The List-March/April 2019
Gone are the days of traditional offices. Today’s entrepreneurs and executives are looking for office space solutions that fit specific needs and budgets, and they aren’t always a “one size fits all.” Aimee Sager, area manager with Regus, works daily to help provide individuals with creative business solutions. Working in the beautiful RSA building on Dexter is a pretty big bonus, but the real joy comes from seeing so many achieve their dream of starting their own business. Becoming a parent prompted Aimee’s drive for success. Putting away fear and self-doubt, Aimee learned how to engage and find similar interests with anyone who walked through the door. Her hard work and dedication to others during the past three years at Regus earned her a promotion as area manager overseeing the Montgomery and Mobile locations. Aimee’s seven-year-old son, Ari, is the love of her life.
Her job allows her the flexibility to be at all of his games or school events. “Being able to provide the lifestyle I want for my son has pushed me to be the best I can be,” Aimee shared. Aimee and her son volunteer in their neighborhood, Old Cloverdale. They love supporting local businesses and eateries, their favorites being Vintage Café and the Farmer’s Market. When she isn’t working or spending time with her son, you might see Aimee on a morning run, kayaking the Coosa or gardening in her yard. She loves living in Montgomery and all of its rich history.
Allen Jackson, a hairdresser at Waylon Joseph Salon, lives to make people look and feel good about themselves. Allen’s career path began after high school when he would sit in the kitchen of a stylist friend and watch as he transformed women. Allen would ask questions and hand him rollers, and it was then that Allen realized hairstylists are actually creators of art. He applied for an apprenticeship at an Aveda salon, was hired, and immediately fell in love with his profession. The first fifteen years of Allen’s career were spent in Aveda Concept Salons. He traveled to New York, San Francisco, London, and Minneapolis to learn new techniques and trends, and believes continuing education is one of the most vital details of the profession. The family and friends who supported and loved Allen unconditionally, along with his learning experiences while working alongside several talented individuals, all contributed to his success.
By living one day at a time, Allen has freed himself from alcohol and drug addiction and instead opened up a new world of positive changes, including running. Allen has run several half and full marathons all over the country. In 2015, after 10 years of being together, Allen married Clint Davis on the first day it was legal to do so. That same year they were granted full custody of his one-year old nephew, Beckham. In June of 2018, following the death of his sister Heather, Allen and Clint legally adopted Beckham. While Allen never dreamed he would be a parent, it only takes a minute of observing him as “daddy” to know that our universe had this planned all along. Allen recently discovered an appreciation for acting and the magic of community theatre. He has acted in several plays at The Wetumpka Depot and The Cloverdale Playhouse. Allen insists on enjoying life and in offers the advice, “Life’s too short. Audition for the play.”
One can only hope to be in the tender care of Ashley Webster if they get sick. Ashley learned a strong work ethic at the early age of 12 when she began working in her family’s funeral home. After apprenticing as a funeral director, then working as a certified radiology tech and phlebotomist, Ashley decided to pursue her degree in nursing at Troy University. She earned her associate’s degree in 2012 and will graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree. Ashley went from helping the deceased and their loved ones to helping others stay alive and healthy. “The limitless opportunities that my profession provides are amazing. Nursing has taught me so much knowledge about the body and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.” As the daughter of a Major in the U.S. Army and the little sister of a witty Corporal with Montgomery Police Department, Ashley was definitely influenced by her family’s hard work ethic. Watching her grandfather fall ill to stage 4 cancer and the sudden death of her grandmother encouraged her to be a light in the midst of all the dark that others feel while sick and in need. Ashley’s mother always encouraged her to work hard and pursue all of her dreams. Throughout her life, Ashley has had her share of heartache and disappointment but God kept her going and revealed to her that she was destined to serve and provide care for others. Ashley shared, “God wanted me to stand alone so that he could use me to help others and show me I could overcome obstacles and successfully start new chapters.” Ashley serves the community by participating in health screenings for the youth and athletes, as well as volunteering at fundraisers to fight cancer, domestic violence and Alzheimer’s. Ashley loves southern food and southern hospitality, spending time with her three adorable nephews, exercising and modeling. Her favorite thing about Montgomery is the civil rights memorial and all the museums. We need more of Ashley’s spirit in our city… she is a joy!
