fbpx Board of Trustees | University of West Alabama Skip to main content
Explore UWA Request Info Schedule a Visit Apply Now

UWA Board of Trustees


2023-2024 Academic Year Meeting Schedule


Executive Committee

Hal Bloom, Jr., President
Joseph Brown, Vice President
Jody W. Beard, Secretary
Toni Terry, Assistant Secretary
Sheila Cloud, Treasurer
Justin Smith, Past President Pro Tem



UWA Trustee Jennifer Agee
Mrs. Jennifer Estes Agee
District At-Large

Jennifer Estes Agee attended the University of West Alabama from 1997 to 2000 and was a varsity cheerleader and a member of Phi Mu Sorority. Jennifer graduated from The University of Alabama in 2001 with a B.S. in Healthcare Management. Jennifer’s husband, Brandon, and several other family members also attended the University of West Alabama. Jennifer is a licensed nursing home administrator and is the fourth generation of her family to own and operate Skilled Nursing Homes. Jennifer’s family operates NHS Management, LLC, a Skilled Nursing Facility company in Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, and Missouri. She operated several facilities early in her career, and now serves in a corporate capacity helping with operations, human resources, and community outreach. She has served her community on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama and Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. She has also served on the Alabama Nursing Home Association Board as region six director and currently is a board member for The DCH Foundation. Jennifer and Brandon live in Tuscaloosa with their two daughters.


UWA Trustee Jody Wise Beard
Mrs. Jody Wise Beard
District 1

Jody Wise Beard grew up in Livingston and received her B. A. in English and Business from Livingston University in 1985. She was proud to become the first woman President of the Student Government Association. She attained her Law degree from the University of Alabama School of law in 1988. After prosecuting in the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s office for three years and the Baldwin County District Attorney’s office for 6 ½ years, she was appointed Circuit Clerk in 2004 and has been elected twice since. She was the former first Vice-President of the Alabama Association of Circuit Clerks. She is a former member of the University of West Alabama Foundation Board and serves on the Finance Committee at First Baptist Church in Bay Minette. Jody has three sons, Bradley, Gary Patrick, and Watson.



Mr. Hal Bloom, Jr.
District 3

Hal W. Bloom graduated with a B.S. in Business and Commerce from the University of West Alabama in 1972 and is the founding principal of the Montgomery-based The Bloom Group, one of Alabama’s premier governmental relations firms that has been serving its diverse clients for almost 30 years. He is a member of the Alabama Alliance of Business and Industry, the University of Alabama President’s Cabinet, the University of West Alabama’s Society of the Golden Key, Chairman of the Baptist Medical Center-East’s Advisory Board, a Montgomery Rotary Club past president, and Chairman of The University of West Alabama Foundation’s board.


Joseph Brown
Mr. Joseph Brown
District At-Large

Joseph Brown has worked for Alabama Power Company for over 30 years and currently serves as the Western Division Area Manager with responsibilities including Economic Development, Marketing, Public Relations, Community Development and Government Relations for 14 counties and 78 cities. He holds a B.S. in Economics and Finance from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, is a graduate of the Duke Business School for Southern Company Officers, is an inactive State of Alabama Licensed Real Estate Appraiser and inactive State of Alabama Licensed Real Estate Broker. Mr. Brown is VP of the University of West Alabama Board of Trustees, a University of Alabama Capstone Medical Board Trustee, Community College President Search Committee Chair, a member of the WIOA State Executive Board, Founding Chair of West Alabama Works and past Chair of Region 3 Workforce Development Council and past Chair of the Montgomery Institute.




Mrs. Sheila S. Cloud
District 5


Mr. Jerry W. Groce
District 4

Jerry Groce is currently the Administrator of Easter Seals of Northwest Alabama located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Easter Seals provides Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy along with Vocational Rehabilitation Services to people with disabilities. Prior to being named the Administrator for Easter Seals he retired as a District Administrative Specialist with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. He was elected to Russellville City Council in 1988 and served four terms (1988 - 2004). Mr. Groce was appointed to the Russellville City School Board in 2004 and continues to serve in that capacity. He is also an Executive Board Member for Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG). Mr. Groce has a B.S. Degree from University of North Alabama '78 / Master Degree in Business Administration from UNA '88 / Master Degree in Social Work from University of Alabama in 2001. Mr. Jerry Groce is married to the former Benetia S. Bucker since 1981 and they have two children: Evan (31) and Alayna (27).


