a very long way! - Yolanda Walker, District Administrative Coordinator, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
Pray daily and ask for help from your co-workers before you get behind. Taking care of our customers is our number one priority. - Sandy Boutwell, Sales-Advertising and Business and Residential Services, Troy Cablevision, Inc.
Action conquers fear! Peter Nivio Zarlenga is the author credited with this quote, and it’s my personal mantra. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I make a list and begin working through it. - Angie Jordin, Business Development Manager, exploreMedia
Trust your own voice and move in the direction that reflects the best version of you. Being genuine in business showcases our beliefs and values, and it also allows us to build great relationships and a great business that truly reflects who we are and what we believe in. - Katelyn Nelson, AAMS®, Wealth Management Advisor, Raymond James & Associates
Q: What’s your No. 1 piece of business advice?
My mother, who was wise and did not know it. I also surround myself with positive thinking women who seek to obtain dreams or goals. - Laurinda Hammer-Krohmer, Business Development, Career Personnel
Jada Davis, who is a selfless educator and compassionate Christian who voluntarily serves in the community in any way she can to reach youth and young adults to embrace the calling they have. Also, the women of LIFE Academy who are bringing life back to impoverished areas through education and community partnership. - Nia Pagniacci, Administrator, Ladies Influencing Freedom & Excellence
The most influential woman in my life is my grandmother. She is such a strong woman, and she always taught me about money and saving. She always said, “I don’t care how much money you have, always pay yourself first, even if it is 10 cents.” Me saving and spending my money wisely helped me over the years in building my business. - Neke Marché, Owner/CEO, Neke Marche LLC
Women are so strong, and I do not believe most notice how amazing they are! But my mom is at the top of my list; she started with little and became the first woman and Black woman electrical engineer for the Gulf Power Crist plant. I remember growing up she worked shifts. I remember her lacing up her boots and putting on her safety equipment, and she was a beautiful woman. Now I understand how hard it all was for her, the sacrifices and not being accepted. I never heard her complain, and I have heard stories, but I didn’t understand how much she endured. But that’s why she is my HERO, and why she is who I call when I feel the worst. She taught me to shoot past the moon and never give up! - La’Queta Savage CEO, SHAXOR LLC
Governor Kay Ivey had the most influence over me as a young adult, as I had the opportunity of working as her administrative assistant right out of high school. Although tough, I learned a lot under her direction and still have a great deal of respect for her. - Shannon Ferrari, Vice President, Diestelhorst Properties
2021 WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Montgomery
The combined tenure and level of expertise of these women within the specialty of inpatient rehabilitation demonstrates commitment and a determination to provide the best rehabilitative services to the community we serve. As our region’s only inpatient rehabilitation hospital, we strive to be an employer of choice, hospital of choice and to provide outstanding support to our community healthcare partners.
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Montgomery has served our community for 35 years. Thanks in part to the efforts of the women on our team, Encompass has been honored with two recent awards: Modern Healthcare’s Best Workplace in Healthcare 2021 and Fortune Best Workplaces for Women 2020.
OUR TEAM: Kimberly Headley, RN, Business Development Director; Sharlotte Rogers, RN CMRN, Case Management Director; Kim McDaniel, Human Resources Director; Emily Barker, RN CRRN; Ethene Butler, RN CRRN; Gretchen Vercher, RN BSN CRRN, Chief Nursing Officer
For more than 25 years, AEGIS-Michaud has been highly respected and a prominent fixture in the Montgomery River Region by offering the very highest in professional Real Estate service. The value you gain through AEGIS comes from the team’s extensive knowledge of the local market, education, expert negotiation skills, full-service marketing and pure dedication to their customers.
Voted the Best of the Best for several years, Ann Michaud and the dedicated professionals at AEGIS Michaud are a powerful sales force and are proud to be among the top producing agents in the area.
Specializing in residential sales including high-end luxury estates, the team ensures that clients view the best homes available to meet their needs and guides them through the critical steps for a streamlined closing. Their aggressive marketing program with an extensive online presence provides the highest visibility for their listings.
Community involvement keeps the women of the AEGIS-Michaud team deeply rooted in Montgomery’s future. Many companies have tried to imitate their success, but you just can’t duplicate their people. The outstanding performance of AEGIS-Michaud Properties is a direct result of the company motto: “Excellence, Pure & Simple…Expect It!”
