The List September 2012
“I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to tell my friends and the world how Montgomery is a great place to live, work, play and visit,” explains Morgan Berney. As a Montgomery native, she feels her job of promoting the city comes naturally. Morgan is the marketing coordinator for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. During her college career at the University of Alabama, she interned at several places including the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions in Washington D.C., the communications department at St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Public Relations. Since then, she has been working for the Chamber. Morgan is also an active member of EMERGE Montgomery’s Torchbearers IV leadership class, the Public Relations Council of Alabama, the ASF Armchair Auction Committee and a new member of the Brantwood Children’s home outreach committee. Her favorite thing about Montgomery is that it is a big small town. It is just big enough to always meet new people, but still preserves that small Southern city feeling where everyone is your friend. Morgan enjoys running and exercising in her spare time, but not during Alabama football games. She is an avid Alabama fan, and she loves hosting friends and family at her home in McGehee Estates.
After graduating from Birmingham-Southern College in 1995, Christopher Smith went on to law school at the University of Alabama. He graduated with his Juris Doctorate in 1998 and began practicing labor and employment law at a national law firm in Birmingham. In 2006, he left the firm to become part of the legal department at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, LLC. Just three years later, Chris was promoted to assistant general counsel and head of the legal department. He is one of the youngest employees to ever take a senior-level position within the company. Of course, Chris will tell you that his success didn’t come without help. His family has had a huge influence on his career. His father exemplified hard work and ethics, his mother taught him to believe in himself and his wife has always supported him unselfishly. And if that’s not enough, “my two young daughters provide me with tremendous joy, pride and happiness,” brags Chris. Between time with the family and his work, Chris stays involved with the community. He has participated in Leadership Montgomery, the Alabama State Bar Leadership Forum and also served as the editor of The Alabama Lawyer. Chris was born in Nuremberg, Germany and has traveled extensively. He loves going out West to hike and backpack, but most of all, he and his wife Lauren enjoy the Montgomery area and the changes and excitement that are currently underway with the city.
“I’m proud to say that I have had a hand in the construction of many of the landmarks in our city,” says Jason Goodson, project manager/estimator at W.K. Upchurch Construction Co., Inc. He loves the sense of accomplishment he gets from knowing he has helped create a tangible product that stands throughout time. Jason has worked for W.K. Upchurch since September 1998. After graduating from Auburn University at Montgomery, he moved into his current role as project manager. Jason believes that one of the biggest obstacles most young business people face is confidence. He was very close to his grandfather growing up, and that relationship helped teach him to be a confident man. “He taught me the value of education, hard work, humility and honesty,” Jason said. It is easy to see that those teachings continue to inspire Jason. He is the current president of EMERGE Montgomery, a member of the Leadership Montgomery Board of Directors, a member of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and a member of the River Region United Way Community Council. When not busy with his work and service, he enjoys spending time outdoors. He and his wife LeeAnn Smith Goodson have a 6-month-old son named Oliver. Jason is also an avid Auburn fan, and he is looking forward to taking his son to his first game.
Rebecca Bloodworth received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Auburn University at Montgomery. She is currently employed as the program manager for AUM’s Division of Continuing Education. Rebecca spent 10 years as a classroom educator before moving to her position as program manager. She has been in this position for five years now. “I really enjoy creating programs based on current students’ needs and watching them grow in their personal development,” explains Rebecca. Since she manages both the youth and personal development (adults) programs, creativity is a must. Spanish for Travel, Smart Shopping and Deck the Halls are just a few of the courses she developed that will start this fall. Rebecca loves the fact that her program is about teaching. The students and the teachers don’t have to worry about grades or tests, and that leads to learning and creativity. Contrary to what you might think, the summer doesn’t offer a break for Rebecca. She is the principal at AUM during the summer. AUM offers youth college classes, camps and a six-week reading and math program during that time. However, when she does have downtime, she spends it with her family. Rebecca has a husband, Allan, and two children, Sam and Mary Claire. The family has four pets: the pups, Ruckus and Sara, a cat named Snowflake and Willie, the one-eyed turtle.
