James H. Sanford – Chairman, is chairman of the board of HOME Place Farms, Inc. and is a fourth-generation cotton producer whose great-grandparents began operations of a cotton farm in 1881. Sanford received a BS in business administration in 1968 and an MS in economics in 1971 from Auburn University. He is affiliated with many organizations, including the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, Autauga County United Way and various advisory boards with Auburn University.
Larry Fillmer – Executive Director is the Executive Director of the Auburn University Research – Office of External Engagement and Support. In December 2015, he was given the additional responsibility as Executive Director of the Auburn Research Park and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF). He serves as liaison between Auburn University Research and organizations, both internal and external, on matters relating to coordination, promotion and financial support of the university’s strategic research economic development initiatives. Mr. Fillmer graduated with High Honors from Auburn University, where he was named the 1969 Outstanding Graduate of the School of Business. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Management from the University of Alabama.
Bill Ham Jr. – Secretary, was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1986 and has served as the city of Auburn’s mayor since 1998. Mayor Ham, an Auburn native and a 1977 graduate of Auburn University, is the owner of Varsity Enterprises, Inc., and serves on numerous community boards, including serving as chair of the Auburn Airport Advisory Board.
Leslee Belluchie – Managing Member FedCap Partners, has over 20 years’ experience in operations and management of government contracting companies. Ms. Belluchie is a mechanical engineer by education, has a TS SCI with full-scope polygraph security clearance, and most recently served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Serco-NA (formerly SI International, Inc.), a $1.3 billion division of Serco, Inc. (2006-2009). Prior to Serco-NA, Ms. Belluchie served as a Partner in the National Intelligence Agencies division of IBM Federal (2005-2006), President and CEO of the Teradata Government Systems division of NCR Corporation (2004–2005), and various operational and business development positions at Computer Sciences Corporation, including Vice President of Business Development for the Enforcement Security & Intelligence business unit (1995–2004). She currently serves on the Executive Advisory Board to the Auburn University’s School of Mechanical Engineering.
Patrick Cox: Since graduating from Auburn University in 1996, Patrick has made a career by working in the fields of commercial real estate development and construction, and banking. Those efforts have included positions in Alabama, New York, Europe, and Nashville, and led to projects ranging from the IPOs of international banking conglomerates to the development of (large and small) commercial real estate projects. With respect to his early career and time at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Patrick was involved with companies such as ABN Amro, AMEX, CIT, and Fortis Banc both domestically and internationally, while also serving smaller clients in Alabama and the southeast. Since moving to the commercial real estate industry in 2004, Patrick has developed or advised in excess of 300 projects, with associated capital placement exceeding $1 billion. These projects ranged from single tenant build-to-suit locations for retailers and/or medical clinics, to 1MM+ square foot mixed use (Nashville West) and power centers (TigerTown) anchored by Fortune 250 retailers. Patrick earned both a Bachelors of Science, Accountancy and Master of Accountancy degrees while attending Auburn University.
Chris Crumbly, joined the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation in January 2018 as its Executive Director. After a 25-year career at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mr. Crumbly retired and entered the business community. Mr. Crumbly was most recently the Vice-President for Business Development, Civil and Commercial Space at Teledyne Brown Engineering. While at NASA, Mr. Crumbly managed the Space Launch System (SLS) Program’s Spacecraft/Payload Integration and Evolution Office, located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Robert W. Dumas is President and CEO of AuburnBank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Auburn National Bancorporation, Inc. He joined the bank in 1984, began serving as a Director of the bank in 1997, and was elected President and CEO in 2001. He is an Auburn native and a 1976 graduate of Auburn University with a BS in Business Administration. He has served on numerous community boards and currently serves as an Auburn University Trustee representing the Third District-Lee County, AL. He is also a board member for East Alabama Medical Center and the Alabama Bankers Association.
Thom Gossom Jr., is an American actor, writer, and communications professional. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from Auburn University where he was the first black athlete in the Southeastern Conference to walk on, earn a full scholarship and graduate. Gossom furthered his education with a Master of Arts in communication from The University of Montevallo in Alabama. He is owner and President of Best Gurl Inc. a communications firm. Gossom’s career has spanned film, television and the stage. Gossom also writes a current events blog, “As I SEE It”. When not writing, producing or acting, Gossom is a frequent speaker for universities, corporation and civic organizations.
Bill Hardgrave, PhD, began serving as Auburn University’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in January, 2018. He is the Wells Fargo Professor in the Harbert College of Business, where he also served as dean from August 2010 through December 2017. As the chief academic officer, Provost Hardgrave provides leadership to Auburn’s 13 colleges and schools and oversees the university’s academic resources, support units, and instructional and research programs. Establishing the academic priorities for the university, Hardgrave leads initiatives designed to promote student and faculty success and ensures the quality of student learning at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Providing leadership to the faculty, Hardgrave manages the processes for faculty recruitment, appointments, promotions, and tenure. As dean, Hardgrave oversaw the growth of the Harbert College of Business to include significant increases in student enrollment, undergraduate and graduate programs, resources for students and faculty, and research advancements. Under his leadership, the college experienced unprecedented levels of philanthropic support, including a $40 million gift from 1982 alumnus and namesake Raymond Harbert.
