Young Movers and Shapers
Meet some of Alabama’s outstanding business leaders who are making their mark by age 35.
Being part of a small community is more than a job for Austin Monk.
While his day job is working to bring new business to Washington County, the rest of his life is about being a participant in the community — a passion he fulfills by working as a volunteer fireman with the Chatom Fire Department and helping to raise funds for the local library with the Friends of the Washington County Public Library Art Auction.
At that day job, he serves as director of the Washington County Economic Development Initiative in Chatom, working to recruit, retain and revitalize new and existing business in the county. His post is staffed through the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, which partners with Washington County for economic development.
“I do not have a staff, but rely on the leadership of my board of directors to guide my organization,” he says. “The partnership with Mobile Area Chamber offers me several networking, leadership and professional development opportunities to improve the WCEDI.”
Monk was the first to take advantage of Auburn University’s Accelerated Bachelors/Master’s Program, earning a bachelor’s in public administration in 2011 and a master’s the following year.
Monk aims to change lives while working with the WCEDI, and hopes that his experience there will enable him to make greater strides in economic development in the future.
“The leadership that my board provides me has helped me improve my professional skillsets that will prepare me for an even brighter professional future,” he says.
“I am proud to work where I am now and know that with the time and expertise shared with me it will also help me reach my career and life goals.”
“In my short career, I have learned there is no goal title, but my goal is to gain knowledge and experience to influence change,” says Barry Moss. “I feel most successful when the team members we have put into place succeed and help our organization achieve our strategic goals.”
As assistant CEO at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Moss hopes to make a positive mark on the hospital and help change lives for the better. He presides over multiple departments including anesthesia, cancer registry, respiratory and surgery. He assumed his current role in 2011, after serving as vice president of professional services. Flowers Hospital has more than 1,300 employees, 235 beds and a medical staff of 250 physicians. In August, Consumer Reports named Flowers Hospital as the Safest Hospital in Alabama.
Outside of work, Moss serves on the board of Wiregrass Children’s Home. He was previously a member of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce Board. He reads as much as possible and participates in forums, such as the Chick-fil-A Leadership Cast. “These things provide me the opportunity to collect a toolbox full of skillsets,” he says.
With support of wife, family and hospital team, he relishes his work. “In healthcare, we get the added benefit of being with families through some of the most important times in their life.”
Working in one of the most high-tech cities in the South, Harrison Diamond thrives in Huntsville’s unique environment for economic development.
Diamond is project manager of the economic development team for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County. This position involves him directly in the continued expansion of a booming science and technology hub. “The companies and federal agencies in Huntsville develop new technologies that keep the nation and our allies safe, advance our knowledge of the universe, contribute to new treatments for diseases such as cancer, and more,” he says.
A 2008 University of Alabama graduate with a master’s from UA Huntsville, Diamond’s work is marked by a positive attitude, one he cultivated while playing baseball in high school. “The best piece of advice I ever heard came from Mark Mincher, the former baseball coach and athletic director at Huntsville High and now the principal,” he says. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.”
Outside work, he’s active with the Young Professional Committee, the area Leadership group, the Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama and the Hillel group at his alma mater.
“It is a privilege serving others and knowing I play a meaningful role in making a difference in people’s lives,” says Bryan Lee.
As COO of The Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, Lee oversees the growth and operation of three medical office buildings and a host of departments, including security, pharmacy and rehabilitation. The general acute care hospital is the largest medical facility in northwest Alabama, with 358 licensed beds. Lee is invested is several health-related interests outside of work. Recently, he has participated in Relay for Life, American Heart Association Heart Walk and Heart Ball. He also served as a board chair for the Council on Aging.
Beyond medically oriented activities, Lee is an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church and contributes to its sponsored causes.
He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2001, followed by an MBA and master’s in health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In addition to his grandfather, who emphasized character, says Lee, “Throughout my career, I’ve had mentors who taught me the importance of humility and providing excellent care to our patients.”
Elizabeth Fleming believes that a strong education is the foundation for success and feels called to give back to the school system that served her well. She has worked for both for-profit and not-for-profit groups to benefit local schools, and has a passion for connecting potential givers with opportunities to support their schools.
“There are countless people with great ideas to support public education in our community,” she says. “Many are tapped in, but there are many others who are waiting to be tapped.”
