Featured Speakers


Secretary Greg Canfield
Alabama Department of Commerce

Greg Canfield was appointed to lead the state’s economic development activity in July 2011. A former private-sector businessman and state lawmaker from Vestavia Hills, Canfield serves as a member of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Cabinet and as Secretary of Commerce for the State of Alabama.

Secretary Canfield’s Department of Commerce leads the effort to align economic development and education allies across Alabama to target industrial and advanced manufacturing projects, while increasing a focus on securing high-paying, knowledge-based jobs in the life sciences, research, engineering, and design fields.

Canfield attended the University of Alabama and UAB where he earned a Finance Degree in 1983. He and his wife Denise have two children, Rachel and John.


Myla Calhoun
President, Alabama Power Foundation; Vice President, Alabama Power Charitable Giving; Executive Director, Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund

Myla E. Calhoun is president of the Alabama Power Foundation and vice president of Charitable Giving for Alabama Power. Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, the foundation has awarded more than $200 million in grants to Alabama nonprofits, education institutions and community organizations.

She is a 2018 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow and a member of the advisory board for Stonehenge Capital. Calhoun serves on the boards of directors for the Birmingham Museum of Art, Indian Springs School, the Virginia Samford Theatre, Children’s of Alabama and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

Calhoun is a graduate of Spelman College and The University of Alabama School of Law. She is the proud mother of two daughters.


Senator Vivian Davis Figures

A strong advocate for children, families, education and health issues, service is the driving force behind Senator Vivian Davis Figures. Her election in 1997 made her the first African-American woman to be elected to the Senate from Mobile County and the second in the state of Alabama. In 2008, Senator Figures became the first African American woman in Alabama to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, and she made history when she was elected by her Democratic Senate colleagues to serve as Minority Leader in 2013, making her the first woman elected to leadership in either the Senate or the House. Her 22 years of service in the Senate now makes her the longest-serving female in the Alabama State Senate.

In 2012, Senator Figures was featured on the cover of the Council of State Government's September issue, Capitol Ideas, because of her strong support for individualization both in K-12 and postsecondary education. Additional awards, recognitions, and accolades for Senator Figures include the Elected Women of Excellence award given by the National Foundation for Women Legislators and selection from among 25 female state and local leaders to participate in its 2018 Women in Government Leadership Program. She has received the NOBEL Women (National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women) 2018 Lifetime Achievements Award and the 2018 Lifetime Achievements Award from the Vernon Z. Crawford Bar Association.

Senator Figures is the proud mother of three sons, Akil, Shomari and Jelani; and one granddaughter, A'Kayle. She is a member of Living Word Christian Center, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Alabama New South Coalition and the Alabama Democratic Senators.


Faye Nelson
Deputy Commissioner for Family Resources, Alabama Dept. of Human Resources

Faye Nelson’s role for the Alabama Department of Human Resources involves management of the TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) Program, the Food Assistance Program, Quality Control, the Child Care Services Program, and the Child Support Program for the State of Alabama. Her career began with the department in 1979 as a social worker with the Dallas County Department of Human Resources. During her 40 years tenure, Mrs. Nelson has held various positions of increasing responsibility, which includes Child Welfare worker, Children & Adult Protective Services supervisor, Adult Protective Services Program Specialist, Lowndes County Department of Human Resources Director and the Alabama Child Support Enforcement Division’s Director.

Mrs. Nelson’s service includes membership or proxy membership on various boards, which includes the Children’s Policy Council, the Alabama Partnership for Children, the Alabama Workforce Development Board, the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation Board, and others. She currently serves as the elected state employee representative on the Alabama State Personnel Board and the Alabama State Employee’s Insurance Board as the chairperson.

Mrs. Nelson received her Bachelor of Science Degree and her Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of Alabama. She is certified as a Licensed Master Social Worker. She is also a graduate of Leadership Alabama Class XVI and of the first Leadership Lowndes County class.

Mrs. Nelson is married to Arthur Nelson Sr. They are the proud parents of eight children and grandparents to 16 grandchildren.


Representative Debbie Wood

Guin Robinson
Associate Dean of Economic Development, Jefferson State Community College

Guin Robinson is the Associate Dean of Economic Development for Jefferson State Community College. Prior to this role, he served as the Executive Director of Region 2020 from 2004-2006.

Guin was the first full-time mayor of Pell City, Alabama. He was elected to the position in 2000.  He had served as the part-time mayor in 1999, having been appointed by the City Council to fill a vacancy. He had served on the Council since 1996.  As mayor, he was instrumental in improving the safety of Interstate 20 and presided over the city during a period of significant growth. 

Guin has long been involved in regional efforts. He served as chair of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPC), a planning organization for 92 governments in a six-county region as well as the Regional Transit Authority.

Guin is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Birmingham and served as Program Chair for the 2009 class. He is also a 2003 graduate of Leadership Alabama and served as a board member. Guin is the current Chairman of the Regional Council of Leadership Alabama. He was an early organizer of the Education Foundation in Pell City as well as Leadership Pell City.

Since 2004, Guin has served as a volunteer auctioneer for non-profits and has helped to secure more than two million dollars in funding for the organizations.

A native of Ashland, Guin has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration from Auburn University and a Masters in Education Leadership from UAB.



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