Board of Directors
Jeff Showalter, Chairman
CDO for JHNA Inc.
Jeff Showalter currently serves as the Chief Development Officer & General Counsel for JHNA, a high growth government contracting firm focused on science & technology engineering services for current and future weapons systems, aviation & robotic systems & emerging technologies.
Jeff has more than twenty years of professional service advising non-profits, start-ups, emerging growth companies, technology companies and government contractors and those who invest in such companies on overall strategy, fund-raising activities and related investment strategies, contracting and intellectual property-capture processes, organizational structure, corporate governance, corporate compliance, business development, human resources and all facets of commercial transactions and mergers and acquisitions.
His work as an organizational leader, lawyer, investor and business consultant roles enables him to work successfully with a wide array of stakeholders—to include owners, investors, employees and shareholders. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served five years in the Army. Degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Management from the U.S. Military Academy, a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School.
He is a member, director or advisor to multiple organizations devoted to veterans’ issues and education.
Our children are our nation’s most treasured asset, , and teaching them our history and values is one of the best investments we can make. With its focus on our Constitution, community and character, Liberty Learning gives our children the tools to continue the American way for generations to come.
John Allen, Vice Chairman
CEO, Huntsville Committee of 100
John Allen is the CEO of the Huntsville Committee of 100. The Committee of 100, founded in 1995, is a business advocacy organization of 255 CEO’s and professionals – including 50 young professionals — committed to long term strategies that impact economic vitality, supporting high-quality public education, and encouraging cooperative local government. His experience in the political process and public policy began early, with engagement in numerous local campaigns and volunteering in the local school system. He has served in numerous leadership positions in an appointed and volunteer capacity throughout the community.
As a member of the Committee of 100 since 2002, he has supported the mission of the organization and engaged at various leadership levels within the group and lastly served from 2016-2017 as Chair of BizPac, the political action committee of the Committee of 100. Mr. Allen, a Huntsville native, is an Alabama licensed residential homebuilder, and also a current licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the State of Alabama. A 1994 mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University, Mr. Allen is a graduate of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class 16, Leadership Alabama Class 25 and in 2018 the FBI Citizens Academy. John is a Life Board member of the Huntsville/Madison County Builders Association (HMCBA), serves on the Board of the Huntsville Botanical Garden, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, and chairs the Madison Construction Appeals Board in the City of Madison.
His background is diverse. Starting his career as a co-op student with NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, he began working in Space Shuttle Main Engine rotordynamics and space craft pyrotechnics. Upon graduation from Auburn in mechanical engineering, his early career began at Amoco Chemical in Decatur, AL, where he spent five years as a plant engineer for the PTA Unit #5. Earning his professional engineering license in 1999, Mr. Allen then began work in a small engineering consulting business for four years also in Decatur. During this tenure, he worked at various manufacturing, production, and technology companies all across North Alabama including rocket production, Apache helicopter turbine engines, food production, steel mills, and roofing plants. By 2002, he was an owner and Chief Operating Office of Cornerstone Engineering, and was recognized as the Young Engineer of the Year by the Alabama Society of Professional Engineers. It was then he decided to move into the family business founded in 1997 with his father-in-law in 2003.
As president of Southern Construction & Design, Inc., (SCD Inc.), a family owned business, from 2003 – September 2017, he designed and built custom homes and renovations in the residential market of Huntsville/Madison County. Under his leadership, in August of 2006, Southern Construction was awarded the Small Business of the Year in Construction/Manufacturing by the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce, and placed on the INC. Magazine yearly INC. 5000 listing of the top 5000 businesses in the country in 2007 and 2008. Since, 2008, they were awarded fourteen statewide awards in the Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards program. In April of 2011, in New Orleans, the National Universal Design Accessibility Award from United Cerebral Palsy was presented to Southern Construction, and in August of 2011, they received the Building/Construction and Development Award from the Tennessee Valley Green U Festival. Southern Construction was a Finalist in the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics in 2010 and 2011 and was the Torch Award Winner in 2014. The Huntsville Madison County Builders Association inducted John Allen into the Local Hall of Fame in June of 2015. In August of 2016, Southern Construction was recognized again in the Small Business Awards ceremony and awarded the Service Business of the Year by the Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce. In 2017 Mr. Allen was awarded the Volunteer of the Year from the Huntsville Madison County Botanical Garden. As of September 1, 2017, he began service in the chief executive capacity for the Huntsville Committee of 100.
