MARCH 1, 2023 | 8:00 am


We're BACK!

And Access & Allies is on the move in 2023!! The Lab on Dexter is honored to partner with Women’s Foundation of Alabama, Wednesday, March 1st for a robust and thoughtful day of convening women and our allies in downtown Montgomery. Pack your comfy shoes because we will walk to various areas of downtown Montgomery as we embrace physical, mental, and professional well-being! 

Our day will begin at the Montgomery Visitor Center — just across from the historic fountain and the start of so many critical movements in our state’s capital. Melanie Bridgeforth, president and CEO of Women’s Foundation of Alabama will open the convening and then turn it over to our first speakers for Conversations over Coffee.

Our first session of the day will begin with a light breakfast while First lady of Montgomery, Tamika Reed, and Vice President of External Affairs for Women’s Foundation of Alabama, Rachel Bunning talk about the status of women in Montgomery and across Alabama.

Rachel Bunning

Rachel Bunning is a well-versed external affairs professional who has directed communication strategy and advocated for important issues, campaigns, and causes that span from the nation’s Capital to the Alabama State Capital. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s famed School of Journalism, Bunning has led strategic communications efforts on behalf of corporate, political, governmental, and nonprofit entities. She served on successful statewide campaign staffs in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and continued that advocacy effort in Washington D.C. as a Senior Account Executive at public affairs firm, VOX Global.

Bunning served as Communications Director in the Office of the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives for more than four years, where she developed and delivered communications strategy for the Speaker and the Majority Caucus. Bunning also served as the Communications and Marketing Administrator at the Alabama Community College System managing external affairs and communications strategy for the state’s 24 community and technical colleges.

Rachel currently serves as the Vice President, External Affairs for Women’s Foundation of Alabama where she heads up the Montgomery office and leads out on media, government relations, and policy.

Melanie Bridgeforth

A veteran advocate, Melanie has spent her entire professional career fighting for equitable systems and sustainable impact at scale. In 2018, Melanie took her visionary leadership to the only regional women’s foundation in the state and in three short years transformed the institution into Women’s Foundation of Alabama - the state’s leading philanthropic and leadership voice for women. Under Melanie’s leadership, the Foundation embedded an equity-informed approach, nearly doubled annual philanthropic investments to community partners, and launched the organization’s data-driven policy and grassroots arm yielding several historic legislative wins for women, including passage of the state’s first Equal Pay Statute. Melanie serves on the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), Alabama Giving and Prosper. Melanie also sits on the Alabama Women’s Health Commission as an appointee of the Lt. Governor of the State of Alabama. She is a proud member of Rotary Birmingham, The Links, Incorporated – Birmingham (AL) Chapter, and the 2020 Class of Leadership Birmingham.

Tamika Reed

Tamika Henry Reed is an investment banker with The Frazer Lanier Company headquartered in Montgomery, AL. Prior to transitioning into public finance, Tamika was a staff attorney for the Alabama Education Association (AEA) where she represented public school education employees with legal issues throughout the state of Alabama. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, her Master of Arts Degree in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri at Columbia and her Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Dayton School of Law. Tamika was nominated by Governor Kay Ivey to serve on the Alabama Women’s Tribute Statue Commission. She is the chairwoman of the Montgomery Health and Wellness Task Force, the 100 Women Strong Committee, and the Hugh Maddox Inn of Court Commission. She is a member of the Montgomery chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Incorporated and Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated.

Get Your Mind...

Get your mind and body ready for all that we have in store on this fun and informative day because for our next session, we will hit the pavement and head on over to the Lab on Dexter for the ‘Well-Being Workshop.’ We will hear from diverse experts who will open your eyes and minds on critical ways to maintain your well-being. From medical well-being to financial and digital wellness, our speakers will put you on the track to maintaining a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Our workshop sessions will be led by some of the best in the state, check them out below!

Candyce "Ce" Anderson

Candyce "Ce" Anderson, M.S., L.P.C., is an author and licensed therapist serving Alabama, Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Ohio. She serves as the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the private practice Revita Therapy and Wellness, located in Montgomery, Alabama. Experienced in mental health and trauma, Anderson uses an integrative approach in providing therapy services while also offering proven holistic and spiritual practices to enhance the therapeutic process. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University and a Master of Science in Counseling & Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health, from Troy University. She is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society for professional counselors.

