2018 SMART HONOREES
To make a donation or buy tickets in honor of an individual honoree, click their name below:
Dr. Tarika Bhuta
Dr. Erika B. Hartman
Joyce T. Spielberger
MEET THE HONOREES
ABC 33/40 • Host & Co-Producer, Talk of Alabama
Nicole is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and co-producer and host of Talk of Alabama. Her series "Gay In The Deep South" took home the AP's Best Reporter Award.
After graduating Cum Laude from Kent State University, Nicole interned at CNN in Washington, DC and started her career as a weather anchor for ABC in Joplin, MO. She then moved to NBC where she was an investigative reporter in Rock Hill, SC, and Charlotte, NC. After covering multiple murders involving youth offenders, Nicole successfully lobbied the FDA to print suicidal and homicidal warnings on the back of anti-depressants prescribed to juveniles.
He career shifted direction when she joined the FOX News team in Atlanta, GA. There she broke multiple national and international stories, including a planned terrorist attack in Washington, DC by a Georgia Tech student and the most egregious police corruption case in Atlanta’s history involving the killing of Kathryn Johnston.
In 2008, Nicole moved to Birmingham. The same year, she started with ABC and launched Talk of Alabama, a morning entertainment show, that she has anchored ever since. During that time, she and her husband have welcomed 3 children.
Nicole also runs her own media consulting business, All Media Consulting Pro, helping small businesses to Fortune 500 companies develop strategic communication plans, as well as media crisis training.
She is also working on a children’s book and hopes to publish it in 2019.
In her spare time, Nicole is a motivational speaker, sharing her story of resilience after a drunk driver almost took her life in 1981 when she was 4 years of age.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Nicole's honor, click here.
Dr. Tarika Bhuta
McCool & Bhuta Ear Nose and Throat Specialists • Co-Owner and Partner
Tarika is a physician and busy mom of three children ages 13, 12, and 11. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and earning a varsity letter for playing women's collegiate tennis, she earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham with Alpha Omega Alpha Honors. She completed her residency training in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery at West Virginia University and won many research awards.
Since 2003, Tarika has practiced medical and surgical ENT as well as allergy in Birmingham. She is the only female ENT in the Birmingham area practicing pediatric ENT and only the second female ENT to practice in the Birmingham area. She and her husband, Brian McCool, co-own McCool & Bhuta ENT Specialists and Sonology Hearing Aid Clinic, the only physician directed hearing aid clinic in Birmingham. She has served the role of expert witness in several medical malpractice cases.
In her free time, she enjoys supporting the community and has served on the Junior Board for the Alys Stephens Center, the Greater Jefferson County Food Policy Council and continues to support the Birmingham Museum of Art through the Indian Cultural Society. More recently, she has spent the last two years developing Second Servings, a Junior League sponsored food rescue initiative to reduce waste of prepared, perishable foods. The program coordinates volunteers to pick up excess food from area restaurants and catered events and deliver to area shelters. The program rescued 2000 lbs of food in its first year. Tarika is now a sustaining member of the Junior League of Birmingham.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Tarika's honor, click here.
Birmingham Board of Education • Board Member (District 3)
Mary is a lifelong resident of the City of Birmingham and has been involved in education initiatives for many years. Early in her career she taught in a Montessori school, resettled refugee children, and led tours of school groups at Ruffner Mountain.
As President of the Alabama Power and Bellsouth Foundations, she was involved in many education and civic initiatives that include establishing Voices for Alabama’s Children/Kids Count, the Rural Studio at Auburn University, and launching two downtown daycare centers, including the YWCA Daycare for Homeless Children.
She has worked closely with many Alabama governors, state superintendents and the last nine Birmingham City School superintendents to strengthen education across the city and state. While leading the A+ College Ready Initiative over the last decade, Mary realized that substantive change is most effective when focused on teachers in the classroom. From 2008 to 2016, her partnerships with 171 High School Principals, over 1,000 teachers and countless students helped Alabama to achieve a number one ranking among all 50 states in the percent increase of qualifying scores on math, science and English Advanced Placement exams.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Mary's honor, click here.
