Board of Directors

The Board of Directors meets quarterly and comprises 19 members elected by the board and six members appointed by the Governor of Alabama. 2021 Board meetings: January 29, April 30, July 30, October 29. Meetings are open to the public and are being held virtually amid current health precautions. For details, please visit our events calendar or contact aha@alabamahumanities.org.

*Governor’s Appointee

Dr. Joseph Aistrup, Auburn, Chair

Joe was appointed Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Auburn University in 2013. He came to Auburn from Kansas State University, where he was associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State in 1982, a master’s from Virginia Tech in 1984, and Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1989. Joe has administrative responsibility for three associate deans, 13 department chairs, more than 4,800 undergraduate and graduate students, 500 faculty members and a budget of more than $68 million. He is the author of Southern Strategy Revisited: Republican Top-Down Advancement in the South (1996, University of Kentucky Press) and Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Political Cultures (2010, University of Nebraska Press) and more than 40 peer-reviewed and professional publications.

Darren L. Hicks, Birmingham, Vice Chair

Darren has more than 25 years of human resources management experience with Vulcan Materials Company, the leading aggregate producer in the U.S. He currently is the Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Management. He joined Vulcan Materials in 1994, and he has held a variety of positions. Prior to returning to Birmingham in 2011, Darren served as Director of Human Resources for the Southwest Division, based in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier roles at Vulcan include: Manager of Human Resources/Safety and Health in the SGC Division and Human Resources Specialist at corporate headquarters in Birmingham. Darren earned his bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Alabama. He lives with his wife Teresa and two daughters in Birmingham. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, golf and spending time with his family.

Dr. John F. Kvach, Brownsboro, Treasurer

John is Executive Director of Singing River Trail, a planned 70-mile regional greenway that will connect North Alabama. He previously served as Vice President of the Liberty Learning Foundation. Kvach has written numerous articles, conference papers and book chapters on the antebellum and postbellum South. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. Kvach serves on several regional and statewide boards, including Alabama Bicentennial Commission. 

Sally Greenhaw, Birmingham, Secretary

Sally is a retired Circuit Judge who served on the bench in Montgomery County for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Over the years, Sally has been an active community volunteer and was in Leadership Alabama Class IV and Leadership Montgomery Class V. She has also been involved with the Alabama Council on Substance Abuse, the Family Guidance Center and the Department of Human Resources Board.

Julian D. Butler, Huntsville, Executive Committee At-Large

Julian is a senior partner at Sirote & Permutt and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Alabama Super Lawyers in commercial litigation. The former chair of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County and a graduate of Leadership Alabama, Julian served as president of the Arts Council, was vice president of the General Joe Wheeler Home Foundation, president of Huntsville/Madison County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association and was twice chair of the Creek District of Boy Scouts of America. He is a trustee of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, a fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation, trustee of the Eleventh Circuit Historical Society, advisory board member of Village of Promise and trustee of Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform.

Dr. Kern M. Jackson, Mobile, Executive Committee At-Large

Kern is a folklorist with an extensive academic career in ethnography, oral history, material culture and literary folkloristics. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, in English Literature and African American Studies, and taught in the District of Columbia Public School System. He subsequently received a master’s from University of Wisconsin-Madison in African American Studies and is the former curator of minority history for The Museum of Mobile, and project coordinator for the City of Mobile’s Tri-centennial Celebration, Video Oral History Project. He holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University-Bloomington and is currently the director of the African American Studies program at the University of South Alabama.

Trey Granger*, Pike Road, Immediate Past Chair

A longtime advocate for AHA, Trey was instrumental in creating the Alliance’s annual event, the Alabama Colloquium. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and serves as the Deputy Clerk of Court for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Previously, he was General Counsel to the Alabama Secretary of State and led a bipartisan initiative implementing the Help America Vote Act in Alabama. Trey earned a B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College and has a lifelong passion for historic preservation, civic engagement and the humanities. He served on the Alabama Historical Commission, and on the boards of the Central Alabama Red Cross, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Leadership Montgomery. Trey and his wife Lilla reside in Montgomery and are active members of the First United Methodist Church.

Bob Barnett, Pell City

Bob founded the structural engineering firm now known as Barnett Jones Wilson, LLC. He is an adjunct professor in the University of Alabama School of Civil Engineering. He serves as chairman of the Pell City Industrial Development Board, is past chairman of St. Vincent’s Health System Board of Directors and is a member of Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts board of directors. At his alma mater, the University of Alabama, Bob has been honored as Keith-Woodman Fellow, Distinguished Fellow, School of Civil Engineering, Distinguished Fellow of College of Engineering and College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni

Dr. Michael Burger, Montgomery

Michael is Professor of History at Auburn University at Montgomery. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.A. from Michigan State University. Michael is a member of the Medieval Academy of America and the Canterbury and York Society, among other organizations. The author of several books, he served as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Auburn University at Montgomery.​

Janice Hawkins*, Troy

Janice is a gubernatorial appointee to the AHA Board, with her latest reappointment in 2003. She serves as First Lady of Troy University. She received an M.A. in special education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is a specialist in services for the blind and has served as a consultant with the Alabama Department of Education. Her civic involvement includes serving on boards of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Alabama Transliterates for the Deaf, the Pike County Child Advocacy Center, the Alabama Historical Commission—of which she is a past chair—and the Board of Governors for the Rosa Parks Museum.

