BOARD OF DIRECTORS BIOS
Amanda Hitson Cassity
Amanda Hitson Cassity is a graduate of the Tuscaloosa City School System and The University of Alabama, earning four degrees from the Capstone, including a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. She has 36 years of experience in education and retired in July 2019, having served in both the Tuscaloosa City Schools and Tuscaloosa County School System as an educator, administrator, director of secondary instruction, and regional director of curriculum and instruction for PreK-12. In addition to her continued involvement as an adjunct professor, principal coach, and frequent lecturer, she also volunteers with Five Horizons, teaches ESL adults, and is a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
Janet Crowder is a graduate of Tuscaloosa County schools and has an MA degree in secondary education from the University of Alabama. She retired as a public high school social studies teacher after 25 years of service. Janet has served on the Board of Directors for Family Counseling Services and as a deacon for First Presbyterian Church. Currently, she volunteers as house corporation president for Alpha Chi Omegas.
Judge John England, Jr.
A lifelong public servant and a former Alabama Supreme Court justice and circuit judge, Judge England was among the first African Americans admitted to The University of Alabama School of Law, where he earned a law degree in 1974. He was elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985 and served two terms. In June 1993, he was appointed as a judge to the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court and was elected to a full term the following year. He served on the Alabama Supreme Court from 1999 to 2001 before returning to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court, where he served until his retirement. During his 23-year tenure on the UA System governing board, he held significant leadership positions during an unprecedented era of growth. In 2019, the Board named a dorm on the UA campus in recognition of Judge England’s trailblazing legacy. He has served the community and education with dignity and dedication.
David E. Gay, Jr.
CEO, Whatley Health Services
Mr. Gay's career started in Mental Health at Bryce Hospital. He started out as a Mental Health Aide, and advanced to become the first African American Director of Bryce Hospital (the state’s largest psychiatric facility) and two Psychiatric Nursing Homes. While at Bryce Hospital he managed a budget of 54 million dollars and was responsible for the overall supervision of the hospital 1,200 employees. As an educator, Mr. Gay has taught students at the University of AL, Shelton State Community College, and Stillman College.
Mr. Gay is a retired military officer (major). He currently serves on the Tuscaloosa Foundation Board (TFB), Department of Human Resources (DHR), the PARA Foundation Board, Elevate Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa VA Credit Union, the Board of Directors at DCH Hospital, and is a current member of the Tuscaloosa Civic Hall of Fame Class of 2021. Mr. Gay is currently serving as the CEO of Whatley Health Services, which has 12 sites in seven counties throughout West Alabama, serving the most vulnerable in our community.
CPA, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC
After years of experience at Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young, Bobby Ingram was admitted as a partner in 2000 and assumed the role of managing partner in 2009 at Jessup, Ingram, Burns & Associates, LLP. In 2014, Bobby became a shareholder and executive committee member of JamisonMoneyFarmer. Bobby has served in leadership roles in various organizations, including AlabamaGermany Partnership, TEF, Community Foundation of West Alabama, UA Geological Sciences Advisory Board, UA School of Accounting Advisory Board, Black Warrior Council/Boy Scouts of America, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, and the Capstone Health Services Foundation.
Temporary Board Member/Alternate for Cathy Wood
Virginia Joiner currently serves as a temporary board member/alternate for her daughter, Cathy Wood. She worked as a pre-school teacher, a Special Education teacher, and as Coordinator of Special Education for the Tuscaloosa City Schools for 15 years. After retiring, I enjoyed helping Tom and Jim Harrison begin the Success by Six program in Tuscaloosa. I have always believed early intervention for children is invaluable and provides a good beginning for many school careers. I have enjoyed serving on many boards in Tuscaloosa and believe “giving back” to our community is a privilege.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama
Donny Jones graduated with honors from the University of Alabama with a degree in Management Information Systems and Computer Science. He has been with the Chamber since March 1998 and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Chamber and also leads all workforce development efforts, serving as Executive Director of the Region 3 Workforce Development Council/West Alabama Works. Donny serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, is an appointed member of the Alabama Workforce Council, and is an Education Attainment Fellow with the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
Retired Educator & Community Volunteer
Shelley Jones taught and worked in the Tuscaloosa City Schools system for more than 30 years, serving as a teacher at Northington Elementary School and a principal at Woodland Forrest Elementary School. She was a city school board member for eight years following her retirement in 1994. Shelley, one of the first members of the college’s board of advisors, is an instructor in the UA Honors College and has served on the boards of DCH Foundation and the Community Foundation for West Alabama.
