Former state finance director Henry Mabry and attorney Gregory Graves will be the new faces of the Alabama Education Association.
The board of directors for the AEA appointed the new leaders on Thursday to follow longtime executives Paul Hubbert and Joe Reed.
The board selected Mabry as executive secretary and Graves, a lawyer with the association, as associate executive secretary.
They will take over Jan. 1.
“The shoes of Dr. Hubbert and Dr. Reed can’t be filled for the 90 years of service they’ve given for education in the state,” Mabry said.
The board began the process to hire new leaders after Hubbert and Reed, who have long been considered two of the most powerful political figures in the state, announced earlier this year they were retiring after running the association since 1969.
Mabry, who then-Gov. Don Siegelman appointed finance director, has been a consultant for the AEA on financial issues since the end of that administration. He also worked for the Business Council of Alabama and Alabama Power, and has a doctorate from the University of Alabama.
Graves, a graduate of Auburn University Montgomery and Jones School of Law, has been a staff attorney with the AEA for six years.
The association, with about 95,000 members, is considered one of the most powerful entities in state politics, although most observers believe that diminished some when Republicans took control of the Legislature a year ago.
“Education will always be in the state and AEA will always be out to look for the best education for the school children,” Mabry said.
Republican lawmakers passed legislation during their first year in the majority that many felt targeted the AEA including stopping the association and similar organizations from collecting dues through the state’s payroll deduction system.
Mabry and Graves, who were selected during the AEA’s annual delegate assembly, said they would work with all political leaders to ensure students in the state receive the best education.
Graves said people should “come to the table with compromise in mind.”
“It is time for petty politics to be out of education,” he said.
Graves, a former educator, vowed to renew the effort to fight for education. He said he felt obligated, with changes made under the new legislative leadership, to use his expertise in education and law to help students and to help educators fight for their rights and benefits.
Hubbert, who said he is very optimistic about the future of AEA, said the board chose good leaders who are knowledgeable about the issues, and who he expects to work well together.
Hubbert, 76, let the board know they would need to find a replacement after he felt he could not devote the energy to the job he believes is needed because of health issues. Hubbert, who had a liver transplant more than 20 years ago, said he then had to begin dialysis.
The hiring is contingent on contract negotiations with the men, according to several media reports.
Dorothy Strickland, president of the AEA, confirmed to The Gadsden Times that the other candidates for the executive secretary’s position were former AEA President Anita Gibson; former state Rep. Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill; and AEA Public Relations Department Manager David Stout.
— posted by Sebastian Kitchen