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Advisory Council


Roles & Responsibilities

The Elevate Advisory Council was created to engage the community, develop ideas, make recommendations, and act as ambassadors for Elevate Tuscaloosa. Advisory Council members were selected based on their knowledge, expertise, and community experience.


The Advisory Council is divided into three subcommittees: Connectivity, Cultural Arts & Tourism, and Parks & Recreation. In addition, the Financial Analysis Subcommittee exists to provide accountability for the process.

Advisory Council Members


Karen Brooks


Karen Brooks is the Vice President and Treasurer of Phifer Inc., and Co-Chair of the company’s Board of Directors. A Tuscaloosa native, she has a long history of involvement in educational and social service organizations. She is a past board member of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the Mental Health Association, Friends of Bryce, the Good Samaritan Clinic, the United Way of West Alabama, and Tuscaloosa Academy. She is a past chair of the Mother’s March of Dimes for Tuscaloosa County. Karen is a 1972 graduate of The University of Alabama, where she earned her degree in Social Work.


Chris England


Chris England is a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from the 70th District, holding his seat since 2006. England also serves as Associate City Attorney in the City of Tuscaloosa, handling Claims, Franchise Agreements, and Tax Issues. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Howard University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and has served on the Board of Directors of the Police Athletic League and PRIDE.

Connectivity Subcommittee


Tamika Alexander

Connectivity Subcommittee

Tamika Alexander grew up in Tuscaloosa and graduated from Central High School. She earned a degree in Communications from the University of Alabama. Currently, Alexander is a WVUA 23 news anchor. Tamika was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 Business Professional by The Tuscaloosa News in 2018. She is an active member of several organizations including Alabama One Credit Union Board of Directors, Junior League of Tuscaloosa, and the Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Alliance. Tamika has one son named Jayden.


Bryan Helms

Connectivity Subcommittee

In addition to his role as Acting President at Shelton State Community College, Bryan Helms is Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Financial Services with the Alabama Community College System. Prior to joining Shelton State, Mr. Helms served as Interim President of Calhoun Community College and Acting President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College. With nineteen years of experience in higher education, Mr. Helms also spent twenty-three years working in private industry. He has been a Certified Public Accountant for thirty-one years. He earned his Associate of Science Degree from Enterprise State, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Troy University, and received his MBA in Information Systems from Auburn University. 


William Blakeney

Connectivity Subcommittee

William graduated from The University of Alabama in 2008 with a degree in General Studies. Following in his father’s footsteps, he started a construction company, William Blakeney Building Company, Inc., which focuses on new and existing residential work. William began selling real estate in 2009 and is a member of The Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa, The Home Builders Association of Alabama and The National Association of Homebuilders.


Michele Coley

Connectivity Subcommittee

Michele Coley is an Allstate agent in Alabama. She holds a business administration degree from Stillman College, where she graduated cum laude in 2005. Michele served for four years as the chair of the Diversity Business Council, and currently serves as an advisor to the new chair. In addition to her extensive business career and volunteer service, one of her passions is mentoring and developing young people.


Russell Lawrence

Connectivity Subcommittee

Russell Lawrence, a graduate in accounting from the University of Alabama, is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Parking and Transit Authority. He served as the business manager for the Tuscaloosa Water Department for 13 years until 2012. Russell is married and has three kids.


Wilson Moore

Connectivity Subcommittee

Wilson Moore is a third-generation resident of Tuscaloosa. He earned his B.S. from Washington & Lee University and graduated from The University of Alabama School of Law. Wilson is a member of many organizations, including: the Alabama State Bar Association, the National Association of REALTORS®, the Alabama Association of REALTORS® and the Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS® board of directors. He served as the president of the Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS® in 2007.


Russell Mumper

Connectivity Subcommittee

Russell Mumper is a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at The University of Alabama. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama and his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Kentucky. Russell is the inventor of 60 patents or patent families, many of which have been licensed to companies. He has led or founded four different interdisciplinary research, academic and educational centers/institutes on two campuses, and has founded five start-up companies.


Linda Parsons

Connectivity Subcommittee

Linda Parsons is a Joe Lane Endowed Professor at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accounting. She serves on the Board of the Forest Lake Neighborhood Association as secretary, is a board member for Tuscaloosa Neighbors Together and is also a council member for the American Accounting Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and her Ph.D. from the University of Houston.


