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Movers & Shapers, June 2017

Spotlight on Mobile County

Owen Bailey


Owen Bailey

Bailey is CEO and senior associate vice president of the comprehensive academic health care system USA Health. A veteran health care leader, he has served as COO of USA Health and as administrator of USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital. Earlier he was president and CEO of Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and an executive vice president with Infirmary Health System. A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Bailey has served on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama. He is past chairman of the Southwest Council for the Alabama Hospital Association, Mobile Area Education Foundation and the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council. He serves on several boards including the Alabama Hospital Association, United Way of Southwest Alabama, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile and the Business Council of Alabama. Bailey is an Auburn University graduate with a master’s from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Clarence Ball

Ball is president of Ball HealthCare Services Inc. and a family of affiliated companies that own and operate 10 skilled nursing facilities in Alabama and one in Florida. Ball HealthCare affiliates provide medical supply, institutional pharmacy and other related healthcare services.  He manages CMB Investments, an affordable housing development company, which has built approximately 700 units statewide. He served as chairman of the Mobile Housing Authority, chairman and director of Gulf Federal Savings Bank and on many other local and state boards including the Alabama State Port Authority. Ball holds a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University and a master’s degree from North Texas University. Special training was received at Wesley Homes in Atlanta, and as a research specialist at Emory University in the fields of aging and adolescents. He is a graduate of the second class of Leadership Alabama.

Larry Dorsey 

Dorsey is president and CEO of Dorsey & Dorsey Engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. Formed in 1997, his company has become one of the premier Department of Defense airfield design firms in the country. He served as the first vice-chair of minority business development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as being on its board of directors. Other projects include Project Blueprint and Leadership Prichard. Dorsey is a member of the 1702 class of 2017 sponsored by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He is also the pastor of Jesus the Light of Love Church.

Liz Freeman


Liz Freeman 

Freeman is a third generation owner and president of her family’s staffing and recruiting firm, Long’s Human Resource Services, with offices in Mobile and Baldwin counties. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has been employed with Long’s since 1998. Her husband, Jud Freeman, also an owner, is vice president. A graduate of both Leadership Mobile and Leadership Alabama, she is the 2017 chair of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Board, a United Way of Southwest Alabama board trustee, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital-Advisory Council  chair, UMS-Wright Preparatory School board trustee, Hancock Bank advisory board member and USA Mitchell College of Business advisory council member.

Ralph Hargrove

Hargrove is president and CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors. Founded in 1995, Hargrove is an employee-owned company with 1,200 teammates focused on the manufacturing, process industrial, life sciences and power industries. The firm has 11 offices including Mobile, Birmingham and Decatur. The firm is currently renovating the historical WALA building for the Hargrove Controls + Automation. A graduate of Leadership Alabama, Hargrove serves on the national board for the Engineering and Construction Contracting Association and locally for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama and is the Heart Association’s 2017 Mobile Heart Walk chair. 

Merceria Ludgood

Attorney, civic leader and Mobile County Commission president, Merceria Ludgood is a native of Mobile’s Crichton neighborhood. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama and a law degree from the Antioch School of Law in Washington D.C. She practiced law in Mobile and then continued her commitment to social justice when she was selected to lead the Legal Services Corporation of Alabama, which provides free civil legal services for income-eligible clients. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including Leadership Mobile, Leadership Alabama and the prestigious Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship. As a Kellogg Fellow, she traveled to 17 countries on five continents, interviewing women leaders.  

James Lyons


James Lyons 

Lyons is director and CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority. His 40-plus year professional maritime industry career has encompassed marketing, financial management, transportation, stevedoring and terminal operations. He has overseen construction of new facilities and upgrades to railroad, pier infrastructure and equipment at the port, which has 496 employees and handled more than 22 million tons of cargo in 2016. The current fiscal year campaign includes a Logistics Park master plan, Phase II expansion of the container terminal, preliminary engineering for a finished automobile terminal and continued investments to support energy efficiency and environmental impact abatements. These and other port-wide improvements total nearly $30 million in new investment. He serves on the board of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and is vice chair of the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council. Lyons is a former member of the board for the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Lyons is a University of Alabama graduate and completed the Executive Management Program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Andy Newton

Newton is a founding member of Southern Light, where he has served as president and CEO from its inception in 1998 until its sale earlier this year. Southern Light, a provider of fiber optic networks and high-capacity transport solutions along the Gulf Coast, developed more than 6,000 miles of fiber networks. The company has been listed in “America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” by Inc. Magazine for nine consecutive years. Fortune Magazine ranked Southern Light the “51st Best Place to Work for Women” in 2015 and the “52nd Best Medium-sized Workplace” in 2016. Newton was recently named the “2017 Outstanding Entrepreneur” by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. He is on the Alabama School of Math and Science Foundation Board, Downtown Mobile Alliance, University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business, and UMS-Wright Preparatory School. He is an Alabama native and a graduate of
Birmingham-Southern College.

