The List January/February 2015
Joseph R. "Joey" Beattie
When asked what he loves most about his job, Joey Beattie struggles to choose a single answer. “This is not simple to answer because I feel being a commercial insurance broker is the best job one can have besides maybe pitching for the Braves,” he says. He appreciates the competition and creativity involved in his work, but the relationships created are the most rewarding. Joey, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, moved to Montgomery after working more than 10 years as a commercial insurance broker in Mississippi. He now serves as the director of marketing and as a producer for Starke Agency in Montgomery. Joey gives credit to his parents as major influences on his success. Owners of a small business, they successfully balanced their clients’ needs, relationships with employees, community involvement, and family time. Joey hopes he can use his upbringing to teach his family the same values. “My children are the influence for me now as my wife and I hope our actions impact their lives as my parents’ actions impacted mine,” he says. Joey and his wife Christy have a 9-year-old son named Tate and 3-year-old twins, John Hobbs and Caroline. He enjoys the “small town feeling” of Montgomery as well as coaching baseball and basketball in the city’s youth leagues.
Marcus Durell Collins Throughout high school, Marcus Durell Collins identified himself as an underachiever and poor reader. This caused Marcus to hesitate before deciding to enter the ministry. “When God called me to preach at the age of 16, I was shocked and fearful because I didn’t want my weaknesses to be displayed on a public stage,” he says. Years later, Marcus serves as the senior pastor of Lake Elam Missionary Baptist Church. With a bachelor’s degree in human relations and counseling psychology, Marcus certainly understands people. Witnessing people develop and discover their purpose is one of the things he loves most about his work. “When you see someone grow in their world, it is truly amazing,” he says. Despite being a resident of Montgomery for only a year, Marcus feels as though the people of his community have embraced him as one of their own. He also enjoys the city’s dynamic atmosphere. “I like how Montgomery is a dichotomy between exciting and quiet and educational and fun,” he says. Through groups like Emerge and Leadership Montgomery: Torchbearers Class VI, he has connected with the community and learned more about the culture of the River Region. Marcus is married to Takiya B. Collins and is an avid movie watcher. He also enjoys playing golf.
Dee W. Jones
When Dee Jones tells people he works with both animals and the Alabama Department of Public Health, the response he receives is usually a mix of confusion and silence. As the current ADPH State Public Health Veterinarian, he has grown accustomed to explaining his work in helping minimize common health threats in humans that are caused by animals. Dee’s focus is addressing the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases, which include rabies, parasites and some food supply diseases. Before working with the ADPH, Dee attended the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University for his undergraduate education. In 2001, he graduated from Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and began his public health career working with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. Dee’s love for animals is rooted in his childhood. “I basically grew up inside of a tractor working the fields and feeding the cows,” he says. His fondest memories involve learning math from his father, who would write on a small chalkboard while driving the tractor. He often looks back on this memory as he helps his oldest son, 3-year-old Mays Henry Jones, learn the alphabet from an iPad. “Same principle, just slightly different technology,” he explains. Dee and his wife of eight years, Venus, also have a 6-month-old son named Peyton Reid Jones. The family enjoys cooking out and viewing the lights of downtown Montgomery.
Dr. Gregory Philip Jones
Dr. Gregory Philip Jones After completing his undergraduate career at Auburn and earning his master’s in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Gregory Philip Jones became excited at the prospect of applying to medical school. “Alabamians have an excellent reputation for hard work and academic achievement,” he says. His acceptance to medical school coincided with the attacks on 9/11, which Philip saw as an opportunity to serve his country. He accepted an Air Force scholarship for medical school at Oklahoma State University, which allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a physician. Now as an OB/GYN at Montgomery Women’s Health Associates, Philip sees his work as more than a simple delivery. “The greatest reward is when I feel that I am not just delivering a new baby, but creating a new family,” he explains. Philip attributes his success to the important values of faith, family and community that he learned from his parents. “They were always supportive in providing educational opportunities and support over the years,” he says. Philip recently became a member of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Fetal Infant Mortality Review Team and Alabama’s Regional Perinatal Advisory Council. He serves in other community organizations including Emerge Montgomery. He and his wife, Emily Jones, have four children, Madeline, Owen, Isabella and Emilia.
Michela King After growing up in Montgomery, Michela King finished high school and college in Atlanta. She lived there for eight years, and then she returned to her roots and brought her dermatology expertise with her. As Master Aesthetician at Herron Dermatology, Michela specializes in treatments such as microdermabrasion, sensi peels and dermaplaning to influence the way her patients feel about themselves. “It has always been rewarding to me to help others feel good about themselves and their skin,” she explains. While suggesting skincare products and preventing acne are important parts of her work, Michela also faces more serious situations with her patients. This demanding nature of her job is something she appreciates. “I love the challenging skin disorders and diseases that I work with every day,” she says. The medical field has served Michela in other facets of her life aside from her career. Her husband Dr. Zeb King is a veterinarian at Taylor Crossing Animal Hospital. The couple has two children, 6-year-old Ragan and 4-year-old Waylon. Besides working with her patients, Michela enjoys spending time with her family and working out. She also loves supporting Auburn football.
