The List May 2011
The devout passion and energy in Melissa McKinney, general assignment reporter at WSFA 12 News, clearly shows in her quest to bring the River Region immediate and truthful news. Before joining the Montgomery affiliate in 2009, the young journalist spent time at the WSFA 12 News Dothan bureau after receiving her bachelor’s degree in broadcast news from the University of Georgia.
Devoted to her career as a reporter, Melissa is honored to be granted the voice to tell the stories of others and strives to make a difference in the community. “I love being able to get out of the building and meet the people that make up this great city ... each day and each story is different.” Having grown up in Atlanta, Melissa has quickly woven herself into the culture of Montgomery and staunchly supports the city’s progress; she serves on the March of Dimes Board of Directors, runs local marathons and even sings in her church’s worship band.
In addition to long bringing Montgomery a polished fine dining experience, Patrick Skelton, general manager and owner of the Chop House at Vintage Year, is expanding the city’s culinary landscape with the brand new Midtown Pizza Kitchen. A Montgomery native, Patrick returned to our capital city upon completing his bachelor’s degree in film from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.
Now the owner of two delectable dining destinations, Patrick began his career in the restaurant business more than 15 years ago as a dishwasher at The Vintage Year. After coming full circle and working every position from top to bottom, Patrick acquired the knowledge to achieve success in what can be a dicey, ever-changing business. The St. James High School graduate is delighted with the ability to bring his hometown community the best possible cuisine, service and atmosphere. As if running two restaurants doesn’t keep him busy enough, the new dad spends his few free moments raising 14-month-old son Tristan.
A lifelong advocate of the importance of hard work and ethics, Thomas Crews has found great success as a broker with Commercial Properties, Inc. Subsequent upon graduating from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in logistics, Thomas joined his family business before deciding to take a career leap and enter commercial real estate. From there, he obtained his real estate license and sharpened his skills at Saunders Realty Commercial Division before acquiring his current position.
The recreational golfer takes pride in delivering the best possible terms for his clients, and attributes his professional achievements to the trust placed in him by the community. Outside of business hours, Thomas is actively involved in the community as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, and is a volunteer with Family Promise and the Wounded Veteran Hunt. The Auburn alum can also be found cheering on his alma mater on the football field, or with wife Katie and their “baby,” a labradoodle named Riley.
Professional personal trainer Jason Rash, founder and CEO of MOTIV8 Bootcamps, left a steady career to chase his dream. After 12 years with a local engineering firm, the fitness guru successfully turned his passion into his profession, and is now an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified trainer at Fitness South, Anytime Fitness and the Montgomery Country Club.
His swift career switch turned out to be a smashing success, leaving Jason thrilled with the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. In addition to offering a diverse range of indoor and outdoor exercises, Jason aspires to instill hope in his clients and help make positive life changes. “The most amazing thing that I do is help people believe in themselves again,” adds the former musician. Jason admits that his success would not have been possible without the steadfast support from his wife Brooke, who, despite the downward economy, never stopped believing in his entrepreneurial spirit.
A firm believer in the unbounded potential of Montgomery, Calvin Johnson, a real property appraiser with the Montgomery County Revenue, takes great pride in giving value to our city. With more than a decade of management and administrative experience, the University of Alabama graduate promotes the growth and development of the Montgomery community. Dedicated to both professional and spiritual leadership, the former marine is also involved with EMERGE Montgomery, is an ordained minister and a longtime volunteer for local charities, including Partners in Education and School Clean-Up.
He is a graduate of the Emerge Tourchbearers leadership Class I and the Alabama Leadership Iniative. When he finds a break in his eventful schedule, the proud father can be found spending time with his wife Tammy, their four children and dog Bentley. Although Calvin has already found much success in his career, he is still in pursuit of larger dreams. An aspiring singer, he is currently recording an album titled “LookUp”.
Ying “Springna” Zhao, founder of Springna LLC, DBA NEXT Financial Group, is a woman on a mission. Not only does she offer clients expert financial consulting, Springna is dedicated to making a positive impact in Montgomery, and has organized the women’s club W.O.W. (Women of the World) and hosts a variety of financial workshops. After receiving dual bachelor degrees in diplomacy and English, the China native left her home country for the River Region, where she completed her masters in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.
With a rich professional history that includes serving as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and as an assistant to Gov. Bob Riley, Springna went out on her own in 2009 to launch her own consulting firm. Although she has been in the United States since 2004, Springna brought pieces of her culture with her, and has performed traditional Chinese dance at the Montgomery Area Council on Aging for the past six years.
Seasoned musician Nick Frontiero has been raising his voice across the Southeast for more than a decade, performing his unique sound both locally and regionally. Now the owner of Nick Frontiero productions, a media production company, the Prattville High School graduate began his career in media broadcasting at Cumulus Broadcasting of Montgomery, where he served as the assistant production director for three years.
Although his career is now flourishing behind the scenes, Nick hasn’t given up the stage. He is a member of four rocking local bands, a former “Battle of the Bands” winner and has even performed at Jubilee CityFest with band “For the Drive Home.” In addition to running his own production studio, Nick is currently developing a party cover band, “The Sellouts,” which is scheduled to hit the stage this fall, covering contemporary and past pop hits. While he is still building his brand, Nick finds inspiration in every aspect of his life, and we have no doubt that he will continue to find success.
Descended from a clan of educators, Dawn Owens is continuing her family legacy in the Montgomery Public School system. As the pre-k program director for the Montgomery Education Foundation, the former kindergarten teacher works to develop optimal pre-k programs, providing mentoring for the teachers and superior resources for the classrooms.
Dawn’s commitment to strengthening the pre-k programs and extending opportunities for local children stems from her own passion for being a mother. “My children influence my work daily because I want the best for them, and I believe I can’t want the best for them without wanting the best for every child.”
With three young boys at home, the Alabama State Graduate still manages to immerse herself in a number of local charities and organizations, including Partners in Education, Reading on Wheels, EMERGE Montgomery and Junior League.
With citizens raving over the recent revitalization and progress of downtown Montgomery, Chad Emerson, Director of Development for the City of Montgomery, continues to spearhead its continued growth. After his parents instilled in him the values of humility, open-mindedness and hard work at a young age, and with the tutelage of former Director of Planning Ken Groves, Chad is adept at undertaking such an important role in the city’s future.
Striving to combine Montgomery’s revered history with modern renovations, Chad and his team are working toward helping Montgomery emerge as a leading city in the South. Even with such an extraordinary job responsibility, the proud father of four admits that family is of utmost importance, and cherishes his title as both a husband and father. The self-proclaimed Top Chef fanatic loves the outdoors, and spends his free time playing tennis, on a beach or eating at any restaurant with an outside patio.
For singing sensation Jilla Webb, thriving in the music industry runs in her family. Following in the footsteps of her mother, a widely successful performer and the lead vocalist in the Harry James Orchestra, Jilla has been captivating audiences across the country from Vegas to Nashville, and has even been the voice on nationally syndicated shows such as Regis and Kathy Lee and Dharma and Greg. Although she is a hit on the microphone, Jilla’s ambition hasn’t allowed her to stop there.
While currently working toward her master’s degree in post secondary education in the music industry at Troy University Montgomery, the songstress is also sharing her love for music as a voice coach for rising stars. With plans to design and produce music camps this summer, it was Jilla’s decision to gain experience in every facet of the music business that has made her such a success off the stage as well. From director to soundman to instructor, this artist is taking the Montgomery music scene by storm.