Monday, February 28, 2011

Meet Holley LaGrone - Woman of Distinction 2011

As vice president of Marketing & Administration, Holley LaGrone is responsible for the marketing of oil and gas production for Energen Resources. LaGrone became the first female officer of Energen Resources.

LaGrone is past president and an active member of the Birmingham Exchange Club as well as a graduate of MOMENTUM and Leadership Birmingham. She is a member of the Alabama Society of CPAs and the AICPA and has been involved with the Energen Leadership Association.

LaGrone has given many years of service to the Girl Scouts. She was a member of the Board of the Cahaba Girl Scout Council where she served as treasurer and second vice president. As a member of the Board of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, LaGrone assisted with the implementation of an investment policy and investment committee selection that combined the investments of four legacy councils.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Auburn University and teaches Sunday school at Shades Mountain Baptist Church.

LaGrone is a role model for all females, young and old. She has a passion for inspiring women to realize their potential. Having succeeded in a traditionally male-dominated environment, she exemplifies hard work and dedication. LaGrone is a successful member of her organization and leads by example.

LaGrone will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. You can purchase tickets at

Friday, February 25, 2011

Meet Michelle Clemon - Woman of Distinction 2011

Michelle Clemon is the vice president of human resources for McWane, Inc. She oversees corporate-wide human resources compliance, employee outreach, diversity goals and community outreach. She previously worked as a labor law associate at Maynard Cooper & Gale.

Clemon is a board member of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and has served as co-chair of the UAB Minority Health & Research Center Barkley Gala. Clemon has also served as board chair of the Vulcan Park Foundation, been a member of the board of trustees for Legal Aid Society of Birmingham, the members’ council for Leadership Birmingham, and the board of trustees at Miles Law School, as well as the vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Omicron Omega Chapter. Clemon has been a part of the National MS Society’s Leadership Class.

Clemon’s various recognitions include: Birmingham Business Journal’s Minority Business Rising Star Award, Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, Birmingham News’ Rising Leader, Birmingham Business Journal’s Top Birmingham Women and Girls’ Inc. She Knows Where She’s Going award.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Yale University and her law degree from Columbia Law School.

Community service plays a huge role into Clemon’s life as she has a deep passion for helping others. She states, “At any given time I realize I could find myself in need of a helping hand and I pray that if and when I need a hand, one will be there for me.”

As a woman who has dealt with feelings of inadequacy, Clemons hopes that girls today will take her story and advice when it comes to the importance of truly loving yourself. Clemon shares freely her advice, “It’s not where you start, but where you finish. You should not allow the low points in your life to define you, but use them to make you stronger and wiser in the end.”

Clemon will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. To purchase tickets, visit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet Susan Brouillette - Woman of Distinction 2011

As CEO of Alacare Home Health & Hospice, Susan B. Brouillette is responsible for home health and hospice services in almost every county in Alabama.

Along with her dedication to Alacare and throughout various leadership roles, Brouillette has been honored as one of the Birmingham Business Journal's Top 40 Under 40, received also received the 2010 Stevie Award for the Best Female Executive in a Service Industry Company of up to 2,500 employees and has paved the way for other women as she was once named one of the Top Birmingham Women by the Birmingham Business Journal. Brouillette was nominated for the Birmingham Business Journal Rising Star Award.

Brouillette spearheaded the fundraising effort for the UAB Center for Palliative Car and is an active member and the current president of the Shades Valley Rotary Club where she received the Vocational Achievement Award.

Brouillette earned her bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College and both a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

She is on the Board of the American Cancer Society and was co-chair of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Alabama. Brouillette participates in the American Diabetes Association’s Walk, is a member of the Board of Directors for the Better Business Bureau of Central Alabama and the United Way of Central Alabama. She was named to the Dean’s Advisory Board for the UAB School of Health Professions and serves on the Board of the Hospice & Home Health Fund of Alabama.

Brouillette has also raised two beautiful and successful daughters. She will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. To purchase tickets, visit

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 East Alabama Women of Distinction To Be Recognized

The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama will recognize six outstanding women at their annual Women of Distinction Luncheon, Thursday, March 24, 2011, from 11:30-1:00 pm at Jacksonville State University Leone Cole Auditorium. This Luncheon recognizes women from Etowah, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Randolph, St. Clair and Talladega counties.

The Women of Distinction program pays tribute to women who have made special contributions to their community through civic, academic or professional involvement.

This year’s Women of Distinction Honorees are:
  • Brenda Yancey Emery of Gadsden, Assistant Vice President, Regions Bank (Retired)
  • Kendall Lowe Hamilton of Gadsden, Vice President/General Manager, Devan Lowe Inc.
  • Marie Manning of Wattsville, Member, St. Clair County Board of Education
  • Jane Leatherbury Newman of Gadsden, Civic Leader
  • Sandra Stephens of Sylacauga, Former CEO, SouthFirst Bank

In addition, Dr. Sally Smith of Talladega, Veterinarian, Sleeping Giant Veterinary Clinic, will receive the 2011 Frances E. Couch Lifetime Achievement Award at the Luncheon.

