The List September/October 2015
Before serving as tennis director at Montgomery Country Club, where he’s been for nearly eight years, Wade Brown was the director of tennis for the city of Pensacola, Florida. He played collegiate tennis at Georgia Southwestern State University and ranked two-time All-Conference in singles and doubles. “I have been fortunate to work with and be coached by some of the greatest tennis minds,” he says. Since moving to Montgomery, Wade has been embraced by the members of Montgomery Country Club and is grateful for their support of him, his staff and the tennis shop. He is proud of his students and the work they put into the game. “I love to see my students improve and work hard, from ages three to 90, while learning a game that can be played for a lifetime,” he says. Wade serves on the board for DreamCourt, a nonprofit that built the first tennis courts for people with disabilities in Montgomery. He also teaches Trinity Presbyterian School’s junior varsity girls and The Montgomery Academy girls and boys junior varsity and varsity tennis teams. Wade, his wife, Brandy, and their 7-year-old son, Jackson, love spending time with their Hampstead neighbors and walking their dog, Emma. In his spare time, Wade enjoys exercising and playing golf.
Imagine combining your two favorite things and having that as your career; Chandalyn Chrzanowski did just that. Her love of horses and her love of helping others led her to become the equine director and lead therapeutic riding instructor at MANE, a nonprofit providing therapeutic horseback riding opportunities to Montgomery and tri-county area children and adults with emotional,physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.Chandalyn spends each day helping people of all abilities to ride horses. She moved to Montgomery after attaining her bachelor’s degree in therapeutic horsemanship from St. Andrew's University in North Carolina. She also interned at Hoofbeats Therapeutic Center in Virginia and worked at Triton Stables in Durham, North Carolina. As fate would have it, Chandalyn learned of the MANE position the day after moving to Alabama to help her family with their farm. She says the River Region has welcomed her with open arms. “Everyone I have crossed paths with has been so willing, whether that is to help me personally or to donate time, talents or money to MANE,” Chandalyn says. She gets to help the community by assisting schools and churches that want to help out at MANE. Her favorite parts of Montgomery are Biscuits baseball games and getting to explore everything the downtown area has to offer.
Robyn Denton is the manager of The Spa at Montgomery located in the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center. After more than 20 years of experience with an Aveda Concept Salon, graduating from cosmetology school and massage therapy school, Robyn found her home at the Renaissance. Her favorite part of her job is being able to work with the public, as she loves meeting new people. Growing up, Robyn had to be prepared to go through a lot of change. “Being raised in a military family meant frequent moves where you always had to be ready for changing environments and meeting new people,” Robyn says. This has contributed to her success and relationships with the customers who visit The Spa. Her three sons, 20-year-old JohnJohn, 17-year-old Collin and 9-year-old Nicholas mean the world to her, keep her on her toes and her hair color appointments close together. She is currently in full wedding planning mode as she prepares to marry David on October 31, which has put their love of custom cars and gun collecting on the back burner. Robyn's favorite thing about Montgomery is the growth, diversity and revitalization of the downtown area.
Dr. Jewell Dickson learned as a Girl Scout to leave a place better than she found it, and this principle ultimately led to her career path. Jewell has been an occupational therapist for 16 years and has been an assistant professor at Alabama State University for the past eight years. As an occupational therapist, Jewell's goal is “to help people at every age and every stage of development live their best possible lives.” A Birmingham native, she has always had a heart for the people around her, which continues even in Montgomery. “My goal is for the community to be better because I am here and my students are here. I have found that the most effective means of learning is through service. For example, we have had an opportunity to provide occupational therapy services to incarcerated women at the Montgomery Women's Facility as well as young adults with disabilities at the Children's Center Adult Program.” ewell has also provided occupational therapy to children with disabilities at Hope of Hope Orphanage in Uganda, which she regularly sends adapted toys designed by her students. Jewell is involved with many volunteer activities, including Common Ground, Junior League of Montgomery, Milton Road Quality Control Board, and the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy. When she isn't teaching or volunteering, she loves to travel and spend time with friends and family. Jewell says her personal mission statement is “to be a catalyst for positive change, representing Christ in all I do.”
Randy Gresham started as a prep cook and washed dishes when he began his expedition in the restaurant business. Now you can find him as the executive chef at Central where his wife, Jean, is one of the resident bartenders. Randy calls Jean the “driving force” behind everything he does. As a chef, Randy says the scariest thing about his career is waiting for the reaction when he puts his creations, full of idea and emotion, in front of people. In turn, the most rewarding feeling is when he hears his creation has pleased someone and made his or her entire dining experience amazing. Randy believes in fresh produce and products. “Being able to take two or three trips a week to the Montgomery Curb Market and interact with our growers is such an underrated ability. I wish more people were aware of what quality products are being produced here in the River Region,” Randy says. He knows how important it is to form connections with the people who work hard to make sure everyone gets fed. Originally from Houston, Texas by way of Colorado and Wyoming, you can typically identify Randy in a crowd wearing his signature cowboy hat and boots. This comfortable ‘get-up’ stems from time spent in Wyoming, where he often worked cows in a different manner than what he currently puts on a plate. When Randy isn't making masterpieces in the kitchen or frequenting the farmers markets, you can find him with a craft beer or doing anything outdoors as often as he can.
