New leaders in office, on board at AHF

Alabama Humanities Foundation elected a Montgomery lawyer to chair the organization in 2017, named its new slate of officers and four new members to its board of directors.

Chair of the board is Jimmy McLemore, who has served in leadership capacities within the organization, first as treasurer and then as vice chair.

He joined the AHF Board in 2013. He is general counsel of Alabama Housing Finance Authority. Previously, he practiced law for 32 years with Capell & Howard, P.C., in Montgomery.

Upon joining the Board, McLemore said, “I have long enjoyed the work and programs of AHF. I look forward to switching roles and serving the board to help enrich the lives of all Alabamians concerning our unique and fascinating culture. I believe that this mission is as important as any in the development of our state.”

McLemore graduated in business from the University of Alabama and earned his law degree from the University’s School of Law. McLemore’s civic involvement includes leadership roles in the Montgomery Rotary Club, Easter Seals Alabama, Montgomery Area Food Bank, Children’s Center of Montgomery, University of Alabama Libraries Leadership Board, University Capstone Council, Alabama Writers’ Forum and Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.

McLemore is a native of Montgomery, having grown up on the family farm settled in 1817 by his pioneer ancestors. The land still produces cotton, but McLemore followed his father’s advice and pursued a career in the law.

He graduated from the University of Alabama with degrees from the School of Commerce and the School of Law. Receiving a commission through Army ROTC, he served in the National Guard as an Armor officer. He continues to serve his alma mater as a member and past president of the Libraries Leadership Board and as a member and past chairman of the Capstone Leadership Academy, conducted by former UA Capstone Men and Women.

His community service also includes president of the Board of the Children’s Center, the Boards of Alabama Writers’ Forum, Montgomery Rotary Club, Easter Seals Alabama, Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and service through his life-long church, St. John’s Episcopal Church.

McLemore is married to Laura Patrick. They have three grown sons and one granddaughter. Bicycling leads his list of hobbies.

“I love literature, but I have to say that cycling has connected me in a more direct way to what makes Alabama. I have cruised thousands of miles across the state from a vantage of some intimacy, enjoying invitations to eat from front porch grills or, on occasion, getting heckled to go home. We are a fascinating and enduring people in Alabama, and as president of an organization which promotes our humanities, I’m going to love this job!”

Michon Trent

Serving as vice chair for 2017 is Michon Trent of Mobile. She joined the Mobile Mayor’s Executive Staff in June 2016 as senior director of Civic Engagement. Her overall responsibilities are to lead large-scale mayoral initiatives focused on greater civic engagements in areas such as mentoring, eradication of homelessness, volunteerism, along with arts and culture.

Prior to joining the mayor’s team, Trent worked as a Development officer for University of South Alabama Health System and Mobile Area Education Foundation. In her role at the University of South Alabama, she coordinated donor engagement events, community engagement events, created the Emergency Medical Endowment and designed the first Medical Center Magazine.

While at Mobile Area Education Foundation, she designed a comprehensive annual giving campaign and a volunteer campaign of 12 business professionals to assist with fundraising.

For over two decades, Trent worked as a clinical social worker with school-aged children and adults suffering from mental illness.

She has served in a number of community leadership roles. In addition to 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 boards for Boys and Girls Clubs of South Alabama, Providence Hospital Foundation, Family Promise and Historic Mobile Preservation Society.

Trent graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Cal., and with a master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Los Angeles. She attended Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Fundraising School.

“I am humbled by being thought of as a person who could lead in this organization,” Trent said. “I want to help spread the message of the Alabama Humanities Foundation throughout the state. The year has started off really well, and I am humbled by being a part of it.”

Beth Wise

A retired government executive and former president and CEO of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Beth Wise is serving as treasurer of AHF.

She is on the League of American Orchestras National Volunteer Council and is president of the Huntsville Botanical Garden Foundation. With more than 45 years of volunteer service in the community, she has held leadership roles in Huntsville Botanical Garden, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild, Leadership Huntsville/Madison County, Junior League, Randolph School Board of Trustees, The Arts Council and various other boards and organizations.

She is a Mathematics graduate of Auburn University, holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and completed the Columbia Senior Executive Program at Columbia University in New York. She has been recognized with numerous awards for both her professional and volunteer accomplishments.

“I deeply appreciate the opportunity to serve the Humanities Foundation as Board Treasurer.  Paying close attention to our fiscal responsibilities allows us to support an amazing array of outstanding, worthy projects, and we look forward to yet another outstanding year.”

Crissy Nettles

Crissy Nettles is a medical writer and former owner of Beehive Coffee and Books, based in Monroeville, where she also serves as chair of the Monroeville Historic Preservation Commission.

She has played Miss Maudie in Monroeville’s annual production of To Kill A Mockingbird and has held leadership roles in the Friends of the Monroe County Public Library, the Alabama Southern Community College Foundation and the family readiness group of the Alabama Army National Guard 161st Multifunctional Medical Battalion.

She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Louisiana State University and a M.A. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Mississippi. 

“I’m a lifelong lover of the humanities, and am so grateful to be elected as secretary for an organization that is genuinely committed to making the humanities meaningful to people from all walks of life, in every corner of our state. As we approach Alabama’s Bicentennial, AHF will provide a critical framework for collaboration so even more Alabama stories can be studied and shared.”

New Board Members

Four new members have joined the board of directors for 2017 as well. They are: Velma Tribue, a State Farm Insurance agent in Dothan; R.B. Walker, director of Governmental Relations at the University of Alabama; Sheryl Threadgill Matthews of Camden, director of BAMA Kids Inc. (Better Activities Make All-Around Kids); and Dr. Joseph Aistrup, professor and dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.

Velma Tribue

Tribue is a graduate of Ohio State University and has been a State Farm agent since 1988. She serves on the board of trustees for Alabama A&M University and is a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

She is a former chair of the board of directors for the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.

R.B. Walker

Walker has served as director of Governmental Relations at Alabama since 2015. Prior to his tenure at the university, he held executive roles with Alabama Power Co., most recently serving as assistant to the executive vice president.

He is a graduate of The University of Alabama in Political Science and he studied Politics and International Relations at University of Oxford.

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews

A native of Camden, she became involved in BAMA Kids Inc., resulting from the death of a 19-year-old by a store owner, who alleged the young man was stealing. BAMA Kids provides an array of educational and recreational opportunities for young people.

She is a community activist, working on get-out-the-vote efforts and serving on boards promoting community development and improvement.

She chairs the Alabama State Planning Committee of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative of which Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama is the lead organization.

Dr. Joseph Aistrup

Appointed dean of Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts in 2013, Dr. Aistrup came to Auburn from Kansas State University, where he served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and in previous administrative positions within the university.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State University, master’s from Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University and PhD from Indiana University.

“Each year as leadership changes here at AHF, I think about how fortunate we are to have such high caliber people throughout our state who are dedicated supporters of the humanities and are willing to serve to promote its impact and importance across Alabama,” said Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “This year is no different, and we thank all of these new officers and board members for joining with us as we continue the mission.”