Mark Nix


Mark Nix 

Since 2009, Nix has served as president and CEO of Infirmary Health System based in Mobile.  An Alabama native, Nix is a University of Alabama graduate and a Certified Public Accountant. Under his leadership, Infirmary Health, the largest non-governmental healthcare system in the state, serves 11 counties in south Alabama, with 700 active physicians and more than 5,000 employees. Nix is a director on numerous boards including Mobile Arts and Sports Association, Regions Bank-South Alabama Advisory Board, UMS-Wright Preparatory School, Leadership Alabama (Chair 2012-13), Vizient Southeast, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (Chair 2016), Presbyterian Retirement Corp. (Chair 2017), Mobile Infirmary Association and Infirmary Health System. 

Martha Peek 

Peek is superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools. During her 40-year career in the school system, she has been a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent. She is the first female superintendent in the 180-year history of the system. Peek is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama. She serves on the boards of the United Way of Southwest Alabama, Junior Achievement of Mobile, is a representative on the American Heart Association’s National Superintendent Roundtable and was a member of the Leadership Alabama Class XXVI. Peek was recognized in 2015 by AL.com as one of the Women Who Shape the State of Alabama. Additionally, she has established a Leadership Roundtable and Signature Academy Councils that have linked business, industry and higher education in partnerships with the Mobile County Public Schools to design curriculum for career pathways. She is a native of Bayou La Batre. 

Tuerk Schlesinger

Schlesinger is the CEO of AltaPointe Health Systems, which owns and operates a comprehensive behavioral healthcare system serving seven Alabama counties. Schlesinger established AltaPointe’s partnership with the University of South Alabama, in which AltaPointe’s psychiatrists serve as faculty for the College of Medicine’s psychiatry program. He is a member of the Alabama State Health Coordinating Committee, served as the 2015-16 president of the Alabama Council of Community Mental Health Boards, is a member of the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Mental Health Corporation of America-International Planning Committee, the Alabama Healthcare Reimbursement Reform Task Force Steering Committee and various Alabama Department of Mental Health committees. He is active in the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, where he serves on the Advisory Board. Schlesinger is a graduate of Auburn University with an MBA from Spring Hill College. 

Bill Sisson

Bill Sisson


Sisson is president and CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to rejoining the chamber staff, he served as executive director for the Mobile Airport Authority, overseeing Mobile Regional Airport at Bates Field and the Brookley Industrial Complex near downtown Mobile. Before joining the Airport Authority, he served as vice president of economic development at the Mobile chamber and as vice president of business development at the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is a graduate of James Madison University and earned an MBA at the University of Alabama. He is a member of Rotary International and on the boards of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Committee of 100 of the US Chamber of Commerce and chairman for the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.  

Timothy Smith 

Smith became the fourth president of the University of Mobile in 2016. He has held a variety of academic positions, from assistant professor to provost. He has a Ph.D. in leadership and a master of arts in theological studies, both from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a master’s and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center; plus other nursing and nurse anesthesia credentials. He is licensed by the South Carolina Board of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Since 2014 he has served as adjunct professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a member of Sunrise Rotary of Mobile, advisory member of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and was selected for the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program. 

George Talbot 

Talbot is the City of Mobile’s executive director of communications and external affairs. He has responsibilities for public relations and communications, governmental affairs and economic development and serves as senior spokesman for the administration of Mayor Sandy Stimpson, providing counsel to the mayor’s office and helping lead policy initiatives and communication strategies. A 20-year veteran of the news business, he previously served as an award-winning editor, reporter and columnist for the Press-Register newspaper of Mobile and AL.com, its online affiliate. A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis. 

Tony Waldrop 

Waldrop is the third president in the history of the University of South Alabama. Under his leadership, the university has achieved a record enrollment of more than 16,000 students, along with significant increases in student diversity, academic standards and retention of first-year students. Waldrop has outlined five priorities that form the foundation for the university’s future: student access and success, enhancement of research and graduate education, global engagement, excellence in health care and university-community engagement. These priorities also are the framework of Upward & Onward, a $150 million fundraising campaign that was launched in 2015. An accomplished researcher, teacher and administrator in higher education for more than 30 years, Waldrop came to USA after serving as provost and executive vice president at the University of Central Florida, with previous stints at the University of North Carolina and the University of Illinois.

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