Sustaining Our Future: WFA Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
Alabama’s only public women’s foundation expands Board of Directors, showcasing statewide representation and cross-industry support to accelerate economic opportunity for women
Five Alabama leaders began their terms as Women’s Foundation of Alabama Board of Directors on January 1, 2023, expanding influence and leadership through geographic and industry diversity. The incoming Board represents mounting support for women’s economic equity in Alabama due to the Foundation’s strategic growth.
In 2019, under the direction of President and CEO, Melanie R. Bridgeforth, Women’s Foundation of Alabama began an intentional, extensive, and thoughtful process of expanding its reach across Alabama – shifting its model of philanthropy toward deeper, systemic change. With the addition of legislative advocacy and research, the institution officially extended operations statewide as the leading voice and philanthropic engine for women in the state. In the last year alone, Women’s Foundation of Alabama has accelerated economic opportunities for women by doubling community investments to women-serving organizations in 21 counties, championing four significant legislative wins, and more.
Women’s Foundation of Alabama’s new board members have joined to support that expanded impact, and include a powerhouse of business and civic leaders from investment, tech, medical / insurance, and legal fields: Rina Hurst, Chief Business Officer of Shipt; Judge Brooke Reid, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Montgomery); Mary Pat Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Protective Life Corporation; Angela Jarrett, Vice President, Claims & Benefit Administrator of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama; and Paige Daniel, Managing Director of Highland Associates. The esteemed newcomers also expand the specialized expertise of Women’s Foundation of Alabama’s existing Board, which spans governmental affairs, education, philanthropy, investment, and finance sectors.
“Two years ago, with a deep understanding that our work had to be done without borders, we reached beyond Birmingham and elected our first board member outside of Central Alabama – Dr. Cathy J. Randall. Her leadership and support are also why she is this year’s Cameron Vowell Changemaker awardee,” said Dawn Sharff, Board Chair of Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “This is a full-circle moment. We now have a full slate of leaders with statewide community ties. Their strategic insight, operational guidance, and passion is vital to our mission and sure to unlock opportunities for women in 2023 and beyond.”
Rina Hurst joined Shipt in 2020 as Chief Business Officer, driving the company’s Business Development, Partner Success, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Digital Site Experience teams. Recently named one of “Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery”, she brings a decade of national retail experience and talent for sparking connections, launching new and innovative partnerships, and building creative strategies with key industry players. Shipt has seen catapulting growth in Rina’s tenure; under her leadership, 2021 orders grew 252% and the company’s expanded its footprint exponentially, adding nearly 15,000 stores to the marketplace through partnerships with 7-Eleven, Walgreens and Sephora in Q1 of 2022. Rina previously served Target, holding various leadership roles across Merchandising, Strategy & Innovation, and Business Partnerships & Negotiations. Prior to tech, she spent nearly a decade as a management consultant specializing in healthcare and financial services. Rina received her MBA from Georgetown University and her B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Samford Theatre.
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Brooke Reid prides herself on being a servant leader and strives to serve the people of Montgomery County in a fair and impartial manner, respecting the rights guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Reid amassed thirteen years of experience litigating cases in Montgomery County, as well as courtrooms throughout the State of Alabama. She also served as a Prosecutor for the City of Montgomery. Judge Reid considers her courtroom attorney experience a tremendous asset that has empowered her to serve the community more effectively as trial judge. She graduated from The University of Alabama School of Law, and Birmingham-Southern College, and is a proud mentor for New Beginnings Educational Center.
Mary Pat Lawrence joined Protective Life Corporation as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs in 2018. Having worked 18 years in Washington, D.C., she holds deep knowledge of the political landscape, regulatory matters, lobbying, and plays an instrumental role in Protective’s state and federal legislative affairs. Mary’s career includes a long history of government, advocacy, lobbying, legal, and political campaign experience. Prior to Protective, she served as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Allstate Insurance, where she managed legislative matters and represented the company’s industry associations, including the Financial Services Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Council of Life Insurers. She served as Principal at Dentons US LLP, comanaging the Advocacy team and lobbying for numerous financial service, education, and agriculture clients. As Associate Vice President and Counsel for Van Scoyoc Associates (VSA), Mary helped clients identify funding sources, develop projects, and advocate requests to the US Congress and federal agencies. She has also contributed to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Legislative Counsel to the U.S. Senate, and served several U.S. Senate campaigns. Lawrence graduated from the University of Alabama in May of 1997 and the University of Alabama School of Law in May of 2000. She is currently a member of the Alabama State Bar and member of Sonnenschein’s Public Law & Policy Strategies Practice.
Angela Jarrett touts a robust history with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. For more than 23 years, she has served in an array of leadership and management roles and currently oversees all claims processing activities for the company. In addition to her passion for advancing women’s equity, she is an exemplary community volunteer, serving as past Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Alabama, YMCA Youth Center, and the American Heart Association. Angela is a graduate of the third class of Leadership Hoover (2019-2022), and Momentum Executive Leadership Program (2016-2017). She graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and a Master of Business Administration.
Paige Daniel brings a wealth of finance and investment consulting experience to WFA. She joined Highland Associates in 2006 and rose to Managing Director of their Investment and Leadership Working Groups. Paige previously served as Director of Alternative Strategies for AmSouth Bank’s Wealth Management Group, Private Client Group for CIBC Oppenheimer’s, and Financial Advisor for Quick and Reilly. She serves in key roles on numerous professional and social impact boards, including YWCA of Central Alabama Board of Directors, Executive and Endowment committees; Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation Board of Directors and Executive Committee; and Mountain Brook Finance Committee. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Vanderbilt University and her Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University.
“Nearly four years ago, I came into this role with a vision of building the most powerful philanthropic and leadership voice for women the state of Alabama has ever seen,” said Melanie R Bridgeforth, President and CEO of Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “Since that time, our Foundation has expanded its influence from Birmingham to Alabama: sustaining organizations that provide life-changing wraparound supports to help women and their families thrive; expanding our grantmaking infrastructure statewide through giving circles; achieving nine legislative victories like the Equal Pay Statute and multimillion-dollar investment in quality childcare; fueling women-led solutions by training an army of advocates to spearhead public policy change in their own backyards through our Women’s Policy Institute; and emerging as the sole producer of gender-focused research, generating landmark reports that guide companies and state government leaders across to make stronger policy and practice decisions across Alabama. The influence of our new Board members – in geography, experience, and career – reflects the expansion of our scope and initiatives, allows us to better tackle our most pressing issues, and shifts the economic paradigm for women across our state.”