City of Birmingham Small Business Council
Mayor Woodfin and the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity (IEO) recognize that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, the pride of our families, the gathering places of our neighborhoods and the institutions that shape the quality of life we all enjoy.
In February 2019, the Woodfin Administration launched the inaugural Small Business Council (SBC) to assist and advise the Mayor and his team on strategic and practical matters related to small businesses. The SBC is comprised of 22 small business owners, startup founders and ecosystem builders who are interested in serving on our Council to recommend actions, policies and programs to facilitate and accelerate the city’s support of small businesses.
“Entrepreneurs have a vision and a voice. Birmingham’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the backbone of our city, and we look forward to hearing from them.’’ – Mayor Randall Woodfin
Meet the 2021-2023 Council
Autumn Sanders Foster
Autumn Sanders Foster has worked with Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, and nonprofits, helping them grow their businesses by understanding their customers since 2010. She launched Quire in 2017 to bring ethnographic research and design thinking to organizational leaders that are looking for a way forward but don’t know how to get there. Throughout her career, Autumn has worked with organizations including Target, Samsung, FedEx, SC Johnson, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Chicago Public Education Fund and many others.
Autumn has served on the board of Space One Eleven, a contemporary art gallery and center for arts education and Kuumba Community Arts, a design academy for high school students. She teaches tennis with Better Basics and coaches entrepreneurs through Create Birmingham’s Co.STARTERS program. Autumn holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University (Athens, OH) and a master’s degrees in design management from the Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA).
Brandon M. Cleveland is a native of Birmingham, AL and a product of the Birmingham City School system. He has been in the finance & banking industry for nearly 10 years and is a graduate of the University of Montevallo’s Michael E. Stephens College of Business, where he received his degree in Business Administration. Brandon is a strong proponent of empowering the small business community locally and abroad by providing information, resources and access to the tools needed for all business owners to succeed. Currently, Brandon represents BBVA as a Business Development Officer as well as the Daniel Payne Legacy Village Foundation where he serves in a consultancy capacity as their Executive Director. He is also a business and property owner in the downtown Historic Ensley Business District. Brandon is committed to civic engagement and serves with several local non-profit organizations in Birmingham, AL. He is currently on the Board of Directors for Urban Impact, Inc. a community and economic development agency that advances asset building, economic opportunity and revitalization of the Historic 4th Avenue Business District and Civil Rights District.
Brandon serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for IGNITE! Alabama – a non-profit organization with the objectives to ensure minorities: understand core business competencies, receive access to capital, secure and successfully execute contracts, workforce development training and career readiness opportunities. Brandon designed financial literacy training “Money Making Sense” to teach the fundamentals of money and partnered with B.R.E.A.D. (Birmingham Regional Empowerment and Development) to deliver the modules to local students in Birmingham. He is a recipient of the 2019 Civic Leadership Award from the Jefferson County Democrat Millennials and 2020 Birmingham Business Journal Rising Stars in Money. Brandon is known to be a dynamic public speaker and an agent of change in the Greater Birmingham area.
Damian Carson is the senior trainer and director for the Small Business Development division of Operation HOPE, where he is responsible for training and developing small businesses for business growth and sustainability.
Damian’s career span includes multiple leadership roles in corporate and non-profit settings. He has experience in training, program development and implementation, budgeting, and evaluation. Damian is also an effective relationship builder, collaborating with community stakeholders and financial institutions to strategically implement corporate social responsibility programs throughout the 99 neighborhoods in Birmingham and other counties throughout the state of Alabama.
Danielle Baskin is the Founder & CEO of The Image Events and Designs, specializing in event and interior design, event management and logistics, and business branding for corporate clients. Their mantra is “We don’t sell, we serve!”
With over 20 years of event design experience, she and her team have designed creative event spaces for the likes of the National SCLC, Alabama Power, The Honda Corporation, Jefferson County Health Department, Coca Cola United, NOBEL, UAB, Birmingham’s own, Freedom Fest and Grammy Award Winner Gospel Singer Marvin Sapp, just to name a few. Danielle’s most memorable body of work to date was the Homegoing Celebration in Selma, AL, of the late Congressman John R. Lewis.
