Keynote Speakers 2014

Sunday, October 26th

Governor Robert Bentley

bentleyIn 2010, he was elected the 53rd Governor of the State of Alabama on his promise to put Alabamians back to work. When Governor Bentley took office in 2011, the State’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent. Today Alabama has the lowest unemployment rate in the south at 6.1%. Governor Bentley promised the people of Alabama he would not accept a salary until the State reached full employment (5.2% unemployment). To date, Governor Bentley has never accepted a salary as Governor. Although, given the reduction in unemployment Alabama has seen over the past two years, he is getting closer to receiving a paycheck.

Upon taking office, Governor Bentley made the creation of new jobs a top priority in his Administration by instructing his Cabinet and State Agencies to join him in his effort to lower the unemployment rate and grow the State’s economy. Executive Order 2 was signed by Governor Bentley on his first day in office, instructing all State agencies, departments and commissions to include job creation as a priority in their service to the State.

In his first three years in office, Alabama gained nearly 60,000 jobs. In addition, Governor Bentley has recruited over 55,000 new, future jobs, many of which have yet to go online as new facilities are being constructed. Alabama’s manufacturing sector has grown under Governor Bentley with great gains in the automotive and aerospace industry. In July 2012, Governor Bentley announced Airbus would forever help change Alabama’s economic landscape as it begins to assemble commercial aircraft in Mobile. Airbus, headquartered in France, will build airplanes in Mobile with the skill and expertise of Alabama workers. From the time ground was broken in 2013, to the first delivery of the Airbus A320, over 3,000 Alabama workers will have had a good, well-paying job that they and their families need.

In February 2014, Governor Bentley made history when he recruited Remington Arms to expand its manufacturing facilities in Huntsville. Over 2,000 Alabamians will have a job at Remington thanks to Governor Bentley’s recruiting efforts.

Keeping true to his mission of job creation and retention, Governor Bentley drove efforts to keep the Wrangler Distribution plant in Hackleburg, a small town in northwest Alabama which was wiped out by an E-F5 tornado during the April 27 outbreak. Governor Bentley convinced Wrangler, the town’s largest employer, to rebuild the company’s plant, serving as a cornerstone in the rebirth of the Marion County town.

During his time in office, Governor Bentley led legislative efforts to increase incentives for new businesses and industries, to streamline government services and reduce spending. In December 2013, Governor Bentley announced that his administration saved taxpayers one billion dollars in just three years by right-sizing Alabama’s government.

Prior to becoming Governor, Dr. Bentley served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives. He represented House District 63 in Tuscaloosa. He was born and raised in Shelby County and graduated from The University of Alabama School of Medicine. He was commissioned Captain in the United States Air Force. Upon completion of his military service, he completed his residency in Dermatology at UAB.

Governor Bentley currently chairs NGA’s Economic Development and Commerce Commission. He is also the chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and co-chairs the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse through the National Governor’s Association.

Governor Bentley and his wife of 48 years, Dianne, have four sons and seven granddaughters.

Monday, October 27th

Dr. Tonea Stewart

stewartDr. Tonea Stewart, 1999 Gabriel Award Winner. A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, has lived in Montgomery, Alabama since 1990. Dr. Stewart is a tenured Professor and the Director of Theatre Arts at Alabama State University (ASU). Also, she is a professional actress.

After receiving a B.S. degree in Speech and Theatre from Jackson State University and an M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Tonea Stewart completed her Ph.D. in Theatre Arts at Florida State University (FSU) in 1989. She was the first African American female to receive a doctorate from the FSU School of Theatre and the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. During her study, at FSU, Tonea also received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As an actress, Tonea Stewart is perhaps best known for her reoccurring role in, “In the Heat of the Night”. More recently, she earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her role in the film adaptation of John Grisham’s “A time to Kill” and The Gold Medal Award for narration of Public Radio Internationals Series “Remembering Slavery.” Tonea Stewart began her acting career in 1969 and became the first African American to direct and appear on stage at New Stage Theatre, the most prestigious equity theatre in Mississippi. Since then, she has performed on st age in Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has appeared on screen and television. Some notable titles include: “Mississippi Burning”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers III”, Living Large, “My Stepson/My Lover”, “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Matlock,” “Leave of Absence,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “ER” and “Touched by an Angel.”

Tonea Stewart is a spokesperson for “One Church, One Child” of Alabama and for NOSAP, a Texas-based organization aimed at youth development. In

1995, she was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. She has honorary doctorates from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa and Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas and has received numerous keys to cities throughout the United States.

Tonea Stewart is a member of the Order of the Golden Circle, a life member of the NAACP, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and is a dedicated member of the Hutchinson Baptist Church. She is married to Dr. Allen Stewart. They have three children.


Wednesday, October 29th

Dr. Derek Greenfield

greenfieldDr. Derek Greenfield currently serves as Director of Diversity and Equity Engagement/Assistant Professor of Sociology at Alcorn State University. As a testament to his talents as an educator and dedication to students, Derek has been named six times to the list of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and received Faculty of the Year honors in his previous position at Shaw University. His innovative course, “Hip-Hop and American Society,” has been featured twice in Source magazine. He also spent seven years as an award-winning youth worker in inner-city Chicago. Derek has published several academic papers and is author of the widely acclaimed motivational book, “The Answer is in Your Hands.”

With his energetic style, innovative ideas, and sense of humor, Derek has become a highly requested speaker, addressing enthusiastic audiences from Texas to Tonga. His keynote presentations and workshops have been featured at events such as the International Conference on Cultural Diversity, National Dropout Prevention Network Conference, Black Issues in Higher Education Conference, National Youth Professionals Institute, National Association of Campus Activities National Conference, and Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, as well as dozens of colleges and universities including MIT, University of Washington, University of Texas, and Michigan State University. He has also served as motivational consultant for organizations such as McDonald’s Corporation, Hilton Hotels, Progress Energy, United Airlines, and the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

Dr. Greenfield received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Sociology from Northwestern University, earned his Doctor of Education degree from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa, and is currently conducting research towards his PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Washington.

Dr. Greenfield’s passion is most specifically seen in his work to develop, direct, and sponsor youth programs in the townships of South Africa. He is also proud to be a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.