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Movers & Shapers

Making a difference in Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cherokee counties

Billy Ainsworth

Ainsworth is CEO of Progress Rail Services, headquartered in Albertville, and Electro-Motive Diesel, headquartered in LaGrange, IL. He also is a vice president of Caterpillar Inc. He began his professional career with several scrap metal brokerage firms, including Luria Brothers, Erman Howell and Amex Steel. In 1983 he founded Steel Processing Services, serving as president and CEO, and it quickly expanded as a diversified recycling and railroad services company with operations in nine states. It was purchased in 1993 by Progress Rail Services. Progress Rail purchased Electro-Motive Diesel and Caterpillar purchased Progress Rail. Progress Rail, an international company, has more than 5,500 employees.

Matt Arnold

Arnold has served as president and CEO of the Marshall County Economic Development Council since 2001. He was formerly employed at the Bibb County Chamber of Commerce, where he also worked with the county commission as economic development coordinator. He is a member of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, a past board member of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and has taught numerous courses at the Auburn Intensive Economic Development Training Institute. He is involved in several community groups and organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, the Whole Backstage Community Theatre and is past president of the Rotary Club of Guntersville. He also is a member of the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association Board of Directors.

David Campbell

Campbell, a native of Jackson County, has served as president of Northeast Alabama Community College since 2001. Since that time, the college has doubled its enrollment and in 2009 was identified by Community College Weekly as one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the U.S. He has expanded the educational technology available to students and staff, and has a unique perspective on business and workforce training in his role as the chair of the board of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority. He has served on several educational boards and organizations and is a graduate of Leadership Alabama.

Jimmy Durham Jr.

Durham, a licensed private pilot, has served as executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Authority since its creation in 1994. He also is employed by Northeast Alabama Community College and at Athens State University as an adjunct professor in the business department. He served on the Fort Payne City Board of Education for nine years, and during his tenure, smart boards were placed in every classroom in the city system; this fall, each student in grades 9 through 12 will receive an iPad2. He also served on the Fort Payne City Council, was a former president of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce and is active in many local civic organizations. He is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and TVA Valley Leadership.

Robert Exley

Exley is the president of Snead State Community College in Boaz. Prior to coming to Boaz, he served as president of Parkland College and as vice president for academic affairs at Iowa Western Community College, both in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also held several administrative positions with Miami-Dade College over a nearly 10-year period. While at Miami-Dade, he helped establish that college’s nationally-recognized service-learning program and has won several awards. He is a consultant with the American Association of Community Colleges and is a frequent conference speaker. He serves on several Alabama Community College System (ACCS) committees and is a member of the Boaz Rotary Club.

Gary Gore

Gore is CEO of Marshall Health System, which includes Marshall Medical Center North in Guntersville and Marshall Medical Center South in Boaz, hospitals with a combined 1,200 employees. Prior to becoming CEO, he was administrator of Marshall Medical Center North, and assistant administrator of HealthSouth Medical Center (formerly South Highlands Hospital). He is active in community and professional organizations, including the Marshall County Economic Development Council, the Alabama Hospital Association, United Way, American Heart Association, the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society.

Luanne Hayes

Hayes is the director of economic development and campus director at the Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee campus, where she is the senior administrator for leading economic development initiatives and their integration with and support from college academics. She also has served as director of economic development for the city of Guntersville and executive director of the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce. Active in professional and civic groups, she is a graduate of Leadership Cherokee.


Sonata Howell

Howell is serving her second term on the Guntersville City Council. She has worked for the Electric Board of Guntersville for 15 years as an accounts clerk and cashier. She is a board member for the Marshall County Council on Aging and serves as its secretary. She also is a board member for the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce and is a member of St. Minor Primitive Church, where she sings in the choir and serves as a youth advisor.


Davis Lee

A year after retiring from management and executive positions with several poultry companies, Lee started a number of companies that exist today. Among those are AlaTrade Foods LLC, AlaTrade International LLC, Liberty’s Legacy LLC, The Dream Company LLC, and Lee Energy Solutions LLC, and he is a major shareholder in Inergi Holdings. Together these companies employ more than 1,500, with an annual payroll in excess of $40 million. One of those companies, Lee Energy, built a wood pellet manufacturing facility in Crossville and developed a furnace for use in poultry houses that uses wood pellets instead of petroleum. Lee has a long history of philanthropic work, including sponsoring two Honor Flights, supporting foster children, funding an ESL school in Albertville, supporting the Marshall County Police Department in anti-drug efforts and United Way.

Brian Quillin

Quillin has made a cultural impact on Arab since he moved there in 1999 to be choral and musical theatre director at Arab High School. Since then, through the formation of the Arab Musical Theatre and what he describes as “a tremendous amount of community support and interest,” he has staged 15 student productions described by The Arab Tribune as “extravaganzas.” In 2007, 2010 and 2012 his student casts and crews – many of whom have earned scholarships – have been invited to the prestigious International Thespian Festival. Also since 1999, Quillin has served as minister of music at Arab First United Methodist Church, working with its choir and musicians, as well as other area churches on myriad musical events, many of which involved bringing in and directing orchestras.

Dus Rogers

Rogers is president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority. He is a 1986 graduate of Auburn University with a B.S. in agricultural business and economics. He received his master’s in management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1991. He is a graduate of the New South Economic Development course from the University of Southern Mississippi, Auburn University’s Intensive Economic Development course, and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. He has lived in Jackson County since 1988 and is a retired colonel from the Alabama Army National Guard/US Army Reserves. He is a graduate and past coordinator of Leadership Jackson County, a graduate of Leadership Alabama, and a member of the Alabama Economic Development Alliance.

Lisa Socha

Socha is president of the Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is active in several travel and tourism associations throughout the Southeast. She is northern vice president and board member of the Alabama Travel Council, has held offices in the Alabama Mountain Lakes Association, president of the Alabama Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and a graduate of the Marshall County Leadership Challenge. She is a former Tourism Professional of the Year for North Alabama, and has served on several state and governor’s tourism-related and community service committees.

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.

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