The List - July/August 2017
Jessica Alexander graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Shortly after graduating, she reigned as Miss Black Alabama USA and represented Alabama on the national stage in Washington, D.C. At the end of her reign, she focused her energies on her career as a personal brand strategist. Today, Jessica is the founder and CEO of Operation Evolve, LLC. She provides personal and professional development to teens and young professionals through webinars, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. Jessica owes a majority of her gratitude to her father, who she says is the most resilient and hard-working man she knows. Jessica says that initially one of her biggest fears was overcoming fear itself.
After she had a long talk with God, she was comforted knowing that she did not need to know every single step and that she only needed to take the first one. Jessica is the President of Montgomery Toastmasters and also hosts her semi-annual event, Boss Babes Connect. She tells us, “My favorite thing about Montgomery is that there is so much opportunity to be innovative. If you have an idea to do something that you have seen executed in a larger city, don’t wait until that city hosts it again, host it here.” Outside of work Jessica is an active member of Church of the Highlands- Montgomery where she serves on the worship team as a vocalist. She is also a pageant enthusiast and coaches young ladies who are preparing for their next competition through Wear Your Crown 101.
Brittney Bragg, an attorney at Morris, Cary, Andrews, Talmadge & Driggers, LLC, graduated from The University of South Alabama in 2011 with a degree in communications and graduated from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in 2015. She gives a special thanks to Attorney William K. Abell who mentored her throughout law school and continues to do so today as he challenges her to become a better attorney. Brittney is a member of the Montgomery County Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, Alabama Association for Justice, and The Montgomery County Bar Association Young Lawyers. She is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is part Poarch Creek Indian. She says being licensed to practice for The Poarch Band of Creek Tribal Indians has been one of her proudest accomplishments. She says, “My job allows me to meet new people and hear their stories. There is truly a lot to be learned if one listens to other people’s experiences. I thrive on seeing situations from other points of views.” Brittney loves the Montgomery community and feels completely accepted by the people of the River Region. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, kayaking, Biscuits baseball games and visiting local farmers markets.
Hunter Brendle had big shoes to fill when he became Vice President of Brendle Sprinkler Company, Inc. His family’s business has been a success in Montgomery since 1960. “Being the owner's son, I had to prove I wasn't in my position just because of my last name. That drives me to continue to work harder to try and make sure that is never a thought in anyone's mind,” Hunter says. Hunter’s work ethic has been a driving force in every aspect of his life. From work to sports to church, he never does anything half-way. A native of Montgomery, Hunter attributes his accomplishments to the love and support of the capital city’s residents. He stays involved in the community by coaching youth sports and attending Heritage Baptist Church. To Hunter, family is everything. He loves getting to spend time with his family, especially his 97-year-old grandmother, famous for her “MeMe Peas.” Hunter and his wife, Bethany, have one son and two daughters: Fischer, Avonlea, and Archer. If you don’t know Hunter, he’s one to get to know… his genuine and fun personality always bring a room to life!
Anthony Brock has certainly put his love for children to good use in the city of Montgomery. As co-founder and head of school at Valiant Cross Academy, he is constantly learning from his students. He says, “We pray together, learn together, travel together and support each other.” Anthony says the young men he educates are his favorite part of working each day. He cites his community as a huge supporter of Valiant Cross Academy. He is grateful for every church, local business and individual that has helped make his dream school a reality. Anthony’s biggest influences are his parents, Leo and Susie Brock, both former educators.
Anthony also founded the Brother2Brother and Sister2Sister Mentoring Programs that provide a community to at-risk teenagers in Autauga and Montgomery. In addition to his own programs, Anthony serves as a board member of the Southeast YMCA and a member of the Alabama Leadership Council. As an active affiliate of St. Paul A.M.E Church, Anthony manages to stay connected to the community in his rare free time. He is married to D’Tanja Brock and has two daughters, Noah and Jonah.
