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The University of Alabama

Feb. 24 Ceremony Will Honor 2011 UA Entrepreneurship Winners

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Winners of the 2011 University of Alabama entrepreneurship awards will be honored at a Feb. 24 ceremony and reception in the North Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The winners are:

High School Entrepreneurial Educator

Christopher Lee McCullar, Curry High School, Nauvoo, Ala.

McCullar was nominated by Dr. Jason Adkins, the superintendent of Walker County Schools.McCullar teaches agri-science and has incorporated entrepreneurship into his regular curriculum. He and his students operate a fish hatchery and sell tilapia.They also sell shooting houses.

College Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year

Charlie Cook, University of West Alabama

Cook was nominated by Dr. Ken Tucker, dean of the University of West Alabama College of Business.Cook has taught entrepreneurial classes and been a leader in entrepreneurial endeavors such as the UWA Small Business Development Center and as an adviser to the college’s Students in Free Enterprise chapter. He also has engaged communities and businesses in strategic, comprehensive economic development planning, and he has encouraged and supported students in successfully starting their own businesses.

Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Marie Johnson, Hokes Bluff, Ala.

Johnson was nominated by Joanne Hightower, executive director of United Way of Etowah County. Hightower said Johnson has worked tirelessly as center director, fundraiser, grant writer and community partner of the Robert W. Echols Family Success Center in Etowah County. Under Johnson’s guidance, the Family Success Center offers a myriad of services; it is a civic, governmental, educational, faith-based and non-profit agency serving families in crisis.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Anthony Williams, Atlanta

Williams was nominated by Dr. Sue Parker of The University of Alabama. Parker said Williams is the owner of Tony Kennedy, LLC, a clothing design firm, and he is a graduate of the University’s apparel design program. Recently Williams was one of 16 selected from thousands of national and international applicants to appear on the reality television program “Project Runway.” Williams placed fourth in the group of 16. One of his designs created on Project Runway was chosen to be modeled by supermodel Heidi Klum, and it appeared on the cover of Marie Claire magazine. His latest client is Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley; he designed her 2011 gubernatorial inaugural gown.

Female Entrepreneur of the Year

Doris Butler Truax, Selma, Ala.

Truax was nominated by Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce. Smedley said Truax is the successful owner and operator of Truax and Co., an antique and gift shop in the historic district of downtown Selma. Her business is successful because of the innovative ways she markets her products and services. She also supports other local entrepreneurs and is active in the community in other arenas. For example, she co-hosts a radio talk show, and she teaches ballroom dancing. Before becoming a business owner, she was a competitive ballroom dancer. Truax and Co. offers unusual and hard-to-find merchandise.

David Ford, state coordinator for Entrepreneurship USA and a lecturer in the management and marketing department at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce, said the awards will include a cash stipend.

The Feb. 24 event will begin at 6:15 p.m. with heavy hors d’oeuvres, followed by a seated desert and coffee. The program will begin at 7 p.m. with a welcome followed by the keynote address. The speaker for the event will be Terry Waters, interim president of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce.The awards presentation will follow Waters’ address.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship.” Sponsors are the Culverhouse College of Commerce, the College of Human Environmental Sciences and the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

Individual tickets for the event are $35. Corporate tables of eight are $400. Both can be purchased by contacting Gale Pritchett, 205/348-2946 or gpritche@cba.ua.edu.

A Concept Pitch Competition is scheduled for Feb. 18, the Friday before Entrepreneurship Week, and the winners will be recognized at the Feb. 24 awards ceremony. The competition will be open to any entrepreneur who has a connection with The University of Alabama.The competition allows entrepreneurs to connect with others who have similar interests, and they can learn how to present their ideas to potential investors in two minutes or less and convince a panel of judges of the value of their business idea.

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.