Dr. Elliot A. Knight*, Montgomery

Elliot is the Executive Director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. An Opelika native, he earned three degrees from the University of Alabama, including a bachelor of arts in visual communication from New College, a master of arts in American studies and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies. Elliot is a Blackburn Fellow and member of the Montgomery Rotary Club. He serves as a board member for the Alabama Tourism Department Advisory Board, the University of Alabama Community Affairs Board of Advisors and the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts. He serves as the Treasurer for South Arts and previously served as a member of the Montgomery Public Art Commission and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art Junior Executive Board.

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews, Camden

A native of Camden, Sheryl and her family have a legacy of fighting for civil rights and social justice. She was educated at Camden Academy and Knoxville College in Tennessee, graduating with a BA degree in Sociology. Sheryl worked for the Wilcox County Department of Human Resources for 29 years. After her retirement, she served as Director of the Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce. Her life’s work has been spent in her hometown in Alabama’s Black Belt. Sheryl feels that her greatest accomplishment was the co-founding of BAMA Kids, Inc., a community-based non-profit youth development organization that has served thousands of youths and their families for more than 28 years. She is Executive Director of BAMA Kids and a member of numerous organizations and boards. She considers herself an advocate for children, the community and human rights.

Robert McGhee, Atmore

As an enrolled member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Robert has been involved in and an advocate for Native American issues at all levels of government. In his fifth term on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council, he holds the position of Vice Chairman. In this capacity, he represents his people “government-to-government” at the local, state and federal levels on a range of vital issues. Robert worked in Washington, D.C. for five years at the Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Senate and Troutman Sanders LLP-Indian Law Practice Group. Robert holds undergraduate degrees from University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama, a MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and an executive master’s in business administration from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Ed Mizzell, Birmingham

After earning a B.S. in marketing from Auburn University and an MBA from Samford University, Ed embarked on a career with the pharmaceutical maker Novartis, which led to successful stints in South Africa and Venezuela launching new products. Ed returned to the United States in 1981 and joined the Birmingham-based marketing solutions firm Luckie & Company, where he is a member of the Board of Directors. Having served many roles at Luckie, Ed now helps guide agency operations and maintains Luckie’s longtime reputation for fiscal responsibility and strategic growth. His civic and community involvement includes United Way Campaign 2011, Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club, Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Canterbury United Methodist Church and the Monday Morning Quarterback Club.

Dr. Mark D. Nelson, Tuscaloosa

Mark joined the University of Alabama in 1991 and currently serves as Dean of the College of Communication & Information Sciences. He also provides consulting services for organizations and government agencies throughout the Southeast. His research interests include leadership, interpersonal communication and diversity. He is co-author of the book Applied Organizational Communication and has authored numerous publications for presentation at national and regional conferences. Mark’s professional awards include the University of Alabama Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, the Lambda Pi Eta National Advisor of the Year Award and the Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha Outstanding Alumnus Award. Most recently, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in recognition of excellence of character and service to humanity.

David A. Raines, Fort Payne

David is a retired Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, having served for 32 years. A graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law, he was selected by the Alabama Circuit Judges’ Association to serve on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member court established by the Alabama Constitution to hear and decide charges of judicial misconduct. David has served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Alabama Archives and the Fort Payne Depot Museum. The Dekalb County Chamber of Commerce recognized him for his professional and civic contributions by honoring him with the 2017 V.I. Prewett Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brett Shaffer, Birmingham

Brett joined Regions Bank in 2005 and since 2018 serves as Head of Community Relations. His team is the liaison between Regions Market Executives and nonprofits community partners. Brett loves his job because it offers him the opportunity to bring people together, encourage inclusive growth in our communities and make a difference in people’s lives. Brett started his career at Regions in the Consumer Bank, working every position in the branches before stepping into management in 2010. Brett achieved recognition for sales performance, associate engagement and community involvement. Brett serves as Co-Chair of Operation Hope Southeastern Board of Directors and on the board of Positive Maturity, Inc. Brett also serves in an advisory capacity to the Sidewalk Film Festival and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s LGBTQ Fund.

R.B. Walker*, Birmingham

A Montgomery native, R.B. is a 2016 gubernatorial appointee, who in his professional life serves as Director of Legislative Affairs for Alabama Power Company. Walker formerly served as Director of Government Relations at the University of Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in political science and studied politics at Oxford University in England. He served as Deputy Director of the Tornado Recovery Action Council. During his senior year of college, R.B. served as the 93rd president of the UA Student Government Association.

Andy Weil, Montgomery

Andy received a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston in 1979 and earned an MBA from the University of Alabama in 1987. He enjoyed a 31-year career in international cotton merchandising with his family’s company, Weil Brothers – Cotton, Inc. From 1995 through 2009, Andy was the company’s president and COO. He served on the board of directors of the American Cotton Shippers Association, a cotton merchant trade association, from 2005 to 2009 and served as its president 2007-08. Andy currently serves on the boards of directors of River Bank & Trust, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries. He is also president of Temple Beth-Or in Montgomery.

AHA is Accepting Board Nominations

Any resident of the state of Alabama may submit nominations for Alabama Humanities Alliance’s Board of Directors.

If you are interested in joining AHA’s Board of Directors, email your résumé and contact information to the Nominations Committee at aha@alabamahumanities.org.

To nominate someone you know, email a letter of recommendation and resume to the Nominations Committee at aha@alabamahumanities.org.

Or mail to: Nomination Committee
c/o Alabama Humanities Alliance
1100 Ireland Way, Suite 202
Birmingham, AL 35205