Danielle is a graduate of A.H. Parker High School. She attended Stillman College where she received a BA degree in English and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She also obtained her MBA from The University of Phoenix.
In the spring of 2021, Danielle began development of RES (Real Event Solutions) an app that connects event vendors with the customers who need their services. Her idea was chosen, and she was selected as one of 11 entrepurners to participate in Innovation Depot’s inaugural co-hart VOLTAGE, a program that supports entrepreneurs who have a tech business or idea.
In addition to designing beautiful event spaces, Danielle is a mentor, a motivational speaker, a prayer warrior, a lover of all things fashion, and the host of The Image Speaks, a YouTube channel that allows her to connect and talk with everyday people who are pursuing purpose and living life to the fullest.
Her drive and motivation evolves from her 17-year-old son Korey Baskin who decided to follow the entrepreneur spirit of his mother. In March of 2020, he launched KB Kustomz, a custom art, apparel and design business.
Danielle DaChar Hines is an entrepreneur, military officer, and licensed attorney based in Birmingham, Alabama. Born and raised in Washington D.C., she always had an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit and desire to help others. Growing up, Danielle made a business of saving her Halloween candy selling it the kids in her neighborhood. Owning her own business was always a dream of hers, but also having a career in law and military were also childhood dreams that she made a reality. Above all, Danielle has felt called to help people thrive and make a positive impact in the world at large for as long as she can remember.
Currently, Danielle serves as a dedicated Lawyer. She is also an Officer in the Alabama Air National Guard and the proud Owner of Freedom 1957, which owns the Arthur Shores Law Center, CREED 63 and Party Boutique Kids LLC.
Danielle is a graduate of Florida A&M University, holds an MPA with a concentration in non-profit and governmental management from Southeastern University, a law degree from Miles Law School, an LL.M in employment law from John Marshall in Atlanta and Ministry Leadership from Highlands College.
Recently, Danielle opened CREED63 a Co-Working space, which stands for “Community, Resources, Entrepreneurship, Education and Development” in order to assist those who have or want a small business as a support system community. Danielle’s journey shows her commitment to her community, by not only investing time but also money and resources. Danielle continues to strive to become a letter leader, as she is currently in Momentum Leaders, Board Member of Urban Impact and Discovery Clubs of Alabama Mentor.
Danielle Ridgeway is an accomplished accountant with over 15 years of business experience in accounting, auditing, and tax in the industries of higher education, government, non-profit, and the corporate sector. As the owner and Chief Accountant for Covering Your Assets, LLC, she has an immense passion for assisting companies with their accounting needs and beyond all while and alleviating the stress of finances.
Covering Your Assets began with the belief that businesses needed an accountant to help guide their financial and operational foundation. Today, Covering Your Assets specializes in accounting, tax planning and preparation, software training, and assisting businesses to establish their formation identity.
Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Birmingham-Southern College. She is certified with the Internal Revenue Service and is currently a CPA candidate. She is a member of the Black Alumni Steering Committee at Birmingham-Southern College, Myasthenia Gravis (MG) Society, The Junior League of Birmingham and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Additionally, she serves as Treasurer of the UAB Minority and Health Disparities Research Young Professionals Board.
Darlene Wilson is the managing principle of DC Finance Management, LLC and serves as the current Board Chair of REV Birmingham and a variety , the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee on the Airport Authority Board of Directors, the Treasurer of The WellHouse and as a member of Foundation Capital. Recently, she completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at Babson College and the Emerging Leaders program through the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2017 after working seven months with some of the leading entrepreneurs in Alabama.
Delpha Bartley-Jones joined Valley Bank in January 2019 and brings more than 20 years of experience as an accomplished leader in Management, Banking, Corporate Social Responsibility, and CRA.
As VP, Regional CRA and CSR Officer of Alabama, Delpha is focused on fulfilling the CSR/CRA standards that address the needs of the communities we serve. She is dedicated to impacting economic growth and development, expanding affordable housing opportunities, collaborating with local partners and providing critical financial educational services. Additionally, Delpha helps to drive financial success by analyzing investments, increasing loan growth, and seeking out activities for greater community service and development.
