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A Stronger Bond with Birmingham

As another program year comes to a close, some members of the Class of 2023 highlight how the experience has shaped them and their roles as community leaders:


“Leadership Birmingham introduced me to so many new parts of our vibrant city and to an inspiring group of leaders whom I am privileged to now call friends. I was particularly inspired by my classmates and the multitude of incredible nonprofits in the city dedicated to creating opportunities for children. The impact of early childhood literacy and the connection to positive life outcomes resonated with me and our small group, and we focused our final project on working with a local nonprofit committed to helping students thrive.”

Mitesh Shah, President, Southern and Gulf Coast Division, Vulcan Materials Company



“What I have appreciated about the learning forums is my interaction with new peers from different organizations with different personalities and perspectives. It’s a very diverse group. We developed a robust and supportive bond quickly, and we helped each other work through ideas and offered advice. This experience has encouraged me to empathize with the expertise of other decision makers. It has helped a lot to hear how others make sense of the issues that were introduced, and the level of insight I have gained about many persistent issues that frame lived experiences for people in the community have made me dig deep and question
my natural inclinations when thinking about solutions.”

Paulette Patterson Dilworth, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Alabama at Birmingham



“I was surprised by how much I learned about the city’s history and current challenges. I was also touched by all the program days, and they helped me narrow my focus on how I want to serve. I will be getting involved in supporting the education system for our youth and becoming an advocate for people with sickle cell disease. I also hope to get invited to join boards where I can make a difference. I truly understand how important it is to serve.”

Jerry Kelly, President and CEO, Kelly Road Builders Inc. and Kelly Natural Gas Pipeline LLC




“In less than 12 months, Leadership Birmingham offers the opportunity to get to know Birmingham in such a way that would otherwise take years. Not only do you get the chance to learn alongside talented and accomplished community and business leaders, but the experience itself provides a greater depth of understanding about the city. Not being from Birmingham originally, I have found it very useful to understand the history of the city in a richer way, and I have taken these learnings back to my role at Protective as I work around the state representing our 116-year-old Birmingham-based company.”

Mary Pat Lawrence, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Protective Life Corporation