Alexia B. Borden
Alabama Power • Senior Vice President & General Counsel
Alexia was elected as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Alabama Power Company in November 2017. She is both the youngest person and first woman ever to hold the position. Alexia provides legal counsel to the Alabama Power management team and oversees ethics and compliance, concerns, legal services, and the corporate secretary’s office.
Prior to this role, Borden was Vice President of Governmental Affairs. In that position, she was responsible for all aspects of the company's governmental affairs at the state level and served as the company’s point person for interactions with elected officials, cabinet members and agency representatives. Additionally, she provided policy direction, coordinated government affairs initiatives, advocated for the company’s interests, and ensures compliance with all relevant laws.
Borden, who grew up in Atlanta and Pensacola, FL, graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in industrial engineering and then worked in the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Later, she attained a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.
Borden is actively involved in the community through her service on numerous boards of directors, including for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Baptist Health Foundation. She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery and Signature Leaders and has served as president of EAT South, an urban teaching farm. She and her husband have two sons.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Alexia's honor, click here.
Regions • Sr. VP, Regional Community Development & Partnerships Manager
Lajuana’s extensive career in the financial services industry spans more than 29 years and has included positions in community affairs, community development, retail banking, regulatory compliance and project management. Prior to joining Regions in 2009, Bradford was a Community Relations Executive at Wachovia/Wells Fargo. She led their philanthropic and employee volunteerism programs, oversaw the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance initiatives and coordinated the bank’s local, state and regional community-based partnerships. Prior to the Wachovia merger she was a senior leader for SouthTrust Bank.
Bradford holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rhode Island College, in Providence, Rhode Island. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School - Executive Leadership program and Boston College’s Management Development Program in Corporate Community Involvement. She has also completed Leadership Birmingham, the Momentum program for female executives and the Children’s Hospital Committee for the Future.
Bradford’s commitment to community service is seen through current and past board affiliations. She currently serves on the boards of the YWCA of Central Alabama, Alabama Humanities Foundation, Miles College Board of Trustees and the Red Mountain Theatre Company. She has served on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Region of the American Red Cross and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama boards. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the Links, Incorporated.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Lajuana's honor, click here.
Innovate Birmingham • Director of Operations
As Director of Operations for Innovate Birmingham, Kellie is responsible for fiscal management and creating both lean and efficient processes to help the organization scale and exceed key performance indicators.
She has previous experience leading non-profit organizations in the areas of program management and sustainable fund development. Her “wins” include everything from leading six figure peer-to-peer virtual fundraising campaigns for Magic Moments and LAPS for CF to driving technical assistance for Alabama Association of Nonprofit’s sustainability review of 98 nonprofit organizations in Central Alabama to serving as the lead Project Manager for Birmingham’s 2018 Innovation Week; a week-long celebration of events that showcase Birmingham’s tech ecosystem, provide access to capital for startups, and engage tech talent in the city.
As a former AmeriCorps alumna, Kellie has an affinity for community service and currently gives her time and talent to various non-profit organizations in the southeast. Kellie is a two-time graduate of Auburn University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public of Administration, with a concentration in Economic and Community Development.
Kellie spends her free time engaging in outdoor sports and serving as Alabama’s Team Leader for Outdoor Afro, a national organization with the expressed mission to “celebrate and inspire African-American connections and leadership in nature.” When she’s not managing projects, leading kayaking adventures on the Coosa River or climbing mountains -- you can find Kellie in her kitchen alongside her husband, serving as his designated "sous chef" or chasing after their toddler.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Kellie's honor, click here.
Dr. Erika B. Hartman
Birmingham Orthodontics • Co-Owner and Doctor (DDS)
Erika is a co-owner and orthodontist at Birmingham Orthodontics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and Mathematics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a graduate of Meharry Medical College - School of Dentistry where she was inducted into Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society. Erika completed her orthodontic residency at Howard University College of Dentistry and received the Faculty Award for highest academic average in her postgraduate orthodontic class.
