The LIST March/April 2017
Rachel Bigley doesn’t put limitations on what she can achieve. She fully believes in herself and says that is the threshold for personal success. She holds a degree in business administration at Huntingdon College and is currently the senior underwriter at the Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Fund. Rachel says, “I love the relationships I have established with the people within the healthcare and insurance community. Being able to spend time with partners and customers is very rewarding to me.” She believes that a strong work ethic, determination, a passion for learning and excellence, and relationships have collectively impacted her success. She also credits the mentors she has had in her life who have shared their wisdom that goes beyond her years. Rachel is involved with her church, where she sings on the praise team and teaches Sunday school. She enjoys traveling to the beach, boat rides on the lake, exercising and spending time with her husband, Zachary, and two kids, Olivia and Luke. Rachel’s favorite thing about Montgomery is its small town feel and how everyone seems to be connected in some way.
Makenzie Bosley, sales and marketing manager at Blackfinn Ameripub, hasn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her dream and doing what she loves. She is an Auburn University Montgomery graduate with a degree in marketing and has a passion for event planning. She absolutely loves her job at Blackfinn because she says, “No two days are the same! I thrive on challenges and variety. Each day I get to work with new guests. I truly enjoy taking a guest’s ideas and/or vision for an event, big or small, and creating an event that is tailored to them. Seeing a host quite pleased at the end of their event is very rewarding!” She also loves partnering with nonprofits and establishing relationships with clients while creating events for seasonal holidays and putting a creative spin on them. Makenzie loves that Montgomery is home to some superb thinkers with huge hearts that are quick to volunteer their time and effort for causes they believe in. She and her fiancé, Daniel Drew, love to travel and take weekend getaways in their free time. They are self-proclaimed foodies and spend their time exploring whatever city they find themselves in while seeking out local spots for delicious foods and craft beers.
Howard C. Burton graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in finance from Auburn University Montgomery. He is currently employed as the vice president at McKenzie’s Funeral Home. He says, “It is a privilege that my job affords me the opportunity to interact with people from various backgrounds at one of the most difficult times of their life. It is very rewarding being able to assist someone going through the process of losing a loved one and later being told you helped make the situation easier to deal with.” Howard serves in the National and Alabama Funeral Directors and Morticians Associations on the Boards of Directors as a past national and state president. He is also a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He claims that breaking the barriers of his “comfort zone” has been a huge obstacle that he had to overcome in his career, but his parents have played a huge part in his success. He enjoys traveling, fine dining and living in the city of Montgomery since it is developing more culturally diverse social activities and events.
Erin Cunningham, a Montgomery native, is a graduate of The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and a double minor in marketing and entrepreneurship. For the past five years she has worked in the IT industry as a client relations and marketing manager. In 2016, she moved into the medical industry as the practice development manager and HIPAA privacy officer for Montgomery Eye Physicians. She helps design, coordinate and place all marketing materials, and maintains patient and vendor relations. She says, “My role allows me to wear many hats, which means each day is so different from the last. I would have to say my favorite part of the job is working closely with the LVC team and hearing the success stories from our LASIK patients. Learning about our patient’s improved quality of life after LASIK is so rewarding for our entire team!” Erin serves the community as a junior board member for the Montgomery County Historical Society and an ambassador for the Prattville Chamber of Commerce. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her boyfriend, drinking hot tea, Sunday trips to Costco, participating in 5k runs to support local charities and playing with her fur babies, Charlie and Amos.
Andy Flowers got his start in the insurance industry at Troy University where he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in risk management and insurance. A native of Linden, Alabama, he has held brokerage internships in London, New Jersey and Bermuda, but found his home in Montgomery. He serves as a risk consultant and commercial insurance agent at Starke Agency where he heads the professional liability unit. Andy says, “I love working with people. I enjoy becoming friends with my customers and knowing we have done everything in our power to protect their livelihood. It is a great feeling being able to step in and pay a claim and assist our customers in a difficult time.” Outside of work, he serves on the board of Friendship Mission and in an advisory role for the River Region United Way. He recently served as president of the Central Alabama CPCU Society. Andy thanks his success to good mentors, specifically Mr. Bo Starke who always takes the time to work through strategies with him. In his spare time, he loves kayaking, CrossFit, reading about history, and spending time with his wife, Peyton, and their two dogs, Fitz and Bailey. The couple is eager to welcome their first child, a son, expected in May.
Dr. Rhet Langley
Dr. Rhet Langley received his undergraduate degree at Baylor University and then went on to medical school at the University of Texas at Houston, where he completed his residency. He provided 12 years of service as a major in the United States Air Force and currently works at Premier Anesthesia covering Baptist South/East/Prattville as a staff anesthesiologist and at Health Star Clinic as an interventional pain physician. The thing he loves most about his career is connecting with people. He says, “It takes a special person to meet someone a few minutes before surgery and establish confidence that you will safely get them through it. The upside to it all—my jokes are always funny after the medication kicks in!” His parents have undoubtedly made the biggest impact on his life and accomplishments and he is thankful for all the sacrifices they made for him. Rhet recently moved from Florida after finishing his military career, and he’s been welcomed with open arms in both the medical and local communities. He gives a special thanks to the anesthesia staff at Baptist and the care team at Health Star Clinic who have made him feel loved and has never met a more skilled set of anesthesia clinicians. He is confident that the city of Montgomery is in good hands.
