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Blaze Leadership Academy class begins, second class coming this fall

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  • February 19, 2021

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Blaze Leadership Academy, UAB’s flagship leadership development program for high-potential faculty and staff, has launched its first class for 2021. It will run from January through May.

The 30-member class "is a diverse group, a 50/50 mix of staff and faculty from all over our campus," said Organizational Development Manager Gerriann Fagan. "If they were stranded on a desert island, they would have everything covered. They have expertise in the medical, technical and environmental fields, along with the arts."

In addition to full-group meetings, participants are gathering in small groups between sessions to encourage and support one another. All participants are receiving individual coaching sessions and assistance in creating development plans. Participants may also choose to be paired with a mentor for additional development opportunities.

Check the Learning & Development site to discover other leadership programs and learning opportunities at

This Blaze Leadership Academy class is making use of resources and adjustments pioneered by the Class of 2020, Fagan notes. Virtual meetings through Zoom and use of Docebo, UAB's learning system, has paved the way for the program to be restructured with a slightly shorter timeframe than previous classes, "which has allowed us to scale up to meet demand for this training from across the institution," Fagan said.

Second Blaze Leadership class coming

The call for Blaze Leadership Academy applications at the end of 2020 generated strong interest and a large number of nominees from across campus, Fagan said. "The response was so strong that we will be running a second Blaze class this fall." Nominations will open in summer 2021.

Blaze Leadership Academy Spring 2021 Cohort

Mary Ann Bodine Al-Sharif, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Studies

School of Education

Kyle Bailey

Director of Student Experience


Elizabeth Barstow, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy; Director of the Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation 

School of Health Professions

James Byrd, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting and Finance; Director, Masters in Accounting Program

Collat School of Business

Olivio Clay, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

College of Arts and Sciences

Teresa Coco, M.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

School of Medicine

Annee Cook

Director of Marketing

University Relations

Jill Deaver

Assistant Professor and Head of Lister Hill Library Reference Department

UAB Libraries

Jamie Elliott

Admin Director II, Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology

Joint Health Sciences

Camille Epps

Senior Director of Development

College of Arts and Sciences

Paulette Evans, Ph.D.

Clinical Instructor/Director, Department of Curriculum & Instruction

School of Education

Kamilah Frison

Director of Administrative and Fiscal Affairs

Office of Vice President for Research

Michael Hill

Associate Director, Conflict of Interest Review Board

Kochurani Jacob, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Research Health and Safety, Department of Environmental Health and Safety

UAB Facilities

Ann Marie Karaki

Program Director III, Continuing Dental Education

School of Dentistry

John Knight, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Urology

School of Medicine

Charitharth Vivek Lal, M.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

School of Medicine

Jaret Langston, Ph.D.

Applications Architect II Manager - Enterprise Enterprise Applications Solutions - Research Support

Information Technology

Jorge Lopez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor/Program Co-Director, Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences

School of Health Professions

Christopher Minnix, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English, Director of Freshman English, Department of English

College of Arts and Sciences

Arie Nakhmani, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

School of Engineering

Pam Paustian, Ph.D.

Executive Director and Associate Professor, Office of eLearning & Professional Studies


Alicia Rohan

Director of Public Relations

University Relations

John Shacka, Ph.D.  

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

School of Medicine

Kay Simon

Director, University Events


Victoria Smith

Associate Director of First Year Experience, Undergraduate Student Success and Retention

Student Affairs

Robert Sorge, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

College of Arts and Sciences

Laura Tull

Director of Transfer Student Success

Collat School of Business

Tashara Walker

Director, Certification Officer, Office of Student Services

School of Education

Jeffrey Wickliffe, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

School of Public Health