As executive director of the non-profit Schools Foundation in Huntsville, Fleming seeks to provide support for all public school systems in Madison County, including Huntsville City Schools, Madison County Schools and Madison City Schools.
“The Foundation solicits corporate contributions, individual donations and grant funds to support a variety of programs like student scholarships, teacher grants, staff development, technology deployment, and other programs that directly benefit students and enhance educational opportunities,” says Fleming.
In addition to her work with the Foundation, she serves on the boards of The Arts Council, The Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County and the Downtown 47. “All these organizations work toward making our community stronger through supporting the arts, philanthropy and downtown vibrancy,” she says.
Fleming is a 2003 graduate of Sewanee with a degree in religion, and she credits the Huntsville City School District for preparing her for college.
Fleming attributes her inspiration to the people she interacts with every day, from students, parents and teachers that she works with, to her own family. “I had the awesome experience of working with my dad, one of the most influential persons in my life, for four years,” she says. “When my husband, Patrick, and I welcomed our son into our lives, I knew it was time for me to return to the not-for-profit world and focus time and energy in education, the key to all children’s success.”
As Daniel Dennis watches his company grow and succeed, he is confident that he has chosen the right career path. “I spent a lot of time during law school thinking about whether private practice was a good fit for me,” he says. “With every year that passes, I am convinced I made the right decision. You know you’re where you need to be if you look forward to Mondays as much as Fridays.”
Dennis is president of Roberts Brothers Inc. in Mobile. Directly invested in every aspect of the company, he works with Roberts Brothers’ network of more than 200 sales associates across four offices. Prior to being named company president, Dennis served as director of business development and also worked as corporate counsel at Atlanta’s Merrill Trust. In 2011, he merged Dauphin Realty into his company, making Roberts Brothers the largest real estate brokerage firm in south Alabama.
In 2003, Dennis received his bachelor’s in finance
from Auburn, followed by a law degree from Cumberland School of Law in 2006, and a Master of Laws in Real Estate from University of Miami School of Law the following year.
Dennis’ expertise in real estate has led to a seat on the University of South Alabama Center for Real Estate Studies’ Advisory Board. Elsewhere in his community, he is a member of Rotary Club of Mobile and the Coastal Alabama Salvation Army Advisory Board. This year, Dennis serves as chairman of the 2013 Gulf Coast Heart Walk, chair of Mobile Chamber of Commerce’s total resource campaign and class president of Leadership Mobile.
Roberts Brothers is Mobile’s oldest real estate firm. “We have a 67-year-old brand that people trust,” he says. “I am fortunate because I am a part of an organization that already has what a lot of companies spend many thousands of dollars trying to establish: integrity, respect, and a brand that has proved to be sustainable for years.”
“One of the greatest aspects of my job is that it affords me opportunities daily to engage with passionate individuals and organizations working on the front lines of positive change in our community,” says Erin Stephenson, vice president of development at The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.
Serving Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker counties, the CFGB is the oldest and largest community foundation in Alabama. “Unlike a family foundation, where the money for community grant making comes from one source, we work with a community of donors who all care deeply about seeing lasting change take place in greater Birmingham,” she says.
Working with the Foundation has been a rewarding experience for Stephenson, and she is glad to see that her career search has led her into organized philanthropy. “The past eight years have confirmed that I will continue to seek professional experiences that allow me to contribute to making my community a place where all kids have the opportunities my children are afforded,” she says.
“Philanthropy is a deeply personal decision and it’s a huge privilege to get to be a part of that conversation.”
In addition to her work with the Foundation, Stephenson is a member of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and serves on the Junior Board of the YWCA. Stephenson received her bachelor’s in English from Birmingham-Southern College in 2001. In 2009, she participated in the Alabama Leadership Initiative and was in the 2012 class of Leadership UAB.
Stephenson thanks her family and friends for support and inspiration throughout her life and career. “My dear friend Rachel Estes was influential during my years at Birmingham-Southern as I gravitated to a career path that involved community service,” she says. “I’m still aspiring to be like her now that I am a mother trying to raise my kids with a broader world view.” She also credits Kate Nielsen, president of the Foundation, as a true servant and leader.