Andre Harrison is a prime example of what it means to be qualified for your position. As the superintendent of schools for the Elmore County Board of Education, Andre has a bachelor’s degree in language arts/English education and a master's degree in English from Montgomery's very own Alabama State University. Andre also has his doctorate degree in education and leadership from Auburn University as well as 23 years of experience with the Elmore County School System and Board of Education. “I love interacting with and assisting people. I love that I get to do this on a daily basis throughout Elmore County schools and our communities.” Andre says that Elmore County is a family and the support he receives from people within the community is humbling. His wife, Monica, works as a school counselor for the Elmore County Board of Education, and his daughter, Aundrea, is studying biomedical sciences at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Andre's family also includes a 13-year-old dachshund named Oscar. Andre credits many of his teachers throughout his own education for giving him support and the knowledge he needed to become successful. He is grateful for the blessings and guidance of Jesus Christ who leads him throughout his life. Lastly, Dr. Jeffery Langham, a former superintendent, served as a mentor and friend to Andre. When it comes to Montgomery, Andre loves to visit the historical sites around town that are so important to the education of people today.
For Brittney Nelson, being a community manager at the Villas at HomePlace apartment homes is more than just a job...it’s a passion. “We provide roofs over people's heads. We provide homes to other humans. Some people scoff at the fact that it's only an apartment. That's fine. But I have provided a home to an elderly couple in the midst of empty nest syndrome, I have provided a first home to newlyweds who have crossed the threshold to the beginning of their new life, I have provided a home to a family who lost everything in a fire . . .We are difference makers, we are not property management professionals,” Brittney says. She started her passionate career in Fayetteville, North Carolina but soon found herself in the River Region. Many people have impacted Brittney's life and success but her family has been the most dynamic and influential. After just a few years with the Villas at HomePlace, Brittney has been chosen as the 2016 President of the RRAA. She also has a blog about her career at www.pithypropertymanager.com. Although work is very important to Brittney, her two sons, Gavin and Nolan, are the light of her life. Brittney loves every aspect of Montgomery and enjoys exploring downtown, going to Biscuits games and shopping at the Shoppes at EastChase. She says she is looking forward to many more memories in the River Region.
Will Pope is a true Alabama man. In fact, Will loved Tuscaloosa so much he graduated from the University of Alabama twice. He earned his bachelor’s degree in operations management and a master's degree in sport management. He's been working in college athletics ever since. Currently, Will is the assistant executive director of the ESPN-owned Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and a sports business consultant. He was also a founding member of the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic which hosted over 130 NFL scouts and had over 85 players join NFL teams. Before that he worked in football operations and recruiting at the University of Alabama for three seasons which included two undefeated regular seasons, two #1 ranked recruiting classes (including Alabama’s first Heisman winner), an SEC Championship and a National Championship. Will's parents, his current boss, Johnny Williams, Mike Vollmar and Coach Saban have impacted his success the most. “It's great to work in an industry that so many people are passionate about. College athletics, particularly my current position, is fast paced and exciting,” Will says. He loves that the city of Montgomery has rallied around the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, which makes his job that much more rewarding. When Will isn't working, he likes to attend concerts and travel. He loves to visit his family’s cattle farm in Dixons Mills, Alabama and his brother who is on the Alabama football staff.
Crystal Strickland never expected she would take a leap of faith and start her own business. After graduating from Auburn University and working a few years in the event realm, she realized weddings and floral design were her passion. With a love for design and creating, she felt God calling her to do what she truly loved. That is when Southern Posies was born. Crystal and her team now manage around 30 weddings a year among other numerous events such as luncheons and debutante balls. She can never narrow down her favorite thing about her job because she loves everything about what she does. “I love getting to walk my clients through such a beautiful and memorable milestone in their lives and handing my bride her bouquet on her wedding day,” Crystal says. “Planning and floral design are the two core services Southern Posies offers, and when it comes to florals, I love creating intricate, personable details and designs through flowers and décor and sourcing the most beautiful blooms for my clients.” Her family and husband, Trip, is the biggest support in Crystal's life. Crystal and Trip have been together since they were 14 years old, have a dog named Dolly and are currently building a home in Pike Road. Crystal has a passion for flowers, gardening and antiquing. When she isn't making brides' dreams come true, Crystal enjoys spending time with her husband at the farm or the lake.
Todd Taylor, master stylist at Waylen Joseph Salon in Hampstead, loves that his career lets him make people look and feel great. Todd has been in his industry for over 24 years and received training all over the country as well as in Toronto and London. He studied at The Arrojo Academy in New York where he was able to receive training from Nick Arrojo, the former hair-makeover specialist on TLC's What Not To Wear. Although he's received all the education needed to be the master stylist that he is, Todd believes in continuing education by attending seminars and classes whenever he can. “Every day I wake up excited about my job,” Todd says. He loves being surrounded by the talented stylists and staff as well as the wonderful clients he gets to build relationships with. Todd donates his services in the form of gift certificates whenever the opportunity presents itself. Todd loves to see how our growing city is expanding the restaurant scene and, in his spare time, likes to travel and visit restaurants he’s never been to.
Taujuanna Ware exceeds what it means to own your life. She is the owner of Xquisite and the co-owner of Hot Spots. Not only does she own two businesses, she is also continuing her education at Troy University and taking care of her son, Armaree Scott. Taujuanna loves that her jobs allow her to be as creative as possible and design new ways to grow her business. “I had to overcome the fear of failure,” Taujuanna says, “Once I realized it was ok to fail, and that failing is just a part of the process, it was a no brainer for me. I made a decision to no longer come up with excuses, but to provide solutions to my situation.” Taujuanna says the network of small businesses and people here in Montgomery have always supported her over the years. Her favorite thing about Montgomery is the lifelong friendships and connections she has made and continues to make. When Taujuanna isn't throwing Back-to-School Bashes or volunteering for various organizations, she likes to write and one day plans to write a book. To learn more about her businesses, visit www.xquisitestaff.com and www.hot-spots.city.