Elliott started his career as the 10th employee of Shipt, where he served as Head of City Launch, then Software Engineer, and finally as Director of Marketing Technology. He currently serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Linq, a digital business card that lets its users instantly share information to a smartphone using QR codes and NFC technology. He loves making music, writing code, and spending time with his wife Taylor and their 2 pets at their home in Crestwood, Alabama.”
Isaac M. Cooper is the Managing Partner and CEO of IMC Financial Consulting located in Ensley. IMC instructs households, business owners, and professional athletes to ensure they make smart financial decisions through proper planning. IMC has been featured in NASDAQ, Nerd Wallet, AL.COM, and many other publications. Former Samford Defensive Back, Isaac is also the Founder of the Samford Black Alumni Association. A recipient of the 2017 BBJ Rising Star of Money Award, 2018 A.G Gaston “People’s Choice” Community Service Award , 2018 Samford inaugural Audrey Gaston Howard, and designated by Black Enterprise as one of the 100 Modern Men across the country.
Jeremy Ervin is the CEO and founder of ErvinPR Firm. Ervin PR, has provided professional consulting services and political campaign management strategies to clients ranging from newly District Attorneys, Judges, business owners, and startup companies. From strategic planning, to professional branding solutions, the firm’s focus is always on building an efficient and results-driven by connecting people to their purpose. Ervin PR has been featured in ATL magazine and Shoutout Atlanta magazine. Jeremy has also been named 2021 Small Business Hero by the Birmingham Business Resource Center for his philanthropic work in the community. He looks forward to continuing the work and being a part of the change to come in the magic city of Birmingham. He is also currently Assistant Director of Employer Recruitment & Relations for the UAB Career Center.
Kim Lee is the Founder and CEO of Forge, a coworking space in the heart of Downtown Birmingham. Her passion for business as a service, hospitality, community and economic growth of the city drove her to open Forge in September 2017, as a place to provide an avenue for entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive through growing their businesses in a way that was previously unavailable in Birmingham. Forge has developed another layer in the ecosystem for business owners and entrepreneurs providing a platform for growth and advancement of these smaller businesses in a way that was not present. Kim is also involved in mentoring entrepreneurs through several different organizations in Birmingham as well as serves on several boards including Tech Birmingham and The Firehouse Shelter. Kim was honored in 2017 as Birmingham Business Journal Women to Watch and as 2019 finalist for CEO of the year. In 2018 Forge was Small Business of the Year Finalist. Kim was most recently recognized in the list of 2020 Top 40 Under 40. Kim most recently founded Birmingham Coworking Collective as a way to bring together and provide community and support for all of the coworking spaces in Birmingham. Kim is the host of the recently launched podcast Building Birmingham Together, where she interviews organization leaders in our city brining to light the amazing working that leaders in our city are doing and the lessons they learned along the way.
Krystal Rumph is the owner & CEO of Eklectic Jane LLC. fitness studio where she devotes her time to creating fitness programs that not only improve the physical health of her clients but also enhances their lifestyle. Krystal started Eklectic Jane in 2018 and has nearly 10 years of experience with being a certified personal trainer. She holds a certification in personal training with the American Council On Exercise and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Jacksonville State University. Krystal also serves as the assistant director of membership with the Women council of Realtors and is a realtor with Town Square Realty . Town Square Realty is a full service residential and commercial real estate company with over 30 years of experience . where the motto is always “ People before Profit “. With an extensive experience in entrepreneurship Krystal is committed to being of service to the city of Birmingham.
Born January 6, 1979 in Birmingham, Al, Lawrence knew at an early age that he was destined for greatness. While in middle school, “I knew I wanted to be someone that mattered.” A business mindset was cultivating and would evolve into the birth of Brooms Auto Detail. As with any great thing, it doesn’t become great overnight, it becomes great with learned lessons, dedication and consistency. Daily visits to his fathers business, Brooms Unisex Barber & Style Shop, started at the young age of 5. These visits unknowing would birth a CEO, whose main concern was seeing the individuals around him reach their greatest potential. “Seeing people reach their greatest potential, is the real win.” The visits allowed him to gain a better understanding of entrepreneurship and would help him to create a music/clothing store (J&L Music & Fashion & Xclusive Fashion) and a hair salon (Salon Chayil). Creating these businesses gave him the insight on what it would take to not only create a business but maintain the business.