David Pass

Connectivity Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Originally from Nashville, TN, David Pass moved to Tuscaloosa in 2012 in his role as partner and investor in The Sealy Companies. Additionally, he is the Manager of Pass Family, LLC, and Miers Pass Philanthropies. Dave graduated from Oglethorpe University with BA degrees in Philosophy and Politics.  He also holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Harvard Business School. In addition to the Elevate Tuscaloosa Steering Committee, Dave has served in a variety of volunteer board posts, including the Tuscaloosa National Airport Advisory Committee as Chairman, the Tuscaloosa County IDA, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, The Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa as President, Tuscaloosa’s One Place as Campaign Chair, Kentuck as Past President, The Community Foundation for West Alabama and The Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Nicole Prewitt

Connectivity Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Nicole Prewitt serves as the Director of Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama. Her primary responsibilities include Saving Lives, a faith-based wellness program; The Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education, a partnership that includes Stillman College, Shelton State, and UA; the Neighborhood Partnership Committee, which works with neighborhoods to improve relationships among students, law enforcement, and property managers; and HomeFirst, a financial wellness initiative that serves individuals and families on their path toward first-time home ownership.

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee


Joseph Brown

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Joseph Brown is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the current area manager of the Western Division of Alabama Power and has been with the company for 32 years. In his role, Joseph oversees a marketing team and serves 15 counties. His main responsibility is economic development.


Heather Dill

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Heather Dill graduated from The University of Alabama’s College of Human Environmental Sciences in 2005. Her degree is focused in the Hospitality Management program. Heather is currently enrolled in the online master’s program in Restaurant and Hospitality Management through Bama By Distance to expand her career opportunities.


Rick Freemon

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Rick Freemon is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa Public Library. He has been with the library since 1998. He implemented the library’s Brown Branch at the Bobby Miller Activity Center and coordinated the library’s 1999 renovation project. Rick has a bachelor’s degree in studio arts from the University of North Alabama and a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Alabama. Rick and his wife, Darlene, have been married for 11 years and live in Tuscaloosa.


Tyshawn Gardner

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Tyshawn Gardner is the CEO and founder of Citizens Impacting Community Association. He has a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. He has three years of human resource experience, along with 18 years of ministry experience and 12 years of Pastoral experience.


Jim Page

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Jim Page has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama since January 1, 2012. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Business Council of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. He is Chairman of the University Communities Council for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, an appointed member of the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission and Chairman of the Alliance for Alabama's Infrastructure. Jim serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Partnership for Children and is a member of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force.


Sarah Patterson

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Sarah Patterson is the coach for the University of Alabama women’s gymnastics team and has been for the past 32 years. She has led them to four NCAA Championships and 23 NCAA Regional Championships. She and her husband, David have two daughters - Jessie and Jordan. Sarah started the Power of Pink breast cancer initiative and frequently fund raises for the DCH Breast Cancer Fund.


Gene Poole

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Gene Poole founded Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers in 1985 after serving in the U.S Army and eventually retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He served as president of the Downtown Merchants Association from 1987 to 1995, was a member of the original City Commission, and served on the Downtown Tuscaloosa Authority, the River Front Committee, the Our Great Lake Committee and the Tuscaloosa Convention Bureau. He has served as president of the Tuscaloosa Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chairman of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, President of the Alabama Jewelers Association, and President of the Exchange Club of Tuscaloosa. Poole also helped found Tuscaloosa’s CityFest.


Don Staley

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Don Staley was named President and CEO of the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission on June 23, 2017. He started the University of Alabama’s soccer program in 1994 and was the first coach of the team. He served on the 1996 Birmingham Olympic Committee and has a wide range of experience supervising athletic events and championships, including the SEC and the NCAA, acting as overseer of budgets, facilities and personnel administration. Don also played a significant role in the 2007 formation of the Tuscaloosa Sports Foundation.


Jimmy Warren

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Jimmy Warren graduated from Tuscaloosa High School and then earned his bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Alabama. He went on to earn his master’s degree in Bible and Missions from Abilene Christian University. He is the founder and president of TotalCom Marketing located in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville.