Jonathon Kohn After high school, Jonathon attended multiple universities intending to major in information systems. It wasn't until he was gifted a camera by his mother that everything fell into place. Jonathon currently works at Indie Film Lab and is frequently commissioned for wedding, editorial and commercial work. He credits his parents for giving him the tools and opportunities that have brought him to where he is now, as well as Joshua Moates for creating an environment in which he can flourish. “Indie Film Lab and the relationships it has birthed have been nothing short of remarkable,” Jonathon explains. He loves that in an age of recycled profile pictures and smart phones, he is able to choose and document moments in such a classic manner, adding, “I love that the more time passes, the more valuable that roll of film becomes." When he isn’t behind a lens, Jonathon enjoys cooking, working with his hands, and spending time with friends and family
Serving as Senior Functional Analyst at General Dynamics Corp is enough to stay busy, but Kanesha Brown McCollum made time for something more. Kanesha used the skills she developed while earning her master’s in education at Auburn Montgomery to start Committed to Character (C2C) Education Inc. The goal of this nonprofit is to empower young people through workshops so they can improve their character and develop crucial academic skills. Starting out, Kanesha knew she had a lot to learn. “Starting my nonprofit from scratch was scary. There was so much that I didn’t know,” she says. During this time, she was also going through a divorce, finishing graduate school and raising three sons. Despite the obstacles, Kanesha stayed focused “I took a little break, but I still kept pushing because although life is full of twists and turns I had to stay positive, patient and persistent as I live out my purpose,” she says. She credits faith, family and friends for her success, especially her three sons, Jaylin, Kolton and Landen. She also recognizes the River Region’s embrace of character education in the community. To give back, Kanesha enjoys participating in community walks that support other nonprofit organizations like United Way and the American Cancer Society. Kanesha loves the Civil Rights landmarks downtown along with the rich heritage behind them. Her hobbies include taking painting classes using canvas and pottery and listening to live music.
Vernetta R. Perkins Vernetta R. Perkins comes from a family of educators. Her mother has taught special education for 30 years, and her grandfather served as a principal. Her great-grandfather and several other members of her family were educators as well. Because of this, pursuing education law seemed natural for Vernetta, who now serves as general counsel for Montgomery Public Schools. While her family inspired her, a colleague in the legal world helped hone her skills. Vernetta worked under Ellen Brooks, the former district attorney for Montgomery County, and sharpened her analytical and trial skills under her tutelage. “Leaving that position, I knew that I was equipped to go anywhere in the world and practice law,” she says. Working in the public school system has been rewarding for Vernetta and has helped her finally find satisfaction in her career. “I love that feeling that I am truly making a difference in the lives of children. I finally love what I do,” she says. Aside from education, Vernetta has found other ways to contribute to the community. She has previously served on the boards for local charitable organizations and is currently on the board for the Federation of Childcare Centers of Alabama. Vernetta also sings in the worship ministry at her church, Northview Christian Center, Safe Harbor. She loves calling Montgomery home and enjoys watching sports, traveling and having interesting conversations with interesting people.
Heather Rush Pierce
Heather Rush Pierce Heather Rush Pierce remembers as a child asking her father to draw things. Whatever he sketched out for her, she would look at in amazement. Now she channels this same talent when her children ask her to do a sketch of her own, and she has even turned her creativity into a business. Heather owns Heather Pierce Designs, a monogramming gift shop in Sturbridge Shopping Village. She enjoys using her artistic ability to make other people happy, and many of her products are personalized to the customer. “I love to create a unique gift and see someone fall in love with it. It warms my heart to see a smile on a customer’s face,” she says. The growth of her business corresponded well with Heather’s desire to spend as much time as possible with her children as they grew up. The business started out small and allowed her to still spend time with her family. As the children grew, the business did as well. “I am blessed that I was able to spend the years at home with my children and still build a successful business,” she says. Heather appreciates the support her business has received from the community as well as the support group she has at home - her husband, Tom Pierce, and her children - Will, Payton and Emmy.
After attending beauty school in Montgomery, Jen Powell started her beauty career working at makeup counters at the mall. Now she is the head stylist and shop manager at Seville Beauty and Barber in Old Cloverdale. Throughout her journey, Jen has met several people who have influenced her work including Mark Fronduti, Sam Villa and Evan Mills. The owner of Seville Beauty and Barber has also paved the way for Jen’s success. “Cheryl Vernon, the owner, has really allowed me to make the shop my own, and in return my creativity has been able to flow so easily,” she says. Her favorite part of working in the beauty industry comes from connecting with different people. “I have built such strong relationships with my clients, and for those I will be forever grateful,” she says. The work environment she works in also inspires her work. Jen constantly gets ideas from the many local artists and photographers in Old Cloverdale as well as the architecture. Over the years, Jen has developed an appreciation for the history and soul of Montgomery and the restorations taking place. “All the revivals taking place downtown make my heart smile,” she says. Jen is passionate about the style, hair, clothing and music of the past, specifically from 1920-1970. She and her husband, Britt Powell, enjoy traveling and collecting tattoos along the way. The couple has two children, Aiden and Brixton.
Andrew Skier’s father has maintained a professional practice for more than 40 years, which motivated Andrew to do the same. “Watching his success inspired me to try to do something on my own,” Andrew explains. After completing his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama in 1991 and receiving his J.D. from the university’s law school in 1994, he served as a judicial law clerk and deputy district attorney. Since 1998, he has run a private practice. Despite his vast experience in the field, Andrew admits that the law is unpredictable. “Being in private practice of law can be a bit like riding a rollercoaster. The highs are exhilarating, but the lows can be terrifying,” he says. Andrew also contributes to the legal community through other leadership roles such as serving as chair of the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Grievance Committee. He and his wife, Darlene Skier, have two children – 16-year-old Aaron and 14-year-old Ella. All members of the family are active supporters of the Montgomery County Humane Society and enjoy the international atmosphere of the city. “Our children have the opportunity to know and experience friends from all over the world, and our lives have been enriched by these friendships,” he says. Andrew’s hobbies include supporting the Montgomery Biscuits and playing poker. He was once a semi-professional poker player and dreams of playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.