Panelists & Speakers

Alesia M. Jones  |  Panel Moderator
Chief Human Resources Officer, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Alesia M. Jones is the chief human resources officer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a world-renowned research university and health care center and the state of Alabama’s largest single site employer with more than 23,000 academic, administrative, and medical faculty and staff. Ms. Jones leads a Human Resources division of some 115 staff who work in both consultative and transactional service capacities for the academic, research, service, and health care units throughout the institution. The group delivers all core HR services of employment, relations, benefits, compensation and organizational development, as well as training and development.

Ms. Jones has an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a BS from The University of Alabama. She is a certified Compensation professional and she has pursued further certification as a Benefits professional.

Ms. Jones is active in Birmingham community and civic organizations such as the Rotary Club of Birmingham, The Rotary Club of Birmingham Foundation, The HUB Community Development Corporation, The American Cancer Society, and United Way of Central Alabama, Inc. She has served on various community boards including The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, McWane Science Center, Railroad Park Foundation, Oasis of Hope Counseling for Women and Children, and the Women’s Exchange.


Nancy Buckner  |  Panelist
Commissioner, Alabama Department of Human Resources 

Commissioner Buckner has served as Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources since September 2008. She has over 37 years of experience in the human resources field, including service at the Talladega County Department of Human Resources and as legislative liaison for the State Department of Human Resources (DHR). She was also St. Clair County Child Welfare Administrator and Calhoun County DHR Interim Director. In both positions, she directed the revamping of each county’s child welfare program.

Under Commissioner Buckner’s leadership at DHR, her accomplishments include a 64 percent increase in adoptions, a simplified food assistance program for senior citizens, and a food assistance application process, which will allow online applications later this year.


Dr. Mia Cowan  |  Panelist
Founder and Medical Director, MiBella Wellness Center

Dr. Mia Cowan is Founder and Medical Director of MiBella Wellness Center. Dr. Cowan is a Board Certified Gynecologist, Anti-Aging Specialist, author, and speaker. A small business owner and native of Birmingham, Alabama, she provides gynecologic care to adolescents and women of all ages. Dr. Cowan has special interests and training in hormonal balance for women and men, holistic medicine and minimally invasive surgery.

Dr. Cowan received both her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Master of Arts degree in Health Education and Promotion from the University of Alabama. She completed her Doctorate of Medicine and residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Cowan was appointed Chief Resident of the OB/GYN residency program from 2005-2006.


Chris Glaub  |  Panelist
Senior Vice President, Corporate Benefits, Regions Bank

Chris is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Benefits at Regions Bank. His responsibilities include a range of benefits available to the 20,000 associates of Regions including medical, dental, retirement, life, disability, and child care. He has been in the position since 2000. Prior to Regions, he held similar positions at companies in the Chicago area. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from the University of Virginia.


Representative Bill Poole  |  Panelist
House District 63, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee

Representative Bill Poole was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives on November 2, 2010 and represents District 63, which includes the University of Alabama, portions of both the Tuscaloosa City and Tuscaloosa County school districts, and much of the City of Tuscaloosa.

Rep. Poole was raised in Marengo County and graduated from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law. He has been a general practice attorney in Tuscaloosa since 2004. In 2010, he was elected as Chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Legislation Committee and in 2013, appointed as Chairman of the Ways and Means Education Committee.

After serving his first legislative session in 2011, Rep. Poole was identified by veteran lawmakers interviewed by the Mobile Press-Register as the top member out of 34 new lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives.


Linda Smith  |  Panelist
Director, Early Childhood Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center

Linda Smith leads the early childhood initiative of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, DC-based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans.

She most recently served as the deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, she provided overall policy coordination for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs and the Child Care and Development Fund. She also served as the department’s liaison to the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies.

Previously, Smith served as the executive director for the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), where she represented more than 650 community-based agencies concerned with the care of children in their earliest years. She also served as a legislative fellow and professional staffer on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under the chairmanship of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Prior to this work, she was the director of the Office of Family Policy for the Secretary of Defense, where she was one of the primary architects of the military’s child care program. Additionally, she has held positions with both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.


Leroy Abrahams  | Opening Remarks
Executive Vice President, Head of Community Affairs, Regions Bank

Leroy Abrahams is the head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank and in this role serves as Chairman and President of the Regions Foundation and the President of the Regions Community Development Corporation.  

Previously, Abrahams served as Area President in North Central Alabama. He joined Regions in 2013 as head of Strategic and Corporate Planning. His prior experience includes serving with SunTrust Bank as President and CEO of the company’s Hampton Roads region in Virginia. In addition, he held roles as the retail banking executive and central group retail line of business leader. Before joining SunTrust, Abrahams was a consumer banking manager in eastern Tennessee for Regions.

Abrahams graduated from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance. 

Throughout his career, Abrahams has been active in serving and supporting nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in various communities. Abrahams currently serves on the boards of Birmingham Promise, the Woodlawn Foundation, the Eyesight Foundation of Alabama, and The World Games 2022. He is also a member of the Southeastern Council of Foundations.



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