Mr. Randall Hillman
District 6

Randy Hillman was born and raised in Saraland, Alabama. He put himself through college at the University of West Alabama and law school at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law. Randy was a career prosecutor for 25 years until his retirement in 2017. As Chief Assistant District Attorney for Shelby County in Alabama from 1993-2001, his courtroom and prosecutorial tenure was spent running complex investigations and prosecuting hundreds of felony cases, including capital murder, violent felonies, and white-collar crimes.  As Executive Director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association/Alabama Office of Prosecution Services from 2001 to 2016, he was ADAA's chief legislative liaison/advisor in the Alabama Legislature and the United States Congress in Washington D.C. In this role, he drafted, helped draft, and/or significantly influenced the passage of over 300 new laws or revisions to current law and greatly impacted innumerable criminal justice policies and practices. He was also directly responsible for a budget of over $100 million and 1,200 District Attorney employees statewide. 


UWA Trustee Matthew Lavender
Mr. Matthew Lavender
District 7


Matthew Lavender graduated from the University of West Alabama in 2005 with a bachelor of science in industrial technology. He was a three-year letterman for UWA football from 2002-2004. He began his career in education and athletics as athletic director, and head coach of football and basketball at Pickens Academy in Pickens County, Alabama, where he served until 2009. He is now president and co-owner of Lavender, Inc., a general industrial contracting company that employs more than 300 people and has operated in Aliceville, Alabama, for nearly four decades. He serves on workforce advisory committees for Bevill State,  Shelton State, and Wallace State Community Colleges and Reid State Technical College. He is a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church in Aliceville, where he resides with his wife, Angela, and two sons, Andrew and Sawyer.


UWA Trustee Michael Maddox
Mr. Michael Maddox
District At-Large




UWA Trustee Tom Perry
Mr. Tom Perry
District 7

Taylor T. “Tom” Perry, Jr. graduated from the University of Alabama in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, and legal studies, and in 1986 from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he was a member of the Trial Advocacy Board. Since 1988, Mr. Perry has practiced law in west Alabama, with a heavy concentration on representing personal injury and wrongful death cases, as well as insurance fraud and other abuse victims. He has handled substantial cases in the 17th Judicial Circuit, the 1st Judicial Circuit, and the 4th Judicial Circuit. He is admitted to practice in the United States District Court (southern, middle, and northern districts of Alabama) and all federal courts in Alabama, including the United States Federal District Court, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Having served on the Alabama State Bar Commission from 1996 until 2005 and as bar commissioner since 2014, he will take office as Alabama State Bar president, effective July 2024. He has served on the board of his local hospital and represented the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority. Mr. Perry is married to Melinda Cooper Perry and has two children: Eugenia “GiGi” Compton Perry Mitchell (Chase) and Taylor T. “Tripp” Perry, III.


Mr. Jerry F. Smith
District At-Large

Jerry F. Smith is the president and CEO of the J.F. Smith Group, a fund-raising project management firm in Auburn, AL. He is the author of three books on fund-raising, as well as a popular and respected convention presenter. Prior to founding the J.F. Smith Group in 1991, Jerry worked in the Auburn University Alumni and Development Office (since 1977), during which time the university launched its first major capital campaign. The goal was $61.7 million, and Auburn raised $110 million with only three development officers. Jerry holds a BA from Auburn University and a MS from Livingston University.

Mr. Thed Spree
District At-Large

Years of Service: 1988 to 2022

Deceased December 11, 2022

Seat awaiting appointment



Mr. Victor H. Vernon
District 2

Victor Vernon retired in 2015 from the Business Council of Alabama as Vice President for Legislative Policy, where he specialized in tax, public education, workforce training and governmental fiscal policy issues on behalf of Alabama’s business community. Previously, as Senate Fiscal Officer, Vernon directed the preparations of state budgets and fiscal analyses of all legislation pending before the Alabama Senate. Mr. Vernon was the 1998 recipient of the Steven Gold Award, presented by the National Conference of State Legislatures for significant contributions to public finance and fiscal policy. Mr. Vernon was the 2015 recipient of the Alabama Department of Education’s, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative’s Friend of AMSTI Award for his role in creating legislation for the Alabama Science in Motion program in 1994, which was later incorporated into AMSTI. Mr. Vernon holds a M.A. in Finance from the University of Alabama.




The Honorable Kay Ivey, Governor 
State of Alabama 
c/o State Capitol, Room N-104
600 Dexter Avenue 
Montgomery, AL 36130


Dr. Eric Mackey
State Department of Education 
P O Box 302101 
Montgomery, AL 36130