When she's not leading sold-out events, she's giving back to the community through various means. She is a board member at The Family Guidance Center, and she has continuously provided expertise for the following public service organizations: The Links Incorporated, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated®, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, City of Montgomery, and The Junior League.

Chasiti Shepherd

Chasiti is the recipient of many awards for her public relations, marketing, sales, and entrepreneurial efforts, including President’s Club Winner, CEO Winner, Public Relations Campaign of the Year. In addition, she has been honored by PR News, Who’s Who in Black Birmingham, Birmingham Magazine’s Most Beautiful People and Top under 40 Influencer, Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, and named the Rising Star CEO for Birmingham in 2018. Chasiti was named to the National Small Business Association Leadership Council in 2020.

Dr. Jennifer Billingsley Richardson

Dr. Jennifer Billingsley Richardson is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and graduate of LAMP High School. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana. Upon graduation, she attended the University of Alabama School of Dentistry in Birmingham where she earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. She is a member of Alabama Dental Association, American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. During her involvement with Second District (Montgomery) of the Alabama Dental Association, Dr. Richardson has served as secretary/treasurer and President. She also spends numerous hours in continuing education to further her dental expertise. When Dr. Richardson is not practicing dentistry, she enjoys spending time with family.

Vicki Griffin

Vicki Griffin is the daughter of the late Willie B. Griffin, Jr. and Martha Griffin of Brundidge, AL. She is a 1990 honor graduate of Pike County High School in Brundidge, where she was ranked number three in her overall class. Vicki is a 1995 graduate of Troy State University, Troy, AL. During her tenure at Troy, she was a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society, Finance Club, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Vicki continued her education at Troy State University in Montgomery, AL where she received her MBA in 2002. In 1994, Vicki started her banking career with Colonial Bank in Montgomery, AL. Vicki began with her current financial institution in late 2003 as Vice President and Loan Review Manager for Peoples Bank and Trust Company. Through bank acquisitions, the company is now Trustmark National Bank. Vicki is First Vice President of Trustmark and serves dual roles as the Commercial Banking Support Supervisor for North Central AL and the CRA Coordinator for Montgomery.

From There...

From there we will head to Ravello for our Women’s Leadership Luncheon where we will hear from the women who lead our state. Take a peek at the additional panelists below!

Lisa Mays, JD, CFRE

Lisa Mays, JD, CFRE, was named CEO of The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship in Spring 2020. Lisa possesses a unique combination of experience in the areas of nonprofit leadership, fund development, grant writing, capital campaigns, law, public speaking, strategic planning, marketing, public relations, and collaborative partnerships. After practicing law for several years, she transitioned into the nonprofit sector to fulfill her passion for helping others. In years prior to coming to The Catalyst, Lisa impacted numerous lives, raised millions of dollars for a local nonprofit, and successfully led a $7.1 million capital campaign to build a 30,000 sq. ft. facility for homeless women and children. Lisa and her Catalyst “Dream Team” have seen unprecedented growth since they began their journey together during a global pandemic, including exponential growth in client base and program offerings, increased and diversified revenue streams, and a vastly expanded organizational footprint – they now serve clients all over the U.S., and beyond.

Helena Thomas Duncan

Helena Thomas Duncan was born and raised in Opelika, AL and is the youngest of five children. She received her Bachelor of Science in Finance degree from Auburn University Montgomery. Duncan began her professional career as a teller at Southtrust Bank. Throughout her career in the financial sector, Duncan was able to offer support to individuals and main street businesses to help them succeed. In 1994, Duncan became Executive Vice President of Colonial Bancgroup, Inc in Montgomery, AL. During her time at Colonial, she oversaw Human Resources of over 5,000 employees in five states and was responsible for executive level recruitment. Her additional responsibilities included directly managing corporate security; development and management of private banking; and was a part of the group that prepared the strategic plan and planned mergers and acquisitions. In 2005, Duncan opened American Legacy Mortgage in Montgomery. As Owner and Broker, she helped identify mortgage loan clients and find the best product to meet their needs, while establishing and maintaining excellent relationships with real estate agents. The veteran businesswoman began her role as BCA President and CEO in December 2022 and has continued to strengthen the organization’s advocacy efforts as the voice for the Alabama business community. Duncan was recently named a Yellowhammer ‘2022 Woman of Impact’ for her influential role and contribution to business and the community across Alabama. She has served as Chairman of the Board for Saint James School, as board member for the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Child Protect, and Board of Controls Committee of 100.

