New class enters UAB’s leadership academy

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rep blaze leadership group 550pxBlaze Leadership Academy returned to an in-person format for its fall 2021 cohort (pictured here preparing for a team-building exercise).Congratulations to the more than two dozen faculty and staff leaders seeking to grow and contribute more to UAB who were selected for the latest cohort of UAB’s Blaze Leadership Academy, which launched Oct. 4, 2021. This is the 13th class for the academy, which is designed to prepare high-potential faculty and staff for senior leadership opportunities and become the stewards of UAB’s future.

Blaze Leadership Academy provides an intensive leadership-development program that combines team projects, case studies, skill-building, expert speakers and panels, peer-to-peer consultation, and networking opportunities.

Twenty-five faculty and staff from all UAB schools and the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as eight VP units and UAB Hospital, are part of the fall 2021 cohort, which follows a spring cohort. “We are delighted to conduct the 13th cohort of Blaze Leadership Academy in-person after shifting to a remote, online platform last year,” said Organizational Learning and Development Executive Director Susan Coan.


Blaze Leadership Academy Fall 2021 Cohort


Craig Anderson

Executive Director, Administrative Operations

School of Nursing


Michelle Cook, Ph.D.

Director, National and International Fellowships and Scholarships

Office of the Provost


Chelsea Crawford, Ph.D.

Director, Research Development 

Office of Research


Ryan Davis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting and Finance

Collat School of Business


Edie Hapner, Ph.D.

Professor, Clinical Otolaryngology; Co-Director, UAB Voice; Director, Otolaryngology Speech and Hearing Services

Heersink School of Medicine


Julie Keith

AVP, Content Strategy

Digital Strategy/University Relations


Jesse Keppley

Director, Student and Academic Services

Graduate School


Marissa Keppley

Director of Communications, Department of Surgery

Heersink School of Medicine


Angela Lewis-Maddox, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration

College of Arts and Sciences


Katie McDowell

Senior Director, Advancement Communications

Office of Advancement


LaShonda McNair

Manager, HR Compliance

Human Resources


Melendi Morton

Clinic Manager, UAB Eye Care

School of Optometry


Karolina Mukhtar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Biology

College of Arts and Sciences


Karley Nemeth


UAB Hospital


Ashley Neyer

Director, Education Abroad

Office of Education Abroad


Chris Parks

Information Systems Manager II

School of Public Health


Kasey Robinson, J.D.

Title IX Coordinator

Office of Student Affairs


Deanna Smeltzer

Director, Fiscal and Administrative Affairs

School of Engineering


Jessica Stephens

Business Manager



Monica Stinnett

Director, Research Operations

College of Arts and Sciences


Larrell Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Human Studies

School of Education


Jessica Williams, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Health Services Administration

School of Health Professions


Jamie Witter

Director, IT Client Services

Information Technology


Wen-Chou (James) Wu, DDS

Associate Professor, Department of Prosthodontics

School of Dentistry


Wesley Zech, Ph.D.

Interim Chair, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

School of Engineering