“I believe in what I’m doing,” says Jim Page. “I learned growing up that whatever you want in life, you have to work for it.” This attitude has opened doors for Page and caught the attention of institutions like the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, where at age 35, he serves as president and CEO.
After graduating from the University of North Alabama in 2001, Page moved to Montgomery, where he worked in political and lobbying circles. He gained valuable public experience in the state capital until a friend told him about open positions at the Decatur/Morgan Chamber of Commerce’s new governmental affairs program.
Page realized that this could be a career-shaping opportunity and moved to Decatur in 2002.
There, Page met John Seymour, president and CEO of the Decatur/Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. Page believes that Seymour was a major influence on his career, and considers him a good friend and mentor. Says Page, “He taught me everything I know about the Chamber business.”
Page served as the vice president of the Decatur Chamber for nine years and continued his business education in the process. He graduated from Leadership Alabama in 2007 and the US Chamber Institute for Organization Management in 2009. He earned a Certified Chamber Executive designation in 2011.
On January 1, 2012, Page became CEO of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce in Tuscaloosa. “I was ready to take the next step in my career by managing a Chamber,” he says. “Tuscaloosa/West Alabama is a rapidly growing, progressive area and I felt it was a great fit for me.”
At the West Alabama Chamber, Page has received much attention for his close coordination with Tuscaloosa’s Mayor Walter Maddox and his efforts to spur economic development. He finds his work with the chamber fulfilling, and it would not surprise anyone to see Page holding a public office in the future.
Scott Shamburger finds great satisfaction in knowing that his company’s projects leave a lasting mark on his neighbors. “I like to see people using the spaces and buildings we have created, whether it’s their new home, office facility, retail store, restaurant, hotel, etc.,” he says. “It’s rewarding to see them enjoying the spaces that we have designed and constructed.”
Shamburger is president and CEO of The Highland Group. He founded the construction-real estate-property management firm in 2004 after graduating from Auburn, and has since established the company’s specialization in development, property management and commercial/residential construction. The Baldwin County company has completed numerous commercial construction projects along the state’s coast, and residential projects in beautiful communities such as Ono Island.
Civic involvement is very important to Shamburger, and he makes time for community engagement beyond his real estate business. He is on the board of the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and chairs its civic and governmental affairs committee. He is on the boards of Leadership Baldwin County, Gulf Shores Kiwanis Club and Habitat for Humanity, where he also acts as secretary. Shamburger also has worked on several political campaigns on the city, state and national level.
“I’m happy to have found a career that allows me to marry my love of finance with the opportunity to help businesses with their financial needs,” says David Germany, vice president and commercial relationship manager in the government and institutional banking group at Regions Bank.
Since starting his current position in 2007, he has negotiated and organized commercial banking deals worth over $1 billion.
Outside work, he is active with Impact Alabama, Leadership UAB, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and the American Heart Association. He also is on the board of directors for Birmingham Business Alliance and serves on the Young Professional Board for UAB Minority Health.
A 2002 University of Alabama graduate, Germany has completed Regions training and Chamber-sponsored corporate leader studies. He earned his MBA from Emory University this year.
Germany credits mentors and guides throughout school and career. “Those people demonstrated very strong leadership within our commercial banking team here at Regions Bank,” he says.
“So did the business school professors at the University of Alabama and the MBA program at Emory University.”
“Working at Colonial Properties Trust has been a rewarding opportunity,” says Justin Weintraub. “Now, I’m spending time and developing relationships in some of the most vibrant cities in our country, while playing a role in shaping the real estate landscape of each.”
Weintraub has proven a valuable member of the Colonial team since serving as vice president in 2005 and rising to senior VP earlier this year. “My core values were instilled in me from a young age by my parents, specifically a strong work ethic and treating others how you wish to be treated,” he says. “My mother, an educator, understood the importance of a quality education and convinced me at a very young age that there was nothing that I could not accomplish.”
At Colonial, he oversees the Trust’s 35,000-unit multifamily portfolio, spanning 10 states. “The multifamily sector has been one of the top performing product types within the commercial real estate field, and as a result, we’ve seen the number of investors and overall amount of capital interested in the sector drastically increase,” he says.
“I aim to leave my company, my community and my family in a position that is better off than prior to my involvement and have these contributions set a new standard for generations to follow.”