With success comes struggle, and Lawrence overcame being incarcerated on the journey of becoming great. Being young and black growing up in the inner city, there were some decisions that were made that placed Lawrence in prison. Despite this set back, Lawrence was dedicated to overcoming the odds and establishing a brand that gave back to the community. If one were to ask Lawrence what his brand represents, he would tell you it represents defeating the odds. Regardless of his past, Lawrence makes it his business on a daily basis to educate the culture in understanding having economic control as well as sharing with them if they hold on, trust the process and lock in, they too can achieve greatness and are in control of their destiny.
The vision for Brooms Auto Detail is just beginning to blossom and is the foundation for several different entities under the Broom umbrella. Lawrence Broom is definitely a black man that didn’t allow his circumstances to dictate his destiny.
Leonard Stephens is a Birmingham native. He graduated of Hueytown High School and attended Jacksonville State University, majoring in Kinesiology. He is married and have three children. He is the head trainer & owner of Step By Step Sports Training LLC located in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also the part owner of PROActive Athletic & Fitness Training which is also located in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a former college athlete with a passion to help our youth excel in every aspect of life, including education & athletics. He has been an entrepreneur for four years and helped assist over 300 scholar athletes receive scholarships. He us determined to help adults & our youth achieve the healthiest life attainable.
Mona Lisa Morris is Deputy Director at Birmingham Business Resource Center while continuing in her role as Director of Financial Literacy Programs and leading a host of projects supporting small businesses in their growth and advancement in practice and performance.
Recognized in her industry as an Accredited Financial Counselor®, she has also earned the professional designations of Certified College Funding Specialist® and Education Loan Analyst. She founded Finish College $mart out of her passion for helping underprivileged youth finish college on time and with no debt.
Mona Lisa is deeply immersed in community service and civic engagement. An alumna of the City of Birmingham’s Academy of Civic Engagement (ACE), Mona Lisa gives back while serving on local boards and executive committees. In 2019 she was appointed by the Birmingham City Council to serve as a Trustee on the Birmingham Public Library Board and currently serves as Chair of the Finance Committee. She also serves on the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women and as an Advisory Committee Member to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Birmingham.
In addition to Mona Lisa’s current civic duties, she has served as Senior Organizer for Building Alabama Reinvestment (BAR). This organization works with community leaders, policymakers, and financial institutions to champion fairness in banking, housing, and business in partnership with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) in Washington, D.C. And in 2020, she served as a Reviewer for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Leadership Institute.
Mona Lisa is a published author. She is also an Executive MBA Candidate at the University of Alabama.
Rhegess Perry is an experienced barber, public servant and businessman. Driven by purpose, he takes pride in providing the best professional services possible. As a barbering entrepreneur, his goals include , expanding his brand, and mentoring other barbering business people to do the same. In addition to being the owner of Trim Grooming Lounge, for ten years, Rhegess has served for six years, on the Jefferson County Barber Commission, which is the licensing and regulatory board for barbering. Rhegess is a dedicated father of three. He has an extraordinary commitment to serving the community, and counts It is a honor to serve on the Birmingham small business council.
Selena Rodgers Dickerson is the president of SARCOR, LLC, an engineering design and project management firm, and The Installation at Uptown, a co-working space for small businesses. A Birmingham native, Selena is a graduate of Ramsay Alternative High School, Tennessee State University and Capella University. She is a graduate of SBA’s Birmingham Emerging Leaders Program and Leadership Birmingham. Additionally, she is the recipient of several awards including the Alabama Department of Transportation DBE Consultant of the Year (2017), Summit Media Fusion Creator Award (2018), Birmingham Business Journal’s Entrepreneur Spotlight (2014), and the Dr. A.G. Gaston Minority or Woman-Owned Emerging Business of the Year (2013).