OUR TEAM: Lynn Peck; Sally Byrd; Rita Pickette; Linda Browder; Ann Michaud; Anna Kate Bowen; Lee Goodwyn; Debra Hawk; Kelli Gilliam; Nam Kim; Sue Dismukes; Doris Wolfe
Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC
Rebecca Graham, Manager, is the go-to in our Montgomery office. Whether the question is about taxes to client accounting services to accounting matters, everyone in the office seeks her answers. She handles a large client tax load for the partners in the office.
Breanna Young, Manager, has grown into a team leader in our organization over the last few years. She has been invaluable in the supervising of our captive practice
Kay Taylor, Supervising Paraprofessional, supervises the client accounting services department and provides clients with the tools to fulfill their payroll and bookkeeping needs.
Deborah Johnson, Office Manager in Montgomery, is responsible for overall administrative and corporate initiatives and corporate policies. She handles the practice unit reporting to CRI’s corporate office.
Alyson Terry, Paraprofessional, is the administrative assistant to the partner in charge of the Montgomery office and administrator for the Financial Services Industry line of CRI. She is responsible for tracking sales growth, tracking staffing for financial institution and insurance industry lines and distributing social media content to team members.
OUR TEAM: Deborah Johnson; Kay Taylor; Alyson Terry; Breanna Young; Rebecca Graham
NAWIC: Montgomery Chapter
The Montgomery Chapter of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) has been in the River Region for more than 40 years. NAWIC offers its members education, support and networking to help advance their careers in the construction industry. All women working in construction are eligible for membership, including women in the trades, project management, marketing, administration and executive leadership. Women who work in construction-related businesses, such as finance, legal and other complementary industries, are welcome as well. Our motto is: “Building Leaders. Leading Builders.”
WHO WE ARE:
NAWIC represents women in multiple Montgomery companies, including: Caddell Construction, Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Absolute Termite, United Rentals, Comer Elder Law, Diamond Concrete, Jackson Hospital, Pritchard Tile Company, Mayer Electric, Heart of Home Design, MECO, GC Specialties, Russell Construction, GM Contracting and Diversified Elevator.
OUR TEAM: Leigh Armstrong (Caddell); Lesley Byrd (United Rentals); Lisa Stephens (MECO); Courtney Scott (Caddell); Brittany Batrez (Absolute Termite); Deandrea Martin (Caddell); Becky Harris (Goodwyn Mills Cawood); Kathy Roop (Mayer Electric)
Brianne C. Smith, PhD, CPA/PFS, ABV
As a woman in business, Brianne is aware of the incredible financial challenges and opportunities of women. Studies show women tend to live longer than men, have lower lifetime income and score lower on financial knowledge surveys, yet women control over $20 trillion in spending each year and are the most generous in donating to organizations that benefit women and girls. Brianne started the CPA firm in 2016 and the financial advisory practice in 2019. She has a passion for empowering women of all ages and seasons of life by providing financial knowledge and confidence towards entrepreneurship and financial independence.
Brianne created a financial literacy workshop for the Women In Training Leadership, Inc. Development Circle for middle school and high school girls, and she is on the Executive Committee for the Auburn Women’s Philanthropy Board. Brianne has led small groups for college women, single women and blended married couples. She is also a Visiting Professor of Accounting at AUM with a PhD in Financial and Retirement Planning.
THE LEADER: Brianne C. Smith, PhD, CPA/PFS, ABV
Jim Massey’s Cleaners
In October 2015, Jim Massey’s hired Janet Guthrie as a CRDN sales representative in our restoration division. CRDN is a multi-national franchise that specializes in cleaning, deodorizing and restoring items damaged by smoke, water and mold. Janet was promoted to the General Manager of CRDN and oversaw its growth into electronics restoration. In March 2021, CRDN was growing again, this time expanding into art restoration. Janet and her team recently won two prestigious national awards.
Sharon Foy started with Jim Massey’s Cleaners in 1994 as a dry-cleaning presser. Over the following 27 years, Sharon mastered the most technical dry-cleaning techniques and procedures. Her “customer first” attitude was recognized, and she was promoted to Store Manager. Sharon’s leadership role grew, and she was promoted to Assistant District Manager, overseeing 24 stores. Two years later, she was promoted to Operations Manager. In June 2021, Sharon was promoted again to Plant Manager, where she is responsible for hiring and training all plant personnel and overseeing quality control of every garment leaving the 45,000-square-foot plant.