Liberty Learning Foundation is leading the charge to inspire the next great generation of citizens. The programs delivered to students teach the character traits of leadership, benefits of working with your fellow man for the common good, and the love for this great country. The future of our country takes super citizens and daily heroes that make a difference in their communities, cities, and states. The passion you see in the eyes of these students to be those super citizens and heroes brings great hope to our future!”
Dr. LaTonya Barnes Sibley, Secretary
NBCT, National Educational Consultant & Alabama Educator
Dr. Sibley is an independent national educational consultant, focusing on influencing positive educational change and improving student achievement. She currently serves as a Professor of Education at the Alabama State University and supports members of the Alabama Education Association. She has served as an early childhood, elementary, and middle school teacher, curriculum coach, testing and assessment coordinator, and state director.
Dr. Sibley earned her B.A. in Communications, M.A. in Education, and Ph.D. in Education degrees from UAB. Her studies focused on early childhood, teacher leadership, character development, and civic education programs. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), holding an Early Childhood Generalist certificate.
Dr. Sibley serves as the 2021-2023 National President of Black Women Education Leaders, Inc. She is also a founding member of the Alabama Alliance of Black School Educators (AL-ABSE) and the National Board Network of Accomplished Minoritized Educators (NB-NAME). She is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
The future of America is dependent upon today’s young people and the ideals we instill in them to appreciate what is great about our nation, as we work to form an even more perfect union. Liberty Learning Foundation, and its commitment to American ideals and constitutional values, helps develop the core principles of civic duty and strong, positive character traits for young people. America is at its best when we present ourselves as one nation, with a shared vision for the future; one that is indivisible… with liberty and justice for all. – Dr. LaTonya Barnes Sibley, NBCT
Sean Kelly, Treasurer
Executive Vice President, North Alabama Commercial Banking Executive, Regions Bank
Sean Kelly serves as Executive Vice President and Commercial Banking Executive for the North Alabama Area of Regions Bank. Sean started his career with Regions 21 years ago in their Management Training Program. He has served in several different capacities for the company including a leadership role in Risk Management in the Birmingham office as well as lead the company’s Middle Tennessee Commercial Banking team out of Nashville comprised of over $2 billion in assets and one of the largest banks in the Regions footprint. Mr. Kelly is a graduate of Auburn University and attended the Georgia State School of Banking. He currently serves on the following boards: Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Broadway Theatre League and Downtown Huntsville Inc.
Regions Bank is committed to helping prepare young people for their financial future. The Financial Literacy portion of the Liberty Legacy Program prepares our future community leaders to not only be more financially aware, but teaches the students the importance of setting financial goals in all life stages, from preparing for college all the way to retirement.
Lisa Williams, Assistant Treasurer
Ms. Lisa Williams was the co-founder and president of 3D Research Corporation from 1997-2006. As the president of 3D Research, Ms. Williams was responsible for the management and operations of a multi-million dollar company with 17 different locations through out the United States and one international site.
The success of 3D Research is evident by their ranking in the 2004 and 2005 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in America. 3D Research was acquired by the Schafer Corporation in December 2005. After the sale of 3D Research Corporation, Ms. Williams took over as president of Systems Dynamic International in February of 2011 after their president had died unexpectedly. She was able to put the company back on track for success and left SDI in March 2012. Ms. Williams is currently the president of Soldier 1 Corporation.
Ms. Williams was born in Saigon, Viet Nam on the 4th of July. She came to the United States at the age of six.
Ms. Williams received her BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received an Honorary PhD from UAH from the School of Business in 2004. Ms. Williams worked as a production engineer for Morton Thiokol on several rocket motor systems, as a Systems Engineer for Wyle Laboratories supporting the International Space Station, and as a test engineer for TASC and Schafer on several missile systems before starting 3D Research Corporation in 1997.
Ms. Williams was awarded the Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Alabama by the Small Business Administration, and was also awarded Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs of America as well as, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Executive of the Year. The Women’s Economic Development Council honored Ms. Williams in the technology category at their Women Honoring Women awards ceremony. The University of Alabama in Huntsville awarded Ms. Williams the UAH Business Fellow Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. She was also recently named as one of the Women Who Shape the State 2018.
Ms. Williams has also been recognized with the National Leadership Award. She is a graduate of the Huntsville/Madison County Leadership Program, Class 16. Her company has also won the nationally recognized Department of Defense Nunn-Perry Award in the DoD Mentor-Protégé program. As a result of Ms. Williams’ leadership, philosophy, and practice, her company was selected a Finalist for Huntsville’s Family Friendly Business of the Year.
