“This award is really special to our company,” Alabama Power Eastern Division Vice President Terry Smiley said at the chamber’s annual meeting in late January. “I’m proud to accept it on behalf of our President and CEO, Mr. Jeff Peoples, and the entire Alabama Power family.
“Joanne Hightower shared the same mission as we do. She was dedicated to being of service to this community,” he said. “And at Alabama Power, our mission started right here in Etowah County. We were developed to be of service to the people of the state of Alabama, and that’s something we take very seriously.”
Smiley praised elected officials in Etowah County as well as the chamber staff for their leadership.
“We have a fantastic group of elected officials and other leaders here that are working together to improve the quality of life of people in our community. Because of this collaboration, I believe the future is very bright for Etowah County.”
The chamber presents the Joanne Hightower Award each year to an organization or group that made a significant impact on the community in the previous year. Hightower was the longtime executive director of the United Way of Etowah County. When she died in January 2021, she left a legacy of public service and passion for the community.
Hightower’s husband, Harold George Hightower Jr., retired from Alabama Power. As a spouse of an Alabama Power employee, she was an active volunteer in the Alabama Power Service Organization Eastern Division Chapter.
“Joanne was a part of the Alabama Power family, so receiving this award named after her is a tremendous honor,” said Tony Smith, Alabama Power Customer Service manager covering Gadsden and Oneonta, and the current board president of the chamber.
“Much like Joanne did during her lifetime, our team is working diligently to help support efforts in economic development, education, health and human services in Etowah County,” he added. “Last year we were privileged to provide support to various nonprofits, schools and civic organizations in Etowah County by serving as board members, volunteers, facilitating grants and making financial contributions to enhance programs and services that are essential to the potential success of those in our community.”
Alabama Power Eastern Division employees have a rich history of supporting initiatives that elevate the county, region and state. Most recently, Alabama Power has played a key role in facilitating infrastructure improvements and the rebranding of the Northeast Alabama Regional Megasite. The company is engaged with key workforce development initiatives and helping to plan for growth and sustainability across Etowah County.
”In 2022, Alabama Power Company had their hands and their hearts in the community supporting numerous efforts on a philanthropic level,” said Christi Robinson, chamber president and CEO.
“They provide volunteers and continuous and impactful assistance to our local nonprofits. They are on the frontlines, and they are behind the scenes for each of us every single day. In fact, if you serve on a board of directors in Etowah County, most likely you are serving with one of their employees,” she said.
The company’s impact goes beyond community service, Robinson said.
“They have also been invaluable to our area over the years providing service to businesses and homes alike, days, nights and weekends. Alabama Power is an exemplary model of community impact.”