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Movers & Shapers, October 2014

Spotlight on Lauderdale and Colbert Counties

Jeff Jennings

Jeff Jennings

Mary Settle Cooney

Cooney is executive director of the Tennessee Valley Art Association, a position she has held since 1989. She has been with the organization since 1980, and coordinated the renovation of the historic Ritz when the association purchased it in 1983. During her tenure the museum has more than doubled its exhibition space and now includes education outreach, a film series, three rotating galleries, a permanent exhibit and more. It is the largest multi-disciplined arts organization in the tri-state region.  

Jeff Jennings

Jennings is CEO of Shoals Hospital. An Alabama native, he has a B.S. from Jacksonville State University and an M.S. from UAB. Jennings has more than 20 years of hospital executive experience, having served in senior leadership positions at hospitals in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas. Most recently, he was at Hillside Hospital in Pulaski, Tennessee. Under his leadership, hospitals have scored in the 95th percentile or better in patient satisfaction as measured by Press Ganey, and in the 99th percentile for employee satisfaction. He was recently named to the board of directors for the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. 

Nancy Cummings Gonce

Gonce is executive director of the Music Preservation Society Inc. in Florence and is executive director of the W.C. Handy Music Festival. She owns Gonce & Associates, which provides arts and cultural project administration and support for community organizations. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has a master’s degree in library science from George Peabody College in Nashville. Her involvement in the community is extensive, from local and regional arts organizations to serving on community and civic boards. She is a member of Leadership Alabama and has received many awards for community service. 

Judy Hood 

Hood is a marketing and communications professional whose career spans more than three decades and includes leadership positions at the TimesDaily newspaper, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital and International Paper Co. Three years ago, she retired from her corporate communications position at IP to start Judy Hood Consulting. For the past two years, she has been heavily involved in supporting the uptick of music tourism related to the critically acclaimed Muscle Shoals movie, which documents the history of the local recording industry. Her husband, David, is a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (aka Swampers) and is featured in the movie. She is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board and the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation Board. 

Randy Pettus


Randy Pettus 

Pettus is executive director of Shoals Scholar Dollars, an organization that raises funds to help local young people attend college at Northwest Shoals Community College and the University of North Alabama. Pettus has been an educator for 34 years, working as a teacher, administrator and principal. He also served as director for federal programs, transportation, testing and safety chair for Florence city schools. He is a graduate of UNA and received his doctorate in educational leadership from NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. 

Russell Pigg

Pigg has served as CEO of Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital since 2012. Prior to coming to ECM, he was CEO of 225-bed Dyersburg Regional Medical Center in Tennessee. While interim CEO of Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville, Tenn., Pigg oversaw the construction of the $200 million Gateway Medical Center. Now ECM has received state approval to build a replacement hospital in Florence, which is moving through the appeals process. He received a bachelor’s degree from David Lipscomb University and his MSHA and MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He began his career with Baptist Health Centers in Birmingham. 

Paul Storey 

Storey, COO at Helen Keller Hospital since July 2013, will become the hospital’s next CEO with the retirement in October of Doug Arnold. Storey, a graduate of Samford University and UAB, has more than 22 years in the healthcare industry. Prior to coming to Helen Keller, he was CEO at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, West Virginia. 

John Thornell 

Thornell became interim president at the University of North Alabama on July 1. Thornell came to Florence in 2009 as vice president for academic affairs and provost at UNA. He had served as vice president for academic affairs and professor of history at North Carolina Wesleyan University in Rocky Mount since 2007. He had previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he also served as interim president in 2003.

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