The List September/October 2013
After growing up in Atlanta and Pensacola, Alexia Borden moved to Montgomery with little idea of what to expect from a city she knew mainly from the I-65 and I-85 corridors. She was pleasantly surprised and has grown to love living in the capital city. Alexia graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering. She then moved to Paris to work for the American Embassy. After Paris, Alexia obtained a J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law, and then immediately joined the firm of Balch & Bingham in their Birmingham office, where she practiced environmental law. Her husband Gray’s career brought them to Montgomery, and Alexia was fortunate enough to be able to stay with Balch & Bingham. “I love the flexibility of working in a private firm,” she explains. She credits her parents as the biggest influences in her life. Her father taught her patience and perseverance, and from her mother she learned kindness and thoughtfulness. Together, these qualities have helped Alexia to succeed in both her career and in community activities. One of the things she loves about Montgomery is how easy it is to get involved. Alexia participates in Leadership Montgomery and will serve as the president of E.A.T. South next year. She and Gray have two boys, Hale and Wright, and Alexia’s day-to-day world revolves around them. She also loves to travel, and can’t wait to plan next year’s family trip.
Dr. Tanjula Petty
Dr. Tanjula Petty is the Director of Quality Enhancement Plan at Alabama State University. The Quality Enhancement Plan is a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined issue related to enhancing student learning. As the director, Dr. Petty’s job is to provide leadership and consultation to each of the colleges and faculty related to the assessment efforts of the QEP. Some functions include supporting instructional teams in the organization, data collection, data analysis, and use of data for improvement phases of the process. In addition, Dr. Petty also serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Petty & Associates Consulting Firm, LLC. PAC’s mission is to assist clients with developing the skills needed to be successful in college. By hosting workshops on leadership, assisting with admissions applications, and helping with adjusting to college life, PAC brings out the best in students. Dr. Petty received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Troy University and her doctorate from ASU. She says that her faith in God has had the biggest influence on her career. Her husband, Col. William Petty, has always been her biggest supporter. Together they have two children. Dr. Petty enjoys supporting her son as he plays basketball and the drums, and is very excited that her daughter will be embarking on her collegiate career next year.
“My faith and my family have always been the greatest influences of my life,” says Katy Sulhoff. She grew up the youngest of 6 kids, with 4 older brothers and an older sister, and she says she has learned a lot from them over the years. Her brothers made her tough, and her sister is still her best friend. Katy received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga. Brenau is a small women's college in her hometown, one of very few remaining in the country. After college, Katy was looking for an adventure, so she took a TV news job in Rapid City, S.D. Her family has a 75-year old cabin in the Black Hills where they spent summers growing up. It has always been her favorite place, so she decided to move there while she had the chance. After that, Katy continued working in TV news in Texas for two years, and later landed in Montgomery. She is currently the Public and Constituent Affairs Director for Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey. Katy likes that Montgomery is a bit of a “big-small” city, where you often run into people you know. She stays involved in the community through Junior League, Alpha Delta Pi Alumnae Association, and Inner City Evangelism. When she finds time, Katy really enjoys sailing with her dad.
Ken M. Peavy
“I love helping people plan and achieve their financial goals in life,” explains Ken Peavy. After graduating from Trinity Presbyterian High School, Ken went to Auburn University Montgomery and obtained a BSBA degree in economics. He then went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Ken spent 12 years in Dallas, Texas and Memphis, Tenn., as a financial advisor before returning to Montgomery to work with Sterne Agee. Today, Ken works as a financial advisor for Sterne Agee Financial Services with Aliant Bank. He has a passion for helping people and he loves studying the investment world. Ken credits his success to God and the many people that he is blessed to have in his life. His mother was always a strong spiritual leader for him, and his father taught him the value of hard work. When he was just 16, his father told him, “don’t ever be too proud to do a job, always make money for your employer, and always do it with integrity.” He went on to say that if you do those things and let God handle the rest, you’ll always be successful. Ken is a member of First Baptist Church, the Rotary Club of Montgomery and The Junior Executive Board of the American Cancer Society. He is engaged to be married, and he has a daughter that attends Trinity. Ken loves being outdoors and spending time with his family, all of whom enjoy being in Montgomery and close to the lakes and the beach.
Leonardo Maurelli III
When asked his favorite thing about Montgomery, Chef Leonardo Maurelli III says the question is easy to answer. “The people,” explains Chef Maurelli. “Everyone I have met has been so nice, and welcoming, and interested in what we are doing,” he continues. Chef Maurelli is the Executive Chef at Central in downtown Montgomery. A graduate of Auburn University in 2003, he majored in hotel and restaurant management. Auburn isn’t where he became passionate about food though. No, his love for creating and sharing food came early in life. His mom, aunts, and grandmothers were all wonderful cooks, and they sparked his interest. By 14, Chef Maurelli was already a formal chef’s apprentice. Of course, while his early passion for cooking can be credited to the women above, Chef Maurelli gives credit for where he is today to his wife Carrie. She has always been the rock beside him pushing him to chase his passion. Carrie and Leo have a son, Leonardo Cruz. They enjoy Montgomery and the exciting transformations taking place here. Chef Maurelli is the president and one of the founding members of “The Front Porch Revival”, a nonprofit organization of chefs, artists, brewers, etc. who are passionate about anything southern. Chef Maurelli enjoys spending time with his family, joking around, and is a proud Auburn Tiger!
Noah Wesley Rocker, Jr.
