Jasper BPW announces Woman of the Year nominees
by Jennifer Cohron
Oct 13, 2013 | 2356 views | 0 0 comments | 133 133 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ten local ladies have been nominated for the Jasper Business and Professional Women’s 2013 Woman of the Year. The winner will be announced Thursday at the BPW banquet, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Community Health Systems Activities Center in downtown Jasper.

The guest speaker will be Connie Cooner Rowe. Entertainment will be provided by dancers from Marilyn Sanders Performing Arts Center. Food will be provided by Joe Mo’s BBQ.

Tickets can be purchased from any BPW member or at the door if available. They are $20 each or $150 for a table of 8. For more information, contact (205) 295-9111.

The 2013 nominees are the following:

Sandi P. Sudduth

Sudduth is currently a member of the Jasper City Council,  serving as the President for the past two years.  

She serves as the Walker County Career Coach for the Second Opportunity System Program at Bevill State Community College, as well as the Co-Coordinator of the program.

She is a facilitator for both the Parent Project and Tackling Tough Skills, which serves strong-willed youth throughout the Walker County Juvenile Court System.

She also dedicates her time to working with Hope for Women, LLC, Walker County Community Action Agency, the Jasper Family Service Center and the Walker County NAACP.  Ms. Sudduth attended Walker College.

TaJay Everette White

White is an attorney at the Law Office of TaJay E. White, a legal secretary at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, and adjunct instructor in medical law and ethics.

She is a member of the Birmingham Bar Association and Jefferson County Lawyer Mentoring Program mentor. She also has dedicated her time to being a pianist and a motivational speaker for the Youth Day Program for the 26th Street Baptist Church in Jasper, Bevill State Community College beauty pageant judge and motivational speaker at Walker High School Minority Achievement council induction ceremony.

She has served as mentors to the youth of Jasper and to Virginia College students.

White attended Alabama State University and Birmingham School of Law.

Pam Fikes

Fikes has been the executive director of the American Red Cross in Jasper for three years. She retired from Alabama State Department of Labor in 2010 where she served as employment service manager for 12 years.

She has served as the Jasper Rotary Club president, secretary and assistant governor. She has been involved in the workforce development field for over 25 years, assisting job seekers with job development skills.

She has served on variety of boards as a subject matter expert.

Fikes was also a key player in the organization of Red Cross volunteers during the tornado disasters in Walker County.

Fikes attended Jacksonville State University. She has a bachelor degree and masters from Jacksonville State University in emergency management and homeland security. She graduated in 2010.

Carol Downs

Downs works at Downs & Associates as an accountant and owner.

She is involved in many organizations throughout the county such as Hope Clinic — treasurer, Chamber of Commerce of Walker County — past president, Leadership Walker County Alumna – board of directors, Leadership Walker County — assistant director, Walker Area Community Foundation — Founders Society, Youth Leadership Walker County — assistant director, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Jasper — secretary/treasurer, Make-A-Wish Foundation — Jasper Chapter Board Member, The ARC of Walker County — board of directors, Walker County Humane Society — past board member, Daybreak Domestic Violence Program Volunteer for over 20 years and an active member of First Baptist Church of Jasper.

This year, Downs is working with United Way to raise money for the United Way agencies of this area of the state.

Downs attended Samford University.

Jennifer Williams Smith

Smith is a Jasper City Council member and former director of leisure activities for the City of Jasper.

She is an advisory board member for the Walker County Arts Alliance, Cure JM Foundation, President’s Cabinet for Walker Area Community Foundation, board member of BARK, 11th grade chairman of Walker High School Booster Club, member of Civitan Club, and she serves on the Committee of Human Development of the Alabama League of Municipalities.

She spends her time working with fundraising and awareness for the Walker County Animal Shelter, Dream Field, APEX Playground and other various community events.

She is a mentor for the Dream Team, Aquanauts, and VIKES Give Back.

She has worked on the Fundraising, Awareness and Donation Drive for Hope for Women, LLC.

She has provided community service opportunities and mentoring for young women of the community and has served as a key note speaker at a number of women’s group events throughout the county.

She received the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association 2006 Outstanding Young Professional Award and was the Daily Mountain Eagle’s 2009 Citizen of the Year.

Smith attended Auburn University. She is the mother of Brylee and Sawyer Smith.

Tammy Hankins

Hankins is an LPN who has set aside her entire life, including her career as a nurse, to come to Jasper and serve as the Director for Hope for Women, LLC.

She works one-on-one with women in the program to help them overcome addictions.

The participants of Hope for Women, LLC say that  Hankins has set aside her entire life to help them. She has given up time with her family to come help them rebuild her hometown and help them reestablish their lives.

Hankins attended Bessemer State.