Stefania Christina Cumuze
After starting AUM with a full scholarship for engineering, Stefania quickly realized that field was not for her. She switched to political science and later got her start in the public sector in Fairhope, Ala. as the legislative liaison for Baldwin County. She spent four years in that position and then came back to Montgomery, where she landed an administrative position with AUM’s fundraising office. In August of 2011, she was appointed to special assistant to Alabama's Secretary of Commerce (Greg Canfield) by the governor. It is easy to tell that Stefania loves her job and cares about Alabama. She explains it best: “At a time when we see businesses and workers struggling with the economy, it is so rewarding to be a part of something that creates jobs...lots and lots of jobs...for hard-working Alabamians.” Stefania enjoys living in Montgomery too. From hanging out downtown at the SandBar or strolling around in Cloverdale to a girl’s night out at La Jolla or Tipping Point, she feels it is a fun place to be. Of course, her favorite thing about Montgomery is her family here. She credits her parents with the success she has had in life. They gave her the self confidence to be fearless when faced with new challenges. Three years ago, Stefania helped save the Autism Crawfish Boil from ending, and she stays active in many other fundraisers. She also works out every morning at 4:30 a.m. and goes back for more after work.
Jennifer Billingsley Richardson
Dr. Jennifer Billingsley Richardson had doubts like anyone else about becoming a business owner, but with the support of her husband Anthony, they made it happen. She is now dentist/owner of Designer Smiles Dental Studio, P.C. A graduate of LAMP, formerly located at Sidney Lanier High School, she grew up a native of Montgomery. After high school, she attended Xavier University of Louisiana and received her Bachelor of Science in Biology. From there, Jennifer went on to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to get her Doctorate of Dental Medicine. She loves meeting new people, and she says that the number of patients she has received from the nearby areas has exceeded her expectations. Dr. Richardson is committed to the River Region and hopes that the wonderful support will continue. Besides her husband, the biggest influence on her success has been her father, the late Scott Billingsley, III. He was a big supporter and always encouraged her to achieve greater heights. Through the support of her family, Dr. Richardson has built a successful career that she really enjoys. “Improving someone’s self-confidence by enhancing their smile is always satisfying,” she says. In addition to her practice, Dr. Richardson speaks at schools about good oral hygiene, and she has given oral exams to members of the military to get them ready for deployment. She plans to remain here near all of her family. She loves spending time with Kassidy Skye, her three-month-old daughter, and her husband Anthony.
April Rudder worked as a server at a deli while in high school. One day, she ended up in the kitchen for a shift and decided she loved it. That is where she developed her passion for cooking. Since then, she has been a chef in fine dining establishments, commercial operations, catering and now in education. April is now an instructor at Trenholm State in Culinary Arts, where she was once a student herself. She says the thing she loves the most about what she does is when a student “gets it.” April describes this as the moment when a student is filled with confidence and accomplishment after succeeding with an unfamiliar culinary task. She says that witnessing such moments can be very rewarding. When asked who has contributed most to her success, April quickly credits her former instructors, MaryAnn Campbell and Robert Cawley. She refers to the two of them as her “mentors, friends and colleagues.” April also says that her family’s support of her endeavors has been a large part of her success too. In addition to teaching at Trenholm, April does monthly healthy meal demos for senior citizens, and she teaches a kids cooking camp to encourage children to make healthy food selections. In her spare time, she enjoys working in her herb garden, spending time outdoors with her family and, of course, cooking. She has a husband, Josh, a daughter, Rory Kate, and a son, Wylde Zack. She also enjoys what’s been happening in Montgomery, especially all the new restaurants and the growing interest in local sustainability.
Jason Philip Oswalt
If you’ve ever driven down the interstate you are familiar with the company Jason Oswalt has worked for over the last 13 years. He is the senior account executive for Lamar Advertising of Montgomery. Lamar is the nation’s largest outdoor advertising company. They have more than 155,000 billboards in 44 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Jason, a native of Montgomery, earned a communication degree from Auburn University in 1997. After working at Cellular One for a short time, he was hired on at Lamar. In addition to his parents and the Lord, Jason credits several of his mentors for where he is today: Warren Norris, Tom Traylor and Jeff Andrews. He enjoys his job mainly because he gets to interact with so many different types of people. “It's gratifying to advise folks on the types of campaigns we offer for the purpose of helping them reach their goals,” explains Jason. He is a member of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, an advisory board member of Central Alabama CrimeStoppers and an active member at 2Cities church in downtown Montgomery. Jason has a 135 pound Saint Bernard/English Mastiff, a sweet Black Labrador and a rescue cat. When he has time off, he enjoys good films, reading, playing Ultimate and traveling.