Sandra Wolfe

Cultural Arts & Tourism Subcommittee

Sandra Wolfe is the Executive Director of the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa. Sandra is an associate dean in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Tom have been residents of Tuscaloosa for 16 years, and have one son named Zachary. Sandra has 12 years of nonprofit experience with programs such as Bama Fanfare and SPECTRA, which provides arts experiences for students in the Bama Theatre and area schools.

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee


Lesley Bruinton

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Lesley Bruinton is the Public Relations Coordinator for the Tuscaloosa City Schools System. She has been with the city schools system for 12 years and is the president-elect for the National School Public Relations Association. Lesley received her bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and film from the University of Alabama and her master’s degree in strategic communication from Troy University. She has been accredited in public relations since 2013.


Blake Corder

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Blake Corder graduated from the University of Alabama in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He works in the real estate business, primarily in residential construction and investment. Blake is a partner at The Builders Group, LLC and currently serves on the boards of the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, the Home Builders Association of Alabama, Habitat for Humanity – Tuscaloosa, the Druid City Business League and the Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa. He and his wife Angel have three sons: John Thomas, Jackson and Mills.


Terrance Dedrick

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Terrance Dedrick, a Tuscaloosa native, is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor for Dedrick Wealth Management Group. After a successful collegiate baseball career at Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, Terrance began his career in wealth management. He is currently an ambassador advisor for the local Chamber of Commerce, the membership and retention chairman of the Young Professionals of Tuscaloosa, and president of West Alabama Auburn Club. Terrance also is a member of the board of trustees of Youth for Christ, involved with the Young Leaders’ Society for United Way, and is a second vice president of Anderson’s League of Leaders.


Amy Echols

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Amy Echols is the Executive Director of the Kentuck Art Center. She is a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Auburn University. She has over 30 years of experience in design and marketing. Amy has served on the board of directors for several organizations including: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West Alabama, the Tuscaloosa Advertising Federation, the Kentuck Art Association and the Friends of Public Radio board for WUAL. She serves on the Christian Education Committee, the Tuscaloosa Bicentennial Committee and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Board of Directors.


David Gay, Jr.

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Rev. David E. Gay Jr. is the pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1982 with a master’s degree in social work. Currently, he is the executive director at Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West Alabama. David is a retired CEO of Bryce Hospital and is retired from the Alabama National. He has taught at Shelton State Community College, Stillman College Management Institute, and he is currently Adjunct Faculty at the University of Alabama. Gay has been married to his wife, Flora, for 34 years and they have two grown children and one grandson.


Shelley Jones

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Shelley Jones is a former Tuscaloosa City Schools teacher and principal who retired in 1995.  She worked for the school system for more than 30 years and served eight years on the city school board. Shelley is now an instructor in the University of Alabama Honors College and serves on the boards of the DCH Foundation and the Community Foundation for West Alabama. She has been inducted to the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame.


Gary Minor

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Gary Minor is the director of the Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in business management, marketing and related support services. He has worked with PARA for 15 years. Before that, he worked with the University of Alabama’s recreation department for 12 years.


Tim Parker III

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Tim Parker III is the president of Parker Towing Co., and serves as a member of the board of directors for the marine transportation company based in Tuscaloosa. Tim, a 2007 graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa and the Alabama Leadership Initiative, is involved in a number of industry organizations, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Association and Waterways Council. He serves on the board of directors for the Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association, the Alabama State Port Authority and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. He and his wife, Megan, live in Tuscaloosa and have two sons, Mize and Rhett.


Tripp Powell

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee

Tripp Powell is the former owner and operator of Powell Petroleum.  He graduated from Central High in Tuscaloosa in 1998, and then earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Alabama. Tripp and his wife, Lesley have two daughters – Leigh and Libby.


Steven Rumsey

Parks & Recreation Subcommittee, Financial Analysis Subcommittee

Steve Rumsey is a local businessman who has started five successful businesses since 1986. Steve has held roles with many organizations in the community, including: Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Tuscaloosa County IDA, Tuscaloosa Forward Plan Policy Team, Tuscaloosa Sidewalk/Parking Policy Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, District 3 Master Plan Committee, University Neighborhood Area Plan, and the Riverfront Development Master plan. He and his wife, Frances, have two children – Sydney and Sumner.