Barry Harp didn’t dream of being a compliance officer when he was young. While “following rules,” for a living doesn’t sound that thrilling to the general public, he enjoys his job and tells us no two days are ever the same. Barry received a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University Montgomery before attaining a master’s degree from Troy University. After ten years with Regions Bank and six years with Alfa, Barry made the move to Hancock Whitney Bank, where he currently serves as the assistant vice president and leads the compliance department ensuring all third parties are following regulations and laws. Barry has two children, Lauren Grace (14) and Whitt (10) that keep him motivated. While we don’t have the yearbook to prove it, we are pretty sure this guy won class clown year after year. Lighthearted, you can always catch him doing something silly and fun. Most recently, he and his kids created their own rendition of Carpool Karoke proving that his personality was definitely passed down to his kids. Barry’s favorite thing about Montgomery is the city’s rich history and the people who live here.
“I talk to people from all over the country that come to visit Montgomery and are blown away by everything that we have going on, especially downtown,” he shares. Barry stays involved in the community by coaching youth sports at AUM and Upward. He is also involved with the YMCA Hitchcock Award Committee, the United Way, the Montgomery Area Food Bank, and is a member of the Rotary Club and at Frazer United Methodist Church. Barry is a huge baseball fan and enjoys watching Montgomery Biscuits and Atlanta Braves games, as well as traveling with his kids. In a world with so much stress, everyone needs a friend like Barry… he knows how to bring sunshine even on the darkest days.
If you have ever seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” you have a glimpse of the life of Danny Mitsios, artistic-executive director for the Montgomery Ballet. His Greek family owned a five-star restaurant where he worked for years learning life lessons. Being overweight, his parents enrolled him in a dance studio where he took up tap dancing. He jokes that he had to “hear his feet because he couldn’t see them,” but we know for Danny Mitsios… this is where it all started. After graduating from Jacksonville University Magnum Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in dance (with departmental honors) and another bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Danny’s dance career took off, spanning all over the country and including performances in Norway. While the ballet world can be cruel as well as financially difficult, Danny chose to ignore the negativity and follow his heart. “I believe in the saying that ‘people come to the theater to laugh, cry, remember and forget’. I try with every performance to give the audience one or many of these experiences,” he shares.
The Montgomery Ballet has an outreach program that gives under-privileged children ballet lessons and through school performances, their class attendance is increasing. He wants everyone to have an opportunity to see the ballet so for those who can’t afford to travel, they are now taking performances on the road. As if the demands of dancing weren’t enough, Danny is the co-founder of Long Body Yoga in Nicosia, Cyprus and also serves as a U.S. Coast Guard Reservist, where he has been a part of active duty tours, including the BP Oil Spill. Through his IT career, Danny helped to develop many applications for the Coast Guard that are now used nationwide. Danny is determined to bring more appreciation to the ballet and increase community involvement. The minute you meet him, you will see that his passion and work ethic will no doubt take The Montgomery Ballet to new heights.
Felicia Jackson had dreams of making it big under the lights, not knowing that the light would shine bright in Montgomery, Ala. As she left her hometown of Chicago, she fell in love with the southern hospitality that she received as a Midwestern transplant. It was here that she met and married her college sweetheart Curtis, a school administrator with whom she shares two sets of twins, Khalid, Chandler, Khalil and Chamberlyn, all students at Saint James School, and “Dexter the cat,” who was adopted from a local shelter. As executive director of the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless she works tirelessly to reach the mission at hand when it comes to serving others. She has led this organization for 12 years, during which time it has held a stellar reputation in the housing community. A product of blue-collar working parents, Felicia understood the dedication expected to be a leader in the community, a friend to the friendless, and an example of a role model at home. Embracing her entrepreneurial mindset, she continues to expand her brand into homeless residential settings, property management, and community event planning.
Felicia leans strongly on her faith in times of contemplation and is a member of Covenant Ministries International. Most of her professional work includes providing expertise in the field of homelessness, housing and organizational administration. As gate keeper for the Alabama Balance of State Continuum of Care covering 42 counties, Felicia has worked throughout the homeless community, specifically in rural Alabama, to bring forth social justice and needed change to those experiencing a hardship situation. In addition, she serves as a Housing Advisory Council member for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and is an Industry Specific Trustee for the Alabama Center for Real Estate. She cherishes the continuing opportunity to build an infrastructure that could end homelessness within the state and provide aid to the most underserved populations. Her favorite quote is, “Everyone has the right to safe and affordable housing.”