Dr. Barbara Kucharski
Dr. Barbara Kucharski is retired from the University of Alabama where she was a Clinical Supervisor and Instructor in the Department of Communicative Disorders for 32 years. She has served on various community boards in leadership roles. She is a past president of the Junior League of Tuscaloosa and remains involved as a Sustainer. She is currently on the Board of the United Way of West Alabama, The ARC of Tuscaloosa and the Community Soup Bowl. Barbara is an active member and volunteer at First United Methodist Church and she enjoys volunteering with the Tuscaloosa Jr. Golf Academy.
Amanda Lightsey currently serves as the Special Projects Manager for Children’s Trust Fund. Previously, she was the Executive Director at Tuscaloosa’s One Place. Amanda earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from the University of Alabama as well as a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa, was named as one of Tuscaloosa’s top 40 under 40 in 2018. Under her leadership Tuscaloosa’s One Place was named the 2018 United Way Agency of the year. Amanda is married to TC Lightsey, has two daughters Ella Grace and Reagan, and one dog, Murphy.
Vice President, First South Farm Credit
Kelley Miller is the Vice President / Branch Manager of the Northport Branch of First South Farm Credit. He graduated from Auburn University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Economics. Kelley has served as the Agricultural World Leader for the West Alabama World of Works (WOW Expo) held at Shelton State Community College since it began in 2015.
Dr. Charles Nash
Senior Vice Chancellor, The University of Alabama System (Retired)
Dr. Charles Nash retired as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for The University of Alabama System. In his career, Charles has served as a high school science teacher, assistant band director, assistant principal, principal, assistant vice chancellor, school of education dean, and higher education accreditation administrator. He has served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the United Way as well as president of the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa.
Retired Educator | Vice President, Board of Directors
Pam Pruitt is a graduate of the University of Alabama. During her 35 years in education, she served as a Special Education Teacher in the Tuscaloosa City School System for 22 years and the Education Director for Brewer Porch Children’s Center until she retired in 2017. She currently serves as a part-time Reading Interventionist and a Prevention Specialist for the Drug Education Council. Pam is an active member of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, and she has been involved in organizations, including the Foster Grandparent Advisory Board, West Alabama Literacy Council, UA Retirees Association Board, Las Amiga Junior Federated Girl’s Club, and the Tuscaloosa Chapter of the Links, Inc.
Former State & Local School Board Member
Sandra Ray is a retired real estate broker and former member of the Tuscaloosa County and the Alabama State Boards of Education. She is active in civic and business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Leadership Alabama, and Leadership Tuscaloosa. Currently, Sandra serves on the Arts Council and Easter Seals Boards and as a participant in Book Buddies through Rotary.
Robbie Washington is the Senior Vice President, Community Reinvestment Act Officer and Director of HMDA and Community Reinvestment Act Reporting at SmartBank. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Accounting and began her career as a Bank Examiner with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. In addition to her involvement in numerous civic and service organizations, she served as a member of the inaugural Supervisory Committee of the Stillman Community Development Credit Union and currently serves on the board of Project B.E.T.H.E.L. and as a member of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Foundation Advancement and Partnership Committee. Robbie teaches financial literacy and regularly supports the mission of several nonprofit groups and organizations committed to advancing excellence among young people through education, character-building, and positive role-modeling.
Special Education Research Professional
Brandi Shanklin is an Associate Research Professional of Special Education at The University of Alabama. Her educational background includes B.A., MAT, MEd degrees in Education and Professional School Counseling as well as a certificate as a diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist. Mrs. Shanklin has prior experience as a secondary English Language Arts teacher serving students from grades 7-12 for ten years and a professional school counselor for 6 years for grades 9-12. She was awarded Alabama’s Secondary School Counselor of the Year in 2021 and led her previous high school to become the first high school in West Alabama to earn the Alabama School Counseling Program of Distinction and the national distinction of Recognized ASCA Model School Counseling Program (RAMP). Her areas of interest include social and emotional learning, school transformation, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She knows that the youth are the future and that we have a responsibility to teach them to learn, love, and lead.