As a managing partner of The Barkery, the River Region’s premier spot for any pampered pooch, Brett Fuller gets to exercise his love for animals daily. Brett prides himself on being pet CPR certified and one of the few AKC groomers in the state, meaning his “Spaw” treatments are safe and fun for all furry patrons. He is a native of Elmore County, and attended Stanhope Elmore in Millbrook. Brett has been in the veterinary field for over 22 years and has dabbled in many entrepreneurial ventures, including Grooming at Sniffanies- a company that he eventually sold. Brett contributes to the community by volunteering for the Montgomery and Elmore Humane Societies and assisting his elderly clients with their pet care, often picking up their pets for grooming or veterinary appointments. In his free time, Brett enjoys flipping houses with his father and spending time with his 16-year-old daughter Payton. His family also includes a standard poodle, Finley, and a yellow double head Amazon parrot, Felicia.
As executive director of the Fitzgerald Museum, Sara Powell has found a job that combines her love for history and passion for nonprofits. Sara is an alumnus of both the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Troy University Montgomery. After noticing a shift in Montgomery’s culture toward female empowerment and an increase in artistic expression, Sara knew at once she had to be a part of this movement. She says, “Every new experience takes a little leap of faith, every day presents a new challenge, you have to dive in or you’ll miss it. ” Diving in headfirst, Sara accepted a position at the Fitzgerald Museum, and she describes it as a dream ever since. She attributes the success of the museum not to major funding, but instead to the citizens of Montgomery who contribute in small donations and spread word to their friends. Sara serves on the board of EAT South and is married to Adam Powell, a local musician, photographer and journalist. Adam and Sara have two children, 4-year-old Fionola and 2-year-old Kieran.
Laurel Teel’s love for children has been a driving force in her career since graduating from Auburn University in 2010. Her titles have included kindergarten teacher at a Primrose School, founder of Mustaches for Kids Montgomery, and now Child Protect’s Development Director at the Children’s Advocacy Center. At her current job, Laurel is responsible for oversight of the Young Professionals Board, as well as fundraising, special event coordination, and all social media platforms. “My position allows me to see the good in the people of our community and that in turn inspires me to do everything I can for the children we serve,” she explains.
In addition to Laurel’s Mustaches for Kids work, she also serves as Member-at-Large for the Central Alabama Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and volunteers with That's My Child's Young Professionals board. Laurel attributes her success to her father, who she believes he has been an ideal example of great work ethic and career dedication. Laurel attends Church of the Highlands and enjoys working out at NOW Total Fitness. In her free time, Laurel enjoys spending time with friends and family at Lake Martin.
“My love of flight began at a very young age. As long as I can remember I have always wanted to fly.” Since then, fly is exactly what Erik Box and Box Aviation have done in Montgomery. After spending 20 years in the Alabama Air National Guard, Erik took a leap of faith and purchased a flight training business. Renaming it “Box Aviation” and completing his current collection of planes, Erik continues to grow Box Aviation through additional contracts and customer services. He also serves as the youth minister for Hope Hull United Methodist Church and as an Angel Flight Pilot for Mercy Flight Southeast.
Erik attributes his success to his wife Scarlett and his integrity, saying both have allowed him to accomplish difficult things in his life. Scarlett and Erik have two children, Ashton and Watters. As an Eagle Scout and supporter of the EAA Chapter, Erik is able to share his love of aviation with the next generation. Box Aviation allows him to connect his love of people with his love of aviation, a combination that makes each day more interesting than the last.
James Whitaker Jr., (J.J.), began his professional career at the Judge Advocate General’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base. During that time he created distance-learning courses that allowed lawyers and paralegals to receive their annual continuing legal education hours required by their states. In 2012, due to budgetary constraints, his position was unfortunately cut. He later found a new career with Southern Shutter Co., and worked as a National Sales Representative for three years. In 2015 he focused on building a retail division to offer wholesale prices to Montgomery, Birmingham, and Auburn homeowners.
Today, he is the Retail Sales Manager for Southern Shutter Co. His dad, Jim Whitaker, has had the biggest impact on his life. Jim taught his son from a very early age that he would have to work hard for the things he wanted in life. J.J. tells us, “I have been working in the building industry for just over 10 years now. What I love most about working in this industry is creating an idea and watching that idea come to fruition, which is where I get the most joy. While being in this industry, it is important to be able to improvise and change on the go.” He enjoys being with his wife Holly, and his daughters, Ellyson (4), and Charlee (10 months). In his free time he enjoys spending time in Gulf Shores and catching a Montgomery Biscuits game.