Stacia Robinson

Stacia Robinson is the Director of the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs (AOMA), a cabinet appointment by Governor Kay Ivey. AOMA is responsible for advising the Governor for policy to advance women & minorities in the areas of economics, health, education, justice & empowerment. She is also the Agency Principal of BeneChoice Companies, LLC, a Benefits and Financial Choices Company and the District Manager of Colonial Life Insurance Company. She helps businesses and organizations design benefits programs and cost savings strategies to boost employee loyalty and retention. Her business involvement includes Employee Benefits Design & Administration, Advertising Consulting, and Professional Speaking. She is a contributing author to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Masters of Networking. In the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Stacia was elected to be on the Board of Directors as the first African-American female. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She received a B.S. in Mathematics and spent seven years in the Air Force as a communications-computer officer. She completed a M.S. in Counseling and Human Development at Troy University in Montgomery. She separated from the Air Force Standard Systems Center, at the rank of Captain, in Montgomery in April 1991 and began her marketing business.

Dr. Kemba Chambers

Dr. Kemba Chambers has 26 years of secondary and higher education experience and currently serves as the first female President at H. Councill Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery, Alabama. She previously served as the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning and Chief Instructional Officer for the Alabama Community College System, and Executive Vice President and Vice President of Instructional Services at H. Councill Trenholm State Community College. Dr. Chambers has formerly served in various leadership roles within the Alabama Community College System, including serving as Interim President at H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, Coastal Alabama Community College in Bay Minette, and J. F. Drake State Community College in Huntsville. Additionally, she also served in administrative and instructional roles at Calhoun Community College in Decatur and Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City. Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Chambers served as a High School Mathematics Teacher within the Phenix City Public School System. Dr. Chambers is actively engaged and serves in several professional and community organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Board of Trustees and Executive Council, Montgomery Committee of 100, Montgomery Chamber Board of Directors, Montgomery Downtown 2.0 Steering Committee, Montgomery Symphony Board, Baptist Health Foundation Board, Auburn University Montgomery College of Education Advisory Board, Black Women Collegiate Presidents and Chancellors, Alabama Community College President’s Association, Alabama Education Association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Justice A. Kelli Wise

Justice A. Kelli Wise, a fifth generation Alabamian raised near her family’s small rural farm, attended public schools in Dale County and Autauga County. She is the daughter of the late Col. Bobby W. Wise of Kinston and the late Mrs. Betty Mathis Wise of Samson and the niece of the late Geneva County Probate Judge Harold B. Wise. Justice Wise received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University's Jones School of Law. She holds an MPA from Auburn University at Montgomery, which presented her with the University's Outstanding Alumni Award and named her among the University’s Top 40 in 40. In addition, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Judson College.

Justice Wise was first elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 2000, becoming the youngest woman elected to serve on an Alabama Appellate Court. She was reelected in 2006 and was later selected to serve as Presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, where she authored numerous opinions aimed at strengthening Alabama's criminal laws and protecting Alabama citizens from violent offenders. Justice Wise was elected to the Supreme Court of Alabama in 2010 and was reelected in 2016 and 2022. She heads the Court’s Wise Division. Throughout her tenure on the bench, Justice Wise has worked to defend the Constitution, safeguard our liberty, and provide fair and impartial justice for those who come before Alabama’s highest court. As an active volunteer in her community, Justice Wise serves in numerous legal, professional, and social organizations.

She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama, the Chair of the Alabama Court Improvement Project Multidisciplinary Task Force, a member of the Alabama Judicial Conference, an Alabama Law Foundation Fellow, a member of the Alabama State Bar Association, a Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Trustee, a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a member of the Max Credit Union Board of Directors, and a founding member of the Lillie Lee Minier Society. Justice Wise also serves on The Council of State Government, Civic Health Task Force, CSG Veterans Committee and has previously served as President of the Junior League of Montgomery, as well as on the board of directors for The Family Sunshine Center and Hands On River Region.

As our day...

As our day together wraps up, we have one last treat in store! We will close with a toast to a great day and have final thoughts on how we make ourselves better allies and center power for women across the state.

This is an event you don’t want to miss!