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The University of Alabama

Seven Alabamians Recognized by UA for Entrepreneurial Efforts; Educators, Practitioners Receive Awards

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Seven Alabamians have been recognized by the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute at The University of Alabama for their efforts in teaching, promoting and displaying effective entrepreneurship around the state.

The seven were recognized recently at a banquet on the UA campus. Awards presented at the banquet included the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year; K-12 Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year; Social Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Winner of the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year was Dr. Youssouf Diabate, a specialist in agricultural economics at Tuskegee University.

K-12 Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year was Ann Thompson, the career technical director for the Clay County Board of Education.

Mary Jolley was named 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Brandon K. Pierce of Crossville, owner of the The DeKalb Advertiser and The Sports Ledger, was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

In addition, Dr. Dan Daly, director of the Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Program at The University of Alabama, was a finalist for Higher Education Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year; Patricia Fowler, a career tech teacher in graphic arts at Oxford High School in Calhoun County, was a finalist for K-12 Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year; and Tiffany Tidmore Collins, the owner of Miss Priss Boutique in Tuscaloosa, was a finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Diabate is a specialist in agricultural economics at Tuskegee University and has had extensive experience over the years providing business and economic development education and technical assistance for start-up micro-enterprises and small businesses in Alabama Black Belt Counties. Diabate had two different nominators who pointed out the programs, conferences, workshops and one-on-one technical assistance he has given to Alabamians.

Fowler is a career tech teacher in graphic arts at Oxford High School in Calhoun County. Until two years ago she worked at the Anniston Star as the advertising director. As a teacher, she brings her students the technical skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and she emphasizes business skills they will need in organizing, managing and working in a business.

Her graphic arts students have operated a for-profit business that prints football team rosters and sells them at football games. Proceeds from those sales go to charitable projects.

Thompson is the career technical director for the Clay County Board of Education, serving Clay County High School and Lineville High School. Thompson has been an advocate of student entrepreneurship for more than 20 years, both as a classroom teacher and a board of education director. She has been awarded several competitive grants for the Clay County Career Tech program.

Her students have won scholarships, prizes and awards. Her nominator said Thompson has the philosophy that all students should have an entrepreneurial experience before they leave high school because entrepreneurship provides opportunities for students to grow, learn, network and accumulate wealth.

Jolley was a unanimous choice for 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Jolley, a native of Ward, is a community volunteer. She is a retired government and education administrator and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. After graduating from The University of Alabama, she was in Washington, D.C. for a number of years where she worked primarily in the development of education policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.

She has served on a number of national committees and agencies concerned with workforce issues. Her nominators said she is a skillful consensus-builder whose agenda is consistently focused on helping make her native state and nation a better place for all citizens. Time and again she has reached—and exceeded—her goals through a personal approach that combines entrepreneurial talent, old-fashioned hard work and inspired originality.

Collins is the owner of Miss Priss Boutique in Tuscaloosa. She is also a product of The University of Alabama, where she majored in fashion retailing in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. Due to her clear vision and the careful planning presented in her business plan, she received approval from a bank for a line of credit to buy inventory and pay start-up operating expenses for her new business at the age of 23.

In addition to owning the Advertiser and the Ledger, Pierce, of Crossville, has a photography business. He is a graduate of The University of Alabama, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Culverhouse College of Commerce in corporate finance and a master’s degree in journalism from the College of Communication and Information Sciences.

During his college days, one of his jobs was working in the athletic department, photographing athletic events on campus. Through his academic courses and his student work positions at The University of Alabama, Pierce gained practical experience and a vision for his successful entrepreneurial career. His nominator says he demonstrates originality in all areas of business, especially in product offerings, business planning and integration of the Internet through the use of technology.

The Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration was established in 1919, and, in 1929, became the 38th school to earn admission into the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. The excellence of the UA business school has been acknowledged on a national level. The undergraduate program is ranked 29th among public universities by U.S. News, and the Culverhouse School of Accountancy is ranked 15th among public universities by U.S. News. The graduate accounting program is ranked 19th, and the undergraduate program 15th, by Public Accounting Report. The entrepreneurial program is ranked 20th nationally.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.