Ms. Williams is active on many boards and councils; She is on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Corridor representing the 5th Congressional District, The Committee 100, Still Serving Veterans, the Huntsville Arts Council and a board member of the Leadership Huntsville/Madison County. Ms. Williams was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission. She is very active in mentoring and counsels many small businesses in the state of Alabama. Ms. Williams resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Phil Williams and son, Tyler.
CPA Brand Blackwell & Company
Brad Garland, CPA attended Auburn University where he graduated in Accounting, with a Minor in Spanish and an Equivalency of a Minor in Geology; as well as a Master of Accountancy. After working in public accounting in Atlanta and obtaining his Georgia CPA license, Brad moved back to the Tennessee Valley to crunch numbers in the ever-growing Rocket City.
Brad is the Treasurer for Kinertia, the entity that curates TEDxHuntsville; is a board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville; and serves on the Auburn University School of Accountancy Advisory Council. He is also involved in the Cove area of Huntsville’s community organization.
Brad resides in the Cove with his wife and two children.
“The importance of community, especially for a growing area like Huntsville, means that its citizens must love and understand civic duty. That relationship starts with establishing a foundation via education for our future – our students in school. As a parent myself, I look forward to continuing LLF’s mission to foster an environment for learning and foment interest in participation among the newest generation.”
Superintendent, Ozark City Schools
Reeivice Girtman serves as Ozark City Schools Superintendent. He and his wife Ann have been married for twenty-two years and they have three children. Originally from Dothan, Reeivice graduated from Northview High and attended Troy State University on a football scholarship. He graduated from Troy State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. He began his teaching career in Eufaula in 2000. Reeivice has served in many roles during his tenure in Eufaula City Schools, including as high school principal, elementary school principal, high school assistant principal, high school coach, middle school teacher, and elementary school teacher.
As principal of Eufaula Elementary School, Reeivice and his teachers were pioneers in south Alabama using the Super Citizens Program. Most recently, Reeivice served as Elementary Curriculum Director for Phenix City Schools (PCS) in Phenix City, AL from 2018-2020. PCS was noted as the Most Improved School district in the state of Alabama and several schools received other awards and recognitions including National Distinguished School (Meadowlane) during his tenure in PCS.
Reeivice is a LETRS certified administrator. He was appointed the Alabama Superintendent’s Literacy Task Force in 2019. He also completed the Alabama Superintendent’s Academy in 2020. In addition to his extensive and accomplished educational experience, Reeivice also served as the Executive Vice President of the Liberty Learning Foundation from 2015-2018. During his time as EVP, LLF experienced tremendous growth across Alabama in student participation as well as other program developments and expansion.
Reeivice is a learner and a leader with a passion for people. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, golfing, and listening to music.
I’m so excited to be officially back with my LLF family! LLF is my home away from home. The lessons we teach and instill in our students about freedom, character, financial literacy, and service have never been more important than they are today. I’m honored to serve on this board and committed to ensuring we provide opportunities for all students to become the Next Great Americans!
Manager of Urban & Long Range Planning, City of Huntsville
Dennis Madsen, AICP, received his Masters in Architecture from Georgia Tech and subsequently spent two decades working for private-sector architecture, urban design and community planning firms in Atlanta. In 2013, he joined the City of Huntsville as the Manager of Urban and Long Range Planning, and he has since then been leading the comprehensive planning effort known as “The BIG Picture”. Dennis lives on Monte Sano with his wife Laura Lester (Huntsville High, class of ’86) and son Adlai.
“My profession has taken me to cities across the US, and I have been able to see first hand what sets successful communities apart: it’s the people. The shared commitment to bettering one’s community is vital; it feeds all other aspects of success, from economic development and education to public safety and philanthropy. It is incredibly important that that commitment be nurtured in our schools. All children should have the opportunity to understand what it means to be a good citizen, and to have the tools to become one. Great students become great citizens; great citizens build great communities.”
Lane Busby McLelland
Director, Crossroads Civic Engagement Center
Lane Busby McLelland is the director of the Crossroads Civic Engagement Center in the Division of Community Affairs at the University of Alabama (UA). She has worked for over 30 years, both inside and outside of higher education, to foster and develop individual and community capacity for working across social, religious, and political differences. She directs initiatives on campus and in the broader community to advance skills for civic dialogue and to enhance voter education and participation. Her classes and research currently focus on moral development and issues of free speech in higher education, as well as the design and implementation of campus and community models for more effective civic learning and democratic engagement.
