New officers, board take helm at Alabama Humanities

Michon Trent

Alabama Humanities Foundation elected Mobile’s Michon Trent chair of the board for 2018 along with a new slate of officers and board members.

Vice Chair is Dr. Carmen Burkhalter, Florence; Secretary is Velma Tribue, Dothan; treasurer, Beth Wise, Huntsville, and board members, Dr. John Kvach, Huntsville, and Judge David Rains, Ft. Payne.

“Our organization is fortunate to have these accomplished and talented individuals leading our board,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “They all have a strong record of leadership in our state and will add much to our board and the workings of AHF over the next year.”

Trent serves as senior director of Civic Engagement for the City of Mobile. She joined Mayor William S. Stimpson’ s senior staff in 2016. In her role, she leads large scale mayoral initiatives focused on greater civic engagement, such as homelessness, financial empowerment, workforce development in the area of technology, volunteerism, and expanding arts and cultural activities across the city. She also oversees, Maritime Museum, Mobile Museum of Art and The City of Mobile’s Special Events Department.

She spent most of her professional career working with and advocating for vulnerable populations – in particular, adults and children suffering from mental illness, lack of access to quality public mental health services and education.

Prior to joining the city of Mobile, she worked as the Major Gifts, associate director of Development for the University of South Alabama Health System. During her tenure there, she created donor engagement events, community engagement events, created Emergency Medical endowment and assisted in the design content for the first Medical Center Magazine – all to ensure residents of Mobile would have access to public healthcare.

Trent has played a number of community leadership roles. In addition to chair of AHF, she serves on the statewide board of Voices for Alabama Children as secretary and locally on the boards of Bank on South Alabama, Distinguished Young Women, United Way Women’s Initiative, Mobile Community Action, Inc. and Homeless Coalition Alabama Gulf Coast Continuum of Care. She previously served on Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama, Providence Hospital Foundation and Family Promise.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa California and earned a master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Los Angeles.


Dr. Carmen Burkhalter

Burkhalter is the dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Alabama. Prior to her arrival in the Shoals area, she spent 20 years at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While at UA, she was a faculty member in the Department of Communicative Disorders, senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Technology for the College of Arts and Sciences.

She is originally from Columbia, SC.  Her degrees are from Columbia College and The University of Alabama.

She is a champion and advocate of the liberal arts, of which the humanities serve as the core.  She looks forward to continuing her participation in AHF and promoting the values that are “at the heart of our democratic values which make our society so great.”


Velma Tribue

Tribue is an agent with State Farm Insurance in Dothan, previously serving as administrative supervisor of the Houston County Department of Human Resources.

A graduate of Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree, she also holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Ohio State University.

In community work, she serves on the board of Trustees at Alabama A&M University, is a graduate of Leadership Alabama, served on the AHF Board and the Dothan-Houston County Intellectual Disabilities Board.

She is past chairman of Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, Dothan By Design, a member of the Houston County Personnel Board, Southeast Alabama Regional & Planning Development Commission Revolving Lean Administration Board, Houston County Industrial Development Authority and Dothan Area Alumni Chapter of Alabama State University.


Elizabeth (Beth) Machtolff Wise

Wise retired as the director of Business Management for the Department of the Army’s Program Executive Office, Tactical Missiles. Her career achievements were recognized with the Department of the Army’s highest civilian award, the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. She retired in 2004 after 37 years of service.

From 2007-2008, she served as President and CEO of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra.

Her volunteer service spans more than 50 years and includes long-term involvement with many organizations. She served as president of the Junior League, the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild, the Huntsville Botanical Garden Board, the Huntsville Botanical Garden Foundation, The Arts Council, the Huntsville Pilgrimage Association, Randolph Parents Association, Volunteer Center Board, Huntsville Alumnae Panhellenic Association and Delta Delta Delta Alumnae.

She chaired Under the Christmas Tree, co-chaired the Crescen-Dough Auction and led the Search Committee for executive director of the Arts Council. A graduate of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County Class 3, she was program chair and served on steering committees to develop several new programs, including FOCUS, the one-day executive program, the IMPACT program and the Management Academy.

In addition to her treasurer’s role at AHF, she serves as Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees Finance chair, Huntsville Botanical Garden Foundation president, League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council secretary and Study Circle vice president.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Auburn University and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.  She is a graduate of the Columbia University Senior Executive Program and has completed extensive professional leadership, management and technical training.


Dr. John Kvach

Kvach is Associate Professor of History at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. His teaching fields and research focus on the 19th Century South, Civil War and Reconstruction and Public History.

He has written numerous articles, conference papers and book chapters on the antebellum and postbellum South. He is the author of De Bow’s Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South (2013), published by the University Press of Kentucky for its New Directions in Southern History series.

Kvach has worked extensively with the Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution on numerous traveling exhibits and programs, and he serves on numerous regional and statewide boards, including Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Alabama Historical Association and the Liberty Learning Foundation.


Judge David Rains    

Rains is a Dekalb County native. He attended The University of Alabama and The University of Alabama School of Law, graduating in 1970.

He entered the United States Air Force in 1970 and served in the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) for four years. He practiced law from 1974 until 1981 and became a circuit court judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit (Dekalb and Cherokee Counties). He served as a circuit judge for 32 years.

As a circuit judge, he earned wide legal experience, including the handling of complex civil litigation in his home circuit as well as other venues in this state. In 1991, the Alabama State Bar Association conferred on Judge Rains the Judicial Award of Merit, the Bar Association’s highest honor for judicial excellence. He was only the second active-duty circuit judge to be so honored.

Rains was selected by the Alabama Circuit Judges’ Association to serve on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ), a nine-member court established by the Alabama Constitution to hear and decide charges of judicial misconduct. As the senior circuit judge on the COJ, Judge Rains was the presiding judge when the appellate court member of the COJ was unable to preside.

The Alabama Circuit Judges’ Association also selected him to serve on the Alabama Sentencing Commission, which the Legislature created to review Alabama’s sentencing practices and recommend reforms to eliminate unwarranted disparity in sentencing and assure public safety while making the most efficient use of correctional resources. Rains served on the Commission for approximately 12 years.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Birmingham Pledge Foundation, a grassroots organization committed to the removal of prejudice from our lives one person at a time.

Rains has served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Alabama Archives, which through support of public programming and other projects has helped the state Department of Archives and History tell the story of Alabama. He is very interested in the history of Dekalb County, including the Civil War Era and the Fort Payne Boom.

He is an avid collector of Dekalb County memorabilia, including photographs, postcards, pottery and other artifacts and has served on the board of directors of the Fort Payne Depot Museum.

The Dekalb County Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the professional and civic contributions of Rains by honoring him with the 2017 V.I. Prewett Lifetime Achievement Award.