Dr. Valerie Richardson, Vice President of Gadsden State Community College, is the event chair. Committee members include Josephine Ayers, Millie Chastain, Donna Dase, Emily Hawk-Raley, Teresa Holderfield, Mickie Kerr, Christie King-Ray, Kaci Ogle, Misty Skinner, Sally Smith, Ashley Tucker, Barbara Walters and Brenda Wyatt.

Proceeds from the East Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon provide direct support to Girl Scouts in North-Central Alabama, which serves more than 15,000 girls in 36 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is the presenting sponsor. Other primary benefactors for the Luncheon include: Alabama Power, Anniston Regional Medical Center, BR Williams Trucking, Inc., James S. Nolen, Southern States Bank, Sunny King Automotive and Webb Concrete & Building Materials.

For more information on sponsorships, please contact Julie Carter at 800-734-4541 x1030 or visit Tickets to the Luncheon cost $50 for general admission and $35 for Girl Scout members.

Meet Michelle Ballew - Woman of Distinction 2011

Michelle Ballew is a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia and works as a structural engineer and IT manager with Christy Cobb, a consulting firm. She has been active with the Birmingham section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for over 20 years, holding a variety of leadership roles including serving as president. She has partnered with Girl Scouts on many occasions to make STEM programs available for girls and is also active with the Engineering Council of Birmingham (ECOB), where she wears a number of hats including serving as the scholarship chair, secretary and treasurer.

Ballew has also been active in the Alabama Society of Professional Engineers (ASPE) and was awarded with the Distinguished Service Award. She has held many roles for ASPE, including president of the Birmingham chapter and state board of directors. Ballew gives her tables to the Alabama State Conference, Pilot Project for Engineers and to local and state Math Counts competitions.

She has developed a strong relationship with the Girl Scouts in the Birmingham area as she has organized engineering workshops and hands-on activities for the girls. “I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that to be a good leader one must have learned what it takes to follow,” says Ballew.

Ballew cites her proudest accomplishment as raising three beautiful, successful daughters who will continue to carry on a sense of service to others through their talents and our experience being Girl Scouts together as a family.

Ballew will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. You can purchase tickets online at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meet Linda Lewis - Woman of Distinction 2011

As president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, Linda Lewis has made many contributions to the area’s economic development. She initiated the development of a new five-year strategy for the chamber called Focus Walker County. As a result of the strategy, a successful campaign raised $1.2 million to implement a plan focused on four initiatives for all of Walker County, which include Workforce Development and Education, Tourism and Image, Retail and Commercial Attraction and Legislative and Public Policy. She was selected as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and is also on the board of directors for the Business Council of Alabama.

Lewis also helped design Youth Leadership Walker County which prepares high school juniors for future leadership roles and to obtain a deeper understanding of the community and its resources. She assisted with the development of Groundhog Job Shadow day introducing all high school freshman throughout Walker County to the world of work through a job shadowing experience with local businesses.

Lewis is a graduate of Walker College and University of Alabama Birmingham where she majored in Secondary Education. She attended the Community Development Institute, Jacksonville State University. Lewis is also a graduate of Leadership Alabama and Leadership Walker County.

Of her many impacts in the community, Lewis has been recognized by Chamber of Commerce of Alabama, and has received the Rotary Foundation International Paul Harris Fellow Award. She has served on the Advisory Board for the Carl Elliott House Museum, the Bankhead House & Heritage Center Advisory Board and the Junior Ambassadors of the Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board. Lewis is the past chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and has also been named the Daily Mountain Eagle Newsmaker of the Year and Walker County Citizen of the Year. Lewis was Walker County Chairman for the 2009 United Way of Central Alabama campaign. She also accepted the role as Chairman for the American Red Cross, Walker County Chapter and Heroes Campaign all in which exceeded the goals to be met with the projects.

Lewis has been religious education teacher for 35 years at St. Cecilia Catholic Church. Lewis says of her Girl Scout experience, “Girl Scouts enabled me to achieve many accomplishments, past and present, from the early guidance and commitment of great leaders. Girl Scouts was a way of learning about myself and other people, and focusing on working together to attain results. I earned 54 badges, and to this day still have my sash. The Promise and Law continue to provide a positive role for leadership development today and into the future."

Lewis will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. You can purchase tickets online at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meet Brenda Hackney - Woman of Distinction 2011

Brenda Hackney lives the Girl Scouts mission every day by making her community a better place as she builds up the community in the business and civic arenas. As president of The Hackney Foundation, she manages investments and distribution of the funds for the family’s charitable foundation which benefits many organizations. She was responsible for the YWCA Capital Campaign that raised 14.5 million dollars.

