Young leaders play key roles in political arena

Published 8:27 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

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Last week I discussed Alabama’s outstanding leaders in the political arena.  This week allow me to share with you some of the state’s leaders under 45 who are shaping and molding our state from outside the actual pit of the political arena.

The most prominent political power in the under 45 category, who is not in an elected position, is Katie Boyd Britt who heads the Business Council of Alabama. Katie was born to be an Alabama leader 37 years ago in Enterprise.  She was a high school leader and was Governor of Girls State.  Then she went on to the University of Alabama and excelled academically and was President of the Student Government Association.  After college at Alabama, she continued on and graduated from law school at the university.

She practiced law a couple of years, then went to work for our Senior Senator, Richard Shelby.  She was his Chief of Staff before becoming Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama.  Katie is married to a popular young leader in the state, Wesley Britt, who played football at Alabama and went on to play pro-ball for the New England Patriots.  They have two beautiful children.

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Katie has a younger sorority sister, who is also a Wiregrass girl – Mary Margaret Carroll from Ozark.  She was also an SGA president at the University of Alabama and is one of Alabama’s brightest young lobbyists.

Clay Ryan heads Governmental Affairs for the University of Alabama System.  He is smart and savvy.  He worked on Supreme Court races when Karl Rove was brought in by the Business community during the Tort Reform wars.  He was directing governmental affairs for a prominent Birmingham law firm when he moved to the University of Alabama System.  The 42 year old leads the governmental directions of the state’s largest employer.

Alabama Power will remain the most powerful governmental entity in the state for the next generation with the likes of Houston Smith (40) and R.B. Walker (33) who are prolific Governmental Affairs Specialists.

Houston is the son of a prominent Power Company couple.  Both his mother and dad were top officers in the company.  Houston is steeped in knowledge of utilities and Alabama government. R.B. grew up in Montgomery and was President of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama.  He understands politics. 

Speaking of utility companies, Power South has a superstar lobbyist arising in 35 year old Montgomery native Taylor Williams.

Governor Kay Ivey has some young super stars on her staff. She has a husband and wife team that are outstanding in Bill and Liz Filmore.  Liz has been with Kay Ivey going back to her campaign for Lt. Governor.  She commands the Governor’s respect because of her unwavering loyalty and keen political senses.

Her husband, Bill Filmore, is the Governor’s Legislative Director.  He has the respect of both parties and leaders of both Chambers.  He is very knowledgeable and a straight shooter.  Bill comes from a political family.  His daddy is a Wiregrass judge and Bill was SGA President at Troy University.

Leah Garner, who is the Governor’s Communications Director is very bright and sees the big picture of Alabama politics. Gina Maiola does an outstanding job as the Governor’s Press Secretary.  She is an extremely talented wordsmith.  She shoots straight with the press and they appreciate her honesty and accessibility. 

Speaking of the media, you have some outstanding under 45 superstars covering the political world in Alabama. Sean Ross (26) joined Yellowhammer News in 2018 and quickly became editor.  He is doing a super job of putting this online media news network on top.  He understands Alabama politics amazingly for his age.  He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and was involved in student politics.

Jeff Poor has taken over talk radio in Huntsville.  He is very knowledgeable and conservative in an erudite way.  Talk radio is very popular in that part of the state.  He brings a less strident and quality voice to that medium, especially in that market.

Young Jack Royer, at the ripe age of 24, has become the television anchor rock star in the state.  He anchors the CBS 42 nightly news with Sherri Jackson.  The Birmingham media market dominates the state.  Jack who only graduated from the University of Alabama 2 years ago, was born to be a television reporter and anchor.  His dad, Mike Royer, was a renowned and very highly respected TV anchor in Birmingham for decades.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist.  His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers.  He served 16 years in the state legislature.  Steve may be reached at