Before joining Crossroads in 2013, McLelland served as the assistant director in UA’s New College, where she taught courses in ethics and principles of deliberative democracy. While there, she also coordinated New College’s Civic Engagement and Leadership Minor and designed its community-based research internship program in rural Walker County, Alabama.
McLelland holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Studies from the University of Alabama. Additionally, she received an MA in Ethics and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and a BA in International Studies and Conflict Management from the University of Alabama.
“A thriving democratic society depends on the ability of its citizens to uphold its principles and foster its on-going power to guarantee the dignity and freedom of all people. Civic capacity must, therefore, be intentionally developed. The Liberty Learning Foundation’s commitment to prepare engaged, knowledgeable, and inspired citizens is vital to the future of our democracy, and I am honored to share in its mission.”
Dr. Jimmy Shaw
Superintendent, Florence City Schools
Dr. Jimmy Shaw has more than 21 years of experience in the field of education. He has served as a classroom teacher, Assistant Principal of a high school, Director of Federal Programs, Director of Transportation, Director of Safety, Director of Instruction and Assessment, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and currently serves the Florence City Schools System as superintendent for the past five years. Jimmy has been in administration for 15 years. Jimmy is a graduate of Florence City Schools (Bradshaw Class of 1992). Jimmy has an Associate’s degree from Northwest-Shoals Community College. He holds a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Educational Specialist Degree from the University of North Alabama. Jimmy holds a Doctorate of Education degree from Samford University. He has been married to Felicia for 25 years and has three sons. He is a member of the Florence Rotary Club, Class XXIX of Leadership Alabama, a graduate of the District Administrator’s National Superintendents Academy, The Thompson Executive Leadership Institute Superintendent Academy, and a member of the Kappa Nu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.
Citizens Bank & Trust
Amanda Stricklin brings 20 years experience in the banking sector to the Liberty Learning Foundation Board. Her focus on meaningful relationship development helps others succeed in finance – and is helping Liberty Learning Foundation accomplish great things! Her caring, personal approach carries over in her role as a Board Member for the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce where community betterment is top priority.
I love the Liberty Learning Foundation’s hands on approach to letting children experience what being a good citizen means. What better way to help children build strong character than by focusing on heroes in their own communities? I believe in Liberty Learning’s message and I’m passionate about passing it along to the next generation!
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
Michael Watkins serves as the District Sales Manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Michael started his career over 34 years ago and has served in various roles within the Sales and Marketing Department prior to accepting his current leadership role for the North Alabama region. His ability to build relationships will serve Liberty Learning Foundation well in accomplishing their goal to reach the youth of our community.
Mr. Watkins has served on numerous boards including Arab Economic/Industrial Development, Arab Education Foundation and is currently serving on the Huntsville/Madison County Board of Directors. He is active in our community making contributions to United Way, Boys and Girls Club and Huntsville Hospital Foundation.
He is a graduate of Faulkner University and has been recognized in his industry with the Professional, Academy for Healthcare Management designation. Mr. Watkins currently resides in Arab with his wife, Kim and has two grown children.
Liberty Learning takes a very exciting and engaging approach to teaching the basics of our long, successful storied history. In return, hopefully our younger generation will appreciate the sacrifice of others by honoring local heroes, as well engage in their communities to start making a difference at a young age. Our future is dependent upon well informed, upstanding citizens.
Logistician/Defense Contractor, U.S. Army
David (Dave) Weis was born and raised outside Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois.
Dave is a graduate of the University of North Dakota where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography/Urban Planning Development.
Dave retired from the United States Army in 2006 as a Major after serving 21 years on active duty. During his time in the Army, he served as an Army Aviator flying Black Hawk helicopters and as Army Public Affairs Officer. Throughout his miliary career, Dave attended numerous Professional and Leadership courses such as the Command and General Staff College and the Public Affairs Officers Course. During his military service Dave deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Stability Forces (SFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Operation Iraqi Freedom III. Dave currently works for the United States Army as a Logistician/Defense Contractor supporting the Security Assistance Management Directorate.
Dave recently completed a 6-year term as District 4 Representative to the Madison County School System, where he served as Board President for 3-Years. Prior to his time as a member of the Madison County Board of Education, Dave served as President of the Sparkman High School Band Boosters for 6 years and has been active in his community regarding all thing’s education since his arrival in Madison County. Dave has also served as a member of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church’s Liturgy Council.
Dave has been married for 32 years to Ann (Ravn), and has three sons, Christopher, Patrick, and Andrew.