As a program coordinator at the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Theresa Patterson keeps herself extremely busy. She holds a degree in early childhood education and has served as a pre-k and kindergarten teacher. Her former elementary teacher, Delores Woodson, inspired her decision to be a teacher and leader and taught her poise and professionalism. She is very active in the community and serves on various boards, including Music Education on Wheels and the Cleveland Avenue YMCA. She’s very active within the Junior League, is a member of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church and was recently voted the Camelia Bowl 2016 Volunteer of the Year. Theresa loves the small town feeling and Southern hospitality of Montgomery and says, “Montgomery is so diverse in culture and opportunities; it has allowed me to be a part of various groups to refine my skills as a leader.” In her spare time, the Auburn fan loves volunteering to touch the lives of others, spending time with family, decorating, and planning special events. She also enjoys supporting her son, Andrew, who is currently a senior athlete at Samford University.
Elizabeth Richards says that fully surrendering her career to God has had the greatest impact on her career and success. She realized that anything she tried to do on her own simply wasn’t working but letting go and inviting God to come alongside her brought success that she never thought was possible. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in public relations and is now the director of marketing at Hope Inspired Ministries. She loves that she gets to mix her passion for people with her gifts and education in public relations, social media and business development. Elizabeth learned several years ago that God instilled in her a passion for poverty-stricken people and gave her the privilege to work for an organization that brings people from a life of dependency to one of self-sufficiency. She says one of her biggest fears is failing, but she knows all things are fixable and mistakes are great growth lessons. This gave her the freedom and boldness to make decisions and try new things. She says, “While I’ve experienced failure and made a lot of mistakes along the way, I’ve seen incredible growth in my career and at Hope Inspired Ministries through allowing myself to take risks.” Outside of work, she enjoys trying new foods, spending time with her dogs and hanging out with her boyfriend, Aaron.
Eric Rivera, executive chef at Vintage Year, has opened two award-winning restaurants and has 16 years of industry experience, mainly in Colorado. Six of those years he spent with his role model, Chef Eric Uffelmann, whom he worked under for three years and as an executive chef with for another three. His biggest fear is failure and people not enjoying his food, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves. He says, “I love the connection with people, through food. I also enjoy the evolution and change that comes with cooking—whether that’s changing seasons and products or cultural changes in tastes and likes.” He thanks the community for their innate hospitality and how it invigorates him to put more of himself into what he loves to do. He enjoys spending time with his fiancée, Alyssa Shepherd, and his wonderful 4-year-old daughter, Lorelai. While Eric’s second home is in the kitchen, he loves to hang up his chef’s hat and get outdoors. He enjoys running and has completed a marathon and will run in another one this year. Eric even gave up driving for an entire year and rode his bicycle instead.
Koniqueka V. Ross-Thompson, president and founder of Transitions Technical College, Inc. holds both a cosmetology and barber instructor license through the Alabama Board of Cosmetology and Barbering. She enlisted in the U.S. Army where she served as a Certified Spanish Linguist in the Armed Forces Intelligence Division. After her three-year active duty enlistment, she served seven years in the Army Reserves while attending H. Council Trenholm State Technical College. Soon after graduation, she opened her first salon in Montgomery and began her college career at Troy University. She now holds various degrees, including a Master of Science in human resource management and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Adult Education. Ms. Thompson has served as an educator for McBride Research Laboratories in Atlanta as well as a platform artist for several different ethnic hair care product lines. Through her “Make the Transition” yearly Women’s Wellness Expo, free GED preparation classes and many scholarships for minorities, she strives to improve the lives of all citizens in the River Region and beyond. In her spare time, she serves as an offensive line coach for the Montgomery Raiders youth football team and is a player for the Alabama Fire Women’s full tackle semi-pro football team in Birmingham. Koniqueka credits Madame C.J. Walker and her mother as her biggest influences.
Dr. Antonio Williams
Dr. Antonio T. Williams is no stranger to obstacles, yet his life experiences have helped shape his success. Not having his biological father in his life motivated him to be a better husband and father while being more compassionate to young people with similar backgrounds. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in history education from the University of Montevallo, his master’s degree from Alabama State University in education administration, and his Doctorate of Education from ASU in educational leadership, policy, and law. He is currently the principal at Sidney Lanier High School, where he truly loves being able to make a difference in the lives of young people. He says, “the students that I serve every single day make it all worth it. I have students that come from some really dark places and situations, but despite their living conditions, they still come to school every day willing and ready to learn. It makes me proud when I am able to contribute to their successes.” He appreciates that Montgomery was once the heart of the Confederacy and eventually became the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and believes it is still capable of being a city that stands for something positive. Antonio enjoys spending quality time with his wife, Latoya, and two kids, Aryn and Alana.
Wes Willis keeps himself busy to say the least. Not only is he a co-owner of the Alabama Sweet Tea Company but he is also the lead singer of the popular worship band Rush of Fools. After graduating from high school, his band was able to sign a major recording contract. He says they have been so grateful to spend the last decade traveling and touring the country and Europe, and they are currently working on their fifth record. Having a deep passion for Montgomery and being well travelled is what gave him the idea to start the Alabama Sweet Tea Company and use all that he’s picked up over the years to implement in his business and hometown. He says “writing and recording records is a lot like selling tea. Sounds silly, I know. But, you work so hard to try to create this “thing” that you are passionate about. Eventually you just need to put it out there and see if people enjoy it.” Wes says his business partner, Golson Foshee, has had the biggest influence on his success because together they worked tirelessly on budgets, branding, and, of course, their tea blends. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Michelle, and they have four beautiful kids: Story, Ford, Merritt and Wiley.