Jackie Geddings Gilbreath

Gilbreath is currently serving her second term as both the president of the Pilot Club of Jasper and advisory board chair for the Salvation Army. She also serves the Alabama District of Pilot International as Anchor Coordinator for the State. She has played a major role in establishing Anchor Clubs at Curry, Dora and Oakman High Schools.

She serves on the board of directors for the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and recently completed the Leadership Walker County Program.

She has been employed at the First Bank of Jasper for 21 years and is a bank officer and assistant vice president. She currently serves the bank as business development officer.

She was selected as “Emerging Talent” team member for Synovous and was chosen to attend the Synovous Leadership Institute.

She was named Outstanding Banker for Community Education for the state by Alabama Young Bankers and was elected vice president of her class.

She has developed programs titled “Marketing Yourself” and “Interview Skills” which have been provided to local high school students, Bevill State Community College – Sumiton campus, and other local organizations.

She also currently serves as the bank’s coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Campaign and United Way Campaign.

Gilbreath attended the University of North Alabama and University of South Alabama’s “Alabama Banking School.”

Sandy Combs Amerson

Amerson is currently a speech and language pathologist at Sumiton Christian School. She is retired from the Walker County School System.

She has held numerous offices in Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority. She has been a volunteer and contributor to the United Cerebral Palsy telethon every year since childhood, volunteer for the March of Dimes, church puppet ministry and member at First Presbyterian Church in Jasper, ARC volunteer/former member/officer and Board of Directors, member of National Education Association, member of Alabama Education Association – delegate, member of Walker County Education Association – delegate and officer, Alabama Association of Classroom Teachers, and volunteer at Walker Baptist Medical Center.  

She has helped many children and adults in the Walker County Community correct their speech, enhance language skills and successfully reach life goals through better communication skills.

Amerson attended Jefferson State Community College and the University of Montevallo.

Willa Dean Daniel

Daniel is retired. She has served as a school teacher and librarian. She achieved getting public libraries in each school. She established the Walker/Winston Book Mobiles.

She has trained many people to work in small community libraries and started the summer reading program at the Carl Elliott Regional Library.  She served as administrator of the public library for 25 years.

She was always involved with community programs and fundraisers. She served as chairman of Walker County Board of Education for two six year terms.

Daniel attended the University of Alabama, University of Ohio and University of Miami.

Linda Lewis

Lewis was born in Memphis,Tenn., and has been a resident of Jasper for 47 years. She graduated from Walker College and the University of Alabama-Birmingham with a degree in secondary education majoring in history and English.

In April 1997, she became the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County.

In January 2008, Lewis was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. That organization represents 124 Chambers in Alabama that have over 50,000 businesses as members and is a member of the board of directors for the Business Council of Alabama.

In 2007, Lewis initiated the development of a new five-year strategy for the Chamber of Commerc of Walker County called “Focus Walker County.” This five-year plan focused on four initiatives: workforce development and education, tourism and image, retail and commercial attraction and legislative and public policy.

This strategy led to a very successful funding campaign that raised $1.2 million.


The mission of BPW is “to empower working women to achieve their full potential and to partner with employers to build successful workplaces through education, research, knowledge and policy.”

The Jasper BPW was the first women’s club established in Jasper. It currently has over 20 members and is one of the largest in the state.

The club consists of a diverse group of women who are business owners, professionals, retired professionals, and student members.

The group raises money for annual scholarships to assist local high school senior girls and women in Walker County in continuing their education through hosting an Awards Banquet in October to recognize the Business and Professional Woman of the Year and hosting an annual golf scramble in the Spring.

In 2013, the group was able to award five scholarships to graduating high school seniors within the county. All proceeds from the events go to the scholarship fund.

The organization also participates in humanitarian projects as well. The club donates boxes of magazines to the local hospital for the waiting rooms.

Currently, the group is collecting soda pop and other can tabs for the Hope Lodge in Birmingham, where cancer patients and their caregivers have a free, temporary place to stay when they have to travel to get the treatment they need.

Last Christmas, the club donated toys to the Salvation Army Toy Drive. They have also participated in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

Other areas the club focuses on locally and at a state-wide level are domestic violence, Girl Scouts, and individual development.

The Jasper BPW meets twice a month. The lunch meeting is held on the second Thursday of the month at Ryan’s at 12 p.m. and the evening meeting is held on the fourth Thursday of the month at Victoria’s at 5:30 p.m.

The Jasper BPW officers for 2013-2014 are April Woodard, President; Lisa Clopton, Vice-President; Donna Wesson Smalley, Treasurer; Vanessa Woodard, Secretary; and Evelyn Jackson, Parliamentarian.

Evelyn Jackson is currently the president-elect at a state level and April Woodard is the committee chair for domestic violence, serves on the Alabama Foundation and nominating committee at a state level.

For more information or to request a membership application, you may contact april.dwslaw@att.net, call (205) 295-9111 or find Jasper BPW on Facebook.