Teresa Thomas is the owner of Thomas HR Firm LLC. This business has been serving local areas, surrounding areas and multiple states for 5+ years. Teresa brings 16+ years’ experience from the Human Resource Field and Higher Education Administration. She is the proud wife of Traybeon K. Thomas and together they have 4 beautiful children. She holds her PHR Certification, Master of Human Resources from Troy University and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Minor in Communications, from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her practice and passion is to train, coach, mentor, develop and educate individuals with career development skills, soft skills, hard skills and upskilling. Her firm also equips businesses and organizations with correct policies, procedures, processes, strategies, ideas and tools to run a healthy business. Thomas HR Firm performs these services through Career Coaching and Mentoring, Human Resource Consulting, and Training and Development. Her clientele includes a mixture of high school students, college students, professionals, federal employees, CEO’s, private businesses, non-profits, small businesses, universities, school systems, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. Our life long goal will always be to equip people for the workforce and the workforce for people. We aim to help individuals and organizations who need support, development, guidance, and direction with their career, organizational and personal goals. We do this by equipping them with industry standard education, practical training and development and a number of services such as professional resume writing, business writing, and a number of resources that will help provide the tools needed for them to thrive. We look forward to making an impact on local small businesses and contributing to the health of their development with innovative ideas, strategies, training, education, and skills that will equip their businesses for a lifetime.
Tanesha Sims-Summers is the founder and CEO of Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. Founded in 2014, NBNKC avidly participates in the community, provides corporate and collegiate events services and gifting or family movie night snacks while offering FUN, FRESH, FESTIVE sweet and salty kettle popped corn flavors. Aside from wanting to invest in the communities they serve, Tanesha’s biggest motivation for building the company has been her family. She hopes to provide the opportunity to leave a legacy that will allow them to continue to make the world a sweeter place one popped kernel at a time.
Vaneatria McKinnon is an organized professional administrator and entrepreneur possessing critical and strategic thinking skills with the ability to collaborate across multiple disciplines. She received a Bachelor of Science degree
from Faulkner University and is an accomplished business owner. Ms. McKinnon has steadily progressed from Program
Support and Executive Management to owning three small businesses within the City of Birmingham; AdVantage
Administration LLC, AdVantage Tax Service and most recently an affiliate of 1 on 1 Technical College of Birmingham for allied health professions. She is known in the community as a small business advocate assisting many businesses to strategically move their businesses to right standing throughout the state of Alabama and the region. She has strong analytical skills and the ability to research and interpret operational procedures and guidelines to maintain strict adherence to all local, state and federal regulations. Additionally, she has extensive experience in special project coordination and implementation and has been selected on numerous occasions to spearhead community outreach and engagement opportunities in both the public and private sectors.
Varian May is the owner and Head Trainer of Tailord Fitness LLC. And co-owner of Proactive Athletic and Fitness Training gym here in Birmingham, AL. May is a graduate of Jacksonville State University where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. May’s mission is to enhance people’s quality of life from the inside out by providing a holistic, high-quality, high energy, and faith-based fitness experience in an environment fit for every member of the family based on hard work, consistency, and self discipline. Over the years May has worked with hundreds of clients including celebrities, high school, collegiate, and pro athletes in reaching their goals. He has also partnered with organizations such as Railroad Park, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, City of Birmingham, Talladega Super Speedway, Faith Chapel Christian Church and been featured on multiple media outlets including ESPN. May is also the founder of the Non Profit Fit4Manhood Inc. where the focus is on Men’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the SBC do?
The SBC provides critical support to the Mayor, IEO and the City by:
- Recommending actions, policies, and programs to facilitate and accelerate the City’s support of small businesses.
- Advising the City on how to specifically increase and support women-, minority-, and disadvantaged business enterprises (W/M/DBEs).
- Serving as a critical thought partner for IEO to build supportive programming and policy for small businesses.
- Establishing “community support” for Administration policies and programs geared for small businesses and especially W/M/DBEs.
- Acting as an advocacy group (city and statewide) for small businesses and W/M/DBEs.
When does the SBC meet?
Quarterly. Sub-committees =meet as needed to address a set of issue areas and produce responsive recommendations/reports.
How long is an appointment?
How do we define a small business?
We understand that there are many different ways to define a small business. We are defining a small business as one with less than 50 full-time employees.
Additional questions or ideas? We want to hear from you.
Send us an email at email@example.com. We will update this page regularly with FAQs.