Hackney supports several organizations in the community. She serves on the Board of Directors of the YWCA, Alabama Institute for Deaf & Blind Foundation (AIDB), Lakeshore Foundation and St. Vincent’s Foundation. She is a member of the Board of Overseers of Samford University as well as its Business School Advisory Board and is a committee chair for the Rotary Club of Birmingham. Brenda co-chaired the YWCA Purse & Passion Luncheon is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham. She also served on the United Way Planned Giving Committee and was part of MOMENTUM.

Hackney was awarded with the Humanitarian Award from The Arthritis Foundation and received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Southern Women’s Committee. She was the first and only female chair of the Lakeshore Foundation and AIDB. Over my years of volunteer service in this wonderful community, I have worked with many great organizations.

“I am very proud of the fact that I was elected chair of two foundations, and even prouder that I was the first woman to serve in this capacity,” says Hackney. “Girl Scouting prepares girls and young women for leadership positions such as these.”

Hackney received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Samford University, and is also a Certified Life Underwriter and holds the ChFC designation. Hackney’s involvement throughout the community helps display her generosity of spirit and her passion for making Birmingham a better place to live.

Hackney will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. You can purchase tickets online at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gold Award Project Comforts Children

Jessi of Troop 423 wanted to help kids that are involved in traumatic situations with her Bears for Babes Gold Award project. She worked with the Hoover Police Department by collecting and donating bears to be given to children to comfort them. Jessi learned how to properly disinfect the teddy bears so they were safe for children. Jessi also designed her own Junior Badge so that troops could continue collecting bears and impacting the lives of local children. Jessi is a sophomore at Oak Mountain High School and is the daughter of Jack and Cathy of Birmingham.

The Gold Award is highest level of Girl Scout achievement. This award recognizes the Senior & Ambassador Girl Scout’s commitment to herself, her community, and her future. The girl who goes for the Gold embraces challenges, achieves excellence, and works diligently to make the world a better place, in her own unique way. Her leadership, vision, and boundless energy is an inspiration to all Girl Scouts. Each girl earning her Gold Award demonstrates excellence through a leadership project totaling more than 65 hours. Girls who earn their Gold Award are also recognized by the President of the United States, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Armed Services, state legislatures, colleges and universities for admission and scholarship opportunities, and the American Legion.

Meet Alie B. Gorrie - Woman of Distiction 2011

Alie B. Gorrie is GSNCA's youngest-ever Woman of Distinction. At 18-years old, she's already made a huge impact on her community.

Gorrie is the visionary force behind Songs for Sight, a concert she initiated and developed, benefiting the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation and supporting research efforts for the Optic Nerve Imaging Center. Her mission is to create a unique musical event that entertains, educates and inspires others while providing financial support for low vision research and clinical care. More than 600 members of the Birmingham community turned out in support of this special cause, raising more than $420,000 for the effort. Since its inception, the Songs for Sight concert has become an exciting biennial fundraising event. As an ongoing project, Songs for Sight continues to have a vast impact on the low vision community in Alabama with the potential to generate the most money ever raised in Alabama for this purpose.

Gorrie has dedicated many hours to other volunteer efforts in addition to Songs for Sight. She has trained with her dog to be a Hand-in-Paw therapy team. She has been the featured vocalist for Hand-in-Paw’s gala, the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club dinner honoring Condoleezza Rice and the United Way of Central Alabama campaign. She also volunteers at the Birmingham Crisis Center and The Hope Lodge and serves as worship leader at Cathedral Church of the Advent.

Throughout her high school career, Gorrie has maintained a fabulous academic record and has held several leadership and service positions. She serves as secretary of the Mountain Brook High School (MBHS) Student Government Association and has also served as an SGA Representative. She is a member of the Key Club, Habitat for Humanity Advisory Board, is a MBHS Ambassador, president of the Red Cross Club, vice president of the Stand Up Club, a member of the Chamber Choir and a past member of the Concert Choir. She also served as editor of the literary magazine and was named Miss Olympian.

Gorrie has been active in musical theatre since the age of nine. She trained in New York at Stagedoor Manor, receiving the Best Supporting Actress award and at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, receiving the Most Outstanding Musical Performance Award. Gorrie is a member of the Red Mountain Theatre Company Performing Ensemble and she has performed in more than 20 musicals and dramas on a high school, community and regional level.

Gorrie has been recognized for her achievements locally and nationally. She is the recipient of the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award, where she was the Alabama high school winner and national winner; Daily Points of Light Award; Top 10 Teen Leaders in the U.S.; Project Love-Purple Heart America distinction; Top 25 Build a Bear Huggable Heroes National Service Award; EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Visionary Award; and Kohl’s Kids Who Care Regional Service Award. She was a Top 12 Finalist and Overall Talent Winner in the Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen Pageant and was First Alternate and Self Expression Winner in the Jefferson County Junior Miss Pageant.

Gorrie encourages others to believe in the power of their own dreams as she explains, “I am a firm believer in the power of dreams. Everyone has the ability to dream and to put their dreams into action, no matter how big or small. All it takes is one small spark of inspiration.”

Gorrie will be honored at the Central Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon on March 4. You can purchase tickets online at