I’m regularly asked, “Are you optimistic or pessimistic about Birmingham?
I always respond, ‘optimistic.’
The reason I’m optimistic is because we have a unique advantage.
I’m writing this piece because of a chance conversation I had with Ty West, the Editor in Chief at the Birmingham Business Journal.
Ty is an amazing young professional relentless in his efforts to advance our business and general community. He’s clearly a young business leader who is making a difference.
He told me he has concluded from talking with journalistic friends in other cities that Birmingham has a disproportionate number of highly motivated young professionals with a desire to propel Birmingham forward.
I thought it might be instructive to publish the names and a short bio of a few of these young superstars.
I’ve selected eleven young guest authors of ComebackTown and included a link to their articles so you can get to know them better.
Then I added four young leaders who I know personally who are making a significant difference for our Birmingham region.
These young people had options–they could build their careers anywhere–but they chose Birmingham.
Dr. Mark W. C. Martin moved back to Birmingham to launch Build up, the nation’s first early-college workforce development program to address poverty and urban blight. Mark received his B.A from t he University of Alabama, an MBA from the University of Georgia, and a Doctor of Education Leadership from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Miller Girvin, born and raised in Birmingham, is the CEO of the Alabama Capital Network (ACN), a group of businesses and individuals supporting the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our state. Miller graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in History.
Miller Girvin: Birmingham’s huge opportunity
Alexis Barton is a s Senior Communications Consultant at BBVA, has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Alabama. Alexis has done an incredible amount of volunteer work for the Junior League of Birmingham.
Alexis Barton: Birmingham rape survivor speaks up
Jay Dunn is a Georgetown MBA graduate, who returned to Birmingham after seven years in Washington, DC. He worked for Senator Shelby as a financial services policy advisor both in his personal office and on the Senate Banking Committee before attending Georgetown.
Britney Summerville, an Auburn grad, is the Vice President of Community Engagement at Shipt and the founder of Birmingham Bound, an initiative that has been wildly successful recruiting small companies to Birmingham. She has 20 years of experience in technology startups and is passionate about driving growth and entrepreneurship specifically in the technology space.
Britney Summerville: Business Woman’s brilliant idea for Birmingham
Matt Hottle was educated at the University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania—the Wharton School, and Harvard Business School and is a partner and co-founder of Redhawk Venture Group, a trio of companies that support startups and manage venture capital funds. His latest endeavor — Redhawk Advisory — manages the Alabama Futures Fund, Alabama’s first seed-stage venture capital fund.
Samantha Dubrinsky has a B.A.from Birmingham Southern College, a Master’s in Public Administration and an MBA from Troy University. She’s the Executive Director of the Levite Jewish Community Center (LJCC). She and her team at the LJCC have done amazing work distributing food to folks in need during the pandemic.
Samantha Dubrinsky: Alabama Jews thank Christian neighbors
Samantha Dubrinsky: Birmingham’s award winning food scene vilified: Bad for America
Samantha Dubrinsky: Young professional: I choose Birmingham ‘cause I can make a difference
Ronnie O’Brien Rice, Ph.D., Esq., earned a M.A. in Organizational Leadership and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Resource Development from Regent University and a Law Degree from Miles College. He’s the Business Development Lawyer at Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys.
Ronnie Rice: I didn’t grow up in Mountain Brook, but…
Tripp Watson earned a B.A. in Economics, Politics from Washington and Lee University and an MBA and Law Degree from Samford University. Tripp is an Entrepreneur Attorney at The Watson Firm and has been heavily involved in regionalism.
Tripp Watson: We need to have a tough conversation
Tripp Watson: Political process in Birmingham actually working
V.J. Graffeo has a B.A. from the University of Alabama in Political Science, an M.B.A. from UAB Collat School of Business (Finance), and a Law Degree from the University of Alabama. V.J. is the founder of the Graffeo Law firm and serves as an Adjunct Professor at the UAB Collat School of Business.
V. J. Graffeo: Birmingham: The next ‘it’ city by thinking small
V.J. Graffeo: V.J. Graffeo dreams of Birmingham being an ‘it’ city
Josh Carpenter is the Director of Innovation & Economic Opportunity for the City of Birmingham. Prior to that, Josh was the Director of External Affairs at UAB. Josh graduated Magna Cum Laude from UAB with a Bachelor of Science in Business/Commerce, a Master’s in Social Policy and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Field of Study Politics from the University of Oxford. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
Brian Hamilton is the Chief Executive Officer of Trillion Corporation. Brian graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Morehouse College, a Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineer from Georgia Tech, and a law degree from Birmingham School of Law. Brian is active all over Birmingham with his work for regional collaboration and Legacy Prep.
J.W. Carpenter earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Law Degree from Georgetown University. He’s the Executive Director at the Birmingham Education Foundation; a non-profit whose goal is to increasing the number of students in the Birmingham City Schools that are on the path to college, career, and life readiness.
Anthony Hood, PhD earned an MBA in Management from UAB and a Ph.D. at the University of Alabama School of Business in Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship. He’s also had additional training at Stanford and Harvard Business School. He’s currently Director of Civic Innovation, Office of the President at UAB.
Danny Cohn, with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Ohio University, recently moved to Birmingham after nearly 20 years as a strategic leader in marketing and public relations. Danny is the CEO of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community’s central fundraising, community relations and community development agency.
Please feel free to comment with the names of other young professionals you think should be recognized.
David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group for free about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org