Patrick Murphy, was named Vice President of Alabama Power Economic and Community Development department in April 2016. Murphy joined Alabama Power as senior project manager in November 2011. Prior to Alabama Power Company, Murphy was senior vice president of Economic Development for the Birmingham Business Alliance. He led all economic development recruiting, business retention and expansion efforts in the seven-county Birmingham metropolitan area. During his tenure with the Birmingham Business Alliance, Murphy worked with numerous Fortune 1000 companies across various business sectors, including aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, finance, technology and distribution. Murphy sits on the boards of directors for the Economic Development Association of Alabama, the Alabama Communities of Excellence Board, where he serves as President and Chairman, is a member of the Birmingham Kiwanis club, Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club, BBVA Compass Advisory Board and “You Might Be” for Auburn Club. He is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and their four children.
Vini Nathan, Dean and McWhorter Endowed Chair, in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction at Auburn University. She earned an undergraduate degree in Architecture from Anna University, a master’s degree in Interior Design from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in Architecture from the University of Michigan. She has been on the faculty at Michigan State University, New York Institute of Technology, and Philadelphia University. She served as the Dean of and Professor in the School of Architecture at Philadelphia University. Through Walker Group/CNI New York, Vini collaborated with Cesar Pelli Associates on the design of the Kuala Lumpur City Center (Petronas Towers) in Malaysia. Her areas of scholarly interest include design leadership, disruptive design entrepreneurship and chaos theory.
Jim Odom, is a consultant for Science Applications International Corporation. He began his career in the launch vehicle business with the Huntsville/von Braun Team, transitioning with this team to become NASA’s Marshall Flight Center . His many responsibilities at NASA included the Saturn, Apollo, Shuttle, and Hubble Space Telescope programs. He retired from NASA in 1989 and has remained active in space research.
Christopher B. Roberts, PhD, is the dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University and is responsible for the overall direction, scope, and mission of the college. Dr. Roberts is the former department chair and the George E. and Dorothy Stafford Uthlaut Professor of Chemical Engineering. Roberts began his career at Auburn in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and became department chair in 2003. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree and doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
John G. Rocovich, Jr. JD, LLM is the founder of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Rocovich is an attorney and Chairman of the law firm Moss & Rocovich Attorneys-at-Law, P.C. in Roanoke. Mr. Rocovich has dedicated himself to his alma mater, Virginia Tech, and has held countless offices to assist in the enhancement of that university. Additional campuses have been built in Spartanburg, South Carolina near Wofford College and in the Auburn Research Park on the campus of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Mr. Rocovich is a graduate of Virginia Polytech Institute and State University (B.S., with honors, 1966); University of Richmond (J.D. 1967); New York University (LL.M. in Taxation, 1968); Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (Doctor of Humanities and Letters, 2007); North Green University (Doctor of Christian Leadership, 2012). He is a member of the Roanoke Bar Association and Virginia Bar Association (Member, Section on: Taxation); Virginia State Bar (Chairman Tax Section, 1977 – 1978); The District of Columbia Bar; and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.
Steve R. Spencer, After a successful 37-year career at Alabama Power Company, Steve R. Spencer was elected president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama in February 2016. Spencer joined EDPA after serving as executive vice president of Alabama Power, where he was responsible for all operations that touch Alabama Power’s 1.4 million customers, including economic development. Spencer joined Alabama Power in 1978 and held positions of increasing responsibility at the company. He also held leadership roles at Southern Nuclear Operating Company and at Southern Company in Atlanta, where he served as senior vice president of external affairs, with responsibility for Southern Company’s governmental affairs, environmental policy, corporate communications and public relations activities. Spencer is a graduate of Woodlawn High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University and completed the Executive Finance and Accounting Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Miles College (Fairfield, Ala.) in 2009. He and his wife, Lynne, live in Vestavia Hills and have two children.
David R. Thrasher, MD, is a pulmonary and critical care physician in Montgomery, Alabama. He received a BS in fisheries biology and an MS from Auburn University. He received his MD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has been involved with several early stage companies that eventually went public and sits on a venture capital board in Atlanta. He is also on numerous civic, as well as business boards and serves on the Judicial Inquiry Commission.
James Weyhenmeyer, PhD, joined Auburn University in April 2019 and serves as the institution’s vice president for research and economic development. In this role, Dr. Weyhenmeyer provides leadership to various research and economic development units, including sponsored programs, proposal services and faculty support, research compliance, the university veterinarian, electronic research administration, innovation advancement and commercialization, external engagement and support, and university-based start-ups. Working with the university’s administration, including academic units, research centers and institutes, the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Dr. Weyhenmeyer directs the strategic development and implementation of university-wide, research-related programs and creative activities.