The List July 2009
Since childhood, Allyson Rae has had an obsession with the weather. Born in Pittsburgh, Allyson followed the same “get it yourself” approach she saw her parents put into action. After enrolling in prestigious Penn State University, Rae joined the male-dominated Meteorology Department there.
While there, she worked with numerous student run news programs and interned with the ABC affiliate, WTAE, in Pittsburgh. After graduation from Penn State, Rae started her career at KNOE-TV 8 in Monroe, Louisiana, and it wasn’t long before Alabama’s capital city came calling. As most avid news watchers already know, Rae can now be seen on Montgomery’s own WSFA 12 News and FOX News at Nine. Yet Rae still remembers spending countless hours in her school’s meteorology department dubbing tapes, then walking through eight inches of snow to the post office in the hopes that the news director would give them a look.
MARY KATHERINE SKIPWORTH
This Montgomery native keeps a busy schedule keeping the Metro area fit. For the past eight years, Mary Katherine Skipworth has been a Group Exercise and Dance Instructor at Metro Fitness, as well as a Presenter of Powder Blue Productions out of California, creators of Turbo Kick, PiYO, and Hip Hop Hustle.
Inspired by her mother, Skipworth began dance classes at the age of three, and she was hooked after enrolling in her first aerobics class at fifteen. With the encouragement of Leigh Anne Richards, manager at Metro Fitness, Skipworth found herself certified and teaching in no time. After teaching the Powder Blue formats for years, Skipworth submitted a video of herself in action, and became one of sixteen teachers chosen across the country. She immediately left for training in Orange County, California, alongside the creator of Powder Blue Productions, Chalene Johnson. Now Skipworth splits her time between teaching at Metro Fitness and booking trainings at gyms throughout Alabama and Florida.
After a childhood stung by grief, Chris Dickert is a prime example of a man who wrought victory from tragedy. As a child, Chris lost his only sibling, Brian, at the age of 12 to a rare blood disorder. It was this childhood tragedy that created an even greater urgency in Chris to succeed.
After high school, Chris went on to graduate from the University of Alabama in Corporate Finance with a double minor in Economics and Computer Science. He followed this degree with an MBA in Computer Information Systems, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Today, Chris is President of The Affinity Group Inc., a residential construction and development company. He is on the steering committee for the Chamber Ambassadors and he will serve on the Chamber Board of Directors beginning in January. Yet Chris' work for the Montgomery area doesn't stop there. He is also on the Junior Executive Board for the American Cancer Society and an upcoming Board of Director for Leadership Montgomery.
Born and raised in Montgomery, Brandon Berrey embodies the spirit of art in the capital city. He graduated from Troy University in Advertising and Graphic Design, and became one of seven Southeast art students to study abroad with the Nature Art and Life League in Venice, France.
In that same year, Brandon founded the Fallen Heroes Foundation after September 11 to raise money for the fire fighters families after the tragedy. In fact, one of his paintings created in honor of the firefighters was reproduced as a poster and sold by the Alabama Red Cross and featured on CNN. Brandon later opened Berrey Art and Design, and began his work as Artist and Illustrator for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Brandon culls a great deal of his inspiration from his father, Bucky Berrey, a renowned place kicker under “Bear” Bryant who went on to sign with the Atlanta Falcons.
Kevin Brock is like a good neighbor: always there when you most need him! This US Air Force veteran retired from a Law Enforcement career in 2005 and became a State Farm Agent in Montgomery in 2007. Kevin says opening his agency has allowed him to stay in the "people" business, where he is able to build relationships and offer great products at great prices which make for happy clients!
This Troy University Graduate specializes in financial services and offering clients "peace of mind" no matter what the economy. Being a single dad of two great kids (Jacob & Holly) gave him the inspiration to strive for success. When he remarried, he knew his wife Lori was the perfect compliment to an already great family. Kevin also serves as Music Minister for Snowdoun Baptist Church, and he continues to teach Criminal Justice part-time at Judson College and Faulkner State Community College. The family enjoys raising horses including Percherons on their farm in South Montgomery and puts God #1 in their lives.
