Governor names two Auburn Engineers to Alabama innovation commission

Published: Jul 17, 2020 10:05 AM

By Cassie Montgomery

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced the creation of the first statewide innovation commission and advisory council to promote entrepreneurial growth and innovation. Known as Innovate Alabama, the commission will serve as a platform for innovators to engage policymakers, exchange ideas and identify policies that promote innovation in the state.

The 15-member commission is chaired by state representative Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa and includes members with expertise across various industries from economic development to technology solutions. The six-member advisory council includes innovation leaders with ties to Alabama, including former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and two Auburn Engineering alumni, Zeke Smith and Chris Moody.

Smith, ‘82 industrial engineering, has been tapped to serve as the president of the Innovate Alabama advisory council. He is the executive vice president of external affairs at Alabama Power and brings more than 35 years of experience in environmental affairs, charitable giving, government relations, public relations and regulatory affairs to the advisory council. Smith serves on a number of boards and advisory committees, including the Samford University Board of Trustees, the Business Council of Alabama Board of Directors, the Alabama Career Tech Education Leadership Council, the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council Executive Committee and the Advisory Board of the McCrary Institute at Auburn University. 

Moody, ’90 electrical engineering, will also serve on the Innovate Alabama advisory council. A partner at the venture capital firm Foundry Group, Moody has more than 25 years of experience working with entrepreneurs to scale their companies globally while helping them to maintain the passion that sparked the creation of their businesses in the first place. He was named the 2015 Electrical Engineering Alumni of the Year and was designated an Auburn University Distinguished Engineer in 2016. Moody serves on the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council, the Executive Committee of the college’s 100+ Women Strong and is on the board of the National Center of Women and Information Technology.

“Through the establishment of the Alabama Innovation Commission, I look forward to collaborating with our state’s leading innovators to develop a long-term strategy to create a more resilient, inclusive and robust economy,” Ivey said. “Alabama has always had a rich tradition of developing technologies to move our state forward. Now more than ever, we must capitalize on future opportunities by engaging our state’s trailblazers to discuss new ideas and policies that support entrepreneurship, economic development and jobs.”

Innovate Alabama committee members include:

State Rep. Bill Poole – R-Tuscaloosa

State Sen. Greg Reed – R-Jasper

Scott Adams – Executive Vice President and Chief Digital & Innovation Officer, Protective Life Corp.

Greg Barker – President, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Lindsay Rane Carter – Associate General Counsel, Great Southern Wood Preserving

Rick Clementz – General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc.

State Rep. Jeremy Gray – D-Opelika

Miller Girvin – CEO, Alabama Capital Network Miller

Abe Harper– CEO, Harper Technologies

Shegun Otulana – Founder, TheraNest

Peggy Sammon – CEO, GeneCapture, Inc.

State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier – D-Selma

Arndt Siepmann – Deputy Director of Economic Development, City of Auburn

Charisse Stokes – Executive Director, TechMGM

Neill Wright – President, Bronze Valley


Advisory Council members include:

Zeke Smith – Executive Vice President, Alabama Power (President)

Greg Canfield – Secretary, Alabama Department of Commerce

Chris Moody – Partner, Foundry Group

Bill Smith – Founder, Smith Ventures

Jared Weinstein – General Partner, Thrive Capital 

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

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