She is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists and American Dental Association. Erika has previously served on the Board of Directors for the UAB National Alumni and on the Committee of 25 which is the junior board for Girls, Inc. of Central Alabama. She is a member of the Birmingham Chapter of the Links, Inc.
Erika enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband and two children.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Erika's honor, click here.
Ram Tool Construction Supply Co. • CEO
Hillery is CEO of Ram Tool Construction Supply Co., where she sets the vision and strategy for the company’s future while ensuring that the company continues to fulfill its brand promise to its team members and customers each and every day.
Since joining the company in 1993, Hillery has grown the company from 60 to over 1,300 employees. Under her leadership, Ram Tool’s growth has been substantial, currently operating out of 38 locations across the South Eastern United States and working with over 3,000 vendors. It is one of the largest women-owned businesses and one of the largest privately held companies in the state of Alabama.
One of the toughest challenges that Hillery faced as CEO was working through the Great Recession, which was particularly devastating to the construction industry. The company was able to push through though by tightening its finances and continues to make a concerted effort to take care of its customers and team members.
Hillery is a graduate of Yale University and holds a law degree from Washington and Lee University’s School of Law. Learning new things is a lifelong passion of hers.
She is actively involved in the community and is currently serving as a Trustee of the Hugh Kaul Foundation, which supports non-profits and programs in the Birmingham area and surrounding communities.
Her biggest accomplishment is building and sustaining a financially strong and vibrant company, while at the same time, raising three resilient children. In her free time, Hillery loves horseback riding and spending time with her children and her husband, Giles Perkins.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Hillery's honor, click here.
Joyce T. Spielberger
Joyce prides herself on making connections among community partners in an effort to effect positive change for all.
Joyce is currently working with the Jefferson County Memorial Project, (JCMP) a grassroots community coalition formed to work with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The Memorial is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to African American victims of racial terror lynching. EJI has invited each county to retrieve its monument and place it in the county where the terror lynching took place. The JCMP Community Coalition hopes to have Jefferson County, AL be one of the first counties to retrieve its memorial—and to have Alabama lead the nation in confronting and reconciling this dark history.
Joyce most recently served as Interim Executive of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, dedicated to preserving and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. She is the former Executive Director of Magic Moments, dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of children in Alabama suffering with chronic life-threatening diseases.
For eleven years Joyce served as Director of Community Relations for the Birmingham Jewish Federation. In that role, she served as the Jewish community’s connector to the broader community to promote understanding and respect among all religions and cultures. She created interfaith and cultural women’s dialogue groups recognized at both the local and national levels, which today serve as models for similar groups in other communities.
Joyce serves on the Boards of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, Collat Jewish Family Services and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. She is a long-time member of the FBI’s Multi Cultural Advisory Committee. She is past president of The Women’s Network and Alabama Possible. She is a graduate of both Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama and serves on Leadership Birmingham’s Executive Council. In 2017 Joyce received the 2017 NCCJ Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award. In 2018 she was selected by Positive Maturity as a “Top 50 Over 50.”
A native of Atlanta, Joyce graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Social Work and received her Masters of Arts in Education from UAB. In 2017 she received her certification as a Jefferson County Master Gardener. Joyce is married to Maury Shevin and has two sons, Richard and Mitchell Spielberger.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Joyce's honor, click here.
Wyatt Construction • CEO/Owner
Mary is the CEO of Wyatt Construction, founded by her late husband, John, who passed away unexpectedly in a plane crash in 2015. In her role as CEO, Mary leads a team of dedicated and talented professionals in the building and construction industry. In 2016, Mary was named a Future Leader in Construction for Associated Builders & Contractors of Alabama and one of the Birmingham Business Journal's Fast Track 30, which also named Wyatt General Contractor the 10th fastest growing company in Birmingham. Mary is a member of the National Association of Women in Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors, and United Way Women United. She also enjoys volunteering at the Lovelady Center and is a Sustainer with the Junior League of Birmingham. She and her two daughters live in Vestavia Hills.
To make a donation or buy a ticket in Mary's honor, click here.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PARTNERS, INCLUDING: