UWA Board of Trustees
Justin Smith, President
Joseph Brown, Vice President
Hal Bloom, Jr., Secretary
Katie Beard, Assistant Secretary
Sheila Cloud, Treasurer
Jerry Smith, Past President Pro Tem
Mrs. Anderson traces her Sumter County lineage back for seven generations on both sides of her family. Both of her grandmothers were students at Livingston State Teachers College, now the University of West Alabama, under Julia Tutwiler. Her father, former Sumter County Probate Judge Wilbur Dearman, while representing the County in the State House of Representatives, was influential in keeping the teachers college in Livingston in 1946, when it was threatened with closure. Mrs. Anderson was born and reared in Livingston. She is a graduate of Livingston High School and Auburn University, where she earned a B.S. degree in Education. She taught school in Montgomery for several years before starting her own interior design business in 1973. Her clients extend throughout the Southeast. For over 50 years, she has been married to former Montgomery County Circuit Judge Mark Anderson. Mrs. Anderson is an associate member of the Interior Design Society, a sustaining member of the Montgomery Junior League, and a Bible study and Sunday School teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church. She is a former chairman of the Montgomery County Republican women, and a member of the Montgomery County Republican Executive Committee.
Hal W. Bloom graduated with a B.S. in Business and Commerce from the University of West Alabama in 1972 and is the founding principal of the Montgomery-based The Bloom Group, one of Alabama’s premier governmental relations firms that has been serving its diverse clients for almost 30 years. He is a member of the Alabama Alliance of Business and Industry, the University of Alabama President’s Cabinet, the University of West Alabama’s Society of the Golden Key, Chairman of the Baptist Medical Center-East’s Advisory Board, a Montgomery Rotary Club past president, and Chairman of The University of West Alabama Foundation’s board.
Joseph Brown has worked for Alabama Power Company for over 30 years and currently serves as the Western Division Area Manager with responsibilities including Economic Development, Marketing, Public Relations, Community Development and Government Relations for 14 counties and 78 cities. He holds a B.S. in Economics and Finance from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, is a graduate of the Duke Business School for Southern Company Officers, is an inactive State of Alabama Licensed Real Estate Appraiser and inactive State of Alabama Licensed Real Estate Broker. Mr. Brown is VP of the University of West Alabama Board of Trustees, a University of Alabama Capstone Medical Board Trustee, Community College President Search Committee Chair, a member of the WIOA State Executive Board, Founding Chair of West Alabama Works and past Chair of Region 3 Workforce Development Council and past Chair of the Montgomery Institute.
Mr. Groce is currently the Administrator of Easterseals of Northwest Alabama located in Muscle Shoals Alabama. Easterseals provides Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy along with Vocational Rehabilitation Services to people with disabilities. Prior to being named the Administrator for Easterseals he retired as a District Administrative Specialist with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. He was elected to Russellville City Council in 1988 and served four terms (1988 - 2004). Mr. Groce was appointed to the Russellville City School Board in 2004 and continues to serve in that capacity. He is also an Executive Board Member for Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG). Mr. Groce has a B.S. Degree from University of North Alabama '78 / Master Degree in Business Administration from UNA '88 / Master Degree in Social Work from University of Alabama in 2001. Mr. Jerry Groce is married to the former Benetia S. Bucker since 1981 and they have two children: Evan (31) and Alayna (27).
Rev. Dr. John H. Killian was born and raised in Birmingham and currently serves as Director for the Fayette County Baptist Association. Killian has a B.A. from Tennessee Temple University a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in Teaching in History from the University of West Alabama. Dr. Killian has served as President of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the Alabama Society Sons of the American Revolution. Killian has taught at the College and Graduate levels for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Judson College, Bevill State Community College and Tennessee Temple University. Killian has made six trips to Israel.
Jerry F. Smith is the president and CEO of the J.F. Smith Group, a fund-raising project management firm in Auburn, AL. He is the author of three books on fund-raising, as well as a popular and respected convention presenter. Prior to founding the J.F. Smith Group in 1991, Jerry worked in the Auburn University Alumni and Development Office (since 1977), during which time the university launched its first major capital campaign. The goal was $61.7 million, and Auburn raised $110 million with only three development officers. Jerry holds a BA from Auburn University and a MS from Livingston University.
Justin Smith, a Sumter County native, received his undergraduate degree from the University of West Alabama in 1999, and he earned his J.D. from the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, cum laude, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class. While in law school, Mr. Smith was Executive Editor of the Mississippi College Law Review. Mr. Smith is a member of the Tuscaloosa law firm of Cross & Smith, LLC where he handles complex personal injury, wrongful death and insurance cases throughout the State of Alabama and select cases in Mississippi.
Victor Vernon retired in 2015 from the Business Council of Alabama as Vice President for Legislative Policy, where he specialized in tax, public education, workforce training and governmental fiscal policy issues on behalf of Alabama’s business community. Previously, as Senate Fiscal Officer, Vernon directed the preparations of state budgets and fiscal analyses of all legislation pending before the Alabama Senate. Mr. Vernon was the 1998 recipient of the Steven Gold Award, presented by the National Conference of State Legislatures for significant contributions to public finance and fiscal policy. Mr. Vernon was the 2015 recipient of the Alabama Department of Education’s, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative’s Friend of AMSTI Award for his role in creating legislation for the Alabama Science in Motion program in 1994, which was later incorporated into AMSTI. Mr. Vernon holds a M.A. in Finance from the University of Alabama.
Jody Wise grew up in Livingston and received her B. A. in English and Business from Livingston University in 1985. She was proud to become the first woman President of the Student Government Association. She attained her Law degree from the University of Alabama School of law in 1988. After prosecuting in the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s office for three years and the Baldwin County District Attorney’s office for 6 ½ years, she was appointed Circuit Clerk in 2004 and has been elected twice since. She is the first Vice-President of the Alabama Association of Circuit Clerks. She is a former member of the University of West Alabama Foundation Board and serves on the Finance Committee at First Baptist Church in Bay Minette. Jody has three sons, Bradley (20), Gary Patrick (18) and Watson (15).
The Honorable Kay Ivey, Governor
State of Alabama
c/o State Capitol, Room N-104
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130
Dr. Eric Mackey
State Department of Education
P O Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36130