OUR TEAM: Janet Guthrie, CRDN General Manager; Sharon Foy, Plant Manager, Jim Massey’s Cleaners
“Growth” is the word for these ladies. Jordin has grown from an entry level position to an integral part of our business. Kristine started in the same position Jordin did and has grown in one year to a new position and has really overachieved. While she’s only been with the company a short time, Catherine is already managing technicians, and the coordination process has never been smoother.
Jordin King, Operations and Project Manager, has been described by most as the glue that holds this company together, and she wears as many hats as anyone should be allowed to.
Kristine Shirah, Business Account Manager, keeps our customers happy and on track with their business goals.
Catherine Housel, IT Coordinator, keeps all our technicians in line and informed to make sure they can serve our customers effectively.
For more than 100 years, we at Jackson Thornton have believed that varying perspectives and experiences make us a more dynamic company. With 57 percent women within the firm, Jackson Thornton has definitely cultivated female leadership at all levels and areas. Through the years, other companies have asked how we created our plan to purposefully include women in leadership roles. The answer, from Lanny Crane (our Managing Partner for many years and grandson of our founder), is simple: “We have always hired the smartest and most capable people for the job. Sometimes — oftentimes — they just happened to be women.”
Making an Impact: Regardless of the titles we have or the roles we play, the team at Jackson Thornton strives each day to set the bar higher for our clients, our communities and ourselves.
OUR TEAM: Amy Pugh, Manager; Lyvonnia Poppell, Principal; Lisa McKissick, Chief Human Resources Officer; Candace Lawton, Manager; Cindy Scott, Chief Marketing Officer; Crystal Striepe, Manager; Diane Carpenter, Manager; Diane Steinhilber, Principal; Marcia Rhodes, Manager; Rita Brown, Principal; Allison Guice, Principal; Lindsey Goddard, Sr. Manager; Christine Cook, Principal; Nancy Brown, Sr. Manager; Erica Bailey, Sr. Manager; Selina Clark, Director of Firm Administration; Eden Thornton, Principal; Kelly McGhee, Controller; Sarah Chandler, Sr. Manager; Ashley Taylor, Sr. Manager; Katie Vega, Manager; Hannah Spann, Manager; Sakina Rahmany, Manager; Beth Green, Manager
exploreMedia has experienced tremendous growth over the last five years because of the efforts of these talented and hardworking women. We currently manage five publications and offer a large arsenal of digital products to help our clients reach their goals. We value the unique gifts and perspective that each of these women bring to exploreMedia.
Pam Mashburn started this business 15 years ago with a single publication. Under her leadership, exploreMedia has enjoyed robust growth and success.
Heather Cooper has launched four magazines and serves as the Integrator of our Leadership Team.
Christina Bennett received a promotion to Senior Media Advisor and is a great example of how to effectively balance a young family and the needs of her career.
Angie Jordin leads our newcomer outreach efforts along with driving the growth of our digital client base.
Kinsey de Torres is the managing editor and project manager for several publications including the nationally circulated Potential magazine.
Shelby Shubird has been the driver of our digital media growth strategies—and was recently promoted to Digital Manager.
Abby Wilson, a recent graduate of UAB business school, focuses on exploreMedia strategies in digital and social media.
Amber Estes is the go-to person in the office for managing all things money and distribution.
Jan Burdette has visited more than 1,600 new families since 2014 and is our Warm Welcome Greeter extraordinaire.
OUR TEAM: Pam Mashburn, President; Heather Cooper, Creative Director; Christina Bennett, Senior Media Advisor; Angie Jordin, Business Development Manager; Kinsey de Torres, Managing Editor; Shelby Shubird, Digital Media Manager; Abby Wilson, Digital Media Specialist; Amber Estes, Accounting and Business Administrator; Jan Burdette, Lead Greeter
The Frazer Lanier Company
Tamika H. Reed recently joined The Frazer Lanier Company and became the first woman in the state to serve as an investment banker working on municipal bond financings throughout the Southeast Region. Joining the Alabama finance industry aided in the field’s and the firm’s quests for diversity.
Tamika was a practicing education/employment law attorney for 12 years prior to making the transition to the finance business. She is extremely passionate and dedicated to community outreach in Montgomery and across the state. She was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to the Alabama Women’s Tribute Statue Commission, is the proud founder of the Move Montgomery Health and Wellness Task Force and serves as chairwoman of 100 Women Strong. In addition, she is an active member of the Montgomery chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated. Tamika is married to Steven L. Reed, our first African American mayor of Montgomery. They have three children, Kyla, 23; Klein, 14; and Karsten, 11.
MAKING AN IMPACT: Tamika H. Reed, Investment Banker
Just as Jackson Hospital’s patients and community are diverse, so is its leadership. Jackson Hospital believes that a variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences contributes to its success and helps provide better care to its patients. The hospital believes in investing in staff who are invested in the care of our community. That’s why Jackson Hospital strives to provide a positive environment for its team members to be the best at what they do. That is who Jackson is, and it’s what it strives for every single day.
Making an Impact: Under diverse leadership, Jackson Hospital has earned Centers of Excellence in five categories: AAA Surgery, Spine Surgery, Stroke, Heart Attack and Bariatric Surgery. It has also earned the Blue Cross Blue Shield Distinction + Award Knee/Hip Replacement and Spine Surgery. These highly awarded specialty departments are led by the diverse women in leadership at Jackson Hospital.
OUR TEAM: Alisa Sides, Perioperative Services Director; Andrea Sanders, Health Information Management Director; Angela Battle Dansby, Sleep Lab Director; Anita Hayslip, Patient Access Director; Anita Yeargan, CVICU Director; Anna Applin, 4 North Director; Candice Phillips, 4 East/4 West, PICC Director; Courtney Williams, Hospitalist Operations Manager; Dawn Parker, Laboratory Director; Denise Donohue, 6 East/6 West Director; Edith James, Materials Management Director; Gina Anderson, Chief Integration and Quality Officer; Heather Logan, Community Health & Wellness Director; Holly Saliski, Physician Relations Director; Jan Hill, Chief Nursing Officer/Vice President of Patient Care Services; Karen Baggett, Infection Control Director; Kelin Penney, Jackson Clinic Administrator; Kendra Truss, Professional Development Director; Melissa Sias-Robinson, 5 Tower Director; Melissa Tompkins, Laboratory Director; Melody Cowdrey, Revenue Cycle Integration & Realization Director; Mia Mothershed, Marketing Director; Nisha Washington, 3 North Director; Pam Nix, ICU Director; Peg Keshock, Clinical Resource Management Director; Regan Sullivan, Respiratory Care Director; Theresa Kallman, Patient Safety and Risk Management Director
Alabama Power Company
Ronda has distinguished herself as a leader in multiple areas of Alabama Power’s Customer Service Organization. As manager of Alabama Power’s Montgomery Business Office, she leads one of the company’s most active offices and has responsibility for a staff of 10. She talks with customers every day: meeting needs, answering questions and resolving concerns. Ronda has mentored employees throughout her career and recently reconstituted a women’s leadership program for Alabama Power employees throughout central Alabama. She was chairman of Alabama Power’s local service organization and continues to be active in the volunteer group. Ronda is also an ambassador for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the River Region United Way, as well as the 2nd Chance Foundation in Montgomery.
TEAM LEAD: Ronda Cherry-Smoke, Manager, Montgomery Business Office
These women’s achievements consistently keep our market atop our company.
Laura Dickey, Main Office Branch Manager, AVP, manages our main office, which entails business development and lending beyond the scope of traditional branches.
Sharon Patterson, Corporate Services Manager, VP, sells and administers cash management services for our corporate clients.
Jewel Wilkinson, Executive Administrator for the Regional President, coordinates training, professional development, budgeting and other leadership aspects.
Vicki Griffin, Commercial Portfolio Manager, VP, oversees the management, administration and credit quality of our regional loan portfolio.
Reba Curtis, Mortgage Loan Originator, AVP, is the top producer of our entire corporation.
Abria Flowers, Community Lending Specialist, is a top producing mortgage loan originator and works to meet the needs of unbanked and underbanked communities.
OUR TEAM: Laura Dickey, Vicki Griffin, Reba Curtis, Abria Flowers, Sharon Patterson, Jewel Wilkinson
Universal Group Alabama, LLC
Suzy and Denise provide a valuable connection between our clients and insurance companies with professionalism, patience and people-first attitudes. Alisa attracts new clients and answers their questions, helping them choose the best insurance policy. Sandy manages and distributes information within the office as well as greets clients.
OUR TEAM: Suzy Phillips, Account Specialist/Office Manager, CLCS, CISR; Denise Crowell, Account Specialist, CISR; Alisa Koch, Account Executive; Sandy Cowart, Administrative Assistant