With clients like Louis Vuitton, Donna Karan & others scattered all over the Western Hemisphere, it's hard to believe that this guy has time to pose for our mag! But that's what makes Jimmy Sharp, President of Croydon Finishing Incorporated, and his work unique.
Croydon Finishing specializes in finding "outside the box" decorative finishes for clients literally worldwide. Jimmy credits his parents for inspiring him to pursue a career in the arts, and it's now a family adventure! Dad, two brothers, and a childhood friend have all pooled their talents to make the business grow and prosper since 2003. This 36-year old former U.S. Marine ('93-'01) graduated from Lee High School and Carver Creative and Performing Arts Center right here in Montgomery. Jimmy worked in the arts capital, New York City, for over five years in the field before returning to Montgomery to start his business. He is excited to see the new growth, development and restoration of our downtown area.
Felicia Long - Attorney Haskell, Slaughter, Young & Gallion, LLC Got a dispute? Don't take the law into your own hands…you take them to court! That's where Felicia Long steps in. As a Civil litigation and insurance defense attorney for Haskell, Slaughter, Young & Gallion, LLC in Montgomery, Felicia represents a diverse client base and enjoys helping both people and businesses alike resolve their differences.
This Auburn graduate (and Top 5 Miss Auburn finalist!) progressed to the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, where she received many awards and her Juris Doctor in 2003. Felicia has broadened her 13 years in the legal field by participating in other activities such as the Junior League, Frazer UMC Board of Stewards, Britton YMCA Board of Directors, and serving as 1st Vice President of LaFete Mystic Society! Having already worked with some of the most well respected firms and attorneys in our state, you are bound to hear more about this lady in the future!
Improving Montgomery one neighborhood at a time may seem like a daunting task to some, but Regina Berry gladly accepts the challenge! As Program Director for BONDS (Building Our Neighborhoods for Development and Success), Regina steps outside her comfort zone daily to teach others what her parents taught her - the power of "self".
Regina received a B.S. in Health Promotion from Troy University in 1998, and she has since completed her Master's degree in Public Administration at Troy's Montgomery campus. She is currently working towards her second Master's in Adult Education. Regina works hard to integrate values where good models may be scarce, hope where it may be hard to come by, and education that bonds neighbors together to become a better and more informed part of their community! For example, Regina labors to network each neighborhood association in our area through the city's E-notification service.
Krista Hawkins doesn't come with a 100,000 mile warranty, but she is still a large part of what makes Hyundai Motor Manufacturing a huge success in our community! Krista is a Public Relations Specialist for Hyundai, and simply loves her job and the people she gets to interact with daily because of it.
This Tennessee State University graduate received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and has over 14 years of management experience. Krista has lived in Montgomery for over a decade and credits her success to the size of the city - large enough to enjoy, but small enough to form meaningful relationships with folks that are willing to open doors and put in a good word for you! Putting her trust in God as leader of her path, Krista continues to serve Montgomery in other capacities as well – as a member of the Montgomery Zoo Board, as Program Director for Executive Women International, as a YMCA staff member, and as a Diversity Action team member at Hyundai!
Another Montgomery native, Will Benefield learned from his father the value of using his time wisely and maintaining a staunch work ethic. After graduating high school from Trinity, Will achieved his degree in Marketing at Auburn University.
He began his employment career with local entrepreneurs like Jim Wilson and The Trotman Company, Will started his own company, Benefield Properties Incorporated. Yet after being diagnosed with stage one B Cell Lymphoma, Will’s career took a backseat to the demands of his own health. For two years, Benefield endured regular treatments which kept him out of the office. During this time away, Will resumed creating art, a passion that began at the age of nine when he sold his first sculpture in “The Little House” shop. Now he works in wood and clay, sculpting faces, angels, and fish, some of his most popular designs. He even has more functional work, such as chairs and tables, constructed from reclaimed wood from around the world.