The List January 2012
Jennifer Hancock, Director of Membership and Member Services at the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, is a true dynamo. Her resume is a beacon of hard work and achievement that spans more than a decade. In 2001, Jennifer was instrumental in creating Digital Wireless Communications, LLC in Eufaula, Alabama. In 2008, she sold the company and joined Electric Cities of Alabama, a public power association in Montgomery, as the Marketing and Communications Director. In 2010, Jennifer took on her current challenge with the Medical Association, where she oversees all residents, students and young physicians statewide, as well as working on recruiting and retention for the medical association. “I travel all over Alabama meeting with physicians and residents,” she explains. “I believe in protecting the integrity of their profession.”
An Intern Architect at 2WR, Michael’s obsession lies in the potential of our surroundings. “I love the idea of creating ‘thoughtful space’ that directly impacts others,” he explains. “Architecture and design are a challenge that I take very seriously.” A graduate of the School of Architecture at Auburn University in 2010, Michael has had the opportunity to apprentice with some venerable firms throughout the Southeast, yet he has felt truly invigorated by his time with 2WR. “My current position gives me the opportunity to critique and execute design ideas that are primarily focused on Montgomery’s downtown and urban conditions in general. It’s a rare opportunity that we now have to shape the future of our city.” He also plays a small role in supporting Helicity, a non-profit organization founded by his co-worker Johnny Veres, that serves as a catalyst in the movement to make Montgomery a more vibrant and livable city.
You won’t meet too many people under thirty that are more driven than Clay McInnis, Owner of Southern Eco, LLC. It’s no surprise that in 2009, Clay was selected as one of Business Week’s “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25.” While working toward his degree in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, the Auburn University graduate launched Southern Eco his senior year, which sells small biodiesel equipment to schools, universities, cities and businesses. Although now Clay has an office in our revitalized downtown and a home in Hampstead, he wasn’t always sure he’d live in the River Region after college. “Having grown up in Montgomery, I really wanted to see what was on the other side of things,” he explains. “But as I grew older, I realized how much I wanted to be part of the change and progress the city was going through.” Today, Clay is one of the fresh young minds that are helping shape the capital city, but he is careful to credit his success to his family for their steadfast support.
“I joined a gym when I was eighteen,” explains Terry Biddy, Co-owner of Pro Fitness 3D. “I became so inspired with fitness and health that two years later, my brother and I opened our own in Georgia.” Now 25 years later, Terry is just as excited about the fitness profession, and his excitement has been so infectious, that his current business partner began as a client. Highly impressed by Terry’s knowledge and experience, Steve Jackowiak offered to assist him in opening Pro Fitness 3D here in Montgomery. In addition to co-owning the company, Terry continues to work as a personal trainer as his true joy lies in seeing the impact fitness has on the lives of his clients. “There is nothing better than knowing that you helped someone feel better about themselves.” Pro Fitness 3D is a real family affair, with Terry’s beautiful wife Jennifer both running the gym and serving as a personal trainer. When they aren’t at work, he and his wife compete as bodybuilders on the national level.
In this difficult economy, sustainable resources are a blessing for everyone. That’s the good work of Anne Randle, Farm Manager at Hampstead Farms. A part of the Hampstead Institute non-profit organization, Hampstead Farms has allowed Anne to continue an endeavor she commenced in the Agronomy and Soils Department at Auburn University while working toward her degree in horticulture. While in school, Anne worked at Randle Farms, a sustainable farm just outside Auburn. Working at a similar farm here in Montgomery, she continues to do what she loves most. “I enjoy bridging the gap between people and their food,” she explains. “I know the people I feed from the farm. I know their names and stories. That connection restores the trust and appreciation in what they’re eating.” Anne’s passion for her work extends beyond her vocation; the avid gardener also farms at home and even keeps a flock chickens and turkeys. With her husband Franklin managing his own farm as well, Anne is always busy.
KALONJI A GILCHRIST
Kalonji A. Gilchrist is a man of many interests, describing himself as “IT System Administrator at Raycom Media by day—writer, thespian and devoted philanthropist by night.” After studying computer information systems at Auburn Montgomery and Trenholm Technical College, Kalonji has been in the technology field for 10 years, attaining several IT certifications from CompTIA and Microsoft. Though he’s attained remarkable achievements, the road wasn’t always easy. “The majority of my upbringing was in a low income single parent home in the urban community,” he notes. “Although it was very challenging at times to stay focused on my aspirations due to negative distractions, I was fortunate enough to have a seasoned and strong family to keep me from falling astray.” Born as the oldest child and with incredible drive, Kalonji always felt the responsibility of being a leader. Fueled by his creative spirit and compassion, Kalonji also serves as one of the co-producers monthly event called “Art & Soul."
For Grace O’ Connor, Owner/Photographer for Grace Photography, her profession offers a unique joy. “I love working with my ‘little’ clients,” Grace says. “There is nothing more magical than capturing the look of wonder and discovery on a small child’s face.” The slogan for her business is “Authentic images of childhood,” and Grace is committed to that ideal. “Children see the world just as it is, and being able to be on their level and see things the way they see them is amazing.” With a degree in fashion merchandising and marketing from Western Michigan University, Grace was confident in opening her own business, but was concerned about doing so as a transplant to the River Region. She was surprised at what a great reception she received. “I am thankful that my clients believe in me and my work and share that confidence with their friends and families.” As an expression of gratitude, she continues to give back to the community through organizations including the Heart Gallery and the Junior League.
For Cornelia Griffith, Master Aesthetician and Owner of Spa Elia, success here in the River Region represents an additional triumph. Having grown up in Romania, she attained a special perspective. “The formative years of my childhood were cast under the pall of communist control and as such there was a backdrop of suffering and even survival to almost every aspect of living,” she explains. “One learns to appreciate the simpler aspects of life and living when once denied these seemingly given freedoms.” A graduate of the Christine Valmy Institute in Bucharest and Steiner Academy in London, Cornelia credits her success to her parents for their unwavering support and granting the entrepreneur the means to chase her dream. With her parents’ assistance and Cornelia’s natural dedication to hard work, failure was never an option, but that doesn’t mean she was free of worry. She experienced similar trepidation when she opened Spa Elia six months ago, but found encouragement with advice from husband Bobby.
The resurgence of the River Region in recent years has been a cause for celebration, a celebration thanks in no small part to people like Jina Clark, Marketing Director for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau. A graduate in early childhood and elementary education from Auburn University at Montgomery, Jina found herself taking on a new challenge after college. “Having a marketing job with an education degree has been quite interesting, although working for the Chamber’s Convention and Visitor Bureau is education,” she explains. “Each day our number one goal is the visitor and educating them on all Montgomery has to offer.” Today, Jina’s job gives her an opportunity to really participate in the city’s growth, but the self-starter participates in area improvement outside of work too. Truly dedicated to the city’s progression, Jina is a member of the Chamber’s EMERGE program, the Torchbearers Class, the Arts Council of Montgomery’s Board, and the CVB.