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Applications for AEA Executive Director Ends Today, One Name Stands Out

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The Alabama Education Association (AEA) began accepting applications for a new Executive Director on February 22; that search ends today at 5pm.

A 20 plus member committee is overseeing the process, tasked with finding, “A visionary who can inspire confidence with a record of success in organizational innovation and change,” among many other stated qualifications.

Speculation has revolved around a stellar cluster of names, including Sen. Quinton Ross, former AEA’s David Stout, and current Public Policy & Governmental Relations Manager, Susan Kennedy. Also, former Sen. Roger Bedford, and former Rep. Blaine Galliher’s names have been mentioned with favor. But, one name is recurrent and appears to have the lead to bring the faltering giant back into the arena. That is Tuscaloosa’s superstar, Mayor Walter Maddox.

Maddox has a long history in education, serving as the AEA’s youngest Uni Serve Director from 1996 to 2001.

Among the State requirements for its new leader, the AEA asks that the individual be, “A leader focused on AEA member engagement, trust, loyalty and fostering strong relationships among AEA and its members.”

Maddox learned, as a young man, the importance of building strong association members, and since becoming Tuscaloosa’s Mayor in 2005, he has succeeded in building strong support throughout the city. He has literally lead the path to rebuilding Tuscaloosa after the devastating tornados in 2011. Maddox has been credited nationally for his crisis management skills after a EF-4 tornado destroyed 12 percent of the City and severely damaged or destroyed 5,300 homes and businesses. The New York Times said Maddox, “…emerged as an efficient, earnest, unwavering hero of the storm…As he watched hundreds of hurt and stunned residents wandering out of the destruction, he said he thought, ‘How am I going to help all these people?'”

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Many believe Maddox could bring that same tenacious caring to the wounded AEA.

There are more than a few people that believe Paul Hubbert, who lifted the AEA to prominence, would have picked Maddox as his successor, if the choice had been his alone.

The AEA wants an individual with, “A record of at least ten years of leadership experience in positions of increasing responsibility, including management at a senior level for at least three years.”

On November 4, 2013, Walter Maddox was sworn in for his third term as Tuscaloosa’s 36th Mayor, according to his official bio. “Since his first inauguration, Mayor Maddox has led initiatives to increase economic development, improve customer service with the implementation of Tuscaloosa 311 and provide quality Pre-K education for academically at-risk four-year-old children.”

Those who say Maddox is at the top of the list to be the next director of the AEA have a good reason to point to Maddox as the man.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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