Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox made headlines for his leadership after a tornado wrecked havoc in 2011, but his potential was recognized by the residents of the city years before the disaster. Even earlier than that, his potential was seen and applauded in the halls of the Department of Government.Walter Maddox received his undergraduate (political science) and graduate (public administration) degrees through UAB's Department of Government before starting his career in public education (a family tradition). From 1996-2001 he served as a field director for the Alabama Educational Association, and was appointed Executive Director of Personnel for Tuscaloosa City Schools in 2001.
Maddox became involved in Tuscaloosa's local government after being elected City Councilman for the Sixth District that same year. He was elected Mayor of Tuscaloosa in 2005, and was sworn in for his second term in November of 2009. Since his first inauguration, Mayor Maddox has led initiatives to increase economic development, improve customer service and provide quality Pre-K education for academically at-risk four-year-old children.
Maddox is most recognized for his exceptional leadership following events of April 27, 2011, when an EF-4 tornado destroyed 12% of the City of Tuscaloosa in less than six minutes. The mile-wide tornado took the lives of 53 citizens and damaged more than 5,000 residential properties, 600 businesses, and critical city infrastructures including a fire station, police precinct, schools, communication towers and the facility housing Environmental Services and the Emergency Management Agency.
Mayor Maddox managed the recovery efforts with the goal not only to rebuild, but to rebuild better. Immediately following the storm he engaged the public through social media and assumed the role as media point-of-contact to deliver accurate and instant information. Over 3,000 citizens attended public meetings and more than 74,000 visited an open website to share personal visions for recovery, and Tuscaloosa Forward – a strategic community plan to renew and rebuild – was established. Since April 27, 2011, approximately 3,000 rebuild permits have been issued and the number of registered volunteers increased from 243 to 28,593. Most importantly, Maddox continues to channel the resilient spirit of the citizens of Tuscaloosa by refusing the let the disaster define the City and highlighting the compassion and generosity of the people of Alabama.
In September 2011 Maddox received the UAB National Alumni Society's Honorary Lifetime Membership Award, the society's highest award bestowed on an individual whose contributions to UAB benefit the entire community.