CPA, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC | Treasurer, Board of Directors
Jennifer Stripling is a CPA at JamisonMoneyFarmer PC and specializes in corporate and individual income tax. She graduated from the Tuscaloosa City Schools in 2000 and then from the University of Alabama with her Masters of Tax Accounting in 2005. Jennifer is the current treasurer of TEF. She has previously served as treasurer of the Service Guild of Birmingham and is a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa.
Mark Sullivan (Retired)
Tuscaloosa Market President, Synovus Bank | President, Board of Directors
Mark Sullivan is Executive Vice President for Bryant Bank. Sullivan holds a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Finance and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Alabama. He has been and continues to be involved in numerous community organizations both in board leadership positions as well as serving in a fundraising capacity for various campaigns. Organizations in which he has been involved include the United Way of West Alabama, Hospice of West Alabama, The DCH Foundation, Arts & Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of West Alabama, Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Junior Achievement, Agape of Central Alabama, State of Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Board, the University Church of Christ.
Dr. Anne Witt
Instructor, University of Alabama
Dr. Anne Witt teaches Music Education and Strings at the University of Alabama. She has been an active teacher both in her hometown of Tuscaloosa (since 2003) and previously in Austin and Arlington, Texas. Anne founded the Strings in Schools program for the Tuscaloosa City Schools, in which over 400 students learn string instruments in daily school classes. She has been a state and national leader and continues to be a professional cellist.
Lydia Seabol Avant
Director of Public Relations, Tuscaloosa City School System
Lydia Seabol Avant joined the Tuscaloosa City School System as Director of Public Relations in February 2022. Prior to that, she was editor of Alabama Alumni Magazine and director of publications for Alumni Affairs at The University of Alabama, where she also taught journalism for 13 years. Lydia was previously a reporter for 11 years at The Tuscaloosa News, where she covered local government and K-12 education and was also part of a news team that won a Pulitzer Prize for their breaking news coverage the April 27, 2011, tornado. While at The Tuscaloosa News, she started writing the "Mom Stop" parenting column, which has continued over the last decade and is now syndicated in approximately 100 different Gannett newspapers nationwide. Lydia is a member of the Alabama School Public Relations Association and the National School Public Relations Association. She holds a bachelor's and master's degrees from The University of Alabama.
Board Liaison, Tuscaloosa County School System
Terri Brewer joined the Tuscaloosa County School System as Director of Public Relations in August 2018. Prior to that, Terri worked in broadcast journalism for 15 years, with most of that time as a television news reporter, anchor, and producer. Terri has been honored with several journalism awards from the Alabama Broadcasters Association and Alabama Associated Press Broadcasters Association, as well as several Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and Southeast Regional Emmy nominations. Terri is a member of the Alabama School Public Relations Association, National School Public Relations Association, Junior League of Tuscaloosa, and is a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa. Terri holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama.
Dr. Mike Daria
Ex Officio, Superintendent, Tuscaloosa City Schools
Dr. Mike Daria serves as the Superintendent for the Tuscaloosa City Schools. He started his education career with the Greene County Schools before coming to the Tuscaloosa City Schools in 1996. Daria has served as an English teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director of personnel, and assistant superintendent prior to his current role. He received his Ed.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Alabama.
Dr. Keri Johnson
Ex Officio, Superintendent, Tuscaloosa County School System
Dr. Johnson comes to TCSS from Alabaster City Schools, where she served as Coordinator of Secondary Education and Exceptional Education. Previously, she held positions within Shelby County Schools. Dr. Johnson has also served as an adjunct instructor for Samford University and the University of Montevallo. She holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Samford University, Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from Jacksonville State University, a Master of Arts in Special Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a Certification in Educational Administration from the University of Montevallo, and an Education Specialist in Educational Administration from the University of Montevallo.