The 2021 AlabamaWorks! Innovator Awards were presented by Governor Ivey and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ed Castile today at the AlabamaWorks! Virtual Conference.  The awards were developed to highlight people and programs across the state that take an innovative approach to solve workforce challenges and help advance Governor Ivey’s Success Plus attainment goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.

“The workforce challenges that we face today are not the same ones that we faced eighteen months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has completely reshaped the workforce landscape,” Ivey said. “The State of Alabama is relying on those who are leading the charge by implementing innovative solutions in their cities, counties and regions to further economic and workforce development.”

innovator awards graphic

The  recipients are visionaries, outside-of-the-box thinkers, and problem solvers.  The programs test boundaries, explore new opportunities and reach deeper to bring about change.  “It is important to recognize these leaders of innovation and to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the citizens, communities and industries of Alabama,” said Ed Castile, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and AIDT Director.  “Their innovative approach to workforce development will be key to opening doors, breaking barriers and propelling Alabamians forward.”

The recipients of the 2021 AlabamaWorks! Innovator Awards are as follows:

Beth Brumley accepting award

Region 1 – North Alabama Homebuilding Academy

NAHA is a non-profit organization that provides hands-on, short-term programs to individuals seeking to enter the residential construction industry. NAHA constructs a model of success by teaching foundational skills and developing lasting partnerships to build the workforce from the ground up.

Sylacauga Alliance accepting award

Region 2 – CTE Directors of Region 2

Recognizing the need for career tech faculty to have professional development on a regional basis, the CTE Directors of Region 2 worked together to create the East AlabamaWorks Career Tech Conference. This three-day event engaged regional business and industry and fostered relationships between CTE faculty and post-secondary partners. Over 200 individuals attended and walked away with invaluable knowledge to better serve their students.

Doctor Mike Daria accepting award

Region 3 – Dennis Duncan, Tuscaloosa County Schools

Duncan serves as the Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) with the Tuscaloosa County School System. In this role, he has helped create and implement modern manufacturing programs within his school district which provides invaluable experience for the students and future employees for business and industry. This program will be piloted statewide later this year.

Ed Farm accepting award

Region 4 – Jones Valley Teaching Farm

JVTF is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting academic standards-based content to food, farming and culinary arts to students from preschool through high school. Through their two core programs, JVTF not only grows sustainable food sources for the community but also future workforce leaders.

Tiger Mochas accepting award

Region 5 – Charles Lee, That’s My Child

That’s My Child’s mission is to mentor youth through arts, education, and workforce development to end generational poverty. Through TMC’s Teen to Work program, youth spend 4-5 weeks in a classroom learning job readiness skills and then transition to a real-life restaurant owned by the organization to apply what they’ve learned. After working an additional 4-5 weeks in the restaurant, teens are given the opportunity to earn work experience with local employers through work-based learning internships.

WeeCat Industries accepting award

Region 6 – Alabama RISE, LBWCC

The Alabama RISE (Reemerging Ideas for Successful Employment) program is a work-based learning opportunity dedicated to individuals with disabilities. It was announced as a pilot program in Covington County in the spring of 2021 and connects individuals with disabilities who had the desire, aptitude and interest to enter the workforce and assist employers who need entry-level workers.


Ed Bushaw accepting award

Region 7 – Larry Mouton, Mobile County Public School System

With over a decade of hard work and commitment to students, Mouton has helped transform the CTE programs under his guidance into true workforce training programs. Under his leadership, several new workforce development programs have been implemented including a powerful work-based learning program.