Graham Cook, co-owner and chief financial officer for Partners Realty, had an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age. Saving money from mowing lawns, Graham purchased his first investment home when he was only 16. After graduating from Berry College and getting his real estate license, Graham encountered some personal and professional failures which, for some, would be a deterrence from taking any more risks. Instead, Graham took those failures as an opportunity to learn and help others avoid the same mistakes and today has ownership in multiple ventures. Leading the property management division at Partners allows him to be involved with multiple communities through managing and guiding numerous home owners’ associations, renovating homes, and assisting people with housing needs. His success is a direct result of leadership skills instilled by his parents who continue to provide guidance. There was a time early in his career where he was being pressured to “adjust” numbers for investors. Graham shared, “I called my father who simply reminded me what I already knew: to do what is right regardless of the pressures present. Learning to deliver the reality of situations is good because it frees one up to find solutions and ultimately success.” Graham and his wife, Carrie Lynne have two daughters, Florence (3) and Cora (16 months) and attend Vaughn Park Church of Christ. Graham is on the Montgomery Downtown Redevelopment Committee and serves as the treasurer of Friendship Mission and contributes to several other nonprofit organizations. Graham has always had a spirit of kindness and gives back to others, including the agents at Partners, where he loves seeing people grow and succeed. In his free time, Graham enjoys playing soccer, spending time with all of his girls, reading, exercising and studying stocks.
Everyone loves to be around someone who sees their potential… it’s like seeing a rainbow emerge at the end of a storm. Working as education director for Sylvan Learning Center, Misty Mitchell takes her job seriously. Misty constantly meets with parents who come to her feeling helpless, not knowing what to do or where to turn to help. Misty attended Auburn University to study early childhood and elementary education, but ventured into the banking world for ten years before feeling the call to return to helping children. “I love that look in a child’s eyes when they put the work in and finally realize they CAN be successful and ARE capable. That’s the moment a child becomes unstoppable and moments I live for,” she shares. While Misty’s primary focus is on after-school tutoring, test prep and school partnerships, she is heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of “The School at Sylvan,” which has 112 students.
Balancing both roles proves challenging but Misty is determined to see students turn their defeat into success. Misty serves as an ambassador for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and loves seeing growth and development in businesses and the leaders behind the business. Misty has two children, Will (13) and Caroline (11) and while hiking, concerts and sporting events are among their favorite things to do, they also love doing anything out of the box that creates a fun experience. For Christmas, both opted to skip material things and instead wanted tickets for events they could enjoy with their family. While Misty has a big heart and gift for working with children, when you meet her you will recognize that she shows genuine interest and care for everyone she meets.
When you love what you do, it never feels like work. For Tera DuVernay, deputy director of Museum and Memorial Operations at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), no day is the same. One day she may see someone rocked to their core when they grasp the history of racial injustice, other days she engages with visitors all over the country who share their stories and perspectives, and together they bond over hope for the future. Originally from Los Angeles, Tera attended California State University Dominguez Hills and studied psychology. Before joining EJI, Tera served as chief researcher for the Academy Award and Emmy nominated documentary chronicling America's mass criminalization epidemic, “13th.” She also contributed research to the ESPN documentary on gender equality in sports entitled “Venus Vs.” and the Henry Louis Gates PBS docuseries, “Finding Your Roots.”
Tera comes from a family of strong and intelligent women and hardworking, God-fearing men who she credits for her success, along with Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of EJI. “I love working for such a kind and brilliant man. I learn something new from him every day and I am humbled and honored to serve his vision,” Tera shares. The support of the community allowed Tera to bring the most robust programming to our city by way of panel discussions, musical performances, and talks from some of the counties greatest speakers and influencers. She is committed to bringing the best programming to the community on an ongoing basis. Tera and her husband Hady have a 13 year-old daughter, Mali. When Tera isn’t doing incredible things for our community, this die-hard music lover enjoys concerts of all music genres and spends as much time as possible with her incredible family.