“I do not simply measure success by the goals achieved, but more importantly, I measure success by realizing the difference I make in the lives of others,” says Noah Rocker. He graduated from the University of South Alabama in December 2006 with a degree in business administration. Noah’s concentration was in human resources, and he jumped immediately into the workforce. He was still pretty young, but Noah was able to advance quickly. He is now the business office manager for the Alabama Power Company. Overcoming the common misconception of “he’s just too young,” was huge for Noah. He prides himself on being observant, which allows him to learn from any experience. These lessons have helped him make better decisions and execute solid strategies in his professional career. Noah has a passion for people, and he stays very involved in the community. He serves as the Chairperson on committees for EMERGE Montgomery and Young Life Montgomery. In addition, Noah serves on the Junior Executive Board of Child Protect, is a member of the Advisory Council for Life South, and serves on the board of directors for the Small Business Resource Center. In his free time, Noah enjoys being with his wife Jada and their two daughters.
Rebekah graduated from Huntingdon College in May 2012 with a double major in biology and psychology. She planned to complete a couple different internships and then attend graduate school after a year, until a good friend introduced her to Andrew Szymanski, the director of the Montgomery Dragon Boat festival. Andrew suggested that Rebekah do a summer internship with the organization, and soon after that meeting she became the Intern Festival Coordinator. By the end of the year, she was a full-time employee. Rebekah spent her childhood in England, and she has a bit of an accent to show for it. When she first began working, she avoided making calls, especially to event sponsors. Several face to face meetings and working with over 60 captains helped her to quickly overcome that fear. The connections she has established during her work with MDB are invaluable to Rebekah. “The staff members at Rebuilding Together Central Alabama and Bridge Builders Alabama are some of the most wonderful people,” says Rebekah. The many connections have led Rebekah to other activities in the community as well. She is a member of EMERGE Montgomery and has become a “team mom” for one of the WAKA AL Capital Kickball teams. Rebekah has an Old English sheepdog mix named Harry. She enjoys participating in Rebuilding Together’s home repair projects, and rides on the MFD Fire Rescue boat at dragon boat practices. Outside of work, she enjoys playing tennis and attending unique events that come to the city.
Ritchie C. Beene
“I have the opportunity to make a difference in a person’s life, and that’s what I love most about what I do,” explains Coach Beene. Entering his 17th year as a coach for Alabama State University, there is no question that he has done just that. This will be his 7th year as the head coach of the men’s and women’s track and field programs. Since taking over those teams, Coach Beene has led them to a combined 15 SWAC titles. He has been named SWAC Coach of the Year 15 times, and was selected as Chairman of the SWAC Coaches for 2 consecutive years. In addition, Coach Beene has taught Health and Physical Education for 14 years. The biggest influence on Coach Beene’s career was Horace Crump, the former coach of ASU track and field. Coach Beene says that he learned a great deal about both coaching and life from Coach Crump. Growing up, Coach Beene always had a fear of disappointing his parents. He overcame that fear the day he became the first in his family to graduate college. He received his bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State in 1997, and went on to get a Master’s in physical education from Alabama State University in 2000. He is happily married to the former Yolanda Flowers, and they are the parents of Jordan and Paige. They attend Troy Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church. In his free time, Coach Beene enjoys cooking for family and friends.
“My parents equipped me with an incredibly solid foundation as a child that ultimately led to my becoming a confident and well-rounded woman,” says Julie Lopez. She grew up in a military family, and often found herself as the “new girl.” By the time Julie graduated high school, she had lived in 8 different states and attended 10 different schools. Julie then made Auburn University the last stop on her education journey, where she received her bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in theater. After working for a few years for Auburn University and Lowder New Homes, Julie moved on to become the Director of Marketing and buyer for Southern Homes & Gardens in 2005. While she wishes she had more time for the performing arts, she really enjoys the creativeness her job requires. From graphic design to commercial voiceover, Julie does it all. Yes, that’s her voice on the Southern Homes & Gardens commercials. She has found her home here, and she strongly believes that the “new girl” tag is forever gone. Julie and her husband Rod have 2 daughters, Sophia and Camilla, and a dog named Lucy. When not busy working or spending time with family, she participates in many events around the community, including EMERGE Montgomery, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross, the Arthritis Foundation, the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, and many others.
Vickie Lawrence had it all planned out. She would get her first degree in marketing and a second degree in biology. That way, when she became a dentist, she would already be prepared for the business aspect of opening her own practice. However, during the pursuit of those degrees, other opportunities grabbed her attention. She obtained both degrees, one from Auburn University and one from the University of Georgia, but she liked what she was doing too much. During that time she began working for Palmer Wireless (later purchased by Price Communications). She worked there for 6 years and became general manager. While working on her biology degree, she took advantage of an opportunity with Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Canon, LLC. She worked on several of their engineering projects, including the Montgomery Airport. Today, Vickie is the marketing manager for The Shoppes at EastChase, and she loves it. “I get to meet all kinds of interesting people,” explains Vickie. From customers to partners to vendors, no 2 people are the same. And that makes for a workplace that is never boring. When you add to that the fact that the retail environment is ever-changing, Vickie knows she has to stay on her toes. Her career keeps her involved in the community. She has worked with the Joy to Life Foundation, the Family Guidance Center, the American Red Cross, and the Montgomery Food Bank just to name a few. She has a daughter named Claudia, and she loves taking her to gymnastics competitions all over the state.